SouthernCross THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR SYDNEY ANGLICANS
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FINALLY... IN-PERSON CHURCH SERVICES ARE BACK!
Remembering a lost child • Reach your street Health worker care • Euthanasia inquiry
Opfin ffhfi doors!
Oh, happy day: The Rev Joe Wiltshire reopens Ingleburn church for services on October 17. photo: Patrick Masangkay
Judy Adamson Lockdown made the idea of walking back into church for a public health orders. So, what are parishes doing and how are they
service – and actually, you know, seeing people – almost surreal. A faring? Southern Cross contacted more than two dozen to find out. bit like having someone else in your home (or theirs) and returning For the Rev Joe Wiltshire and the team at Ingleburn, when to open to a physical workplace. We haven’t done all this in a very long time. was a no-brainer. Each church leadership group has had a range of issues to consider “Our thinking was based on doing as much as we could as as they reopen their doors, not least of which is abiding by various soon as we could,” he explains, adding that the date they chose
SouthernCross November 2021
volume 27 number 10
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First day: Congregation members back with bells (well, masks) on at Central Villages Anglican Church in Lawson. photo: Brendan Samuels was October 17. “We had been out of the Ingleburn building for December 5 [when restrictions are relaxed further].” 18 months since the first lockdown due to a building project. We At Seven Hills, which also reopened on the last Sunday in October, cleaned the church and put up the last cabinets the day before our well over half its members took part in a survey sent to them by first services… it’s a new start for everyone.” rector the Rev Mark Williamson, who says “just about all the responses... said they were at least considering coming back from the first Sunday”. He adds that the parish wanted to express its unity in Christ by reopening on a day when it wouldn’t be necessary “to police the vaccination status of people as they arrive”. But having said that, the church has made its 9am service available to double vaccinated people only – at least in the short term: “We do have members with significant health issues, [so we want] to provide a ‘safe’ space for them to attend,” he says. While everyone navigates the opening plans in their own parish, spare a thought for congregations that can’t choose when they return, such as Dundas-Telopea and Church@thepeak, which both meet on school grounds. “We’re in the dark for the time being,” says the Rev Stuart Maze from Church@thepeak. He explains that the church can’t return Listening and filming: Sermon time at Lawson. photo: Brendan Samuels to Peakhurst South Public School until after the Department of Education moves to Level 2 in its return-to-school plan – but it’s At Central Villages Anglican Church in Lawson, reopening day was not entirely clear when this will be. October 24. “We decided this because many of our people would A survey of his congregation has shown that 100 per cent of not have been fully vaccinated by October 17 but were soon after,” respondents would be fully vaccinated by October 31. Eighty per cent says senior minister the Rev Tom Melbourne. “Also, not needing to of these were “very keen” or “keen” to return to in-person services, worry about vaccination status forms was very desirable! whenever they will be. However, some did have concerns about “Our people also indicated that they were keen and ready and children being unvaccinated, or mixing vaccinated and unvaccinated raring to go once we could all be back together, so any delay would attendees, so Mr Maze organised an online “town hall” meeting for have been a setback.” members after a recent Sunday service. The majority of parishes contacted planned to open on October 31 or “We talked about how we should think biblically about returning to November 7 – wanting to ensure the 80 per cent double vaccination church, especially with those who have chosen to be vaccinated or mark had been well passed for those 16 and over, as well as providing not be vaccinated – respecting differences,” he says. “We also did extra time to organise safety arrangements and plan other ministries. a live Q&A with three doctors from church talking about vaccines, At Hurstville, rector the Rev Brian Tung says the decision to choose health risks, dispelling myths etc, which was super helpful in October 31 was “a balancing of the key factors: relationship and dampening anxiety and concerns.” connection; safety and health; mission and discipleship; resources In addition, as members can’t yet gather for church as they and operational complexity. normally would, “we’re encouraging people to meet in each other’s “The opening won’t be uniform across the church,” he adds. “Some homes to watch church on Sunday, and small groups will also start ministries will operate in-person fully, others will be staged, and to meet up again. It’s a halfway point from being at home alone, or others won’t be starting at all until 2022. Also, part of our planning just with your household, to being all together at church – whenever needed to accommodate contingencies – what happens before that happens.” SC 4
ChrisWianspeakouWaginsWasiWedsuicde Russell Powell Archbishop Kanishka Raffel has urged Christians to speak up dying would turn ‘being a burden’ into something chosen, rather
than something suffered.” Bishop Stead says with a parliamentary inquiry on the proposed laws now taking online submissions from the public, Christians should voice their opposition. “The use of opinion polls showing high support for VAD are misleading, because they have asked people who have little awareness of the great advances in palliative care in the past two decades. VAD is premised on ‘intolerable suffering’, but for those who have access to state-of-the-art palliative care, almost no-one needs to endure intolerable suffering. “Of course, our fundamental objection will be that it is God who determines the beginning and end of life, and it is never appropriate for the state to usurp God’s role.” SC
There are two ways that you can make a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021. Detailed written submissions can be lodged through the online form at https://is.gd/ vadsubmission, or you can make a short comment (up to 300 words) in an online survey at https://is.gd/vadsurvey. You have until November 22 to make your voice heard. These submissions should be in your own words. To read more about arguments against euthanasia, see here.
We’re hiring an Indigenous Service Advisor – South Coast This is an opportunity to: • Connect Indigenous communities with the services they need • Help shape the programs we offer at the Family Relationship Centre • Advise and equip staff with culturally appropriate resources • Regularly engage with the local Indigenous community If you have a heart for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, then Anglicare is where you can do the best work of your life.
against the assisted suicide bill, which he calls “a momentous shift in medical practice and community expectation” The bill, introduced into the NSW Parliament in October, uses the terminology of “voluntary assisted dying” but the Archbishop says it goes beyond the physician-assisted suicide it would legalise. “It marks the final abandonment of one of the cornerstones of Western civilisation: the sanctity of life,” the Archbishop says. “Advocates of Voluntary Assisted Dying – a deeply misleading cluster of words – have emphasised not the sanctity of life, but quality of life as subjectively experienced, and the primacy of autonomous choice.” The Archbishop, senior bishops and Christian medical groups have pointed out several ways the bill would not provide extra choice, as proponents argue, but would have a flow-on effect to all those battling terminal illness. “Experience overseas demonstrates that what begins as something only for the terminally ill experiencing unendurable suffering becomes something for those whose life has become unbearable,” says the Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead. “Once physicianassisted suicide becomes normal – even noble – then the pressure is on those who choose a natural death. “VAD is, in fact, taking away choices. In the long run, VAD will diminish the options for palliative care for everyone, as governments have an excuse to continue to under-fund palliative care. Effective palliative care may become a ‘choice’ only [for] those in capital cities or with private health insurance.” In media coverage of the debate, Sydney Anglican Louise Hungerford told the story of her husband Bernie and his 17-year fight with motor neurone disease, a crippling affliction as difficult as any quoted by pro-euthanasia advocates. Although her husband would have qualified for the proposed assisted dying laws well before his death, she says the extra time he spent with his family were “good years”. “He wanted to promote life, not to cut it short,” Mrs Hungerford said, adding that voluntary assisted dying “would not have been our philosophy because we knew that God was in control of everything”. Archbishop Raffel also spoke of the pressure that would be placed on the terminally ill. “Anyone who has spent years in caring professions, including religious workers like me, have heard on countless occasions vulnerable people express the selfless sentiment, ‘I don’t want to be a burden’,” he says. “It has also been my privilege, time and again, to hear family and other loved ones calmly, quietly and kindly assure such people that it is no burden to care for them. “But if ‘voluntary assisted dying’ were legalised and became part of the normal cultural fabric of dying, then such familial reassurances would have to compete with the patient’s awareness of an alternative route that might be taken. The normalisation of voluntary assisted
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How to prepare before you walk in the door.
