SouthernCross THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR SYDNEY ANGLICANS
Prepared to serve
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CHOICES SUPPLEMENT - ANGLICAN EDUCATION INTO THE 20’S
Farewell, Glenn • Beware, cults about Passing on the faith • The Bishop and Baklava
Archbishop Davies farewelled, COVID-style.
Thanking God for Glenn and Di “It’s been a joy to serve as Archbishop and, as I lay up my pastoral staff, it comes to an end of a particular season for me – but one which it has been a great joy for me to exercise and one which I trust in God’s goodness has brought blessing to others.” Archbishop Glenn Davies and Mrs Di Davies sat in the centre of St Andrew’s Cathedral before a COVID -capped audience, which included former Prime Minister John Howard, the Lord Mayor Clover Moore and representatives of Federal and State governments, as they were given a diocesan send off to remember. It was fitting that the Cathedral was given an exemption to allow singing, as Dr Davies’ term had been extended due to COVID and he had campaigned for churches to be allowed to serve their communities as much and as safely as possible. Tributes came from all corners of the Diocese on behalf of the laity, organisations, bishops and clergy. More than two dozen bishops were present, including the Primate, Archbishop Geoff Smith, bishops from other parts of the country and from the province of NSW. Former Archbishops Harry Goodhew and Peter Jensen also attended.
A joy to serve: Glenn and Di Davies share the light-hearted moments during the farewell speeches. The rector of Hurstville Grove, dependence and joy in living for the Rev Mat Yeo, spoke for Jesus.” clergy when he said, “There He also referred to Dr Davies’ are so many things that your final Archbishop Writes column clergy are thankful for – your in Southern Cross, in which he said confidence in leading Synod, in he had begun and ended with dealing with difficult issues in prayer. the public sphere, your preaching Speaker after speaker referred and your pastoring of the clergy, to the range of issues with which and particularly in the last 12 the Diocese has had to grapple months. We as clergy knew that in the past eight years and Dr there was a competent hand at Davies’ personal influence in a the tiller of the boat.” variety of situations, including Mr Yeo spoke of Dr Davies’ time the response to the Royal as a lecturer at Moore College and Commission into Institutional the qualities he brought to the Responses to Child Abuse. office of Archbishop in 2013. Barrister Michelle England “ T h e re w a s a h u mb l e spoke on behalf of the laity of dependence on God’s mercy the Diocese, describing Dr Davies to sinners and a joy and a as “an Archbishop who is led by thankfulness in life in response conviction, who is passionate to that mercy,” he said. “Glenn about the truth of the gospel, taught that, and I think Glenn who looks to Christ for all that epitomises that – humble he trusts in, whose foundations
SouthernCross May 2021
volume 27 number 4
are bedded so very deep and who has prodigious skill to wield his convictions into confident assured leadership in following Christ”. After he had preached his final sermon as Archbishop, Archdeacon Kara Hartley and the Administrator of the Diocese, Bishop Peter Hayward, unveiled a portrait of Dr Davies by artist Andrew Sullivan. In final comments, the Archbishop paid tribute to his wife Di, who had earlier been thanked for her extensive work with ministry wives. “God’s been good to me,” he said. “It’s more blessed to give than to receive but tonight I feel very blessed in receiving your gifts, your love, your affirmation and I bring it all to the glory of God.” SC
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Youth initiative aims to prevent domestic violence KYCKing off: Volunteers at Katoomba hand out information on the Before It Starts program.
A new youth program aiming night session of Katoomba Youth and youth leaders attending to prevent domestic violence and sexual abuse launched at the first
Convention (KYCK) on Friday April 9. Over one thousand teens
the Convention youth camp heard about the initiative that
NEW A brand new commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles from our Reading the Bible Today series!
“Above all I hope that readers gain a greater sense of the Old Testament as testifying to Christ as well as a new appreciation of the salvation history that binds the whole Bible together.” - Graeme Goldsworthy 4
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Before It Starts teaches biblical truths about healthy and respectful relationships.
The four week program, which includes survivor’s stories, Bible studies, games and leaders notes, aims to facilitate conversations within youth groups. The primary focus is on prevention and covers topics including identity, love, power, romance and friendship. Domestic violence has always been a serious issue, with one in four women and one in 13 men experiencing abuse by an intimate partner. Anglicare’s Community Service team and Anglicare’s youth initiative, Take Love, partnered with Youthworks to create “Before It Starts”, hoping to positively shape the next generation.
aims to educate young people from the Bible about respectful relationships.
ABUSE COMES IN ALL FORMS C o nt rolli n g and ab u s i ve behaviours are displayed in many different ways. For Harry*, the violent outbursts he experienced growing up meant that the best part of his day was when his Dad wasn’t home. “When [Dad] was angry,” Harry explained, “he would hit Mum, PROTECTION AND CARE FOR EVERYONE
We are 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. The Professional Standards Unit receives and deals with complaints of child abuse or sexual misconduct by members of the clergy and church workers. A Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme is available to provide counselling and other support to victims of misconduct or abuse. The Safe Ministry Board formulates and monitors policy and practice and advises on child protection and safe ministry for the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney.
Abuse Report Line 1800 774 945 SouthernCross
push her into the cabinets, tell her that she was a worthless mother and that we were the proof.” The family only went out together once a week to go to church. For Rani*, her boyfriend initially seemed sociable and extroverted. It didn’t take long for his anger to show, and he used coercive and spiritually controlling behaviour to exert power over her. This escalated until she found herself fearfully huddling with her aunt one night while he waited outside, refusing to leave and kicking the fence, until her uncle phoned the police.
respectful, healthy relationship looks like, and what some of the red flags of unsafe, abusive relationships are.” The program comes at a time of national reckoning in Australia. Questions of sexual assault and domestic violence are being discussed across the country as well as discussions concerned with the sexual assult expereinced by young women. Rev Mike Dicker, Dean of Students at Youthworks College, longs for teenagers to understand God’s design for relationships and reject the evils of abuse. “We really hope this program will LONG TERM CHANGE shape the hearts and behaviours IS NEEDED of our young people to follow the “We know to make long term gracious and loving behaviour of change in the incidence of the Lord Jesus. domestic abuse we need to also “Wherever the gospel is address underlying beliefs and proclaimed, we long to see attitudes that allow it to flourish,” it lived out in safe and equal says Lynda Dunstan, Anglicare’s relationships that shine as a light Family and Domestic Violence in the darkness and injustice of Advisor. our world.” SC “One area to specifically start * These survivor’s stories are included to do that is conversations with in the Before it Starts program. young people about what a Survivor’s names have been changed.
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How youth ministry has changed, yet stayed the same, in 30 years “Next steps”: Young teens from Jannali Anglican’s FUSE group study the Bible at one of their weekend camps.
