SouthernCross THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR SYDNEY ANGLICANS
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AFTER A HARD YEAR, QUIZ WORX CELEBRATES THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS
Defence bishop on Afghanistan • Summer School changes 2 0 2 0 g r o w t h i n f a i t h • C o l i n ’s O l d Te s t a m e n t s o n g s
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GENESIS WOMEN Why the Patriarchal narratives aren’t Patriarchal SPEAKERS: GARY & FIONA MILL AR
Quiz Worx shares the Christmas message with thousands of kids Best news ever: Puppets at a party rediscover the true magic of Christmas: peace with God.
Five puppets gather for a Christmas party to celebrate the magic of Christmas that brings peace at Christmas time. Except, they’re confused. What is this peace that is promised? How can it help in a year with bushfires, floods, a pandemic and a lack of toilet paper? The Peace of Christmas is a special new filmed presentation from Quiz Worx that shares the true message of Christmas: that Jesus brings peace with God. Endorsed by the creators of Scripture curriculums in NSW and Queensland, Quiz Worx has designed the video to be shown in classrooms as an alternative to their usual Christmas assemblies. In 2019 Quiz Worx performed more than 1000 shows – almost half of those in the five weeks leading up to Christmas – and taught the Bible to more than 140,000 students, many of whom were enrolled in Special Religious Education (NSW) and Religious Instruction (Queensland) classes. “This has been a very different year for us, moving into online resources,” says Chrissy Kuruvilla, performer and NSW creative team leader.
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volume 26 number 11
Managing Editor: Russell Powell Editor: Judy Adamson
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COVER: A still from Quiz Worx’s “The Peace of Christmas”, which is part of its Home Delivery ministry. View the video here.
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A message for all: Neeks tells the Luke Christmas story – with AUSLAN translation. “We wanted to provide something that would be a blessing to schools, for Scripture teachers who want to do something special but don’t have the ability to run their own Christmas assembly. Many would usually book Quiz Worx. We wanted to provide something that would feel like a Quiz Worx show.”
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The scriptwriting team felt it was especially important to focus on the theme of peace in this year’s Christmas video. “2020 has really disrupted people and their lives and made everything seem uncertain and un-peaceful,” Mrs Kuruvilla says. “Yet the Bible has this amazing message of peace. We wanted kids to be able to see that clearly and understand what it really means. “At Christmas time people are talking about peace, but when you think of peace you think of things quiet and easy and nice. That hasn’t been this year. The peace the Bible talks about is the deep knowing that we’re right with God. We wanted everyone to know this Christmas [that] the peace we have with God through Jesus is what real peace is, and it’s available for everyone.” From the 1000-plus downloads of the video to date, many Scripture teachers have replied with positive feedback and great thanks. Sue, a NSW SRE teacher, said: “The kids laughed! I loved that it was the whole year’s Special Religious Education syllabus in a couple of minutes – and it helps to have something of such good quality at the end of the year when I’m running low on energy.” Says Mrs Kuruvilla: “We’ve always known that our ministry at Quiz Worx is reliant on God completely. We are so thankful when we hear that people are praying for us. We hope people will join us in prayer, that the kids will hear this message and take it to heart, that they would know they can have real, lasting peace with God through Jesus. “Jesus wants kids to come to him. We pray that, no matter what’s going on in their lives, the kids would be really interested and that they would want to know the peace of God. “We pray this video will continue to be a blessing for Scripture teachers who are feeling tired and overwhelmed, when they haven’t gotten to teach as much and everything is now harder. We pray this will help them and be a reminder that even they can have peace with God.” sc You can watch The Peace of Christmas at https://www.quizworx.com/peaceofchristmas/
Leaders in the Field D O C TO R O F M I N I S T RY ‘ Studying a Doctor of Ministry through Ridley helps me reflect deeply on my ministry practice, and significantly shapes my maturity as a leader. I apply what I have learnt every day.’ –––BISHOP RICHARD CONDIE
General Synod to consider legal opinions on same-sex blessings Russell Powell
Next year’s General Synod will consider a ruling from an Anglican tribunal saying services of blessing for same-sex marriage are constitutional, under a narrow opinion of what constitutes doctrine of the Anglican Church. The Appellate Tribunal expressed its opinion, by a 5 to 1 majority, that the blessing of same-sex marriages was not inconsistent with Church doctrine as expressed in the Fundamental Declarations of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia. The Appellate Tribunal, which consists of three diocesan bishops and four laypeople (one member was not present for this deliberation), considers matters referred to it but has no power to enforce its opinions. Archbishop Glenn Davies has written to clergy in the Diocese saying he finds the opinion “hard to fathom, as it is contrary to the teaching of the Bible”. Dr Davies said the effect of the tribunal’s opinion is that “it has declared that a service purporting to bless a same-sex marriage, as the Diocese of Wangaratta had developed, is consistent with the doctrine of our Church, because they narrowly define doctrine as that teaching which is necessary for salvation. Since marriage is not necessary to salvation, the majority of the tribunal opined, then blessing a lawful marriage under the Marriage Act 1961 would not be a breach of doctrine – that is, with respect to what is necessary for salvation.” The majority opinion is contrary to unanimous reports from both the Australian House of Bishops and a General Synod committee known as the Board of Assessors which, Dr Davies said, made it abundantly clear that the teaching of the Bible, and therefore of the Anglican Church, was that the sexual union of two persons of the same gender was sin. “That is why clergy are forbidden to solemnise same-sex marriages, for to bless such a union would amount to the blessing of sin,” Dr Davies said. Both bodies also considered there was no constraint upon the use of the word “doctrine”, as the tribunal claimed, in either in The ThirtyNine Articles or the Bible. “In my opinion the effect of the majority opinion’s legal interpretation undermines the clear teaching of Scripture and thereby dishonours God,” Dr Davies wrote. “The Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney welcomes all people, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, or even their past behaviour and beliefs, since the message of the gospel is that those who belong to Christ are equal members of the Body of Christ. However, Christ has set us free to serve him in holiness and righteousness of life, which entails changed behaviour (Ephesians 4:20-24).” The NSW Provincial Synod has agreed to wait and not to act upon these matters until they are debated at the next General Synod, which is due to meet in 2021. “These are difficult days for our Church,” Dr Davies said. “Next year the General Synod will have SouthernCross
opportunity to reflect upon both the Majority and the Minority reports of the tribunal’s opinion as to [which] truly reflects the Constitution’s declaration that ‘the canonical scriptures of the Old and New Testaments [are] the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God... containing all things necessary to salvation’. “This is a crisis for our national Church and should lead us to prayer as we reflect upon both the teaching of Scripture and the demands of discipleship,” he added. “I recognise that some will find this confronting and for differing reasons. When your congregations hear of this, they may be disturbed as to how a judicial panel could arrive at such conclusions, yet the teaching of Scripture has not changed. So, we should continue to pray, to trust God and to love our neighbour as ourselves as we navigate this territory over the next eight months until the meeting of General Synod.” Earlier, a statement from the board of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Australia expressed its deep regret that the tribunal decision “relies upon a disputed definition of the meaning of ‘doctrine’ rather than on a wholehearted and glad embrace of the life-giving word of God. In doing so, they have seriously undermined the basis of national unity in our church”. “We urge you to join us in prayer for ourselves and our Anglican Church; to continue to repent of the ways in which we fall short of God’s standards, and to humbly and boldly stand upon the sufficiency, authority, truth and beauty of God’s word,” the GAFCON statement said. sc
Southern Cross regrets that, in an earlier edition, the words “the effect of” were missing in the sentence that begins, “In my opinion the effect of the majority opinion’s legal interpretation...”. The Archbishop’s intention was never to criticise the members of the Tribunal, who have worked tirelessly to serve the Church in this capacity. Rather, his intention was to highlight the effect of the Opinion, which is now seen in the recent blessing of the marriage of two clergymen in Wangaratta.
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Singing is back!
Pressure from churches has led to changes to COVID public health orders that will allow churchgoers to sing at Christmas services, but they have been advised to wear masks. Archbishop Glenn Davies appeared on Channel 7 (right) on November 30 to argue for an easing of restrictions given the changes for businesses and entertainment venues. “Give us a break and let this Christmas season be a time of celebration and joy,” Archbishop Davies told Channel 7 News. “ We can’t sing in church – we can’t even sing with a mask on in church.” At the weekend, Archbishop Davies joined the Roman Catholic Archbishop and other leaders in a joint approach to the Health Department and to the Premier and Government ministers. On Wednesday, December 2, the Premier responded: announcing that across the board in NSW the 4-square-metre rule is now 2 square metres, including in churches. Upper limits on weddings and funerals have been scrapped, as long as social distancing and 2-square-metre rules are kept. Significantly, the Premier announced that singing can take place in religious services. According to the official news release, when singing at venues – including churches – there can be 50 performers indoors and unlimited performers outdoors. The advice is for the congregation or audience to continue wearing masks if singing. Health Minister Brad Hazzard said, “You can sing all the Christmas carols you like”, adding it was ‘’strongly recommended to wear a mask”. The Premier said the easing comes after “great progress” in fighting the spread of COVID-19 but stressed “we will have to go backwards if something unforeseen happens”. The health orders will be in force from Monday, December 7. sc SouthernCross
Landmark family violence study begins
A national study is underway into family violence, with Anglicans across the country being asked to participate. This is the first national research into family violence within faith communities. Announced last year, the study has just begun utilising NCLS Research, which has established a confidential survey site (https://surveys.ncls.org.au/NAFVP/experience) for those who have current or previous connections with Anglican churches. “It’s really important that we hear from those who have experienced domestic violence and are connected with our churches in the Sydney Diocese,” said Canon Sandy Grant, a member of General Synod’s family violence working group. “That’s because we want to know concrete examples of when we’ve done well and also how we can improve when we’ve failed in our care for victims in our midst who are precious to God.” Canon Grant says the survey has proper ethics approval and he is encouraging people to participate. Archbishop Glenn Davies believes it could be an important step forward in tackling the issue of family violence. “Domestic abuse, in its physical manifestation of violence or in its psychological manifestation of spiritual or emotional manipulation, should never be tolerated and is especially alarming when it occurs in Christian families,” he says. “Our own Domestic Violence Taskforce has done significant work in this area and more information may help in bringing this problem further into the open.” sc More information about the project is available at https://www.ncls.org.au/research/NAFVP SouthernCross
Ministry goes in all directions from two-part ordination A very 2020 event: The ordinands stand before Archbishop Davies in the middle of a much emptier St Andrew’s Cathedral, with bottles of hand sanitiser close by.
