Southern Cross MAY-JUNE 2023

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The Gettys bring Sing! to Sydney • AI and prayer Tips for outreach • Stark reality of clergy stress In prayer, with faith GAFCON FLAGS MAJOR CHANGES FOR THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR SYDNEY ANGLICANS MAY–JUNE 2023

Resetting the Communion “urgent”, says GAFCON IV

The GAFCON chairman and the Primate of the Anglican Church of North America, Foley Beach, opened GAFCON IV by saying it could prove to be “one of the most important church gatherings in our time”. By the end of the five-day event that didn’t appear to be an exaggeration. Momentous changes in the Anglican Communion were in train.

The fourth in a series of five-yearly conferences that began in 2008 was held in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The 1300 delegates from more than 50 countries arrived amid commemorations of the genocide that began in April 1994, when armed Hutu militias set upon the minority Tutsi population and killed more than half a million people.

In his welcome, the Primate of Rwanda, Archbishop Laurent Mbanda, reminded delegates of

a lesser-known and contrasting historical event: the East African Revival, which began in the 1920s and spread from Rwanda to neighbouring countries.

“GAFCON wants and desires and commits to bringing and keeping the Bible at the centre,” Archbishop Mbanda said.

“Let us keep the unchanging word of God. The East African revivalists moved with the Bible in their hands, preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus Christ. The Bible became their best friend, their walking stick, a pillar to lean on and to focus them to the word of God.”

Tragically, just 24 hours later the archbishop, his wife Chantal and daughter, Erika – who served as volunteer co-ordinator – had to leave the conference to fly to the United States, where their 33-year-old son and brother Eddie had died suddenly in his sleep.

SouthernCross May-June 2023

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The decision earlier in the year by the declining Church of England to reject biblical authority and bless same-sex marriages hung over the conference.

As Archbishop Beach said, “We’re called to be a repenting church. In recent days, we’ve seen the Church of England, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and their bishops, walk away from the plain teaching of Scripture. Sadly, and with broken hearts, we must say that until the Archbishop of Canterbury repents, we can no longer recognise him as the ‘first among equals’ and the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.

“It’s time for the whole Anglican establishment to be reformed anyway. I mean, why does the secular government of only one of the nations represented in the Anglican

Publisher: Anglican Media Sydney

Communion still get to pick the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion? This makes no sense in today’s post-colonial world.”

In the final communiqué, conference delegates confirmed they no longer regarded the Archbishop of Canterbury as first among equals but made it clear that GAFCON members were not the instigators of disunity. “The current divisions in the Anglican Communion have been caused by radical departures from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” the Kigali Commitment said.

“All four Instruments [of communion] propose that the way ahead for the Anglican Communion is to learn to walk together in ‘good disagreement’. However, we reject the claim that two contradictory positions can both be valid in matters affecting salvation. We cannot ‘walk

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Come together: The 1300 delegates for GAFCON IV meet last month in Kigali’s Convention Centre.
cover image: Prayer time at GAFCON in Kigali.
2 SouthernCross May–June 2023
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1. We will engage in a decade of discipleship, evangelism and mission (2023-2033).

2. We will devote ourselves to raising up the next generation of leaders in GAFCON through Bible-based theological education that will equip them to be Christ-centred and servanthearted.

3. We will prioritise youth and children’s ministry that instructs them in the word of the Lord, disciples them to maturity in Christ and equips them for a lifetime of Christian service.

together’ in good disagreement with those who have deliberately chosen to walk away from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).”

The conference’s final statement was formulated by the delegates themselves, in line with the tradition of

4. We will affirm and encourage the vital and diverse ministries, including leadership roles, of GAFCON women in family, church and society, both as individuals and as groups.

5. We will demonstrate the compassion of Christ through the many GAFCON mercy ministries.

6. We will resource and support bishops’ training that produces faithful, courageous, servant leaders.

7. We will build the bonds of fellowship and mutual edification through interprovincial visits of our primates.

previous conferences that statements should arise from the participants rather than being predetermined.

The statement committee chairman, Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead, said as the statement was read out that the mood was different to


The Rev Richard Coekin Dundonald Church, London

“We have got to love same-sex attracted people better than to tell lies... The same word that proclaims life, and proclaims the Lord Jesus Christ, requires repentance and faith from us all. We’re all sexual sinners –we’re all sinners in many ways – but to be saved you must repent, and we must love people enough to tell them that truth, and practise it ourselves, and encourage others to repent of their sin... There are those in my church who have left their partners to follow Jesus, and they have told me that they are relieved by the stance that we are taking. They want our support in following Jesus.”

The Rev Rico Tice Langham Place, London

“I think that the [English] bishops, a lot of them, have thought if we cut the price, more will buy. So, we’ve got to give way on human sexuality. To which our response is no, no! If you do that and say there are blessings just to be more acceptable, then what happens is the Holy Spirit departs. And as we know in evangelism, we are totally

previous GAFCON meetings. “There was strong support for the statement, but it was not triumph and it’s actually coming from a place of deep sadness,” he said.

As well as a shift away from Canterbury, the largest biblically orthodox groups – GAFCON

dependent on him [the Holy Spirit] for blind eyes to be opened. So, we’ll see the Church of England decline and decline unless we’re faithful.”

Bishop Jay Behan Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand

“Jesus is not a supplement or addition, he is all. Jesus is not just the messenger; he is the message.”

Archbishop Justin Badi Arama Primate of South Sudan

“GAFCON is gifted in mission, in enabling people to renew their faith – that is something that gives us encouragement and gives us hope for the whole Anglican communion, and we thank God for GAFCON… Meeting friends from all around the world [here] is a great encouragement and excitement because it reminds me that I am not alone. There are still thousands of brothers and sisters around the world who are firm in the gospel... GAFCON and Global South are two institutions that overlap and in future it is my hope and prayer that the two may become one. We are planning

and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican churches (GSFA) met and signalled they will move closer together. The primates of these groups represent the overwhelming majority (estimated at 85 per cent) of Anglicans worldwide.

“The leadership of both groups affirmed and celebrated their complementary roles in the Anglican Communion,” said the Kigali Commitment. “GAFCON is a movement focused on evangelism and mission, church planting and providing support and a home for faithful Anglicans who are pressured by or alienated from revisionist dioceses and provinces. GSFA... is focused on establishing doctrinally based structures within the Communion.

“We rejoice in the united commitment of both groups on three fundamentals: the lordship

for that, we are dreaming that and we are moving towards that. It is all our prayer that we will see something new within the Anglican Communion in the nearest future.”

Archbishop James Wong Primate of the Indian Ocean

“The Anglican Church is being bullied by the people of the world. We are not separating ourselves from the Church of England – the Church of England is separating themselves from us. We are not walking together. Not only are we not walking together, we can’t work together. Here [at GAFCON] we are orthodox Anglicans. We have the same view of the Bible and we can collaborate with one another, working together, walking together hand in hand.”

“The spirit here is one united spirit in Christ and his word... being at GAFCON is a kind of spiritual vitamin!”

Courtesy The Heart of GAFCON interviews with Dominic Steele of The Pastor’s Heart, and
4 SouthernCross May–June 2023

of Jesus Christ; the authority and clarity of the word of God; and the priority of the church’s mission to the world.”

The conference also welcomed a call by the GSFA in February to reset and reorder the Anglican Communion. “[This]is an urgent matter,” the Commitment said. “It needs an adequate and robust foundation that addresses the legal and constitutional complexities in various provinces.

“The goal is that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will have a clear identity, a global ‘spiritual home’ of which they can be proud, and a strong leadership structure that gives them stability and direction as Global Anglicans. We therefore commit to pray that God will guide this process... and that GAFCON and GSFA will keep in step with the Spirit.”


Several Australians played a role in the conference, including the


We affirm that every person is loved by God and we are determined to love as God loves. As Resolution I.10 affirms, we oppose the vilification or demeaning of any person, including those who do not follow God’s ways, since all human beings are created in God’s image.

We are thankful to God for all those who seek to live a life of faithfulness to God’s word in the face of all forms of sexual temptation.

We pledge ourselves afresh to support and care for one another in a loving and pastorally sensitive way as members of Christ’s body, building one another up in the word and in the Spirit, and encouraging each other to experience God’s transforming power as we walk by faith in the path of repentance and obedience that leads to fullness of life.

outgoing GAFCON Australia chairman, Bishop Richard Condie of Tasmania, and former Sydney archbishop Dr Glenn Davies, who is now Bishop of the Diocese of the Southern Cross. Archbishop Kanishka Raffel gave a Bible study and an address on the importance of GAFCON (see Archbishop Writes on page 17) It was also announced that Archbishop Raffel and the

Primate of the Anglican Church of Brazil, Archbishop Miguel Uchoa, will be vice chairmen of GAFCON and that Archbishop Mbanda will be its new chairman. The Rev Peter Smith, rector of Dalkeith in the Diocese of Perth, has become the new chairman of GAFCON Australia.

The response from Lambeth Palace to the Kigali Commitment was a statement from the

Archbishop of Canterbury’s spokesman, saying he continues to be in touch with primates about the matters in the statement and that they should “continue to walk together”.

The conference drew together delegates from Western churches facing compromise on the authority of Scripture, and African churches – many under physical persecution and opposition – prompting GAFCON general secretary, Nigerian Archbishop Ben Kwashi, to give a heartfelt address on persecution.

“Whatever we are facing today, there is always hope,” he said. “Persecution has never killed the church. It will never kill the church. In fact, persecution helps the gospel to spread as Christians run from one place to another.

“Brothers and sisters, you have nothing to fear. If only you know who is with you in all the circumstances of life. It is we, God’s people, not God, who need to open our eyes. Wake up!” SC

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Gettys bring Sing! to Australia

Popular modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty will visit Australia for the first time next month – and they’re bringing their Sing! concert and conference with them.

“We have an annual Sing! conference in Nashville each September, and our theme for 2023 is The Great Commission.”

Keith Getty says. “We have been inspired to step out and connect with our friends around the world and work alongside them as they reach their communities for Christ, and we are thankful to have the opportunity to participate in ministry around the world.”