The early nineties couldn’t seem more different to our current age. It was a time when Terminator 2 was in cinemas, Mario and Luigi were all the rage and “The Horses’’ by Daryl Braithwaite was topping ARIA charts. Three decades later, teens
dance on Tik Tok (a video social 1 THE BIBLE IS A but how we articulate it might media platform) and aren’t sure TIMELESS ESSENTIAL vary depending on the generation. what a cassette tape does. Any youth ministry worth God’s word hasn’t changed, so Trends come and go, but there doing must have the essentials, make sure everything is based are unchanging principles that including using the Bible and on God’s word.” act as the foundation for a praying continually. These have The goal of youth ministry is faithful youth ministry. The Rev been the foundation for many to disciple youth and help them Cameron Hyslop would know faithful youth groups for years, grow more like Christ. One way – he has served as the Youth including the ones at Jannali. Mr Hyslop encourages this is by Minister at Jannali for three “This doesn’t apply just to asking teens to plan their next decades. He shares five ways youth ministry, it applies to every step after conversations and youth ministry has changed yet ministry,” says Mr Hyslop. “The considering Bible passages. “If it remained the same. gospel message doesn’t change, doesn’t translate into an action of
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Looking back on three decades of teaching teens the gospel.
some kind, I’m not helping them move forward.”
2 TEENS LONG TO BELONG Training for youth ministry in Sydney’s north and southwest before landing in Jannali convinced Mr Hyslop that teens everywhere desire to be loved and belong. As they explore and work out their identity, teens have always strived to know where they fit in the world. “They need to know they’re accepted for who they are,” says Mr Hyslop. “It’s expressed differently but they have the same desire to know they’re accepted. [Therefore], they need to know how to be right with God. “I recall in the 90s if there were any spiritual questions it was ‘What happens to someone when they die?’ That question is still there. It’s a question of security, whereas the identity stuff is about significance. Who am I? Am I a person of value? Will I be seen as a person of value if I feel this way about myself? That goes back to acceptance.”
Three decades of youth ministry have formed six core values that Mr Hyslop holds strongly: 1. Young people are not the church of the future, they’re the church of today
a massive ministry. It’s incredibly important so it’s worth the effort.”
2. Young people are the ministers – “Every young Christian in our church is a youth minister, they all have access to peers and the gospel message. My job is to equip them to do their ministry.”
4. Value your team and their contributions
3. If you’re there, be all there – “There’s nothing worse than a person undertaking a ministry, but you can tell they’d rather be somewhere else. It’s a massive commitment because it’s
5. Communicate with and involve parents – “At the end of the day, if the parents aren’t on board, you have no youth.” 6. Love the youth for who they are – “Youth don’t want me to be a young person, they want me to be someone who will listen and have Bible knowledge to help them and encourage them in decision making.”
challenge, with many youth finding workarounds to net filtering programs. This has heightened issues around body image, p eer pressure, gaming addiction and access to pornography. “The problems tend to be around social stuff, expectations, and needing to have the right look, but that existed before with the Dolly magazine,” says Mr Hyslop. “A lot of the gaming consumes hours, and there’s a lot of people who say they can see it’s not helping.”
5 TEENS ARE CURIOUS 3 TEENS ARE FORMING THEIR IDENTITY Teens have always wrestled with who they are. Recently this has been dominated by issues surrounding sexuality, gender and mental health. There is now less taboo surrounding mental wellbeing, with issues, support and therapists spoken about freely. “There were lots of people who weren’t getting the help they needed back then,” says Mr Hyslop. “I wonder if schools are
trying to push resilience because ABOUT THE GOSPEL they’re recognising young people Popular culture and discussions don’t have the tools to stand tall in the public arena have changed in the face of difficult situations.” the type of questions teens are asking of God, but teens are no 4 THE SHIFT IN SCREEN less interested. TIME AMPLIFIES ISSUES “There is a lot about gender The number of screens and that definitely wasn’t there in control of screen time has the nineties,” says Mr Hyslop. shifted from one television “There’s a false position that controlled by a parent to multiple to accept someone, you have screens owned by teens. Setting to agree with them. It’s a boundaries around screen and misunderstanding of tolerance. viewed media has become a That’s a challenge always.” SC
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The place where the drought is not over
When it rains, it pours: The challenge for this drought-affected community is to store whatever rain they get.
By the end of March, less than which have recently come to one per cent of New South Wales was in drought. Quite a turn around from January 2020 when the whole state was drought-affected. The same can’t be said for the Marsabit Diocese in Northern Kenya, a place with a special link with Sydney through CMS missionaries Norm & Janelle Gorrie. It is in almost continuous drought. The Gorries served in Marsabit from 1989 to 1998 and returned there in 2017. Mr Gorrie is now Director of Training and Mission with the Diocese. “In the North (of Kenya), the physical needs of people are enormous. Weather events are becoming more extreme so the droughts are more frequent and more extreme, and with that comes hunger.” Mr Gorrie says. “We’ve just had two locust plagues. There’s a disease in the crops, and life is a continuous struggle, so we can’t be indifferent to the needs of people.” Par t of their work, in partnership with the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid, is to battle both the effects of the drought and the persecution of those who become Christians. The immediate need was famine relief. “There were four communities
Christ out of a demonic cult. It is wonderful the way they received the gospel, and they’ve actually gone on to be strong in Christ. But they were really suffering with the drought and so that was just a wonderful encouragement that Anglican Aid money came in...at that right time.” But what really excites the Gorries is a longer-term project which has a twin benefit. “We need to have a way of generating employment, especially for people who will come to Christ out of Islam, and we know that they will lose their jobs because the majority of businesses are owned by Muslims,” Mr Gorrie says. “Water scarcity is a huge problem. When it does rain, it often rains very hard, and so if we have a means of actually harvesting water, that can be a great blessing.” The solution? Construction of Ferro-cement water tanks which can be filled up during pouring rain and take the stress from over-worked boreholes. Mr Gorrie said the aim was to build the tanks in an economical way, but also with structural integrity to withstand the conditions. He is drawing on his experience in the building industry in Australia. “I’ve just started in
Water for life: Norm Gorrie and his team construct water tanks (top), and break for a meal and some Bible study.
a small way, trying to get the principles right. At the moment we have five people who have been trained up (to build tanks). One of them was from a Muslim background.” During construction, there is a time of Bible study and prayer. “We do this over morning tea and often other people will come and we had some wonderful discussions with our Muslim neighbours,” he says. “As they
come for a cup of tea, they also join in the Bible study. So we see it not only as a way of providing employment, but we also see that Jesus has got to be at the centre of that project.” The drought may not be over in Marsabit, but the water of life is flowing in that parched area. SC See and support the Marsabit project at https://anglicanaid.org. au/projects/marsabit-water-andincome-generation/
Artarmon and Willoughby churches collaborate to offer care and community.