It was so 2020 that men and women were ordained on November 28 while St Andrew’s Cathedral was decked out with Christmas decorations. The “Making of Deacons” service, as it is officially known, normally takes place in February as the ordinands start their ministry for the year. But the 2021 list of ordinands was split so services could accommodate their families, friends and parish supporters while still being COVID-safe. Fourteen candidates were ordained last month and another 13 will be ordained in February. The service and the promises the ordinands made were the same, but everything else – from a soloist singing the hymns to a COVID-safe marshall ushering the congregation – was very different. The ordinands sat in socially distanced seats, with roped-off sections in the congregation for their friends and family. “Having those people come along is a great reminder of just how generously God has provided for me through such a great network of people who support me in so many different ways,” said the Rev Lauren Mahaffey, the assistant minister of children and youth at Summer Hill. “To be frank, certain friends and colleagues have shown a deeper excitement about this day than SouthernCross
Not your average ordination: All the deacons sat socially distanced and facing each other.
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me at times – which has served well to give me those reminders that it is something significant, worth celebrating and being excited about!” The significance of the event was marked by the Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead, as he spoke directly to the ordinands in his sermon. Preaching from Matthew 20 where the disciples were arguing over who would be greatest, Bishop Stead reminded the 14 candidates that Jesus calls them to aspire to greatness as servants. “Jesus does not say to you, ‘Make it your ambition to have no ambition’,” Bishop Stead said. “He does not say to you, ‘The pursuit of worldly greatness is bad, so you must not pursue greatness’. Rather, he says to you, ‘Pursue a different kind of greatness’. Jesus wants all of us to be striving to be the very best servants we can be, not a church full of bland mediocrities.” The ordinands come from a variety of backgrounds, with three of Asian descent. “I’m so grateful for such a blessing of serving the Lord and his people, especially for this public
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Praise at a COVID-safe distance: (left) A soloist sings for all at the service; (top) Jo Gibbs – “I’m so thankful that we’re able to have loved ones there today”; (above, from left) Tim Hu, William Quach and Simon Pei, on the steps of the Cathedral.
opportunity of confirming my response to his calling and commitment to following Jesus,” said newly minted deacon the Rev Simon Pei, who ministers at North Ryde. “Thanks for the great support from Sydney Diocese and North Ryde parish to embrace multicultural ministries. With my background growing up in China, I’d like to share the gospel of peace with more Chinese people.” The Rev William Quach of Cabramatta echoed Bishop’s Stead’s words about humble service. “I know that I am utterly inadequate but at the same time I’m confident it is Christ who works in me,” he said. For the assistant minister at Artarmon, the Rev Tim Hu, “Signing the promises was a great reminder that Scripture sits at the centre for our Diocese, our doctrine and our lives. To be formally ordained to this office with the responsibility of teaching God’s life-changing word and upholding his truths is a weighty charge – but what a privilege as well.” Perhaps appropriately, the new CEO of Anglican Deaconess Ministries, the Rev Jo Gibbs, was also made a deacon at this year’s service. “Having just started as the CEO of ADM, I’m really looking forward to encouraging and equipping women, activating them for gospel ministry – whether in their churches, their work or their communities,” she said. “ADM has such a rich legacy of women serving in Bible teaching, practical ministry and missionary work. I’m looking forward to building on that history with a new generation of women.” Like the other candidates, she was not troubled by a COVID-safe service. “I’m so thankful that we’re able to have loved ones there today, even in limited COVID numbers. They are the people who have loved and encouraged us, and who have trained and discipled us over a lifetime. This service really represents all those many years of discipleship invested in us.” sc SouthernCross
Moore’s longest student studies on
Mary McKinlay (above) thinks she is the longest-running student at Moore Theological College. She may be right. Who else has been studying for more than 62 years and is still taking exams? Her next test is this month. But lest you think she is a slow learner, we should point out that she has done all her study part-time, with gaps in between. She is one of the Preliminary Theological Certificate (PTC) distance students who took part in the college’s first virtual graduation last month. As the academic dean of Moore College, the Rev Dr David Höhne, began the presentations he said: “The online nature of the ceremony is fitting as this is mostly an online course”. Nearly 150 students graduated and, instead of being present to receive their certificates or awards, they were encouraged to take part via video. STUDIES BEGAN IN THE ’50S Mary McKinlay sent a video from Tasmania with a story no-one could top. “I’ve been doing the course for 62 years,” she said with a smile. “I think I am the longest student they have ever had at Moore College.” She started studying in 1958 while at Abbotsleigh school, receiving her first PTC award in 1962. SouthernCross
She did her last unit in 1972, then signed up in 2019 to start studying again. She received the PTC Level 2 award after a break of 48 years and is already gearing up for her Level 3 exams. “I hope I pass!” she told the ceremony. More than 150 awards were given out, with 125 going to domestic students and a further 31 to overseas graduates – mainly from the United Kingdom, but also from countries such as Hong Kong, the US, Italy, Singapore and PNG. Jamie Telfer, the academic administrator with the Distance team at Moore who prayed at the graduation, described the students as “an amazing group of people that are genuinely thankful for, and eager to learn from, God’s word”. FROM HERE TO AFRICA One of the highlights of the night was the graduation of husband and wife Carlos and Gillian Olaaka from Uganda, who finished the Preliminary Theological Certificate Level 3. “This course that we took has been a very big blessing to me and I look forward to using it, as I have been using it, even in tourism,” Mr Olaaka (right) said in a video clip. He explained how the PTC study has been useful as he speaks to clients in his tourism job. “We need to equip ourselves if we are going to do the work of God, so thank you classmates, thank you teachers, thank [you] Moore College,” he said. Gillian Olaaka, who is director of a faith-based non-profit organisation in Uganda, added: “I have found my increased biblical knowledge and deeper understanding of God extremely beneficial to my daily ministry and my personal walk with the Lord. “I am so thankful for the grounded, authentic and trustworthy teaching I received through my Moore studies.” The Director of Distance at Moore, Dr Chris Thomson, addressed the graduating students in his Bible talk on Colossians 2, saying, “Your desire to grow in your faith and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is a great encouragement to all of us here at Moore College.” Dr Thomson noted that “the goal of all Paul’s hard work is the same as our goal here”, namely that believers “may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). sc 2020 Advent and Christmas Appeal Empowering people to live full and fruitful lives abmission.org.au/Christmas2020 This Advent and Christmas, ABM asks you to consider making a donation in support of Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, Nungalinya College, the Kenya Sustainable Livelihoods Program and the Zambian Integrated Gender Program. Your donation will empower people to live full and fruitful lives. To find out more about this appeal and to make a secure donation online, please scan the QR code with your mobile device.
Ship-shape shop and spirit
Chaplains on a seafarer mission: Rev Tay (right) and Jack Starman shop for crews stuck on ships at Port Botany.
On an average day the principal chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers in Sydney, the Rev Un Hui Tay, would be busily ministering to the sailors who come to his Millers Point centre. But 2020 hasn’t provided many average days, so now he’s kept busy going to them. And shopping. “We’ve become shopaholics,” he jokes, when we meet in the supermarket aisle. “And we’ve also become delivery men.” Joking aside, Mr Tay and his fellow chaplains have been very busy since COVID forced all seafarers into lockdown. No one can come ashore while their vessel is in port – and there are more than 400,000 seafarers across the globe in the same predicament. Ordinarily, crew members on freight ships would be in Sydney for a day, perhaps two. They would be bussed into the Mission’s ministry centre to relax, purchase SIM cards and snacks, transfer money home and use the free wifi before heading back to their vessels. Now, when a ship arrives in port the Mission team is given a list of the sailors’ wants or needs and they busily shop for it all, purchasing everything from headphones to OMO, and hair clippers to pizza or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. “Many of them describe their situation as being prisoners on board the vessel,” Mr Tay says. “It’s SouthernCross
been that way since the lockdown in March. And that’s where we come in for them.” Chaplains at the Mission are dealing with three categories of need. Sailors can be stuck on ships in the port, outside the port (thanks to a union go-slow) or in hotels. If it’s the latter, they are among the few “signed off” their vessel in Sydney, and this means spending a fortnight in quarantine before (hopefully) returning to their home country. So, in addition to countless sailors unable to leave their ships, Mr Tay and his team have supported more than 30 men who have been signed off and then found it difficult to get home because of border closures and red tape. One South Asian seafarer was stranded here for 12 weeks: lonely and desperate to get home, but with very limited English and no control over his flight arrangements. On one occasion, Mr Tay says, this man fronted up at the airport only to have airline staff request a COVID-free certificate and tell him he couldn’t board the plane without travel insurance worth $US100,000. After the man’s flights were postponed a third time, Mr Tay stepped in... and got him on a plane five days later. He is happy to have provided this practical support but says, “The highlight of caring for this seafarer was that I shared the gospel with him, and he committed his life to Jesus. I linked him up with a church [in his home country]... he’s now faithfully attending the local church and our Zoom service on Sunday. And that was the best outcome, I would say!” sc
HOW YOU CAN HELP • Seafarers need our ongoing prayers as their situation generates (or complicates) a range of mental health issues. Says Mr Tay: “Pray for their wellbeing – that’s very important. That in this time of lockdown they would understand the true meaning of peace by coming to know Jesus Christ.” • People can donate funds towards Christmas care packs the Mission hopes to give out to 500 seafarers this month, plus shared gifts for the vessels such as jigsaw puzzles. • You can also contribute small, practical items for seafarers and their families (second hand, but in good condition) such as a belt, handbag or watch – even clothes, shoes or little souvenirs.
