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CHRISTIAN MENTAL HEALTH AND COVID-19
COVID prayer for missios • Senior minister shortage Things to keep online • Faith when business suffers
MOORE COLLEGE SUNDAY 2020 2 August
Will you pray?
It’s okay not to be okay
ith the easing of COVID-related restrictions across the board, everyday life is starting to look more familiar. But is everything okay now? Probably not.
Statistics released by Lifeline last month show that daily call numbers have increased by about 25 per cent from 2019. That’s another 700 anxious and distressed people calling the help line each day, taking the average 24-hour total up to 3200. And while it would be nice to think that, as Christians, our faith and confidence in Jesus will protect us from such difficulties, the truth is that no one is immune. “Lots of people are feeling these discombobulated, bamboozled feelings,” says the Rev Dr Keith
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Condie, co-director of Anglican Deaconess Ministries’ Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute. “I want to promote calm, so one of the things I’ve been saying to people is that if you’re feeling like this, it’s a pretty normal outcome. “We’ve all experienced significant losses. Some people have lost their jobs, they’ve lost financial security, but all of us – especially during the times of lockdown – had the loss of normal networks of social connection… a whole lot of these were taken away from us. Our normal routines were taken away from us and, I suppose, our sense of control. “For some people who are vulnerable – who have either an existing mental health condition or are close to the edge, COVID-related stresses could cause real problems.” Psychologist Bronwyn Wake (right), who works at St Andrew’s Cathedral School, uses the example of a “cup full of stress and worry” to describe the external pressures recent events have placed on the population. For those whose cup was already half-full before COVID, she says, it is now overflowing. “All of us have quite a high level of stress as we cope with the changes around us, and for those already carrying
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those high levels of stress, or who are prone to feeling the impact of those difficulties more, we are seeing an increase in mental health difficulties,” she says. “It’s okay to say to people, ‘Actually I’m tired, I’m not coping so well at the moment’, or ‘I’m finding these circumstances quite difficult’. We should feel okay with saying that, because acknowledging the difficulty of what we have been through – or are going through –is really important.”
MENTAL HEALTH TRIGGERS Valerie Ling (right), a clinical psychologist who has done considerable work with staff and students at Moore College, and with clergy through the Centre for Ministry Development, says there isn’t one simple thing triggering mental health problems for people. She separates it into three elements. First is the idea that we can manage whatever is thrown at us, and COVID has shown this is not a given. Second is the “other”, which, she explains, assumes that “even if bad stuff happens, people are generally good – but the toilet paper hoarding, people bashing others and racist comments shatters that”.
Third is the idea that, generally speaking, even if bad things happen the world is a predictable and stable place. However, she says, “COVID smashed everything. Are we sick? Are we really sick? What if we’ve got no symptoms? How do we know? COVID’s just smashed all of those assumptions.
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“What we know of other epidemics is that people go through different stages. In the first stage, everybody who hasn’t lost their job or come into acute distress because of COVID is just adjusting to life, so there’s a survival mentality that blocks out anything else.” After an epidemic, Mrs Ling says, there is an increase in depression symptoms as a result of the isolation, and an increase in anxiety symptoms due to people’s fear for their health. “When we were in isolation that was easy because we could all stay home, but now we’re going back out into the world, people’s anxieties will increase,” she says. “Then there’s the post-traumatic type reaction, which comes later – even up to a year afterwards for our health care workers, our teachers, and those who felt like they had to hold the fort during COVID-19… Now we’re also entering the winter season, which typically is an aggravated time for mental health in general, so we’re already seeing our current clients not coping very well. “Churches need to be very careful how fast they go back because people’s mental health is fragile – in that they worry about re-exposing their elderly parents, or people who they love, to infect them – and it will be staff on the ground who will feel responsible for these things.”
IT’S NOT A FAITH ISSUE One of the least helpful things that can happen if someone says they are struggling with mental health problems is to dismiss them, expect them to go away or suggest that the person with the illness and/or their family are somehow lacking in faith. “That’s a really important message,” Dr Condie (left) says. “Mental health problems are not primarily spiritual problems… it’s an illness in medical terms that has an objective cause. Someone infected with Coronavirus or cancer, that’s not their fault, we don’t criticise them for that… and it’s the same with mental health. “Rather than say this is due to lack of faith, [mental illness] needs treatment just the way a physical illness requires treatment.” Mrs Wake agrees. In early May she took part in a webinar on faith and mental health with her church, St Paul’s, Castle Hill; this message was something she and the other two professional Christian women who led the event were keen to get across to those who took part. “We really didn’t want it to be shame-provoking and we didn’t want it to come across as trite – that these things are easy to do and ‘Just love Jesus and everything will be okay’,” she says. “Sometimes that is the message people hear… but we are works in progress, all of us, so we are going to struggle with things in this world and we each struggle in different ways. “In doing the webinar we wanted to encourage people that it’s okay to be experiencing these difficulties, to normalise the fact that this is a tough time, it’s okay not to be okay and that lots of us are seeking help at the moment.” SouthernCross
HOW TO RESPOND
MENTAL HEALTH SYMPTOMS
There are no easy, quick fixes here. Given the havoc COVID has caused in a range of health, social and economic areas, the country could be declared COVID-free tomorrow but its knock-on effects aren’t simply going to disappear.
For children Most children will feel anxiety in new and uncertain situations. However, they may need some extra support when: • their anxiety seems disproportionate to the situation
So, what do we do? First, if we or someone we know have a level of stress, anxiety or depression that’s impairing our day-to-day capacity to function, we need to seek medical help.
• anxiety interferes with school and play • they have significantly disrupted sleep/ eating habits
Says Dr Condie: “For some people the grief we’re experiencing right now, the losses that we’re experiencing and the stress that we’re under is going to create some symptoms. However, when that impairment comes into play, that’s when people do need to get checked out.
• they exhibit increased irritability • there is behavioural acting out • they have significant distress being separated from caregivers • there is regression – bedwetting, thumb sucking or nail biting in children who had previously moved on
“Start off with your GP and, if necessary, they’ll refer you to a mental health professional. And yes, with those conditions you can’t just suddenly talk yourself out of it or pray yourself out of it. “The message I want people in our churches to hear is that people struggling with mental health need our support, not our judgement. They’re already really good at beating themselves up about what’s going on with them – they don’t need anybody else to join that chorus! They need people to walk alongside them, to support them, to care for them. It’s what God does.”
In the webinar, Mrs Wake and her colleagues focused on people finding, in Christ, their security amid change, a satisfaction amid worry and significance in isolation.
• Frequent panic attacks and/or pervasive low mood • Increasing avoidance of feared situations • Interruption in sleep and eating patterns
“When we have that foundation… it helps us to face the difficulties that we’re coping with,” she says.
• Interference in daily living • Significant impact on mood and functioning
“This is an experience that many people are having. Let’s talk about it and try to encourage each other to focus on the hope we have in Christ, but also focus on the everyday activities we can be doing to care for ourselves and each other.”
• Problem-solving does not help • Natural coping resources are overwhelmed Source: Valerie Ling
Dr Condie says the first thing people need to remember is that they are very complex beings with “profound” interconnections between mind, body and spirit. “All influence each other,” he says. “Trying to take care of our bodies at a time like this is eminently wise. So, things like good sleep hygiene, nutritious diet, getting exercise: this is part of the way God has made us, and it’s foolishness to ignore who we are as human beings. There’s also a lot of evidence that paying attention to the spiritual aspects of who we are as human beings is profoundly significant for our wellbeing. Even secular research is saying this now. “The wonder of Christian faith, as opposed to other forms of spirituality, is that it’s grace-based, so my sense of worth is gifted to me by God… It’s removed from that whole performance mentality that drives our society. Here is a God who stands by our side. Those sorts of things can shape our RESOURCES mindset and lift some of those anxious feelings. • Tackling Mental Illness Together by Alan Thomas
“Part of helping ourselves and others from a Christian perspective is not to think you can just read a few Bible verses and everything will be fine. It’s really much more complex… but God can bring good even out of our difficulties (Romans 5:3-5) and he does do that.
“That sort of biblical framework does really assist us… being reminded of these truths is not only good for our souls, it’s good for our mental health.”SC
ALL SEMESTER 2 STUDY IN ‘OFF-CAMPUS’ MODE In these COVID-19 days, SMBC has committed to offering all Semester 2 2020 units (subjects) in 'off-campus' mode.* This is a rare opportunity to consider a taste of studying at SMBC – at home! From Old Testament and New Testament, to theology and church history, from missions to pastoral care – there's a wide range of daytime, evening and intensives classes to choose from.
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Shoalhaven businesses ask for prayer
“We are very dependent on God and turn to him in times of trouble”: Peter and Jan Cotter. photo: Judy Adamson
The impacts of the bushfires coupled with Coronavirus closures mean there are plenty of people in our country still hurting. Businesses haven’t been able to bounce back and those in towns that rely on the tourist trade still need our prayers. TRUSTING GOD WITH TWO EMPTY THEATRES Peter Cotter runs two cinemas in the Shoalhaven: Huskisson Pictures and Inlet Cinema at Sussex Inlet. The usually roaring trade over the summer holidays vanished as the streets resembled a ghost town. Closed roads turned visitors away from the village. “Business went from very busy, to not busy, to none at all,” says Mr Cotter, who attends church at Huskisson. Due to social distancing measures, theatre doors shut completely from midday on SouthernCross
March 23. “When the Government decided to close cinemas, we were thankful,” he says. “We were worried ourselves [about the virus], so we were thankful that the Government made that decision for us.” Insurance, government allowances and savings mean that their situation isn’t as bad as it could be. “We are very dependent on God and turn to him in times of trouble,” Mr Cotter says. “We’ve had to depend on him to supply our needs financially to keep the business open and he’s done that in various ways. We have no doubt God has been taking care of us.” The Cotters have still served their community amid the uncertainty. New Year’s Eve road closures during the fires meant that people couldn’t leave Huskisson. “When we learned people were stuck in town with nothing to do, we opened the cinema and put on a free movie,” he says. Cinemas can reopen from July 1, but it will be complicated with the movie industry at a virtual standstill. “It’s okay for us to be told we can open, but if there’s no film around… It’s like a pub with no beer: you can’t open,” he says. “If we don’t have films to show, people aren’t going to come.” However, the couple isn’t feeling anxious about business. “God has provided for us every step of the way. There’s been a little anxiety over catching the disease, but again we pray each day for his protection and every day so far he’s answered our prayers. Please pray for wisdom to know how to operate safely for both ourselves and our customers. And we would love others to pray for us to serve God and glorify God through our work.” PRAYERS FOR SECURITY, AND SECURITY SCREENS Teri Johnston, a member of Sussex Inlet Church, purchased the Wandandian-based Bay and Basin Security Doors six years ago. Like so many other businesses, the summer trade is especially
“This won’t be a quick recovery”: the Johnston family at Sussex Inlet. important, but last summer they came very close to losing their workshop altogether. “I was in the middle of a Christmas Bible study when the boys at the workshop phoned,” Mrs Johnston recalls. “There were fire trucks gathering across the road and we had to secure the shop. The bush literally across the road burned. The workshop was next to the community centre and the fire station, so the area was protected, but we didn’t know that for a couple of days. We live in Sussex Inlet, so we lost power and communication. It was pretty scary.” When one part of the Sussex Inlet community suffers, the whole community suffers. “When tourists were sent home, we lost all of that income into the community,” she says. “There’s a flow-on effect. Many businesses rely on the summer months to cover the year’s worth of operating costs and wages. Unfortunately much of that trade didn’t occur this year. This will be felt for months and months, potentially even years.” The pandemic was a double blow for businesses that had been longing for a boost from the April holiday trade. “There was a double whammy of looking towards Easter trade as a saviour, and then seeing that disappear,” Mrs Johnston says. “We are thankfully still ticking along. A lot of people have helped us out. It will be a long journey back to feeling secure. My prayer request would be that people reflect on this and try to support these small towns and businesses as much as possible. “Keep us in your prayers for the long term. This won’t be a quick recovery. The ongoing effects are longer and we need extra support. People who have lost their homes are still dealing with that, plus COVID-19. Many of us have spent the last six months at a high level of stress. It is not merely a financial toll but, more importantly, an emotional and mental toll.” SouthernCross
Pandemic pushes Canterbury to launch easy English service Missional amid COVID: The Rev Steve Gardner (right), and warden Ruth Griffiths share the service plans on Facebook.