North Shore parishes partner to provide for needy In the suburbs of Artarmon
FOOD FOR THE WEEK AND FOR THE SOUL The Anglicare Mobile Community Pantry runs on a fortnightly basis, meeting in the grounds of St Basil’s and offering locals in need a full bag of pantry staples for ten dollars. Mr Wong acknowledges that food insecurity is only part of the struggle for migrants, especially those who come from communal cultures. “Perhaps SouthernCross
Mobile Foodies: Some of the volunteers working with the Anglicare Community Pantry. the bigger problem people face we expected,” he says. “We is spiritual poverty and a lack hope to assist the needy with of good community,” he says. their physical needs, and more The Mobile Community Pantry importantly, [we hope to] create not only helps to feed residents. a supportive, welcoming and It creates an opportunity and provides a space for those lacking connection to gather with each other and experience the love of a Christ-centred community.
caring community where they can feel and know of God’s love for them through our interaction with them – and ultimately, know the gospel. SC
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WORKING TOGETHER The collaboration is a first for both churches, which are two kilometres away from each other and facing the same challenges. “It’s been important to feel like we are in a partnership rather than competing against each other,” Mr Colombage said. “Artarmon has plenty to teach us about ministry to multi-ethnic communities and we are eager to learn over the course of time.” Mr Wong agrees, noting how working together has already strengthened the capacity of both churches to serve and reach those in their local area. “We h ave been greatly encouraged by the eagerness of the volunteers, both from St Basil’s and St Stephen’s, and there were more than
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and Willoughby, deep need is hard to spot amongst the quiet tree-lined streets. But with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and circumstances, there are residents searching for physical and spiritual assistance. Recognising that this need is present in both their suburbs, St Basil’s, Artarmon and St Stephen’s, Willoughby combined forces to run an Anglicare Mobile Community Pantry to serve their communities. “There are huge numbers of migrants from a variety of Asian countries,” says the Rev Prashanth Colombage, Senior Minister at St Stephen’s, Willoughby. “And there are many people who live in mid-density housing who are yearning for community, care and connection.” Down the road, in neighbouring Artarmon, the Rev Jack Wong is seeing the same situation. As the demographics of the neighbourhood change, the social needs of its residents change also. “There are people who are struggling with food security and other social issues,” says Mr Wong, who is the Assistant Minister at St Basil’s, Artarmon.
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I want my children to have eternal life Ruth Baker
he day I realised my kids might not go to heaven was the
day I became preoccupied with creating space for God to do his work in them. As a single mum, I want to ensure my children have a strong spiritual base because the statistics are sobering. The latest report prepared for Youthworks in 2018, based on National Church Life Survey data, identified that 78 per cent of respondents became Christian before the age of 20. INFLUENCE OF PARENTAL FAITH IN RESPONDENTS WHO BECAME CHRISTIAN BEFORE THE AGE OF 20 Source: Youthworks, 2018 (based on NCLS data)
Families with two parents who are active Christians must ask how they can optimise their influence in their child’s faith. Outside of both parents in the home and both active Christians, the data shows a decreasing degree of influence with only one parent an active Christian. Other questions arise for families where there is only one believing parent, or in single-parent homes. How can a mother take a spiritual lead without emasculating the father and alienating him from the faith also? How does one parent compensate for the lack of the other in single-parent homes? How can our churches help all families to have a positive influence on their children’s faith?
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BOTH PARENTS ACTIVE CHRISTIANS
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ONE OR BOTH PARENTS NOMINAL CHRISTIANS
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Reports prepared over the past two decades display similar results, but we shouldn’t put too much faith in statistics. There isn’t enough data and numbers by themselves don’t give us context. A PARENT’S INFLUENCE IS CRUCIAL The data does tell us that the influence of parents on future faith is crucial. Of those that became Christian before age 20, 76 per cent became Christian with one or both parents as active believers. It is up to God whether they take the step of faith, but we are an instrument through whom God works. The statistics show us we need to be aware of the extent of our influence as parents. SouthernCross
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MODELLING FAITH IS KEY Author of Big Picture Parents, Harriet Connor, advocates an apprenticeship model rather than the school style teaching we are familiar with. She suggests we show our children the way, walk with them on the way, and then let them practice while we supervise before they take on the journey as their own. This means modelling. This may seem obvious, but statistics tell us we must consider how to demonstrate faith in action throughout the day. We need to infuse the natural rhythms of the day and the week with our open participation in the gospel, not cordoned off into five minutes at the end of the day. And always in prayer. Mrs Connor, who is also content editor for Youthworks Media’s Growing Faith website, notes that it is our trust in a sovereign God that we are passing on, not simply a personal quality like work ethic. For homes with one believing parent, the encouragement in 1 Peter 3:1 is for believing spouses to win the other parent over through conduct, and not take charge of the faith journey at the expense of the other parent. For single parents, Mrs Connor points out that God is still sovereign and is not surprised by anyone’s situation. The Bible gives us examples of people who came to faith without both parents, such as Rahab and Timothy, and so we should not feel like outsiders.
THIS SUPPORT IS KEY FOR SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES The additional role models, peer support and prayer support a church provides is a pivotal help for single-parent families, without being a parental replacement. For single parents like me, these statistics can feel bleak. Looking at this research through the lens of the gospel shows us the means by which we can build, in Him, the most fruitful approach to caring for children. There is an opportunity God is giving us to use the church to equip parents to disciple their children. Whatever time God provides us with, we use it wisely to provide our children with a rich faith-based environment – whether we have every day as a full-time parent or every other weekend. Parents and churches are co-investors in the long term faith journey of the children of God’s community. Together they can create a rich and active faith environment for children to grow in, and create space for the Spirit of God to do his work in the hearts of our kids. SC
PARENTS AND CHURCHES NEED TO WORK TOGETHER Church is a powerful means of support. God placed us in community and this community also supports parents. Data shows that youth group, children’s ministries and church services are also important influencers in a Christian’s faith, but with mounting pressure on our time, many parents can accidentally treat church as an extracurricular activity.
Ed Springer, former Head of Ministry Support at Youthworks, observes that parents often choose a church based on what it provides for children. Many churches advertise activities to attract families, which has the unintended consequence of feeding into consumer expectations. Neither are wrong but move us away from churches and parents partnering together effectively. “The church and the parents are coworkers on the same mission to see the next generation receive the knowledge of God and then pass it on themselves,” says Mr Springer. Churches can strengthen parents discipleship so they can actively model their faith. The church can equip parents to meet the challenges of the children’s doubts and rebellions – which both Mr Springer and Mrs Connor say will assuredly occur.
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From the Administrator.