Whach cho shxpshcch on your irsch days back ach church
Tara Sing The roadmap for churches to reopen was met with great YOU WILL BE SAFE
excitement by parish leaders and members alike. After more than We know that having safe church services honours the Bible’s three months of online church with no end date in sight, it was commands to love one another and look after the vulnerable. In wonderful to see this transform into joyful anticipation about response to the roadmap, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel said that meeting in person. churches will implement Government guidelines and COVID-safe There has been a long gap for everyone between physical church plans to make everyone as safe as possible. services, and really, many of us had almost forgotten what an When you attend your service, you can be confident that leaders at-church Sunday felt like. So as we head towards and pass our are following the guidelines and won’t take risks with your health. parish’s opening dates, there may be questions that linger. What is it going to feel like? Will things actually be back to normal? How EVERYONE WILL BE EXCITED TO SEE YOU should I prepare for re-rentry? Be assured that you will be welcomed through those doors, because Here are some things Christians can expect as they return to this is the beautiful reunion we have all been longing for! church: It will be a particularly exciting moment for your church staff. Ministry online can be draining and discouraging at times, and for YOU MIGHT FEEL NERVOUS leaders to see you faithfully turning up after the many months of With so many unknowns, it’s understandable to have some anxiety separation will be hugely encouraging. about church services returning and how they will run. It may be helpful to remind yourself in these moments that your whole church IT WILL BE FILLED WITH JOY family is also navigating these unknowns, so we can and should Even if the meeting doesn’t feel quite like normal, you will still be lean on each other for support. We are going through a moment in able to enjoy many of the familiar “church things” we have been history together! missing. Seeing church family, listening to a sermon with others, You can pray that this trial will unite the church, and grow us in hearing music played live and being back in the church building our love and compassion for one another. are just some of the normal joys we’ll be able to share. Most of all, it will be a great way for us to praise our heavenly Father and give IT WON’T FEEL NORMAL STRAIGHT AWAY glory to him. You can expect that some things will feel different or new. Service Meeting together means we get to actively participate in the elements will need to be adapted to keep everyone safe. Some details profound mystery of Christ and the Church. Meeting together means will be familiar from 2020, while others may not be. You should also we can experience the joy of the gospel corporately. Despite the expect that not everyone will be there at first. challenges of holding physical church services, all these blessings As we get used to these changes, it will be important for us to be make them worth overcoming! patient with each other, and to be praying for our staff to manage We are eagerly awaiting this opportunity to glorify and enjoy God the new procedures well. together as the body of Christ, his bride. SC 6
Local love for COVID-ravaged Oakhurst congregation.
Soufih Sudanffsff supporfi Judy Adamson
Long-distance care: Pastor Samuel Majok (right) holds a Bible study with a South Sudanese family based in Sweden.
Loving support from the Anglican community in Sydney has he rejoices that people are keen to be taught about Jesus and live
their lives God’s way, for many there is the insurmountable issue of distance. For example, one family of six South Sudanese siblings who attend his online church and Bible studies live in Gothenburg City in Sweden. They speak English but not Swedish, which they are required to learn. Mr Majok wants to support them, as they lost their parents while living as refugees in Africa, don’t attend a physical church and are the only Dinka-speaking people in their city. But he’s also aware of the impracticality of being their long-term pastor from the other side of the planet. “Pray that they will find a church where they will find Jesus; pray that they will remain united as a family and love each other.” He also asks for prayer about how to effectively balance his time between his responsibilities as a husband and father, a pastor to a physical church community and the online ministry. “Pray that God will give me his wisdom to be able to arrange my time in a godly way,” he says. SC
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meant the world to the South Sudanese congregation at Oakhurst. September Southern Cross reported the anguish of the congregation at losing Arop Mayen – the wife of its assistant pastor John Deng – to COVID, as well as the job losses, financial difficulties and other struggles many members were experiencing because of lockdown or being COVID-positive. However, the congregation’s pastor, the Rev Samuel Majok, is now full of joy and thanksgiving at how Sydney Anglicans responded when they heard about these troubles. “We have received close to $40,000 worth of support,” he says. “People affected by COVID, we have been able to send them [supermarket] vouchers every fortnight, and we were also able to support John’s family. It’s been a big relief to them and a big relief to the people of my church. “Really, it’s amazing. These people who support us, they don’t even know us – they’ve never seen us before – but they’ve been touched by our situation. And that’s how the Bible says Christianity is: that we should not just look to our own interests but also to our brothers and sisters.” Mr Majok says money and vouchers came from individuals and churches. The congregation also received support from Moore College, Sydney Missionary and Bible College, Anglican Aid and Anglicare. “I’m still receiving phone calls of prayer, and some people still send messages asking how they can support my ministry and how they can pray for us – and when I ask, ‘How did you hear about our ministry?’ they say, ‘Oh, we read it in Southern Cross’,” he says. Much to his surprise, Mr Majok also received a phone call from Archbishop Raffel. “It’s a big thing in my culture for a simple, small man like me to receive contact from a high bishop. I was so thankful to God, and I really appreciated it. “And his phone call actually empowered me, that we are all equal in the sight of God regardless of what position we have... I was so strong after that to [continue my work] and give people Scripture and wisdom from the Bible. That was really good.”
PANDEMIC POSITIVES Another unexpected positive has been how the pandemic has resulted in the growth of the congregation’s ministry. Mr Majok began online services in the Dinka language in March last year, and followers have increased exponentially over time. There are now about 13,000 people viewing the services from all over Australia, Europe, North America, Africa and the Subcontinent. “Many people who had not been to a physical church for a very long time have decided to join our online services,” he says. “The word of God is powerful – it cannot be stopped by COVID-19!” Testimonies have come in by email that the ministry has saved marriages and spoken to people’s hearts at a time of need. But while SouthernCross
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Locafi church ffinds uniqu way o suppor ffron fiin work rs
Keep it sweet: Deb and Ross from Blakehurst drop off fruit, lollies and hygiene packs at the Kogarah Ambulance Superstation.
Being a healthcare worker during a pandemic is a unique – shortages, and isolating from family and friends to avoid putting
and challenging – experience. For many staff in our local hospitals and paramedic services, it involves wearing uncomfortable protective gear for 12 hours a day, giving up leave to help with staff
The centre for all information about our churches and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic in faithfulness to God and love of all people. • IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS • ARCHBISHOP’S UPDATES • PRAYER
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their health at risk. These are some of the burdens that Blakehurst Anglican sought to lighten, led by its senior minister the Rev Ross Ryan. For the past few months, the parish has taken part in a range of practical initiatives to show support and love for local healthcare workers from St George Hospital and the Kogarah Ambulance Superstation.
Coffee vouchers: Daniel from Kay Geez Cafe at Kogarah. Church members have raised $8500 in support of their local healthcare workers, organised the drop-off of fruit, snacks and meal vouchers to staff at the hospital and paramedic station, as well as making up trays for tea rooms to distribute across the hospital. Another initiative was providing food and coffee vouchers for local cafes so they are able to provide a discount for all nurses, doctors, paramedics and other health workers who visit. Mr Ryan says the program has had a significant impact, not just SouthernCross
How Blakehurst Anglican is showing Jesus’ love.