To keep up with news about the Mission to Seafarers in Sydney see www.missiontoseafarers.org or link up with the Facebook page.
Generosity Changes Lives GFA World Ph: 1300 889 339 gfaau.org/gift SouthernCross
Summer School team ready for anything in 2021
The supporters of the Church Missionary Society are a determined bunch. For decades they have trooped up to Katoomba to begin the new year sitting under God’s word at Summer School, and they’ll do it again this coming January – COVID or no COVID. That doesn’t mean they (and CMS) are not taking the pandemic seriously. Far from it. Onsite restrictions means there won’t be the usual crowd of 3000 or so adults and 1500 kids and youth packing the KCC auditorium and nearby venues, but no one’s going to stop these people learning about Jesus and showing care for missionaries who go across the globe to teach others. “We’ve been tremendously encouraged by people’s support and enthusiasm,” says the executive director of CMS NSW & ACT, the Rev Canon John Lovell. “[Once registrations opened] a number of people immediately registered for our full conference... People in vulnerable age groups who were thinking they might need to attend online have subsequently donated the discounted amount in support of a CMS missionary. That generosity and support has been a wonderful encouragement to CMS. “One of the reasons for our commitment to proceed with the conference in whatever form SouthernCross
possible is the important message this communicates: that the work of global mission continues. We respond and adapt to the challenges and circumstances we find ourselves in, but the need for the gospel to go out is unchanged and we remain committed to doing all we can to support that work.” Instead of the usual week-long conference with talks, missionary sessions and a big kids’ program in the morning – followed by different speakers in the evening – Summer School in 2021 is going to look a bit different. For starters, it’s a little shorter: starting on Saturday, January 2, and finishing a day early on the following Thursday. There will be a morning and afternoon session and the main speaker, the Rev Carl Matthei, will speak at both. This will enable more than 900 adults to be divided into smaller groups that will gather in three distinct onsite locations at different times. The youth and children’s programs will also be divided between the morning and afternoon, with about 700 kids meeting in smaller year groups at a number of locations – including the local high school and primary school. Missionary sessions and other speakers will be prerecorded and available online. The talks will also be livestreamed for those who want to be part of the conference but don’t have a place in the main auditorium due to space restrictions. “We share people’s disappointment and frustration about the necessity of these changes – and not being able to welcome certain age groups such as crèche and preschool as we would like to – but of course we want to abide by Government restrictions and provide a conference that assures people’s safety,” Canon Lovell says. “We look forward to Summer School returning to its maximum capacity in 2022, if the Lord wills.” He adds that, while CMS was (and is) ready to pivot to an all-online conference if necessary, there are a lot of positives in having enthusiastic CMS members onsite in Katoomba, spending time with missionaries they have been supporting for years. “Summer School is a unique opportunity for our missionaries to share with the CMS Fellowship how God has been answering prayers and working through them as they have shared the gospel in different locations around the world. “For our workers who are missionaries in secure locations an online conference is not an option, [so] to connect face to face with representatives of the Fellowship is a really significant and valued opportunity – particularly for those on final home assignment after many years of faithful service. It’s a privilege to be among faithful people who have prayed and cared and given financial support over many years.” COVID has meant a number of missionaries who would normally have taken part in Summer School 2021 have been unable to return from overseas in time, and there are others who have been unable to leave Australia and go on location. Canon Lovell asks people to pray for them amid the disruption of their ministries and travel plans. In addition, he says, “We would appreciate prayers that, in spite of a very different Summer School, God will be at work as his word is preached and as missionaries share stories of how he’s at work, growing people’s commitment to be actively involved in God’s global mission”. sc It’s still possible to register for the online-only version of the conference. See www.nswsummerschool.org.au SouthernCross
“In heaven she was going to get a new body and she wouldn’t be sick”
How do you help a kindergarten class understand cancer? How do you support 20 little children as they watch their friend get sicker and sicker? Where is God in all this? “It was the week before school started… when they found out Evie’s neuroblastoma had come back at a routine scan,” says Jenny Allen, who teaches kindy at Penrith Christian School. “She had lesions in her brain and they needed to operate.” Prior to teaching, Ms Allen – who attends Springwood Anglican – was an oncology nurse for seven years. She believes God used this to prepare her to help Evie, who had been battling neuroblastoma since she was two. SouthernCross
“I remember they had a nurse come from the children’s hospital to show the preschool teacher how to deal with the central line still attached… We did that every day on the ward,” she says. “I was standing there thinking that this was God’s plan… it was very familiar even though it was heartbreaking. It prepared me to deal with that for these little people.” A lot of work went into teaching students that, while Evie was unwell, she was just a normal little girl. “We had kids’ cancer puppets come to help the other children understand that even though she didn’t have hair, it wasn’t contagious,” Ms Allen says. “She was just one of the children, which was lovely.” When Evie’s neuroblastoma returned, she needed brain surgery. “The little ones in the class were asking, ‘Where’s Evie?” Ms Allen recalls. “They knew who was meant to be in their class, and so the first few days were strange. They were excited about starting but they felt the class wasn’t complete [without her]. “When Evie did return, she had to wear a helmet to protect her brain as she was missing part of her skull. She didn’t like it – it was obviously different – so she wore a scarf over the top of her helmet. So, in consultation with Evie’s mum… [she] suggested we get the other children to wear scarves. And they did. These were five-year-old children who just wanted to include their beautiful friend. It was a really lovely opportunity for these children to get alongside their friend.” The progression of Evie’s cancer was quite rapid towards the end. “One day she was reading and writing, and the next day she was very challenged in even trying to be at school for shorter periods of time.” To ensure Evie didn’t miss out on anything, Ms Allen found ways of including her with video calls from the class. She even held the Christmas party early so Evie could be there. But they knew time was running out. PREPARING TO FAREWELL A FRIEND “We sat down with the children and talked to them about the fact that their friend wouldn’t return to school for the rest of the year, and what next year might look like,” Ms Allen says. “We didn’t even know [what would happen]; we were all still praying. The children would pray that Evie would get better… They would often pray she could play on the playground like everybody else, or that she could come to school again.” “I was surprised about... how open the children were. They weren’t scared. This was all in God’s strength. Talking to five- and six-year-olds, the questions could have come thick and fast. But they had grown up with this friend, they had known her from preschool. Her body was sick, and they just knew that it was time for her body to rest. “I know without a doubt God was supporting myself and those children. [Evie’s cancer] was part of their life, they knew Evie wasn’t well and they knew it was about her body. Evie was always so happy and had such a vibrant personality. They were very grateful that they saw her at her best and also when she was sick.” Evie passed away just before Christmas three years ago, surrounded by family. The school hosted a memorial service at its auditorium in her honour. “We ended up having the children from kindergarten sing a song that we used to sing all the time [in class] called ‘My Lighthouse’ by Rend Collective... Evie loved that song,” Ms Allen says through tears. “They were the bravest kids. It was their way of celebrating their friend. SouthernCross
“They knew she had been given a new body. That’s how we talked about it. In heaven she was going to get a new body and she wouldn’t be sick. She would live eternally. “It was still hard for them. They felt sad and missed their friend, but I think because we had talked openly they knew what death for them meant. It’s sad that we don’t get to see those people any more, but they’re with their heavenly Father and what more can they ask for? “That certainly made the transition easier for them, knowing they were saying goodbye to their friend, but their friend was going to have no more pain or suffering. Evie wouldn’t have to wear a helmet in heaven.” GIVING BACK Reflecting on many moments during that time, Ms Allen knows it was God who sustained her. “I think it was through prayer and just knowing that he had my back and he was working through me to support those children,” she says. “I couldn’t have done it on my own. I would be at work, and I wouldn’t even think twice about what I said. Afterwards I would think, ‘How did I not break down in tears? How did I know what to say?’ I am so sure that was in God’s strength.” Since supporting Evie’s family through the death of their daughter, Ms Allen has continued to find ways to care for families in similar situations through volunteering and fundraising. Before COVID restrictions she donated her time at The Children’s Hospital Westmead, sitting with unwell babies and children and giving exhausted parents a chance to shower or eat dinner. “God gave me the opportunity to work and support [Evie’s] family and walk that journey,” she says. “I felt like, if I can give back then that’s what I should be doing. I would go from ward to ward to see who needed me, I would pray for those children, and their families, while I was with them. It’s something I really miss.” Ms Allen has also committed to several fundraising activities to support two key organisations: The Kids’ Cancer Project – focused on finding cures for children’s cancer – and Neuroblastoma Australia, which supports families dealing with that particular cancer. She also signed up to do a 10-kilometre run as part of the Run2Cure weekend, but found herself hiking the Six Foot Track instead. “I thought, ‘That’s 46 kilometres, I’m not sure… I don’t know whether I can do this’. But I thought, this is another God opportunity. He’s saying, ‘Trust me’. I thought this could raise even more money by doing something beyond the five- or 10-kilometre walk, so I decided to do it and raised more money than I had previously.” As Ms Allen reflects on the direction her life has taken, and the events that have unfolded, she confidently trusts God’s timing and strength as she continues to use her nursing and other experiences to offer support to school families and others who need it. “I can see that God’s plan [always has] a purpose, and more than ever I have started to trust that,” she says. “Some things might be hard or difficult, yet it is all part of God’s plan. I used to question it and be quite angry about it, but now I feel it’s okay to feel those emotions and feel sad, confused, worried or defeated. It’s going, ‘This is a season for this moment’. “I know God has a better plan. I don’t think I’m anything special. It’s God. He places us in the right places.” sc SouthernCross
Celebrate the great unmasking of God Dr Glenn Davies
his has been the year of wearing masks. Little did we know as we entered 2020 that Australia, and indeed the world, would suffer the effects of a pandemic from the Coronavirus â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which first made its entrance into the world about 12 months ago in Wuhan, China.