Reopening a church seems challenging enough, but for St Paul’s, Canterbury, it was too good an evangelistic opportunity to miss. With gathering sizes expected to be limited for a while, the Rev Steve Gardner saw it as a chance to move a small team from the morning congregation to launch a third service this month with an easy English focus. This kind of service was always on the cards for St Paul’s but, Mr Gardner says, “with the COVID19 situation, it’s [been] thrust upon us much quicker. There is a need in our context for this”. More than 50 per cent of the Canterbury LGA was born overseas, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and residents in almost two-thirds of its homes speak a language other than English. The parish has already established contacts with people from a variety of national backgrounds, including Mongolia, Nepal, Indonesia, Africa and Vietnam. These are a result of ministries such as playgroup, an English conversation class and a community food pantry. Reading and teaching the Bible will be at the heart of the new service, but the plan is to approach prayer in a more flexible and multicultural way. “Different ethnic communities pray differently,” Mr Gardner says. For example, people from Mongolia “really value speaking significant words to one another and praying significantly to God. They have extended times of prayer, and periods where the congregation prays individually or in smaller groups for a portion of time.” He and the team at St Paul’s praise God for the unique opportunity to do something missional in light of the pandemic. “Pray we might be able to come out of [this] stronger,” Mr Gardner says. “We’re mindful we need prayer for the congregation to get used to doing church in person together. There are a range of emotions people are feeling. Pray for our congregation to adapt well, and for a spirit of unity to get behind this new service. We’re really hopeful that this service will help us build on the many contacts we have with different cultural groups in the area. “We really feel God is in the business of turning around bleak situations... this is the time to do this in a way that will help us be a church for all people.” SouthernCross
Online boom in faith courses
Getting it out there: Ben George created a “Jesus Perspectives” event on Facebook.
With COVID-19 forcing parishes to shift evangelistic activities online, many are seeing increased attendance at courses that explain Christianity. Some churches have reported their course participants have doubled in the move to online delivery. The Rev Phil Wheeler, director of Evangelism and New Churches, says there are several explanations for this, including the format itself. “I can click off at any time,” he says. “Online seems to be a safer space, a toe-in-the-water space, and then people warm up. Another factor may be the many emotions people are feeling. [Society is] searching for answers in a worldwide challenging thing. It reflects that there’s more uncertainty or anxiety.” Regardless of why people are joining, Mr Wheeler believes this is a time to rejoice. “The doors might be closed but the hearts are open. The gospel is never bound. We all had to invent new ways but it doesn’t stop the gospel going forward. Jesus is building his church, so we should rejoice.” REMOVE BARRIERS Emu Plains Anglican wasn’t sure how people would respond to the parish taking its four-week faith course into cyberspace. Then the church ended up with twice as many people joining online than would usually take part in person. “We had 16 people who completed the course,” says the Rev David Simmons, who focuses on connecting and evangelism in the parish. “There was a mix of church members and outsiders. We had three people say at the beginning of course that they didn’t call themselves Christians, and after the course they’re confessing Christians.” Mr Simmons feels some of the success came from removing a few common barriers. “Just the physical barrier of having to get dressed and go into a church you’ve not been to before [was gone],” SouthernCross
he says. “All the anxiety around having to talk to people was removed – they can just log in and listen. One thing I noticed was people asked a lot of questions on Zoom. We do get questions in the flesh, but not as many.” However, moving online has made follow-up more challenging. “It’s hard to build relationships with new people like you can when they come here, and it’s hard to follow up because you haven’t met people properly,” he says. “The content is fine, but the relational things are much harder.” ABOVE AND BEYOND TO BUILD CONNECTION The folks at St Michael’s, Wollongong had a record attendance at their online five-week Simply Christianity course, with nine attendees who were not regular church members. People put in an extra effort to ensure that each attendee felt extra cared for and connected during a time of isolation. “Although Matthias Media have now made their participant manual available for purchase digitally, I decided to home-deliver manuals,” says rector the Rev Canon Sandy Grant, who runs the course. Physical booklets weren’t the only connection point. Each participant received home-baked goods from Canon Grant at the start and end of the course. “I traditionally supply dessert when I run a course, and I always start with Toblerone cheesecake,” he says. “It’s a bit of a ‘thing’ associated with functions I host, and it actually helps as a little relational motivator, too. On the afternoon of the final night, I also home-delivered a licorice allsorts chocolate slice to celebrate making it to the end.” Participants’ feedback about the course was positive. Several expressed significant spiritual growth and are keen to continue studying the Bible in some form. MAKE THE MOST OF THE TIMES Inspired by the online evangelism resources created by Moore College students, Ben George invited his 2800 Facebook friends to join him for a six-week look at what Jesus has to say. Mr George, who attends Auburn Anglican, created a public Facebook event and sent additional personal invites to those he thought might be interested in the Jesus Perspectives course. On the first night, 24 people logged on to see what Jesus had to say about sickness. “There were people there I wouldn’t have otherwise had personal contact with,” he says. “Because it was online, and because they had free time due to restrictions, they were willing to explore the Bible a bit.” Although Mr George capped the content at 90 minutes, almost half the participants would stay for up to another hour asking questions. When the course ended, the group asked Mr George to lead studies on Amos. “The group would say they were churchgoers, but their understanding varied from a college student to some who didn’t know Jesus had something to say about death and resurrection,” he says. “This group got them to take the Bible seriously.” Mr George believes people are more willing to explore than we expect. “A lot of the hardheartedness of Sydney comes from us being in control; we’re spoiled for choice. When we are suddenly restricted and have a bunch of questions, it’s not about what’s the most fun, it’s about what’s most important. That’s where the Bible is perfectly relevant. This is good to do. Our business is helping people understand the gospel.” SouthernCross
“A great encourager in faith”: 99-year-old ancient history academic and World War II veteran Dr Bruce Harris AM, wears his medals and a Maori feather cloak, or Korowai, as a sign of his status as a respected elder.
A group of Sydney Anglicans have been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list – foremost among them Dr Bruce Harris, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “for significant service to higher education, to veterans and to the community”. Dr Harris is a World War II veteran, one of the first lecturers in Ancient History at Macquarie SouthernCross
University and a former associate professor and head of its School of History, Philosophy and Politics. Aged 99, Dr Harris was born in New Zealand into a family of strong faith and, after the war, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. While in the UK he befriended the likes of J.I. Packer, Donald Robinson, F.F. Bruce and Alan Cole and, like them, contributed to much-needed evangelical publications such as the IVP Bible Dictionary. It was also during this time that he met and married his wife Pamela – and they recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. He was involved in the Department of Classics at Auckland University, as well as the Bible College of New Zealand and Intervarsity Fellowship, before moving to Sydney in 1970. Dr Harris’s youngest son, Adelaide missioner Bishop Tim Harris, says that on arrival in Sydney his father joined a local Anglican parish and “very quickly became a member of Synod, Standing Committee and groups like the New Universities Christian Colleges… he was on the steering group that supported the establishment of Robert Menzies College [at Macquarie University] and New College [at the University of NSW]”. His father was chairman of the Diocesan Education Commission for five years in the 1980s, integral to the creation of the Evangelical Anglicanism report commissioned by Synod in 1990, and was also a lay Canon of St Andrew’s Cathedral. In addition, Dr Harris was “adopted” a few years ago by the Maori veterans in NSW because one of his postings during the war was as a liaison officer with a Maori regiment. He has regularly attended events with them and spoken of his faith amid the turmoil of war. And the Maori veterans have honoured Dr Harris with the gift of a feather cloak, or Korowai, as a sign of their respect for him. Says Bishop Harris: “On his 98th birthday they turned up at the nursing home and sang him the songs of respect for a Maori elder. “Dad’s probably one of the last survivors of his generation – that’s why we’re quite excited to tell the story of what the present generation has inherited because of his… providing the first resources that evangelicals could use, [and] providing pathways for further study. “He always wore his learning very lightly and won respect for who he is as a Christian gentleman. He’s a very humble man and a great encourager in faith. In our family, my parents’ witness – and Dad’s example of faith in that space as a public intellectual – has been a very significant legacy down the generations.” PROFESSORS AND PREMIERS Emeritus Professor Kim Oates was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to paediatric medicine, as an advocate for child health and welfare, to medical education and to professional societies”. Professor Oates has been a tireless advocate for the welfare of children and has previously been recognised with an AM and a Centenary Medal for his work. He has been involved in numerous national and international organisations to prevent child abuse and to care for survivors, including a decade as child protection trustee for the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and chairman of its honorary board, plus 24 years on the executive council of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, SouthernCross
and three years as president. He was also chief executive of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead from 1997-2006 and has been involved in a professional capacity with universities and organisations across the globe, receiving honorary titles and awards in Australia, Vietnam and China. Since 2008, Professor Oates has been part of the academic board of Excelsia College, and became a member of the Sydney Diocese’s Professional Standards Committee in 2009. Also receiving an AO in the honours list was former NSW Premier and Member for Manly, Mike Baird (left), who could not hide his shock – saying in a statement that he felt there were “many more deserving people who won’t be recognised”. However, he added that he was “incredibly thankful for the opportunity to serve my community and the people of NSW for 10 years”. The 44th Premier of NSW has been involved in a number of community initiatives, including the Salvation Army’s Oasis youth network, children’s hospice Bear Cottage and Project Uplift – an organisation he founded in 2014 to help make a difference in the lives of teenagers from difficult backgrounds. A member of St Matt’s, Manly for many years, Mr Baird has recently been appointed as CEO of HammondCare and takes up the role in August. Another former politician honoured this year, Philip Ruddock, is described by Archbishop Glenn Davies as “a good friend to the Diocese [who has] provided me with useful counsel”. Mr Ruddock, who was a member of Federal Parliament for 39 years (including five years as Attorney General) and has been Mayor of Hornsby Shire Council since 2017, received his AO for distinguished service to the people and Parliament of Australia, and to local government. He chaired the Protection of Religious Freedoms Review in 2017 and 2018, and is on the advisory board for Global Action Panel Australasia. A former member of the parish of Asquith, Mr Ruddock now attends St James’, King Street. GOD’S SERVANTS When Patsy Cooper received a letter informing her that she was being considered for a Queen’s birthday honour, she admits with a laugh that she “read the first sentence and then dissolved into tears”. “There I was, sitting at the kitchen table with the letter in front of me, and I was quite overcome,” she says. “It was a combination of the enormous honour and privilege that it is, and also the lovely thought that someone bothered to nominate me!” Ms Cooper, who worked as a teacher (then deputy principal) for 36 years, received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the community. She has been a member of St Stephen’s, Willoughby since 1963, when her father, the Rev Oscar Cooper, retired and the family moved to the North Shore. She immediately joined the Sunday school staff, and was a teacher and leader SouthernCross
