Dear Inner Circle,

Wayside’s leadership is passing into good hands. Jon Owen and I were in Mount Druitt this week, helping to make a documentary about our succession. We stopped at multiple locations and always someone recognised Jon, embraced him and tried to catch him up on as much news as they could in a few minutes. Each time we jumped back into the car to head to the next location, Jon shared something of the story of the journey he’d shared with the person we just met. After the first couple of these, I was impressed by the compassion of a man who’d shared the worst of human tragedies with people, without for a moment thinking he’s achieved anything special. In one location, we stopped long enough to hear raised, cranky voices. A woman jumped into a car and before our eyes, ran it into the bloke at whom she was yelling. The car knocked the man to the ground and I’d wondered if he might have broken a leg. He quickly jumped up to his feet in time to kick the bonnet of the car before it sped off down the street. I was momentarily in shock. “In this part of the world,” Jon said, “that was just a negotiation.”

Mark your diaries for Sunday, 26 August 2018, 2pm to 5pm. That is the date set aside for Wayside to celebrate my fourteen years in leadership and to anticipate the next fourteen. This event is primarily for you, our inner circle. Maybe you’ve been reading these notes for years and we’ve never met – what a great time for us to meet face to face. It will be a celebration. It will be fun. It’s been an astonishing time for me and at every point and in every achievement, you, our inner circle have been involved and sharing it all. How fitting that we should attempt a get together and celebrate. More details to come as the time approaches.
Rev Graham Long and Pastor Jon Owen
Our work at Wayside is done almost entirely in small teams who meet together regularly. Only a few times a year do we meet as one large team. If we are all in one place at one time, we’re well over 100 people now. Next week is a staff forum and it will be my last as CEO. One of our staff members put a call out for photos in preparation for this meeting. I’ve never really collected photos but I decided to look through my laptop for early photos. Oh my, oh my! Memories of people I’ve loved and whose stories have transformed me, flooded my soul, filling me with sadness, joy and almost paralysing gratitude. The characters we have known and the quality of people who have made the impossible happen blow me away. Donors who have dug deep into their bank accounts because they, with us, have been captured by a vision of love over hate. Volunteers, who in their hundreds, have given their time to create a community with no ‘us and them’. What a collective achievement.

Many of you have asked about the future of this note. It will continue and from July will be written by Jon. Many of you have pointed out that he, “has big shoes to fill” but I assure you that he’s bringing his own shoes. He’s one in a million. He writes well and his heart and mine beat as one. You’ll soon love him. As you know, I will still be around Wayside contributing where I can. I’ll probably write this note when Jon is away. I’ve got a blog and after a decent break I’ll start injecting energy into writing there. Next year I’ll be running classes for those of you who’ve been busting to learn about old Greek guys. I’ll also be a part of the Sunday community every week. It will be fun. They’ll officially call me “Pastor Emeritus” which sounds pretty much like “grandfather” to me. We all mostly know and love grandfathers – they are the people you hold in great respect as long as their visits are short and their lectures are minimal. Everything about Wayside’s vision and mission is stretching toward a better future. All who long for a better world will find a home and role here. My role will be reduced but the fun factor will increase dramatically. I hope you’ll be sharing some of the fun with me.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Graham

Rev Graham Long
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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