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THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR SYDNEY ANGLICANS
Archbishop Raffel MEET THE NEW LEADER OF SYDNEY’S ANGLICANS
Synod news • Prayer and support for India Joy at elderly baptisms • Love your SEA friends
Meet Sydney’s new Archbishop Russell Powell Dean of Sydney, the Very Rev mirrors that,” he told Synod. “I’m Kanishka Raffel, has begun his term as Archbishop of Sydney, the first person from a nonEuropean background to hold the position. He’s the 13th leader of the Anglican Church in Sydney since Bishop Broughton was appointed in 1836. “I’m humbled and somewhat daunted by the responsibility given me,” Archbishop-elect Raffel told the Synod on the night the final vote was taken. “We believe that the Lord works through his people – both in making this decision and in enabling the Archbishop to fulfil his role. Like every Christian, I gladly trust in Jesus.” The 56-year-old Archbishop was Dean of Sydney for the past six years, and previously led a large Anglican church in Perth for 16 years. He and his wife Cailey have been married for 32 years and have two adult daughters. Born to Sri Lankan parents in London, Mr Raffel and his family emigrated to Australia from Canada in 1972. “Globally, Anglican Christianity is ethnically diverse and our multiculturalism in Sydney
glad that our Diocese reflects the changing ethnic make-up of our cities and values the participation of Australians of all backgrounds in our church life together. Our team of bishops is almost equal part Asian background and Anglo. That is contemporary Australia.” The new Archbishop was chosen from a field of four candidates, which included the Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Hayward, the Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead and the Bishop of North Sydney, Chris Edwards. The Rev Stuart Pearson, a friend from high school, led the prayers for the new archbishop after the election. Archbishop-elect Raffel then made several media appearances, where he was questioned about his background and his story of coming to faith in Jesus from Buddhism. While he was a student at the University of Sydney, another high school friend gave him the Gospel of John to read. He told the ABC’s Richard Glover what happened next. “Well, my life changed, Richard. That’s what happened, in short.
SouthernCross June 2021
volume 27 number 5
“My life changed”: Archbishop Raffel on coming to faith in Jesus. Having spent the year reading skirmishes and worse, in the Buddhist scriptures, I was very end, and so I found his character struck by how different the intriguing and provocative and Gospel of John was. compelling. Ultimately, of course, “It was transparently historical, I decided I was for him.” clearly talking about a particular In The Sydney Morning Herald, man, in a particular place at a the new Archbishop was asked particular time, and the person about the declining number of of Jesus just emerged from the Anglicans in the Census and pages with vitality and vibrancy, whether churches should ‘move and he was unusual. He wasn’t with the times’. like the Buddha. He had friends “The parts of Anglicanism and enemies. He got into verbal globally that have accommodated
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Archbishop Kanishka Raffel in George Street, Sydney.
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Time to pray: Cathedral staff and senior Sydney clergy pray for Kanishka and Cailey Raffel after the new Archbishop’s election at Synod in May. themselves to Western secular “I regard the decline of culture are exactly the places Christianity in the West not as where the church is weakest,” he a problem for Christianity but said. “The places where there’s as a problem for the West,” the a robust confidence in God’s Archbishop said. “As a society we word, with a joyful but sacrificial have loosed ourselves not only commitment to discipleship and from the gospel of Jesus, from obedience to that word – those which all these good things arise, are the places where the church but from the posture of humbly is most vibrant and growing.” acknowledging almighty God. Columnist Greg Sheridan, in “We don’t humbly acknowledge The Australian newspaper, asked anything any more. The contents about the declining Christian of the gospel, including equality influence in society. and human dignity, have been
separated from a Christian worldview. We have unleashed, ironically, a rejection of God from whom all these good things came.” His first steps as Archbishopelect were taken with a face mask on – the final night of Synod overshadowed by snap restrictions. But the new Archbishop sees opportunities ahead. “COVID-19 has shaken our self-confidence and fractured our everyday world in a way that
makes us long for something more than the material. We’ve rediscovered the priority of relationships and community. “Local Anglican churches... across Sydney and Wollongong are places of welcome open to all. We gather to hear God’s life-giving words, seek to serve our neighbours and are glad to introduce them to the hope we have in Jesus.” SC A full report on the consecration of Archbishop Raffel will be in July SC.
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Two steps toward religious freedom in June.
Pray, and talk to your MP Churches are being asked to schools and organisations to mark Religious Freedom Sunday this month with prayer, and Christians are also encouraged to contact their local MP. “People of faith endure immense suffering in many countries, deprived of their freedom and subjected to the harshest of persecutions,” says religious liberty expert, Professor Patrick Parkinson (right). Professor Parkinson is chairman of Freedom for Faith, the group organising Religious Freedom Sunday and lobbying governments on the issue. Professor Parkinson adds that, although the conditions experienced by people of faith in Australia “are not comparable to this global experience, religious freedom is only very weakly protected in Australian law. “Core elements of that freedom, such as the right of faith-based
have staffing policies consistent with their religious ethos, are increasingly being called into question. Discrimination against people of faith is increasing, and people are seeing more and more restrictions on their liberty to live out their faith in the workplace, in educational settings and in other contexts.” The weekend of June 11-13 has been designated Religious Freedom Weekend and churches are urged to include a segment on religious freedom in Sunday services on June 13. Bishop Michael Stead, chairman of the Sydney Diocese’s Religious Freedom Reference Group, says this will provide a focal point for prayer for Christians overseas who are persecuted for their faith, and prayer for the protection of religious freedoms in Australia. “One of the aims of the
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.
Religious Freedom Weekend is to raise the profile of this issue, and encourage people to contact their local member of parliament to request that the Government take action,” he says. Freedom for Faith ha s created a website (www. religiousfreedomweekend. com.au), where churches can download a resource pack and individuals can be informed
about contacting their local MP. Says Professor Parkinson: “We rightly expect our elected representatives to care deeply about principles of liberty, conscience and justice. We hope this weekend inspires faith communities to reach out to their parliamentarians, encouraging them in their duty to uphold the religious freedom rights of individuals and institutions.” SC
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News from Synod.
Ask your MP to reduce misery from pokies Sydney’s Synod has again cent of poker machine profits called on the NSW Government to implement effective harmminimisation methods to reduce the suffering caused by problem gambling. In a motion moved by the Rev Canon Sandy Grant (right) of Wollongong, those at Synod recognised the devastating impact gambling has on many in our communities, especially those living in lower socioeconomic areas. Members urged the NSW Government to “prioritise the recommendations of experts independent of the gambling industries and... favour maximal harm reduction for problem gamblers”. In 2017-2018, NSW had the highest gambling losses in the country – totalling almost $10 billion – with pokies responsible for almost two thirds of that loss ($6.4 billion). Forty per
are generated from problem gamblers. “Problem gambling bankrupts families, destroys friendships, ruins businesses, torpedoes careers, corrupts sport and more,” said Canon Grant, who has witnessed the anguish caused by people’s inability to repay debt, having bailiffs at the door to repossess property, families struggling to feed their children, despair and even suicide. S y n o d re co mme nde d a preloaded gambling limit card – as originally suggested by Commissioner Patricia Bergin in her report on Crown Resorts’ suitability to run a casino – plus a $1 maximum bet limit for poker machines in the state. Synod also supported efforts to reduce the disproportionate concentration of poker machines in lower socioeconomic areas.
