This note is quite a different one to the usual weekly stories of life by the Wayside, but it is of no less importance.
Back in 2004 all the indicators showed that the famous Wayside Chapel had had its day. There had been serious discussions about whether any sort of future might be possible. Wayside’s building was in a state of serious disrepair. Half of it had been damaged or deteriorated and the other half was about to be condemned. Rev Graham Long had just been appointed as CEO and Pastor. The passion for the mission was as strong as ever but the demands of maintaining such a large facility were taking their toll. To have a shower meant ducking into the back alleyway and when it rained outside, it also rained inside. The leaks in the roof have become the stories of legend. Weddings were sometimes conducted in two inches of water and our building had a spot next to a stairwell where it seemed every pigeon in Sydney came to die.
There had been discussions about a new building for years but there was no money, and no plan to find it. In those days, Wayside had a small handful of part-time staff and by the end of 2004, the handful had been reduced to just a couple of paid staff. Thankfully, enthusiastic volunteers have never been in short supply and it was they who kept our doors open and our wheels turning even through the days of heavy mud. Contrast that to today, where every day we see people arrive to be greeted with a fresh set of clothes after a lovely shower, perhaps the only moment of the day they are free to relax and have a moment alone. They can emerge clean and showered to a healthy array of dining options prepared lovingly in our professional kitchen with produce that is picked from our rooftop organic garden. And if today is the day that someone wants to turn their life around, there are talented staff and tailored care coordination provided to walk with them as they move to better health and better days. None of this was inevitable nor could it ever be taken for granted. It took vision and tenacity.
The day of Wayside’s turn around was the day in 2005 that Ian Martin agreed to be Chair of the Wayside Chapel Board. Ian knew that Wayside had a treasured place in the heart of our nation and felt the weight of responsibility that its future was in doubt. Ian brought his years of business acumen to establish habits of good governance and prudent financial planning and practice. Ian was instrumental in overseeing the $8.2M building redevelopment and creating a strong foundation on which Wayside could flourish. Ian has chaired a board who were passionate about the survival of Wayside, yet always understood our mission and that we had to put it first. After 15 years of service to Wayside, Ian Martin is retiring as Chair at the end of this month. It is difficult to find the words to thank Ian for his monumental contribution to Wayside. Ian is someone who has never sought recognition and preferred to remain far from the spotlight, working hard behind the scenes. Ian was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014, for his contribution to the financial sector but also for the truly heroic service to the community through his leadership of Wayside. Ian Martin is respected in the world of business across the globe, he has been honoured by the state, and for all at Wayside and for all time, he is loved and our very existence is his legacy.
While Ian will be missed on the Board, I am delighted that he plans to stay involved with Wayside as a volunteer. I am equally delighted that Graham Rich will succeed Ian in the chair role from 1 December. Graham has been a member of the Wayside Congregation since 2011, a Wayside board member for the last seven years, and most recently Chair of our Nomination and Governance Committee. Cassandra Michie, a long-serving Wayside volunteer who joined the Board in 2016, will also be stepping into the new role of Deputy Chair.
The future of Wayside is assured because of the passionate contributions that these and many other wonderful people make every day behind the scenes, and I pay homage to them today. These contributions to community are often quiet, yet no less significant.
Thanks for being a part of this Inner Circle,