until 2003, when a cancer diagnosis meant “most things had to get put on hold” until she recovered. She also ran primary-age Camp Howard camps in the 1970s and ’80s. In addition, Ms Cooper (left) has been one of a team of four tasked with managing the 8am communion service – which she has attended since arriving in the parish – following up those who attend and keeping in touch with anyone who is ill. She has also helped run the church tennis club for 55 years and is part of a committee that organises and runs the St Stephen’s seniors’ group. Since her retirement in 1997, Ms Cooper has also undertaken numerous voluntary roles: tour guide at NSW Government House and tour guide and project supervisor to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, among others. “I’ve loved every single thing I’ve done as a volunteer,” she says. “It’s been absolutely wonderful… but it’s also very, very nice to know that I have been recognised for that effort.” An OAM has also been awarded posthumously to Mrs Lyn Vaak (below) for service to the community, particularly to women and young girls. She did this through the Girls’ Friendly Society, now known as GFS, with which she was involved from 1960 until shortly before her death last year. Mrs Vaak, who was a member of the church at Emu Plains for many decades, began a GFS group there in 1978 and led it for 32 years. A board member of GFS Sydney, Deirdre Noss, says of Mrs Vaak that “Every week she would organise programs, games, camps… she did so much to mentor girls in the Emu Plains area. She also took on roles in the wider organisation of the Blue Mountains and in GFS Sydney and then, in later years, she took on roles within GFS Australia as well. “GFS was her life. She wanted to share her love of Christ with everyone she could, and felt she could do it the best in the GFS. She inspired a lot of women to become leaders and to also express their faith, as well as sharing and encouraging girls to turn to Christ. That’s what we all really remember her for: as a model and mentor to so many women and girls throughout her life.” SouthernCross
Newmarch outbreak over As NSW Health declared the COVID-19 outbreak at Newmarch House over, Anglicare has thanked staff and outside agencies that helped battle the virus. In a statement, Anglicare said the outbreak had brought “significant grief and loss”. A total of 37 residents and 34 staff tested positive for COVID-19 and 19 residents lost their lives. “All of these were people who were much-loved members of our Newmarch House community and their loss is felt not just by their immediate family but also by other residents and our staff, many of whom are only now returning to work,” the statement said. At the height of the outbreak, Anglicare staff were assisted by temporary staff from nursing agencies as well as the Commonwealth Government, NSW Health, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, BaptistCare and other organisations from the aged and health care sectors. Said the statement: “We are grateful to the agency staff who joined the Anglicare team – and many of our own staff volunteering from other areas of our organisation to ensure ongoing support, care and comfort was provided to residents and their families.” Andrew Kinkade, the independent advisor recommended by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, has now finished his role a month earlier than planned. However, Anglicare said while the virus remains active within the community, it must “remain vigilant in screening and infection control at Newmarch House, and across all our other aged care homes”.
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What did you say? Kids club at home?
Out there for Jesus:Â Tim Jamieson from St Johnâ€™s, Maroubra morphs into Flamingo, an Amazon resident who teaches a visiting Aussie kid about the God who created his jungle world, and everything else. This year the regular onstage antics of kids club have been prerecorded, along with games and craft tips, so everyone can take part from home. Church members have prepared for up to 160 kids to take part, with craft bags to be delivered daily.
Enter in...: (left) The front doors at Maroubra, now a window into the Amazon; (right) a Lego depiction of the journey.
Discover treasure: Members of St Hilda’s, Katoomba prepare for this month’s K-6 online kids club. The “treasure” boxes will be filled with craft supplies, juggling balls and chocolate coins, then delivered to homes from Lawson to Mt Victoria.
Why most churches aren’t rushing to reopen
All in good time: Roger Fitzhardinge looks out the front door of his church in Fairy Meadow. photo: Judy Adamson
hen the State Government approved up to 50 people at a time in church buildings late in
May there was a mixed response, to say the least. Some people rejoiced, some wondered how to manage it, while others were too anxious to even contemplate real-life church just yet. Although there has since been a further easing of restrictions, there are still plenty of boxes to tick: measuring the church to confirm how many can fit under the 4-square-metre rule; cleaning everything before and after a service; no congregational singing; no morning tea; don’t give out bibles; take everyone’s details just in case… and on it goes. Some parishes in the Diocese moved straight back to physical services, but many are still keeping church online, at least for now. The rector of Clovelly, the Rev Dave Rogers, says the 50-person announcement “sped up some people’s expectations but the reality of it is complex. Some people would stay away for a while anyway because they work in a hospital, or because they feel more anxious, or are elderly… but SouthernCross
we also have people exploring Jesus who are really missing church. It’s complicated. “We’re reopening for our people on July 19, with a public launch on July 26. We’re avoiding the need to ticket by a reverse ballot... and we’re praying and hoping the restrictions open up one more level which will allow us to do most things – socially distanced!”
WORTH WAITING FOR The rector of Park Road Anglican in South Carlton, the Rev Gary Bennetts, says his parish has decided it won’t open for physical services until August at the earliest. Preparations are underway, but they’re taking things carefully, and one step at a time. “The restrictions on meeting – in terms of what we can do and the number of people we can have together in the space – really makes rushing back to be together not all that attractive,” he says. “I don’t think [the cleaning issue] is insurmountable, but two of our three congregations would not be able to meet together in their full number… and the one that could is predominantly filled with people in the over-70 age group, so they face a higher risk of infection.” In terms of making it work with the larger congregations, he adds, “I’m not sure how we would do that apart from A-K one week and L-Z another. People are keen to be together, but I think they want to be together, all together.” Kirsty Bucknell, an organisational psychologist who took part in a recent Centre for Ministry Development webinar on the topic, says, “We want to be thinking through how we can love other people through this… We’re all different, and [our responses are] not necessarily right or wrong. We need to appreciate our differences and start to understand and help each other through this – to be gentle and to bear with one another in this situation.”
PRAY FOR YOUR CHURCH LEADERS Our pastors and leadership teams are seeking to love their congregations through the decisions they make. We need to be in prayer for them as they do so, as there are many reasons why they may choose not to open the church doors just yet. At Rosemeadow-Appin Anglican Churches, rector the Rev Brett Hall and the ministry team are also taking it slowly. He doesn’t want to restart all three services before they can be sustainable in the long term, so at this stage he won’t be opening the doors until the end of July. Issues to cover include temporarily changing service times to accommodate COVID-related logistics such as cleaning, staggering the return of services to make sure they can all run well (and give ministry staff the opportunity to take some much-needed leave), plus “livestreaming one service indefinitely to care for those who aren’t ready to return, or those that need to stay home because they’re sick”. “Our services will still essentially be ‘invite-only’ at this stage,” he adds. “We’re having to ask some of our folk that can, to either attend our evening service or watch the 10am livestream for the time being. “The lifting of the 50 cap was a game changer for us. Maxing out our Rosemeadow building gets us up to 79 onsite at one person per four sqare metres, and that’s the difference between pushing to get back onsite or not... It almost feels like having to plant a new church from scratch!” SouthernCross
CHANGE, STRESS AND THE KINGDOM Organisational psychologist Kirsty Bucknell (right) says that during the COVID crisis individuals, and churches, have learned to work in completely different ways. There have been many changes and “a lot of stress and pressure related to that”. As restrictions have been eased, this has resulted in further changes – with more on the horizon: “It’s not a wonder many of us are feeling so tired, because it’s change upon change upon change,” she says. In addition, it’s important for pastors and congregations to realise that when our church doors do reopen, “what we’re going back to is not what we knew… I think the only real expectation we might have is that it’s going to be more complex than we first thought it was going to be”. Amid this change and complexity, Mrs Bucknell urges us to do three things. First, care for each other. As people respond to these changes in different ways, we need to make sure others are understood and loved well – one on one, as a ministry team, as Bible study groups and as a church. Second, communicate well. Leaders need to share their plans and reasons for when they might bring the church back together. If things are still unclear, share that too. Third, as we gradually reopen our churches, what can we do “that will effectively honour the past but also start to take hold of the opportunities this change brings”? “We’ve suddenly learned a whole lot of new skills,” she says. “We’ve thought of new ways of ministering to people online. How can we harness that innovation… and continue to use what has been good in that?”
GOD’S KINGDOM STILL GROWS The Rev Roger Fitzhardinge at Fairy Meadow says that, looking solely at numbers, his 8am and 6pm congregations could meet, but there would need to be three iterations of the 10am service to cater for everybody. “We have the capacity to have systems for recording names, disinfecting chairs, toilets and door handles,” he says, “but we still don’t have a way to run 10am three times and do children’s ministry in a way that won’t exhaust and demoralise people after three weeks!” He adds that there have been very few COVID cases in the Illawarra, so meeting in person would “probably be okay… but what I want to be able to do is to look back in six months and say we cared more for the vulnerable among us than for the ones who were super-eager to meet, even though we weren’t quite sure what might happen. “This is one of those moments where you want to look after the weaker brother – whether it’s immunologically weaker or just worried. If the past 15 weeks have shown us anything, it’s that the kingdom doesn’t fall over if you can’t meet physically. God’s people are going to keep hearing his word and encouraging each other, and will also see each other again, hopefully before we gather around the throne.” SC Kirsty Bucknell is inviting people in ministry to take part in her PhD training program, which aims to strengthen resilience in ministry. Those interested can sign up at https://tinyurl.com/RiM-Registration. SouthernCross
Dr Glenn Davies
pidemics are not new – neither are pandemics. Interestingly, both words have Greek roots, namely, “upon a people” (epi + demos) and “all people” (pan + demos). The usage in each case refers to a disease that has affected people, so “pandemic” is certainly an appropriate description of COVID-19, the result of the spread of the Coronavirus over all peoples.
