By Graeme Cole, Wesley Mission
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: A Queen’s Birthday honour awarded in June to the Superintendent of Wesley Mission Sydney, the Rev Keith Garner, has had its sequel with his formal investiture to the Order of Australia (AM) by the Governor of New South Wales on 11 September.
His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) formally presented Garner with the award for “significant service to the community and being an advocate for people who are homeless and socially disadvantaged, and to pastoral care” at a state event at Government House in Sydney.
Garner said the award was an honour to be shared with the broader Wesley Mission family. “These are the people who are engaged in the important work of caring for the poor and vulnerable in Sydney and beyond,” he said.
Rev Garner said he was honoured to be so meaningfully embraced in a new country. “In our adopted country we have been supported by a marvellous team of people: this award belongs to everyone at Wesley Mission,” he said.
The investiture took place just one week after Garner’s role as Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer of Wesley Mission was extended for another five years “Wesley Mission, as both a parish mission and an incorporated body, has a tradition of an extensive and strategic ministry for its Superintendent,” he said.
“In 2005 I had arrived in a different culture and was adjusting to a new church and to a different model of community service delivery.
“From 2010 the focus has been upon developing a new strategy for growth and delivering even greater and significant work within the community.”
Rev Garner said the forthcoming five years will see further fresh and imaginative emphases upon growth and development. Wesley Mission currently has over 2000 staff, close to 4000 volunteers and an operational budget of $190 million (AUD).
“In many ways, Wesley Mission has moved into a new era,” he said. “We look forward to seeing the lasting benefits of this strong foundation through to 2020.”
The investiture and extension of Garner’s ministry happened during 2015 – a year in which Wesley Mission and the Methodist world celebrated the 200th anniversary of the arrival in Australia of the Rev Samuel Leigh, the country’s first Methodist missionary.
Samuel Leigh’s story is celebrated In Keith Garner’s latest book, Samuel Leigh: the first Methodist missionary to Australia and New Zealand, which was released at a special event in Sydney on 30 August to mark the arrival of Samuel Leigh in the new colony.
Visit wesleymission.org.au for more information about the organization and Garner’s ministry.