It was good to see so many parishioners both from Featherston and Martinborough at the funeral for dear Michael Burt.
Michael was the Vicar of this parish for 8 years and since then his spiritual home has been St Matthews Masterton. As Archdeacon (in the absence of the Bishop) I spoke at the funeral. Here is the text of my speech:
Reverend Michael John Burt
I am here to speak to you on behalf of the Bishop Justin and the Diocesan family.
It’s a humble privilege to do so particularly as I knew Michael and Jenny quite well. Michael was the Vicar of the Parish of South Wairarapa based in Martinborough before coming to live in Masterton.
Our family had a holiday house in Martinborough and over our brief periods in and out of the parish I came to know Michael quite well, particularly in the latter part of his ministry there when we talked and prayed together quite often. Yesterday I contacted a few people who knew Michael and we talked about his ministry. Michael was a faithful and loyal follower of Jesus, committed to his church.
He loved the scriptures, enjoyed preaching and his sermons were always based on the word, never sending people away without something to think about.
He was a great supporter of overseas missions and missionaries. He had an excellent singing voice which was great for the church but also a link for him into the community. I have been told that at his last service at St Andrews in Martinborough there was a surprise visit of the local musical group ‘Madcaps” who came down the aisle singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” to everyone’s enjoyment.
One of the strengths of Michael’s ministry was with those who were quiet, who might otherwise go by unnoticed. He would get alongside them and he never gave up on being there for people.
The elderly were fond of Michael, he had time for them and it’s worth noting that in these last years his ministry had a focus in that area.
I admired his strong and sincere faith and it’s so good to see many parishioners from other places where Michael served well supported by his wonderful wife Jenny.
Michael has served as a Priest in the Wellington Diocese since he first arrived in NZ in 1985 with Jenny and their two small children Clair and Andrew. It was coming home to NZ for Jenny. Michael first served the church here as Priest Assistant at St Marks Raumati ministering alongside Rev Theo Carpenter and his wife Anne. It was a busy parish with five worship centres.
It must have been quite some adjustment for Michael coming from his church in South Africa where he had served in a predominately (what was then called a) “coloured” congregation where he fluently spoke Afrikaans.
In 1987 Michael was appointed Vicar of Petone where he served for 8 years before moving to the Wairarapa to take up the ministry of Vicar of the Parish of South Wairarapa. Michael moved to live in Masterton in 2003 where his spiritual home and ministry base has been St Matthews.
Today as we come to say goodbye the Priests wear white stoles, the church is decked in flowers and we sing: all symbols of celebration and hope. Celebration and hope because Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me shall live forever”.
In word and message God’s love is so much stronger than death and Michael knew that
The door of death has opened up to the arms of a God who always loved him….
Well done Michael good and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.