Yet plagues are not new. The Bible warns us of plagues past (Exodus 7-12) and plagues to come (Revelation 11:6; 15:1). The 10 plagues which God sent upon the Egyptians in the days of Moses are well known, and almost a template for God’s judgment upon Israel (Amos 4:10). At the founding of the nation of Israel, God warned his people that if they broke his covenant, he would send a plague upon them (Leviticus 26:25). Although plagues continue to exist, it is not easy to apportion theological blame upon a nation, as it was in Old Testament times when prophets could reveal the mind of God and interpret the times in ways that are not open to us today. In fact, our Lord Jesus specifically disallows apportioning direct blame on individuals for calamity (Luke 13:1-5; John 9:3-5), but rather points to the need for repentance by all people. The events of disaster and catastrophe are a reminder that we live in a broken world, which will only be fully restored at the coming of the Lord in glory. One wonders if the description of the 1919 pandemic as “Spanish” Flu did not contain a whiff of blame attached to a particular nation. However, despite some politicians seeking to blame someone or some country for the current pandemic, our attention as Christians should focus on how we respond to the calamities that are part of our broken world. When my wife and I lived in England in the 1980s we visited the small country village of Eyam SouthernCross
(pronounced “Eem”) in Derbyshire. It was there in September 1665 that the fearsome bubonic plague that was ravaging London suddenly broke out. Apparently, a piece of infected cloth from London was brought to a tailor in Eyam. It is assumed that fleas infected with the virus were hidden within the folds of the cloth. Two days later the tailor fell ill with a fever, with swellings of a rose-coloured rash covering his body. He died within the week. Very soon the plague began to spread throughout the village and although the doctors tried to contain it by quarantining infected households, the whole village came under threat. The medicine prescribed was a mixture of olive oil, onions, pepper, garlic and various herbs. People were also advised to carry a nosegay (a bunch of flowers) to ward off the plague. Needless to say, these remedies had little effect. As the number of sick outgrew the numbers of healthy people, the local church was closed and the band of believers met in a grassy delf (a quarry) instead, in order to avoid too close a contact with possible carriers of the disease – their form of social distancing. In the midst of this crisis the Rev William Mompesson, rector of the parish, joined forces with a Puritan minister, Thomas Stanley (who had suffered from the Great Ejection of 1662), and persuaded the villagers that the only way to contain the plague was to shut Eyam off from neighbouring townships. This decision amounted to a virtual death sentence for many in the village. A stone circle was placed around Eyam to mark the boundary beyond which all agreed they would not go. The rector, with the help of the Earl of Devonshire, arranged for food supplies and other goods to be left at Mompesson’s well, which was on the boundary markers, and Mompesson drilled holes in some of the stones, filling them with vinegar so as to sterilise any money exchanged. It took nearly 15 months for the plague to be over. By the end of 1666, the plague had claimed its last victim, with a toll of 260 deaths from a village population of 350. Mompesson’s wife was one of the casualties. However, by the grace of God, the efforts of the inhabitants of Eyam were rewarded, as the plague did not spread further into Derbyshire. A grim reminder of the plague is the familiar children’s nursery rhyme: Ring a ring o’roses / A pocket full of posies / Atishoo, atishoo / We all fall down. The ring of roses refers to the body rash, the pocket full of posies were the herbs carried to ward off the disease, and the sneezing was a symptom of infection, which preceded death. The story of Eyam is a story of sacrifice that is commemorated every year with a service held in the Delf on the theme: “Greater love has no one than to lay down their life for their friend”. The model of such sacrifice was, of course, Jesus Christ. Yet the death of Jesus was for a purpose far greater than saving the inhabitants of Derbyshire. The plague of sin is no mere flea bite, but an overwhelming infection which breaks our fellowship with God and which ultimately leads to eternal death. Jesus took that punishment of death upon himself in order that others might have life. Human remedies for sin are as effective as a “pocket full of posies”. We would be foolish to ignore the lessons that God is teaching us today in the light of COVID19, let alone try to apportion blame. While we are right to follow the Government’s measures for restricting certain activities – keeping physically distanced with regularly sanitised hands – the Coronavirus is only one threat to life. We shall all die of something, even if it is merely old age. Death is the final reality that no one can escape. COVID-19 has merely highlighted the fragility of life and in so doing has given us fresh opportunities of sharing the good news of Jesus. For nothing short of eternal life is the hope that Jesus offers to those who put their faith in him.SC SouthernCross
Saved to serve Dan Wu continues his exploration of Proverbs 25 with a timely encouragement to care for others.
ast month we looked at the impact of one aspect of the Coronavirus pandemic – isolation and loneliness – and explored how a passage like Proverbs 25 shapes our response by first alerting us to our deep need for intimacy and closeness to God.
However, once God fills our fundamental need for relationship in the self-giving service of his Son for us, it cannot help but spill over and drive us to turn outward from ourselves, to selfgiving service of others.
USE YOUR POSITION TO SERVE Verses 6 to 15 focus on the formal role the court officials have in supporting their righteous king. In summary, the section says that if you truly grasp that God uses his position of ultimate power to serve you, then the only proper way to use your position of power is to serve others. You do this with humility (v6-7) and integrity (v8-10) so that, through your role, others experience the beauty and refreshment of righteousness (v11-15). I love the beautiful image of verse 13: “Like a snow-cooled drink on the day of harvest, the
faithful messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master”. This part of the chapter thus calls on God’s people to look and think carefully about the formal positions and organisations they are in, their dynamics, decision-making processes, and how and with whom power flows in the structure. This is not in order to manipulate it for personal gain but, rather, so that whatever position we find ourselves in – whether we are the king’s right-hand man or the court jester, the CEO or the coffee boy – we understand God has placed us there to do good to others from that position. Thus, if we are at the top, we are not to be proud or think it’s because of our own brilliance or merit. And, if we are at the bottom, we are not to snatch and grab our way to the top. Those selfish impulses come so easily to us, especially in a crisis when the pressure is on. But as we’ve seen in the past few months, they are so ugly and out of place when we see them on our screens. Thus, we must fight these impulses in our hearts. We are not simply to use our position to reach and grab for what we can from our vantage point. We are to stop, look and think. Our God, who uses his power in humble service of others, is giving us opportunities to share in his good work, so what are the opportunities he is giving us by placing us where he has? We are particularly to seek to support and refresh those God has placed over us and given responsibility for our care. I think this attitude is so important in our context of social upheaval. It is especially critical at this time to uphold and support our members of government and those particularly responsible for providing care and distributing our basic needs, minimising our criticism of those in such formal positions (which, let’s face it, we’re not very good at). God’s people ought to encourage and support those who use their power in such ways, seeking to further their righteous aims by inhabiting our place in the system appropriately – for example, by not emptying the shelves when it is our turn.
USE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS TO BRING GRACE
DATE 14 JULY – 25 AUG
In verses 16-27, we see the way God’s righteous love should flow out from the official power structures of a righteous kingdom, to impact everyday informal life and relationships. God’s righteousness should penetrate not just our structures and systems but our very hearts, in our up-close, in-your-face interactions with those around us. He wants us to love our neighbour as ourselves. And in fact, this section is driven by a play on words on the Hebrew word for neighbour (re’a).
SPEAKER SIMON GILLHAM
Verse 16 begins with the metaphor of eating SouthernCross
honey. The point is simple: honey is tasty, energising and gives you strength. But if you don’t discipline your consumption and just keep going, it undoes what it was meant to. It comes back up and leaves you sick. But in the following verse, the proverb is then applied to us and the impact we can have on others in how we relate to them: “Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house – too much of you, and they will hate you” (v17). This proverb is not an excuse to be antisocial or seek to shut ourselves away from others. A closer translation is: “Be precious about setting foot in your neighbour’s house”. In the Bible, a neighbour is a good thing. We are meant to be part of each other’s lives, deeply committed to giving and receiving and supporting one another. A couple of years ago my wife Chrissie had leukemia, and we’re so thankful for our neighbours – our family, friends, and our literal neighbours in the Moore College community, constantly being in our home to clean, cook, look after the kids, and simply be with us for company. It was a huge part in us getting through a very difficult period in life. So, these verses aren’t primarily about keeping to yourself. Rather, they say don’t selfishly impose yourself on your neighbour’s hospitality. These verses challenge us to reflect on whether there are people in our lives where the relationship is a bit one-way. Where we have taken their goodwill for granted and imposed on their patience a bit too much. Is there a relationship in our life where we need to change the way we relate to the person – even out the giving with the receiving, so that our neighbour doesn’t become our hater? And, in fact, we see this in v18-20, which in the original Hebrew is a string of metaphorical plays on words that illustrate how failing to discipline your contacts with your neighbour leads to destruction of relationships. As I reflected on these words, I found so much resonance with some of the behaviour we’ve seen in the COVID panic, with people driven to selfishly take away things others need, or spite people to their face. The Bible proves so true to life, like an expert doctor for our souls. When we arrive at verses 21-22, the solution to the neighbour who has become our hater is to lay aside our pride and, instead, meet them with grace at their point of need. Verse 22 is challenging to understand, and the word “heap” could be taken as expressing either the notion of ultimate punishment or, in fact, of grace (the word can mean both “put on” or “take off”, i.e. remove). In context, I lean towards the notion of grace – in other words, it is a proverb about grace taking away the neighbour’s cause of anger. The overall thrust of the verses remains the same: if we have experienced God’s self-giving love for us, it cannot help but transform us from hater to neighbour; from self-serving to selfgiving; from looking out for number one, to looking out for one another. However, by its proverbial, repeated insistence, the chapter also makes clear that being a neighbour is not an automatic thing, but something sinful people like us need to keep working at, committing to and praying about.
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS This became the title of several articles in the early days of lockdown and quarantine – quite a clever spinoff from the title of Gabriel García Márquez’s famous book Love In The Time Of Cholera. One such article, written by the editor of Christianity Today, Andy Crouch, is thought-provoking SouthernCross
FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
What practical examples have you seen, or can you think of, to love and serve those around you in Christ’s name? What has impressed you? How might you incorporate these things into your fellowship and outreach in our current context? What might you retain or develop into the future? What will you leave behind?
What are some other possibilities you have noted for your fellowship to strengthen and develop relationships, both within and without?
