Church ‘should be enjoyable and fun’

ATTENDING church should be enjoyable and fun, says the new rector of St Matthew’s Church in Albury, Father Peter MacLeod-Miller.

The Sydney-born priest has returned to Australia after eight years in Suffolk, England and was inducted by the Bishop of Wangaratta, John Parkes, in a packed church last night.

Earlier, he signalled a new direction for the parish, which has been without a full-time rector for two years and in the meantime saw its parish centre building demolished.

Father MacLeod-Miller, 47, said he favoured High Church liturgies, calls himself a “liberal catholic” and hopes especially to attract more young people to worship while valuing the experience of older parishioners.

“Church should be really enjoyable and fun, and shouldn’t be uptight and judgemental,’’ he said.

Although the parish recently bought a house, intending the 1869-vintage rectory to be used as a parish centre, Father MacLeod-Miller has chosen to live in the old place because it’s next to the church and in the city’s heart.

He wants people to know how to find him and is keen to engage with all levels of society and especially young people, people with disabilities and others who might need help, whether church members or not.

He believed communities would be much safer places if more people accepted God.

Father MacLeod-Miller said he had lots of friends who did not attend church “and they are good people’’.

In England he became well-known in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich for his donkeys and other animals that helped him raise funds for charities.

“I have been profoundly affected by working with people with intellectual disabilities,’’ he said.

International opera singer Joanna Cole took part in last night’s service, singing Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim, to the accompaniment of trumpeter John Ross.

Father MacLeod-Miller last night used a Bible that an ancestor, Joseph Orton, a Wesleyan missionary, used when he became the first Christian minister to preach in Melbourne in 1836.

His mother, Sandra, was among those present.

Father MacLeod-Miller will also become Bishop Parkes’s Archdeacon of the Hume.

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