It spread quickly in China and, with a lack of controls on people travelling overseas, it rapidly spread around the world. We in Australia were not immune, as visitors arrived unwittingly carrying the disease and so we began to experience lockdowns, quarantines, COVID-19 testing, instructions about how to wash our hands, social distancing, the four-square-metre rule, contact tracing and temperature taking. Our world had turned upside down, even for us Down Under! What a strange new world. First, gatherings of more than 500 people were restricted, but it soon moved to groups of two! Our churches were closed and then, thankfully, in due time we were allowed to return to church in small numbers, socially distanced and wearing masks. The most obvious physical difference for us all was having our faces covered with a mask. When we sat in church we were not always quite sure who we were looking at. Others spoke with muffled voices and we could not discern the expression on their face, so felt even more distant than the mandatory physical separation of 1.5 metres. SouthernCross
Preachers would look out at their congregation and not know what their people were thinking. Were they happy or sad, energised or bored, awake or asleep? Even identifying who it was behind the mask was difficult. Mask wearing, of course, is an ancient means of hiding one’s face – whether due to shame or misbehaviour. We normally associate masks with robbers and thieves. They wear their balaclavas with slitted eyes and hide their faces so they are not identified. Only when they take off their mask is their true identity revealed. Well, as we come to Christmas we celebrate the great unmasking of God. God was previously hidden from our sight. God was mysterious, invisible. In the Old Testament, though God revealed himself in voice, he did not reveal himself in form. Moses saw his glory, but he did not see him face to face. “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Moses had a special relationship with God and the glory shone on his face when he entered the tabernacle, but it is only in the coming of Jesus that we see God’s face and indeed behold God’s glory, when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God, as it were, took off his mask. He revealed himself, and he revealed himself in such an extraordinary way that he became flesh and partook of our nature as a human being. As Charles Wesley expressed it: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate Deity!” Of course, for Wesley the use of the word “veiled” was not a masking but an adorning – not preventing someone from seeing the Godhead, but allowing someone to see God in the flesh! Christmas is a celebration of God’s humility as he entered into our world to take on human flesh, to take our place, to walk in our shoes, to live in a fallen, decaying world and yet to live life as a perfect human being, so that Jesus’ life of obedience to God’s law was without fault, without blemish, without spot, without sin. It was not simply as a perfect man that he accomplished our salvation, but it was because he was God incarnate – both God and man – that he was able to defeat death, destroy the Devil and accomplish salvation for his people. God’s purposes for the world are revealed in the birth of his Son. This climactic news required an angelic announcement to Joseph and Mary, and a host of angels to declare it to shepherds. This is good news to be shared with all! We, too, should shed the masks of muffled proclamation. We should not reduce our Christmas celebrations to the outward trappings of baubles and tinsel but declare boldly and fearlessly that the Saviour of the word has come. God has revealed himself through his beloved Son that we might have life eternal. SC
Have a holy and happy Christmas. God bless.
A PRAYER FOR MISSION 2020 Our heavenly Father, fill our lives with the fruit of your Spirit so that we may walk in joyful obedience, share your love by word and deed, and see Christ honoured in every community as Lord and Saviour. Amen. SouthernCross
Neither doom nor Zoom
Not even a pandemic or “virtual” church can separate us from God’s love, writes George Athas.
he COVID-19 pandemic has had many casualties around the world. While we in Australia have been relatively shielded from the scale of disaster, we have not been immune. Some of us have lost loved ones or have lived with the stress that we or someone dear to us might contract the virus and not live to tell the tale.
More broadly, one of the “casualties” we Christians felt was our church gatherings. When our governments decreed lockdowns, our church buildings shut their doors and we were prevented from physically meeting together. This is sadly the norm for many of our brothers and sisters in parts of the world where Christians are persecuted, but it has never before been so in Australia. This was a new experience, and it was not the result of persecution but a public health order. Many of us have felt grief over the loss of worshipping together. Church is so pivotal to the Christian life, because the Christian life is about relationship. We come together as brothers and sisters to meet with our Lord Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father in the bond of the Spirit. Meeting SouthernCross
together is perhaps the most fundamental activity that Christians do. Take it away, and it feels like our identity has been impaired. The injunction to meet together is biblical. Among the laws Moses gave the Israelites was the command that they should meet together as one nation in one place before their one God (Deut 12, 16). Commemorating the Lord’s saving actions and the blessings he bestowed upon them was not an individual affair to be done in private. It was a national event, to be shared with others, because God had entered into one covenant with all Israel. Meeting together, therefore, was a necessary enactment of Israel’s covenantal unity under their one God. In time, God chose Jerusalem as the place where Israel should meet before him. This was largely motivated by God’s choice of David as king. Relationship was pivotal to this new arrangement. The Davidic king had a special relationship with God that no other Israelite shared. According to the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7), God entered the dynasty of David to become the immortal father of the Davidic king, and the king thereby became God’s son (cf. Ps 2:7). As God’s son, the king was to mediate his divine father’s permanent rule over Israel, and so bring blessing to Israel. The permanence of this arrangement was symbolised by the temple. Unlike the tabernacle, the temple could not be packed up and moved around. It stayed put in Jerusalem, because the Davidic dynasty stayed put there. It was God’s royal palace, erected and maintained by his son, the Davidic king. Just as God ruled Israel through his son, the Davidic king, so the king was to bring all Israel together before their one God at the one temple. Meeting together thus recognised the sovereignty of God over his one people, and his chosen human ruler, who called the people together. This was the pinnacle of Israel’s national life. To borrow a New Testament turn of phrase, no one came to the divine father except through his son, the Davidic king. Indeed, this reality established a trajectory that would eventually find its fulfilment in Jesus himself (cf. John 14:6-7). IMPAIRED FELLOWSHIP The split of the Kingdom of Israel after Solomon was, therefore, a tragic development. As people turned away from God, the unity of God’s people was compromised. The subsequent history of two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) reveals a broken nation in impaired fellowship with each other and their God. In some ways, our inability to meet together this year was similar to this. A hindrance was imposed, and it affected fellowship. This hindrance was not a divine judgment for our covenantal failures, but a legitimate measure aimed at preserving the common good in the face of a dangerous health crisis. We were being asked to desist meeting in worship as a means of loving our neighbours. It seemed so counterintuitive. How could it be a good thing for the people of God not to meet together around his word? How could it benefit others? This is where the difference between old covenant Israel and the Church today is important. Under the old covenant, God was ancient Israel’s head of state. He was part of the nation’s political system. This is not the case in the new covenant, where Jesus is over and above all political systems. If the Israelites did not meet together under their king at God’s chosen place, the nation itself failed to function. This is why the ultimate penalty under the Law was not death, but exile, which prevented the people from meeting together with God. SouthernCross
Under the new covenant, the inability to meet together presents a challenge, but not a fatal one. In the New Testament, we see how the Holy Spirit is granted to believers as a permanent guarantee of our future salvation. The Spirit is God’s gift of himself to us, regenerating us and doing something that never occurred in the Old Testament: uniting us to God and to each other. In the Old Testament, when Israelites gathered together in the temple, they were meeting with each other in God’s presence, but God was still “over there”. He was never “in here” – within the person. God was close to Israel, but he was not united to Israel (cf. Deut 4:7). The Old Testament uses the metaphor of God as husband and Israel as wife. This picks up the sense of covenantal commitment between God and his people, and hints at God’s desire to unite with his people. But it was not until the granting of the Spirit that God was finally united to his people. By the Spirit, believers are adopted by God, and this gives them the right not just to belong to God by a legal decision. Rather, it gives believers the right to become real, true children of God the Father (John 1:12-13). Since the Spirit is God himself, he not only imputes to us the righteousness of Christ but imparts to us his own identity. He is in us, and we are in him. While Old Testament believers could come close to God, New Testament believers like ourselves “participate in the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). Since the Spirit unites us intimately to God and each other, geography is now a lesser issue for us. The entire Church worldwide does not need to meet together at one place now. Jesus anticipated this when he spoke with the Samaritan woman by the well of Sychar (John 4). The Samaritans were the descendants of the northern Israelites who broke away from the Davidic dynasty and, in Jesus’ day, the ruins of their temple lay atop the mountain just outside Sychar. As Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman, he told her that “a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… [A] time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:21, 23). DIVIDED, UNITED The Spirit transcends all geographical limits and draws believers into union with the Father, no matter where they may be. Geography cannot separate us from the love of God (cf. Rom 8:38-39). Our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are not somehow lesser believers for being unable to meet together. Similarly, those of us ordinarily confined to homes through frailty are also not lesser believers. God unites us all tightly to himself through his Spirit, so we do well to remember that we, too, are united in one body with our persecuted family and those who aren’t physically with us. As wonderful as this union is, it does not mean that meeting together physically is now purely optional. We are still embodied persons, and physicality is of paramount importance. This is, after all, why Jesus was raised physically from the dead. Our hope is not to become disembodied souls floating in the ether, but to have our whole persons renewed. As embodied people living in the reality of the resurrection, we should desire to meet physically with each other. Our unity as Christians cannot be reduced to a spiritual realm, just as Jesus’ own resurrection was not merely a spiritual event – it was physical, too. Our unity must be expressed in the physical act of gathering with each other. As a married couple are still united when physically SouthernCross