This will kick off in Belfast on June 16-17, followed a week later by Singapore, and then Sing!

Australia at the Sydney Opera

House on June 27. He adds: “Our hope and prayer is to continue this world tour into next year to new continents”.

While not all those taking part have been confirmed at this stage, the Gettys will be bringing their full band of 12, plus a choir. Mr Getty says their four daughters will also join them onstage for a few songs.

CityAlight, the songwriting ministry of St Paul’s, Castle Hill, will be part of the concert, and Castle Hill will also host a conference for music teams, worship leaders and pastors the night before. CityAlight’s chief operating officer, Rich Vassallo, is co-ordinating the conference and says their mission is very similar to the Gettys.

“We want people to sing

biblically rich lyrics – and to come alongside another organisation that wants to do similar things is immensely important,” he says. “We don’t just promote CityAlight songs... because there’s a part to play for everyone, and people are writing great songs for churches to sing.

“Our hope is that partnering in the conference here continues to promote good songs for churches to access, not only for their members to sing but to think through. We want people thinking throughout the week about songs sung on a Sunday, ruminating on the truths of the Bible... Putting it in a song makes it more memorable and accessible during the week in a way a sermon may not do.”

To get an idea of what a Sing!

concert is like, Southern Cross spoke to Colin Buchanan, who has taken part in a number of Sing! concerts and conferences in the US. He says there is encouragement to think about the intent behind our singing, and what part it should play in a gathering of God’s people, large or small.

“If you think modern hymns you think, ‘In Christ Alone’ –and really, there’s been an entire movement that has grown out of what this song represents in terms of biblical content, beauty of melody and singability,” he says.

“It’s the sort of song that gives a voice, not just to the heart of each individual, but to the corporate voice of a congregation. The whole modern

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hymn movement has been something Keith and Kristyn have championed and promoted, and the Sing! conference is a manifestation of that.

“I think the Gettys have a great sense of, ‘This isn’t going to happen every day, so let’s sing some bangers together!’ They have an awesome band – they’re incredible players and singers – but there’s also a wonderful, pastoral sense of wanting to nurture and encourage the vision for music wherever it manifests itself.

“Some will go and just love the experience because they love singing. Others will go because they want to refresh the vision for how they might minister in their local church. I think they’ll find encouragement in that.”

Mr Vassallo says CityAlight members are excited the Gettys are coming to Australia, and “look forward to partnering with them as we promote the gospel, the Bible and the truths and promises that God has revealed to us”.

He describes Keith Getty as “an amazingly gifted music arranger and hymn writer, who sees it as his responsibility to give that back to the church. These concerts are a way he can go, ‘Here’s what we can offer; here’s what’s happening in the world’. He wants to bring as much of those resources to the people as he can.” SC

For the Sing! Australia concert see ; for the conference, see https://stpauls. church/singaustralia2023

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Curry and Christianity

It’s one thing to host evangelistic events at your church. It’s quite another when your outreach function features an apron-clad Archbishop cooking a curry.

“People loved it and really enjoyed hearing from Kanishka – his story, his Sri Lankan background, and he was clearly passionate about Sri Lankan curries as well!” says one of the parish’s assistant ministers, the Rev Gavin Parsons.

The two Anglican churches in Wahroonga became one parish a year ago, he says, and members planned from the outset to be deliberate in how they welcomed the community into their gatherings, and God’s family, through sharing the good news of Jesus. So, an Easter mission was planned and Archbishop Raffel was invited to speak.

“He said, ‘Yes... I’m able to come on a Wednesday night’ – and as a throwaway line he said, ‘Can I cook a curry?’” Mr Parsons recalls with a laugh.

“I used to work with Kanishka at Shenton Park [in Perth]… and we did a number of foodie outreaches there. He’s done a lot of events where he’s told his story about moving from Buddhism to Christianity, but I don’t think he’d done one of these before. I knew what he could do, so it grew out of that.”

Some months later, Moore College confirmed that a mission team would also come to the parish at the same time, so this made it possible to host a larger event with the Archbishop and welcome about 150 people in for a chatty demonstration of four of his family recipes, followed by dinner and his testimony.

“It was bigger than we

expected, but [it’s] nice that people brought their friends and felt really comfortable about it,” Mr Parsons says. “Meals make it easy, and there was also a bit of curiosity about Kanishka coming and cooking a curry. He had fun, the vibe was great and it all worked really well.”

Kanishka’s Kitchen, as it was christened, was only the first event in a month of community outreach. In addition to personal invitations, flyers were put into letterboxes inviting people to events, while services each week and over Easter focused on five “Jesus is” statements – from Jesus is stronger than death, and larger than life, to bigger than failure.

“We are conscious of being guest-friendly and welcoming anyway, but the idea was to build on top of that Easter cultural expectation – a time when people might come back to church, or have a look,” Mr Parsons says.

Events prior to Easter sought to assist by reaching a range of demographics. The weekend before Easter, Wahroonga held a kids “Eggstravaganza” –using every part of its property to provide a magic show, Easter hunt, petting zoo, jumping castle and puppet show, plus coffee and treats for parents as they

watched their kids have fun.

“There’s been some really good stories about families wanting to connect up with our kids’ and youth ministries, or taking information home,” Mr Parsons says. “People off the street also came and joined in. There was a family that wasn’t sure if they could come in because they’re not believers, and we said, ‘You’re very welcome – come onto the property and be part of the fun!’”

The parish also hosted “Hymns and hot cross buns” for seniors on Palm Sunday afternoon, following the success of a similar event at Christmas. The 60-70 attendees sang 10 hymns focused on the Cross and resurrection, followed by tea, hot cross buns and other treats.

“Some people just come for this

kind of event – and they loved it,” Mr Parsons says. “There are so many opportunities for us in our seniors space. During the week leading up to it we also had a couple of other events and afternoon teas in local [aged care] villages where we are building connections.

“What we wanted with this whole month was for people to take one step further in how they’re engaging in our life of mission together. Part of that is being ready to give a reason for the hope that we have, and part of that might be being courageous and issuing an invitation.

“If everyone moves one or two steps in being more deliberate, that’s a great thing for a mission period like this.”

Eggstravaganza: Pete Tong does magic tricks for the kids. Kanishka’s Kitchen: Meeting the chef. Archbishop gets his MasterChef on during Wahroonga’s mission month.
SC 8 SouthernCross May–June 2023

Help with a difficult and often thankless job

Russell Powell

new Anglican chaplains have been sworn in at the Sydney City and Kings Cross

St John’s. Darlinghurst, the Rev Dr Matthew Wilcoxen, has been sworn in as a chaplain for the Kings Cross district.

The acting commander of the Sydney City Police Command, Superintendent Despa Fitzgerald, and senior police chaplain the

Rev Andrew Nixon, inducted Canon Allan and introduced him to a gathering that included Archbishop Raffel, Bishop Michael Stead, Dean of the Cathedral Sandy Grant, acting Assistant Commissioner Martin Fileman and operational officers

at the Day Street Police Station – which is close to Darling Harbour.

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Ready to offer support: (from right) Canon Allan, Superintendent Despa Fitzgerald and senior chaplain the Rev Andrew Nixon, watched by city police officers.
The Rev Canon Christopher New chaplains for city police stations.
“The role of the police chaplain is to give support to our staff, both sworn and unsworn,” Superintendent Fitzgerald said. “In times of difficulty and

regardless of what faith they come from or belief, it’s another support mechanism for our police. Chris is well known in the city and the parish, so we look forward to building further relationships with him.”

After being sworn in and presented with a chaplain’s scarf, hard hat and police hi-vis vest, Canon Allan said his appointment was a privilege.

“We pray in the Cathedral every single week for the police here in the city,” he said. “We’re thankful for them and we know it’s an extraordinarily difficult and often thankless job. So when Andrew [Nixon] asked me if there was an opportunity for me to serve, I said ‘Absolutely!’

“I’m expecting to be able to help the wonderful officers who serve here in the City of Sydney – to be a support to them and to be a listening ear when they need it.”

Dr Wilcoxen’s investiture was part of the annual awards ceremony at Kings Cross, where he was warmly welcomed by the commander of the Police Area Command, Detective Superintendent Jonathan Beard APM VA.

The Kings Cross Police Command spans a diverse range of people, from those living on the streets to some of the wealthiest people in the nation. Dr Wilcoxen is committed to the local community and is a director of Rough Edges, a long-standing and respected ministry of St John’s that provides essential care to many people living on the margins.

“The core values of St John’s, Darlinghurst are truth, goodness and beauty, and me serving as a police chaplain to our local station is just one way that we can serve the common good,” Dr Wilcoxen told Southern Cross “I am looking forward to helping police officers of any faith, or no faith at all, to flourish amidst the complexities of their work.” SC

Pain behind the smiles for Christians in Vanuatu

How do you cope after your nation experiences two cyclones and an earthquake within a week? When you clear up the mess from one disaster just in time to face the next?

“It’s hard, because the next trauma’s not that far away,” says June Bock, Pacific consultant for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund Australia.

“Vanuatu is on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – it’s got 12 active volcanoes, including submarine volcanoes, which can bleach the coral and poison the fish – there are rising seas... cyclones, earthquakes and trauma,” she says.

“The people of Vanuatu are the most loving and most funloving people... and that’s how they cope with all the trauma. But I think of James 1, which says to consider it ‘pure joy’ whenever you face trials, [and right now] there’s something missing between going through trauma and finding joy in it –which they do, but it’s more head knowledge. It’s still not the heart knowledge of Jesus, which is what the people need.”

Mrs Bock (along with her husband Clyde) has been ministering to and with people from South Pacific nations since 1989, firstly through links made when she worked with Scripture Union NSW, and then after her “retirement” as an Anglicare chaplain in 2017.

While she has a number of links with Fiji and the Solomon Islands, it is Vanuatu where she has had the greatest involvement. This has included the pastoral supervision of Christians, a ministry over Facebook for those traumatised

by years of volcanic eruptions and evacuations from Ambae, on-the-ground missions, care for seasonal workers in Australia and the provision of aid through her role with ARDFA.

