From the community, for the community
The 10am congregation at Berkeley Life Centre comes out into the summer sun, ready to chat with a cuppa and a biscuit. Everybody says hello to the stranger – everybody – and one guy checks that I’m okay. Do I need to talk to the minister?
Michael, a fellow with a wellworn face and a shock of white hair, is particularly chatty, full of discussion about faith and why it’s good to just walk down the street and tell people. I find out a short while later that, after attending church regularly for
SouthernCross February-March 2023
volume 29 number 1
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some time, he gave his life to Jesus a few weeks earlier.
“He cut up his cards for going to the club, he’s getting off the alcohol and he’s going out and talking to people and that’s the most powerful witness we have,” says Berkeley’s fellowship
Publisher: Anglican Media Sydney
leader the Rev Wayne Pickford. “He used to come to church, but how he puts it is that he’s a real Christian now – and that only happens because of God.”
Right there in the discussion with Pickford and Michael is Glenn Prentice, one of 10
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“This is pretty cool!”: Intern Paolo Santillan, right,at Lalor Park church with his site superviser and trainer the Rev Mark Tough. photo: Josh Vincent
BEEJAI ABRAHAMS Sadleir
“People meet me and say, ‘You’re a chaplain? You’re not the average-looking chaplain!’”
Beejai Abrahams laughs.
He is a community chaplain at St Mark’s, Sadleir, running a Grief Share program and Sorted! course – the latter helping men in everything from relationships to addiction. And for local guys who want to learn but find it hard to walk into a church, “I take the church to them... some of them have joined a Bible study and they feel more comfortable with that.
“I can talk to everyone, but where you’re dealing with the low social [status], the lack of education… it’s a struggle for them. Most of the people I talk with, they don’t have teeth, they have complex issues with self-esteem, [but] over the past two years we’ve broken down some walls and they’re coming to church.”
One thing Abrahams does have more trouble with is traditional forms of study. “I struggle in the Moore College setting. I stick out like a sore thumb. When they say you’ve got 2½ hours to answer four questions, I don’t work well under that pressure. But if someone says, ‘Hey Beejai, can we discuss church history?’, I’ll say, ‘Sure – where would you like to start?’”
laypeople from around the Diocese chosen to take part in The Well Training program – a new initiative to help train up leaders from parishes in marginalised areas to serve their local people.
“It’s not a job – I love helping people, I love being there for people,” Prentice says. “I’ve got two of the best bosses in the world – Wayne and God – so it’s great. And I just really appreciate the opportunity to learn.”
WHAT IS THE WELL TRAINING?
Put simply, The Well is a twoyear, apprentice-based program set up to train people from marginalised communities for those communities –understanding from the outset that the word “marginalised” refers to a range of factors, including economic, social and educational.
Obviously good church leaders are needed everywhere, but
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PAOLO SANTILLAN Lalor Park
Paolo Santillan, who was born in the Philippines and grew up in Blacktown, started a Bachelor of Divinity last year at Moore College. While he loved going to the classes, was supported by the lecturers and was passing all his subjects, he was exhausted.
“It took so much out of me,” he says. “You have to study a language, and I found that very hard. I’m also a very slow reader... we had to do Old Testament reading each week and by the end of 1½ hours I’d just finished reading – and I still had to do all the reading for the other subjects!”
When he told a friend (who just happened to be a student minister at Mt Druitt) that he would likely finish at college at the end of 2022, the friend got in contact with Mt Druitt’s rector the Rev Craig Hooper, who then met up with Santillan and told him about The Well.
“I thought, ‘Well, I think I’m set – this is pretty cool!’” Santillan says. “God is really kind.”
Santillan is involved with a range of ministries at Lalor Park, including the 1pm Sunday service for people with disabilities, the elderly and the marginalised, and has also begun working with the Penrith Panthers as a chaplain to its U17 and U19 teams.
people in marginalised areas need leaders who “get” them and the local culture. They need leaders who can get alongside them as they are – and nobody can do that better than people who already live among them.
“I’ve lived in poor communities since I was 17 or 18 and I choose them,” says the program’s project director, Dr Coz Crosscombe. “I would choose Mt Druitt any day of the week... because life is easier, it’s nicer, it’s richer spiritually, and it’s much easier to see God at work in this community.
“But people from poorer backgrounds have had less opportunity to show their talents. If we begin by saying, ‘I believe that you’re made in the image of the Creator’, that makes you the most amazing person I’m ever going to come across. And so, if God’s not bigoted or racist or prejudicial against poor people, which he’s obviously not, then he must have gifted
poor people with amazing gifts. In fact, I’d say he’s prejudicial towards poorer people, and I’d say Scripture supports that!
“James 2 says God has ‘chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith’ [v5]. Spiritual vitality is among the poor.”
The chairman of the Ministry to Marginalised Areas Committee and Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Hayward, is filled with excitement that The Well program has come together.
“God has been very kind to bring about the people and circumstances to finally enable this process to happen,” he says.
“The Diocese has longed for this sort of work for many years and we’re glad that it has come to fruition. A million dollars in funding has been received from a source to enable this to develop and begin, and we’re extremely grateful that they have encouraged and backed this work.”
HOW IT WORKS
Interns taking part in The Well are seeking to minister to marginalised people groups as well as areas, so those taking part are from Africa, the Subcontinent and the Philippines as well as Australia – including Indigenous Australia. The parishes involved are Liverpool South, Minchinbury, Lithgow, Sadleir, Nowra, Lalor Park and Doonside, in addition to Mt Druitt and Berkeley.
The Well follows a bivocational model, as this is more sustainable in areas that may struggle to afford a full-time pastor. Some participants have secular jobs – such as carpenter James Barnes and juvenile justice youth officer Eddie Bognet – while others work in ministry roles, like community chaplain Beejai Abrahams and Indigenous pastor Brendon Garlett.
Each week interns have on-the-job training, seeking to learn or build upon what they know about ministry. There will also be time to connect with the community and build relationships.
The rector of Mt Druitt and coaching director for The Well, the Rev Craig Hooper, explains that every intern has a team around them: a site supervisor, coach, trainer and support person, who are all there to care for and guide them in various ways.
“They think of themselves as gardeners, helping the interns grow both as Christians and as gospel workers,” he says. “I was talking today with them about it, that – overall – their role is to ask the intern how they are going in their relationships, and how they are going in their role.
“In their relationship with the Lord, what is God showing them? What are they hearing from God? How is he challenging them? If they’re married, how are they going with their wife or husband, their kids, their co-workers? Then, how are they going in their role, in the work that they’re doing? Are there things that they’re struggling with? Are there any skills that need to be developed? What is the worth of trying certain things?
“Scripture talks about being
their skills are. So, for example, if their skill is in reading and writing, we’ll equip them that way. If their skill is in listening and speaking, equip them that way. We want to help these interns grow in Christ and also grow in being gospel workers in the way God has shaped them, so they bloom for God’s glory in their life and their ministry.
“We don’t want them to become ‘like us’… We’re saying God has wired you in a unique and special way, which we praise God for. We want to help you grow and bloom in that way, so it’s intern-focused rather than institution-focused.”
all things to all people, so that by all possible means we might save some. So, we’ll be flexible in terms of training these guys, focused on them and what
Pickford: “I think it’s great. Certain people are right for certain areas. Not everybody can manage to go through Moore College, but they can do ministry in socially disadvantaged areas... This new system is a way of recruiting people who will be a good fit”. The plan is that The Well will focus first on parishes in marginalised areas and, if this
EDDIE (GODWIN) BOGNET Mt Druitt
After working with youth and community organisation Fusion for more than 10 years, COVID left Eddie Bognet at a loose end in terms of Christian service. He got a part-time job in juvenile justice and considered going to Bible college, but with two small children and the need to keep food on the table, it didn’t seem a live option. However, as part of his job he linked up with The Well’s project director, Dr Coz Crosscombe, and heard about the training program.
“Things sort of fell into place so much that it couldn’t have been me but God,” he says. “This training fits with what I’ve done before, and it fits someone like me in the place I’m in.
“I think the biggest thing about doing this is that it’s meeting the real, on-the-ground needs of the community... I’m hoping this will give me more skills and empowerment to serve well.”
works well for both trainees and the community, to then turn to parishes that contain marginalised pockets and seek to train up locals for those areas, too.
As part of the program, everyone involved in The Well will undertake the Diploma of Biblical Theology from Moore College, with extra academic support for those who need it.
There will also be four additional subjects taught by Crosscombe that include such things as understanding communities and different models of ministry.
Moore College’s vice-principal, the Rev Dr Simon Gillham, says the college is “delighted” to be a partner in the initiative “to train up gospel workers from parts of Sydney where we have not historically done very well.
“The Diploma of Biblical Theology is pitched at a level and delivered in a way that is more accessible than our fulltime academic programs, and we pray that it will be a valuable part of the overall ministry training being offered,” he says.
DOING IT FOR JESUS
The end goal of all this training, of course, is to grow the kingdom.
Says Hooper: “We want to equip [the interns] in a way that relates to them, and fits with them being all things to all people. We want to equip them in the word of God and how to bring that word more to marginalised areas.