apart from each other, so we too are spiritually united even though we have been apart from each other. However, union always carries the impetus to be together. I have been so encouraged by the efforts that many have made to move our meetings into cyberspace. It was a strange experience for many of us to “meet” with others online and worship virtually. But it sent two important messages. First, it said that Christians share the deepest bond of the Spirit, which transcends buildings, boundaries and broadband. While we have grieved being unable to worship alongside each other physically, the Spirit has not thereby been absent. He is still within us, uniting us to God and to each other. Second, it told our community that we are prepared to forego our rights, so that we can love others by doing our bit to help stop the spread of this disease. The inconvenience we experienced was a means of “going the extra mile” and demonstrated the attitude of Jesus himself, who lovingly gave up all for our sakes. As we meet together, be it physically in our church buildings, or virtually on our laptops, let us remember that neither death nor life, neither good health nor ill health, neither doom nor Zoom, can separate us from the love of God (cf. Rom 8:38). We eagerly look forward to the day when the pandemic is but a historical memory, and we can return to meeting normally and regularly with each other. Let us not give up meeting together, but rather spur each other on by gathering as the Day of the Lord approaches (cf. Heb 10:24-25). SC The Rev Dr George Athas is director of research and lectures in Old Testament and Hebrew at Moore College. PROTECTION AND CARE FOR EVERYONE
“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.”
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.
TO REACH THE LOST
A Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme is available to provide counselling and other support to victims of misconduct or abuse. 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 27
Ministries that have grown in 2020 Doubled up: Volunteers at Greenacre fill bags to meet the need for twice as many groceries on fresh food pantry day.
t’s important to take moments to stop and reflect in order to see the ways God has worked in our lives. We want to celebrate how God has blessed churches, sustained and expanded ministries, and grown his kingdom this year. Join us in giving thanks for the year that has been!
GOD DEVELOPED NEW MINISTRIES AND BUILDINGS At the start of the year we celebrated flourishing Sudanese and Mandarin ministries and, when COVID-19 forced us online, we saw some churches taking an opportunity to serve the Deaf community as well. St Paul’s, Canterbury used the limits placed on church services creatively by planting an Easy English service. After many years of planning and development, Stanhope opened its doors and Hope Church Leppington turned the sod and started construction. SouthernCross
GOD CONTINUED TO PROVIDE WORKERS FOR THE HARVEST Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had a big discussion about the need for people to step into ministry, both in Sydney and beyond. Churches thought hard about how to develop a culture that encouraged people into ministry, and MTS Recruit conference helped more than 1000 people around the world stop and think about serving in vocational ministry. We had 36 men and women deaconed (new ordinations on p10) and eight deacons ordained as presbyters (the next step in preparing to lead a parish). In addition, Moore College continued to train people in its distance programs, awarding 148 preliminary theology certificates at an online graduation event (p13). GOD CARED FOR OUR COMMUNITIES We fed a lot of people this year! Greenacre provided 85 families with groceries each fortnight. Church Hill and inner city churches found their food programs overwhelmed with demand and Shellharbour put together bags of groceries for needy families in their community. Church by the Bridge even assisted people almost 1000 kilometres away. We didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just feed people, though. God showed us ways to help the unemployed find work, share the gospel with our neighbours, and support families raising children with disabilities. Our prayers for the drought were also answered, with God bringing rain and reviving our rural communities. GOD MATURED US IN OUR FAITH This year, so many Sydney Anglicans have shared how they have come to faith. We started the year celebrating baptisms at Parramatta, and confirmations. We saw significant growth in evangelistic courses, with some doubling in size. Faithful Christians shared the secrets of their prayer lives, how reading the Bible with SouthernCross
others has deepened their understanding, and the things that helped them grow in their faith. God continued to sustain us in our journey with Christ. One woman shared her experiences of raising two boys with autism; another shared how God helps her deal with the grief of multiple miscarriages; and a single mum told us what it was like for her in isolation. Joseph explained how God brought him from a cult to knowing Christ, and attending Christianity Explored helped Kelly understand her heart problem and make sense of God. GOD IS STILL CARRYING US THROUGH A GLOBAL PANDEMIC Coronavirus brought a lot of sudden changes. With very little notice we shut churches, figured out how to go online and livestream our services, and worked out what to do with youth group ministries, Scripture and how to care for our older members.
Under God, we have adapted and made the best of a bad situation, and the gospel has been preached. Although we are still navigating what normal looks like, God has blessed us and sustained us so far and we can trust he will continue to do so. SC SouthernCross
How do we grow in faith?
ave you grown in your faith lately? Recent data suggests weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not developing and maturing our Christian faith as much as we might like.
When congregations were asked the question as part of the National Church Life Survey in 2016, 46 per cent of people indicated they had much growth in faith, which left 54 per cent reporting some or no growth. A July report by the diocesan Strategy and Research Group (SRG) further investigated how churches and Christians can effectively foster spiritual development. The report showed some strong correlations between key church activities and growth in faith, such as faithful Bible teaching and training, building a strong Christian community and encouraging SouthernCross
people to personally read their Bible, pray and share the gospel with others. In particular, those who reflected on God’s word most days were more likely to report “much growth”. We asked four people to share what has helped their faith grow. If you’re like the majority of us and feel a bit stuck in your faith, here are four things you can do to help kick-start growth. SIT UNDER GOD’S WORD REGULARLY Hazel Bunyard of Park Rail Church has found sitting under God’s word regularly with one other person from church helped deepen her trust in God in every situation. “That’s been a real challenge for me in the past, and it’s something I’ve really grown in recently,” she says. “I can trust that God’s got my back… he has a plan, and if God asks me to forgive someone, it’s for a reason.” For many years, forgiveness seemed like an impossible task for Mrs Bunyard. “When I first heard [Christians have to forgive], I walked out of church crying. I thought that God was asking too much of me. This year, God’s been able to help me do that. Being able to trust God and know that I’m so forgiven for all that I’ve done… that’s been a massive thing for me.” There is joy and confidence in Mrs Bunyard’s voice as she explains how God has used one-to-one Bible reading. “Each week we look at the Bible together, and if we have questions we can delve deeper,” she says. “It’s helped me to understand God’s word better. Before, if I just opened the Bible I wasn’t getting much out of it. Doing one-to-one has helped me to ask what stands out, to look for how God is working through a passage and [apply it]. Meeting one-to-one has made a massive difference. Because I’m reading more, I’m trusting more. It’s got a knock-on effect.” ALLOW OTHERS TO POINT YOU TO GOD’S WORD “Honestly, this year has been a bit of a struggle with COVID and university,” says medical student Natasha Ting (right), of St Barnabas’, Bossley Park. “I am honestly so thankful to my Bible study group [both at church and hospital] for continuing to persist in encouraging each other. I’m also immensely blessed to have friends who spiritually check in on me and who encourage me to continue looking to God.” The fellowship of others and regular prayer have helped Miss Ting to continue to grow spiritually in a chaotic time. “Although there are times where I feel far from God, spending more time in prayer has really gotten me through this year,” she says. “In terms of what has helped me grow in my faith, SouthernCross
I would have to say my Christian brothers and sisters [in my] growth group. Without it, I doubt I would have really engaged with the Bible outside of Sunday’s sermons.” BE CHALLENGED BY GOD’S WORD There’s nothing like having to prepare to teach the word of God to encourage spiritual growth. Mark Beesley of Park Rail Church found that, as he studied the passages, God challenged him to walk the talk. “We were going through Exodus and the seven plagues – it really forces you to look at your relationship with God and look at how you practice what you preach,” he says. “Humility is an area [I have grown in]. I was preaching on passages that had a lot to do with humbling yourself before God. There was a process of looking deeply into God’s word, understanding humility and how my sinfulness compared to God’s holiness. There was real growth there as I recognised how he exalts the humble and brings down the proud, and I had to have a hard look at my own pride.” Mr Beesley believes this is a key aspect to growing in your faith and strengthening your relationship with the Lord. “He calls us to respond to him – that’s the way you grow, I think,” he says. “You see what God says, listen to God and basically respond. It’s all about repenting and obedience and working out that.” REFLECT ON GOD’S WORD IN THE BUSYNESS OF LIFE Juggling two young children, work and family life, Eagle Vale parishioner Tally Carmody (right) knows how hard it can be to carve time out for God in the busyness of each day. “I have grown most in my faith this year by learning other ways to meditate on God and his word,” she says. “This has helped me to be more prayerful, not just in a structured sense but also more conversationally and praying more throughout the day when the thought, or someone, comes to mind. “This year, I think, has been helped by ‘visiting [more] good books’,” she adds. “For years – hello toddlers! – I’ve struggled to read and have finally made more time and had more opportunities to do so. I’ve focused more on Christian literature, too. That has helped me meditate more on God and to see him more relationally.” SC SouthernCross
The end of the universe “a sad, lonely, cold place”?
eople love to obsess over the end of the world. There are countless apocalyptic movies and novels that pander to this fascination. Even bizarre doomsday predictions, such as the Mayan calendar, continue to spark interest.