Deep reading Peter Hayward
he 27th April 2021 marked the centenary of John
Stott’s birth. Rightly, there were celebrations to acknowledge and give thanks for how God used John Stott during his remarkable life. Stott’s legacy as a global evangelical leader is a testimony to his convictions, character, organisational capacity and godly ambition. Like many, I was profoundly impacted by the ministry of John Stott. At the 1986 CMS Summer School, when Stott led the Bible Studies on 1 Timothy, I was hit hard by God’s word as he expounded chapter three. After months of prayerful reflection with advice from others in ministry, this was the decisive moment that led to my decision to head towards full-time ministry. As I reflect on Stott’s ministry, I am reminded of how important his books have been for my Christian growth. The careful, close reading of his books was crucial in the early years of my Christan life. Your Mind Matters - In my late teens, I became involved in a youth group on the South Coast that had focused on the growing surfing culture. As it grew in popularity, it multiplied in size. Though full of energy and excitement, it left me increasingly confused. I came across Stott’s Your Mind Matters and I was convinced it was written for me. I have since kept the following quote, “knowledge is indispensable to the Christian life and service. If we do not use the mind God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality.” Baptism and Fullness - I had several charismatic Christians who were keen to convince me that there was a spiritual lack in my walk that could only be rectified by allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me. I bought another of Stott’s books, Baptism and Fullness, and read through it slowly in one sitting. Though published in 1964, the argument hit me directly as if he spoke directly to my situation in 1982. Ephesians - In the mid-1980’s late each Wednesday afternoon over four months, I met with the Minister of my church, and we worked through John Stott’s recently published commentary on Ephesians. I read the assigned passage, studied the relevant section of Stott’s commentary and then wrote Bible study questions. With this sustained close work on his Ephesians commentary, a foundation was developing that shaped my approach to the Bible. Stott laid foundational elements as a given that continue to have an SouthernCross
abiding influence on me. These include confidence that the Bible could be understood and was clear in what it said. Clarity might require hard work, but you study the Bible, dependent upon the Holy Spirit, with that conviction. As I reflect on these three books, I was struck by how much my reading habits have changed. I read these books with an undistracted intensity that rarely occurs today. For 500 years, much of the Christian faith has been strengthened and developed by the practice and learning that comes from reading. It is overstated to say we are entering into a post-literate age, but there is clear evidence that how we read has changed. In his book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr explains how reading habits are changing. (Yes, it is ironic that reading a book helps explain how we read differently). Carr describes how our technology and information-rich age has changed how the mind responds to reading. “Calm focused, undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, overlapping bursts, the faster, the better.” The consequence is that in this age of information and distraction, careful and close reading is rarer. Such reading happens when we are moved from our current circumstances and are absorbed by what we are reading. We inhabit the book to the extent that it forms us. It is here that I am aware of how much my reading habits have changed over the last 20 years. T.S. Eliot wrote in 1934, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” We might add in 2021, “What have we lost with disjointed, distracted and continuous information?” The capacity for reading that will result in wisdom and knowledge. On the 100th anniversary of John Stott’s birth, I am reminded of the value of careful and undistracted reading of Christian books. I hope it may encourage you, as it reminded me, to make a few changes to how I use my time to recapture such reading. SC
Bishop Peter Hayward is the Administrator of the Diocese until the election of a new Archbishop. 13
Women working hard in the Lord Taking gospel opportunities: Just some of the women serving God’s church - Katie Stringer, Jennifer Cheung, Karina Brabham, Carol Gilbert and Elise Anderson.
love Romans 16. It’s a chapter of greetings that’s easily
overlooked at the end of a theologically rich letter – a list of names that are hard to pronounce, let alone know what to do with. But it’s a chapter that communicates the relational richness of our partnership ‘in the Lord’ (repeated nine times), as women and men, young and old, Jew and Gentile. Love, respect and dignity ooze from this chapter, as Paul sends his greetings to his beloved fellow workers in the Lord, including many women. We’re not told the details, but we see women and men who are united to Christ Jesus and empowered by the Spirit, using their different gifts in unity to build the body of Christ and glorify their Lord. Just as this list of first century AD greetings powerfully communicates that women are integral to God’s mission, so does our Moore College graduation each year, one of my favourite times of the year. One by one I see the next generation of women gospel workers sent out into the harvest, along with their brothers in Christ. It’s such a thrill to hear of the variety of ministries and places these different women are actively serving in. Each one has a different story, but together they show that there are an abundance of gospel opportunities for women, including many opportunities for formal vocational ministry. In order to illustrate this, let me briefly tell you a few of the stories of our most recent female graduates. There are 25 of them, which makes up a third of the graduates from the same courses this year. 14
Katie Stringer: “I’m teaching and coordinating High School SRE at six inner west High Schools. I am passionate about good teaching pedagogy and love the opportunity to share the beauty of the gospel with the students in my classes. One of my favourite things about teaching SRE is that teenagers have the opportunity to say what they really think and find satisfying answers to their questions. Finding the right language, so that my students hear what I’m intending to say, is very important. I want them to discover and be strengthened by the truth of the gospel for themselves and to have that as a life-long treasure.” Jennifer Cheung: “I love serving alongside my husband at Georges Hall Anglican Church in the South West of Sydney, encouraging, discipling and equipping the saints - particularly the women - and seeking to engage the local community with the good news of Jesus. I love sharing Jesus with those who are the most thirsty. So I’d be keen to explore chaplaincy, or another context where I can engage non-Christians.” Karina Brabham: “I’m currently completing six months cross-cultural training at the Church Missionary Society’s (CMS). This is in preparation for heading out as a missionary. I’m planning to go to France to serve in the university ministry there. College reminded and taught me that Christlike ministry is about being a humble servant. As I prepare to serve crossculturally overseas I’m very conscious of my need to rely on
Female MTC students and their ministries. God in all things and to have a humble attitude rather than think that I know it all (which I certainly don’t).” Carol Gilbert: “I may not have a formal role yet, but God has given me many ways to serve Him. I’m a part of Auburn & Newington Anglican and am involved with ministry to women, coleading a Bible study, ‘welcoming’ and some kids’ ministry. I am also helping to train a K-3 leader. God has been teaching me to trust Him in the uncertainty. It has been hard learning patience, but it has also been a creative and interesting time. I’ve had to be more proactive as I have less formal structure and am more prepared to go wherever I can best glorify the Lord Jesus. I’m particularly interested in cross-cultural ministry and evangelism in the future.” Elsie Anderson: “I’m currently working with the AFES groups at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. My time is split between working with local students and international students. With both groups, my focus is mission on campus. I’ll be helping people read the Bible as well as training Christian students to share Jesus with their friends.”