How might we use technology to further, rather than hinder, gospel fellowship? How do people’s different ages, stages of life and familiarity with technology impact our considerations?
and challenging as it considers the opportunity COVID-19 presents to sow the message of Jesus’ love into a world full of fear and isolation. Crouch highlights the work of Rodney Stark on how the early church grew – a book called The Rise of Christianity – noting one of the key factors was how Christians responded to epidemics and plagues. Unlike the rest of the population they didn’t flee, abandoning the weak and vulnerable to their fate. They stayed, served and cared, often at great cost to themselves. And this was a major contributor to more and more people becoming Christians. Here’s what Crouch says, and note how his language ties in to Proverbs 25: When this plague has passed, what will our neighbours remember of us? Will they remember that the Christians took immediate, decisive action to protect the vulnerable, even at great personal and organisational cost? Will they remember that… their Christian neighbours were able to visit the needy (while protecting them by keeping appropriate social distance!), provide for their needs and bring them hope? This all sounds great in principle, but the pressing question for God’s people is how do we actually do it in our particular setting? It has been wonderful to see churches going to great lengths to call each member and develop online meetings and services – not as a replacement for physical gatherings, but as the best means for maintaining the face-to-face contact that characterises the true, physical Christian fellowship we yearn for. Even the rise of invitations to “virtual meals”, parties and online games was an unexpected blessing, and a highly effective vehicle for extending the gospel to others. These are real demonstrations to the world that the true antidote to the isolation and fear of Coronavirus is to reach out with life-giving love to our neighbour because, in Jesus, God first reached out in life-giving love to us. I conclude by repeating Winston Churchill’s characteristically rogue-ish insight: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. The real value of this pandemic for God’s people is the way it has blown up many of our assumed and accepted structures and patterns of activity, giving us an opportunity to consider what we might retain and build on. SC The Rev Dr Dan Wu lectures in Old Testament and biblical languages at Moore College. SouthernCross
The best of both worlds WHY CHURCHES WANT TO KEEP SOME ELEMENTS ONLINE
Staying together: A Leichhardt women’s Bible study before COVID (above), and now.
lenty of people can’t wait to return to a fully face-to-face Christian life, but that doesn’t mean we should jettison all the technological discoveries of the past four months. In fact, there are a number of parishes in the Diocese that are doing just the opposite.
Thanks to a group of digital natives at Park Road Anglican in South Carlton, a highquality livestream service has been possible all the way through lockdown – and the plan is to continue this after in-person services eventually return to “normal”. “With the livestream, we’ve been amazed by the reach and the ease with which people from church are able to invite others to check church out,” says rector the Rev Gary Bennetts. “Our approach has been to make the stream as much like Sunday church as possible, and there seems to be a good level of appreciation [from] church folks, friends of church people and other contacts.” Mr Bennetts agrees with public comments that people’s use of the internet post-COVID will undergo long-lasting change. When he combines that with the increased access for people who SouthernCross
Staying live: Sunday service with tech at Park Road Anglican. don’t normally attend church, it’s a no-brainer to put funds and effort into long-term livestreaming at Park Road. “Ministry has taught me there is more genuine faith out there in the community than perhaps church attendance accurately reflects,” he says. “And there are significant reasons why some people can’t come to church – disability, sometimes mental illness, sometimes things like children’s behaviour issues. There are people who would love to come to church but simply can’t.” Livestreaming of services has also been a roaring success at Jamberoo, near Kiama. Rector the Rev Jodie McNeill also plans to continue it indefinitely, saying, “It might be the best outreach tool we’ve ever had”. He explains that, while many members returned in person when the doors reopened, “the stats for our Facebook Live were higher this past weekend when ‘open’, than a month ago with closed doors. There are just lots of people who continue to watch”. He agrees with Mr Bennetts that livestreaming church services into the future will make it easier for members who otherwise couldn’t attend, but says an additional bonus it has already provided is opportunities for extraordinary community engagement. “I was down with the [volunteer RFS], chatting to one guy, and he said, ‘Are you still going through Revelation?’ – so they’re watching! The other day I was at Maccas in Fairy Meadow [half an hour north of Jamberoo] and this guy says to me, ‘It’s Jodie from Jamberoo! I’ve been watching you on Facebook!’... There are all these connections. That’s very exciting.”
“It’s Jodie from Jamberoo!”: Rector Jodie McNeill speaks at his church’s livestream service.
ENGAGING WITH THE WORD AND PRAYER At Blacktown, rector the Rev Luke Thomson decided to take advantage of the fact church members were spending more time in front of their screens during lockdown. He set up an online visual aid he christened “Bible-ology” to help people unpack the passage of Scripture linked to each week’s sermon – and says it has worked so well he plans to keep doing it. “We encouraged Bible studies to use [Bible-ology] to guide their group as they met online, and had some discussion questions as part of that process,” he says. “It meant we could go deeper in the text than we normally would, having that second bite for people to engage with it. It also meant that others who aren’t in a Bible study group have engaged more with the text before the Sunday sermon than they normally would – and for a book like Habbakuk that was especially useful! “It was really well received, so we would look to keep doing it for some sermon series in the future.”
Get to the heart of it: Blacktown’s Bible-ology investigation of Habbakuk.
The Rev Peter Stedman from Norwest Anglican has already decided the weekly video of news from the parish (and around the world) will continue post-COVID. And while the church reopened its doors on June 21 he says that, for the moment, the Q&A after each sermon will still continue by text or through the Facebook feed, depending on whether the questioner is sitting in the church or on their couch. Another success for a number of parishes has been online prayer. At St Michael’s Cathedral in Wollongong, for example, its next “prayer summit” – held on the first Wednesday of each term – will work a little differently. For each summit Bible study groups are asked to attend one of four prayer time slots rather than meeting for a study that week. In third term, however, the Rev Canon Sandy Grant expects to offer two of the time slots online, as he has found that Zoom prayer meetings work well. “We have certainly found them helpful,” he says. “You could update a document for the Coronavirus prayer meetings, update it with prayer requests that come in… share your screen [and] update it live “Longer term I could envisage the early morning [group] always meeting via Zoom – you don’t have to get out in the cold and travel. You can either get to your workplace early or do it from home.” He adds that a number of people in his parish with hearing difficulties have been “surprised to discover that they love Zoom meetings. They can see people’s faces and generally hear them much more clearly… At a prayer meeting people put their heads down and they don’t project their voice – it’s an ongoing problem and Zoom often helps address that.” SouthernCross
STUDYING TOGETHER, APART Then there’s Bible studies. Many groups have returned to meeting in person, but that’s not what everyone wants. It’s also not what everyone can do. The Rev Tim Clemens from Grace City Church in Waterloo says that when COVID sent all their small groups online, some people who hadn’t been in a group suddenly asked to join. These included parents of young children, a woman undergoing chemotherapy and members who had physically moved away but were able to continue connecting online. “Now that we’re starting to talk about resuming physical gatherings, we’re forced to consider whether to continue the online groups or not,” Mr Clemens says. “We sent out a survey to our church yesterday asking people about their readiness to regather in a variety of different contexts, including community [Bible study] groups and, interestingly, several people have expressed an interest in finding out more about the online-only groups.” At All Souls’, Leichhardt, Katie Stringer leads a women’s group that morphed from face-to-face on Thursday mornings to Wednesday evenings on Zoom as a result of COVID. As many members have school-age children, they simply weren’t able to focus on a morning study at the same time as supervising their kids’ at-home learning. Ms Stringer says making the time change hasn’t suited everybody, but “one of the great joys is that we have picked up three people who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to get to a group… For us there have been a lot of positives.” The group, which includes women from university age to their 40s, has been diligently working its way through the 50 chapters of Genesis. Ms Stringer has sought to stave off Zoom fatigue by including visual aids and videos, and creating a chat box in their WhatsApp group for members to “talk about things that have stuck with us in the study, things we want to pray about… and often we’ll also send a picture”.
Easier to meet: Katie Stringer (above centre) with her women’s Bible study group from All Soul’s, Leichhardt.
She loves meeting together in person and knows some members would be very keen to get back to how things were. At the same time, she’s aware the combination of COVID carefulness and winter is likely to see some kids with symptoms that will keep them at home. “It’s much more realistic to think we’ll get consistent Bible time happening online – and maybe having some social time one-to-one because we’re a bit freer to do that,” she says. “There are so many pluses. If you’re not having a great day and you’d really need to ‘psych’ yourself up to go out, it’s not that hard because you can just log on. There’s just a little bit less pressure in that respect, which is definitely a good thing right now.”SC SouthernCross
How we can pray for our overseas missionaries in 2020 We asked CMS missionaries in five locations to share what life is like where they serve and how we can pray for communities affected by world events this year.
Dave and Beck McIntyre JAPAN What was once a crowded country is eerily sparse thanks to the virus, with people still wary as some restrictions lift. “The vibe is starting to pick up because school is back,” says Beck McIntyre, who recently sent her three kids for their first full school day in 14 weeks. “The community is positive that things are getting better, but there’s still not people around.” Adds Dave McIntyre: “Everyone has masks on and there’s still plastic sheeting everywhere. If you forget your mask and go to the supermarket, you feel really looked at.” Lockdown forced their church online, which provided an opportunity for the Japanese congregation to rethink children’s ministry. “We started doing kids’ talks during the service, which is something that’s never been done before [in our Japanese church],” Mrs McIntyre says. “We were preparing and delivering craft to all the Sunday school families.” SouthernCross
As they resume church gatherings – spreading people across three services rather than one crowded congregation – they ask for prayer for wisdom. “As we talk about great but huge changes, these will require wisdom, strength and patience,” Mr McIntyre says. “It’s exciting to see God bring about change and we pray we can be a positive part of that. We feel we’ve been pushed to make some of the decisions we’ve been thinking about but haven’t had the impetus or reason to get it done.” The first six months of the year have been tiring and the McIntyres still have down days, although Mrs McIntyre feels better now that people can meet. “I look forward to being able to have face-to-face fellowship again,” she says. “One thing we need prayer for is trying to figure out what we put back in our lives. We are trying to figure out how to make life more balanced. The area we live in is very aspirational, and kids are kept busy with extracurricular activities. We are trying to get the priorities right in family and ministry.”
Nick and Kysha Davies Peru There aren’t too many cases of Coronavirus in Nick and Kysha Davies’ neighbourhood. This isn’t the case for the rest of Peru, which now has the 6th highest number of confirmed cases worldwide. The country was in lockdown for more than 100 days, meaning the poorest of communities had no income for over three months. “It’s going to get worse because of the poverty and corruption,” says Mr Davies, a teacher of the MOCLAM [Moore College in Latin America] theological courses along with his wife. “Seventy per cent of people buy their food day to day. They’re going to get sick.” Adds Mrs Davies: “There are 15 regional hospitals that should have been fully stocked, but because of the corruption that exists, they don’t have the resources. People are being turned away from hospitals. Every Peruvian we know, knows someone who has had the disease or who has died from the disease.” With travel banned, the family is limited in how it can support pastors and churches. “We talk to them every week, and each week there are more stories of people who are sick, siblings dying,” Mr Davies says. “The people in churches are busting their guts to meet up and pray with people, deliver food, bring medicine, organise things, everything they can. We’re removed from where they are, and we can’t go and visit, so we have this sense of guilt.” Some MOCLAM teaching has moved online, but unreliable internet and ministers overwhelmed with caring for their parishes means there is not much learning happening. Mr Davies is using this time to prepare for when things open and is continuing to maintain relationships with the many pastors who study. “Our concern is for Peru and the churches,” he says. “They are working with one hand tied behind their backs, because they are grieving or they lack resources. They desperately want to help people not just stay faithful, but evangelise. Pray that churches would do that well, and they would continue to proclaim Christ.” SouthernCross
Kelly France With just under 200,000 confirmed cases to date, France has the 4th highest number of COVID patients in Europe. There have been weeks on end with more than 500 deaths a day.
with on Sundays includes a number of people who are investigating Christianity. Although the church meets online, “these people haven’t [joined us], which is a shame because if we’d had church they may have come along,” she says. With summer break about to start, it could be four or five months before church resumes as normal.