More recently, she has been in regular pastoral contact by phone and online after cyclones Judy and Kevin wreaked havoc on the island nation at the end of February and beginning of March – and a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit between the two.

Thankfully, the earthquake caused minimal damage, but the cyclones affected 80 per cent of Vanuatu’s population and made a quarter of its arterial road network inaccessible.

To give a snapshot of the impact for locals, Mrs Bock says that in the Port Vila suburb of Tagabe, “all the buildings and priest’s houses were affected... because there were two cyclones about 48 hours apart.

“So, at the Church of the Resurrection in Tagabe the doors blew in, all the church was flooded and the roof blew off. There were 200 people sitting in the church hall who had been

evacuated there, and that roof blew off. A day later, one lady there had a baby! And that’s just one church in one place.”

She also had a Ni Vanuatu “uncle” ring her in Australia to check on the safety of his nephew, an assistant priest at Tagabe – who, thankfully, was not only safe but dry, despite the torrential rain.

A local Anglican woman, who is working on cyclone recovery for the government, shared with Mrs Bock how people are traumatised by these events but don’t show it “because they hide behind their smiles”. Many are now considering seasonal work overseas in order to pay for the cost of rebuilding their homes.

ARDFA’s appeal has already arranged for packages of food and personal items to be sent to partners in the Port Vila region, and Mrs Bock is keen to provide funds to resource the churches with essential items such as bibles.

In addition, she is hoping to buy sewing machines for a volcano-affected college on Ambae.

Amid all that she is involved with, however, is the overarching priority of growing people’s maturity in Christ and working in partnership with the church in Vanuatu to share the gospel.

“My heart is for evangelism and those who are searching to know Christ, because I want people to know Christ,” she says. “What joy it is to see what God is doing in someone’s life.” SC

To support the Vanuatu recovery, go to and scroll down to find the appeal.

10 SouthernCross May–June 2023
Cyclone crisis: Father Bice and the damage to buildings in Tagabe.

African families eating poisonous berries to survive

The Horn of Africa – an area that includes countries such as Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia – is on the brink of famine, as remote communities enter their fifth year of drought.

After seasons of failed crops, many families have lost up to 95 per cent of their livestock. People have been displaced due to crop failure, drought, political conflict between tribes and, more recently, flooding as well.

“In the north of Kenya along the Kenya-Ethiopia border there’s been torrential flooding,” says missionary Norm Gorrie. “Their houses are washing away, any food stocks [people had] have been destroyed; they have to go to churches or mosques for help, and the few animals that remained have died in the flooding. That’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Mr Gorrie is a missionary with the Church Missionary Society, working for the Diocese of Marsabit in Kenya as its director of mission. He and his wife Janelle served in Kenya for a decade in the ’90s, and returned in 2017. They say they have never seen circumstances as dire as this before, and neither have the locals.

The situation is so bad that local families have resorted to eating poisonous berries. “We met families where parents had just left their kids with elderly relatives to search for whatever they could,” Mr Gorrie says.

“The berries are really bitter – they have to be boiled for 12 hours so they don’t poison the kids. They’re just so desperate; sometimes they can’t wait the

12 hours. Some places don’t even have berries and [those families] just sleep hungry.”

Even though rain has come, there are still numerous challenges for farming. The ground cannot be ploughed because the oxen are weak or dead, and trying to secure a loan for a tractor is difficult. Plants and seeds are expensive, and wild animals are so hungry they devour any green shoots that do spring up.

Despite the many hardships locals are experiencing, at this stage the situation in the Horn of Africa is actually classed as a “food emergency” – one level below famine. A famine is defined as one in five households experiencing an extreme lack of food, more than one in three children under five suffering from acute malnutrition and two out of 10,000 people dying daily from hunger.

Anglican Aid’s East Africa appeal is working with partners in Kenya and Ethiopia to provide food aid through local churches.

Joseph, an Anglican pastor in northern Kenya, says seeing the

suffering of his congregation is heartbreaking. “People in this desperate situation are doing whatever they can to feed their children,” he says. “We share the word of God with them, but because they are so hungry it’s difficult for them to respond.”

Adds Mr Gorrie: “If no-one comes alongside you [when you’ve lost everything] and gives assistance, you feel abandoned. Just for people to know they are not abandoned and that there is hope is a wonderful thing.

A praise point is that we can get food to people, because we have people on the ground here.

“Pray that people would see the goodness of God – we only really see that in the Cross of Christ. Out and in and through this [crisis], God has his good purposes to bring people to Christ. Pray that those who know Christ… would know he is in control.”

To give to the East Africa appeal see current-appeals/hungercrisis/

Food aid: Norm Gorrie helps to unload a truck. Heartbreaking stock loss: Women with dead cattle in northern Kenya. The Horn of Africa is one step away from famine.
SouthernCross May–June 2023 11

The stark reality of clergy stress and burnout

A new clergy leadership survey has found that a significant percentage of ministers in Australia are grappling with issues from burnout to sexual harassment, and more than a third have wondered whether they should leave the ministry altogether.

Clinical psychologist Valerie Ling, who leads the Centre for Effective Serving and has worked closely with staff and students at Moore College (and clergy through the Centre for Ministry Development), ran the survey to see if it would show connections between leadership behaviours and burnout.

“I also wanted to, if I could, add information with regard to what is connected to burnout –particularly in the self-reflection to self-insight pathway,” she says.

About 200 clergy took part in the survey and, while they work across the country, they were predominantly in NSW, married and male, with an average of 18½ years in ministry. More than 60 per cent were senior ministers, and about three quarters were Anglican, Presbyterian or Baptist.

Mrs Ling explains that, for a range of reasons, clergy may put on a “front” when dealing with others – in the same way a tired shop assistant might put on a smile for a customer.

This is known as “surface acting”, which can help manage a short-term situation for those who aren’t already burnt out. If, however, surface acting is a regular strategy to mask emotions, and no time is spent to reflect or deal with them, “you never attend to your emotions – you just suppress them and move on... it’s like death by a thousand paper cuts”.


(more than one response permitted)

“In my sample, about a third [of clergy] had given serious consideration to quitting the ministry in the past 12 months. About a third had sought out professional help... and the top three reasons given by ministers who had considered quitting was the stress of their job, loneliness and that their family suffers.

“Ministers who indicated higher scores on burnout also indicated that they were surface acting more than those who weren’t burnt out, and they indicated lower levels of selfinsight as well. The higher the burnout scores, the lower their personal levels of insight.”

Another worrying result is in the area of personal safety. Mrs Ling asked clergy the same questions asked of school principals about workplace experiences of conflict, bullying, unpleasant teasing, threats of (or actual) violence, slander and sexual harassment/assault. She found that some were dealing with these issues on a monthly,

weekly or even daily basis.

“I think we [only] have a superficial understanding of the type and severity of conflict that ministers experience,” she says. “If you’re among the 35 per cent that are being teased, gossiped about and are under threat, there’s a toxicity to that... That’s a pathway for post-traumatic stress.”


A senior consultant at the Centre for Ministry Development, Peter Mayrick, who gets alongside clergy to support them in their ministry, says the issues of stress and burnout are “very real... and something we have to deal with”.

“We don’t just need pastoral supervision – we need pastoral support as well,” he says.

“The truth in our Diocese is that it is not common practice to disciple the disciplers... We theologically believe that everyone should be a discipler, but very few of us actively and

intentionally disciple the people around us. It might be fair to say that, generally, we teach people but we don’t always walk with them.”

He points to recent research by the Barna Group, which shows that, between January 2021 and March 2022, the proportion of US pastors considering leaving the ministry jumped from 29 per cent to 42 per cent. Between 2015 and 2022 those at high risk of burnout leapt from 11 per cent to 40 per cent – while for those contemplating leaving, the risk is a whopping 69 per cent.

“The past three years have been extraordinarily difficult for church leaders,” Mr Mayrick says. “While 2022 wasn’t classified as a COVID year, the lack of energy across churches and low ability for volunteers to serve was very real and had a significant impact on pastors. As we finished the first quarter of 2023, many pastors were exhausted.

“Many have come through the COVID years with an earnest desire to shift the way we do church towards more authentic discipleship. The challenge I see is that change management takes real effort and significant leadership. Therefore, change will be very challenging in a period where leaders have depleted energy reservoirs and members have a strong desire to ‘return to normal’.”

Adds Mrs Ling: “It’s important to help our pastors connect with their emotions, work through emotions, connect with others and encourage one another, so they’re not just talking strategy and leadership and how to do church – they’re attending to their emotional life for their mental health and

Research shows many ministers are struggling to cope.
75% 76% 49% 12% 11% 8% 11% 8%
wellbeing.” SC
I feel lonely and isolated I don’t feel supported by my team Immense stress of job My family suffers
I don’t feel respected as a leader I don’t feel equipped to lead my church
My vision for the church conflicts with the church’s direction I don’t feel supported by my congregation
12 SouthernCross May–June 2023
34.9% of respondents indicated they had given serious consideration to quitting full-time ministry in the past 12 months.

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Centenary season at Epping

We aren’t surprised when churches in the city, or other centres of the early European colony like Parramatta and Windsor, celebrate major milestones. They have, after all, been around for a long time.

Amid the “big” history of these places, suburbs like Epping tend to go under the radar. But residents of Epping (formerly East Carlingford) have had Anglican services for 132 years and held them in a church building for 127 of those years.

Next month, parishioners past and present will gather to give thanks for the centenary of their second church, while at the same time rejoicing in everything that has gone before.

“Every generation needs to make a contribution for the next generation, and we have some great facilities here thanks to the sacrifices previous generations have made,” says Epping’s rector, Bishop Ross Nicholson. “This centenary recognises all that generation did and the vision that they had.”

And previous generations have done a lot at Epping. Parish archivist, Brian Haywood, says the impetus to build the suburb’s first church in the late 1800s

came from local residents, who had been worshipping in a timber hall one of their members had built on his property. By 1895, however, this space was at capacity so a building fund was established and, impressively, the first St Alban’s church opened the following year.