I’m hoping that as you read through the stories of these women, it reminded you of Romans 16 and that your heart is full, like it is for me! And this is only a snapshot of the many different women serving in different types of ministries, in different places all around Australia, and a number heading overseas to serve in the next year – all working hard in the Lord. Ministries to: children, women, youth, young adults, university students (undergraduate, postgraduate, internationals), those from different cultures and religions (Korean, Chinese, Muslims). Evangelism, discipleship/mentoring, small group ministry, training leaders, training apprentices, lecturing, pastoral care, chaplaincy, welcoming, hospitality, music, marriage preparation, conference organising. The intense and invaluable ministry of motherhood, and the privilege of serving alongside a husband who is a minister (in all its variety and complexity!). In churches (Anglican and independent), schools, hospitals, universities, homes, playgrounds, communities. All around Sydney (west, south west, south, inner west, eastern suburbs, north), NSW (Central Coast, Armidale), and Australia (Gold Coast, Melbourne, Hobart). With the support of different parachurch organisations, like AFES, Generate, Anglicare, Youthworks. An abundance of opportunities for women! And that’s just what the 25 women who graduated in 2021 are doing, let alone the generations of women who’ve gone before them! Half of them are serving in vocational ministry positions (12 out of the 25), mostly full-time (nine out of 12), and mostly paid (11 out of 12 – although the one unpaid woman wasn’t looking for paid ministry). Only one of the women who is looking for paid vocational ministry hasn’t been able to find a paid position yet, but it is very early days – she continues to apply for positions, and currently has lots of different opportunities in her church and community in an unpaid capacity, like many of the other graduates. This means that half of them are not serving in vocational ministry. Is that because there weren’t enough ministry positions when they finished college? No, I don’t think so. From what I understand, these women weren’t looking for a formal vocational ministry position coming straight out of college (apart from one, mentioned above). One studied the Advanced Diploma to be better equipped as a follower of Jesus in her local church and to return to the workforce as a music teacher. One transferred her studies to Queensland, where her fiancé lives. The rest (three-quarters) SouthernCross
are heavily involved in the unpaid ministry of caring for and discipling their young children (two born in the last few months), as well as serving alongside their husbands who are employed themselves as the minister of a church. On top of this, they are also actively involved in a variety of other local church and community ministries. As their children grow and become more independent these women are likely to do more of this local church and community ministries, and some may move into a paid vocational ministry position in the future. I hope you can see that women are integral to God’s mission and that there are an abundance of different gospel opportunities – so many wonderful examples of women working hard in the Lord, alongside their brothers in Christ. There are also plenty of vocational ministry positions, in fact, enough paid positions for everyone who wanted one (besides one – and it is still early days for her…and not quite all the men who wanted paid positions got them, either). I know we’re just looking at small numbers here, but I could tell you similar stories from the last 12 years I’ve served at Moore, each telling a wonderful story of God’s grace at work bringing women to Christ and empowering them for a lifetime of serving Him, something that thrills my heart – what about you? Please pray that God continues to raise up women who are equipped well at Moore College (and in other training colleges and programmes around the world), and then sent out with the gospel to the ends of the world - women who work hard in the Lord. SC
Tara Stenhouse is Dean of Women at Moore Theological College and lectures in Ministry.
DEALING WITH SIN CONFESSION, ACCOUNTABILIT Y, REPENTANCE AND GROWTH
REGISTER ONLINE AT
19 MAY 2021 L IVESTREAMED E VENT 15
The Great Rescue
“Souls in need”: A group of evacuees on board three of the many small boats which brought trapped British soldiers from the shores around Dunkirk, to safety. photo: courtesy Imperial War Museums © IWM HU 41241
his coming 26th May is the anniversary of perhaps
one of the greatest rescues of all time. World War had broken out in September 1939. Into 1940, the Nazi German army was surging across Western Europe with lightning speed and force. As the month of May progressed, over 300,000 troops from the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) along with Belgian, Canadian, and French soldiers, were trapped and encircled at the beach of Dunkirk in France. A terrible disaster seemed inevitable. On Thursday 23rd May, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, met with King George VI to brief him on a plan to evacuate troops from the beach. Yet, everything looked extremely grim. Few boats were available. The Nazi army was powerful. Allied troops were scrambling to reach Dunkirk. It was expected in the time available that only a tiny fraction of the 300,000 would be rescued. In response, King George VI declared “We must pray! This next Sunday, I’m calling for a National Day of Prayer.” On May 24, the King addressed the nation: “Let us with one heart and soul, humbly, but confidently, commit our cause to God and ask his aid.” 16
What happened next is quite extraordinary. All over England tens of thousands of people gathered to pray that God would rescue those who were trapped. At Westminster Cathedral, there are pictures of hundreds of people queuing to pray! A miracle was about to take place. On Sunday 26th May, as boats set sail for Dunkirk, Hitler inexplicably halted his attack. The English Channel, notoriously rough, was strangely calm. Rain and clouds made it difficult for the German air force to attack the beach. The breeze collected smoke from previous bombing raids, which gave cover for soldiers being loaded into the boats. As word spread across England, hundreds and hundreds of would-be skippers responded, so that a flotilla of more than 860 boats sailed across the Channel to help with the rescue. The result was that when the evacuation came to an end, 338,000 troops were rescued from the beaches. This extraordinary great rescue changed history and came to be known as the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk.’ Our world is in need of another ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’. People are in great danger and in urgent need of spiritual rescue. Everyone needs this rescue from the consequences of turning their backs SouthernCross
We have the chance to take part in a miraculous rescue.
