Hearty thanks to Ian

At the VCC AGM on Saturday 14th May, hearty thanks were extended to Rev Ian Smith for his contribution to VCC over many years.

Rev Ian Smith, VCC EO for 10 years

Thanks were expressed to Ian by Ashok Jacob (currently serving as Treasurer), who spoke about Ian’s long and steadfast service for many years. Ian’s contribution is many and varied.

Ian currently serves as Chair of VCC EM, and was involved right from the start. Under his leadership VCCEM became a separate entity.

Ian joined with other Abrahamic faiths to organise faith tours to Jerusalem.

Ashok noted Ian is extremely good with relationships; he values people, makes people comfortable, is a good networker, offers warm friendship, and is available to people at all times. He is humble and approachable, including with small diaspora churches. Ian is extremely passionate about gospel of justice and peace.

On behalf of the Council, Ashok thanked Ian for his great contribution to VCC, and highlighted the gift Ian has been to the churches in Victoria. Ashok also thanked Ian for his friendship. 

In response, Ian said he was deeply humbled. He acknowledged Robert Gribben who was a mentor to him in the ecumenical movement. Ian quoted 1 Corinthians 9:22: “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some”, to comment on his capacity to communicate across the broad spectrum of the Christian Church as well as to participate in a range of inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogues and activities at State level with government.

In the conclusion of his written report, Ian wrote:

“This is my last report. It seemed right to both myself and the Standing Committee that 2021 would see the completion of my time in leadership with the VCC. These past 8 years as Executive Officer have been a humbling and rewarding time as I have had the privilege to meet, share and worship with our great family of our God in all our colours, shapes, traditions and understandings”.

“My time with VCC in general encompasses some 30 years, initially as a delegate and Commission member, then as a member of the Executive of Council, now called the Standing Committee. I have served as both a Vice President and as President. During these last 8 years, I have learnt much as I have worked alongside you all and am deeply grateful for the richness of the gift of the breadth and depth I have come to know, appreciate and celebrate as the Body of Christ, the visible expression of the Kingdom here on earth. It’s my prayer that in some tangible ways I have been able to enrich this journey and experience for others”.

“It would be remiss of me not to note my deep appreciation of the leadership of all the presidents I have worked with, Mrs Joan Pye, Monsignor Peter Kenny, Pastor Gordon Wegener, Archdeacon Philip Newman, Major Kerryn Roberts, Rev Jason Kioa, Mr Frank Stuart, Mr Ashok Jacob, Bishop Peter Danaher, Fr Shenouda Boutros and most recently Dr Graeme Blackman. Their wisdom, grace, humour and tenacity have enabled VCC and myself to undertake ministry through these past years. Apologies to anyone I have overlooked”.

“I too note the privilege of working with the General Secretaries of my time; Rev Doug Dargaville, Rev Robert Gribben, Rev Hamish Christie-Johnson, Ms Maureen Postma, Mr Theo Mackaay. Each brought their unique contributions and insights and encouraged me in my ecumenical journey”.

“Finally, let me say a big thank you to our Standing Committee members; they have given of themselves in many ways to ensure the ongoing ability of the VCC to continue to enable the church’s life and witness within the State of Victoria”.

“To all associated with VCC, thank you. To work with so many wonderful Christians seeking a clearer expression of the unified body of our Lord, leads me to constantly giving thanks for the graciousness, creativity and generosity of God’s people”.

The new VCC EO Sandy Boyce offered a prayer for Ian.

Loving God, we pray for Ian as he concludes his ministry with the Victorian Council of Churches, and give thanks for his long engagement with the work of VCC over the last 30 years. We give thanks for the work he has done among us, as Executive Officer and as a steward of the mission and ministry of the VCC. We give thanks for his enthusiasm, his capacity to build relationships, his commitment to the vision of unity. We give thanks also for his leadership of VCC Emergency Ministries. As his term of service with VCC ends, we pray a blessing on him. Refresh him and renew him in your love and joy and goodness. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Ian and Karen have moved to a rural property in Gippsland where Ian has accepted a supply ministry in a UCA parish. There will no doubt be fresh opportunities for Ian to engage with ecumenical activities.