“The focus is to train up congregational leaders from and for these areas to start new work and plant new congregations under existing structures.
“The training is not to be focused on Christians –they’re not to replace existing pastors of churches or be an assistant pastor to look after the Christians – we want to equip these people to reach new people in marginalised areas, and to start new work.
“We want new disciples made, new congregations formed... we want to break new ground for the gospel – for Jesus.”
Adds Wayne Pickford: “I think when the Great Commission
JAMES BARNES Portland
Part of the parish of Lithgow, Portland is also home to the northernmost – and westernmost – church in the Sydney Diocese.
James Barnes, a carpenter by trade, moved to the town with his family eight years, ago from Blackheath, prompted by the Lord to join the church there. He has become community pastor for the parish in addition to his secular job and loves encouraging members to share their faith. Further training, however, had always been in the too-hard basket.
“I have trouble reading… I’m getting better, but I’m terribly slow at it,” he says. “I’ve always been trained in the field. I dropped out of school at the end of Year 10 and went straight into trade work. So, when they started talking about this, the bells started going off – oh, that’s something I could do and would do, particularly targeting a different learning style.”
Barnes is excited at the potential for The Well to be used in a way that benefits people locally.
“The Portland area is a very country community,” he says. “The people there, they see people go off to Moore College and they come back and they’re different – they’re not culturally the same.
“One of the first things that I did when I started the job with the church was make six videos to help people with sharing their faith. One of the main topics was cultural awareness, that just understanding who you’ve got sitting in front of you is important with sharing the gospel.
“That’s the bit that really excites me – to have targeted training for your situation. It’s really cool.”
says to go into all the world, it means go into all the world! We can make great theological books about what’s in the Bible, but you can’t find a simpler speaker than Jesus, who was a friend of sinners”.
As for Glenn Prentice, he can’t wait to serve the church and suburb of Berkeley in a fuller way.
“I feel and I know that this is what God wants me to do,” he says. “I pray about it and always get the same answer: ‘You’re here for me, to do my work’.
“I was pushed to this church, little steps at a time, through different people... and I felt at home from my very first day. I fitted in, like a hand into a glove.
“I’d love to get up the front and preach... one day!” SC
Where are the interns based?
• Beejai Abrahams Sadleir
• James Barnes Portland (parish of Lithgow)
• Eddie (Godwin) Bognet Mt Druitt
• Kirit Christian Doonside
• Brendon Garlett
• Margaret Greene Minchinbury
• Harrison Layweh in negotiation
• Imran Maqsood
• Glenn Prentice
‘Renew’ addresses domestic abuse
Anglicare has launched a practical resource for women who encounter domestic abuse, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women late last year.
The book, titled Renew – an Australian Guide for Christian Women Survivors of Domestic Abuse, is designed for use within Christian communities, parishes and small church groups.
“When a woman is experiencing domestic abuse, she is often overwhelmed by shame, self-blame and fear –will she be believed if she tells someone what is happening?” says Lynda Dunstan (right), the book’s editor and Anglicare’s family and domestic violence advisor. “She may also be confused – is this really abuse? And wonder how God wants her to respond to her situation – does he even know what is happening to her?
“If she does reach out to support services, it can be quite overwhelming to have to share the story of her experiences many times and try to find the right support, plus she may wonder if services will understand the particular challenges she is experiencing
as a Christian – challenges like spiritual abuse, being told she is sinful or evil by the abuser, Scripture being used to control or humiliate her – and also wondering if her church community will believe her and support her. The complexity can be overwhelming!”
Ms Dunstan says the book arose from the need to provide credible, well-informed domestic violence information, and spiritual wisdom and reflection, in one place to support Christian women in this difficult journey.
“The handbook provides guidance for a survivor’s ongoing support and recovery, and assurance to a Christian woman experiencing abuse that the abuse is not her fault,” she says. “God sees her, she is
JOAN AUGUSTA MACKENZIE TRAVELLING SCHOLARSHIP
Applications are invited for the Joan Augusta Mackenzie Travelling Scholarship to enable the recipient to undertake study and/or gain experience in parish work overseas, preferably in the United Kingdom. The Scholarship is usually awarded for post graduate study. The Scholarship will commence on 1 September 2023 and is for the period of study or experience. The value of the Scholarship is $30,000 each year, normally for up to three years.
• be clergy of the Anglican Church of Australia who have served at least two years since ordination as a Deacon and
• have been educated in Australia and
• intend to return to Australia at the end of the scholarship period.
The Trustee, Perpetual, awards the Scholarship in consultation with the Principal of Moore College and the Rector of St Thomas’ Church, North Sydney.
Applications close at 5.00pm on 31 March 2023. For more information and application forms, please email email@example.com
a beloved child of God, and God wants her to find safety and healing.”
Ms Dunstan adds that Renew is designed to be a practical resource for churches as they walk alongside survivors. The practical chapters are supported with a link to an online resource and referral guide to help direct survivors to specific professional support they may need. This includes services in every state in Australia.
Available at https://shop. anglicare.org.au/renewsurvivors-guide/ , the book supplements a number of other resources available to parishes through the Sydney Diocese’s Safe Ministry Team: https:// knowdomesticabuse.church/
On the same topic, the
Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, Kara Hartley, addressed the NSW Interfaith Domestic and Family Violence Declaration Forum at State Parliament in the same week as the book launch, sharing the Diocese’s response to domestic abuse issues. SC
If you are in a situation of domestic abuse you are encouraged to reach out. Help and support are available, either through your church or through Anglicare counselling on 1300 651 728.
You can also contact a domestic violence service such as 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
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Yarning the Bible in the bush
There was no sandstone, either of cathedral or parish church, but ghost gums and a rainbow overlooking the twilight ordination service for the Rev Michael Duckett.
The unique service took place at the Indigenous ministry centre at Wedderburn in southwestern Sydney, home of the Macarthur Indigenous Church.
The bushland setting, where church members often gather outside around a campfire, is a new approach for Indigenous ministry that is set to be
replicated on the South Coast. A generous donation from the parish of Church Hill will fund the second site.
Church Hill, the oldest parish in the Sydney Diocese, has already donated $1.5 million to the greenfields project at Marsden Park and will make another grant of $2 million for Indigenous ministry.
Mr Duckett, who leads the Macarthur church as well as chairing the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee, was ordained deacon in February and ordained
presbyter on December 2 in front of family, church members and guests.
“Presbyter means old fella,” Archbishop Kanishka Raffel said to laughter from the audience, giving a rough translation of the Greek word ‘elder’. “Today we ordain Michael to a life compelled by Christ’s love, to live for Christ. We do it because we see that this is the life he lives already.”
The Archbishop spoke of the ministry being carried out at the Wedderburn property and Mr Duckett’s preaching and “yarning the Bible”.
“Many of us have heard Michael say God reconciled us at the cross. This year at our Synod Michael said to us all, the cross has done the work: now we have to put it into practice.”
The Archbishop’s address was accompanied by the sounds of kookaburras from the gumtrees that surround the property – a first for ordination services, which are normally held inside. A rainbow appeared through the clouds as the service ended.
After a laying on of hands from clergy and bishops present, Mr Duckett and his family led inRemember the Lord: Archbishop Raffel, the Bishop of South West Sydney, Peter Lin and the Rev Michael Duckett pause to look at the rainbow. Russell Powell
singing “Jesus is Lord” in the Dunghutti language.
Another December event was the commissioning of Brendon Garlett as pastor of the Shoalhaven Aboriginal Community Church (ShACC).
Mr Garlett and his wife Amy were surrounded by members of ShACC and representatives of Mt Druitt and Campbelltown Aboriginal churches, including Mr Duckett – who presented him with two specially carved boomerangs.
Says Mr Garlett: “We had lunch with the Mt Druitt and Campbelltown church people where we meet every Sunday in [Nowra parish’s] Hope Centre, and then at 3 o’clock we all went over to the big church, to All Saints’, for the official welcome [and commissioning].
“All our supporters who were there, they’ve all been praying for someone to come, so to finally have that welcoming of a new pastor was good.”
A Nyoongar man from Western Australia, Mr Garlett
Presbyters ordained on January 19 at St Andrew’s Cathedral:
The Rev Tim Escott – Darling Point
The Rev Malcolm Gill – St Andrew’s Cathedral/Rooty Hill
The Rev Daniel Walmsley – Life Anglican, Riverstone
The Rev Roger Hokin – Dural
The Rev Alan Lam – Hurstville
came to the church to do MTS a decade ago and eventually moved back to WA.
When he heard that ShACC was looking for a pastor, he and his wife had been preparing for another ministry but
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A service of lament, hope, and healing for survivors of abuse
immediately “felt that this was the right move for us”, adding that returning to Nowra was like coming home. “Everyone said, ‘Welcome home’ and that’s just what it felt like when we got here,” he says. SC
7:00pm, Thursday 2nd March 2023
The Bridge Church, Kirribilli
cnr Broughton & Bligh Streets, Kirribilli, NSW
For more information: safeministry.org.auPass it on: Michael Duckett gives boomerangs to Brendon Garlett. Jesus is Lord: The Rev Michael Duckett sings in Dunghutti with members of his family and the Macarthur Indigenous Church. Historic bushland ordination for Indigenous minister.