Currently, Fairfield LGA (local government area) has the highest net profits in NSW from gaming machines in clubs, with more than $308 million profit recorded in 2020. In the same year, Fairfield LGA had an average unemployment rate of 10.5 per cent – almost double the average unemployment rate in NSW. Clubs in the CanterburyBankstown LGA followed closely behind, with a total net profit of $284 million in 2020. Asked Canon Grant: “Why not
ask your local state MPs what effective harm-minimisation methods, recommended by experts independent of the gambling industries, they will support to reduce the misery caused by problem gambling, especially via the pokies? “Jesus encouraged us to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind to our banquets, and to care for the poor at our gate… one way we can do it is by the kinds of reforms commended here.” SC
Gender identity guidelines approved To ensure our churches are welcoming and safe spaces for all members of society, Synod overwhelmingly approved the Practical Guidelines for Ministers and Parishes and Suggested Responses, which focus on gender identity. While the doctrine statement on gender identity says the Bible does not endorse a divergence between biological sex and gender identity or expression, the guidelines affirm that all who trust in Christ belong to the kingdom of God and deserve compassion, love and care. Practical guidance is also offered for a range of pastoral situations. 6
The guidelines report was by the use of more inclusive distributed to church ministry language – such as “Good teams for feedback before being morning, friends”, as an put to the Synod in May. alternative to “Good morning, According to the doctrine ladies and gentlemen”. statement, “all those who have Gender-specific events such faith in Christ are loved by God as women’s dinners or men’s and belong to the body of Christ, breakfasts are still encouraged including those whose personal as there will be circumstances trials and afflictions in this life where it is appropriate to include gender identity issues or celebrate the differences gender incongruence”. between the sexes and offer The guidelines acknowledge specific ministry to a particular that in some circumstances, it gender. may be wise to seek a person’s T h e re p o r t n o t e s t h a t advice on how they would like “communication about these to be addressed, including their ministries should be carried preferred name. forward with sensitivity and care Where possible, sensitivity in for those struggling”. gatherings is also encouraged It also suggests churches may
need to consider how they can provide alternative ministry structures to accommodate these individuals. The Practical Guidelines and Suggested Responses have sought to ensure that sensitivity and compassion are exercised in all aspects of ministry, with priority given to caring for a person’s spiritual, physical, emotional and social wellbeing. The guidelines are not solely for ministry staff, but are intended for use in parishes. This means every church member has a responsibility to show the love of Christ and care for all people struggling with gender identity issues. SC SouthernCross
Domestic abuse leave available for clergy Members of clergy who are unable to perform their duties because they are experiencing domestic abuse will be able to seek a period of paid leave from July 1, after Synod unanimously passed the motion last month. Proposed by Archdeacon Kara Hartley (right) and seconded by the Rev Mark Tough, the motion sought an update to the guidelines for the remuneration of parish ministry staff in order The update to the parish to provide leave for clergy on this ministry staff guidelines will basis. It was recommended by allow assistance to be made the Domestic Violence Response available to ordained clergy. Monitoring Committee, headed Clergy will be paid the agreed by Canon Sandy Grant and stipend and allowances during Archdeacon Hartley. the period of domestic abuse A l t h o u g h t h e N a t io n al leave, or until a course of action Employment Standards allow can be mutually agreed upon for any employee to receive – an approach that mirrors the five days of unpaid leave provision of leave for sickness annually, ordained ministry or accident. staff technically do not fall into There is no period of leave this category as they are not specified in the guidelines. employees – rather, they are Each parish and member of the “officeholders”. clergy can discuss and agree on The Diocese’s domestic abuse an appropriate amount of leave policy explains that “domestic that takes into account the needs abuse includes, but is not limited of both parties. to, emotional, verbal, social, If a member of the clergy does economic, psychological, spiritual, find themselves a victim of abuse, physical and sexual abuse. Such they can contact the chaplain of behaviours often seek to control, the Professional Standards Unit, humiliate, dominate or instill fear their bishop, the Archdeacon for into the victim.” Women, or Anglicare. SC
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Terrey Hills goes from strength to strength
An emphasis on community connection and outreach: The members of St Paul’s, Terrey Hills.
community groups, playgroup, Christianity Explored, seniors ministry and Friday night youth group – which increased from fortnightly to weekly meetings in 2020, despite COVID restrictions. Kate, a member of the parish, loves being involved with the playgroup and is keen to see St Paul’s connect with more families in the neighborhood. “What excites me is the Terrey Tots Playgroup,” she says. “It’s a great way to reach the community in a non-confrontational way and develop relationships to then invite people to church or Bible studies.” Angie is a long-term church member and has witnessed firsthand the faithfulness of God to the congregation. “Having been
a part of the church for 30 years, running on a regular basis.” I’m excited about the growth Mr Tarrant agrees there is we’ve experienced in the past plenty to be thankful for and lots few years,” she says. of exciting things ahead. “As a very active member in the “I’m grateful to God that the community, I love the opportunity selection panel invited me to be of inviting people along to church minister from 2018,” he says. – particularly to the Christianity “Leading this wonderful church Explored courses we’ve been has been a rich blessing.” SC
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From humble beginnings under a tree in a paddock, Synod last month rejoiced at how God has grown his church by moving to give St Paul’s, Terrey Hills full parish status. “From the beginning, St Paul’s has been a gospel-centred, Bible-teaching church with an emphasis on community connection and outreach,” rector the Rev Scott Tarrant (below) said in his Synod address. “The church’s DNA has been every-member ministry. The people of St Paul’s have taken responsibility with the support of clergy and ministry students along the way.” It all started with a Sunday school initiated by Charis Young in 1940 – held under a tree on the parish property. Miss Young taught the Bible to young people for 29 years, and the Rev Dr Broughton Knox led the first church service in 1954. The church building was opened in 1965 and functioned as a congregation of Christ Church, St Ives until 1997, when it appointed its first full-time minister, the Rev Gavin Parsons. Two years ago, the church split from St Ives to become the provisional parish of Terrey Hills. St Paul’s has seen growth in many ministries, including
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New camp supports more church children’s ministries Time to invest in discipling: A small group meets around the word at Square One.
Tara Sing Square One is described by churches don’t have the capacity work already happening week-in, because they trusted my leaders.” attendees as “great fun – you get to run their own children’s week-out in each church to be away from your parents for camps, so Square One provides community, at after-school kids’ the weekend and you don’t have an opportunity for kids’ ministry clubs and Sunday programs.” to tidy your room!” teams to go away with the young Mrs Rivers first attended For the first time since the ones and spend time in God’s Square One when working as a annual spring camp for children word together. parish children’s minister, and in Years 3 to 6 – and their church “Square One is important saw the multiple benefits of leaders – began more than 20 because it offers something children going away with church years ago, a new winter camp has unique,” says camp co-ordinator leaders who were known and been added, doubling the number Annemarie Rivers, who is trusted by families. of kids and leaders with whom also a children’s ministry “There really isn’t anything like Youthworks can share the gospel. and primary school Special a camp to fast-track friendships Youthworks plans these Religious Education advisor with and really dig deep into God’s weekends of age-appropriate Youthworks. word together,” she says. “I loved Bible teaching and fun activities “Churches send children and that because of how it is set up; to free church leaders up to invest leaders, and so the discipleship many non-church parents were in discipling their kids. Many continues on from the great happy to send children to camp
This year, nine churches will send kids and leaders to hear talks from the book of James and be challenged to have an “insideout faith”: a faith that impacts their hearts, minds and actions, and that other people can see in their lives. It’s been about five years since the Rev Andrew Daniels and the kids’ ministry leaders at Frenchs Forest attended their first Square One camp with three kids. Now they’re regularly taking more than 10 children with them, as kids continue to invite friends along.
Youthworks kids camp adds a second weekend.
Square One fun: (clockwise from above) drying off after a swim, group games and a kid-friendly talk on Proverbs. “We keep attending because the club for an hour and a half or gospel is clearly proclaimed each kids’ church for a couple of hours. time, and the program is really There’s value in being able to do well run and put together,” Mr stuff with them for an extended Daniels says. period of time. There’s the “Normally, the time we spend opportunity to talk to them, and with the kids is either at kids’ answer questions you might not
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get the opportunity to in regular kids ministry.” Mrs Rivers and her team are praying for more opportunities like these – that children will keep asking good questions and fully experience Christian
friendship and community across the weekend. “For some kids, that means being encouraged to keep growing and loving Jesus, and for others, it’s the first step of faith,” she says. SC
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In New Delhi, a person dies from COVID every four minutes.
Prayer and giving for India Special prayer services in
to 50. It is the only COVID-19 Sydney have been told of the hospital available to a population suffering in India and an appeal of 2 million people. has been launched as the scale of “We are facing big challenges the COVID-19 pandemic escalates. due to the overload,” a hospital In the month before this edition spokesman said. “Hospitals of Southern Cross went to press, need equipment like ventilators, India averaged close to 330,000 monitors, PPE kits, food for new cases of COVID each day. patients. There is a big shortage There were 27 million recorded of oxygen and medicine and lifecases in the country and the One specialist hospital for 2 million people: The COVID ward saving equipment. Most of the at Herbertpur Christian Hospital in Uttarakhand, northern India. death toll was nearing 310,000 COVID hospitals are full.” – well over a third of those deaths India’s second wave of COVID occurring in the past month. to support Herbertpur Christian currently number about 1 in every has caused a collapse of the In the capital, New Delhi, a Hospital in the COVID hotspot of 200 people in Uttarakhand state. health system, with people person dies from COVID-19 every Uttarakhand in northern India. The hospital treats anyone being forced to sleep on beds by four minutes. The Herbertpur Hospital regardless of race, caste or the roadside while waiting for The Archbishop of Sydney’s has been asked by the Indian religion, but has access to only hospital space. SC Anglican Aid has responded to Government to take care of 30 oxygen beds and is urgently You can support the appeal online at the crisis, launching an appeal COVID-19 patients, which seeking to increase this number the Anglican Aid website.
PRAYER SERVICE AT PARRAMATTA
The Rev David Ould and the Consul General of India, Manish Gupta.
Members of the congregation and the local Indian community gathered at St John’s Cathedral in Parramatta to pray for loved ones and the entire nation of India as it grapples with the COVID crisis. The Consul General of India, Manish Gupta, attended the service, as did Dr Geoffrey Lee, the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism.
seen “a tremendous outpouring of public support”. The senior assistant minister of St John’s, the Rev David Ould, who led the service, said there had been messages from Indian organisations and community members who were all grateful for the gathering. The personal suffering was also brought home by one of the cathedral’s growth group leaders, Michael Jackson.