As ministry continued into the 20th century and Epping became a busier place, parishioners decided that a larger church was needed. As before, construction was quick and efficient: six months after the laying of the foundation stone on June 16, 1923 by Archbishop Wright, the new St Alban’s opened its doors. And be reassured, the original church isn’t ignored: it stands next to its younger sibling and is still used as a parish centre and office.

Long-term parishioner Peggy Sanders refers to 2023 as the “year of centenaries”, because not only will members of St Alban’s celebrate 100 years since the foundation, building, dedication and opening of their current church, they will also mark the centenary of their church magazine.

“The first edition of The Parish Magazine was published in

October 1923,” she says. “[It’s] still going strong and we are rightly proud of its long, continuous history, and the fact that it is very widely read here and overseas.

“To achieve all that in the one year – really half a year – we think is pretty remarkable.”

Bishop Nicholson, while happily celebrating the history of the parish, is also rejoicing in what is happening now.

“COVID knocked a lot of churches around, but in the past six to nine months we’ve had new families coming along every single week... and many of the newcomers have been from the Subcontinent,” he says. “We’ve also started a new service at 4.30 on Sunday afternoon and, in the next little while, we’re looking at starting an

international church at the same time as our regular morning service, which will meet in the hall and stream the sermon in. It’s an exciting time.”

St Alban’s plans to mark its centenaries next month with choral evensong on Friday, June 16, followed by supper. The preacher will be a former parish organist, the Rev Dr Daniel Dries, now rector of Christ Church, St Laurence. On June 18, the guest preacher will be the rector of Manuka in the ACT, the Rev Canon Dr Ben Edwards – also a former organist at St Alban’s –with a parish lunch to follow. SC

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“It’s an exciting time”:. Bishop Ross Nicholson at St Alban’s.
second church reaches 100.
St Alban’s
14 SouthernCross May–June 2023

“Eternal life to a suburb that needs it”

There was cake, kids and crowds at Kingswood Anglican’s 125 th anniversary, which was celebrated with joy and thankfulness for how God has used his people since the church opened in 1898.

New rector the Rev Simon Twist explained that he was keen to present the Kingswood of 2023 rather than focus too much on the church as it was.

“On the day, we presented what Kingswood does every week,” he says.

“Sure, we had a ‘flashback’ video about our history, we had cake in the service, we had lunch together afterwards –and it was all great. But we had a kids’ program running, there was a kids’ spot in the service and, although the Archbishop was invited to speak, we asked him to continue with our series on Mark.

“The idea was not just to do an archaeological dig of what Kingswood looked like in the past but what it looks like

the story of the paralysed man, he noted that the paralysed man had “excellent friends” because they brought him to Jesus; that the man’s greatest need – and ours – is not healing but forgiveness; and that Jesus had, and has, the authority to forgive sins.

Archbishop Raffel then noted that, throughout its history, the members at Kingswood had “sought to be excellent friends in this community, seeking in every way they could to being their friends to Jesus”.

Those proclaiming and living out the message of hope in Christ since 1898 were “not perfect people, not holier-thanthou people, [but] people who know the forgiveness and love of Christ and want to make his love known to others in every possible way – seeking to proclaim the message of freedom and forgiveness in Jesus and to bring help and hope in Jesus’ name to anyone and everyone in this district”.

Birthday party: Kingswood parishioners cut the cake with Bishop Gary Koo. Kingswood celebrates 125 years.
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Understanding the key to living a life of faith

What characterises a life of faith? That’s the heart of former Archbishop Peter Jensen’s latest book – a work he makes clear is not all his own doing. Instead, The Life of Faith contains summaries of the rich thinking and exploration by great theologians and authors who came before.

Why did he do this? At the book’s launch at Moore College, Dr Jensen explained that, when watching past students take notes in his Doctrine 1 lectures, he noticed something odd about what they were jotting down.

“What they wrote bore little resemblance to what [I was] saying,” Dr Jensen said with a

laugh. “I thought, ‘No, I’ll write down for them what they ought to write down!’ So I created a whole set of doctrine notes and said, ‘Now study those and you’ll pass your exams. Let’s have some fun [in class] instead’.”

This freed him up to use lectures to explore doctrine in other ways, such as through poetry, children’s books, dressing up, and engaging in healthy debates. The intention was always to allow the students, and now readers of the book, to discover the joys of doctrine – as Dr Jensen considers a thorough understanding of doctrine key to establishing a solid faith foundation.

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“Doctrine 1 is the most important course in the college,” he said. “It does provide the beginner an overview, giving you a Christian worldview… which enables you to understand the parts and how they fit together. It’s extraordinarily important.”

The book would not have come about without Dr Jensen’s unique approach to imparting doctrine knowledge to students, one of whom is our current archbishop, Kanishka Raffel –who said at the launch that when he started college his knowledge was limited.

“I had been a Christian for only six years,” he recalled. “I did not have a Christian family, I had not grown up going to church... I was well discipled by my local church and my pastor, but I was still a very young Christian and when

it came to systematic theology, I was a complete novice.

“The genius and gift of this book… is that it begins and proceeds and ends with a firm commitment to the idea that God makes himself known in the gospel of Jesus Christ... All else –humanity, salvation, the church and the last things – flow from the central and primary truth of the gospel: Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Dr Jensen’s desire for The Life of Faith is that it would help people encounter truths that inspire a lifelong worship of God. “My aim as [Moore College] principal was to shape people better than me,” he said. “To show the central importance of the knowledge of God, that we know him and worship him – and [that] our fellowship together is one where we know him, worship him and serve him.” SC

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The joys of doctrine: Dr Jensen shares a laugh as he signs his new book.
How bad lecture notes inspired former Archbishop Jensen’s new book.
16 SouthernCross May–June 2023

Why GAFCON matters

I’m travelling in Tanzania at the moment and am aware that many in Australia will have heard of the happenings at GAFCON in Kigali, but may not be fully aware of what led to this point and just how significant this is for our fellowship with Anglicans around the world. So let me share some of the testimony I gave to the conference about why GAFCON matters. It was not a complete history and so I apologise for any incorrect or missing elements. But I spoke as a person who had the great privilege of attending GAFCON 2008 in Jerusalem when I was a rector in a Western Australian parish in the Diocese of Perth – a diocese self-described at that time as a liberal and progressive diocese.

That first GAFCON produced the Jerusalem Declaration, which has proved to be a foundational document of contemporary Anglicanism. It was this first GAFCON that, uniquely and for the first time ever, drew together Anglicans from numerous jurisdictions not recognised by Canterbury and not invited to the Lambeth Conference that took place that year. It was the first time that faithful Anglicans from around the world, who had been marginalised, excluded and deposed by their own bishops and synods, were welcomed and embraced by seven Anglican primates of the day and all those who gathered – who made a stand against the failure of the Anglican Communion Instruments to withdraw fellowship from provinces and bishops who had rejected the teaching of Scripture and the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference, the Global South and the Primates Conference.

At GAFCON I, when the statement was read, the whole assembly rose to its feet in applause. There were tears and embracing as those present, Anglican Christians who were faithful to the Scriptures, faithful to the Lord, faithful to Anglican distinctives, expressed unity in the gospel of Jesus Christ independent of exclusive administrative structures that operated from England. There was also a desire to not be only a conference but a recognition of what God had done in our midst. He had created a movement to promote and protect the biblical gospel and advance mission to the world, maintaining orthodox Anglican faith and distinctives as outlined in the Jerusalem Declaration.

It was only a year later, more or less, that the GAFCON primates formally endorsed and recognised the Anglican Church of North America as full members of the Anglican Communion – a church that had drawn together disparate groups and many, many faithful clergy who had been deposed by The Episcopal Church in

America. The GAFCON primates subsequently extended the hand of fellowship to the Anglican Church in Brazil and the Anglican Mission in England.

In 2013, GAFCON II in Nairobi confirmed that the GAFCON primates would formally recognise Anglican jurisdictions of orthodox believers marginalised by liberal dioceses and provinces, and offer support to Anglicans serving in heterodox jurisdictions who were not able to move out or unwilling to do so at that time. In 2019, a year after GAFCON III, the GAFCON family welcomed the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand (CCAANZ) at the consecration of Jay Behan as its bishop.

The CCAANZ was established from 12 congregations (now 17) that withdrew from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia after it changed its doctrine of marriage. Congregations and ministers walked away from their buildings and ministerial entitlements. GAFCON Australia walked closely with New Zealand brothers and sisters at that time; they knew they were not alone – they knew they were welcomed and acknowledged as part of the global Anglican family.

Last year in Australia the Diocese of the Southern Cross was established, under the auspices of the GAFCON primates, with Bishop Glenn Davies serving as interim bishop. Since 2017 in Scotland, Ireland and this year in Wales, GAFCON has also provided a safe harbour to Anglicans who at great cost refuse to join in a departure from the teaching of Christ.

As I told the conference, the effect of this is to strengthen provinces, to increase our joy in communion, to see the church built and churches planted, to see many communities blessed and the Lord honoured through the proclamation of his gospel, not only in the face of theological and moral liberalism but around the world in the face of religious extremism, poverty and pandemic. In all of this, the GAFCON primates and GAFCON branches have been ridiculed and criticised but they have stood up and stood alongside those who were isolated for the sake of holding to the truth of God’s word.

If it were not for GAFCON these things would not have happened. No one else came to their aid. No one else encouraged their faithfulness. No one else offered to pray and to plan and to stand and to support and to weep and to rejoice with those who preferred to suffer for the Name than take the wide road to destruction. Under God’s good and gracious hand those who came before us in this movement have handed it on to us. God used GAFCON to do it. Praise God.

Archbishop writes.
SC SouthernCross May–June 2023 17

God first!

If you know how a movie ends, does that ruin it for you? Do you guard yourself from spoilers before you see it? Or are you one of those people who reads the last page of a book, just to reassure yourself it’s got a happy ending, then go back to read it from the beginning again?