Clinical trials for old people and 4 year oldsJudy Adamson
One of the best things on TV over the past few years has been Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds, with its cast of frail, elderly men and women and lively preschool children. We watched avidly –occasionally with tissue in hand – as, before our eyes, deep, beautiful friendships were made across the generations.
Of course, the show was never just about heartwarming moments and the no-filter comments of the kids. There was a serious point: to see whether the old were able to improve their health, strength and quality of life, and the young learn and grow, particularly in empathy.
The second series was filmed during lockdown in the hall of St Nicolas’, Coogee – and the parish has since hosted two 10-week studies, run by researchers from the University of NSW, with older people from the community and children from St Nic’s preschool. These studies have led to a $3.7 million grant from the Federal Government to conduct expanded clinical trials at up to 44 preschool sites over the next two years.
“The thing I think is amazing
–and that is where I say God’s hand has been in it – is that a small church like ours could be involved in something like this,” says the Rev Craig Segaert, who was rector of Coogee until his retirement at the end of 2022, and is now the lead community representative on the trial’s research committee.
He adds that while the TV program showed anecdotally that this kind of intervention improves the lives and health of older people – and also benefits the children – what is now needed is scientific data to back that up. This way, governments will be able to see the tangible benefits of funding similar programs across NSW and Australia.
The clinical trials will be conducted in not-for-profit preschools and childcare centres, so there is plenty of opportunity for churches who have linked centres to become involved. Mr Segaert is enthusiastically encouraging them to do so.
“Why wouldn’t you [do it]?” he asks. “The older people who take part in these programs are absolutely blessed – to quote one of them, ‘I’ve got my life
back’. And the younger people, the preschoolers, are blessed because they’re getting more contact with older people... and they become friends. And the preschool is blessed because it’s able to incorporate this groundbreaking program into its early years teaching framework, and the church is blessed because it’s able to have prolonged contact with people from the community who they may otherwise never reach!”
Dr Ruth Peters, who leads the team that won the grant, works as program leader for dementia in the Global Brain Health Initiative at The George Institute. She says the plan with the clinical trial is to have 10 adults and 10 preschoolers involved at each site, for two hours a week. The trial begins in April and will run over 20 weeks, with all participants assessed at the beginning and end of the program to measure changes.
While there has been a good deal of research in this area, Dr Peters explains that there has never been anything that has looked at the issue “with a cold scientific eye”.
“I think if we are to go to
government and ask, ‘Can you put money into this?’, we need to be able to say, ‘This is the numerical data to back it up –this is what you get for your money’,” she says. “That is what this research will bring.
“Our goal is to provide something that can, ideally, help older adults stay independent, stay active and build relationships in their communities. We are measuring frailty – that’s our primary outcome – but we’re also going to measure mood, physical abilities, cognition, thinking skills, memory, planning.
“We’re going to ask people about loneliness, their social connections, sleep... everything where this [trial] might possibly have a benefit in reducing frailty and vulnerability.
“And then for the kids, it’s the development of empathy and, as part of that, school readiness and language.” SC Preschools and childcare centres are now being signed up for the clinical trial, after which the team will search for elderly people who live nearby. Any parishes/preschools interested in finding out more can contact Dr Peters at ruth.peters@ unsw.edu.auLives changed: John and Aika formed a close bond in Season 2 of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, filmed at St Nic’s, Coogee.
impact entire communities
Drawing from more than 40 years of experience in evangelism and humanitarian ministries, GFA World plans to bring our highly effective models to the needs of the destitute in Africa.
Clean Water Projects
We have drilled our first two Jesus wells in Rwanda, and we’ll drill more wells to help alleviate the water crisis. We work with local contractors and fund multiple wells at a time, getting the most “bang for our buck” while still building the wells to last. We’ll also work within the local communities to ensure the wells are maintained and cared for, and we use commonly available tools and parts, so they’re easy to repair. Jesus Wells serve an average of 300 people each day and last for 20 years.
We have missionaries in Rwanda working to open our first Bible college there to train indigenous missionaries who want to preach the Gospel and serve their own people. With their grasp of the local culture and traditions, national missionaries know the heartbeat of the communities in which they serve and are crucial to help meet both physical and spiritual needs.
Health, water and education are just a few examples of the needs we intend to meet through our ministry in Africa. We plan to begin many other ministry initiatives in the coming days, including: Women’s empowerment Community development Youth ministries
CEP scores a centuryJudy Adamson
With cheers, thanksgiving and birthday cake (of course), Youthworks marked the centenary of CEP, its publishing arm, just before Christmas.
“We’re very happy to celebrate 100 years of evangelical resources being made available to schools and Sunday schools in the Sydney Diocese,” says Youthworks’ CEO, the Rev Canon Craig Roberts. “Over six million kids in the past couple of decades alone have encountered the gospel!”
The exact date in 1922 when CEP began publishing isn’t known, but The Trowel first appeared sometime that year for use by Sunday schools and children’s clubs. The Sword –resources for Scripture volunteers – was first published in 1961 and replaced by Connect 35 years later.
Today, Connect is still the most popular curriculum for religious education in Australia, with the total number of workbook sales topping seven million.
Nic Husted, a teacher at Kigali International Community School in Rwanda, says: “ Finding Your Way was a brilliant course for our middle school kids who, although Christian by culture, do not actually read the Bible or know where to start.
“It helps young people understand God’s big, overarching plan for mankind with Jesus at the heart of it all.”
High school resources for SRE – Meeting Christ and Pointing to Christ – were first released in the mid-1980s and, in 2005, A Spectator’s Guide to World Religions by the Rev Dr John Dickson was created specifically for independent schools, with a linked curriculum written by
Simon Smart from the Centre for Public Christianity.
CEP has also published Bible commentaries since 1989 and material for the Sydney Diocese such as the Australian Lectionary. And, as any past SRE or Sunday school teacher will tell you, over the years the CEP resources for their lessons have included cassette tapes, CDs, quiz games, videos and books filled with colour-in cartoon characters.
“I was really scared to go into a primary school classroom, but I found the CEP resources to be amazing,” says SRE teacher Georgina Barrett-See. “They are so well prepared – I found the prep easy, and it really helped me to do good lessons that were scripturally sound but also fun.”
The school resources are currently being sold into 24 different countries. In the Kenyan diocese of Marsabit, Connect is also being used to
train children’s ministers to help them effectively disciple their kids and encourage them to remain in the faith.
Says Canon Roberts: “I’m grateful for the past 100 years of partnering with churches and schools to see young people established in the Christian faith, and we’re looking forward to the next 100 years of helping to build gospel capacity for the glory of Jesus as we await his return.” SCCelebrations: The head of CEP, Natasha Percy, cuts the birthday cake at the Youthworks Christmas party.
Anglicare acquires Presbyterian Aged Care
Anglicare Sydney is acquiring the property, assets and operations of Presbyterian Aged Care (PAC) in NSW.
Both providers started their ministries in the 1940s and PAC offers a variety of residential aged care options at 14 locations in Sydney and the New England area. PAC also assists 2000 people in home care each week.
“The entire aged care sector is facing significant headwinds,” says Anglicare Sydney’s CEO, Simon Miller. “Presbyterian Aged Care is not immune and there was a need to find a way of ensuring [that] the excellent services they have provided for decades were able to continue, to grow and to thrive.
“Anglicare, as one of the largest providers of retirement living, residential care and home care in Sydney, can ensure that residents, clients and staff have a bright future.
“We are in the unique position to have the resources to invest in renewing the Presbyterian Aged Care portfolio over time while maintaining high-quality service delivery and Christian ministry.”
PAC says the decision to divest has not been taken lightly.
“With Anglicare, we have a
not-for-profit operator whose Christian culture and values are closely aligned to our own,” says Olivia Wood, PAC’s CEO.
“We share a deep commitment to practical and pastoral care to the elderly, and I feel that our ministry and mission will not be lost in this arrangement.”
Due diligence has begun and the transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of this year.
Says Mr Miller: “Staff can be confident that there is a future for them with Anglicare – we’re keen for PAC’s team to remain with us”.
All operational staff will be
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offered roles at the same or better conditions and will see their entitlements preserved.
“Residents, clients and their families can be assured that
a change in ownership won’t affect their care,” Mr Miller says. “Anglicare will deliver the same high standards of care as you have enjoyed under PAC.” SC
“We’re keen for PAC’s team to remain with us” : Anglicare CEO Simon Miller with PAC’s CEO Olivia Wood.
Proclaiming Jesus with grace and compassion.
Sharing the love of Jesus at Mardi Gras
A team of volunteers from Vine Church in Surry Hills will be reaching out with the love of Jesus to those attending the Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney later this month. Resuming after a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the church has been doing this annually for more than 20 years.
Since the mid-1990s, the team at Vine Church (formerly St Michael’s) have offered hospitality to those celebrating the parade. The church’s location on the Mardi Gras route provides a unique opportunity to host an outreach event that neither protests nor promotes Mardi Gras, but proclaims Jesus.