on God. Having ignored him, thinking they know best, they are cut off from God, lost, and in need of the great rescue that Jesus offers. People today are just like the crowds in Matthew chapter 9 who, when Jesus saw them, Matthew tells us, “he had compassion on them, because they are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus’ passionate call to his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out more workers into his harvest field” is just as relevant today as it was then! Jesus’ call to pray is a challenge for us to earnestly pray as individuals and as a church for the lost world around us. Jesus is about rescue and God calls us to continue to be part of that rescue. Without Jesus, even if people do not know it, they are lost, horribly lost. Without Jesus, people are cut off from God, destined to spend eternity without him. This is a terrible thought! Therefore, will you who are Christians and who know Jesus, the Good Shepherd who has compassion on us, and who laid down his life to rescue us, will you pray? Will you pray at home and in your small groups? Will you gather to pray, even queuing up at our churches, passionately concerned for those who are lost and
in desperate need to be connected with Jesus, the Saviour, the great rescuer? And will you be the answer to your own prayer? Will you be like the many amateur skippers who set off to rescue the thousands stranded at Dunkirk? That is, will you prayerfully look for opportunities to speak of Jesus in your workplace? Or over the fence to your neighbour? At the school gate? Will you look for opportunities to be involved in your church as it seeks to take the good news of Jesus’ great rescue to our lost world? Will you look for opportunities to invite friends and family to your church so they too can hear the good news of Jesus and turn back to him? Will you generously give of your time , your treasure and your talents to continue Jesus’ great rescue mission? This great rescue will save people from an eternity without God and his blessings, in order to give them an eternity with God and his blessings? SC
The Rev John Lavender is a consultant with Evangelism and New Churches, equipping people and churches to talk about Jesus.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ICED-VOVOS? Over the past couple of decades, I have been a vocal and somewhat annoying, agitator for cross-cultural and multicultural ministry in Sydney. I say “somewhat annoying” because on a couple of occasions I’ve heard words to the effect of “Here he goes again!” as I rise to speak at Synod or Standing Committee or elsewhere on the issue. I’ve been told I’m always “raving on” about this. Though this usually spurs me on all the more, today it gives me pause. I have been very critical. I think it’s time for some encouragement. There is no doubt, in my opinion, that there has been a very great shift in the Diocese as a whole, and certainly in the Georges River Region about which I can speak with deeper knowledge, when it comes to making our churches more “ethnic friendly”. We have a long, long way to go, but we are doing much better. How? (Not in any order of importance except the last) 1. Over the years, I have certainly fielded more and more enquiries and requests to speak and train churches or leadership teams in cross-cultural and multi-cultural ministry. People have seen their parishes change, or noticed the change outside their walls but not inside, and they are addressing it. Churches are being intentional about starting or changing ministries to make them more accessible, more welcoming and more effective for those from different cultures. 2. I am seeing more and more non-Anglo faces at the front of churches – praying, reading the bible, playing the guitar, leading services, preaching and on welcoming duty (the other front of church). This is so important so that people do not think we are mainly an Anglo church. I was nearly in tears during a service at Liverpool a couple of years ago when John 3:16 was read in about 15 languages. It was a special anniversary service, but still indicative of what is happens there. 3. I’m seeing a trickle of churches providing translation through hearing loops or even just someone quietly translating the service sitting in the back pews with others. This can be tough to organise logistically, let alone finding a translator, but it is extremely loving and welcoming. A few years ago, I was so thrilled to hear how Yagoona church had a student minister’s wife fluent in Chinese and was able to translate the sermon
for Chinese speakers sitting in the foyer, where they could look straight into the church (through glass) and hear God’s word in their heart language and not whispered. Creative and caring. 4. I think the biggest and best improvement has been the food. To the ethnic person, nothing says “Nice to meet you, but don’t stay too long” better than a packet of Family Assorted Creams to feed 100 people and a half-filled Styrofoam cup of tea. This has been one of my pet peeves. Food is the love language for most cultures. Food says “I love you” or “I don’t love you”. Lots of food means you want people to stay. When people have food to eat, they stay. When people stay, they talk. When people talk, family happens. Further, what you serve also says you want people to stay. It’s been just a delight to go from the weekly Iced Vovo to seeing baklava, spring rolls, cannoli and the like, thoughtfully bringing a welcoming familiarity to those we seek to reach. I think the “coffee culture” has helpfully come into play here as well. But many churches (pre-covid) really stepped up their morning teas and suppers and reaped the spiritual benefits. Ministers seem happier (and more rotund). I’d really love to see churches (especially in the Georges River Region) competing to see who has the best morning tea/supper…for the sake of the gospel, of course! There are other encouragements I could mention - like an Arabic service and an Assyrian service commencing pre-covid, refugee ministries and so forth. Not forgetting the amazing ministries of already established cross-cultural ministries in the Diocese. That would be another article. But for now, this somewhat annoying Bishop simply wanted to say, “Well done. Keep going! May I have another slice of baklava please?” SC
The Rt Rev Peter Lin is Bishop of the Georges River Region. 17
Cults pursue online converts The false teaching has always been out there; here’s what the approach looks like in 2021, writes Judy Adamson.
ou get a friendly Instagram message from someone
you don’t know who seems keen to make Christian friends. You receive a Facebook request to “like” a group that looks Christian and posts Bible verses; people you know have “liked” it, so you do the same. A new contact approaches you via email or social media with an invitation to a Bible study, or to take part in online teaching, or to ask you about your church. Seems harmless, right? It might be so, of course, but all the above are recent examples of approaches made by cults to Sydney Anglicans. One of those contacted was Renee Sheedy, the kids’ and families minister at Blacktown. She received a “request to follow” from the Instagram account of a young woman she didn’t know. We’ll call the young woman Sue. “She was already following some friends and a few other churches and Christian organisations like LiT [Leaders in Training],” Mrs Sheedy says. “So, I accepted her request and not long after she messaged me asking how my church was going. She must have gone through my photos because she knew what church I was at.” After a few messages, Sue said she attended Zion Church. Mrs Sheedy recognised its name – in a negative way – but before making any quick judgements, she checked with other friends following Sue on Instagram. She found all of them had been approached by Sue, and all had begun following her because she was following mutual friends or Christian organisations. “It makes me concerned how easily she, and others, can connect with young people who follow public Christian accounts,” Mrs Sheedy says. “My account is not public, but the fact that I follow 18
accounts [like LiT and KYCK] is the first step to knowing that I must be connected to a church. “I decided to start pushing back and asked her questions about Zion Church. I mentioned I have been serving or working in the church for over 10 years and had never previously heard of Zion Church. When I asked her what the church’s theological beliefs were, she stopped responding. I believe she realised that I was not the easy target she was hoping for, so she moved on.” OUR PEOPLE NEED TO BE PROTECTED Tore Klevjer, a Christian counsellor who spent more than a decade caught up in the Children of God cult and specialises in caring for those who’ve also been cult members, says some important ways to protect people in our churches are: • make them aware of what is happening – “There is active recruiting going on online, and some of these people will be seeking to get you to join groups that are quite controlling and manipulative”. • employ critical thinking, such as, “Why is this person trying to get Christians out of this church [or Bible study] and into another church in the first place?” • provide education about what to look out for. “If people do get drawn into a doubtful Bible study group, or they’re having a chat with someone they don’t know on the telephone or over coffee, it’s helpful if they know what markers to look out for,” Mr Klevjer says. “Giving church members some markers for an initial meeting can be easier to implement than just picking up cues online, because it may be someone who actually wants more information SouthernCross
Cults are using social media to engage with Christians.
[about Christianity] and you don’t want to chase them away if that’s genuine.” Some examples of what to watch out for include the person evading questions about themselves, what they believe, the church they belong to and who the leader is. “A classic response from a cult recruiter is likely to be, ‘We don’t have a leader, we’re just like the early disciples – we all just have different giftings and no one is our leader’,” Mr Klevjer says. “And that’s nonsense because someone has to organise a meeting and bring people together. “When confronted they are often very evasive with specifics about what they believe. You only have to talk to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons to hear how they look for common ground straight away: ‘Oh yes, we believe in Jesus! We believe the Bible’. “You’ve really got to corner people and press for information in order to get answers from them, because the deceptiveness is like salesmanship – you tell people how you can meet their needs with the product that you’re selling. So, if a person is feeling lost spiritually, they look at how to target that.”
church because they’ll go to hell if they do – or that this is the only or best way to find truth – has the same elitism and legalistic control methods that we find in the cults.” In addition, red flags that might warn people about a cult aren’t always obvious. “Often, it isn’t black and white,” Mr Klevjer says. “It can be very close [to Bible teaching] doctrinally, or very loose doctrinally. It can be very dogmatic around the rules of the church and very strict obedience to rules, or they throw the rule book out altogether and say the Bible doesn’t really matter. “They’ve also usually got a superior writing, over and above the Bible. And they emphasise that the Holy Spirit speaks today – which he does, but he doesn’t contradict the written word! And they believe that it can. This can be the beginning of taking people up the garden path in any sort of direction.”