I am halfway between the two – I am keen to know the ending but do not want to miss anything that led to it, either. So, I stay up late into the night (or very early in the morning, depending how you look at it!) to finish off a book. A well-crafted ending will demonstrate that the story was building up to this point all along and that this conclusion was inevitable.

In many ways, the Christian life is kind of like going back to the beginning of the book after reading the last page, because we already know how our story ends. One day, in the not-too-distant future, our risen Lord Jesus will return. Those who have died in faith will rise again and those alive in the faith will together be taken up to heaven to live with Christ forever (1 Thess 4:16-17). This will be a place of great joy, where God will dwell with us and death and suffering will be a distant memory (Rev 21:1-4).

It is hard to imagine a better ending than that! To live eternally with our creator God and Saviour Jesus, celebrating all that he has done for us until the end of time. It will be the happiest of all happy endings. More glorious than we could ever have dreamed.

But knowing that God has very graciously given away the ending for us, what do we do in the meantime? What decisions do we make with our lives to fill the pages in between? Does the fact that we know our ending impact what we do in between?

The Bible absolutely argues that this is so. From Jesus’ parable

of the 10 virgins (Matt 25:1-13) to Paul’s thoughts on suffering (2 Cor 4) and Peter’s letters to elders of the church (1 Pet 5:1-4), Christians have been urged to live in the here and now with the ending very much in sight. The Bible urges us to live in a way that is consistent with our future in eternity. So, what implications does our ending have on how we live out our lives?


If we are going to live with someone, it is of great importance that we get to know them as well as we can beforehand. When we know God in this world and have a deep and profound relationship with him, then the prospect of spending eternity with him becomes more exciting and enticing every day. When we love someone with all our hearts, it is not a burden to find time to spend with them, but a joy. We create opportunities to keep devoting more time to being with them.

When we prioritise our relationship with God and grow deeper and deeper in our walk with him, our lives will naturally build around this most significant relationship. We want to be around other people that have this relationship, too. People who will support us in working on our relationship, as they are doing the same thing. People who will pray for our relationship with God to grow. People who would encourage us to prioritise our time in reading God’s word. People who will keep us accountable if they notice that our relationship with God is stumbling.

When our relationship with God is stable and strong, it does not feel as difficult to give up or limit relationships that create barriers between us and him. It is not as hard to choose between

Susan An
18 SouthernCross May–June 2023

God and a relationship. This can be for any relationships, whether it be familial, romantic or friendships. The prospect of being with anyone who would endanger our eternity with God discourages us from pursuing it. God changes our hearts to want him more than anything else.

Furthermore, if there is anyone precious in our lives who will not be in heaven with us, it drives us to our knees in prayer. It creates a sense of urgency in sharing the gospel in the hope that their fate may be changed. It grieves us that they do not know the wonders of the Christian message and the forgiveness that is offered. So we continue to share the message with them, never giving up hope.


Knowing that we only have a short time here on earth sharpens our focus on doing work that has meaning and purpose, not just for this world but the world beyond it. Any employment we seek is weighed up against how much it will impact our contribution towards God’s kingdom.

For some people it means being freed up from secular work to pursue vocational ministry full-time. For others it means being in a secular workplace as a missionary to meet with non-believers. For others still it could mean work is primarily in the household to raise children God has blessed us with to belong to God’s kingdom.

Once we are in the workforce, there are numerous ways to engage with it that preaches our citizenship in heaven. I have been greatly encouraged by many other Christians who have shown me this through direct examples. People who have intentionally negotiated reasonable and/or flexible work hours so they can engage in kingdom work – taking a few hours off on a weekday morning to teach a Scripture class; working nine-day fortnights and spending that day volunteering for church; starting up lunchtime Bible study/prayer groups in their workplace. Others have chosen to walk away from employers that do not support their Christian values and have gone elsewhere.

In a world that is obsessed with idolising career and chasing success, our counter-cultural attitude to work can preach our eternity more than a thousand conversations.


Directly related to our attitude to work is our approach to money and hospitality. Some suggestions of how we can reflect our heavenly reality include:

• setting aside a portion of our income so we can financially support the ministry of our church;

• giving so that gifted and godly people can be freed up from secular work to be in vocational ministry;

• prioritising giving towards organisations that promote the work of the gospel, such as Bible translating and theological education – or even aid organisations that offer both gospel and aid.

Spending money in this way does not make sense unless we see ourselves as stewards of money that belongs to God. Rather than seeing money as means to increase our own comfort levels and living standards, we obey the call from Jesus to store up our treasures in heaven (Matt 6:19-21).

But generosity is more about the heart than the dollar amount. Some people can give large amounts that make no impact on their daily living, while for others even a small amount can be costly. But some of the most generous people that I have known show their

hearts in other ways as well, through hospitality in their homes, giving time to care for others and kind spirits that continually pray for others.

I have given only a few examples of how our ending impacts us now. But in essence, our ending shapes all of now. A good understanding of our ending gives us reassurance in times of doubt, hope in times of loss and peace in turmoil. Our ending gives our life more than shape, but a meaning and destination that we strive towards.

It will not always be easy to remember our eternal destinies. It will always be a struggle to live out our Christian faith with our ending in mind when the here and now feels so present and immediate. We can only remain focused on the end of our race through strength that God can give through the power of the Holy Spirit in Christ.

In 2 Timothy, we see that the Apostle Paul is a great example of a person who fought the spiritual and material forces of the world to reach Christ. My prayer for all of us would be that we may be able to imitate him and be able to say at the end of our lives:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Tim 4:7-8).

See you all on that day, standing side by side with me, ready to receive the crown of righteousness. SC

The Rev Susan An is Dean of Women at Moore Theological College.
2023 OPEN WEEK 15–19 MAY SouthernCross May–June 2023 19
Assured of our place in heaven, how should we spend our time on earth?

Ways my mother shaped my faith

My mother passed away 10 years ago. She leant on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – talked about being joyful always, praying continually and giving thanks in all circumstances. I can’t remember hearing her complain. Even when things were really hard she was still joyful and kept giving thanks. That has stuck with me since then. If things are ever hard, or I’ve had hopes not met, I am still intentional in looking for things to give thanks for in that circumstance.

She taught us to enjoy life, to enjoy bushwalking and the beach and the outdoors. She always encouraged me to give things a go and get involved in sport, music, teaching Sunday school and school SRE. I remember learning from her that beauty is from within. She didn’t focus on outward appearances. She urged and encouraged all of us to do good works, even my Dad. She would encourage him to speak at different conferences, even when she was looking after us four kids. She put the gospel first.

Mum was great at mentoring other women. We often had younger single women that she was mentoring who were involved in our lives, too. One lady came for dinner every Monday night and became part of the family. We were flower girls at the weddings of others. The people she mentored she brought into our family. She and my dad showed us [the meaning of] hospitality: the family isn’t just nuclear, but we need to be outward focused in life and family and caring for other people.

When I was living with a Christian housemate, we were both intentional in wanting to love our neighbours and getting to know them more. We would occasionally have them over for meals and meet up with them. I was involved with the Fellowship of Overseas Christian University Students at Wollongong Uni, and got to know lots of international friends at university and at my church, St Michael’s Cathedral. I guess I was influenced to do this by my parents, by their example and how they raised us to know and love Jesus. It’s affected how I live.

I remember my Mum once saying on the way to school when we were kids, “Life has been so good, and God has blessed us so

Rachel Chin
20 SouthernCross May–June 2023

much, but something could happen to us one day”. She was aware of the reality that life is fleeting. We saw that through her.

When we saw her take her last breath it reminded us that the last enemy to be defeated is death, and Jesus has defeated death.

My predominant memory of Mum is her faith shaped everything about her. My distinct memory of how that looked explicitly is, as a family, we read the Bible together every night after dinner – but it wasn’t Dad’s job or anyone’s job, it was Dad and Mum. It wasn’t Mum as a passenger or as an observer, it was Mum raising her kids spiritually with Dad, in partnership with Dad. Dad is the head of the home, but Mum spiritually taught and raised her children.

It got complicated when I became a teenager, as it does for lots of families. I wanted to stop going to church, and went through different stages of rebellion. It was interesting to watch Mum. It was complicated for her to relate to me during something that was deeply disappointing to her. And yet, she still managed to pull it off without me ever resenting Jesus.

If I said I didn’t want to go to youth group, that wasn’t ever an option. If I was under 18 living in her house, I went to church or youth group. It never felt legalistic. She did it in a way that I didn’t resent Jesus. I resented her, but it didn’t feel like she was saying, “You have to do this because I say so”. It was, “You have to do this because we love you and Jesus is the most important thing in the world, and that’s what we want for you more than anything. We love you, of course we love you, and this is what we are doing as a family, and our prayer is that you would keep doing this”. That was the key difference. She wanted me to do this because she loved Jesus and wanted me to love Jesus.

That was at the centre of everything – a deep faithfulness to Jesus and a desire for her children to follow Jesus. The spiritual disciplines in my own family are a copy and a paste of what I had as a child. We read the Bible after dinner, we pray after dinner, we all go to church every Sunday. We never miss church, not legalistically but because of the joy it is to gather. My wife and I converted as adults, so we know how bad life is without the church. Those are disciplines my parents did that we try and mimic.

I have memories of Mum reading the Bible on her own. Her example to us, and it was not ever for show, was her Bible next to

We’d been asking God to allow her to die in his perfect timing. She died on Easter Sunday. That was evidence to us that it wasn’t random how she died. The hope we have in Jesus, and the hope she had in Jesus, is so powerful and assuring.

her bed and notebooks with prayer points throughout. She would methodically, routinely, daily, read the Bible and pray for people. And we would pray for people as a family, for other families and people we didn’t know. Mum had a deep dedication to God’s word and prayer.

When I became a Christian at 28, I ran into people endlessly, usually with silver hair, who would say, “Oh, you’re David. Your mother spoke to me about you 10 years ago, 15 years ago, and we prayed for you”. I was in Scotland a few weeks ago, talking to a minister and he said, “You’re the David Jensen. I remember praying for you with your parents in the early 2000s.” I hear that endlessly. Mum is a great pray-er for other people’s children, and she shared the spiritual parental load with other Christians. She partnered in spiritually caring for us with others, not in a way that we would know, but through the power of prayer.