Practical support: (above): hygiene pack delivery to St George Hospital; (right) hand-knitted ear savers. for the healthcare professionals, but also for local businesses. “We’ve bought 550 coffees from local cafes around the hospital, which have seen their business drop dramatically,” he says. “It’s had an extraordinary financial impact.” Many of the health workers have shifts upwards of 12 hours in length, without any opportunity to return home and access basic toiletries. To address this need, Blakehurst church also started distributing hygiene packs to give staff a chance to freshen up after a long day. Mr Ryan says the team has been receiving positive feedback, with one nurse saying it brought her to tears knowing people were caring for her. “A simple gesture can mean so much,” he says, emphasising that it was connections with the community as well as support the church was able to provide that was making the difference. The parish has also been encouraging its members to knit or crochet “ear savers”, which help make tightly fitted masks more
comfortable during the long days. This has also been a way of motivating members to be creative in lockdown and share their efforts with each other. In coming months, as the burden of the pandemic increasingly shifts onto frontline workers, efforts like these will mean even more to those spending their days in crowded hospitals. The local government area of Georges River Council has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and local hospitals have had multiple outbreaks. These initiatives have mobilised the congregation at Blakehurst to be actively involved in serving their community, giving generously and modelling Jesus’ heart for the vulnerable. At a time when reaching the local community has felt difficult, the project is also a great encouragement that the pandemic does not limit Jesus’ love. With some creativity, there are still many opportunities for churches to be a light to those around them and support those doing it tough. SC
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COVID hasn’fi sfioppffd CMS work
Ministry and training continues: Students in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Judy Adamson With borders closed for more than 18 months it might seem like last year – although those who arrived more recently had the rude
missionary work will have stopped– or at least been treading water – during that time. But nothing could be further from the truth. “Mission is never put on hold!” says the executive director of the Church Missionary Society NSW & ACT, the Rev Canon John Lovell. He says missionary training at St Andrew’s Hall has been able to continue right through the pandemic, in various contexts – with masks as needed, sometimes onscreen and at times with staff living in community with students in order to teach them face to face. “We do have some missionaries who have been through St Andrew’s Hall, done home assignment and are still waiting to go to Southeast Asia,” he adds. “But people on location have continued their ministries, and there have been others... who have extended their terms rather than trying to travel back to Australia during the pandemic. “So, the work has been continuing... There have been disruptions and it has looked different, but we’re at the point now where there’s an excitement building – a real sense of optimism that borders currently closed will open in the very near future.” Canon Lovell says getting missionaries back to Australia has been “an ongoing saga and it changes each week”. However, a number of families have been able to return since the pandemic began early 10
shock of going into lockdown once they got here. Despite all the work that has continued, there are some elements of CMS’s ministry that have not been possible during the pandemic: in-person pastoral visits with missionaries, catching up with local mission partners in-country and exploring new opportunities. “Pastoral visits have only been possible online and it’s just not the same as staying with a family and being able to have that time with them,” Canon Lovell says. “When pastoral visits happen we also meet with our local ministry partners, and those relationships are much more difficult to maintain online because of the language and culture differences. “There are also plans to visit new locations and seek out opportunities in places where we have not worked in the past, but where we have people keen to serve. We visit and establish local partnerships for our missionaries, so a number of those visits are being planned. “We look forward to 2022 being quite a busy year as we catch up with a lot of people and reconnect with our many gospel partners around the globe. We give thanks to God for sustaining his people through this challenging season and rejoice in the continued work of gospel mission!” SC SouthernCross
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2021 | $22,350
Annual remembrance service at West Pennant Hills.
Burdfins sharfid aff osff chi d sfirvicfi Russell Powell “No parent should have to bury their own child” are words you
often hear at the funerals of those who die young. The phrase survives because it is universally true and heartfelt. The loss of a child is a burden unlike any other kind of loss. This recognition led to the establishment, 30 years ago, of the annual Service of Remembrance for Children who have died or are missing. “It’s 34 years since my son was killed on his bike, but it is just so important when you see these people come together from everywhere,” says the service’s founder and organiser, Lynne Molan. “At the service, you can hear a pin drop and then afterwards, when we have our supper there, everyone is talking to everybody. Sometimes they’ve never met in their lives before, but they’ve just got this common bond.” Mrs Molan, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2017 for her work, has been the driving force behind the service since it began in St Andrew’s Cathedral in 1991 – moving three years later to St Matthew’s, West Pennant Hills. This year’s service on December 7 will be both onsite and online. The timing, close to Christmas, is deliberate. “We want to provide some support and hope for people at this time,” Mrs Molan says. “It’s very difficult in those earlier days when you’re walking through a shopping centre [at Christmas]. This might sound quite insignificant, but everybody is so happy. And, yes, it is a wonderful time and the carols and that’s all beautiful, but it’s like having a knife go round and round in your back because this child [is not with you]... My son was 15.” The children who have been lost are of any and every age. In 2020, there were three stillborn children remembered, three who would have been in their 50s and everything in between. “A child is a child,” Mrs Molan says simply. “We used to have the parents place a flower on the communion table in recognition of the life of the child. But of course, last year we were only allowed, I think, 80 in the church. So it went online as well. [We had] a tribute list... the names and ages of the children are read and appear on the screen and that was very effective.” Archbishop Kanishka Raffel will speak via video this year. It’s a Christian service but people from all backgrounds come – and, for some, it is the only time they enter a church in a year. Lynne Molan calls the event “user-friendly”. “People come to the service because their child has died, not necessarily because they’re a Christian,” she says. “The introductory prayers in the service are ‘Come, God, and meet with us here’ and the responsive prayers at the end are ‘safe now in God’s hands’. My voice cracks every time I say it.” It’s hoped the move to a hybrid online service will encourage more people to share the news about it, and provide the opportunity for more bereaved parents to attend. One family has attended every service since their child died in 1995. 12
“We want to provide some support and hope for people”: Lynne Molan with her son Paul.
THE ONGOING PAIN Mrs Molan shared a special insight about her reaction to her son’s death. “That first night when my child was killed I remember looking at my digital radio and how the numbers used to turn over. Each minute, the number would click over. I hated it because I felt it was taking me a little bit further away from Craig. “Now, 34 years down the track, nothing takes me away from Craig. I feel close to him all the time. But in those early days, you just feel like someone wrenched your stomach out of you.” She explains the experiences are those that only other grieving parents will understand. “The thing that gave me the greatest support when Craig was killed, initially, was people who knew him and loved him. They could share stories about his life with me. But as they moved on, their lives all went back to normal... But mine didn’t, and what I needed then was people who understood what I was going through.” For at least one night every year, the Service of Remembrance provides that understanding. For Lynne Molan, it is as important now as ever. “I will die always trying to do what I can for people whose child has died, because to me it has been the most devastating experience of my life and it doesn’t stop.” SC Service of Remembrance for Children who have died or are missing is on Tuesday, December 7 at 7.30pm. For more information see http://stmatts. org.au/events/remember. To have your family included please email the full name and age of the child/children to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 9479 3700 as soon as possible. SouthernCross
WHO ARE YOU RAISING UP?
Global South churches sound clear scriptural call.
“God has cafififfd us… o s and o r hff ruff gospfffi wi nffss”
Global South leaders: (clockwise from bottom left): Archbishop Melter Tais of South East Asia, Archbishop Mouneer Anis from Alexandria, Chilean Archbishop Tito Zavala and Archbishop Justin Badi Arama from South Sudan.