“That’s a lot of people dying who don’t know Jesus,” says Kelly, who lives and serves in the greater Paris region. “I want this to move people to pray for France, that there would be a new wave of impact of the gospel here.”
“Pray that churches will see the numbers [of cases and deaths] and be confronted by the reality,” Kelly says. “Pray they would really want to love and share the gospel with those around them. Pray that I would feel the urgency of the needs and opportunities that I have here. Pray for the relationships I have in the community. I haven’t been able to do normal things to see people, so pray that the loss of months won’t have set relationships back.”
Living alone, she went from hugging and greeting others with a kiss to more than eight weeks without physically touching another person. “I struggled with homesickness a lot more because I am so far away from friends and family,” she says. “If something happens to my family, I can’t get on a plane and go back.” The community her church would normally connect
Sam and Shan-Shan Chrisp Taiwan For Sam and Shan-Shan Chrisp, life in Taiwan has been smooth by comparison. “Thankfully, Taiwan is COVID-19 free,” Mr Chrisp says. “However, we continue to have lots of safety measures in place to prevent any outbreaks. Also, during the early days, many small businesses were severely impacted.” Although there are social distancing guidelines for large gatherings, and many are still wearing masks and checking temperatures, ministry hasn’t been dramatically affected. “We sit in spaced-out seats at church, and eat food from separate lunchboxes,” he says. “We take the Lord’s Supper very hygienically. Other than that, SouthernCross
we have had the freedom to continue our language study, send our kids to school and meet with others.” The Chrisps give thanks to God that they’re all doing relatively well and are in good spirits. “Pray for us to practice the principles the Church Missionary Society taught us at St Andrew’s Hall,” Mr Chrisp says. “Pray we would rest lots as we live with the stress of living cross-culturally, and that we will listen as we talk with local people. Pray we will stay connected to Jesus and find our rest in him.”
Dan and Olivia Webster Namibia Although the Namibian government locked down early to avoid any sort of outbreak that would strain its limited healthcare system, Namibians have had a wide range of reactions to COVID. “This is a more spiritually aware culture,” says Dan Webster, who teaches at the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary. “The president called an hour of prayer, so people stopped during their grocery shopping and knelt down to pray. However, there are also people who believe that Africans are immune to the disease because it hasn’t spread, so lots are disregarding the rules.” Many Namibians live day to day, and many don’t have bank accounts or any form of savings. “Lots have lost jobs or just didn’t get work,” Olivia Webster says. “As soon as they get money, it’s communal living so they are expected to use their money on their family. You can’t plan for things financially because as soon as they get money, they give it away.” The toll of change and transition has affected the whole country. Thanks to an established pattern of homeschooling, the Websters’ four sons haven’t been too disrupted, however they have missed playing sports and seeing church friends. The family is working out how to be appropriately generous at this time. “We’re trying hard to give to people, and so we know we need wisdom,” Mrs Webster says. “Wisdom is also needed for the leadership of the country to make the right decisions. It really is starvation versus disease when they make these decisions.” Students at the college are struggling with distance education, and many are unable to complete exams or assignments. “We want our college to be a Christian community, but that can’t happen in lockdown,” Mr Webster says. “The internet is also expensive and unreliable. “Olivia had the great idea of baking cookies for my students, so when morale was low and we were allowed to visit, I drove around and delivered cookies to everyone and that helped. “Pray students would learn and grow in whatever situation they are in, and that we would be willing to serve in whatever way. Our students are relational – this is a faceto-face oral culture – so this has made it very difficult for them. We are praying we can do face-to-face learning this coming semester.” SouthernCross
Biblical wisdom for financially uncertain times
arch and April saw some of the biggest shifts in our economy since the GFC, thanks to
the pandemic. In the hospitality industry alone, 70 per cent of businesses reduced staff or placed them on unpaid leave. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 5.6 million Australians worked fewer hours than usual in April. And between March and April, more than 750,000 people did not work at all and almost 350,000 people left a job or lost one. Churches and Christian organisations have not been immune to financial hardship. As congregation members face redundancies or a drop in working hours, the usual way of living and giving has been flipped upside down, leaving many reassessing their financial habits. Times like this give every Christian an opportunity to examine their finances through the lens of the gospel, according to Kevin Hines and Arya Darmaputra. They serve at St Peterâ€™s, Campbelltown SouthernCross
Encouraging wise stewardship: Arya Darmaputra (left) and Kevin Hines. as warden and treasurer respectively, and are the directors of Thesauros Consulting – coaching Christians and churches to steward God’s money wisely. “From an economic perspective, who knows how this pandemic will play out?” Mr Hines says. “We are fortunate that the Government has put in place measures designed to protect people’s ability to maintain a reasonable standard of living through this. There are cracks in that system of course, and some people will fall through the cracks. “At times like this, we can be overwhelmed with financial issues. We don’t want to downplay that, but we don’t want to let that take our focus off what we should be doing, which is to worship the King. “We want to keep in mind that this is a time where we need to elevate God to be number one. That’s what frames everything else. Whether you are unaffected, or massively affected, this is a time to stop and reassess how you’re managing God’s money that he has entrusted to you.” Mr Hines says Christians should check whether their spending reflects Jesus’ kingship by comparing it to what they give.
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GOD MAKES SENSE
“It benefits [the Christian] because it realigns our hearts to what we truly treasure,” he says. “The outcome of a group of people doing this is that the church could have increased resources to help those in the community who are in need. “For the person who is financially constricted, they may need to say, ‘I want to give, but in order to give and get through, I need to cut back on things that other people take for granted’. That may be coffee or Netflix. Following on from that, you might be struggling to put food on the table. If you just can’t see how you can cut anywhere, and your only place is to cut giving, don’t feel guilty about doing that.”SC
SPIRITUAL LESSONS IN ECONOMICALLY CHALLENGING TIMES Kevin Hines and Arya Darmaputra share several ways that economically challenging times can grow us spiritually.
Challenge your pride Says Mr Darmaputra: “In Western society, we’re predisposed to thinking we need to sort everything out on our own and rely on ourselves. Maybe this is an opportunity to say, ‘I need to rely on other people and God more’. That can be one of the spiritual lessons we learn from this. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.”
Be a good steward Mr Darmaputra believes that sometimes the root cause of our struggle can be bad money decisions made in the past. “If we’ve taken out loans and debt on things we shouldn’t have, that’s what has caused our financial problem, not COVID-19. A 10 per cent decline [in income] should still be survived, but perhaps we can’t get by because we’ve made financial commitments that are causing stress now. Be careful how you steward your money.”
Recalibrate our source of joy Says Mr Hines: “This is a wake-up call. My joy doesn’t come from the holiday planned, or seeing my kids get a 99 ATAR. Whilst those things are good, when they’re done out of proportion to where Jesus sits, we become spiritually stale.”
Find contentment in Christ alone Mr Darmaputra notes the pursuit of earthly things often comes at the cost of wise financial decisions. “We need to rethink our priorities, understand financial boundaries and be content with that,” he says. “People keep spending and borrowing when there is actually true contentment in Jesus that doesn’t cost anything. We can keep spiralling out of control looking for pleasure when we have everything we need in Jesus.”
Grow in faith and stewardship Mr Hines asks whether our budget reflects Jesus as our number one priority. “Don’t beat yourself up about where you’re currently at,” he says. “The idea is to be encouraged to mature and grow in Christ. This is not an exercise to realise you’re ‘failing’. This is an exercise to say, ‘I take living for Jesus seriously, and I believe that where my treasure is my heart is also, and so I am going to set a goal to mature in this. “Isn’t it excellent that we have this tool called money that gives us an insight into where our heart is? We can look at our wallets like a book and see progress. You might be giving $5 a week and earning $1 million. That $5 a week might not reflect that Jesus is number one, but if you look in a year’s time and it has become $100 a week, you can see progress. “It’s not a perfect tool, but you can see whether you are reflecting that Jesus is number one.” SouthernCross
Where are all the senior ministers?
urrently there are about 30 vacant parishes in the Sydney Diocese. Generally, vacancies last longer now because there are fewer people putting their hands up for rector roles. That is seen across the Diocese. As Bishop of the Georges River, I certainly have had parishes that have taken more than two years to fill.
It’s discouraging for parishes when there is a vacancy. Churches cope differently with this but, generally speaking, everyone finds this process difficult. It’s a human response to think, “Why doesn’t anyone want to come to us?”. We’ve all felt that before. How a parish handles a long vacancy depends on whether there’s a ministry team to keep things running. It also depends on the existing lay leadership in the church. While parishes can run the mechanics of ministry (services, kids and youth), an uncertainty and a lack of direction can creep in. Many churches have done really well without a senior minister, even the ones that have waited more than two years, but it does put pressure on the people that are there.
WHY ARE VACANCIES HARDER TO FILL? There’s no one reason why churches are struggling to find senior clergy. It’s complex. One reason indicated to us is the burden on senior ministers now in terms of administration and compliance. This is an added pressure, given all their other ministry responsibilities. For these reasons, some assistant ministers prefer to stay as assistants long term. They feel they can still be doing significant ministry without the hassles or responsibilities of being a rector. I’ve heard some assistant ministers say they worry they will do less ministry as a senior minister. What they’ve done is equated ministry with direct face-to-face talking about the Bible. Somehow, SouthernCross
in their minds, the enabling of ministry – which the rector is responsible for – is a lesser ministry than the direct ministry. My response to that has always been that the enabling of ministry is a multiplying effect of ministry. Being a senior minister is hard. It’s okay that it’s hard. That should be an expectation in ministry. God chooses to use people to do hard things, and God is the one who enables us to do what is hard. We shouldn’t shy away from hard ministry, because all ministry is hard by nature.
WE NEED TO TRAIN MORE CLERGY Another reason why more churches are remaining vacant is there aren’t enough people being trained for ministry. There seems to be fewer people putting their hands up for ministry, and even fewer putting their hands up for ordained Anglican ministry. Maybe, in our churches, we are encouraging people less? If we’re encouraging them into ministry, not enough are being encouraged into Anglican ministry. We need to be actively encouraging people to go into ministry and go to Moore College. Part of that is being willing to be generous in losing your most gifted people – because they’re the ones you want to send to college for the sake of the gospel, trusting God will provide for your church. Sometimes we are not generous with our people for the kingdom work, because we wonder who will do what they do. But God will provide. Keep identifying people for ministry. We want to have intentional conversations with people who have good gifts and who have shown themselves to be faithful in ministry. Encourage them to consider ministry. What if churches had a fund where they set money aside for people from their church to train for ministry? That’s one idea for keeping it on the agenda. That way, when God raises someone up, you can encourage them into ministry and support them.