“It’s such a noble gesture of solidarity and compassion,” Mr “My parents and my brother-in-law were both infected with the Gupta said as he thanked the congregation for attending the COVID virus,” he told the congregation. “In addition to them service. “India is going through very tough, challenging times. there were a number of extended family members, church This is unprecedented in India’s history. family and friends. We have lost a few. We have lost ministers “The pandemic has extracted a heavy toll but the nature of from the church as well. Everyone else who has family far pandemic is such that even the families are finding it difficult away will share the same sentiment. It is difficult not being to give those who have left us a proper farewell. These are very, there. The only thing we can do is hope and pray. very difficult times for the country.” Yet, he added, Indians had “When it is your own family, it is not just another statistic.” 12
Most of Kalbarri in Western Australia has been damaged.
A church reaches out after a cyclone changes everything
A big clean-up ahead: One of the many trees uprooted in Kalbarri by Cyclone Seroja.
Martin Rodger describes it like tourism industry. After many being caught in “the spin cycle of the washing machine.” In the 18 years that he and his wife have lived in Kalbarri, they’ve never seen or heard anything like the Category 3 tropical cylone that tore through the town on April 11. “The noise is unbelievable,” says Mr Rodger, who owns two local businesses affected by the storm: Jetty’s Seafood Shack and Kalbarri Quad Bike Safaris. “You can hear the roofs being torn off, but you don’t know where it’s coming from... if it’s your roof or your neighbour’s. It’s like being in a cinema with the surround sound on double, but you can’t just leave the cinema – you’re stuck there.” Cyclone Seroja damaged 75 per cent of the town. Ten per cent of buildings are now uninhabitable. Power has still not been restored a month on from the storm. The fishing town is home to 1300 people, with numbers rising to 5000 in the tourist season. Most locals are employed in the SouthernCross
businesses struggled with a loss of visitors through 2020, this latest disaster will continue to have a huge financial impact on the community. “This has compounded the situation we were in after COVID,” Mr Rodger says. “The quad bike business is unaffected, but we can’t run it because there are no tourists. [Jetty’s Seafood Shack] has been made electrically safe and we can function once power is on. It’s going to be one massive challenge.” Some power has been restored thanks to large generators, but there is still a long way to go before life becomes normal again. The minister in charge at Kalbarri Church, the Rev David Day, says that “as of [April 25], we have reliable power but there are still people in town [without]. A lot of people are running generators, but they can’t run a microwave or boil the kettle – those sorts of everyday things you might take for granted. This may go on for weeks.”
Anglican Aid is partnering with the Diocese of North West Australia to help support the Kalbarri church and community as they recover. In town there are many government departments and organisations, such as the State Emergency Service and the Red Cross, providing support. Kalbarri Church is looking to offer additional support to the community through pastoral care and formal opportunities for grief and trauma counselling. “People are getting in and getting things happening, but there is a small group of people who are absolutely traumatised,” Mr Day says. “They can’t get on with life or clean up their messes or cope with what is happening.” Bishop Gary Nelson, of the Diocese of North West Australia, says it will take months, if not years, for communities to recover. “Cyclone Seroja has caused widespread damage throughout the Mid West and parts of the Wheatbelt to homes, businesses, farms and essential
infrastructure... Our Anglican church family is caring for each other and, importantly, reaching out to the wider community to show the love of Christ and share the hope of the gospel.” In light of this, Mr Day prays that his church may be a blessing to the community in many ways. “Keep praying for us to meet together, and for those in our church to remain connected to Christ,” he says. “Pray for our church, that we pick and choose what we do in a wise way. Pray for wise words and actions for us. We’re trying to talk to people and be available for people and support them.” With the town still in a mess, and reconstruction not yet started, Mr Day recognises that many will need help for a long time to come. “Pray that people [in Kalbarri] will get the support they need – not only from the government but from the insurance companies and others,” he says. You can support the cyclone appeal at www.anglicanaid.org.au 13
It’s never too late to know God Judy Adamson
It’s always wonderful when to Mr Symons and other pastoral people investigating Christianity staff about the things of faith. accept Jesus and want to be Mr Greentree, a Vietnam baptised – but it’s not every day veteran, talked through a range the people who do this are 99 and of issues with Mr Symons and 77 years old. then they began reading the Bible Filled with joy: (L-R) Don Greentree, the Rev Martin Symons, Vic Westneat and Anglicare’s manager of residential aged care, the Rev Colin Watson. “I’ve shed a few tears, because together. it’s just lovely,” says the chaplain Independently of each other, at Anglicare’s Farrer Brown both told the chaplain they away from evil – what all that the day, “yet they all get paid the Court in Castle Hill, the Rev wanted to give their lives to meant. And they were both very same: [they all get] eternal life”. Martin Symons – who baptised Jesus. He took each man carefully excited about it. He wants to encourage others two residents, 99-year-old Vic through what this meant, then “Vic said, ‘Why has it taken so with the knowledge that older Westneat and 77-year-old Don prayed with them as they put long for me to come to God? It’s people do become Christians. Mr Greentree, at a special service their lives and eternity into the taken 99 years for me to know Greentree and Mr Westneat are in April. Lord’s hands. God! And I said, ‘That’s the thing, now happily living for the Lord, They each came to faith Neither man had been baptised, mate – it’s never too late’.” and watching them discover the through different ministries at Mr Symons says, “so I got them For Mr Symons, these stories truths of faith as they read, learn the aged care home. Mr Westneat both together, looked at the highlight perfectly what Jesus and grow more each day clearly began attending Christianity baptism service and talked about talks about in the parable of the gives Mr Symons great joy. Explored after the death of his the questions that are in it: about workers from Matthew 20. Some “It’s like seeing little kids – it’s wife, and also spent time talking turning to Christ and turning join in the work in the last hour of unreal. It’s wonderful.” SC
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The future is face to face
t Synod in May the Administrator, Bishop Peter Hayward, gave the Presidential Address – which covered areas such as Indigenous ministry, COVID, relations with the national church and evangelism.
ABORIGINAL MINISTRY Bishop Hayward gave a brief history of Anglican engagement with ministry among Indigenous peoples leading up to the establishment, in 1996, of the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee (SAIPMC). The committee has links with work going on in the inner city, western suburbs and Wollongong areas. “Links between the Indigenous churches and other churches and ministries have more recently developed, and some of our diocesan schools have established Aboriginal campuses,” he said. “SAIPMC has worked hard at developing a partnership model between the Indigenous churches it supports and local parishes. As Campbelltown, Nowra and Minchinbury parishes partner with Indigenous churches, other parishes are encouraged to formalise partnerships. “I am excited and confident in God that SAIPMC now has in place some fundamental structures, predominantly the initiatives of its Aboriginal members, as to what they see as being appropriate for ministry to Aboriginal people in the Diocese. “I also sense there is a greater willingness than ever before across the Diocese to support and share in ministry among and with Aboriginal people. “I express my thanks to Archdeacon Deryck Howell who, at this Synod, will conclude as chairman of SAIPMC after 6½ years in the role. Pastor Michael Duckett will now chair SAIPMC.” SouthernCross
EPISCOPAL LEADERSHIP “Synod has not had an opportunity to express thanks for the life and ministry of Bishop Ivan Lee. With energy and passion, he served the Diocese as Bishop of Western Sydney. During his 17 years as Bishop, he also had a particular focus on mission. He was involved in the establishment and strategic work of the Mission Property Committee and was the driving force behind the development of Mission Areas. “During the period of his struggle with cancer, his indomitable enthusiasm was undiminished. His testimony of trusting in Jesus during cancer left an indelible mark across the Diocese. Synod expresses thanks to God for Ivan’s service in our Diocese and extends our condolences to his wife Virginia and family, as well as our gratitude for faithfully serving with him. “Bishop Gary Koo was appointed to be Ivan’s successor as Bishop of Western Sydney. As well as undertaking these responsibilities, Gary has already made a significant contribution to the Diocese, especially for his efforts as chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force. The parishes of the Diocese have benefited from his efforts in liaising with NSW Health, seeking the best possible ministry outcomes. “Lastly, I acknowledge Bishop Glenn Davies’ extraordinary contribution during the additional 10 months of his time as Archbishop. We are indebted to Glenn for his sustained efforts in 15
serving the Diocese with distinction during the COVID-19 period. His forthright, clear, careful and energetic leadership has enabled the Diocese to navigate this period well. I express my profound thanks to Glenn and wish Di and Glenn God’s blessing in the next chapter of their lives together.” DIOCESE AND COVID-19 Bishop Hayward said the pandemic had given us an opportunity to consider what God is doing in the world. “For the Christian convinced that God’s sovereign providential care rules the world, randomness evaporates. Most importantly, we are reminded that God answers prayer. As a Diocese, we have committed during the past 14 months to asking God to show his mercy in halting the pandemic so that lives would not be lost and in enabling a vaccine to be successfully developed.” He said one of the staples of the COVID period, internet streaming of church gatherings, will likely be an ongoing tool used by most parishes. “It can be the new front door for non-believers to observe the church and to hear the gospel. It enables shut-ins to maintain a connection with the church they belong to in a way not previously possible. The downside of streaming is that it can easily pander to a consumer mentality and lead to casual attitudes towards attendance and commitment. It is likely online meetings will be useful in some areas of church life, such as the occasional small group leaders catch-up, the unexpected wardens or parish council meeting, or the provision of an evangelistic course. “Most significantly, the limitations of our screens have reminded people of the importance of the gathered community as an expression of belonging. Face-to-face engagement with one another is still the priority for God’s people.”