The Global South grouping of the Anglican Communion is who are also working hard to build co-operation across Anglican moving away from being based on geography to being founded on doctrinal orthodoxy. This is a significant move for the group, which – at its first meeting in 1994 – gathered churches from all parts of the Southern Hemisphere including Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. “With the theological diversity in the Anglican Communion growing beyond the bounds of the plain reading of Holy Scripture, and the unchecked spread of revisionism in the Anglican communion, it has become necessary for the Global South body to have a clear doctrinal foundation,” said its new chairman, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama from South Sudan. “With that foundation clearly in place, we want our Global South fellowship to major on gospel mission and ministry in the world.” Archbishop Arama then quoted Billy Graham. “The famous evangelist of our generation said, ‘I want to take Christianity back to the book of Acts where the first-century followers of Christ were accused of turning the Roman Empire upside down’. I believe God has called us in the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans to stand for the true gospel witness in our time.” The Global South group has just held its eighth conference, this time online, with a series of Bible studies and business sessions attended by 90 delegates from 16 provinces and one diocese. The delegates were primates, archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity. Representatives from Sydney included Archbishop Raffel, the Bishop for International Relations Malcolm Richards and the director of Anglican Aid, the Rev Canon Tim Swan. Said Canon Swan: “It has been terrifically encouraging to join with bishops and Anglican leaders from right around the world, who share our commitment to biblically faithful Anglican ministry [and]
provinces to strengthen and grow God’s church. “We were seeing names and faces on the Zoom screen representing the geographical and cultural spread of the Anglican Communion, and praying in small groups each day with faithful believers from various countries. One evening I was praying with a former student from Chile, a lady from the Solomon Islands and a bishop from Sabah.” The final conference communiqué laid out the challenges facing Global South churches – including political upheaval, the pandemic, the effects of climate change, persecution of Christians and the spread of secularism, liberalism, revisionist theology and the prosperity gospel. The statement committed the group to “continue to be ‘a voice’ (Isa 40:3) calling the Anglican Communion to be faithful to the authority of Scripture and the historic faith handed down to us by our Anglican heritage. “In the power of the Spirit, we will remain steadfast against compromise and pressures from the surrounding culture,” the statement continued. “In God’s grace, the Global South Fellowship will support and nurture Anglican provinces, dioceses and networks of churches that hold on to the orthodox teaching of holy Scripture across our worldwide Communion.” Archbishop Raffel, who joined from his office in Sydney, said it was “a joy and privilege to meet [online] with Global South brothers and sisters from around the world, and to say ‘Amen’ to this clear statement of biblical orthodoxy, gospel partnership and mission enterprise”. SC You can read the communiqué online at the Global South website: https://www.thegsfa.org
Mission without hindrance Kanishka Raffel
love the vision statement of the Church Missionary
Society: A world that knows Jesus. Every word in the statement is loaded with biblical truth. The scope of Christian mission is the same world that is the arena of God’s love – “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus says in his high priestly prayer in John 17: “this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (17:3). The fullness of life that Jesus says he has come to bring (John 10:10) is the fullness of life in personal knowledge of the true God through relationship with his Son, Jesus our rescuer King. Knowing Jesus is knowing life abundant and life eternal, precisely because he is the One who was in the beginning with God and was God, through whom all things came into being, and in whom is life – which is the light of all people and shines in the darkness (John 1:1-5). Here is vision that rings with soul-strengthening, heartswelling, Christ-exalting promise and purpose! I have been delighted to be a member of CMS for many years,
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and as Archbishop of Sydney it is now my privilege to also serve as the president of CMS Australia. At a recent meeting of the federal council, the 40-odd (they’re not odd at all!) members from each branch of the fellowship reflected on the experience of our 201 missionaries serving in 41 “gospel-poor” countries around the world over the past 20 months of pandemic. Of course, it has been hugely disruptive and challenging. And yet, in God’s providence, the work has continued, even amid much struggle, trial and tears. CMS Australia’s international director, the Rev Canon Peter Rodgers, reminded us: “CMS has been sending missionaries since the 1890s and continued to do so through two world wars, the Spanish influenza pandemic, the Great Depression and endless other conflicts, revolutions and natural disasters.” Of course, this was never a matter of mere stubbornness, let alone recklessness. CMS in the past, as much as today, has been prayerful, thoughtful and diligent in the deployment of its missionaries. In the past 15 months, fewer than 10 “missionary units” (families or individuals) have needed to retire directly as
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a result of the pandemic or have been unable to travel to their intended locations. Like so many other Australians overseas, CMS missionaries have also encountered difficulties returning to Australia. But the Lord has provided. Although some have tested positive for COVID19, none have required hospitalisation, for which we thank God. It is instructive to reflect on the experience of the apostle Paul while he was detained for two years under house arrest in Rome. At the end of Acts, the writer Luke tells us: “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (28:30-31). It is rather striking that the last word in the book of Acts is “unhinderedly” (it’s one word in the original Greek) – or “without hindrance”. Acts records the enthralling story of the beginnings of the mission of Jesus as the apostles, equipped by the Holy Spirit, begin to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sin in Jesus’ name. Paul’s ministry is accompanied by riots, imprisonment, stonings and shipwreck. Finally, he arrives in the heart of the Empire – the centre of the known world – Rome, where he is detained (at his own expense!) and constantly accompanied by “the soldier who guarded him” (Acts 28:16). And yet, Luke completes his record of early Christian mission by describing Paul’s ministry as unhindered – without restraint or limitation! This is clear from the record of Acts and the rest of the New Testament. Acts 28:23 tells us that the Jewish residents of Rome “came to him at his lodging in greater numbers”, so that “from morning to evening he... [was] testifying to the kingdom of God”, seeking to “convince them about Jesus from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets”.
Some indeed, were convinced, while others “disbelieved”. At which point, as he had done so many times previously, Paul turned his message and ministry to the Gentiles: “let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen” (Acts 28:28). No doubt, Paul’s guard – the Roman soldiers – heard the gospel many times! Not only did Paul continue to have an audience for his gospel message while he was “locked down”, he also used his time of isolation to write what we know today as the Prison Letters – Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. In God’s providence, the Lord provided truth, wisdom and hope to those earliest Christian communities through the letterwriting ministry of the detained apostle, and then preserved his Spirit-breathed words and witness to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus, and to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness the Lord’s church through the ages. Likewise, I am deeply humbled by and thankful for the way CMS missionaries have been engaged through this worldwide, idol-shattering pandemic to continue to make Christ known among the nations. Some have been in Australia, joining online Bible study groups and inquirers’ courses taking place among people in Europe or Asia or South America – at early hours and late nights Australian time! Some have been on location, ministering as they have been able – in online groups sharing the word of God, or making compassionate visits to deliver food and essential items, to reach out in caring conversation and prayer to people overwhelmed, frightened and in need. Pandemic or no, the word of the Lord is not chained! I consider it one of the great joys of my life as a follower of Jesus to partner with others in CMS to see a world that knows Jesus. SC
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Christ’s supreme and sufficient sacrifice
he book of Hebrews was written to encourage weary
Christians who were flagging in their faith. The recipients had demonstrated their love for God by helping his people (6:10). They had endured suffering and disgrace for Christ (10:32-34).But as they ran the race of the Christian life their knees had begun to grow weak (12:12): they were lethargic in listening to God’s word (5:11), and they needed to be exhorted to persevere (10:35-36) and not drift away (2:1). Perhaps you can relate. Do you find yourself less confident in your faith than you once were? Less hungry for God’s word? Less eager to approach God in prayer? Do you find it harder than previously to live for the world to come rather than this world? The antidote Hebrews prescribes for such spiritual lethargy is a clearer vision of the greatness of Christ and of the salvation we have in him. Hebrews 10:1-18 comes at the climax of the writer’s argument that the new covenant, of which Christ is mediator, is vastly superior to the old covenant given through Moses. And here he shows us the magnificence of Christ’s death by comparing it to the sacrifices of the Old Testament. OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES COULD NOT TAKE AWAY SIN For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshippers, having once been cleansed, would 18
no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:1-4 Prior to these verses, the writer has been explaining the arrangement and functioning of the tabernacle where God met with his people in Old Testament times. He describes the tabernacle as a “model” and a “shadow” of God’s heavenly dwelling place, the true tabernacle on which the earthly one was patterned (8:2, 5; similarly 9:23-24). The sacrifices of the Old Testament law also belong to that shadow world, illustrating the way that God would take away sin but not doing so themselves. When Moore College was planning its new Learning and Teaching Centre, an architect’s model was constructed to show what the building would look like. But the model was not the actual building, and it couldn’t do what the actual building was intended to do. In the same way, the Old Testament tabernacle and its sacrifices were illustrative. They illustrated that forgiveness of sins required the shedding of blood (9:22), but by their repetition they also pointed to the fact that the blood of animals was not sufficient. If it had been, no further sacrifices would have been needed. Worshippers would have walked away from the tabernacle with clean consciences and full access to God. That’s not to say that the Old Testament sacrifices had no effect. They offered a partial and interim solution, cleansing the “flesh” although not the conscience (9:9-10, 13). But their annual repetition was a reminder that sin had not been fully and finally dealt with. Many of us have recently received one of the COVID-19 SouthernCross
Take hold of what Jesus has done on our behalf.