“Mardi Gras outreach is our opportunity to show grace and compassion to people who may not have experienced that from Christians,” says the Rev Toby Neal, senior minister at Vine Church. “Given the clear teaching of Jesus on sexuality, most people assume
that Christians would want to protest or avoid Mardi Gras. But Jesus himself reached out with grace to those who the religious elite said you should avoid. We are trying to follow the model of Jesus, who reached out with compassion without compromising his conviction.
“Mardi Gras is an opportunity for genuine engagement and the offer of real community. Our
“A BETTER STORY TO TELL”
The Global Anglican Future Conference, in Australia and internationally, has reacted “with a heavy heart” to news from England ahead of this month’s UK General Synod. The House of Bishops in January proposed the draft text of prayers that could be used to bless same-sex relationships and marriages, although stopped short of supporting same-sex weddings being conducted in English churches.
Their report, titled Living in Love and Faith: A response from the Bishops of the Church of England about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage will be put to the General Synod, which is being held in London from February 6-9. The chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, Archbishop Foley Beach, said it was a further example of some Western provinces “going their own way”.
“Their actions not only deny holy practice, but reject the authority of Scripture, the teaching of the historic church, and the consensus of the body of Christ from
location provides an amazing position to create a meeting place for two parties who have historically done conversation quite poorly.”
The Vine team meets for prayer and a meal late in the afternoon, before opening the church up at 6pm.
“We’re seeking to provide a place for conversation that bridges a divide,” Mr Neal
every tribe, tongue, people and nation alive today,” Archbishop Beach said.
“Most of our provinces have their origins in the Church of England because of the incredible and sacrificial missionary ministry of faithful British followers of Jesus. What are the faithful in England and around the world to do now that the mother church has departed from biblical faith and morality?
“GAFCON has a better story to tell: the story of our Lord Jesus who has and is rescuing us from brokenness (and often ourselves) and his unmistakably gracious offer of salvation, which calls us ‘into the light’ where repentance and trust mark a new, right relationship to God through Christ.
“And in this great salvation story through Jesus, the Apostle Paul remarks about our former way of living, ‘And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus
explains. “We hope they would come to understand something of the life, love and freedom Jesus offers as they connect with Christians at an unlikely event.”
This year the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is the centrepiece of World Pride 2023.
Archbishop Raffel commended the church’s efforts and hopes those visiting Sydney for World Pride 2023 take up the opportunity to visit one of our churches while they are here.
“I hope that this is an opportunity to build bridges and break down unhelpful stereotypes,” he says. “The reality is that all people are welcome to visit our churches and attend worship services, whatever they believe. We believe that God made us all, loves us equally, and invites everyone into a relationship with him through Jesus. Our churches aim to be as welcoming as God is.” SC
Christ and by the Spirit of our God’.”
GAFCON Australia chairman Bishop Richard Condie encouraged people to pray for the English Synod. “Throughout the West there has been increasing pressure from liberal bishops to abandon the Bible’s clear teaching on sexuality and marriage,” he said. “The Church of England bishops need to listen to global Anglicans. Please pray for God’s mercy on the Synod of the Church of England… that Christ might be honoured in their gathering. Pray especially for key orthodox leaders as they speak and uphold the truths of the Scriptures.”
The Rev Vaughan Roberts, who spoke at CMS Summer School in NSW last month and who has previously spoken about his experience with same-sex attraction, has written a response to the Bishop of Oxford and others who wish to change the doctrine of marriage. It is available as a PDF download at https:// bit.ly/vaughanroberts
Shaping Sydney’s church music cultureJudy Adamson
After a number of quiet years locally, Emu Music is returning to Sydney with a bang in 2023 with a year-round training package for parishes.
Emu’s ministry director Philip Percival – who, along with Alannah Glover and Liv Chapman, spent seven years in the UK developing training resources for church musicians –says now the trio is back they are “very keen to help shape the culture of singing within Sydney evangelicalism”.
“There’s a lot a great music in churches but also a lot of people who feel, ‘We don’t have the resources’ or ‘We don’t have the people’ or ‘We just don’t know what to do’, and Emu is very keen to step into that space,” he says.
“It’s not about having a big, cool band out the front, it’s just about being able to lead people well. We will talk to a church with a guitar and a flute as much as we will talk to a church that has a full band because, musically, there’s not a
lot of difference in the principles. What’s more important to us is to start theologically and think, what’s important about singing in church? And, once you understand that, how you apply it with whatever resources you have.”
The parish package includes Emu’s online Word in Song course, a new Hymn Book website for service planning, online video and song resources, Emu’s sheet music catalogue and tickets to its Word in Song conference. Parishes can also add extras such as in-house training workshops and coaching in music leadership.
The director of corporate worship for Christ Church Inner West, the Rev Richard Glover, says given that singing together is an important part of his congregation’s word ministry to each other, “it makes a lot of sense to invest in that area of our ministry.
“We have musicians who are very, very musically talented but who probably haven’t
played much in a church context before, and we also have people who have been serving at church for a long while but aren’t professional musicians. So, we want to help them all to continue to grow in their skills –not just with their instruments but in how they work together as a band, as a service to them and through them to our congregations.”
Mr Glover is most enthusiastic about the in-person training, as well as the online course that can help train new members of the music team whenever they join.
The Rev Troy Munns at St George North agrees, describing the six-part course as “very appealing”.
“It’s biblical and practical material to help someone go from being a faithful church member to a church musician who’s keen and on board,” he says. “Having the resources that are well thought through and useful... that are ready at our disposal, is a good thing.
“The other thing is the idea
of a conference and how that contributes to a culture of fellowship within the music team, rather than just individual people that come and serve when they’re on... trying to help [people] have a positive sense of being part of the team.”
Mr Glover, who also chooses the songs for his church each week, is especially looking forward to assistance from the Hymn Book website. “It sounds like a super-useful tool, to search for a relevant song for a particular passage or theme or season of the year... I can’t wait to see it, to be honest!”
As Emu kicks off the new training program, Mr Percival couldn’t be more delighted –“but what’s even more exciting is the response we’re having from churches saying, ‘Yes please, we would love to have help!’” SC Word in Song conferences will be held at St Thomas’, North Sydney on March 4 and Grace West Anglican, Glenmore Park on March 25. For details about the conferences or the 2023 Church Training Program, email firstname.lastname@example.orgHelping musicians to grow their skills: Christ Church Inner West has signed up for Emu Music’s training package.
“Their aim is to wipe out every Christian in the country”Russell Powell
North Korea has regained the dubious distinction of being at the top of the World Watch List of countries where Christians face persecution and discrimination for their faith.
The list, published annually by the mission organisation Open Doors, is now in its 30th year.
North Korea returns to number one with its highest levels of persecution ever, thanks to a fresh wave of violence under its new “Anti-reactionary thought law”.
The law has criminalised any published materials of foreign origin in North Korea, along with the Bible. It has led to the imprisonment or execution of teenage boys watching South Korean shows such as Squid Game. However, it is also being used to track down bibles and other Christian materials, printed or electronic.
“Christians have always been in the front line of attack for the regime,” saya North Korean escapee Timothy Cho.
“Their aim is to wipe out every Christian in the country. There can only be one god in North Korea, and that is the Kim family [of dictator Kim Jong-un].”
There has been an increase in the arrest of Christians and the discovery and closure of underground house churches. Those arrested may be executed or imprisoned for life, facing near-starvation, torture and sexual violence in the regime’s prison camps.
North Korea has been at the top of the list for the past 20 years – with the exception of last year, when Afghanistan recorded the most Christian persecution. Afghanistan dropped to number 9 on the list this year, reflecting the focus by
the Taliban on rooting out those with links to the old regime, rather than uprooting the very small number of Christians who remained after the Taliban regained control in 2021.
Also concerning is the wave of Islamist violence sweeping across sub-Saharan Africa. It is most extreme in Nigeria where militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities: killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery
Religiously motivated killings in Nigeria have risen from 4650 last year to 5014 – a staggering 89 per cent of the international total.
“The whole region is heading into catastrophe,” says Frans Veerman, managing director of
World Watch Research.
“The aim of Islamic State and affiliated groups is to destabilise the entire region, establish an Islamic caliphate – ultimately across the entire continent – and, long-term, they are confident this is within their reach.
“They are helped by other Islamists focusing on nonviolent, systemic Islamisation. Nigeria’s government continues to deny the violence is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.
“It isn’t just governments in Africa that aren’t facing up to the true nature of this religiously motivated purge, it’s governments across the world. The price of this denial is incalculable, not just to Africa, but to the whole world.”
In Asia, China has clamped down further on Christians,
SouthernCrossThe struggle continues for the faithful: A North Korean Christian man prays.
introducing sweeping new rules on churches’ use of the internet.
According to Open Doors, China is driving an international campaign to redefine human rights away from traditional, universally recognised notions to more subjective “rights” such as subsistence, development and security.
Christian minorities who are seen to oppose these new rights by refusing to support the ruling party can be branded as disturbers of the peace or even terrorists. They face arrest, demolition of their church buildings and the deregistering of their churches.
Sweeping new rules on church use of the internet has further stifled the freedom of
the nation’s almost 100 million Christians. Tracking apps introduced for COVID-19 data collection have been reutilised for extreme surveillance of Christians and other religious groups.