RANDOM CONTACT Dr Chris Thomson, who lectures in Old Testament at Moore College, recently received a private Instagram message from someone he didn’t know, representing a group he hadn’t heard of, inviting him to join a New Testament Bible study. He declined. He advises people – particularly those interested in Jesus or younger in the faith – to be wary of similar approaches from people they don’t know. “It’s great that people are keen to study the Bible but be aware that cults are using social media to reach out, and treat any approach with caution,” he says. “If possible, I’d encourage people to study the Bible with their church, Christian Union or friends, rather than strangers. And before joining any group, ask whether it is affiliated to an organisation or has a statement of faith so you can research them. If they don’t [have one] or are cagey, that could be a warning sign. If you attend an in-person meeting, make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back.” Mr Klevjer adds that, in the past, Bible-based churches have often labelled something a cult that is not doctrinally sound, yet he regards this as only part of the problem. “The definition that most ex-cult people agree on, including myself, is that the main issue is manipulation and control of their members, as well as doctrine,” he says. “Any pastor who takes too much control and manipulates the congregation into believing that they can’t leave this particular
RECRUITMENT AND DECEIT A couple of months ago the rector of Hoxton Park, the Rev David Clarke, received a personal email from Ted, a member of Shincheonji Church of Jesus or SCJ. This group originated in South Korea but its members have been active on Australian campuses for some years and are becoming increasingly busy online. Ted’s email said, among other things, that he had been a Christian all his life but then lost his way, and in seeking to reconnect with God he had found SCJ – which he was “proud to say... has mastered the book of the Bible”. He urged Mr Clarke
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to not believe “false rumours” about the organisation, saying its members “believe in God, Jesus and his word”. Says Mr Clarke: “Having read online about Shincheonji I was surprised to receive a personalised email from someone claiming to be a member, proactively defending them against the claims being made against them. It reminds us to keep teaching our church members to be discerning about those advertising ‘Bible study’ on university campuses. “It takes so little effort to send an email out to a mailing list these days. They hit [lots of people] with these things, so by statistical chance they might find someone who’s willing or who might not understand the difference between what they teach and the teaching of a Bible-based church.” The Sydney International Christian Church – formerly known as the Sydney Church of Christ – has been diligently seeking converts here for decades. It, too, now approaches people online. The rector at Fairfield with Bossley Park, the Rev Stephen Shead, says earlier this year a young guy connected with the church was invited to an SICC Bible study and he went. “He found it strange and pushy... one of the first things that they talked about was baptism, which he thought was weird,” Mr Shead says. “To say that in the first Bible study – that you have to be baptised into their church!” He notes that a common thread from this kind of approach includes encouragement not to tell your pastor about it – and that the way people are contacted almost invariably bypasses their support structures. It sends Mr Shead straight back to the Scriptures, noting that the Apostle Paul tells Jesus’ followers to do nothing in an underhanded way: “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). BE WARNED So, if you’ve been approached by someone online, what should quickly ring alarm bells is if they want to take you away from your own church family to join their church, their Bible study and their way of thinking. Mr Klevjer says that cults are primarily about recruiting new members, adding: “They try to do this by using Bible text out of context to prove that they have a superior doctrinal truth or new revelation. Mainstream churches are aware of such verses, but they don’t make them a central verse and doctrine – for example, that you have to leave your parents or your church you prove you’re Christian.” Mrs Sheedy has now contacted all the families at Blacktown Anglican to warn them that there are cults using Instagram to make contact. Four teens in the church have since come to her with messages that made them suspicious. Two of them were from Sue, and two from someone else. In addition, when Mrs Sheedy talked about the issue with friends at a party, “six of them showed me messages they’ve received from random people. Their accounts have all looked very similar and the messages have almost always been the same! “They ask about how church is, encourage [the person approached] to visit their church online if they’re looking for something more ‘their style’... One of our youth girls said she started feeling unsure when the girl was encouraging her to come and get baptised at her church! 20
“Just this morning I checked if [Sue] has followed anyone else I know and, sure enough, she’d started following another one of my youth girls, so I sent a quick message to her and she blocked the account instantly.” Mrs Sheedy has noticed that the Instagram accounts of unknowns who make contact contain very little personal information but always include a Bible reference. Many also list they are “looking for Christian friends”. “I just scrolled through the list of accounts that [Sue] in particular is following and counted at least 25 churches, youth group and Uni Christian group accounts,” she says. “[Sue] started following our youth group’s account, but after being blocked by the majority of our youth, she’s now unfollowed it. “And then of course you can follow hashtags like #jesus, #biblecolouring #christianmemes and other ‘youthy’ hashtags that open the way to millions of possible people to connect with. It’s quite scary. “It’s so important that churches and families are aware of what’s going on. I love Instagram and I really value having connections with our young people over social media, but I hate the thought of young people being pursued online by cults.” SC
HOW CULT MEMBERS ARE APPROACHING CHRISTIANS ONLINE • They’re “looking for Christian friends”. • They may “like” or “follow” your church, friends and a range of Christian organisations. Ask questions – see if anyone knows them personally. • You may be asked how your church life is going. • You may be invited to a Bible study, regardless of whether you are already in one. • You may be invited to view or participate in online teaching, although the person will likely be evasive about the teaching itself. • Personal information tends to be sparse – few posts/ photos, but almost always a Bible verse. • There will be initial attempts to find common ground, but there may also be lures to learn fuller or greater truths about faith.
GENERAL CULT MARKERS • Belief that their group is the sole arbiter of the truth. • Secrecy about group leadership and/or what is taught. • Constant, active recruitment. • Control and manipulation of members. • Additional teachings that are often regarded as superior to the Bible. • Disengagement from friends, family, churches etc that disagree with the group’s teaching. • Lying and deceit to further the cause (such as attending a Bible-based church but secretly drawing members away into another “study”). • No questioning allowed of the group’s beliefs and practices.
Letters, poem, vacant parishes, position vacant and classifieds.