vaccines. They have been found to be highly effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death from COVID. But they are still only a partial solution. They make living with the virus in our midst less dangerous, but they do not eradicate it. The Australian Government has already ordered a large number of additional vaccine doses to use as booster shots. Each booster received will serve as a reminder that the virus is still at large and that the previous doses have not eliminated it from our lives. So it was with the Old Testament sacrifices. They made it less dangerous for a sinful people to live with God in their midst but they did not ultimately solve the problem. CHRIST’S DEATH WAS THE SACRIFICE GOD ALWAYS WANTED Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book’.” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will”. He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:5-10 In verses 5-10 the writer takes us to Psalm 40, a psalm of David, which he interprets as speaking of Christ. His point is that the Old Testament itself shows that God’s ultimate desire was for Christ’s sacrifice, not for the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament law. To be sure, God commanded sacrifices and offerings, but only as a provisional measure. Did Moore College desire an architect’s model of the Learning and Teaching Centre? Well, yes and no. What we really wanted was the centre itself. The model was useful in the interim, but it wasn’t ultimate. Once the building was complete the model became redundant, superseded by the real thing. In the same way, Christ’s offering of himself made the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament obsolete. Their purpose had been served. By Christ’s offering of himself we have been sanctified once for all, meaning that we have been made fit to approach God and to serve him. No wonder the writer calls this “such a great salvation” (2:3)!
for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God”. Job done. No repeat needed. If by faith we share in Christ’s death, we have been “perfected for all time”. We need no further qualification to approach God. Hundreds of years before Christ, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah announcing that one day he would make a new covenant that would enable his people to be fully and finally forgiven. That day has now come. If you belong to Christ, your sins will not be held against you. They will not keep you from drawing near to God in prayer or from sharing in the blessings of the world to come. You’re clean. Forgiven. Imagine if there was a COVID-19 vaccine that eradicated the virus fully and finally. Imagine not needing to be concerned about catching the virus or passing it on to others. Imagine not having to practice social distancing. Imagine knowing that you would never need another booster. Wouldn’t you want that vaccine? And if you’d received it, wouldn’t you want to enjoy the freedom it offered, rather than distancing yourself as though the virus were still an issue? In the same way, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to take hold of the sacrifice Christ offered on our behalf – not to distance ourselves from God but to draw near to him with confidence. Like the first recipients of Hebrews, we need to persevere in our faith if we are to benefit from all God has promised (10:36). May this vision of the greatness of Christ’s death encourage us to do so. SC
Dr Chris Thomson lectures in Old Testament and Ministry at Moore College.
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CHRIST’S SACRIFICE DEALT WITH SIN ONCE AND FOR ALL And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds”, then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more”. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:11-18 We’ve seen that the repetition of the Old Testament sacrifices demonstrated that they couldn’t take away sin. They didn’t perfect those who approached God. They couldn’t cleanse consciences. By contrast, “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice SouthernCross
How to minister to neurodivergent kids Hannah Thiem
any churches are ill-equipped to effectively
minister to kids with different neurological needs. The Rev Kate Haggar, a children’s ministry advisor for Youthworks, believes this suggests kids’ ministry leaders need to consider how to be inclusive of a range of children. This reflects Jesus’ example of love and compassion to those who did not “fit” societal norms. In addition, catering to different needs and worldviews to more effectively communicate the gospel is a strong theme throughout the New Testament. Paul famously highlighted this truth when he said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). The gospel is good news for everyone – and that includes children of all abilities or needs. Miss Haggar says most parishes don’t have bad intentions, but simply lack the time and resources to consider children with different needs such as ADHD, autism and dyslexia. To help, she has provided some simple strategies churches can implement to start more effectively discipling neurodivergent kids.
TALK TO PARENTS FIRST This should always be our starting point. “[Parents] don’t know it all, but they have some strategies and external support,” Miss Haggar says. Parents are the best resource because they know their children better than anyone – so keep these lines of communication open. Rather than us guessing or making assumptions about a child, having a conversation with parents about their needs can be the best way to love and care for them. It also models that our ministry to kids is a partnership with parents. ADAPT STRATEGIES FROM HOME When chatting to parents, Miss Haggar recommends asking about what routines and structures they have in place at home, and considering how these can be adapted to your ministry. Many neurodivergent children struggle with new environments 20
and unpredictability, so recreating things that are familiar is a loving way to make them feel welcome at church. It can also be helpful to know what strategies a child responds to best to help them engage with the lesson. CREATE A “SAFE SPACE” For children who struggle with sensory processing issues – such as being overcome by sound or light – kids’ ministry can be extremely overwhelming. To be inclusive of these children in our ministries, Miss Haggar suggests creating a safe space away from everyone else for them to be alone and learn in their own way. For example, one strategy could be to set up a teepee in the corner for them to sit and read the Bible story with items around them that feel more comforting and familiar. That way, we are still teaching each child the gospel, but in a way that is more accessible to their needs. Another option is taking a child to one side for a one-to-one conversation, which many benefit them immensely. BE FLEXIBLE Most of all, Miss Haggar suggests that kids’ ministry leaders learn to be flexible and allow children to do something different if it works best for them. By making an effort to get to know each child and what engages them, we can more effectively reach them with the gospel. For example, if a child wants to sit by themselves, it could be an opportunity for them to read the Bible story as suggested above, or draw it to present to the class. The key message is that we need to allow for these differences rather than forcing a child to participate in the group activity. Miss Haggar believes that using these strategies to better minister to kids of different abilities is crucial. “If you aren’t able to stop and think about what the child needs, we could be turning them away from Jesus,” she says. SC If you or your church would like more suggestions for effectively ministering to neurodivergent kids, contact Kate Haggar (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further advice. SouthernCross
Any hope for us on a hot planet?
e are likely to see longer fire seasons, worse
droughts and more frequent floods and cyclones if the earth’s temperature heats up by just 1.5°C. In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report indicated we could be only 10 years away from this becoming a reality. In its most comprehensive report on climate change, the IPCC observed that, by 2050, humanity was on a trajectory to heat up the earth by 2°C and called on policy makers around the globe to take urgent action. The hotter the earth’s temperature, the more difficult it will be for humanity to survive, let alone thrive. These major climate changes also have the potential to negatively affect our agriculture, fishing and farming industries, impacting food supply worldwide. It’s easy to be fearful of the bleak future painted by the report, and overwhelmed by the change it would take to reduce carbon emissions globally. However, understanding the place of creation and climate change in the Bible helps us face the future calmly.