Open Doors works to support persecuted Christians throughout the world and, according to its latest top 50 list, 312 million Christians in those countries now face very high or extreme levels of persecution.
Worldwide, one in seven Christians experience at least “high” levels of persecution or discrimination. The proportion rises to one in five across the African continent, and two in five in Asia. SC
THE 2023 TOP 20
Last year’s rank in brackets
1. North Korea (2)
2. Somalia (3)
3. Yemen (5)
4. Eritrea (6)
5. Libya (4)
6. Nigeria (7)
7. Pakistan (8)
8. Iran (9)
9. Afghanistan (1)
10. Sudan (13)
11. India (10)
12. Syria (15)
13. Saudi Arabia (11)
14. Myanmar (12)
15. Maldives (16)
16. China (17)
17. Mali (24)
18. Iraq (14)
19. Algeria (22)
20. Mauritania (23)The list of Christian persecution reaches a milestone. Christians are “viewed with suspicion”: A church in Laos, which ranks 31st on the World Watch List.
A global, eternal and multicultural salvation
IIt was a joy in the second week of January to join with about 2800 others (including 1000 children and youth!) at the first full-program Church Missionary Society Summer School since 2020. The theme of the week was one of CMS’s vales – cross-shaped: “The cross is both the message we proclaim and the life we live”.
It was a privilege to hear some of the CMS missionaries share about the impact of the cross on their own journey of faith and cross-cultural service. Some spoke of the overwhelming sense of Jesus’ love in giving himself on the cross, and that a life of serving him is an inescapable – and joyful – expression of thanks and praise in response. Others spoke of the way in which the seeming foolishness and weakness of the cross is, to those who have experienced its forgiveness, the wisdom and power of God.
Ephesians 2:11-22 points us to another dimension of the achievement of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sakes – global, eternal and social implications:
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Eph 2:15b-16).
The cross displays the love of God, that he would give his Son for the world; the cross provides the atonement of God so that sin is forgiven; the cross propitiates the wrath of God so that justice is satisfied. In Ephesians 2:15-16 our attention is drawn to the reconciliation of the cross: peace between God and humankind, and reconciliation between people so that, through the cross, a new humanity comes into existence. What an astonishing achievement!
According to Ephesians 1:10 God’s purpose is to unite all things under his Son. But Paul describes the great sweep of humanity –the non-Jewish, Gentile peoples of the world – as “separate from Christ… foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12). The apostle provides a devastating and desperate picture of the spiritual plight of those who are separate from Christ. And yet, those who are far away
are brought near (v13). How does this happen?
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. (v13-15a)
It is the blood of Christ that is God’s power to bring about a new humanity. It is in his flesh (v15) that the law is set aside; it is through the cross (v16) that Jesus reconciles people to God. The death of Jesus is God’s power to bring about the peace that reconciles Jew and Gentile, and reconciles both to God in one new humanity.
Unless you are a Jewish-background believer in Messiah Jesus, Paul’s description of the spiritual lostness of the Gentiles is precisely a description of us without the gospel, and of all peoples everywhere without the gospel. There must be mission – locally and globally and cross-culturally – because without gospel mission people are separate from Christ, without hope and without God in the world. Of course, there is religion, but without the proclamation of the cross of Christ, there is no salvation.
In 1786, members of the Eclectic Society – a group of evangelical Christians in the Church of England that included John Newton and William Wilberforce – debated the topic of the propagation of the gospel in Botany Bay. Through their efforts Richard Johnson was placed on the First Fleet to be chaplain to the colony, whose mission was the evangelisation of the convicts, soldiers and settlers, and the original inhabitants of this land.
The chequered and often painful history of Christian engagement with the Aboriginal peoples of Australia is told especially in the highly important works of John Harris, including his magisterial volume One Blood . But let me quote from an Indigenous brother and Bush Chuch Aid’s national Indigenous officer, Neville Naden, who said this at the BCA centenary service at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Sorry Day, May 26, 2019:
There have been a lot of things that have been done in the name ofKanishka Raffel
the church that have been ungodly. That goes without saying. But the wonderful thing the church did was to introduce the gospel to this country. A gospel that brings hope where there is no hope. A gospel that brings life where there is no life. Those on the fringes of society are brought into the inner circle of God’s family.
When Jesus died on the cross he did away with the law’s division between clean and unclean. He took all the world’s uncleanness into himself and did away with it, so that the unclean might be made clean through faith in him. Whoever is in Christ is clean, washed, set apart and united to him. Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. What Christ unites to himself, he unites to each other. The law’s demand for separation is done away with in the death of Christ.
Likewise, forgiveness of sin is no longer a matter of Temple and priesthood and sacrifice of animals. Now, it is the blood of Christ that atones and anyone united to Christ by faith is sprinkled clean by his blood. Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female. Those saved by the same blood of Christ are united to one another by his blood.
In our multicultural nation, churches made up of people from many cultural backgrounds are a powerful demonstration of the truth of the gospel. What I mean is, our culture rejects the idea of one truth – assuming that this involves a cultural (if not colonial) hegemony. We are told that humanity is and should be a mosaic of different perspectives and insights and worldviews and religions. But when the message of “no other name by which we may be saved but the name of Jesus” is proclaimed, celebrated and confessed by churches made up of people from many cultures, languages and ethnicities, that radically confronts our world and its assumptions and holds out the living reality of a Saviour for the whole world.
The picture of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” gathered around the Lamb on his throne in Revelation 7, teaches us that heaven will be multicultural but also a new humanity reconciled to God and each other through the cross, so that in many languages they sing one eternal, glorious, joyful song: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” SC
Be strong and courageous
As I serve in the ministry department at Moore College, I regularly pause to think about and pray for the growth in character of our students and want to help develop this in our ministers. One character trait that keeps recurring is courage. Sure, our graduates must be exceptional Bible scholars and theologians to serve our congregations by navigating the uncharted waters that lie before us, but this must be matched with courage to act. For without courage, theological and biblical knowledge will be of no value. So, I pray for courage for our leaders and their congregations.
Courage is not a common or desired attribute in our age. We are besotted by the call to authenticity and individualism. “Being truly you”, “Finding your own way” and “Finding my path to personal fulfilment” are seen as the undisputed characteristics to admire. Concepts like courage and perseverance don’t generate much excitement or respect in this type of world. However, the Bible thinks they are important: Moses, Joshua, those sent to spy out the promised land, the fighting men of Israel and the apostle Paul are held up as examples of courage.Archie Poulos
WHAT IS COURAGE?
As we look at courage in the Bible, we begin to get a picture of what it is by the words associated with it. The Bible speaks of its opposite – fear and dismay/discouragement (Josh 1:9). Words that describe courage include “strong”, “bold” and “confident”. Courage is universally used when the circumstances being faced are daunting and even overwhelming – to the point where it seems acceptable and even right to give up and stop pursuing the course you have set. But courage does not give in to such fears. It leads the person to act despite their fears and the action is often described as bravery.
WHERE DOES COURAGE COME FROM?
In our individualistic world, character traits are seen as something the person innately and internally possesses so that courage could be seen as part of who you are. This is not the Bible’s attitude. While the Bible heroes are described as courageous, they are also described as taking courage (Judg 20:22; 2 Sam 10:12; 2 Chr 15:8; Ezra 7:28; Ps 27:14, 31:24; Mk 15:43; Acts 23:11, 28:15). That means that courage is not something internal but something given to you – from outside of you.
There are two sources from which these heroes took courage. The first is the Lord. They are called to remember that God controls all things, that he is on their side and will fight with and for them, and that his good outcome will prevail. The second well these heroes draw from is other people.
It is not surprising our word for this is shaped by the idea of courage – it is the word “encourage”. Through encouragement, one person gives to another the capacity to be brave (Deut 1:38, 1 Tim 5:1). And encouragement is communal (Col 4:8, 1 Th 4:18, 5:14). Encouragement, in these cases, is not about warm, fuzzy feelings. It is modelling and reminding others of the truths about God and what he has called us to so that we may be strengthened to bravery. We all have the responsibility to encourage each other to persevere amid the difficulties of life.
WHAT GETS IN THE WAY OF COURAGE?
If courage is such a prized attribute of the Christian life, what is it that saps our courage? The answer seems obvious. It is the immensity of the problems before us. But dig a bit deeper for the reasons for diverting from your noble course. Most of these reasons are because of delusion.
The devil loves to use deceit and delusion. He deludes us into thinking he is more powerful than he is, and this saps our courage. We are deluded into thinking the outcome will be worse than it is, which saps our courage. We are deluded into thinking we will not recover from an event (as if our loving God does not permanently hold us in his everlasting arms).
We are deluded into thinking a different course is better than the one of obedience when, really, it’s just that we prefer comfort to toil. And because we are powerful, resource-rich people we are deluded into thinking our internal capability is all that we need and so we stop listening. We stop listening to God and to others.
AN EXAMPLE OF COURAGE
In Matthew 8 a centurion, a powerful respected man, comes to Jesus asking for his servant to be healed. He is used to getting his own way: “I tell one, ‘Go’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come’, and he comes. I say to my servant ‘Do this’, and he does it” (v9). Such power and authority often leads a person to conceit and arrogance
What does courage really look like?
– to looking down upon others and dismissing them. It leads them to the delusion that they have the power to control things.