Most recently, theoretical physicist Dr Matt Caplan from Illinois State University has offered a new insight into the end of the universe. In contrast to cosmological theories that predict the universe ending in “heat death”, Dr Caplan hypothesises that the universe will end when black dwarf stars (a type of burnt-out star) explode, one by one, until no more exist. This is predicted to occur 1032,000 years into the future. He concludes that “it will be a bit of a sad, lonely, cold place”, with no one around to witness the end. There is a stark contrast between Dr Caplan’s hypothesis and what the Bible says about humanity’s fate in the end times. Dr Caplan predicts human life will be long gone by the universe’s end, whereas God’s word declares that humanity will be alive in the final days. Revelation 1:7 tells us: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and ‘every eye will see him; even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him’”. Revelation says there will be multiple eyewitnesses to Jesus’ return. On the surface, this latest scientific discovery seems to contradict the Bible. But Dr Peter Orr, a SouthernCross
New Testament lecturer at Moore College, believes Dr Caplan’s theory can align with God’s word. “[Caplan’s hypothesis] is basically what would happen if God did not intervene and everything continued the way that we see and observe now,” Dr Orr says. “But the Bible says the world is not going to continue the way that it does, because Jesus will come suddenly... there will be a sudden and direct intervention by God that will end the world.” More broadly, Dr Orr reminds us science is not infallible and sometimes misinterprets God’s world, or gives incomplete observations, due to insufficient information. “When scientists start to approach the big questions – the origins of the universe, the end of the universe – they’re in the realm of speculation,” he says. “Scientists, without the kind of revelation we have from God’s word, [are] kind of hamstrung in a sense because [they] don’t have the full facts.” SCIENCE AND THE WORD It is a common misperception that science and Christianity are incompatible, and that science invalidates the word of God. For example, the theory of evolution has been seen as inconsistent with the Genesis account of the universe’s origins. As science continues to learn more about the mysteries of our world, Christians need to know how to respond to these discoveries. Dr Orr believes science and the Bible need not be read in conflict with one another. “We need to think about what science is,” he says. “Good science is reading [and] observing God’s world. The Bible is God’s word. God’s world and God’s word are both revelations of God, so there can’t be any conflict [between the two]. The conflict comes when we misread either God’s world or God’s word.” The conflict between Galileo and the Roman Catholic Church is an example of misreading God’s word. Galileo proposed that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the belief that the earth was the centre of the universe. The “conflict” arose from a misinterpretation of Psalm 19:6 – “It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other” – which the Church interpreted to mean that the sun and other planets revolved around the Earth. However, as Dr Orr explains, this verse “is not making a scientific statement, it is a poetic description of what we observe”. THE END OF THE WORLD, BUT AN ETERNAL HOPE When we hear of scientific theories about the end of the world it is easy to become despondent, hearing that we will die out, alone and forgotten by the universe. But this is not our fate. Humanity would indeed have a bleak future if God had not intervened, through Jesus, to provide us the promise of salvation and an eternal home. While it is true that “the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10), this is not the end of the story. Those who trust in Jesus “are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). As 2 Peter 3 goes on to say, since everything will be destroyed in this way, we should be living holy and godly lives and doing all we can to speed the day of the Lord. Dr Orr says: “There is a day of judgement to come. There is a day of wrath. But Jesus is the one who delivers us from that day of wrath. There’s hope for those who put their trust in Jesus, and there’s hope while this world is still going well; there is time for people to put their trust in the Lord Jesus.” SC SouthernCross
Keep on praying!
any of us have been stopping each day at 7pm to pray for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Our Federal Government has invested more than $3.3 billion into agreements for vaccine supply. This includes the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine – the Phase 3 trials of which demonstrated 95 per cent efficiency against COVID-19 with no serious side effects. Yet it has to be kept at -70°C, which makes distribution and storage problematic. We also have interests in the Oxford vaccine, which can be stored in a regular fridge. Phase 3 trials show it to be about 70 per cent effective. But there are still problems. It has been developed using a kidney cell line, widely used in vaccine research, which comes from a foetus that was aborted in about 1972. The ethical issues around this are very complex. The University of Queensland and CSL are developing a vaccine that is not ethically compromised and could be stored easily but is only in Phase 1 trials. There’s a long road ahead. If successful, this SouthernCross
vaccine will be produced at CSL’s facility in Victoria, making local distribution relatively fast and easy. Praise God for this progress! But don’t stop praying. We still have quite a way to go – even with the really advanced projects – because achieving “herd immunity” (enough immune people to discourage the spread of the pandemic) will require vast quantities of vaccine. And many of the prospective vaccines require two injections spaced weeks apart. Pray the array of production and storage problems will be overcome. Then pray about who will get the vaccine first. If a vaccine is most effective in preventing the virus from spreading, then the first to get it should be the ones who spread it the most. This seems to be those between the ages of 10 and 35, who either show only mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. On the other hand, if the vaccine is good at preventing symptoms but not so good at stopping the spread, we should target the most vulnerable: people in nursing homes and the over 65s. That will probably save the most lives in the short term, while giving us time to vaccinate the rest of the population as we try to achieve herd immunity. Then there are the anti-vaxxers. We are a long way from the days when everyone just lined up and received their vaccination jab at school! Any way you slice it, we face a long uphill battle in fighting this disease. Our need to pray won’t stop when the vaccine is developed and delivered. So how long will it really be before we can meet together around God’s word, sing God’s praises and mingle over tea and coffee like the good old days (remember February 2020)? Who knows? COVID-19 is a terrible disease. You don’t have to be around an infected person to get infected. By coughing or sneezing, or even speaking, infected people can generate droplets that land on surfaces we can all touch. This is the reason for so many of our community’s advisories and restrictions (wash hands, use sanitisers, avoid touching your face, socially distance, don’t shake hands, feel free to wear a mask, stay home when you are unwell). This is also why NSW’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, has been telling us not to sing. We simply produce too many potentially infectious droplets. The data shows we make it too dangerous for other people when we all sing. But, oh how I long to sing again! How I long to be together with my spiritual family, face to face. Sadly, around the world – and here in Sydney – churches have been hot spots for infection. I hope our careful response to directions from health authorities will not only allow us to meet, albeit in smaller numbers, but also help us find ways to serve with compassion those who are sick, care for the most vulnerable, and become congregations more sensitised to and engaged with the needs of others rather than seeking “what suits me”. It does look like we will get a vaccine, and eventually it will slow down the spread of COVID-19. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t come too soon. Until then, will you join me daily at 7pm to pray for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control – and a vaccine? SC
The Rt Rev Chris Edwards is Bishop of North Sydney. SouthernCross
“Significant” need for Defence Force shepherds Grant Dibden
he Afghanistan Inquiry’s findings were deeply disturbing. The acts reported of a relatively small number of individuals were horrific, appalling and disgraceful. As the Chief of the Defence Force stated: “the unlawful killing of civilians and prisoners is never acceptable”.
The alleged misconduct brings dishonour on the overwhelming majority of Australians who served in Afghanistan with bravery, compassion and professionalism. It brings shame on the SAS, the Commandos, the Australian military and Australia in general. And this from one of our most highly trained and revered elements of the Defence Force. It is a necessary report, but it’s hard reading. Steps have been taken by the Army since these allegations first came to light four years ago to begin to change the culture that allowed this misconduct to occur. Of course, more needs to be done and I am confident it will be. It’s in this context that Defence chaplains have a significant part to play. The military call-sign for a chaplain is “shepherd” and a primary task of chaplains is to provide pastoral care. They are under-shepherds of the Great Shepherd and Good Shepherd. An Anglican chaplain’s identity and motivation is founded on the extraordinary life-changing and life-giving work of Jesus Christ: his life, death, resurrection, ascension and imminent return. They are shaped by a worldview that all people are created in God’s image and therefore have dignity and value. That all will one day stand before God and have to give account. Chaplains’ actions are an extension of their beliefs, which are based on Scripture, and see them provide pastoral care to people of all faiths and no faith. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, became human to live among us, share our experiences and serve us sheep even to the point of laying down his life for us. Like Jesus, a chaplain lives among the Defence personnel, sharing all the dangers and difficulties. The chaplain’s role is characterised by humility and compassion but also, as a shepherd, they are a leader and protector of the sheep, which requires courage and resilience. Their shared experiences and protective leadership builds trust from the most junior member of Defence to those in command. SouthernCross
Shepherd’s service: Australian Army chaplain Stephen Maggs (left)with officers and members of the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion at the unit’s Remembrance Day ceremony this year.