FEAR GOD, NOT THE FUTURE The Rev Dr Lionel Windsor says acknowledging God’s sovereignty over all things, including creation, helps us avoid despair and complacency. Mr Windsor is a New Testament lecturer at Moore College and the author of Is God Green?, which explores how humans should relate to God’s creation. “Sometimes we need to be motivated by fear, but the problem is that ongoing human fear as a motivation doesn’t work long term, and ends in despair,” he says. “The flipside is complacency. We hear the doom and gloom and we say, ‘It can’t be true so I don’t need to care’ or, ‘God has it under control so I don’t need to worry’... SouthernCross
[but] fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. “We do need to feel the seriousness of things but God is the one we fear first. That’s not a kind of fear that leads to despair or complacency, but it leads us to confidence, action and obedience. If you want to know how to act rightly towards creation, understand who God is. He does call us to account, but he is great and wonderful and sovereign. “There are a lot of things we don’t know about creation but, in knowing God, we can act rightly and responsibly towards creation.” THE RIGHT FEAR LEADS TO THE RIGHT ACTION When we consider where we fit in the doctrine of creation, and couple that with the fear of the Lord, we can form a healthy response to environmental reports. “We are put in creation to work the garden and to keep it,” Dr Windsor says. “Our job is not just to do whatever we want with creation and make creation serve our needs, because we’re supposed to guard and keep creation. It’s for God’s purposes. But we’re [also] not just here to make sure nothing happens to creation either.” He adds that human industry is a good thing and it can have consequences that are good – as well as negative consequences that, at first, we may not see or understand. For example, “the coal industry is good, not demonic, and climate science is good inherently, it’s not demonic. But climate science tells us things about the coal industry we didn’t know when we started it, especially as our work in this industry has [grown]. Both are part of human wisdom and need to be incorporated in [this discussion]”. Sin also impacts our relationship with creation – and affects 21
creation itself. However, the fallen nature of the world leaves no room for complacency. “We all sin together and we bear responsibility together,” Dr Windsor says. “Romans 8 speaks about the future of creation being bound up with our future because the futility of creation is bound up with our sin.” Drawing from Hosea, he adds that while we can’t undo the damage of the fall upon this world, repenting from sin has a positive impact. “Christians should inherently be repenting from sin and leading the way, and Christians have repented of the great sin of turning our backs on the Creator. “One thing we keep in mind is God’s sovereignty over creation. It makes us humble, and humility and the fear of the Lord lead to wisdom.” HEALTHY FEAR LEADS TO LOVE Dr Windsor says a healthy fear of the Lord should lead Christians to love God and their neighbour, which will affect how we treat the world and approach environmental issues – “as long as we have a big view of love and we don’t try and limit it. One of the things about climate issues is that [they’re] complex. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it’s complex”. The complexities of loving your neighbour can mean that sometimes a co-ordinated and organised effort is required, especially if campaigning for policy change at a government level. “That’s why it [can] involve politics, and all those things are messy and complex and people disagree about how to do it,” he says. “[For example], we need to think about having to use the massive benefits of technology responsibly. If we discover problems – if we use mining, computers, phones – we need to take responsibility corporately. Since technology has extended to this broad, complex thing we are all happy to use, our responsibility should [be] broad as well. “Should we be committed to doing right by the world? Yes. But are we committed to having a particular view on how that happens? No. We’re not mandated by God to do that.” SHIFT THE FOCUS Loving your neighbour can be simple at an individual level. But when we examine our hearts, greed is often an underlying cause for our actions. “You can do things yourself to put greed to death,” Dr Windsor says. “When did you last buy a phone? That’s a question we could ask – did we need the new phone? It uses a large number of resources. It’s not bad to own a phone, but can we do less and can we not be so greedy? If you can do that, it’s a large witness to others. The power that any company has comes from us as consumers… If we make a change, it might not make a huge difference but it will make a difference.” It is also right to ask our governments to enact safeguards and laws so that companies acting out of self-interest “will have limits placed on what they can and can’t do”. Dr Windsor observes that if we start to say someone should “know” the most environmentally friendly tomato to buy, this is a recipe for disaster. However, “if you say that it’s down to the individual to put greed to death, whether or not we buy the right tomato, we’re going to be less greedy. In the end, we need to keep coming back to Jesus – what he has done and what he will do with our world.” SC 22
Reach your street
he good news of Jesus is for everyone, including those
who live nearby. If we believe that every person was created by God in his image – and is therefore guilty of rejecting God and living in sin – and if we know how they can be saved through Christ, then how can we do anything else other than tell them the gospel? Here are nine ways that we can think, act and pray as we share our faith with our neighbours.
Reaching neighbours can be a long game Let’s think about the people who live around us. Maybe they’re in your apartment building, in your complex, or on your street. There is an urgency in sharing the gospel with people. We don’t know when Jesus will return and judge the world. However, we may have to live among our neighbours for a long time. Acting in haste, while it can have caring intentions, isn’t always the wisest thing to do as it can burn bridges. There are unique opportunities to build connections and get to know your neighbours in the first few months of living beside them, but different opportunities come after three years, or six years, or 10. Always be on the lookout for the new ways you will have to love and share the gospel as time goes on.
Don’t wait for opportunities Sometimes our neighbours will be open with us and it will be easy to share our faith. Other times, we will need to do the hard work of initiating connections and forming relationships with those around us. We may need to be bold and creative in finding ways to reach out and form connections – whether that be by making the most of key events or displaying random acts of kindness like dropping homemade cookies around (or whatever may be COVID safe at the time). SouthernCross
aW ys to share the gospel with your neighbours.
Make the most of key events and moments Christmas, Easter, moving in, strata meetings – even a quick chat as you both check the mailbox – are all chances to build a foundation for sharing our lives and the gospel. Be the neighbour who sends Christmas cards, or who takes around hot cross buns and chocolates at Easter. Hand deliver them if you can, as it’s a great chance to say “Hi”. When a new neighbour moves in, take the first step to greet them and welcome them to the street.
Spend time outside If you’re not seen by your community, you can’t get to know your community. The best opportunities I have had to get to know my neighbours have been as I’m checking my mailbox, washing the car out the front, or walking down the street with the dog or the baby.
Be an inviter Even if they say “No”, an invitation tells your neighbours that you thought about them and so is usually received positively. Whether you’re inviting them to visit your church at Christmas, or over for afternoon tea, taking the first step is often scary but a great thing to do.
Value the small moments It’s easy to get caught up in trying to convert someone and we can quickly be disappointed when we don’t get to explain who Jesus is. However, even small interactions are an opportunity to show something of who God is and how God loves his people.
Actions speak louder than words Don’t let your actions undermine the gospel message before you get to share it. Do your best to be a considerate neighbour who is SouthernCross
easy to live near. Treat all your neighbours with respect, grace and compassion, especially if they’re difficult.
Nothing happens without prayer Without God, all our efforts are in vain. Prayer is also a great place to start. Pray for the households surrounding you, for those with whom you share a fence, driveway or street. Pray for opportunities to appear, for boldness to create connections, and for soft hearts and open ears to hear the good news of Jesus and be saved.
It’s never too late to start I was feeling really defeated about four years after my husband and I moved into our first home. There were six other units in our complex and we hadn’t even had coffee with any of our neighbours – let alone invited someone to church or shared the gospel with them. I wondered whether it was even worth still living there. Maybe we had wasted all our opportunities and it would be easier to move somewhere else and start again with new neighbours. It wasn’t until the seventh and eighth years after we had moved to the complex that we had our best years of connecting and getting to know our neighbours. We would have long chats in the driveway, we were comfortable to borrow sugar and milk, and we dropped around gifts and baked goods for each other. Being a new mum at the time, I felt so looked after by my neighbours. Staying at home during the first lockdown of March 2020 also helped us deepen our friendships. It’s easy to feel like we’re getting nowhere with our neighbours but it’s never too late to start reaching out. The key principle is to build genuine connections in order to love our neighbours better. Whether we start with a prayer, a “Hello”, or a care package, there are plenty of ways to share the gospel. SC 23
The strategic place of school ministry
he late Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United
Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013, famously said: “Armies defend nations; schools defend civilisation”. To appropriate his maxim in terms of Christian thinking, what might schools do to defend Christian civilisation in the days of cancel culture and woke predilections, and what might schools do to advance the gospel? It is often difficult to perceive these issues or know how to take them forward helpfully. It is easy to be non-comprehending of the current social causes from within the bastion of the Christian bubble. We know that the Lord will triumph and continue to call out a people for himself, but in the wake of the decline of
Christian practice and Christian influence, this is hardly a cause for triumphalism. Influential Christian Professor Carl Trueman – in an online article titled The rise of psychological man and how to respond – says, “the needs of this hour are not so much that of explaining the church to the world. First, we need to explain the world to the church”. What, then, is going on in the world of young people? In my immediate domain, that of concern for youth and youth ministry, youth culture is dominated by the Happiness movement – the sense that the goal of a person’s life is to be permanently, constantly happy. Yet, paradoxically, there is a tsunami of mental SouthernCross
Time to think strategically about ministry outside our churches.