The biggest influence was about salvation. My wife and I are utterly convinced that what our children need more than anything is to be saved through the gospel. We try to make decisions for our lives and the lives of our children that are driven by the priority of salvation. Mum and Dad exemplified that to us relentlessly. They are salvation people. That has captured me in a way that, until this reflection, I had never put together. Salvation is their priority, and it’s our priority, too.

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As we celebrate Mothers’ Day, we asked two Christians to tell us about the faith impact their mums have had in their lives. Hands upon the Anvil upon
SouthernCross May–June 2023 21

Get ready for an outreach event at your church

What happens when people hear their church is holding an outreach event? I suspect that at one end the delighted say, “Yes! I can ask my friend to something outside church where someone else can tell them the gospel!” At the other end, the downer says, “Oh, no. My friend will never come to that!” Getting it right for everyone is pretty hard but, if you go to an event as a believer, what should your attitude be?

1 Be convinced that God will work. Christ came to save sinners and God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). He will work through the gospel message with power through the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:5 ; 2:13) and in you , so “he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith” (2 Thess 1:11).

2 Be assured that the message is relevant. The gospel is the means of salvation for all people, who need to know that judgement is coming (Acts 17:30-31).

3 You have a role to play . The relationship between the people who are listening is significant. The New Testament exhorts Christians to live in a manner worthy of the gospel (1 Thess 2:11-12; Titus 2:11-14; Eph 4:1), speaking and walking in love (Eph 4:15, 5:2), being wise (Eph 5:15), pleasing God and bearing fruit (Col 1:10). Our friends and family see how we live and will have questions. It’s up to us to be ready to answer them.

What about actions? We need to pray before, during and after an event. It is a spiritual act to be reconciled to God, to no longer be alienated and hostile to him (Col 1:21-22) and to be brought out from the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19-20). The work of the

Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin (John 16:8), so God will open hearts for people to pay attention and believe (Acts 16:14-15). We need to pray for this.

The speaker at an event is going to assume that believers will continue talking about gospel issues. But, often, church people are not ready or keen to do that! A bit of forethought and training does not go astray. A church that has learnt to love and speak gospel truths to one another will find it a lot easier to include the outsider in these conversations. Peter tells us to be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15), so we need to practice.

Pay attention at the event. A lot of us can tune out, or tune in to the illustration and then miss the point. Put yourself in the shoes of the outsider. Listen, so that you are internally asking questions of what was said. Afterwards, politely engage in conversation. We are not there to verbally pound people into submission. We want to be respectful and loving, with conversation full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we can discern how to answer people (Col 4: 5-6).

Ask good questions! If you look at how Jesus engaged with people, he spent a lot of time asking them questions. Questions show you are interested in others. They also allow people to gather their thoughts, providing space to deal with spiritual things. After all, invited guests know they’ve come to a Christian event.

Lastly, prove that what was said out the front is true in your experience. Your own story is powerful. You are living proof that what the speaker said is true. Find ways to declare God’s excellencies to those around you (1 Peter 2:9-12). SC

Sarah Seabrook
22 SouthernCross May–June 2023
Sarah Seabrook is an evangelist, speaker and trainer with Evangelism and New Churches. She will run a seminar on conversational outreach at ENC’s Gospel Outreach Conference on June 3 at St Anne’s, Ryde.

Good “vine” work


After the fall of Kabul in Afghanistan in 2021, thousands fled the country, including many Christians. Some found their way to Brazil, where Christians in the Diocese of Vittoria were able to care for their brothers and sisters. And they were able to do this because of the generosity of Sydney Anglicans. Afghan Christians were loved by Brazilian Christians with the help of Australian Christians!

In his new book, The Vine Movement, Mikey Lynch has written: “Our view of gospel work must be global as well as local”, adding: “The goal isn’t church growth… but gospel growth. Building trellises for this larger vine work helps increase the overall impact of gospel ministry.”

This continues the “trellis and vine” idea Tony Payne and Colin

Marshall first wrote about 15 years ago in their influential book of the same name, describing growing gospel ministry and the structures to support it.

I’ve been reflecting about this and its impact on the work I am privileged to be engaged in at Anglican Aid. What happened to those Afghan refugees was an expression of this concept in action. The vine in Brazil was supported by the trellis of Anglican Aid’s work.

Jesus is glorified when Christians use their gifts in service of the body, regardless of whether it is part of the trellis or the vine. I’ve seen this again and again – and sometimes in unexpected ways.

When we partnered with the Diocese of Toliara in Madagascar to build a well for local people, it caused many there to investigate

acts of love, for Jesus’ sake: Anglican Aid-supported food distribution in northern Kenya.
SouthernCross May–June 2023 23

what would prompt such love. As the Rev Berthier Lainirina said, “Because of the love we showed through food distributions, clean water and other social works, the church is growing”. When followers of Jesus live in obedience to our Lord, thanksgiving to God overflows to a hurting world!

We owe a lot to the trellis and vine imagery (“home grown” as it is, if you will excuse the pun), because it helps us understand the complexities of the worldwide church and its various components.

For example, in northern Kenya, Anglican Aid partners with the Diocese of Marsabit where CMS missionaries Norm and Janelle Gorrie serve to support water harvesting and income-generation activities (see story on page 11). The project is small, especially when compared to the size of the need, but to these people it is life.

Alongside this development project, we support the training of church leaders in Kenya. The vine of gospel proclamation and neighbourly love grows in Marsabit, helped by the supporting trellis of organisations like ours and the Church Missionary Society, branching out from churches here in Sydney.

Lynch writes, “The local church and denominational association must continually reaffirm that their ultimate goal is to build Christ’s universal church”.

Recent events around the Anglican Communion have shown the need to work on our global “trellis” so that gospel ministry can flourish.

I’ve just seen this in action at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Kigali, Rwanda, where I met leaders from about 50 of the poorest dioceses on Earth with whom we have active partnerships. I have returned more convinced than ever that, as Sydney Anglicans, we have been entrusted with great responsibility within the global gospel ecosystem.

We are the servant given the many talents (Matthew 25) – of financial wealth, but also theological depth, numerical size and access to the benefits of education and technology. It has never before been so easy for the most advantaged to show love so directly to the most needy on our planet.

Acts of neighbourly love are good vine work that, often, can only happen with a strong trellis. Whether it’s teaching farming in Rwanda (with a piglet included in your training) or caring for patients at Victoria Memorial Hospital in Pakistan (which delivered its first baby in March!), the building of trellises that facilitate love are acts of love themselves.

These acts of love shout to the world that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:34-35). Sometimes this brings opposition, but often it brings intrigue, and that great question: “Why would these people love us like this?” Because of Jesus!

I’m thanking God for the impact Sydney Anglicans have on building the global trellis through Anglican Aid, supporting the growing vine of gospel ministry –particularly among the poorest nations of our world! SC

Seasons of ministry

Phillip Jensen was chaplain at the University of NSW from 1975 till 2005, where God blessed his work with remarkable growth and influence. He has pioneered a host of outreach and teaching resources, preached across the world and been a driving force behind many gospel initiatives. He was Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral, now runs Two Ways Ministries to train young men and women, and has recently produced a new book, The Coming of the Holy Spirit . Married to the “surpassing” Helen, he has three children and plenty of grandchildren. He speaks to Simon Manchester

24 SouthernCross May–June 2023
The Rev Canon Tim Swan is CEO of the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid.

Phillip, did you grow up in a Christian home with Sunday school and youth group as part of life?

My brother and I spent so much time at church my mother accused us of using our home as a bed-and-breakfast establishment.

You (and brother Peter) were converted at the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade – do you remember the message that you heard and was there anything that you hadn’t heard before? No, I can’t recall the message of that day. For me it was more the realisation that Christianity is not simply inherited but required a deliberate response to God.

Were you determined to do Christian ministry from that point and what sort of guidance did you get?

It was only a couple of years later, while still at high school, that I decided to pursue full-time ministry. I told a mate’s mother, as she was a churchgoer, and she encouraged me to do so. I told my minister, and he informed me I had to be 19 to go to college. As we only had five years in high school it meant a wait of two years –which was in no way encouraging but in hindsight very helpful.

Working with John Chapman in the Department of Evangelism must have been a great time – what were those days like in the 1970s?

Chappo was always a great encourager. Full of fun and intense arguments, we drove to town together most days and I learnt so much from him. In later years he prayed for our family and rang me most weeks for a quick five-minute catch-up. It consisted of one joke, one question of how I was doing, and one prayer point.

The 1970s were difficult because the impact of the 1960s social revolutions were being felt at the local level of the parish church. Youth groups and Sunday schools, while still large, were declining in numbers and impact.

Why did you take on the chaplaincy role at the University of NSW and not a typical local church position?

Sir Marcus Loane, our Archbishop, was persistent in asking, advising and encouraging me to. It was only to be a four-year appointment. I was then expecting to go into parish ministry. But after three years, again at the Archbishop’s ‘request’, I combined the role of chaplain with the position of rector of St Matthias’, Centennial Park and so stayed for 30 years.

Can you summarise the way you planned campus ministry and how the Lord opened doors and opportunities?

From my teachers and elders I was taught the strategy of prayerfully expounding the Scriptures to evangelise both Christians and non-Christians. However, my arrival at UNSW was not smooth. The Christian Union was not particularly welcoming and the AFES discouraging.

Some students I knew pointed out that there were no Bible studies on the campus and asked me to run one. We had 12 attend on the first week and 20 in the second. The rest of the year saw the growth of what we called Campus Bible Study and, with it, the development of the tactics needed to reach the campus.

How do you remember your visits to England – conferences where you rocked many boats and launched many as well?

England was a great disappointment to me. Having been raised on British history and especially evangelical Anglican history, and having been educated by English books and preachers, I was horrified to see the weakness and frailty of the evangelical movement. With some marvellous exceptions, the accommodation of evangelicals to the national Church presaged its current divisions, decline and disaster. So, when invited to speak on the subject, I spoke.