LETTERS Thank you to Dr Ballantine-Jones for at every opportunity because of his timely and insightful article in both the peace and thrill of spiritual the April Southern Cross. The stories growth as we know we are forgiven that are emerging would suggest our many failings. that this is a problem that has been David Green around for longer than the easy Turramurra access to pornography provided by I read the article in the March 2021 the Internet. edition of Southern Cross by John Indeed, the Bible makes it clear Lavender “That the deaf may hear!” that the dysfunction of male and with interest as I had watched the female relationships and the abuse TV story about Dr Graeme Clark, of God’s good gift of sex are the referred to in the article. Although result of sin. It is concerning that, the article wasn’t actually about at the very time when our boys and ‘physical hearing’ but rather hearing girls need the loving wisdom and the gospel, I would like to take it back guidance of their parents, church to physical hearing. and teachers, our parliaments are For those of us who are hearing introducing legislation to restrain impaired it doesn’t matter what is parents and schools from providing preached or talked about if we can’t godly wisdom on matters of sexuality. physically hear what is being said. Philip Cooney Maybe it is time preachers, prayers, Wentworth Falls Bible readers, announcement makers I was taken by the anecdote in David and those on the sound desk were Peterson’s article on confession: the considered how best to reach visitor asking why confession was everyone and not just those with necessary when we are forgiven in reasonable to good hearing. Christ’s work. Listen to most great speakers and There seems to be a pervading you will notice their voices are very misunderstanding that Christian easy to listen to and so those of us faith is a mere transaction. No, it challenged by hearing loss can relax, is a relationship of the gathered listen and hear what they are saying. repentant with the Lord Creator. Name Withheld We are in continuous fellowship with our Saviour and are conscious VACANT PARISHES List of parishes and provisional both of our failings and his delight parishes, vacant or becoming vacant as in forgiving us as we grow in faith at 15 April 2021 • Cabramatta* • Menangle and discipleship. • Minto Indeed as my Anglican experience • Cherrybrook • Cronulla • Mosman, St really started in the ‘high’ division • Eagle Vale Clement’s • Paddington of our diocese, I was ‘soaked’ in the • Figtree • Peakhurst/ confession at least weekly. I found it • Granville Mortdale then, and now still in the occasional • Greenacre* • Pymble • Gymea use in more evangelical churches a • Harbour • Rosemeadow* • Ryde wonderful and deepening part of my Church** • Toongabbie • Huskisson walk of faith. • Wahroonga, St • Katoomba Just as my wife and I affirm our Paul’s** • Keiraville** • Wilberforce love and commitment through the • Kellyville warp and woof of family life, so • Liverpool * denotes Provisional Parishes or Archbishop’s do we who are redeemed want to appointments reaffirm our joy in faith in confession ** right of nomination suspended/on hold
ORKERS THE tW hew 20:1 (Mat
Standin’ in the sun, talkin’ to the blokes, gettin’ all the news, hearin’ all the jokes, waitin’ for the boss-man, ’ungry for a job. ’Oo will be so lucky, ’oo will earn a bob? Sharp at nine the first lot was quick to get the nod, And then at twelve and six again some others joined the squad. But some of us was still there like bread without the butter – The Boss come out and saw us and raised a mighty splutter: “Why stand there a-grumblin’ when all this work’s to do?” “We’re ready, sir, and willin’ and we will work for you.” “Get at it then,” he said, “you all can earn a buck.” At last, we said, at last – now everyone’s in luck. So out we went to pick the grapes and singin’ all the way We took the heat and bore the load and did it all for pay! And pay it came – but what a blast us blokes paid first what came there last! A full day’s pay for us was great but other blokes was sore – told the boss that for a whole day’s work they surely wanted more. “Unfair, unfair,” they said. “Your way of paying’s wonky. This unfair way of payment is very, very shonky.” Then the boss spoke up and said, “This is the way I choose. You all got paid the same – there’s no one here to lose. If you are mean, then I am not – you see my smilin’ face. So, go back home and learn again the wonder of God’s grace.” David Hewetson
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A weaker way ? Hannah Thiem A Week Away Netflix
he Christian romantic comedy genre attempts to
balance entertaining content and theological depth. Often it misses the mark, trading Christian messages for ‘feelgood’ stories with vague Biblical undertones. Yet when the balance is successfully struck, these movies can have a great impact on young viewers by engaging them with the message of the Gospel. Netflix’s A Week Away is the latest offering in the Christian movie market. It stars Kevin Quinn as Will, an orphaned teenager who is given the choice to attend a Christian summer camp instead of being sent to juvenile detention. While initially sceptical, Will ends up falling for the camp leader’s daughter, Avery. Ultimately, Will finds himself being truly welcomed into the community and decides to leave his past crimes behind to be with her. The film boasts an attractive, likeable cast but is in many respects another cheesy Christian romantic comedy. Marketed as a Christian Camp Rock, it features a range of contemporary Christian songs performed as musical numbers, which often appear as gimmicks that add little to the plot. Amidst these flaws, the film still contains helpful messages when we examine Will’s experience of joining a Christian community. Will is presented as the outsider in the film, which positions him to question many of the corny caricatures he finds. He is overwhelmed by the excitement of the campers to participate in team games, sing Christian songs, and follow the camp code. Will’s past life is also treated as a secret that he needs to disclose. While it is important for him to repent and believe, this environment does not appear welcoming to those who are different. Will’s experience could be seen to reflect the experience of non-Christians joining a Church community. Just like the protagonist, our friends and family are confronted by an arsenal of new jargon, acronyms, and activities that are often presented as assumed knowledge. Viewing these experiences should remind
us of the importance of explaining our services and dropping our jargon to welcome newcomers into our churches. With the overwhelming amount of camp norms to pick up, a large focus is on how Will learns to ‘fit in’. Aided by his new foster brother, Will learns Christian traits like playing the four guitar chords used in worship songs, wearing a shirt reading ‘too blessed to be stressed’, and participating in team sports. This leaves little time for him to be taught about the story of the Bible. This helpfully reflects a danger for us in welcoming non-Christians into our community. We may be excited when our friends come to church and pick up on its culture, but it’s most important that they grasp the truth of salvation accurately. Unfortunately, this never truly occurs in the film. Will’s ‘redemption’ moment comes when he is running away from camp, then realises that he feels welcome there and fits in - rather than actually grasping the depth of his sin or Jesus’ sacrifice for him. Christian romantic comedies are not designed to deal with the complexity of biblical truths, and we shouldn’t expect them to. Still, it’s helpful to be aware of theological inaccuracies when we show them to our friends or youth groups. A musical number proclaiming that no one needs to be ‘good enough’ appears positive, but is actually discussing the merit needed to date a romantic interest. We should be careful not to equate God’s grace with the world’s messages of self-love and self-worth. Avery also explains to Will that she is not certain of her eternal future in Heaven, but she ‘chooses to believe’. It’s important to correct this understanding of faith to acknowledge the wonderful assurance of salvation we have in Jesus. Leaving these concerns aside, A Week Away is a helpful movie for teenagers grappling with their place in God’s Kingdom. It can be helpful for adult Christians, too. As we consider how to welcome newcomers into our churches, we should examine what barriers we may be creating to the Gospel. SC