But this is not the case with the centurion. He says to Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v8). That takes real courage for a leader to admit their shortcomings and willingly submit to someone who is not in their hierarchical structure. It must have been humiliating for him to do this before the very people over whom he was to show authority. No wonder Jesus remarks, “Truly, I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (v10).
You see, courage pops up in the strangest of places and in the strangest of ways. But here is a man who is not frightened or dismayed at the loss of his reputation and relates to Jesus appropriately. That is courageous.
Courage is often given by God in times of need and not given when it is not needed. At those times we must be willing to stand beside and support those needing courage and beware of too quickly saying, “I understand” to relieve the pain when the choice is made not to stand, as those two words can inadvertently sap courage.
So, pray for courage. Pray for it for every Christian. Despite this age of individualism, courage is not an internal trait. It is given by God, and he calls his people to be courageous. Help each other to be courageous.The Rev Archie Poulos is head of the Department of Ministry and director of the Centre for Ministry Development at Moore College.
Is the Reformation still relevant?
The Reformation was a great example of what it meant for people to recapture the gospel above all else, but around the time of its 500th anniversary people began to ask whether the Reformation was now “over” or had become irrelevant.
One reason for this is that many perceive the challenges churches face today are not the same as 500 years ago. You don’t have to be an expert to recognise that one of today’s greatest challenges is militant and missional Islam, and another
If we want to prioritise the gospel in our lives it is important to remember the lessons of the past, says L eonardo d e C hiri C o .
at stake then and the gospel isat
stakenow”: Leonardo De Chirico speaks in the auditorium at CMS Summer School.
is secularisation – the attempt to reduce or remove Christian heritage and values from our society.
The confrontation and the debate between Protestants and Catholics looks very small compared with the importance of these present-day challenges, so people begin to think that the issues of the Reformation are no longer as relevant. In addition, many believe – doctrinally and theologically speaking – that the issues of the Reformation have been solved. Most are no longer interested in talking about justification, salvation and the technicalities of biblical doctrine.
So, we need to recall the main issues debated and discussed all those years ago and consider whether they’re still relevant today.
There were two foundational pillars of the Reformation:
1 the authority of the Bible over the Church, and
2 that God’s salvation is a gift received by faith alone. How did Rome respond to this? At the Council of Trent (15451563), the official response was to reject both points. With regard to the Bible’s authority the Council of Trent said, no, the Bible is not above the Church. It is the other way around. It is the Church that is the mother of the Bible – the Church that made the Bible
– so it is the Church that presides over what the Bible teaches and decides what is the truth. The council also expanded the list of canonical books, adding the Apocrypha to prove the point that it is the Church that made the Bible.
On the point that salvation is by faith alone, the Council of Trent again said, “No”. It said that God is involved in salvation at the beginning, but if you want to be impacted by it you have to improve yourself, receive the sacraments and behave well. God might be necessary, but he is not sufficient. It is not by faith alone – it is by faith and works.
REFORMED DOCTRINE IS STILL REJECTED
It’s important to recognise that the rejection of both central points of the Reformation did not end in the 16th century. By way of example, since that time the Church has added a number of dogmas to its core beliefs (a dogma is regarded by the Catholic Church as divinely revealed and therefore unchangeable).
In 1854, it promulgated the dogma of Mary’s immaculate conception – the idea that Mary was preserved from original sin at the time of her conception. In 1870, it promulgated the
dogma of papal infallibility – that when the Pope speaks from the chair, he speaks infallibly, without error. In 1950, the last dogma promulgated by the church was Mary’s bodily assumption to the heavenly glory – the idea that, as soon as she died, she was taken, body and soul, into the heavenly glory.
Is any of this in the Bible? No, but that’s not the point. Within the Catholic system, reliance is not on the authority of Scripture alone.
On the other major point that salvation comes to us by faith alone, the Council of Trent said those who believed such things should be excommunicated. It declared that those who upheld justification by faith alone were “anathema” (cursed), as well as affirming that salvation is a process that God initiates, but you have to contribute to in order to make it work.
So, while the language, attitude and posture may have changed, the central issues of the Reformation are still with us. The Reformation is not over. It is a responsibility for every generation – ours included. The gospel was at stake then and the gospel is at stake now.
MAINTAIN OUR WITNESS
What are we to do then, in response to this? We must maintain gospel standards and witness in our lives. The truth that the Bible is the word of God, and that it stands over every other authority, needs to qualify our witness if we want it to be evangelical, gospelcentred and gospel-focused.
In our century, there are many voices telling us to dilute the gospel and “round off the edges” to make it more palatable. If we do that, we are falling short. When we want to fulfil the missionary tasks of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus throughout the world, we have to proclaim it in a biblical fashion with biblical content. We don’t have the freedom to change it – not unless we want to destroy it.
There are certainly Roman Catholics who have a personal relationship with Christ but, as far as the official doctrine, dogma and teaching of the Church is concerned, the institution rejected the Bible 500 years ago and is still rejecting it in our time. And so, our responsibility is to reach out to our Catholic neighbours with the gospel of Jesus – with the news that salvation is by faith alone.
Of course, with the moral, social and cultural issues of our time we sometimes find Catholics and people of other faith traditions on our side – defending such things as unborn life, the family and important social practices. We have the freedom and responsibility to work together on such issues amid the call to live in peace with one another. But when it comes to the missionary mandate to preach the word to the ends of the world, we must maintain this task faithfully.
The Reformation was a glorious, complex event but it’s still something we have to engage with on an ongoing basis. Will we be ready to rise to this challenge? Or will we shy away from this responsibility and seek the appreciation of men rather than the affirmation of God?
May God grant us the courage to be Protestant – not in the sense of being antagonistic, but to witness in favour of the gospel. This is our task. This is our calling.
Dr Leonardo De Chirico is pastor of the Breccia di Roma church. He is also a Bible college lecturer in institutional theology and vice chairman of the Italian Evangelical Alliance. This is an edited version of a talk he gave at CMS Summer School in Katoomba last month.
TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING THE GOSPEL TO CATHOLICS
Don’t assume or rely on common language
Catholics share much of our vocabulary (such as salvation, the cross, sin and grace) but they understand it differently. Let the Bible define your language: it is not “us” versus “them” but us standing under the authority of Scripture and praying that the Holy Spirit will open hearts. Engage them in Bible reading, Bible study and Bible conversations as much as possible. Remember there may be “fears” of the Bible (it was a forbidden book for centuries) and scepticism about it that has been absorbed through modern critical readings.
Be prepared to wrestle with the exclusive nature of the gospel
Scripture alone: Catholics have respect for the Bible but for them it’s not the ultimate authority.
Faith alone: Catholics do commend believing but it is not sufficient to be saved.
Christ alone: Catholics love Christ, but they also rely on other sub-mediators.
Be prepared to show the personal elements of the Christian life
Beyond religion: Catholics tend to separate “normal life” from religion. Show the impact of the gospel in your daily life.
Beyond tradition: Catholics tend to see religion as a set of practices. Show the centrality of your relationship with Jesus.
Beyond the clergy-laity divide: Catholics tend to consider religion as a responsibility of the clergy. Show that we are all responsible to nurture our Christian lives.
Be prepared to integrate personal witness and church life
Believing and belonging go together: Catholics tend to emphasise the latter at the expense of the former. Show the reality that the gospel creates a new community (the church). Invite them to church in order to see what a community of the gospel looks like.
The importance of the ordinances, especially the Lord’s Supper. Catholics are not used to the “listen” idea; they are used to “see and experience” through the senses and in the context of community. A church service is a wonderful evangelistic tool.
Preaching in a Roman Catholic context
Make sure to explain the biblical flow of the passage. In Catholicism there is little sense of biblical theology. Make sure you communicate the finality of Scripture. The Bible is the ultimate authority.
Make sure you carefully show the impact of God’s word on daily life, e.g. personal, work, church, society.
If possible, quote a Church father as this creates a bridge and reclaims the fathers to the Protestant faith (as the Reformers did).
How a man reading the Bible revolutionised my own Bible readingRussell Powell
For most of the time I have been a Christian, talking about personal Bible reading has made me uneasy.
I usually regarded people who talked about their deep quiet times (often early in the morning) as spiritual skites. That was simply jealousy, because most of my attempts at quiet times could be likened to the Wright brothers’ experiments with flight. A lot of effort, airborne for a short time, then a crash. Weirdly enough, it was a combination of the pandemic and technology that came to my rescue. We have a number of smart speakers throughout the house and, during the pandemic, we used them to listen to podcasts.
I came across a podcast from Crossway, publishers of the ESV
Bible, called Through the Bible in a Year . At the same time, I got a phone app designed to help build habits by not “breaking the chain”. Tick off the task every day and eventually you won’t need the app. It will become, well, a habit.
I thought, if I combine the app with the podcast, for the first time I might get a Bible reading plan that stuck. The big difference was that I was not reading it. The Bible was being read to me.
Two things worked against getting going. First, the Bible-in-ayear program takes about 20 minutes a day. Could I find that time every day? In lockdown, yes I could. Second, I always preferred the NIV 1984 version to the ESV. It seemed less awkward and more readable. I was proved wrong yet again – the narrator on
this podcast does a great job of making the ESV clear and more flowing in style.