THE NATIONAL CHURCH “Our engagement with the national church is because we desire gospel outcomes across the whole of Australia,” Bishop Hayward noted. “In its constitution, the national church has the capacity to bring the blessing of gospel salvation to many in Australia. Our continued involvement in the national church is because it is committed to orthodoxy in its founding documents.’ Bishop Hayward said the challenge of the past few decades has been a significant decline in the confidence people have in religious institutions. “In a fascinating article entitled ‘The case for Wooden Pews’, Yuval Levin looks at the crisis of trust in religious institutions in America and two different ways religious institutions have responded. The first option is to soften the demands of traditional religion where they are at odds with the spirit of the age – softer pews, so to speak. Levin argues this is a mistake because the very thing that has eroded trust in religious institutions is their failure to form and develop people who will live the message they believe with integrity. This is of interest because it counters the oft-stated suggestion that the religious institution will be strengthened if it adjusts to the broader cultural forces it is facing. “What our society needs from the Anglican Church is a way of understanding the challenges of our day while holding to firmly held beliefs lived out in a clear and compelling way.” Bishop Hayward also spoke of the Diocese’s involvement in GAFCON Australia, the global Anglican Future movement. The involvement, he said, was “a consequence of the reality that the commitment to truth and mission may require different approaches to future Anglican ministries. Our desire is to support orthodox and faithful churches and to encourage dioceses to maintain fidelity to the word of God and to share God’s love in mission together.”
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MISSION AND EVANGELISM The Synod was told of the evangelistic opportunities of the COVID period and what the bishop called the “overall accumulative gospel work of the Diocese”. “People are being converted in our churches. The move to stream church meetings has enabled people to have a new front door to share the news of Jesus. Numerous Zoom meetings with Christianity Explained-type groups have now been possible. Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a youth evangelistic event at Wollongong Entertainment Centre, which had 100 new commitments followed up in local churches. For some, it seems COVID-19 opened lives to consider the truth of Jesus. “In early 2020 the Rev John Lavender commenced as assistant director of Evangelism and New Churches, to help churches grow their evangelistic culture. In the past 12 months, John has met with more than 100 diocesan ministers and visited many churches to assess our current evangelistic efforts. “It is encouraging to report that churches remain committed to evangelism and mission. Common characteristics observed among churches that have maintained an evangelistic culture are: preaching that is gospel-centred and so seeks to create gospel conviction; personal and corporate prayer that is evangelistically centred; ownership of a clear vision; a range of evangelistic programs that flow from this; the provision of ongoing training that both equips for and reinforces the evangelistic vision; and small groups that play a vital role because the group leaders are working to make disciples. “Not all churches necessarily have all these characteristics, nor is it the case that evangelistic fruit only depends upon them. Nevertheless, the pattern of these characteristics is typical.” Bishop Hayward reflected on the factors hindering evangelism.
“As has long been the case, it is the pursuit of comfort, materialism and worldliness. Very easily, the dreams and ambitions the world offers deaden the conviction of the gospel. Into this is fed a contentment that the Church is doing well enough in a time of growing hostility to the gospel so that there is little expectation of evangelistic fruitfulness. “Overlaid on all of this is the sheer busyness of life, which means sustaining evangelistic relationships is hard. That is a realistic overall picture of what is hindering evangelistic growth. It is a reminder that all Christian endeavour is spiritual.” A NEW ARCHBISHOP Bishop Hayward ended by referring to the special Election Synod that immediately followed the ordinary Synod, which went on to elect Kanishka Raffel as the new Archbishop. “For Synod, this is a significant responsibility, and this has been expressed in prayers over the past month. By the end of the week, God willing, the Diocese will have an Archbishop-elect. Having completed this solemn responsibility, members of Synod will return to the churches and ministries you each represent. The Archbishop will be a name widely known, and his role understood. “However, the Diocese’s gospel work progresses in the myriad of normal and largely unnoticed activities that occur day by day and week by week: in the hospital visit to bring God’s love in a dark moment; in the invitation to share in another’s life when they are at their happiest or at their saddest; in turning up to teach Scripture and speak of the Saviour Jesus because you love to serve the children at your local school. Whatever our circumstances, we are united in our determination not to grow weary in doing good and commit ourselves afresh to joyfully preach the gospel, knowing that Jesus is with us to the very end of the age.” SC
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The purpose of preaching
art of my job involves teaching people to preach.
If I’ve learned one thing over the years it’s that you can’t learn to do something until you understand the goal. So, I find myself asking the question, over and over again: what is the purpose of preaching? It’s a really important question. Understanding the purpose of preaching not only affects the preacher, but also the listener. What is a preacher trying to do when they preach? What is the hearer supposed to do with what they’ve heard? Anybody who goes to church regularly has listened to hundreds (if not thousands) of sermons over their lifetime. If Jesus doesn’t come back, you’re likely to listen to hundreds more. So what’s going on when it comes to the sermon each week in church? It’s a question we all need to think about more (if you want to pursue it in detail, check out the book I had the privilege of editing with Chase Kuhn called Theology is for Preaching). Recently, I’ve learned a lot about the question from a guy called William Perkins. He’s been surprisingly helpful for someone who’s been dead for several centuries. Let me tell you a bit about him. Perkins (above) was an Anglican minister during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He was born in 1558, died in 1602 and he was a ministry superstar. Between 1590 and 1600 more than twice as many editions of Perkins’ books were published as those by William Shakespeare, who was a contemporary (imagine a world where the religious guy outsells the most famous playwright in English history!). But the most important thing to know about Perkins is that, after being converted as a student in Cambridge, he gave his life to preaching the gospel. One particular story tells how he evangelised and prayed for a man who was on his way to the gallows to die for 18
his crimes. Perkins was no ivory tower preacher. He loved people and gave his all that everyone might hear the gospel. So what did Perkins have to say about preaching? Fortunately for us, he wrote a short book called The Art of Prophesying, designed to train preachers. In it, he says preaching involves four key things: 1 reading out the text of Scripture; 2 explaining the meaning of that text; 3 gathering a few key points of doctrine from the text; and 4 applying those doctrines “to the life and practice of the congregation in straightforward, plain speech”. These might sound deceptively like what the preacher/s in your life do, but we need to stop and think about the differences between what Perkins was doing and what often happens in our sermons. In Perkins’ day, the passage to be preached was usually only two or three verses long. He believed those verses had to be understood in their context and spent a lot of time explaining how to do that. But, for Perkins, at the point where you’ve understood the verses and can explain them, you’ve probably done less than half the work required to preach. Why? Because the goal of preaching is not to understand the passage. The purpose of preaching is to bring people to love and obey their Lord. Perkins put it like this: “preaching is… the allurer of the soul, by which our self-willed minds are subdued and changed from an ungodly and pagan lifestyle to a life of Christian faith and repentance”. So how, according to Perkins, do you move from what the passage says to applying it to the hearer? That’s where points three and four come in: by gathering some key points of doctrine from the text and applying them to the life and practice of the congregation. SouthernCross
Looking at – and learning from – Elizabethan minister, William Perkins.
WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE? Perkins gives the example of preaching from Matthew 10:28 (ESV): “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell”. In response to this text, he lists six possible doctrines that could be derived (although he acknowledges there are many more). For our purposes, let’s just look at his first three: • it is necessary for us to confess publicly the doctrine we know whenever the need arises; • we must make this confession even if it means risking the loss of our possessions and our lives; • we should despise the value of our lives by comparison with the value we place on Christ and his truth. When Perkins speaks about deriving doctrines from a text, he’s not talking about detatched, third-hand descriptions of general truths. He means deep truths about God and his world that will shape what we believe and how we act. Notice he expresses each of his doctrines as truths that we have an obligation to believe and obey. Further, each of these truths is expressed in a way that connects them with the hearer. Yet even this is only part of the battle. Having derived these doctrines, Perkins then lists 13 possible implications for hearers under three headings: reproof, instruction and correction. To give just two examples of what this looks like, he says, “You must, to the full extent of your power, strive to have a true fear of God in view, because you have now learned that the one God is to be feared above all men”; and, “These words of Christ correct the negligence of those who do not pray for sincere love, so that inflamed with it they would not refuse to lay down their life for his name.” It’s important to notice a few key things here. First, to come up with these doctrines and possible applications takes time, thought and energy directed specifically towards the question: How do the truths of this passage challenge and encourage God’s people to live their whole lives before him in repentance and faith? As much as you might want to quibble with Perkins over the doctrines he derives or the applications he comes up with, the overall point is significant. Preaching is about bringing the truth of God’s text to bear on all parts of being human. This involves more than just understanding the passage – it involves thinking deeply about how the truths of the passage relate to the big picture of the whole Bible and, even more importantly, how they shape our beliefs, feelings and actions. I can’t help wondering whether our love for the truth cuts short this part of the preparation process for many of our preachers, and many of us as we listen to sermons. My own reading of our Christian culture (with many notable exceptions) is that our zeal to speak the truth leads us to use all our energy in preparation on what the passage says, rather than on bringing that truth to bear on our hearts and minds. Our preachers, in their busyness, prioritise getting the passage right, and so application often comes as an afterthought. At the same time, as listeners, it is easier to talk about what the preacher got right and wrong, rather than what God is challenging us to engage with as a result of hearing him speak. There is so much more that could be said, but here are two initial thoughts about how we might respond. First, do we encourage our preachers to spend the time that is necessary on their preaching? Reading, understanding and making sense of the text is in itself hard work. But if we want our preachers to go beyond SouthernCross
just understanding the text to what this means for us in our lives, we need to ensure they’re given the time they need to pray, read, reflect and wrestle deeply and personally with the truth. Are you encouraging the preacher/s in your life to take this time? Second, given the complexity of the task, do we encourage our preachers to keep growing as preachers? Preaching is such a spiritual, personal and emotional exercise that we shouldn’t think they leave theological college with all the training they need for a lifetime of preaching. How could you encourage the preacher/s in your ministry to invest in their ongoing training in preaching? Moore College, through the John Chapman preaching clinics, offers multi-day, residential training courses each year to encourage ministers to go away with others wrestling with these truths and grow together in the task. Maybe you should encourage your minister to think about doing something like this. Perkins reminds us to be thoughtful about how we listen to sermons. Do you come to the sermon in anticipation? Perkins believed God spoke through the sermon and that everyone needed to hear what was being said if they were going to grow in their love for and obedience to Christ. Do we come expectantly, prayerfully and hopefully, asking God to speak through the preacher and to touch our hearts and minds? Do we come ready to be rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness? How will you come to the sermon this Sunday? SC
The Rev Paul Grimmond is Dean of Students at Moore Theological College.
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Loving adult children who don’t believe Judy Adamson
o, it’s happened: you’ve come to faith and are filled
with the joy of knowing Jesus, but your teenage or grown children want nothing to do with it. Or you’ve raised your kids in a Christian home but, as they’ve grown into adulthood, they’ve turned their backs on God. It’s heartbreaking. You love them and long for them to believe... but you don’t want to turn them against you. And sharing your faith, by word or action, has become a potential minefield. The Rev John Lavender, assistant director of Evangelism and New Churches – who, along with his wife Karen, has many years’ experience in parish and running parenting courses – says: “It’s always a concern for us that we want to share our faith with those we’re close to, but when it’s your children there’s an added level of potential pain, worry, and complication”. He says the initial thought for most parents in this situation is, “Where do I start?”. It’s important to recognise, he adds, that “we’re entering really tricky, hard territory. That’s the first thing. The second thing, and this goes without saying hopefully, is that we want to be praying for our unbelieving children”. PATIENCE, GODLINESS AND WISDOM The issues can be quite different for parents who’ve brought their children up in the faith and parents who have come to Christianity later. 20
For parents who aren’t from a Christian background, Mr Lavender says, “they might really have lost their way, and then they’ve become Christians. That could be a good thing for the unbelieving children who see their parents transformed, but they might have a lot of hurt from the past and say, ‘Mum, Dad, you’ve hurt me so much, I can’t go there’. “I’ve seen couples in their 50s with young adult children, and it’s just heartbreaking, because bad patterns have been established and it’s very hard to turn them around. “It’s such a difficult issue. Prayerfully loving your children, keeping the lines of conversation open as long as you can and seeking forgiveness if you need to – all of this is important.” Adult children from Christian homes probably grew up going to Sunday school and youth group and may have even gone to a Christian school. They may also have expressed faith at some point but, now, say they don’t believe. “Remember what it says in Ephesians: ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children’,” Mr Lavender says. “Don’t bait them or irritate them. And don’t stop being a Christian in their presence if they don’t believe. You say grace, you keep talking about church and what happened that week... Sometimes they might think you’re baiting them so you’ve got to be careful, but you can’t stop being Christian around them. “You can also tell them you’re praying for them if they’re going SouthernCross
How do you minister to kids who want nothing to do with Jesus?
through a bit of a tough time. That might irritate them, but it’s very hard to be really irritated by someone who says, ‘I’m praying for you!’ “You can also be praying for God to bring Christian peers into the life of your young adult children and, if appropriate, asking their Christian peers to pray for them, too... asking them to invite your kids to their own church and look for opportunities to speak with them about Jesus. “The ones that have walked away can be quite bitter... they might be walking away because of a hurt or a misunderstanding, or they feel they’ve been robbed of something. These relationships – really, all relationships with children who don’t believe – require great patience, godliness and wisdom on the part of the parents.” LOVE YOUR KIDS, BUT DON’T COMPROMISE Part of the difficulty of ministering to adult children who aren’t Christian is knowing when to hold the line on matters of faith life. For example, Mr Lavender says, parents can be pulled both ways when they are regularly invited to events at a time they would normally be involved with church activities. “You can feel really torn, but I want to encourage Christian parents not to compromise on what’s really important,” he says. “Some people will go to the parties and the dinners and they’ll miss Bible study or church, signalling [to their children] that meeting together with my Christian family is not important – but you want to make sure they understand that it is! So perhaps you can say, ‘Can we have the party in the afternoon? Because I’ve got church in the morning so I’m not able to come in the morning’.” All manner of issues will come up in your relationships with your adult children, but over and above these are the essential questions of faith and belief.
Mr Lavender draws on a reference by English evangelist Rico Tice, who talks about being prepared to ask questions that cross the “pain line”. These are difficult but important questions where you are never sure what response you will get. Mr Lavender says we should be confident to ask these questions, not fearing what people will think of us, because it is what God thinks of us that really counts. As an example, he says, “What if Jesus really is who he says he is? What if eternity really is a thing? You’ve got to pick your time and work out which hill you’re going to die on, but I think somewhere or another you have to have those conversations. “You take a risk asking these questions. There might be hostility, yet it might actually open the door for further conversation and who knows how God will use these opportunities? “It would be terrible if you never took or made an opportunity to speak to your adult child about Jesus, so I think at some point you’ve got to prayerfully look for a time when you can cross that pain line.” He adds that it’s important not to “rush in and say things” because that isn’t necessarily the best option. But nor do you want to leave things unsaid because you’re afraid it might damage the relationship. “Look prayerfully for opportunities to bring things up. They’re adults and you want to talk through it together as adults, speaking as well as listening. But most important is to do it from love – speaking the truth in love. That’s got to be the thing that guides us. “At the bottom line, pray for your kids! Keep living out your faith around your kids. Be honest with them, even saying how much you’d love them to know Jesus, too, and speaking with them of the difference Jesus has made to your life, and that you’d love that for them as well.” SC
Friendships and faith with Southeast Asians
manda Mason (above) has noticed Southeast
Asians are largely absent from our churches. Given that this time last year Australia was home to almost 435,000 people born just in the SEA countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia – and their languages are commonly spoken in a range of our suburbs – why the people aren’t also in our churches is a question we should all be asking. This pattern mirrors a global problem in Christian mission among Asian Buddhists. After two centuries of missionary presence in Southeast Asia, in some of its countries as little as 1 per cent of the people are part of Christian fellowships. Seeking to make church a place where we embrace and understand Southeast Asians, Mason – a Thai Australian herself 22
– works with the department of Evangelism and New Churches to help parishes rethink how we can respond to the needs of Southeast Asian Buddhist communities. Here are five helpful things for Christians to consider about Southeast Asian culture before they jump into sharing their faith. 1. HOW CAN WE BUILD TRUST? We’re keen to tell people about Jesus, and so we often provide too much information too fast, before the other person is ready to listen. “In Southeast Asian cultures, trust is essential, and trust can’t be built in a short time,” Mason says. “Southeast Asian cultures are so relational. How can they trust you if they don’t know who you are? What’s the point in listening to your words? Words are hard to understand when English isn’t your first language, so why should SouthernCross
What to consider before engaging with Southeast Asian Buddhists about faith.
they make the effort to listen when they don’t know you?” It can take a long time to earn the privilege to be trusted enough to have someone listen attentively. “You are better off making a friend rather than a project,” Mason says. “This will take time.” Sharing religiously neutral experiences can help to build trust.
for their whole family. It’s meaningful later on when they find out you’ve been doing that. By explaining you’re praying for someone, you’re sharing what your experience of God is: that he’s personal. If the prayer is answered with a ‘Yes’, you’re showing God cares and answers.”