SouthernCross May–June 2023 25
Teaching the Bible to another generation: Phillip Jensen talks to a group of young people at Equip South Africa in 2015.

The Katoomba conferences were booming from the ’80s on –maybe 6000-7000 at Youth Convention one year. What was happening then that seems harder to capture today?

Other than losing Australia Day as a long weekend, it was no easier or harder then or now. We simply didn’t compromise on serious, quality Bible exposition. Starting with the first Youth Convention in 1974, we developed a platform where God’s word was more dominant than youth culture.

If your grandchildren asked you for a few “special memories” what would they be?

How great it was to be married to their grandmother. How wonderful it is to be a father and greater still to be a grandfather.

I’ve known you to focus hard on ministry and not church politics, then work hard at Synod policies. Can (and should) pastors do both?

We all have responsibilities and sometimes those responsibilities are so time-consuming that we have to work out our priorities and choose wisely where to put our efforts. In my early years of ministry, I relied upon others to bear the burdens of synodical government. However, there came a time when it was my turn to bear those burdens for other people. I never enjoyed the church politics side of those responsibilities. I don’t think I was very good

at them and am wonderfully relieved to be no longer involved in them. However, it has to be done, and done well, to protect and provide for the ministry of the gospel.

How is Two Ways Ministries going and are you and Helen having quieter days?

Two Ways Ministries has been and is a delightful way to continue teaching the Bible to another generation. With forums and conferences, training of student ministers, preaching, podcasts and writing, we are kept too busy to take up all the opportunities and requests that come our way. The staff team at Two Ways Ministries are a wonderful family, enabling me to keep going. And yes, Helen and I are having some quieter days in that the pressures of the senior pastor role have been removed.

Your fine book on the Holy Spirit is out – what should those who read it expect (and not expect)?

It is not a polemical book continuing the debate between charismatic and non-charismatic Christians. It is aimed at a fresh but serious look at what the Bible does teach about the coming of the Holy Spirit and why Jesus sent the Spirit into the world. In other words, it aims to let the Bible set the agenda of our inquiry about the Holy Spirit rather than our controversies setting the agenda. I pray that those who read it will come to rejoice more in the work of the Spirit in our lives. SC

26 SouthernCross May–June 2023
Ministry over many decades: (clockwise from top left) Phillip Jensen with John Chapman at Katoomba in 1984; signing, with Two Ways Ministries’ student ministers; chatting with student ministers Mike Woo and Ben Ko in 2021; talking to Angus and Olivia Martin at Campus Bible Study’s annual Mid Year Conference.

Mara farewells Helen Hoskins

After 40 years of service to the Lord and the people of Tanzania, the Rev Canon Helen Hoskins officially resigned all her responsibilities in the Diocese of Mara late last year and was farewelled at a packed service in St John’s Cathedral, Musoma on December 11.

Twenty clergy participated in the service, including the Bishop of Mara, George Okoth, and the sermon was given by the Rev Noadia from the Girls’ Brigade Centre where Canon Hoskins was principal.

Bishop Okoth said the diocese would celebrate Helen’s Day on May 12 every year in her honour, to remember and celebrate “God’s blessing and gift to Mara Diocese”.

“Helen is a woman of humble spirit who taught me at Bible school, and she shaped me in who I am,” he said. “I stand on her shoulders to see far.

“She has left a great mark on women’s ministry... [and] she has remained involved through promoting scholarships for marginalised students to attend the three educational centres and remains a great friend of the diocese... It was very hard for me to say goodbye to her.”

Canon Hoskins grew up in northern Sydney, studied music and mathematics at university and then worked as a computer programmer.

She gave her life to Jesus

in 1975 and theological study followed not long afterwards. She became a parish sister at St Clement’s, Mosman in 1981, and was accepted as a missionary by the Church Missionary Society the following year. While she had a strong desire to go to Tanzania, she made an open offer to CMS to be sent wherever God wanted her – and he sent her to Tanzania.

Miss Hoskins arrived in the country in January 1983, and taught at Nyakato Bible College in Mwanza for more than a decade, followed by four years of pastoral, teaching and outreach ministry in the town of Magu.

“I really loved being in Tanzania – I loved the ministry and the people I was working with,” she told Jenny Salt in an interview for her Salt podcast.

In 1999, she moved further north to Bunda, in the Diocese of Mara, where – among other things – she taught pastors and evangelists, led a fellowship of pastors’ wives and was deeply involved with the Girls’ Brigade, eventually at a national level. She founded the vocational Girls Brigade Centre in Bunda and became its principal, as well as taking an active part in the Tamar Campaign against sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence and child labour.

“At our vocational training and sewing centre we have young women there aged 15 to 27...

some of them got pregnant at secondary school and they had to leave school,” she told Jenny Salt. “Some of them have been forced into very early marriages and have maybe escaped them. So, we’re giving these girls an education to learn a skill which will help them, but also for them to know Jesus.

“I have such a strong love for these girls to get all the support that we can give them, and for them to know that they can do it with Jesus – even in a most intolerable situation.”

Priested in Mara in 2011 and made a canon of St John’s Cathedral two years later, Canon Hoskins became chaplain to the new Bunda Girls’ Secondary School in 2014, as well as director of the Shalom Hall kindergarten, while remaining principal of the GB Centre. When the kindergarten’s success led to the creation of the Shalom Pre and Primary School, she also became its founding chaplain.

Canon Hoskins “retired” from CMS in 2017, building a house in Bunda where she expected to remain, and where she continued to serve the diocese and its people. However, on her annual visit to Australia in 2020, she was diagnosed with cancer – and while able to have surgery without subsequent chemotherapy, her diagnosis, coupled with the pandemic,

meant she was unable to return full-time to Tanzania. She made the difficult decision to retire to Australia, making a gift of her house to the Mara Diocese.

“I had hoped to have several more years active in Tanzania and to finally move back to Australia for a quiet retirement,” she told SC. “Instead, I am back [now], rather than tottering in on a walking stick! I am discovering that I can actually do ministry in Sydney and enjoy volunteering as part of the ministry team at Mona Vale Anglican Church, and also as chaplain to an aged care facility with my adorable therapy dog Maude.”

The Rev Roger Hokin became rector of Guildford with Villawood on January 29, after eight years as an assistant minister with Dural District.

In late February, after 21 years as rector of St Paul’s, Castle Hill, the Rev John Gray resigned due to ill health.

The Rev Mike Leite became rector of Leppington late last month, moving from an assistant minister’s role in the parish of St George North.

After seven years as an assistant minister in the parish of Northmead and Winston Hills, the Rev Mark Groombridge will become rector of Lithgow on May 29.

Partying, Tanzanian style: Helen Hoskins is showered with farewell gifts.
Clergy moves. SouthernCross May–June 2023 27


taking up another curacy at Illogan in Cornwall. During this time he met his wife, Dr Mary Daines, and they were married in 1962. The following year Mr Lovell was made vicar to the village and church of St Keverne on the far southwestern tip of Cornwall, where he served for five years.


List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at April 20, 2023:

• Belmore with McCallums Hill and Clemton Park

Beverly Hills with Kingsgrove

• Castle Hill

• Concord and Burwood

Eagle Vale**

The Rev Laurence Lovell died on October 22, 2022, aged 91.

Born Laurence John Lovell on August 28, 1931 in England, he was brought up in Gravesend, Kent and grew up during the war years with a love of art and nature. He studied arts and literature at St David’s College, Lampeter, followed by theology at Tyndale Hall in Bristol.

In 1956, Mr Lovell was ordained in his home diocese of Rochester and spent four years as curate of St John the Evangelist in Penge before

Mr and Mrs Lovell then made the life-changing decision that he should accept an invitation to the Sydney parish of St Paul’s in Oatley – a decision Mr Lovell’s eldest son David described on the day of his father’s funeral as something done “with a torn heart but a strong sense of calling”. Mrs Lovell became a local GP, and Mr Lovell served as rector of Oatley from 1968 until his retirement in 1995 – the year of his wife’s death.

David Lovell said the years at Oatley “stretched” his father, “at times beyond reckoning, but at the same time built such a capacity of trust in God, a depth of forgiveness and a heart that never gave up on people,

• Freshwater

• Liverpool South**

• GreystanesMerrylands West

Mona Vale**

• Regents Park*

• Robertson Rosemeadow*

• Shoalhaven Heads

• South Hurstville Wentworth Falls

* denotes provisional parishes or Archbishop’s appointments **right of nomination suspended/on hold

place and purpose – laying an indelible mark on the lives of those he loved, served and has now spent his life for”.

He added: “The chaplain of Goodhew Gardens where Dad resided once said to me, ‘Every time I visit [your father] I come away more blessed than when I arrived... Laurence has made a conscious decision to never take offence at what life has thrown at him... he loves unconditionally and is a living example of the gospel and all he believes’. This sums up Dad to a tee.”

Grappling with the issues

Issues in Education: A Christian Perspective

Teachers’ Christian Fellowship of NSW Inc

If you are a teacher, parent, or citizen concerned about your school, class or children and the direction education is going, then this book is for you. Right up to date, it addresses a huge range of current and controversial issues in education today with a clear Christian perspective in the name of our Lord Jesus.

John Gore’s knowledge and wide experience in senior leadership in the NSW Department of Education, together with his deep and informed Christian commitment, allows him to explore issues in education with a consideration of their place in history, relevant legislation and the latest developments. The book is well referenced, including the judicious use of two papers first published in the Journal of Christian Education.

Thread by thread raw grasping hands strip rip and wear tear down the shroud the weaving worn the warp left weft the miracle frayed from robes to rags to poor disdain

but from this hem rose immaterial immortal power anointer cleanser a healing salve a touch and warmth a robe reaching down a golden sash around his chest

seven stars and light upon his head

Setting the foundation of a Christian philosophy of education, the book asks, “Can education in state schools be Christian?” Gore then goes on to consider issues as wide-ranging as rote learning, homework, Anzac Day and teaching about Christmas, as well as offering a practical guide to classroom discipline.

He expresses pity for parents who have to choose a school for their children in the light of NAPLAN and PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) league tables and their restricting effect on the curriculum.