TRAIN THEM TO BE ANGLICAN MINISTERS At one level, all ministry is kingdom focused: as long as people are doing gospel kingdom ministry that’s good. But I think, historically, the Sydney Diocese has been a great platform for kingdom ministry across our city, as well as a launching pad for kingdom ministry across the country and the world. It’s been very important to have strong Sydney Anglican churches. Not that God can’t do his work in other ways, but this is an existing platform that has been very strategic and significant for gospel ministry. My view is that Sydney needs to be very generous about sending people. As far as I can tell, we are happy to see people go. I’ve got a policy that I will never try and talk someone out of going somewhere outside Sydney if they want to serve in other parts of Australia or overseas. As much as we are lacking senior ministers, and clergy, we are very well-off comparatively. Humanly speaking, were the Sydney Diocese to decline it would have a massive impact on gospel ministry elsewhere, so we need a strong Sydney Diocese to continue to send people around the country and the world. Preparing and training more clergy will help this happen. SC
The Rt Rev Peter Lin is Bishop of the Georges River Region. SouthernCross
Nothing takes God by surprise
hile it is certainly true that most of us have not experienced an event like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is something of an overstatement to describe it as “unprecedented”. Sadly, the world has known such global tragedy before.
The so-called Spanish flu arrived in Australia in January 1919 and caused the death of 15,000 Australians within a year. Most of the victims, like their countrymen who had fought in the Great War overseas, were fit, young people aged 20-40 years. Globally, up to 100 million people would lose their lives to the disease. As now, responses in Australia to the Spanish flu pandemic included “the closure of schools, churches, theatres, pubs, race meetings and agricultural shows, plus the delay of victory celebrations. The result was not only economic hardship, but significant interruptions in education, entertainment, travel, shopping and worship”. SouthernCross
Jesus said: “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains…. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24: 6-8, 14). Amid the tremendous upheaval we have experienced as a result of COVID-19, it is so good to look to the Lord who is risen, reigning and returning. Nothing takes God by surprise and the ministry he has entrusted to his people remains the same: “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world”. I’m praying for a “Corona harvest”. In the midst of the suffering and loss caused by the pandemic, Sydney parishes have brought comfort, help and hope to many, far beyond our local fellowships. The transition to online ministry, which was intended to continue to provide support and encouragement to church members, has been accessed widely by newcomers and inquirers, the curious and the sceptical. Many parishes have been able to offer such visitors to their online presence the opportunity to take another step towards Jesus by enrolling in an online course or group, whether Christianity Explored, Introducing God or Alpha. Church members have found that friends and family who have long declined invitations to attend a Sunday service in person have responded warmly to the opportunity to join an online “service” as an interested observer, from the comfort of their own home. One member of our church family reported, “My Dad has been watching the morning services since they moved online”. Another says, “My neighbours… avoid anything to do with church. Now, I have been instructed to ask you to stream the services even after the pandemic, so they can continue to participate”. A Christian friend interstate says, “I’ve forwarded [the web link] to all my children, my brothers and sisters and close friends”. And another: “I’ve passed on the link to my 90-year-old [non-church attending] father… and he sends it to friends in Africa, Canada and Scotland!”. Many parishes report the same thing. People who have had little do with Jesus and matters of faith are turning to their Christian friends and local online ministry in this strange season. Perhaps it is because the pandemic has given people both time and reason for an “inward look” and many have been discomforted by what they have found. Some, at least, have sensed that when the consumerism, competition and entertainment are stripped away, we’re left with a yearning for something substantial and satisfying. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). I’m praying for a Corona harvest. I’m praying that out of the disruption, suffering, loss and grief of the pandemic some – many – may find in Jesus the forgiveness that calms our fears, the hope that does not fail, the rest for which we yearn, the bread that nourishes to eternal life. I’m praying that in the days and months ahead, we will hear the testimony of new-born brothers and sisters who will speak of how “during the pandemic, I thought I’d check out my local church online”. I’m praying for a Corona harvest. Will you pray with me?SC
The Very Rev Kanishka Raffel is Dean of Sydney. SouthernCross
Changes After more than a decade as an aged care chaplain with Anglicare at a range of locations, the Rev Andrew Heron became rector of Kangaroo Valley on March 30. The Rev Tony Wright will become rector of Willoughby Park on July 6. The Rev Barry Macalister is moving from St John’s, Wilberforce after 12 years to join Anglicare. On July 13 he will become chaplain to independent living residents at three different sites in Sydney’s western suburbs. The Rev Steve Frederick will leave his assistant minister’s position at St Andrew’s Cathedral to become rector of Summer Hill on August 1.
Vale The Rev Trevor Cuthbertson died on June 9. Born Trevor Albert Cuthbertson on November 12, 1937, he attended Sydney Technical High School, where he gave his life to Jesus in 1953 in response to Scripture classes. From 1955-1962 he studied for a BA in history, anthropology and education – adding Moore College studies in 1959, which he finished before his university course. Mr Cuthbertson was ordained in 1962 (the same year he married his wife Val) and undertook curacies in Hurstville and Port Kembla before becoming curate-in-charge of Merrylands West in 1966. He moved to The Oaks in 1969 and, after three years, spent 1972 teaching theology and history at Barker College before becoming curate-in-charge of Peakhurst-Lugarno. However, after years of suffering increasingly debilitating migraines, Mr Cuthbertson had a heart attack at the age of 36, resulting in his resignation from full-time ministry. He worked instead in the administrative department at the University of Wollongong, where he organised and ran almost 100 graduation ceremonies over the next 20 years. In 1994, at the age of 56, ongoing health problems forced Mr Cuthbertson to formally retire, but he remained involved in a range of church ministries and areas of community service. In a life story he wrote a few years ago, he mused on Romans 8:28, saying, “Even when I didn’t understand the reason for events at the time – especially in leaving full-time ministry – I now recognise that God was providing for me to serve him in different ways that he had planned.” At his funeral last month at St George’s, Gerringong, Mr Cuthbertson’s son Mark said, “Dad had a huge impact on a large number of people – not just through his ministry, but through time as the president of Gerringong Public School P & C, Kiama High School P & C, Kiama Council South Precinct and Gerringong Probus Club. He continued to help out with preaching and services whenever asked. In fact, he and Mum were running the midweek service here for 10 years, only ceasing that at the end of last year. He had a great desire to see those around him come to know Jesus personally… at his 80th birthday party he gave each of his grandchildren a little black book about Jesus in the hope they would read it and understand what Jesus had done for them.” SouthernCross
Positions Vacant Chief Executive Officer
ANGLICAN DEACONESS MINISTRIES • Senior executive leadership role • Committed Christian person sought • Sydney CBD location
ADM is an Anglican Women’s organisation, with a rich history in pioneering the training of women for ministry and service of the poor. For more than 127 years, ADM’s enduring mission has been to raise up women with theological formation, for practical and public engagement with the world. We are passionate about seeing women activated and trained for Christian service in all spheres of faith and life, flourishing in their Kingdom work. The CEO will provide excellent Christian leadership of ADM. Reporting to the Board, they will make high level strategic decisions, will work with the Board to refine and refresh ADM’s direction, whilst being hands on in a small organisation. The CEO will manage ADM’s existing programs and multiply their impact, and will provide pastoral care to staff, fostering a culture of unity and collaboration. They will oversee budget processes and the careful stewardship of a trust fund for the ongoing works that honour the ADM’s original pioneering mission. The CEO sets the Christian tone and culture of the organisation.
We are a co-educational Pre-Kinder to Year 12 College with over 1750 students in Sydney’s thriving South West. An exciting opportunity is available at the College for commencement in 2021, or earlier if negotiated.
The Chaplain will lead and support the growing Ministry Team in our programs to teach and minister the gospel to all members of the College community. The Chaplain will be ordained and experienced. B.Th is essential and teaching qualifications likely. You are an effective communicator, who can adapt each message to various audience types in creative and positive ways.
The successful candidate will be an active, evangelical Christian with a mature dynamic faith who is a serving member of their church. They will have a strong, personal commitment to the mission & vision of ADM evidenced by previous ministry experience and an understanding of Christian service. They will have previously successfully led small to medium sized teams of diverse professionals, will possess financial acumen and decision-making ability and understand the legal and fiduciary requirements of NFPs and companies. They will be able to successfully engage with a diverse range of stakeholders, and possess strong relational and communication skills. They will be capable of delivering strategic direction and will be resilient in leading the organisation and staff through change.
Potential candidates can find more information and apply at www.thac.nsw.edu.au/employment
Desirable qualities include previous experience reporting to a Board; theological training; a heart for mercy and justice ministries and empathy for the issues impacting women in the wider community; and an understanding of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
Applications close Friday 31 July 2020 Enquiries: Ross Whelan - Principal email@example.com
To obtain further information or apply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting J15787. If further information is required, please contact Kym Fletcher at NGS Global on 1300 138 863. Applications close midnight Thursday 16 July, 2020. A concurrent search is underway.
(02) 9608 0033
NOTICE TO ALL INTENDED JOB APPLICANTS: It is an offence under the NSW Child Protection (prohibited Employment) Act 1998 for a person convicted of a serious sexual offence to apply for a position that involves contact with children or young adult people. Relevant checks of criminal history, apprehended violence orders and previous disciplinary proceedings will be conducted on recommended applicants to such positions.