health issues in evidence across the Western world. It seems to me that we need to speak theologically into the space inhabited by young people, including into their apocalyptic concern about climate change threatening to extinguish all human life, their concern about injustice and their horror at a geopolitical situation that reveals the despair caused by revolution, fundamentalism, oppression and famine. Furthermore, we have something to say to their current dilemmas, where hopes that sexual consent education will resolve all problems to do with sexual liberalisation would appear to be unduly optimistic and defective in terms of a Christian understanding of human nature. In short, we need to apply the saving knowledge of Christ to show that we have a better story, a better narrative to inhabit, and a Saviour from the apocalyptic scenarios so many of our young people inhabit. Currently, might our concerns as a Diocese be seen as an inversion of the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7), where the shepherd leaves the 99 to go in search of the one? Are we in danger of applying this parable unhelpfully? It is not the 99 who are “safe” and the one that needs to be redeemed. It is only the “one” that is in any sense safe – that is, the 1 per cent of our population who can be found Sunday by Sunday in Anglican churches. It is easy and, in some ways comfortable, to direct all of our attention to those within our walls, but what about the 99 per cent in the rest of society? In terms of youth, they are not in our churches by and large, but they are to be found in schools. Is this not an argument for churches to use their theological expertise to resource Christian ministry in schools? This could potentially be a helpful symbiotic relationship: if schools can be assisted with their Christian ministry and bring more young people to the Lord Jesus, they can potentially provide
Imagine if your church had 25,000 new faces each week
renewal in terms of congregational growth in churches from within the younger years. Sometimes, the questions of whether to focus on youth ministry in churches or in schools are seen as a zero-sum game of competition. In fact, we need both and we need transition links and co-operation between each. We need parish clergy, and principals and chaplains in Anglican schools, to build bridges to one another. We need churches to regard the opportunity of Special Religious Education in Government schools as a strategic opportunity. We need churches to help Christian teachers, in whatever sector they work, to think about how to apply a biblical mind to mission in their workplace. How well, in fact, are we currently equipping members of our congregations – whether teachers or people who work in other occupations – to minister to the world outside the church? Are many of them, in fact, spectators to the work of clergy in churches, unable to bridge the divide between Sunday and Monday, unable to apply theology outside the congregational frame of reference, victims of the sacred/secular divide? It seems to me there is a real call to think within our churches and Diocese about stepping outside the pen, which has only one sheep within it, and going in search of the other 99. Schools, among other places in the public square, are helpful ways to exert this Christian influence, particularly in the face of the obvious reluctance of the 99 to come onto our turf (i.e. into church buildings). We need to look out as well as in. Let’s think strategically about this! SC Dr John Collier is chairman of the Anglican Education Commission (EdComm), Head of St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Head of Gawura – St Andrews’ Indigenous K-6 school.
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Clergy moves and classieds.
Srving h Lord in h souhws On November 30 the Rev Manoj Chacko will retire from the parish for this purpose each year). of Liverpool South, where he’s been the rector for the past 15 years. Mr Chacko also to ok Mr He has spent all his ordained ministry in the southwest, having S tephe n s to a n u mb e r o f served Moorebank as assistant minister from 2001 until he was churches to speak about the called to Liverpool South in 2007. work of the IGL. One of these “God led us here,” he says simply. “And when you look back, you was Miranda and, as they think, ‘Amazing – how did we do this or that?’ We can only say God, arrived, the then rector Glenn and the way he has opened avenues for us.” Davies had just received news The greatest joy of his ministry has “definitely been to see someone of the death of a staff member come to faith and have their lives transformed by the gospel – and in a freak accident. I mean really transformed, in a holistic way. In church we see that “He told Sam to keep on with the preaching he had planned, which the young people, for example, are keen on outreach ministries, the was, ‘What would you give your life for?’” Mr Chacko recalls. “For refugee work, community work – that kind of thing – so that is me, that was the turning point. I had come here [to Australia] for really encouraging.” my selfish purposes, but from then on I was thinking in terms of Mr Chacko migrated to Australia from India with his family in ‘What can I do?’. So, I went to college. I had no idea what I should be 1991 with the plan “to make money, to have a good education for my doing when I came out, I just knew that’s where I should be going!” children and really help them”. God, however, had his own plans. He wanted to teach people about Jesus, but didn’t want to do that The family soon linked up with the parish of Moorebank, where in an exclusively Indian church – having seen how this tended to Mr Chacko was struck by the depth of biblical understanding in reinforce the old caste system. “I believe that you look at Revelation the preaching. He had become a Christian at school in Malaysia, 5-7 and see multiethnic worshippers together... the gospel changes and took faith seriously from his time at university in Chennai, but the heart for salvation,” he says. says, “I was amazed at how the Old and New testaments were linked. Now, Mr Chacko leads a multiethnic, intergenerational church “In India we were taught in terms of individual stories where you in faith, discipleship and caring ministries. This has focused apply faith and good ethical teaching and grow in faith. I knew in particularly on refugees and asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, Africa my head that the Old Testament pointed to Jesus but not in the way and, in more recent years, Syria and Iraq, with the assistance of that we learn here in Moore College.” Anglican Aid and Anglicare. “This was something the church Excited, he sent Graeme Goldsworthy’s trilogy to the president of collectively took up,” he says. “Everyone wanted to do something the India Gospel League, Samuel Stephens, who was enthusiastic to reach out to these people. I think there are going to be a lot more enough to come to Sydney for a visit. It was during this time that refugees coming here in the future and we need to be prepared. everything changed for Mr Chacko. “I’m really praying that more people in the southwest will be First, there were discussions with the external studies department concerned about disciple making – not just evangelism but disciple at Moore College, which led to the Preliminary Theological Certificate making and being involved in growing the kingdom of God, guarding being taught in India (teams from several churches now travel there the gospel and passing it on. That is so important.” FOR BOOKING INFORMATION FOR ANY TIME OF THE YEAR THROUGH TO OCTOBER 2022
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The Rev John Stanley became re c to r o f P a d d i n g to n o n September 30, moving from the northern Hobart parish of New Town and Lenah Valley.
The Rev John Reid is retiring this month from St John’s, Mona Vale after 21 years, and will take up a part-time assistant minister role in the parish of Austinmer. The rector of Panania since 2007, the Rev David Milne, will retire from the parish at the end of the year. The Rev Tim Booker will leave Guildford with Villawood at the end of December after 14 years, becoming the rector of Liverpool in late January 2022.