SGT Gayle Walkom
This trust is the foundation of their influence and effectiveness as a chaplain. The hallmarks of Anglican chaplaincy are that we are faith-driven, gospel-focused, peopleoriented and command-responsive. Under God, we demonstrate his love by awakening people to him, sustaining and nurturing them on their faith journey, and praying and caring for them. Chaplains provide unhurried, non-judgemental listening and bring the truths of Scripture to bear on all manner of practical issues Defence Force members and their families face. They are used by God to bring forgiveness and peace to troubled souls, reconciliation and calm to broken relationships and stressful situations, hope to those in despair, practical support in difficult times and comfort to those suffering loss or grief. Defence chaplains have been called by our great God and set apart to serve him in this way. It’s a tremendously valuable but difficult role as they balance standing up for the powerless, restoring the broken, sharing the good news, supporting commanders yet giving tough ethical advice even when it is unpopular. Your prayer support for them is vital. Thank God for those who initiated the inquiry and those courageous people who gave evidence. Pray for our chaplains to draw closer to God, be secure in his arms and find rest for, and restoration of, their souls in him. Pray that they would be compassionate and loving to all, even those accused of horrendous crimes. Pray they would have courage to stand up for the powerless and broken. Pray that they would be able to support Defence Force leaders as they make difficult decisions, providing frank and fearless advice as necessary. Right now, there is a great need for Anglican Defence chaplains and they are of immense value to those who have been impacted by the Afghanistan Inquiry. It has affected current and former serving Defence members and their families and friends, particularly those who served in Afghanistan with such distinction, those who conducted the inquiry and leaders of the Defence Force who have to make tough decisions. SC
We must be there for those who need us.
Bishop Grant Dibden is the Anglican Bishop to the Australian Defence Force. He is a former senior military officer, reaching the rank of Colonel in the Australian Army. SouthernCross
A God-honouring life Simon Manchester speaks to the founder and president of MegaVoice International, Tom Treseder.
om Treseder – known to many as Mr Bible Man – is an 87-year-old sportsman, industrial
designer and lay preacher with 72 years under his belt (and counting). He has been a world champion sculler, state director of the Bible Society, had leadership roles in Scripture Union and ISCF and is now a leader in distributing MegaVoice audio bibles around the world. He is married to Merriel; they have four children and five grandchildren. Is it true that, as a teenager, you resolved that you would become a Christian when your minister made his next appeal? In my church at Five Dock there were some “Bible bashers” – we’d call them Christians – but they had something I didn’t have. I felt I would fill the emptiness by being a champion in sport. I told the Lord I would give my life to him when my minister gave an appeal. I responded on my 15th birthday when a visiting minister gave the appeal! How audacious! Why did you choose sculling as a sport over, say, rowing – and what is sculling? I commenced in the sport of rowing as a 13-year-old skinny coxswain. Rowing is when you have one oar in your hands; being in an eight-oared crew is like being in the body of Christ. I began to SouthernCross
scull (an oar in both hands) when I received Christ and wanted to honour him and his day. It really is the greatest sport in the world. You became a World Champion when you were about 50 and have won countless trophies and medals. Why did you miss the Commonwealth and Olympic games? My training schedule was four nights plus Saturday and Sunday. When I became a Christian, I felt uneasy about rowing on Sunday. God gave me the promise: “those that honour me I will honour” (1 Samuel 2:30). I began to scull in a $10,000 sculling boat a man gave me, and my schedule changed to five nights and Saturday. God was working out another promise: “My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Yes, he has enabled me to win 33 World Masters gold medals. He has done “exceedingly, abundantly” above all I could ask or think. Your life has been very involved with the word of God (Scripture Union, Bible Society and now MegaVoice). Why has Bible distribution been such a priority for you? My mother pinned a Sunday School text card on my wall: “We love Him because He first loved us”. I didn’t realise then how God speaks when we read or hear God’s word! Since coming to know the Lord personally, he has led me as I have read and listened to “the sound of his words”. I long for all people to be able to hear the good news. Why was meeting Ken Crowell at the Lausanne Congress in Manila (1989) such a turning point for you? I was quite miraculously led to learn of Ken, a USA businessman who had set up an electronics company on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. When we met and he heard of this seemingly impossible Bible I had conceived and invented, he said, “Well, it has never been done before but with God’s help we will do it”. At that time, I could only store 10 seconds of speech – to some, a crazy idea! How does a MegaVoice audio Bible work – and were they around before you and Ken got together? The miracle of the MegaVoice Bible is we can provide the Bible, or any life-enriching message, in any language, in audio form – all on a tiny piece of rock (silicon). We power it by the sun (and Son) and form it so as to not offend “M” people and enable all who cannot, do not or will not read to hear the word of the Lord. There was nothing like this in the world. What challenges have you had to overcome in countries where weather or restrictions have been a problem? Being water, sand, volcanic ash and vermin resistant is an amazing achievement and asset. The biggest problem is convincing educated people that most people in the developed world prefer to receive their information orally. Can you give an example or two where these audio bibles have helped missionary work? In North Kenya, 67 “M” families (non-readers) are now being discipled as they listen to God speak from these MegaVoice bibles. In Vanuatu, the local witch doctor got hold of the MegaVoice audio Bible, was soundly converted and is training others to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. It’s a superb story. SouthernCross
What content – apart from Scripture – do you put on MegaVoice and how much material can one device take? The one-time 10-second capacity that I started with now holds 20 whole bibles or 1600 hours. Ministries load the Bible in an audio form, the Jesus film, Bible college lectures, sermons, Bible teaching, medical messages, how to grow crops – any life-enriching messages in any language or dialect. Your dear Merriel must be very patient as you break all the “slow down and retire” rules – true? The Lord brought us together in 1958 and we married in 1959. Coming home from our honeymoon into the Billy Graham Crusade we formed an evangelistic team in which she sang. Four children, nine foster babies, lawyer, schoolteacher – she is extraordinary. Many thanks to the Anglican Counselling Centre, as what I thought was her problem was actually me! Thanks Bishop John Reid! Merriel has held our four children and family and me together. Colossians 2:9 is a great description of Merriel. Your brochure says this ministry is “the most important application of technology”. What do you mean by that? Yes, for some reason the Lord has put in my/our hands a technology that is and will allow us to give the whole world the good news (for the first time in history). Now, I have just designed the first Bible player for the world’s hearing impaired. What are you looking forward to? The finishing line is getting closer and we now need to sprint with whatever strength he gives. Where do you get the bibles and messages that make up your MegaVoice audio library? These come from churches, colleges, ministries, translators, the Global Recording Network, Bible societies and missions. We now have available the largest audio Scripture library in the world: more than 20,000 bibles, testaments and Scripture portions in more than 7400 languages and dialects. SC SouthernCross
New vice principal for Moore College The Head of Mission at Moore College, the Rev Dr Simon Gillham, will become college vice principal at the beginning of next year, replacing the Rev Dr Colin Bale – who will continue to lecture in Church history until his retirement in the second half of 2021. “I think it’s a huge privilege and a big responsibility, and it’s really quite daunting looking at the list of the other people who’ve done this [job]!” Dr Gillham says. “But it is a wonderful opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters on the faculty, and to support Mark [Thompson] in his leadership of the college.” He says the dean of students is focused on caring for the student body, while the vice principal is geared more towards caring for the faculty. Once he takes on the role, he will continue to serve as Head of Mission and lecture in ministry and mission. Dr Gillham joined the college faculty five years ago, after spending eight years in southern Africa with his family, working at the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary. He recently completed a PhD on a biblical theology of the knowledge of God and how this shapes different models of theological education. As such, he is very involved in the college’s process of revising its core programs, which began in 2018 and should be completed next year. College principal the Rev Dr Mark Thompson says he is “thrilled” Dr Gillham has accepted the vice principal’s position. “Simon... has a great range of gifts and experience and is loved and respected by everyone in the college,” he says. “I am looking forward to working alongside him in this next exciting phase of the college’s life. His wisdom and global gospel focus will be great assets in the college’s leadership.” Adds Dr Gillham: “Mark and I are absolutely aligned in terms of what we think Moore College is about and the training of people, but we come at things from very different angles. It’s my goal to be a real complement to him.” SouthernCross
NCNC farewells Glenn Gardner Making plans: Glenn Gardner (left) discusses church planting with Archbishop Davies in 2015. The executive director of New Churches for New Communities, the Rev Glenn Gardner, will retire at the end of December after more than five years leading the Archbishop’s program to raise funds for new ministry buildings in the Diocese. Over his time at the helm almost $6 million has been raised. The first church completed with these funds opened at Stanhope Gardens in October; the sod was turned for a building at Leppington a few weeks earlier and plans are also in development for Marsden Park. Mr Gardner said: “This is gospel work to enable churches planted in these burgeoning suburbs to reach out to the local communities as they develop, and offer people the opportunity to hear the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ”. Following 38 years of ordained ministry in Malaysia and Australia – including more than a decade as rector of Granville – the Rev Canon David Wong will retire on January 1. The Rev Jason Veitch will become rector of Campbelltown on January 11 with a commencement service on January 30. He has been an assistant minister at St George North since 2011. After 18 years as rector of St Mark’s, Ermington, the Rev Steven Farrar will retire from the parish on December 31. The Rev Rob Sharp, senior pastor of Harbour Church (near Shellharbour) since 2011, will become rector of Mittagong on January 11. The director of Youthworks’ Year 13 gap year program, the Rev Michael Williamson, will step down at the end of 2020. He will help the Year 13 team prepare for next year’s intake, then begin his new role as rector of Bulli on March 1. SouthernCross
Vale The Rev John Alexander Brook died on October 7, aged 92. Born John Alexander Brook on February 10, 1928, he was educated at Sydney Technical High School and spent 10 years as an electrical fitter before attending Moore College – where he was Senior Student in 1956. After completing his studies, Mr Brook served as curate at Holy Trinity, Adelaide. He returned to Sydney in 1959 as rector of Rozelle and acting rector of St Mary’s, Balmain and Pyrmont, became the Church Missionary Society secretary for South Australia in 1962 and regional secretary for Aboriginal work in northern Australia in 1965. Two years later Mr Brook returned to parish as rector of Normanhurst, then he and his family spent 1970-74 at All Saints’, Jakarta with CMS. Rectorships followed at Hurstville (1974-79) and Castle Hill (1979-87), before another interstate move to St John’s, Launceston – where he was rector until his retirement in 1993. Mr Brook and his wife Joan retired to the Central Coast, where he took on a variety of roles such as CMS regional representative for the Diocese of Newcastle and, with Mrs Brook, helping with kids’ club at St David’s, Avoca. The current rector of St Paul’s, Castle Hill, the Rev John Gray, called Mr Brook’s years at the church “extraordinarily significant”. Writing to members of the parish, he said Mr Brook “was the right man for the time. Under his care, people were released into ministry for the glory of Christ. “He was a tireless shepherd, visiting and connecting with everyone in need as well as those who needed a word of encouragement. His care of my own mother whilst grieving the passing of my father is a fond memory. As are the words John spoke to me during that time. “He had a pastor-teacher’s heart and mind. Men and women were well formed in Christ by John. A number were already in leadership when John arrived but, under his care, they became even more substantial servants... For a man who served us but eight years he has left a profound and lasting thumbprint... He loved Jesus and his gospel till the end.”