Expressions of Interest:
· Figtree Anglican Church Senior Minister · Figtree Anglican Church (FAC) is an evangelical, growth-oriented church in suburban Wollongong. We seek to build and equip our church community to be Faithful, Adventurous and Compassionate in seeking God, serving each other and reaching out to our world. Following 12 years of ministry at Figtree, Rev. Ian Barnett is retiring. FAC is now seeking his replacement. The role involves leading a staff of 18, a lay leadership team of over 400, 45 home groups and a total congregation of approximately 900 people. Suitable candidates will need to demonstrate strong leadership, excellent team management skills, the ability to impart and drive a vision, strong pulpit presence and a passion for evangelism and mission. The successful candidate will also have:
VACANT PARISHES List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at June 29, 2020: • • • • • •
‧ Moore Theological College training ‧ Highly developed interpersonal and ‧ Authentic personal walk with the communication skills supported Lord Jesus by a record of equipping and ‧ Exceptional and demonstrated empowering lay people leadership ability built on personal ‧ Other qualifications and strength and conviction guided by experiences will be highly regarded humility Expressions of interest along with your CV (to be received by 31st July 2020) will be kept confidential with the Church Nominators. If you also wish to discuss this position, please contact: Wayne James on 0428 762 571 (Warden and Nominator) or email Wayne at email@example.com Upon receipt of the above, an information pack about our church and the role will be forwarded to you. Upon receipt of your interest, you will be contacted by the nominators for a preliminary discussion. Expressions of Interest including CV’s can be mailed to the following address and/or emailed through to Wayne James. Attn: Church Nominators Figtree Anglican Church PO Box 7, FIGTREE NSW 2525
• • • • • • • • • •
Albion Park** Balgowlah** Bomaderry** Bulli** Campbelltown** Carlingford and North Rocks** Christ Church Northern Beaches** Cronulla Darlinghurst** East Lindfield** Figtree** Gordon** Georges Hall* Greenacre* Huskisson Kurrajong
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Leura** Mt Druitt* Malabar** Menai** Menangle** Mittagong** Narrabeen Newport** Newtown with Erskineville** North Epping** Paddington** Penshurst** Pitt Town Sans Souci* Shoalhaven Heads** Wilberforce
* denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments ** right of nomination suspended/on hold 47
What we’ve read (and listened to) in lockdown
n this time of online church services and Bible studies – whether through livestream or Zoom
– it’s easy to become spiritually detached from our fellow brothers and sisters, as well as having struggles in our personal relationship with God. Some Christians in Sydney have found podcasts and books a great way to be encouraged spiritually and continue to grow in faith in this time of isolation and uncertainty. If you don’t know where to start, here is a short list of things others have found helpful – by way of recommendation (in no particular order):
PODCASTS HELP ME TEACH THE BIBLE For pastors, ministry apprentices and Bible study leaders looking to enrich their theological knowledge, an excellent podcast to listen to is Help Me Teach The Bible, hosted by Nancy Guthrie. In each episode, you’ll be treated to discussions with
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Have you considered placing your job ads and classifieds on sydneyanglicans.net? Contact Kylie Schleicher: 8860 8850 or ads@anglicanmedia. com.au April 2020
knowledgeable teachers and preachers, who will give their recommendations for how to teach specific books of the Bible. Julie Hayward, wife of the Bishop of Wollongong Peter Hayward, recommends this podcast because Guthrie “has cream-of-the-crop guests on, who are teachers of that particular Bible book. There are also topics [such as] ‘Why Middle Eastern women want to learn to teach the Bible’ and ‘Teaching women to teach’”. Hayward says she can be encouraged by the word of God while reading along with the talks. Help Me Teach the Bible airs fortnightly on Fridays, It is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. RENEWING YOUR MIND BY R.C. SPROUL If you’re looking for extra sources of spiritual nourishment each day but don’t have a lot of time to spare, Renewing Your Mind, hosted by R.C. Sproul, could be the podcast for you. It seeks to provide listeners with sound theological doctrine and discussion of topical issues facing believers today. Listeners also have two formats to choose from: the full-length 26-minute podcast, or a 1-minute version that highlights key teachings and neatly condenses them into 60 seconds. Perfect for the busy listener. Renewing Your Mind is available daily on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. THE CROSSWAY PODCAST Those who want answers to challenging and topical questions about the Bible, theology, church history and the Christian life might want to jump on to the The Crossway Podcast. It’s recommended by Karen Beilharz from Summer Hill Anglican, who says, “I like that it seeks to address many of the questions that preoccupy us as Christians – for example, how to read the Bible, and how to read the Bible with your family; how to disagree well with other Christians; why the local church is important; and this doozy: ‘Does Jesus really like me?’ “The interviewees are always interesting and knowledgeable, and the topics are encouraging, helpful and relevant to my life in Christ.” The Crossway Podcast airs weekly on Mondays. It is available at crossway.org, on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. SALT: CONVERSATIONS WITH JENNY Christians in need of encouragement to live for the kingdom each day could try this podcast. Each week, Jenny Salt interviews a different guest speaker – across a wide variety of occupations – inviting listeners to discover extraordinary gospel stories of Christians living for the Lord each day, in unexpected ways. Julie Hayward particularly recommends the episode “Can we trust God with this?”, featuring guest speaker Helen Thomas. In this episode, the two women discuss how to hold onto God when faced with a seemingly insurmountable array of challenges – potentially very helpful at a time when many of us are grappling with extreme change, social isolation and loss. Salt – Conversations with Jenny airs weekly on Wednesdays, and is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. SouthernCross
BOOKS/ARTICLES THE PRODIGAL GOD BY TIM KELLER Alice Mann, from St James’, Turramurra, says that Keller’s thought on Home – particularly the innate longing we all share for a heavenly home – was “incredibly encouraging… especially while I was stuck at home during the pandemic. “It gave me hope knowing that our versions of home on earth will only ever be a shadow compared to the joy and belonging we will experience when we finally get to go Home to our Heavenly Father,” she adds. “One of my favourite quotes from the book is ‘Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory and joy that we can’t at present imagine’. I don’t think I have ever longed for that day more, or truly appreciated that vision of Home more than during this time of social isolation.” The Prodigal God is available in hard copy from stores such as Koorong, or as an e-book or audiobook on Google Play and Apple Books. A SHORT BOOK ABOUT JESUS, THE MAN FROM HEAVEN BY PAUL BARNETT Graeme Watson, a lay canon at St Andrew’s Cathedral, highly recommends this book by Paul Barnett. He read it during lockdown and believes it would help those looking for something that assesses the accuracies of Jesus’ origins and ministry, and subsequently the Christian faith. “This book helps to explain why Jesus is much more than just a genuine historical figure, even a unique figure,” he says. “We can follow the carefully assembled and argued evidence around the things Jesus said and did and be ready to share with others the Jesus who is transcendent, divine and truly the Man from Heaven.” A Short Book About Jesus is available at Koorong. THE PAYNEFUL TRUTH “I am finding Tony Payne’s weekly articles on The Payneful Truth very thoughtprovoking,” says Rachel Macdonald from the parish of Lane Cove and Mowbray. “What I like about them is that he has thought very deeply about topics essential for Christian discipleship that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to seek out. And because they are well-written by a professional author, they don’t take long to read... another bonus!” The Payneful Truth online journal is available to read and/or listen to at https://thepaynefultruth. substack.com/. SouthernCross
Musical reformation Tara Sing Come, Let Us Sing By Rob Smith (Latimer Trust)
t’s a weird time for singing as Christians. Social distancing laws have changed the way we sing
at church, and singing along to a livestream service in your living room doesn’t have quite the same impact as being surrounded by the saints while belting “Amazing Grace”, “Man of Sorrows” or “Jesus Loves Me”. If you’re also longing to sing with the saints, it’s a good time to consider why singing is such a vital part of how we do church. Rob Smith’s new book Come, Let Us Sing helps us do just that. This book is a call to musical reformation. It reminds us why worship in song form is regarded as a crucial part of our gathering – as a way of offering praise to God, as a form of corporate prayer, and as an act of preaching the truths of God to our brothers and sisters. The book is published in a series called Anglican Foundations, which is produced by the Latimer Trust in the UK. The purpose of this series is to provide “practical guidance on Church of England services”. With this in mind, Smith explores in depth the historical path that has led us here, from the Reformation to the early 2000s. He unpacks the theological reasons behind why we sing in the way we do, where we have come from and how we might continue on. In particular, he highlights the need for multiple people to be instigators of this musical reformation within the service. He calls pastors and leaders of churches to be educated about the place of music in the service and to convey why we sing to the congregation. Singing is not simply the time we stand up and stretch in order to concentrate on the coming sermon! Rather, it is part of the teaching that occurs within a service. Smith calls musicians to resist the urge to be swayed by popular trends. Instead they should, with wisdom, humility and the skilful handling of their instruments, thoughtfully select songs that will serve the people of God well. All of this is within the context of singing being a support for the reading and teaching of the word. However, he says the book is not just for leaders and musicians but also the congregations themselves. An understanding of the place of song in our services equips every member of the church to praise, pray and preach through singing. Why another book on music in church? Come, Let Us Sing serves the Christian who wants to understand the place of music in the service, and is a solid offering of musical advice and wisdom rooted in Scripture. For Christians who have already read several evangelical books on SouthernCross
Part of the teaching: Rob Smith discusses the future of singing as part of a panel on The Pastor’s Heart. music ministry, this makes some helpful additions to discussions around choice of song, leading a congregation well and how to shape your church’s understanding of musical worship as a tool for edification – the goal of our gatherings. The concepts explored are beneficial to all those who participate in the ministry of singing to God and one another.SC
IS TECHNOLOGY HELPING OR HURTING US? The questions posed by AI are open to all of us. And they demand answers. In response to recent popular accounts, scientist and philosopher John Lennox offers a Christian perspective on humanity’s future, the problems raised by AI and the atheist conception of what it means to be human. 2084 provides evidence-based, credible answers that will help you navigate today’s fast-changing world.
Get your copy today at koorong.com/2084 SouthernCross
Flawed fascination Proud convict royalty: Lisa Wilkinson.
Judy Adamson Who Do You Think You Are? SBS On Demand
he televised enthusiasm for delving into family history is almost as great as the demand
for cooking shows. The opportunity to discover one’s roots – and hidden stories from past generations – has made Who Do You Think You Are? a hit in numerous countries since it first aired on the BBC in Britain in 2004. I’ve always found the stories fascinating: the nations our forebears came from, the experiences that shaped them, what life was like in past eras and how they responded to personal or national events. There are always more stories to tell, which is why the Australian iteration of WDYTYA is into its 11th season on SBS. We just can’t get enough of it. But while it’s fun to hear extraordinary tales, discover family trees that go back centuries and understand why Grandad behaved the way he did, or why no one talked about Aunty Maud, I often come away from the show disappointed. And it’s rarely because there’s no excitement in the history that’s revealed. No, what bothers me is how much value those taking part seem to place on finding someone SouthernCross
“like” them, or their parents. So, it’s not so much who they might think they are, as “Where did I get this trait from?”. Whether it’s a love story like mine, resilience like mine, a family focus like mine, determination like mine – it makes much more sense to the celebrity involved, apparently, if they find an ancestor who had this trait or experience. Yes, some talents can be passed down the generations just as surely as the family chin but we know it’s not really that simple. In Episode 1 of this series, for example, one of Lisa Wilkinson’s convict great-great-great grandmothers is a drunk with a history of going AWOL, yet Wilkinson’s takeaway is her ancestor’s capacity to survive and be resilient. It seems that, to a certain extent, those who take part in WDYTYA see what they wish to in their forebears. Wouldn’t we all love to pick and choose the traits we want! But, as flawed people, we have to take the good with the bad. I always find myself thinking it would be brilliant if someone had an Exodus 20:6 moment, in which they could clearly see how God had blessed and upheld their family across many generations. It is a promise for God’s children, so I guess that can be our takeaway. In essence, Who Do You Think You Are? is history for entertainment, and I am always entertained by it. You enter into the journey with each of the people taking part and run the gamut of emotion with them. Watching such a show may even prompt you to investigate your own family history – hardly surprising given the amount of ads encouraging you to do so! Just don’t get so engrossed by the past of your earthly family that you forget the one you’ve been grafted into. SC
ARRTTOOF YO PA LLEETT US BE P
PROTECTION AND CARE FOR EVERYONE
E F I L E F L I L A I C O S S
“I am committed to strengthening our culture of ‘safe ministry’ through education and professional development of our clergy and lay people, as we seek to maintain the standards of Christian ministry which are grounded in the teaching of the Bible.”
Be inspired. Be informed. Be involved. Sydney Anglicans @sydanglicans, @abpdavies Would you lik @sydneyanglicans email n e our ewslett Let’s start sharing. er? Su
Glenn Davies, Archbishop The Professional Standards Unit receives and deals with complaints of child abuse or sexual misconduct by members of the clergy and church workers. A Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme is available to provide counselling and other support to victims of misconduct or abuse.
sydneya ribe at nglicans .net
The Safe Ministry Board formulates and monitors policy and practice and advises on child protection and safe ministry for the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney.
Abuse Report Line 1800 774 945 SouthernCross
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