VACANT PARISHES List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at October 29, 2021: • Ashbury* • Balmain*
• Liverpool South
• Mona Vale
• Cronulla** • Eagle Vale
• Huskisson • Keiraville
• Wahroonga, St Paul’s**
*denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments **right of nomination suspended/ on hold
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All in for Jesus
Judy Adamson Palau – The Movie Available through www.movieschangepeople.com
rgentinian-born evangelist Luis Palau was huge. Billy
Graham-like huge. And that’s not an exaggeration. Many times he preached the message of salvation in Jesus to hundreds of thousands of people at once. He preached in eastern Europe only a few years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. He preached in China, in Vietnam, across the US, in Spanish-speaking nations, in Australia, on the radio and on TV. God blessed him, through his Spirit, with the capacity to speak to the hearts of others and change their lives for eternity. So I found myself wondering, how did I not know about this man? Keen to find out more about the “Billy Graham of Latin America” I watched Palau – The Movie, which was released in 2019 but has only now become available in Australia (perhaps because Palau died earlier this year). The film dramatises his early life from the age of 10, when his father died, to the first major watershed event of his ministry – a little over 20 years later in Colombia – when he led a procession of 20,000 people through the dangerous streets of Bogota and preached the gospel in the heart of the city. I’d like to say everything in between is marvellous, but while God’s extraordinary blessing of people through Palau shines through (and no, he isn’t portrayed as a saint, by any means), the film has a range of shortcomings. First, there are scenes where you simply don’t know what’s going on – either because a connecting scene has been edited out 28
or something hasn’t been clearly explained. This doesn’t happen often, but it leaves you floundering a bit when it does. Also, some crucial turning points in Palau’s life have been dealt with in a single, usually static scene. One sermon in the street in Buenos Aires, and an American preacher who happens to be listening invites Palau to the US for an all-expenses paid Bible education. Then, when Luis goes home, his mother has handily invited a visiting American church planter for dinner to help him join the dots. Some years later, when the now-married Palau and his wife Pat briefly join Billy Graham’s team in California, a short lunch with Graham becomes a moment for the dump button of godly advice to be pressed over the young couple. I know that years of events need to be compressed for a film like this, but history tells us that Graham was a mentor for Palau, so I’m pretty sure there was more to it than five minutes of inspiration in a lunch tent! There are moments of extraordinary power in this film, so these clunky elements – and the one-dimensional nature of many characters – are a real shame, because the transformative power of the gospel, the recognition of suffering in a sinful world and the value of trusting wholly in God are always central. I found Palau – The Movie interesting because of the things it taught me about a man of God and how he sought to live his life for Jesus through times of pain, inspiration and challenge. But I think I would have preferred a documentary rather than a biopic. SC SouthernCross
Faith, wisdom and anecdotes from Tony McLellan.
The businessman changed by God Russell Powell A Glorious Ride: From Jumble Plains to Eternity By Tony McLellan with Nick Cater
ony McLellan is known in many circles – in the real estate
and business community, in the resources sector and in the Christian community as one of the guiding forces behind the Australian Christian Lobby and a number of Christian non-profit organisations. However, his CV will not prepare you for the myriad of anecdotes and encounters with the rich and famous with which this book is littered. The first part is the classic Australian countryboy-makes-good tale, where the good keeps getting better and better. Then comes the surprising twist, which will resonate with Christian readers, as Tony McLellan has his Damascus Road experience in an Atlanta loungeroom. As I read the book, I was certainly enjoying the stories but I was also thinking, “Who can I give this book to?” – perhaps as a Christmas gift. It’s the kind of work that people who read biographies of famous politicians and businesspeople would love, but it’s much, much deeper than that. The inspirational biography section of bookstores are full of self-centred corporate types showing how they were the smartest in the room, but there are not too many books like this. Writer Nick Cater says, “My aim was to ensure that Tony’s decency, warmth and selfless devotion is illuminated on the printed
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of abuse material so the infiltrator will be accepted as a bona fide member of the group. Victim ID specialist Adèle Désirs, who joined Argos a few years ago from Interpol, verbalises what some may be thinking after reading that sentence: is this morally right? Her answer is that the infiltration, which gains access to abuse files and helps identify abuser and victim, is “the only way... We are trying to fight for them [the children], so any weapon that is available, I’m going to use it”. We’re shown the meticulous detective work and results of a number of international operations, with scenes of abuse thankfully sanitised and pictures blurred. However, you’re still told more than enough to make your innards churn. Over time, despite all the work Argos and others have done, there has been an exponential growth in both the availability of abuse material and the websites on which it is distributed. There are thousands of members on one site, tens of thousands on the next... and up and up, until it’s over a million. SouthernCross
page as brightly as it shines in the flesh”. Cater’s journalistic expertise makes this a reality, assisted by what appears to be McLellan’s prodigious memory and note-taking ability. Those who remember the business world or Sydney’s real estate scene in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s will know some of the backdrop of the book but the canvas is wider than that, segueing into the international scene with business moguls such as Adnan Khashoggi and George Herscu. It’s not a Christian book but a book about a Christian. Liberal party identities such as Robert Menzies and John Howard feature prominently, but I hope the appeal of the book might reach across the political spectrum. I pray that the non-Christian reader will be drawn in by the first part of the story and stay for the benefits of the second half – where Tony McLellan goes into more detail about his Christian experience and draws on a wide range of practical leadership wisdom. The last chapter is devoted to things that McLellan, now 81, wishes he could tell his younger self: “The way we react to the call of Jesus on our lives does not determine who Jesus is. Rather, it determines who we are... and, consequently, what sort of people we might become”. Leaders of the future need to hear such wisdom. SC
What is worse, technology now makes it possible for abusers to be remote from the children they are abusing. Team members note, with some frustration, that companies providing the technology “aren’t taking any responsibility” for what happens on their platforms. Of course, some children and teens make material in their own bedrooms and upload it freely – parents beware! – then abusers use this to “sextort” them into providing more and more. Whatever your feelings about some of the methods used by Task Force Argos and other teams, The Children in the Pictures is a valuable weapon in the fight against child exploitation. It carries the truth about the breadth of this abuse, and the misery it inflicts, out of the shadows and places it squarely in any home, anywhere. And while parts of it are painful to watch, it can inform and equip us to protect our own children – and any others with whom we might come in contact. SC For upcoming cinema screenings and information, see https://childreninthepictures.org 29
The hidden world of online child abuse
Judy Adamson The Children in the Pictures Rated M – Frequent references to child abuse; coarse language Streaming via SBS On Demand.
here are some things you wish you didn’t have to
know about. It’d be much nicer to go through life without any inkling of the extent of human depravity. Sadly, in order to protect ourselves and others, it’s sometimes necessary to hear, see and talk about more than is comfortable. Forewarned is forearmed – and some elements of this documentary are definitely hard to stomach. The Children in the Pictures shows the work of Task Force Argos, a Queensland-based police investigative team linked with similar units across the globe that rescue children from online sexual abuse. Because if there’s one thing the internet has taught us, it’s that a national boundary poses no barrier to the sharing of photos and files. And as the head of the Argos team, Detective Inspector Joe Rouse says, “We’ll help, wherever the kids are”. Rouse is kind-faced, gently spoken, and – to look at – about as far removed from the hard-nosed crime-fighting cliché as you could imagine. But he has been battling child sexual exploitation since the 1990s with a deep, ongoing commitment to rescuing kids from abuse, and uncovering and dismantling the networks that encourage and propagate it.
One of the first things he notes in the documentary is that most people simply don’t understand the magnitude of the problem. They agree that it’s “terrible” but go no further. I admit to being one of these people as, in the past, simply thinking about such issues made me queasy. However, this is the work freely undertaken by the members of Task Force Argos (the group’s motto is “Leave no stone unturned”), because without their efforts the children in sexual bondage to relatives, friends or strangers can’t be found, let alone saved. Some Argos members work in victim identification and are required to watch countless hours of appalling offences against children. And babies. Others take on the even harder role, if that were possible, of assuming the online identity of an offender who has been caught so the team can infiltrate the network, identify perpetrators and rescue their victims. Or as one team member puts it, “becoming the enemy”. They do this on the aptly named dark web, where abuse sites are hidden from general view by a special browser and encrypted software. This latter work is controversial, as it involves the distribution continued on page 29