2. HOW ARE MY CHRISTIAN WORDS BEING UNDERSTOOD? Key concepts of Christianity – such as sin, guilt, forgiveness, spirits and the afterlife – are understood differently by Southeast Asian Buddhists. “Sin has a different meaning in the Buddhist framework,” Mason says. “Heaven has a different meaning in a karmic framework. There are several heavens and it’s about reincarnating into a different level of heaven. People also don’t feel guilty for transgressing the Five Sila in Thai Buddhism, which is like the 10 Commandments in Christianity. So many people break them.” There’s also a gap in our knowledge of how the Holy Spirit relates to other spirits in the Buddhist worldview. “One thing we don’t understand is the fear and power of different animistic spirits,” Mason says. “It can be a great relief to hear that God’s Holy Spirit is more powerful than other spirits, but it takes sensitivity to know when the best time is to offer this point. Often people run to spirits in times of crisis. Sensitivity is important in times of crisis.”
4. DO I NEED TO RUSH? Explaining the gospel too quickly can seem aggressive, and to cultures where smooth relationships and confrontation avoidance are core values this is counterproductive. “If you take the time and build the relationship they will see something of Jesus in that,” Mason says. “What impression does our urgency cause? It causes confrontation, which is not good. It also [implies] superiority over a culture that’s existed for ages – it’s not listening to their wisdom. All of this is very problematic. I know that Jesus may come back soon, but my faithful duty might not be to attack someone, it is to continue to relate with them.”
3. HOW CAN WE NURTURE LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS? Faithful friendship speaks loudly to those from a Southeast Asian background. “It’s a witness in itself. Be so faithful to this person that you’re still there in 10 years’ time, that their mother knows you and that their mother speaks well of you. Be reliable.” Sharing your faith will have the biggest impact in this context. “Ask them about their family and get to know their family tree. Pray
5. HOW DO WE BALANCE THE CONVERSATION? It is helpful for Christians to take the time to untangle the complex history between Buddhist peoples and their understanding of the Church. Rather than starting at square one, Christians should begin even further back. “What would happen if we sought to balance the amount of time spent speaking and offering the Christian gospel with time spent understanding the Buddhist’s past experience with Christianity? Mason asks. “Could this possibly remediate the Buddhist perceptions of Christians’ earnest – and, frankly, terrifying – desire to convert them? Understanding their history with Christianity in their family of origin, possibly with a history of colonial occupation, can help the relationship move.” SC
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Speaking up for Jesus
Pastor and evangelist David Robertson – the “wee flea” in the ear of atheist Richard Dawkins – talks with Simon Manchester about life and faith.
wo years ago, David and Annabel Robertson came
to Sydney from Scotland, where he had been pastor of St Peter’s, Dundee for 22 years. He moved to Sydney to work with City Bible Forum (a ministry to the business world), using his unique gifts to engage the culture with the message of Jesus. He writes prolifically and became infamous when Richard Dawkins picked up on his writings, giving rise to correspondence between them and one of David’s fine books, The Dawkins Letters. David, have you found Sydney to be a very strange place or a pleasant land? It’s both. An extraordinarily beautiful and strange place – with a lot of beautiful and strange people! Like the rest of the world, it’s a beautiful place created by God and marred by human sin.
Who shaped your early views of Christian faith and ministry? My parents. An evangelist called Dick Saunders and my minister, Alastair Ross. There were also a lot of people in history, and what I would call salt-of-the-earth Christians – just ordinary people living for Jesus. Corrie ten Boom, David Livingstone, John Calvin, Thomas Chalmers, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Augustine and others. 24
You greatly enjoy being dropped in a pub to speak for Jesus Christ. How do you kick things off and how do you cope with the crowd in front of you? If it’s for a meeting I would have a mic – speak for 15 minutes and then do Q & A. I love it if the crowd interrupts. The best was a pub in Scotland where I got just a minute into the talk and a man told me to stop talking rubbish because he was eating his food and didn’t believe in God. We had some fun and hopefully communicated something of Christ. Dawkins called you “a flea in his ear” (meaning a pest), which gave rise to your website “The Wee Flea”. How wide is your readership and what reactions have you had? There are more than a million views each year with half a million visitors (obviously a lot of repeats) from 180 countries. I get a lot of response – from militant atheists to fundamentalist Muslims and Christians. For a while, so many people were coming up to me at conferences and saying, “I read The Wee Flea, but I don’t agree with everything you write”, that I thought of getting it printed on a T-shirt! I’m not sure that I agree with everything I write – I just think out loud! SouthernCross
An interview with David Robertson.
I have heard you say that the UK scene is farther down the secular road than Australia. What makes you say that and what should we be aware of? Church attendance and Christian influence is higher in Australia – although it varies from state to state. The UK, especially Scotland, has secularised incredibly quickly. I think the main reasons are that the Church largely turned away from the word of God, gave up on Christian education in schools and did not know how to cope with the post-1960s world. We took our eyes off the ball – or at least off Christ! Given the wide gulf now between the way a Christian thinks and the way a non-Christian thinks, what advice would you give to the believer who honestly doesn’t know how to engage as a “witness” for Jesus? I’m not convinced that the gap is that great. Indeed, for me that is part of the problem – as Christians we often think more like the world than Christ. I would encourage any Christian to get closer to Christ, grow spiritually and love his word. That will translate into your life and you will be a better witness – because you know who you are witnessing to. Then get to know your culture and the people around you better. Often, it’s best to listen before talking. You have special gifts to see right through the secular agenda. Is there anyone similar in the church today who helps you think freshly and clearly? I find Os Guinness to be incredibly helpful. Others include Tim Keller and, in Australia, Phillip Jensen and my colleague Steve McAlpine who are both excellent at bringing the word to bear on the culture. I also like secular writers like Doug Murray, Jordan Peterson, Lionel Shriver and Tom Holland. They are great at analysing and understanding the culture – but they don’t have the answer: Christ. However, they do a lot of the ploughing and heavy lifting for us. You miss the regular Sunday-by-Sunday preaching. Is it the preacher’s job or the layperson’s job to think through the implications of the word for their world? Both. The preacher must bring us the word of God and apply it to us and the world in which we live. But he does not give us a formulaic set of answers. We are to think for ourselves. The job of the preacher is to help us think biblically. The key is to read the culture through the lens of the Scriptures, rather than read the Scriptures through the lens of the culture.
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What have been some highlights for you in your speaking and travels since you came to Sydney? There have been several. A school in western Sydney; an outreach online café at St Thomas’, North Sydney; Q & A evenings at Norwest Anglican; the Chinese Presbyterians; the City Legal lawyers’ breakfasts at Silks Café; Ann Street Presbyterian in Brisbane; lawyers’ meetings in a hotel in Canberra; KCC; a pastors’ meeting in Hobart; online services and Q & A at St Ives and a meeting of scientists in western Sydney. Someone has said that you are like Chappo (John Chapman) in that you should be visiting the churches to evangelise and equip. What would you like to be doing here? I don’t think I could lace Chappo’s boots, never mind fit into them! My passion is to see churches have evangelism as part of their DNA, not just an optional extra. I have been a pastor in a local church doing evangelism in a secular culture for more than 30 years and I know that the church is the best means for outreach and disciple making. But a lot of churches seem to struggle with that – and I would love to be even a little help. How does Annabel use her gifts and how are your children... two still in Scotland? Annabel is talented in lots of ways – not least with people. She is currently working two days a week with St Thomas’ as a woman’s pastoral worker, and then part time as a social worker with Royal North Shore Hospital. She is admirably equipped for both roles. Our son Andrew is a church planter in an urban poor area in Scotland (married with two children). Our daughter Becky (also married with two children) is a social worker in western Sydney. And our youngest daughter Emma Jane, a prison nurse in Edinburgh, got married in December. Sadly, we were not permitted to attend. Is there a text or truth that keeps you going when the world, the flesh and the devil press hard against you in Christ’s mission? “Go stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20); “These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here” (Acts 17:6). “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7); “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1)… and so much more! SC
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How COVID has opened our eyes Gary Koo
still remember what a friend of mine said when the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact our churches. Channelling
Warren Buffett, he said: “When the tide goes out we’ll see who’s been swimming with their pants on”. One of the things I’ve discovered over the past 14 months is that many of our churches have been well clothed and well dressed; that they’ve adapted well and not only survived but thrived, making the most of any opportunities the pandemic provided. Now, in no way am I saying the pandemic was a good thing or welcomed. The cost to many is something we grieve in an ongoing way. Yet this major disruptor – to our lives and the world – has
opened our eyes to some things about which we should take note. First, people love their church. One of the concerns some had when we weren’t able to meet was that people would flock to the church with the best online offering. But, rather than seeing that, people remained loyal to their own churches with a deep concern for each other’s welfare. Many churches developed pastoral networks to care for each other. People helped each other with technology, isolation and meals. Many gave time and resources to make the transition online. Many churches saw an increase in giving. All that I’ve seen, despite the time our buildings were closed, is
Answering the lawyer’s question Tim Swan
hen I took a call from our brother, the Rev
Rinzi Lama, Dean of the Anglican Church of Nepal, I was struck by his compassion for those suffering from the impacts of COVID-19. On top of the increasing deaths from infections, Nepal is experiencing food shortages, many are jobless and “people are fearful and searching for hope in their life”. Mr Lama said, “We are willing to help those who are under SouthernCross
What a well-dressed church looks like.