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Five old truths from new Colin album Tara Sing Old Testament Sing-A-Long by Colin Buchanan
e all know what to expect from a Colin Buchanan album: banter, a bit of silliness and bold Bible truths. His latest release, Colin Buchanan’s Old Testament Sing-A-Long is true to form and does not disappoint.
To give this review more authenticity, I interviewed my 18-month-old daughter about the album. She only knows a handful of words, including “This”, “More” and “No”. She rated the album a solid “More!” Colin is not just teaching my daughter truths from the Bible. God uses the creativity and SouthernCross
catchiness of these songs to penetrate my own heart and call me to repentance and faith. Buchanan says, “Sometimes it sounds like a kid’s album for ‘grown-ups’, sometimes it’s like a ‘grown-ups’ album for kids. Ultimately the message of this record is about family and community under the great grace of a good God”. Among songs exploring the biblical theology of the Old Testament are familiar favourites reworked, plus catchy memoryverse jingles we love. Rather than waffle on about how great this sing-a-long is and how you should definitely play it for your families (or yourselves) on repeat, here are five solid Bible truths to encourage you from five songs on the album.
1. GOD TRULY UNDERSTANDS OUR GRIEF “Well, give the Lord your heartache, give the Lord your pain, Give your life to Jesus, call upon his name. We can learn to trust in God and cast our every care It’s in the old, old story of Hannah and her prayer” (Hannah’s Prayer). This one could be a tearjerker for those who have wrestled with the disappointments and griefs of life. Colin paints an image of Hannah on her knees praying about her infertility, pleading with God to bless her with a son and trusting his every decision through the pain she is experiencing. Hannah’s faithfulness is an inspiration to us to call on God through the things we are suffering, trusting his plan in every situation. 2. ENVY IS DANGEROUS AND QUICKLY DESTROYS “Just a tiny pinch of doubt Feeling like you’re missing out It’s envy. Wanting what the others got First a nibble, then the lot Pray that God would guard your heart from envy” (Envy). Through the disgrace of Aaron and Miriam, Colin explores how envy was at the core of the problem in Numbers 12. He crafts a warning that seems all-too relevant for anyone who has spent 10 minutes scrolling through social media and compared their lives with others, or who has longed for the possessions or circumstances they lack. Ask God to help us resist temptation and remove any seed of jealousy within us. SouthernCross
3. EVERY ACTION IS A CHANCE TO FOLLOW GOD’S WISDOM “It’s what you say, it’s what you love It’s where you go, it’s who you trust It’s when you’re young and when you’re old, It’s a treasure more than silver or gold” (Listen to the Words of Wisdom). Every single thing in our lives, large or small, is a chance to heed the wise words of the Lord. May the Lord’s words influence how we speak and the decisions we make daily so we can live obedient lives that bring glory to him. 4. A PATTERN OF DISOBEDIENCE “If you read the book of Judges you’ll know that it’s true Israel turned from their God and we all do that, too So God sent his son who died on the cross Jesus who rose up to rescue the lost From the cycle of sin that goes round and around” (The Cycle of Sin in Judges). This song helps us dive deeper into the Old Testament stories – Judges in particular. The exhilarating tales of war and heroic leaders are made fuller by understanding the cycle of sin that traps God’s people through the entire book. This is the same cycle of sin that is ultimately defeated by Jesus on the cross. 5. LOOK TO THE PROMISES OF GOD “Caleb he was faithful, Caleb he was brave He looked to the promise of his mighty God to save He stood strong with Joshua, he had the eyes to see Trust your God no matter what to win the victory” (Who’s Gonna Be A Caleb?). The encouragement to be strong and trust God in the face of scary situations is anchored in God’s promises. Caleb knew Canaan was the land the Lord had promised, and trusting in God’s promises gave him the boldness to stand up for the Lord. We also must find the courage to stand up for God by remembering his promises. In the Old Testament these were land, offspring and blessing. Today they are still the same promises, fulfilled in Jesus Christ who brings us into God’s presence, makes us his children and blesses us with the hope of heaven. SC A Family Owned Funeral Service
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Marsden in his own words David Pettett A Yard from Hell: Samuel Marsden – Flogging Parson by Doug Buckley
n the past 15 years, besides many articles, a couple of PhD theses and a few chapters in other
books, there have been eight complete books published about the Rev Samuel Marsden, second chaplain to the colony of NSW. The most interesting of these is the latest. A Yard from Hell: Samuel Marsden –Flogging Parson is the work of author, academic engineer and (if you can believe it) retiree and octogenarian, Doug Buckley. The story of Marsden is presented in the form of historical fiction, with Marsden himself telling the events of his life in autobiographical format. It’s a good read. If you want to know about Marsden, this book will give you an accurate picture of some of the events in his life. I say “some”, because the story stops in 1814 – sort of. There are bits and pieces of events scattered through the book that happened later in Marsden’s life. This style does make it difficult to be certain about what year you are in, and I suspect you’ll only keep it all in place if you already have a good understanding of the chronology of the period. This doesn’t mean you’ll be confused by the book. Marsden is telling his story as Buckley imagines he might have. The story, therefore, comes to the fore. This makes the novel good reading. Buckley writes well, the story flows and he admits to “having grown to love the bloke”. This is something not many would admit to these days. Marsden was a controversial figure in the colony. Most secular writers today speak negatively of him. Most evangelical Christians want to see his reputation rescued but find it difficult to do so. That is not to say Marsden was not a faithful minister of the gospel. He became the senior – and only – chaplain in the colony in 1800. In 1807 he sailed back to England to successfully recruit schoolteachers, clergy and missionaries, returning to the colony at the beginning of 1810. He became the NSW agent for the Church Missionary Society and the London Missionary Society. He helped establish the NSW branch of the Bible Society and the Bank of NSW and became secretary of the NSW Agricultural Society. He was the senior minister at St John’s, Parramatta from when he first arrived in the colony in 1794 to his death in 1838. In 1831 he became the first chaplain to The King’s School. On top of all this Marsden made seven missionary journeys to New Zealand between 1814 and 1837. He was criticised for spending too much time on his own agricultural, trading and business SouthernCross
pursuits. In Buckley’s historical novel we hear Marsden speak about many of these things, and Buckley does a good job of helping us to see, and understand, what well may have been Marsden’s own attitude to all his pursuits. I feel at times we focus more on an apologetic – Marsden answering his critics – rather than Marsden just telling his story. The book also seems to be an apologetic for evangelical Christianity at times. My greatest criticism of the book is the way Buckley handles Marsden’s 1814 Christmas Day sermon in New Zealand to the Maori. The author doesn’t seem to be aware that Marsden learnt the language in 1809 and had Maori people living with him in Parramatta from 1810 until he went to New Zealand in 1814, all that time conversing regularly with them in their native language. It is more than likely Marsden preached that first sermon in New Zealand in the Maori language. Worse, Buckley has Marsden speaking to the Christmas Day gathering as one would speak to a child. Marsden had much more respect for the New Zealanders than that. It was a disappointing way to finish what is otherwise a good book. SC The Rev Dr David Pettett’s PhD thesis examined the character and circumstances of Samuel Marsden through the study of his sermons.
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