Providentially, even more things were working for me. I had smart speakers everywhere, a smart phone always with me and shortcuts to summon my daily reading with just my voice. The level of difficulty to start was zero, so I was left without any excuse. My wife Robyn and I could listen together and discuss afterwards – another level of accountability.
Also, the app kept me honest if I missed a day. You don’t want to get behind in a rolling reading program or you will end up having to do an hour of listening to catch up. So, as I write this, our daily Bible reading and prayer habit has stretched unbroken for 584 days. Soon, we will have heard the Old Testament twice and the New Testament and Psalms four times in a row.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
Please forgive me for starting this with a confession of my incompetence and laziness but I figure there is someone out there like me who doesn’t want to read a super-spiritual lecture on how you should be reading your Bible.
Awkwardness aside, I can now move on to the joyful experience that this has been for me and for Robyn. It has filled us with God’s word like nothing else ever did. By listening to the Bible being read, we pick up things we missed or skipped over when our eyes were on the page. This happens at least once or twice a week and leads to good discussion. We often dive into a commentary to research the meaning of what we have just heard.
Listening in large chunks (the podcast reads several chapters of the Old Testament, a psalm and some New Testament chapters every day) also helps you to see the patterns and the themes of God’s word more clearly. I am remembering more and it is encouraging me much more. In addition, because we always pray after listening it has revolutionised our prayer life as well.
I felt motivated to write this around the time many people would be making resolutions for 2023, because this is the only resolution I have ever made that has really stuck beyond January 31.
Can I share one of the main things I’ve learned? As I have listened, I have heard God’s “steadfast love” mentioned over and over. When I searched, I found that it is declared 195 times in the whole of Scripture. It hit me that in response to God’s constant, unswerving love for me, I should at least be consistent in listening to his word.
Who knew a man reading the Bible on a podcast would be the thing that helped me do it?
ESV THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR PODCAST https://www.esv.org/plans/daily-reading-bible/ or search in your podcast app
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Faith, democracy and the election
How should Christians engage with politics?
Historically, there have been times when Christians have been in the majority, and have sought to wield their political power to create a “Christian nation”, embedding God’s laws in the laws of that nation.
We rightly recoil from this approach, and not just because we are no longer in the majority. Rather, we recognise that modern nations such as Australia are not, and are not meant to be, a theocracy like ancient Israel.
Ancient Israel was a theocracy because God established the nation by redeeming a people to himself, gave them his laws and decrees at Mt Sinai through Moses, and raised up kings, priests and prophets to lead his people to walk in his ways. Israel was God’s nation because Israel was the Lord’s “firstborn son” (Exod 4:23). If you belonged to the nation of Israel, then you were part of God’s people and under the rule of his law.
Those who refused to submit to God and his laws had to be “cut off” from the nation. For example, those who refused to observe the Sabbath (Exod 31:14), disobeyed the dietary laws (Lev 17:14) or despised the word of the Lord through defiant sin (Num 15:30-31) were to be “cut off”.
Some sins were so serious that “cutting off” a person meant capital punishment. For example, false prophets (Deut 13:5), false witnesses (Deut 17:7), murderers (Deut 19:13), rapists (Deut 22:2425) and kidnappers (Deut 24:7) were to be put to death, in order to “purge the evil from among you”.
CHURCH AND NATION
However, a significant shift occurs in the New Testament. Paul quotes the Deuteronomy formula to “expel the wicked” in
1 Cor 5:13, but with a twist. In response to unrepentant sexual immorality Paul calls for excommunication, not execution as was required under the old covenant.
This is because there is now a differentiation between “church” and “nation” – a person can be put out of the church without having to be cut off from the nation.
This differentiation between Church and State has implications for Christian engagement with rulers and authorities.
Christians in the first century lived under sometimes hostile Jewish and Roman rulers. Notwithstanding this, the New Testament has a high view of governing authorities:
• All governing authorities (even bad ones) have been established by God, and Christians should submit themselves to these authorities. These authorities are God’s servants to promote good and punish evil (Rom 13:1-6, 1 Pet 2:13-14).
• Christians should pray for those in authority over them (1 Tim 2:1-2) and give these people due honour (Rom 13:7, 1 Pet 2:17).
• Sometimes Christians will be persecuted by the authorities. If Christians do good and suffer for it, they should endure unjust suffering, following the example of Christ (1 Pet 2:19-21).
• The limit of obedience to the State is the requirement to “obey God rather than human beings” (Acts 5:29).
The Roman Empire was an autocracy, not a democracy, and it is therefore not surprising that the New Testament does not encourage active political engagement, because there was no mechanism for this to occur.
However, given this, it is important to note Paul’s willingness to use his rights as a Roman citizen (see Acts 16:37, 22:25, 25:11) when this could serve the gospel.
DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND THE ELECTION
Christians in Australia today are part of a democracy. We have a democratic right to participate in political processes and to help shape policies and laws. Christians should not make the mistake of thinking that we have any greater right to participate or to be heard because of our faith, but conversely neither should we allow ourselves to be cowed into silence by those who seek to debar Christians from participating in public life.
Many Christians in the world today do not have the privileges of democracy, and we should not take it for granted or squander it. Like Paul, we should use our rights as citizens wisely.
The NSW state election will be held on March 25. This provides an opportunity for Christians to exercise their democratic rights as citizens of this state to engage with those we elect to govern us for the next four years.
It is important for Christians to be informed about the values, principles and policies of those standing as candidates. For this reason, Meet the Candidate forums have been arranged in more than half of the electorates across NSW, and many of these events are in local Anglican churches. There will be a limited number of set questions (e.g. freedom of religion, gambling and SRE) followed by an opportunity for questions from the floor.
To find a Meet the Candidate event, go to www.freedomforfaith. org.au/nsw SC
New chaplains for St George and Sutherland
Sashi Grayndler is the new full-time Anglicare chaplain to St George Hospital in Kogarah. Experienced in a range of chaplaincy areas – including community chaplaincy, bushfire recovery and aged care –she began at the hospital in December. She replaces the Rev David Lakos , who retired on December 16 after 34 years of ordained chaplaincy, both at the hospital and in the parishes of Fairfield, Riverstone, Forestville and Beacon Hill.
Says Mrs Grayndler: “As a chaplain in the hospital setting, it is my honour to provide pastoral care and spiritual support to patients, hospital staff and to the family and friends of those in hospital... We offer a listening ear, a compassionate presence, and – to those of the Christian faith – an offer to pray, read the Bible and take Communion together.
“What a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this setting, to demonstrate his love and compassion for those who are going through challenging times.”
In other moves, Lisa Russell
became the new chaplain to Sutherland Hospital at the end of last month, moving from Westmead Hospital. She is a trained physiotherapist, former children’s minister and also has experience as a chaplain to aged care and social housing residents. She replaces Zack Hankin, who has had to resign due to chronic illness.
The Rev Ian Morrison moved last month from an assistant minister’s role in the parish of Engadine and Heathcote, becoming rector of Lawson on January 23.
After five years as assistant minister to the parish of Sans Souci, the Rev Andrew Kyrios became rector of Cherrybrook on February 1.
An assistant minister in the parish of Carlingford and North Rocks, the Rev Danny Au Yeung , will be inducted as the new rector of Lidcombe on February 21.
The Rev Terry Bowers became the senior assistant minister at Turramurra on February 5, following 20 years as rector of Freshwater. His focus will be on retirees and empty nesters.
List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at January 23, 2023:
• Concord and Burwood
• Eagle Vale**
• Lavender Bay
• Regents Park*
• St James King Street, Sydney
• South Hurstville
• Wentworth Falls
• West Wollongong
* denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments
** right of nomination suspended/on hold
The Rev Ian Fauchon died on November 8, 2022.
Born Ian Edward Fauchon on February 19, 1937, he grew up in the Newcastle area. He attended and enjoyed church, CEBS and youth fellowship, but the abiding passion of his early life was cricket, and he stayed on at school solely to make the First 11 cricket team.
In 1953 he made his firstgrade debut for local club Stockton at the age of 15, and, notes his son David, “This event, and the notoriety it gave Ian,
was to consume his life for 15 years to come – until the day he would meet Jesus and join his team”.
Mr Fauchon continued to pursue cricket and baseball, but missed out on selection for touring teams, to his great disappointment. However, in 1957 he started to go out with Kathlyn Rush, and two years later they were married at St Paul’s, Stockton, where her father was the minister.
He began studying and working as an accountant, and
they moved to Sydney. It was here, in 1968, that he attended a Billy Graham Crusade with his family and gave his life to Jesus.
“He could now understand why those sporting disappointments occurred, and why the transfer to Sydney,” David Fauchon says. “Success at sport could easily have become Ian’s god, and he may never have been at Sydney Showground for that great day in 1968.”
Amid growing ministry involvement, after much prayer and with encouragement fromChaplaincy changes: (from left) Sashi Grayndler, Lisa Russell and the Rev David Lakos.
Christian friends, Mr Fauchon studied at Moore College in the mid-1970s.