a deep love of God’s people for each other throughout this time. Second, change is possible. COVID-19 has brought massive changes to our ministries: our Sunday gatherings, our growth groups, youth group and children’s ministries, evangelistic courses, conferences, parish council and wardens’ meetings. Going online, physical distancing, cleaning, QR codes... the list goes on. Yet despite all this, people have adapted. Ministry has continued. The world hasn’t ended. In fact, some longdelayed changes have been made possible by the pandemic. It has provided an opportunity to do things differently, such as change service times or move to electronic giving. Third, face to face is preferable. It’s hard to imagine life at church during the pandemic without the existence of the internet, even though access to the internet has been problematic for some. The provision of online conferencing, livestreaming, email and messaging has allowed connection and continuity despite physical separation. Of course, what many have also experienced is that our online alternatives are no substitute for physical gatherings. I saw this most clearly when our congregations not only came back but were able to sing the praises of God, unmasked and together. Fourth, we need to keep on working at making our churches accessible. Even though the doors were physically closed for a season, in some ways moving the ministry of our parishes online made them more accessible than ever. People from the community or even further afield were able to engage in a way they hadn’t been able to before – not only those who were wary of stepping through the doors of a church but those who weren’t able to because of personal circumstances. For example, in the first week of lockdown last year, I remember a woman contacting the church at Rouse Hill saying that this was the first time in months that she’d been able to engage with her
church. Another man at my church with a physical illness was able to engage with what was happening for the first time in more than a decade. Finally, God is in control. I started my new role in 2020 with many plans. Those plans all changed when we got to March. The pandemic has been a time of great humbling and reflection, showing us the foolishness of thinking that we’re in control. This loss of control led many of us to contemplate catastrophic scenarios. I was asked by one man whether we as a Diocese were ready to bury 100,000 people. In addition, severe unemployment, economic collapse and the closure of many of our parishes were distinct possibilities at the beginning of the pandemic. The fact that this hasn’t happened is a miracle, and even though we might continue to ponder why God has treated us so kindly, the right response to this kindness is to be thankful to him: realising our human limitations, trusting in him, and understanding that our lives and our future lie only in his hands. The knowledge that, from what we can observe, there has been a greater engagement with the gospel – online and in person – in the midst of a pandemic and its attendant lockdowns, can only be attributed to God’s sovereign control. God has done things we didn’t think possible. Which brings me back to my friend’s observation: when the tide goes out we’ll see who’s swimming with their pants on. Our churches are well clothed, but they’ve been clothed by God, who has continued to work powerfully through his people in this pandemic. SC
The Rt Rev Gary Koo is Bishop of Sydney’s Western Region. Who is our neighbour?
crises, therefore we need one another’s prayer and generosity”. So, with Christians around the world asking for help, how should Sydney Anglicans respond? In my work as Anglican Aid’s CEO, I’ve come across Sydney ministers who so prioritise wordbased ministries that giving to the poor seems almost unthinkable – especially the poor outside Australia. But of course, I can’t say to Rinzi from Nepal, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed” (James 2:16). How, then, should Sydney Anglicans relate to the poor in Nepal and elsewhere, in places where (unlike Australia) government assistance is completely inadequate? With a completely different language, culture, climate and geography, it can seem as though the Nepalese are a world away. Doesn’t such distance disqualify people from our care? This, of course, is the lawyer’s question in Luke 10 when he asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” He seeks to limit his span of care. But Jesus then tells a parable in which a foreigner – a Samaritan – spends himself on behalf of a needy man he encounters on the road. Jesus’ command? “Go and do likewise.” While the poor in Nepal are not geographically near neighbours, Sydney Anglicans have had a long relationship through CMS missionaries, Anglican Aid and the Anglican Church of Nepal – a rapidly growing network of evangelical churches. We have encountered them “on the road”, and they have begged us for support. SouthernCross
Our new Archbishop, Kanishka Raffel, told me the story of visiting missionaries who asked supporters, “Why has God made Aussie Christians so rich?” Their answer was, “So they can help their brothers and sisters in need elsewhere in the world”. This encapsulates Christian stewardship. We are stewards of the resources entrusted to us by our globally minded God. As the Apostle John summarised, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). The Anglican Church in Nepal is spiritually vigorous but physically struggling (it has grown from three to more than 100 churches in the past 20 years!). It is indeed loving with actions and in truth – sharing bread with the hungry, caring for the struggling – and is asking for our support. Knowing “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor” (2 Cor 8:9), how can we ignore them? At the same time, I am convinced that physical relief must be matched with spiritual relief. I know that bringing physical remedy without preaching Christ – the remedy for the sin of the whole world – is only a Band-Aid on a mortal injury. The love of Christ compels us to love in both word and deed. For example, in locations where Anglican Aid partnerships provide physical aid, we also strive to provide spiritual aid, sponsoring Bible training and theological education for our 27
Growing church: The Rev Rinzi Lama baptises a Nepali believer. partners so that word ministries and aid ministries can grow together. In Nepal we support the Green Pastures Christian Hospital, send relief to the poor through the local Anglican church, and are seeking to strengthen the wider Nepali church by supporting the training of the next generation of leaders through Bible college student sponsorships. On a worldwide scale, it is true that God has made Aussie Christians rich. We have received abundant grace from God, good teaching and good resources. It is this abundance that informs
Anglican Aid’s vision: to see the grace of God overflowing to a world in need. I invite you to be part of this vision. Or as Rinzi Lama said in his letter to me, “Let us bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). SC
Canon Tim Swan is the CEO of the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid.
STRENGTHEN CHURCHES & TRANSFORM COMMUNITIES THIS END OF FINANCIAL YEAR LET GRACE FLOW IN TANZANIA & BEYOND! Anglican Aid is working in partnership with the local church in 35 countries to provide emergency support in times of crisis and to transform lives through long-term development projects. Your support will see the grace of God overflowing to a world in need through education, health, clean water and more!
GIVE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT BEFORE JUNE 30
www.anglicanaid.org.au/eofy21 or 02 9284 1406 ABN: 28 525 237 517
Whatever happened to planking?
hat happened to planking? What will happen to Tik
Tok? What happens to these things that were once part of our world? We haven’t even talked about coning and the Whip Nae Nae! Society is moving very quickly and chaplains like me need to make sure we are remaining connected with the teenage world. If you look at any period after the war, you will see that the rise in postmodernism has ushered in a new way of thinking. Things have progressed even more in the past 10 to 15 years. Teenagers are no longer asking “Is it true?” They’re interested in answering the question “Is it real?” They’re looking behind our current culture to see whether it brings meaning to people’s lives. What is it that society says to teens now, especially when they’re facing oppression? Teenagers use terminology about people being happy in the skin they’re in and other positive phrases to combat bullying and being rejected. They tell themselves they don’t have to change for anyone. But I think people like Zacchaeus in Luke 19 are a classic example of someone who, in his culture, was ridiculed and bullied and Jesus accepted him the way he was – and then Zacchaeus changed. There’s no negotiation with Jesus. He doesn’t say, “Give up your money and then I will be your friend”. Jesus’ love for Zacchaeus brings about the transformation. I pray this current generation will realise Jesus offers something much better than what society offers. My prayer is that teenagers will realise the brokenness of our world and how Jesus is the one who wants to bring restoration. Jesus accepts these people. Some of those who were followers of SouthernCross
Jesus were people who were rejected from society. They would have been persecuted and bullied. Those with leprosy were cast out by society – even their own families rejected them – but Jesus brought acceptance and restoration. Despite what the world might say about what someone is worth, don’t let people say you’re worth less in God’s eyes. One of the greatest things we can do in Christian education is give students a Christian worldview. That’s fundamentally important. I had an ex-student who loved Jesus but, sadly, when he left school he became a secular humanist and wanted nothing to do with Christianity. He travelled to Europe in his 20s, and while he was at Auschwitz it became evident to him that his worldview had no effective response to this. In the process, he talked to people about a Christian worldview and became a Christian. That highlighted for me how foundational a Christian worldview is. Like other trends that come and go, the word “hope” is not in this generation’s vocabulary as much. They’re confused and hurting and bullying each other. In my experience, often the bully is also really insecure and wants to bring people down. The truth of Jesus is so relevant today, but it’s a tragedy that young people will try everything else to find meaning, to feel good and to resolve their insecurities before they see Jesus and see who he is. Jesus provides meaning – he saves us from sin and shame, and we are secure in his steadfast love. SC The Rev George Statheos is community chaplain at Mamre Anglican School in Sydney’s west. 29
Teens encouraged to remember their creator
Listen to the Teacher: youth at KYCK show off George Statheos’ book on Ecclesiastes.
