Three faces of ministry in South Huron

By Davor Milicevic 

Rev. Steve in front of St. John’s-by-the-Lake, Grand Bend.

Ten months into his ministry, Rev. Steve Greene, the curate at Regional Ministry of South Huron, considers himself being very lucky for serving in three different communities.

– If my parish profile defines my ministry, I am in a position to learn a lot and that makes me a very rich guy, says Rev. Steve with a smile.

South Huron is comprised of three churches – St. Anne’s in Port Franks; St. John’s-by-the-Lake in Grand Bend; and Trivitt Memorial in Exeter – each of them having its distinctive feature.

The key word that defines St. Anne’s in Port Franks in Steve’s opinion is hospitality. For St. John’s, Grand Bend it is intimacy, and for Trivitt Memorial in Exeter – tradition. Rev. Steve says he enjoys all three communities equally and appreciates different influences they have on his ministry.

It is probably easy to see how Port Franks could be a perfect setting for an extrovert like Steve. He remembers a recent barbeque event he and his rector, Rev. Jim Innes organized at St. Anne’s. Both of them were flipping burgers and inviting people and finally there were more people than they expected.

– People would just drive up, stop, pop out, get a burger, and we would have a great talk. And they are always ready to do that, says Steve.

But the intimacy he feels when in Grand Bend helps him to understand that prayer is critical for his ministry.
There is a circle of intimacy initiated by the Grand Bend’s Prayer and Care Fellowship Group and created around those who are vulnerable, explains Rev. Steve:

– It’s all about prayer and forgiveness, because forgiveness is associated with vulnerability. And this is how we come together as a family and work together as a family.

Trivitt Memorial in Exeter

Trivitt Memorial in Exeter is another story altogether. The pride this community feels for its church and history helps Rev. Steve not to forget that this is the Anglican Church.

– The message is: we’ve been here for a long, long time. I am honouring this as a priest, but I am also trying to find a way to make this tradition work in 2017, explains the curate and adds:

– So in this case, with the word “tradition” I would like to associate the word “growth”.

For Rev. Greene it is all about the readiness to learn, both from his parishioners and from his colleagues. That is why his relationship with the rector of South Huron, Rev. Jim Innes is important to him. Both of them started last November at the newly formed Regional ministry – Rev. Innes as the rector and Steve as a lay assistant, and then deacon and finally as the curate – but Jim’s three decades of prior service as priest make a difference:

– I met him in November, first time ever, says Rev. Steve, but his influence on me is important and we work very well together. He is just fantastic in pastoral care. And he told me, point blank, you are going to make mistakes, Steve, try to learn from them.

And indeed, Rev. Innes sees Steve’s willingnes to learn as an important quality:

– Steve makes every effort to not only reach out, but also allow himself to be lead and taught by others, explains Rev. Innes and praises his young colleague as a warm pastor with a passion for teaching.

Steve also expects to learn from his parishioners. At the end of June he gave a template to his lay support group with specific elements on which they would give their comments: two months of preaching, liturgy, outreach… Their feedback will be a valuable help.

Rev. Greene believes that people are eager to learn more about Church. Like his friends with whom he goes to a gym and who asked him about Eucharist. “So, you break God’s body… really”, was their reaction to Steve’s explanation. “Yes, come one day and see”, was his reply. And they came and afterwards they admitted “it now makes perfect sense.”

– I always have to empower, educate and edify, whether between these four walls or outside, sums up Steve the basic principal of his ministry and elaborates on his core beliefs:

– We must proclaim and re-live Gospel; we must be liturgically vibrant – connecting to people and teaching them why we do certain things; and we must be challenging to society.

And Rev. Greene is always out there – on a beach, on a downtown street, or in a convenience store – talking to people, probably making a mistake here and there, but constantly learning and trying to teach others.