He began ordained ministry in his 40th year in the parish of Riverstone, which included work at Kellyville, and he moved there officially as curate-in-charge in 1980 – growing it to full parish status within four years while simultaneously running CEBS and starting a church cricket team.
Mr Fauchon also became secretary in the planning stages of William Clarke College. The school opened in 1987, and he remained on the board for another 13 years.
In 1988 the family moved to the parish of Cabramatta, and in 1997 Mr Fauchon took on his last official ministry role prior to retirement as assistant minister of St John’s Park with Canley Heights.
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During each step of this ministry journey Mrs Fauchon ministered alongside her husband, teaching Scripture, leading GFS, Bible study groups and running women’s ministry. The Fauchons retired to the Central Coast in 2001, continuing to serve wherever they found themselves.
“Dad would be quick to pray with us in times of need,” David Fauchon recalled at his father’s
funeral. “I remember some troubled moments as a teenager. Without fail after confiding in him he would always finish our conversation with, ‘Let’s pray about it together’.
“We will miss his incredible example of what it is to run the race to the end, to fight the good fight, to trust in Jesus for our compass in this life and to trust in Jesus for our safe transition to eternity with him.”
The Rev Brian Wynn died on August 12, 2022.
Born Ernest Brian Wynn on September 20, 1935, he was brought up in the Illawarra suburb of Woonona, where he learned about and trusted in Jesus’ love through the witness and teaching of his local church.
After school, Mr Wynn worked in public relations at BHP before attending Moore College in the late 1950s, finishing in 1960. He met his future wife Lenore while a student minister at West Lindfield, and they married in 1962 – after the completion of his studies and her own at Deaconess House.
Upon retirement Mr and Mrs Wynn moved to Copacabana on the Central Coast and, according to Mrs Wynn, before long her husband was asked to “pastor the branch church of Empire Bay in the Kincumber parish, with a full range of activities, at the same time as taking part in our parish church of St David’s, Avoca!
“Brian enjoyed his work with children,” she adds. “Holiday Bible schools, kids’ clubs and Scripture classes all benefited from his flair for the dramatic.”
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In 1961, Mr Wynn became curate at Narrabeen, followed by curate-in-charge/rector roles at Sylvania (1964-68) and Matraville with Phillip Bay (1968-72).
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He then became curate-incharge at Ermington, saw it brought to full parish status two years later, and remained rector until 1988, when he moved to his final parish of
Says Mrs Wynn: “True to his calling, Brian was a man of sincerity and integrity who had an underlying love for people. His family and his many friends will miss his ready ear and wise counsel.”
THE SEEKER, THE FINDER
(Matthew 13: 44-46)
Me and Ben is different – a bit like chalk and cheese, He’s a go-go-go-type man and I just take my ease.
I think that’s ’ow we’re made, you know – the way we’re put together, I don’t suppose you’ll change it – just accept it like the weather.
Ben’s a man of business, who chases all the margins
And me – I’m just a farm hand – I never look for bargains. He’s in search of something of a one-and-only kind, While I just plough the furrows and keep my daily grind.
But one great day Ben found it – the brightest pearl on earth. His anxious search was over, his heart rang out with mirth!
But with me there’s nothing changing, I just stuck to weary toil, Until one day the plough, it jumped, and just below was spoil.
Ben sold up all he had to buy the thing that he had found. I did the same, I gave my all to own my piece of ground. He had the pearl, I had the gold, we both had found our treasure –Came at it from our different ways, rewarded in all measure.
I guess some folks are searchers and others found by grace. God’s good news can reach them both – each one in his own place.David Hewetson
Adelaide. It was born out of lots of pastoral conversations, which then moved to being a sermon series with Bible studies. That developed further into a series of topical articles on each of the Christian essentials.
A move to Lower Mountains Anglican in Sydney meant that I could have another go at preaching through each essential topic with reworked Bible studies and a podcast. All the while I was meeting with folk to read the Bible, and by this stage there were others who were also using the material to read with someone they were discipling.
COVID lockdown happened, which provided some time to write the material into book form, get more feedback, and then present it to Matthias Media. From there the theological and literary edit happened – and many months later we have a book called Christian Essentials!
Why detail this long process? Well, I want to say that this book is not something written from the confines of my study. What I liked about this process was that it was road tested over and over again by people willing to engage with the content, which has ultimately shaped it into a more useful book under God.
What sections of the book have had a particular impact in your life?
Jesus discipled his disciples and taught them in word and deed what it meant to live for God in a world that often rejected or ignored him. He showed them how to shine their light before others so that their good deeds would be noticed and God would be glorified (Matthew 5:16). I think it is important that Christians live attractive yet consistently principled lives in a world that may not share those same principles.
The gospel has impacted my life in ways that I would never have imagined before becoming a Christian and now, in living
INCIDENT IN THE SHOPPING PLAZA
There’s a lion loose in the shopping plaza. The word goes around the lunchtime shoppers. Some scream, run off, take to the lifts, the escalators, the fire escapes – anything to get away. Others watch, some are drawn closer, curious, and want to see more.
The lion pads on, dividing the onlookers; ignoring the BIG CHRISTMAS 10% SALE sign; ignoring the PHOTOS TAKEN WITH SANTA stand. A woman in a wheelchair follows, a child breaks from his mother’s grip and runs after. A TV news crew arrives. The managers confer, wondering how to box him up. The PR team consult about the brand image of the plaza once the news gets out. An announcement breaks into the carol music warning people to beware of the lion – he is not tame. The screams and shouting soften, arguments and talking take over about how to label this incident and what to do with the lion. Some question whether the lion is really there in the plaza. The lion pads on. Polarising people. Small seeds are left behind.Ian Keast
out that gospel, there seems to be such a clear logic to what the gospel asks of those who accept it. As such, there is a logical flow to this book. Each of the nine essential characteristics are aspects that I have had to consider as I have grown as a Christian. Foundationally, an understanding that I am saved by grace not by my works (Chapter 1) – for all that follows means nothing without that beautiful truth. Instructively being grounded in the word (Chapter 2) and faithful in prayer (Chapter 3) helps me in my growing, two-way relationship with Jesus.
It is those three chapters together that help me to understand the importance of all the following characteristics in the life of a believer: to be bold in witness (Chapter 4), resilient in suffering (Chapter 5), committed in membership to a church (Chapter 6), loving in relationships – even with those who may disagree –(Chapter 7), godly in giving (Chapter 8) and, finally, now with those essential characteristics in place, I can understand the call to be fruitful in service (Chapter 9).
So, what do you want readers to take away from Christian Essentials?
My prayer is that people will read it, and that it will help people to grow as disciples who shine brightly for the gospel. And here is my tip. Don’t rush through the book. Perhaps read each chapter over a week. Monday: start with the Acts reflection as a way into the topic. Tuesday/Wednesday: do the Bible study, listening to what God is saying in his word. Thursday/Friday: work through each section of the topic as addressed. Saturday: work through the practical application. Sunday: talk about what you have been reading/thinking from the chapter with others in your church family. Or better still, read through the book with a friend or a small group over a nine-week stretch (and notice that would fit into the length of one school term!). SC(acknowledgement to C.S. Lewis and Les Murray)
How to do a spiritual stocktake
An author Q & A with the Rev Ken Noakes, whose new book Christian Essentials has been published by Matthias Media.
What prompted you to write this book?
Ultimately I wrote Christian Essentials because I would like to help people (and churches) to enjoy being disciples of Jesus. In essence, this book is a manual for discipleship. I love reading the Bible with others, and over the years I have had many opportunities to listen, learn and read with people – and I have noticed that, generally, I am having four different conversations:
• the conversation with the “close but not-yet Christian” person who has heard the gospel and, before accepting, wants to know more about what a Christian person looks like;
• the conversation with the new Christian who is trying to work out what they must essentially have in place as they set out in their new life;
• the conversation with the doubting Christian person who may be struggling in faith, often because of their life circumstances or because of what the world is telling or asking of them; and, finally, the conversation with the mature Christian, who is so involved doing wonderful Christian things that they have forgotten (or need to be reminded of) what it looks like to be essentially Christian!
So now, when I meet someone new at church, or someone joining our church, I have a gift to give them to say, “Welcome”. But more, a book that says if you would like help being essentially Christian, then here are nine characteristics to consider.
You are urging people to do a spiritual stocktake – what do you mean by that?
In business, in order to determine an accurate financial position, all stock or inventory is counted. A snapshot for the year of what the business holds. The result is that the business can then make wise decisions about what it buys or sells as it manages its profits and losses. It is called a stocktake.
I think it is helpful for Christians to do what I like to call a spiritual stocktake. To stop from time to time and consider how they are going under God in their spiritual walk. To ask themselves some hard questions about how they use their time and energy, to look at some of their spiritual disciplines (what and when they are reading the Bible, how they are praying) and to consider how they are serving the gospel. The goal is not efficiency, but effectiveness. And the aim is that we grow as disciples of Jesus who shine a light before others as we fruitfully serve him. We can be so busy being Christian that we can forget why we are Christian – and I think a spiritual stocktake might help put the essentials back in place!
What was the process of writing the book?
Long! Most of what I write comes out of what I am doing in mission and ministry. So this book started as I considered what would be helpful for those I was pastoring, at the time, at Trinity Church in