DOUG MARR FAREWELLED The Registrar of the Sydney Diocese, Mr Doug Marr, retired from his position on April 8 after 7½ years in the role. In a meeting of Standing Committee, the group unanimously voted to express its “thanks to Mr Marr for all that he has contributed to the Diocese as Registrar, including the introduction of the database for church workers, and especially his contribution to the smooth operation of both Synod and Standing Committee”. Members also gave thanks “for Mr Marr’s service on the Sydney diocesan Synod, the Provincial Synod and the General Synod”.
EASTON FOR FAIR WORK COMMISSION
Mr Marr has been an integral part of many diocesan boards and committees over the years, including a range of finance committees, the Royal Commission steering committee and the oversight committee for the Professional Standards Unit.
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He has also been chairman of the St Andrew’s House Corporation, and was inaugural chairman of the Sydney Anglican (National Redress Scheme) Corporation. Tony Willis, the former executive assistant to the Bishop of Wollongong, is serving as acting Registrar until Archbishop Raffel appoints a replacement for Mr Marr.
The Federal Government has announced that the Deputy Chancellor of the Sydney Diocese, Mr Michael Easton, has been appointed as Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission. A barrister since 2004, Mr Easton has been a senior member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal since 2019, and Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese for the past eight years. He began his role with the Fair Work Commission on April 7.
VACANT PARISHES List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at May 21, 2021: • Cabramatta* • Cherrybrook • Cronulla • Eagle Vale • Figtree • Granville • Greenacre*
• Gymea • Harbour Church** • Huskisson • Katoomba • Keiraville** • Kellyville • Liverpool
• Menangle • Minto • Mosman, St Clement’s • Paddington • PeakhurstMortdale • Pymble
• Rosemeadow* • Ryde • Toongabbie • Wahroonga, St Paul’s** • Wilberforce
* denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments ** right of nomination suspended/on hold
New book for youth delves into Ecclesiastes.
But, of course, this is not new. There is nothing new under the sun. In his book Days of Your Youth, school chaplain the Rev George Statheos is determined to show young people that the Teacher in Ecclesiastes has a message for them that’s more relevant than ever. Anyone who works with young people, or has young people in their lives, can see that they spend a lot of time searching for meaning. They are endlessly seeking to figure out who they are, working out what they are passionate about and what they will live for. The world has plenty to offer young people, but it can’t offer anything that truly satisfies them.
“The book of Ecclesiastes has become the book for me – that is, [the book that] helps young people who are searching for answers, or helping their friends search for answers,” says Mr Statheos, who has been working as a chaplain for more than 20 years. The book takes young people through the big concepts dealt with in Ecclesiastes – which also happen to be the big concepts of life: meaning and meaninglessness, the fleeting nature of life, pleasure, foundations, wisdom, wealth and the messed-up nature of the world and its people. “There are some extraordinary verses about death [in Ecclesiastes],” Mr Statheos
says. “The Teacher talks about teens in their church. It not only who can control nature and who addresses important topics has power over death. He would but models good Bible reading have been blown away by the habits such as working through fact that someone can straighten one book and understanding out the mess that happens in the verses in the context of the book lives of young people – that is, they’re in. Jesus, and what Jesus came to Statheos has two big prayers do.” for every person who reads Days Each chapter moves quickly of Your Youth: “My prayer is that and is filled with examples young people will see the book from life and Mr Statheos’ own of Ecclesiastes – about someone teen years to help illustrate the searching for answers – and at message of Ecclesiastes. His aim the conclusion they [will] realise was to keep the book short and that the answers are found in readable, and at 160 pages he has the creator God. For us, that is made what could be a difficult really for the risen Jesus. My part of the Bible accessible to prayer is that young people will many teenagers. see the great hope that we have For youth leaders, the book in our great God.” will be a fresh resource they Days of Your Youth is published can put in the hands of the by Ark House Press.
THREE REASONS TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST ON FAITH Hannah Thiem The parish of Fairfield with Bossley Park has ventured into the realm of audio resources, with a podcast that accompanies the church’s 2021 vision: to build a resilient faith among its members and beyond. Each episode of Resilient Faith will create conversations that aim to get listeners thinking about how to strengthen their relationships with God. In the first episode, rector the Rev Stephen Shead and one of the assistant ministers, the Rev Vincent Chan, discuss personal quiet times. It’s not only encouraging for congregation members but a helpful listen for all Christians as we strive daily to grow in faith. Here are three reasons why you should give it a listen.
1 STRENGTHEN SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES We all need encouragement to stand firm during difficulties and dry periods. As Philippians 3:12 exhorts Christians to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”, we need to keep working on spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading and prayer throughout our lives to avoid becoming stagnant in our faith. Mr Shead’s input is particularly helpful in thinking about this important area, having researched and written about
quiet times for his book Growing in Prayer: Learning to pray with dependence and delight, which was released in May 2019.
The recent rise in Christian podcasting has indicated an increasing acknowledgement of the diverse ways in which people can learn.
The podcast dives into questions such as what “quiet time” means, what content it should contain, how to respond when the word feels dry, and how to approach Bible reading with children. Rather than coming off as a guilt trip, the hosts openly share their own struggles to maintain regular Bible times, and remind listeners that devotions can look different for everyone.
Surrounded by a multicultural community from many backgrounds, Fairfield with Bossley Park proclaims it is a “church for all nations”. Releasing daily devotions and listening resources such as podcasts is one practical way the church is living out this mission statement.
2 EXPLORE AUDIO QUIET TIMES In the Western evangelical tradition, we tend to assume a quiet time refers only to reading a physical Bible. While not denying that this format has many merits, Resilient Faith points to the growing recognition that it is not the only helpful method of spending time with God. Mr Shead outlines how the common understanding of a quiet time evolved from evangelistic university movements, where students were frequently strong in reading ability and understanding. Yet the Bible does not give us a prescriptive mandate on how to do our devotions.
3 CONSIDER HELPFUL PRACTICES There are plenty of Christian podcasts to choose from these days, but that doesn’t always result in high quality. Resilient Faith is a good example of how to thoughtfully use the audio platform to enrich the faith of listeners. Mr Chan and Mr Shead discuss common problems, use Scriptures to back up their assertions, and share their challenges honestly. It also stands out when the hosts close the episode by praying that listeners will encourage each other to grow closer to God and learn the discipline of delighting in him. Under God, listening to this podcast may help to achieve that aim. The first episode of Resilient Faith is on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 31
Change starts with one Tara Sing Just One: A Story of Hope Streaming on Kayo
his documentary explores the enormous impact one
person can have on another life, family and community by providing life-changing hope. In Just One: A Story of Hope, three NRL players take a trip to Uganda to see the work of Compassion International. The film follows former Parramatta Eels player Tim Mannah, along with Ryan Papenhuyzen and Christian Welch of the Melbourne Storm, to Kampala where they spend a week visiting Compassion projects and meeting Mannah’s sponsor child. They spend time with children in the local project, helping serve meals, playing soccer, dancing and seeing the different skills being taught at a skills development centre supported by The Mannah Foundation. The foundation was launched in 2013 to honour Tim Mannah’s late brother Jonny, and supports organisations and young people creating positive change in their communities. It partnered with Compassion Australia to raise funds to build the centre in West Kampala, providing opportunities for children to learn new skills and vocations from trained teachers. The documentary is full of cheeky smiles from playful kids waving at the camera, close-ups of chickens and goats wandering between houses, and snippets of everyday Ugandan life. But the real power is in the stories of former sponsor children.
The players spend time with community leader and former Compassion sponsor child Richmond Wandera, visiting the places where he lived as a child and hearing his story. After Wandera’s father died when he was a young boy, he and his family were plunged into “the deepest darkness possible” – losing their support, their source of income and their family home. “One person put up her hand and said, ‘I’m going to sponsor that kid’,” he says. “That one action saved my life. And now the entire region is beginning to feel the impact of one 15-year-old girl who put up her hand and said, ‘I’m willing to do it’.” For Mannah, the depth of his impact struck him while he sat with his sponsor child Briannah and her family, looking at a folder of letters he had sent. “It was probably the first time I was feeling choked up... To see photos of us in this folder, it made the connection more real and important,” he says. “Even though we live so far away… our lives are intertwined and we are connected on a deeper level.” Streaming on Kayo will hopefully inspire a new audience, who may not know much about the work of Compassion, to respond. Through seeing the tangible benefits of child sponsorship – the way in which hope transforms lives and communities – perhaps there will also be others who choose to put up their hands and change lives. SC