The complex issues of sex education, alcohol and other drugs, the role of parents, educational disadvantage, the challenge of LGBTQIA+ students and discrimination are all covered, along

“And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all”
28 SouthernCross May–June 2023

Understand, ponder and nourish your faith

The Life of Faith: An introduction to Christian doctrine

It is an interesting experience to return to material that was encountered in a distant past and find it has had so much influence.

At so many points in The Life of Faith I came across an idea or a way of explaining a point of doctrine that I thought I had come to myself (and had maybe even claimed as my own). I found that it was first encountered during doctrine lectures at Moore College, or through subsequent engagement with Peter Jensen in a variety of teaching contexts.

This is both embarrassing and humbling. It is never easy to find out that you are not as clever as you thought. However, this soon gives way to a sense of gratitude for being able to stand on the shoulders of giants and see things more clearly... especially the things of God. And this is a book that will help you do that.

As the cover says, this is an introduction to Christian doctrine and, in 27 concise chapters, it ranges across the list of topics that would typically fill a doctrine survey course. But as the old song goes, “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it” – and that makes this account of Christian doctrine so valuable. I was impressed by the book’s structure, focus and voice.

Dr Jensen begins with the gospel as the way we know God and embeds that in the Bible’s storyline. In this context he discusses the various topics you might find in a systematic theology overview. This makes the content at once familiar and fresh.

Chapters are regularly introduced with a recap of the narrative of Scripture, beginning in Genesis and working through the nation of Israel to fulfilment in Christ. This, along with the many references to Scripture, grounds this work in the Bible and gives a real sense that we are hearing the Scriptures on all the topics discussed and not the reflections of various theologians in a historical survey, as can sometimes happen.

Because it works with a biblical theology focused on the person and work of the Lord Jesus, there is a focus to the book that also means it is a model of how to think from the gospel, focused on

the cross, outwards. It is a profoundly Christ-centred and Christhonouring account and therefore nourishing to faith as well as informative.

The voice is that of a teacher and a communicator. Ideas are distilled into evocative and memorable phrases. Thoughts are expressed simply but never simplistically. Strengths and weaknesses of positions are discussed, the limits of knowledge acknowledged, and positions are stated firmly when firmness is required. It is clearly a voice that is respectful of the past but not anchored there – numerous observations are made that engage with the most contemporary of issues.

A frustrating element of the book is that the material clearly began life as classroom lectures. Regularly, tantalising threads and comments are thrown out, discussions started and not developed –all of this clearly begging for a response from a listening audience. I often found myself wishing to hear more in the discussion with the author. It is a book that says something about everything and not enough about many things, although I guess it is better to finish a book wanting more than being glad it is finally over!

There are helpful summary lists of main concepts at the beginning of each section, stimulating quotes, suggestions for follow-up reading and penetrating discussion questions to take things further at the end of each chapter.

All of this makes The Life of Faith a terrific book for individual, group, or classroom study. It communicates so clearly that it is also well suited to the thoughtful new Christian seeking to understand their faith better. And while it is an introductory survey, that does not mean it is only for “beginners”. There is plenty here for a believer at any stage of maturity to revisit, ponder and find nourishment.

with general religious and Special Religious Education in public schools, ethics education and religious freedom. This book tackles an amazing smorgasbord of burning issues. Pages are set out clearly with headings for easy reading and future reference.

Not everyone will agree with all the opinions expressed, but Issues in Education: A Christian Perspective is an extremely important

and interesting contribution to education today and deserves to be on your bookshelf, as well as the library shelves of all state and independent schools and university education faculties.

The Rev Dr Bill Salier is a consultant with the GAFCON Theological Educators Network, and a former vice principal of Moore College and principal of Youthworks College.
Book reviews. SouthernCross May–June 2023 29
The Rev Lloyd Bennett is a former headmaster of Northern Beaches Christian School and Peninsula Anglican Boys’ School.

Walk alongside the hurting in the messiness of life

Pastoral Care: The Core of Christian Ministry

One of my tasks this year is to renew the pastoral ministry courses for church leaders as they go through Moore College. It was therefore timely that I was asked to review

Pastoral Care: The Core of Christian Ministry

He is well credentialled, having served as a missionary, pastor and chaplain and he has taught in our pastoral care courses, so I was keen to glean his thoughts and insights.

David is upfront about the audience for this book. It is for those involved in pastoral ministry – and before you stop reading because that is not you, can I encourage you to read on because we all have views on, and benefit from, good pastoral ministry.

Many people see the pastor’s role as either pastoral care or the teaching of theology. Pettett’s passion is to show how theology, Bible teaching and pastoral care are, and must always be, united. He is concerned that separating them makes clergy untrained psychologists and counsellors, and this takes from congregations the precious teaching of the word of God.

Pastoral care is firstly spiritual, not psychological. Its focus is the salvation and sanctification of Christ’s flock, and Pettett uses the old-fashioned but powerful obligation of the pastor for the “cure of souls”.

The tone of this short book is that of a wise, older pastor giving advice to younger clergy, saying, “Here are ways I want to see you function”. But as we all listen in on this advice, it is possible to see the role of the whole congregation in supporting pastoral care. In fact, David says the role of the pastor is to help create a vibrant Christian community because its creation is the role of all the saints.

Theology and practice are tightly intertwined, with many stories that exemplify it. Here is one situation of a woman with dementia. She cannot remember her past, but it is suggested that she be treated well for “what she once was”. Pettett adds:

While it is good to remember the person... once made a valued contribution to society and has family who have been blessed by them, their identity as a person does not derive from any of these. Rather, they are a person created in the image of God and they still bear that image today. Their dementia has not diminished God’s image. They are still very much remembered and loved by God. This is the reason we care for people.

Here is some of David Pettett’s wisdom. Pastoral care must occur all the time, not just in times of crisis. Our Sunday gatherings are special and must equip us to live Christianly in the world. This occurs through deepening our understanding of the Scriptures so that we might speak God’s truths into our lives.

The gift given through pastoral care is Christ, and he gives us all we need. This is because our greatest need stems from our estrangement from God. It is worth quoting David again at this point:

If you are concerned about what your gift might be... don’t be concerned. You already have your gift. Your gift is Christ who has given, who has given according to his immeasurable measure, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. You may not be any of these particular people but together they have been given to you by Christ... to equip you for works of ministry. So don’t worry about what gift you have. You already have it. Christ is your gift [so] get on with the work of ministry to build the body of Christ.

David is concerned that pastors and churches engage well in pastoral care. He notes that “pastoral care recognises life is messy. We live in a world scarred by sin. Pastoral ministry, while recognising sin is wrong, will draw alongside the hurting person... Pastoral care will equip the saints to speak lovingly of God’s love into this world”.

It is only from chapter 6 that Pettett introduces us to the specific skills of pastoral counselling (drama triangles, for example), yet he does it simply and with great examples.

I am very appreciative of the Christian wisdom in this book. It will most certainly make its way onto the required reading list for our pastoral care units. SC

30 SouthernCross May–June 2023
The Rev Archie Poulos is head of the Ministry department and director of the Centre for Ministry Development at Moore College.

verses relevant to a prayer topic and providing prayer points for every chapter in the Bible – yes, all 1189 of them.

“AI is not new, but OpenAI/ChatGPT has brought to attention many of its capabilities by making them more readily accessible.” he says.

The development of the IBIP prayer app was nearing completion when OpenAI forced a rethink of the concept. “Previously the app was focused on making it easy to share prayers with prayer partners and groups and accept prayer feeds from missions and churches,” Mr Oades says. “With the introduction of OpenAI, it became apparent that helping people produce prayers and plans could be incredibly useful. We thought, planning to pray is hard work – could AI help make that easier?”


An American app, which incorporates the results from the Blue Letter Bible website, calls itself Pray the Bible – AI Assisted. The smartphone app page claims, “We take your prayer request and fuse it with relevant Bible verses. You get access to limitless, personalised, bite-sized prayers so you can pray meaningful impactful prayers, every time, for longer.”

When I tried it, I put in a prayer request for someone’s health and it popped up a Bible verse and a prayer for the person composed around that verse. It wasn’t bad, or theologically improper, although I could have done it myself. But then I work with words for a living. These apps are designed for people stuck for words when praying.

The Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead, who formerly worked in IT, designed an app called Bible Crawler that helps people link Bible words and verses with each other in their original languages. He thinks that AI could be of assistance in helping us form our prayers, but it is potentially problematic when it is being relied on for the content of those prayers.

“It is useful tool for some tasks, such as modernising prayers in archaic language or turning a list of prayer points into flowing text,” he says.

“But I would not recommend relying on it to compose prayers from scratch, because this bypasses the important task of prayerfully considering what to pray for in accordance with God’s will, and how to frame our requests to God. The Bible teaches us to present our requests to God (Phil 4:6) – not to repeat the requests composed by an AI.”

For example, Bishop Stead used AI to create this prayer, expressing hope in the midst of discouragement.

“Heavenly Father, We come to You in a time of discouragement and despair. We feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of our current circumstances. We know that You are the only one who can bring us hope and peace in the midst of our struggles. We ask that You would give us the strength and courage to face our challenges with faith and trust in You. Help us to remember that You are always with us, even in the darkest of times. We pray that You would fill us with Your hope and peace, so that we can find joy and strength in You. Help us to remember that You are our refuge and strength, and that You will never leave us or forsake us. We thank You for Your love and mercy, and for the hope that You bring. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

“This is a good though somewhat generic prayer,” Dr Stead says. “But it lacks ‘heart’ because it isn’t coming from someone’s lived experience.”

A better example was the chat bot’s modernising of an old


The input was:

Thy main plan, and the end of thy will is to make Christ glorious and beloved in heaven where he is now ascended, where one day all the elect will behold his glory and love and glorify him for ever.

Though here I love him but little, may this be my portion at last. In this world thou hast given me a beginning, one day it will be perfected in the realm above.

Thou hast helped me to see and know Christ, though obscurely, to take him, receive him, to possess him, love him, to bless him in my heart, mouth, life. Let me study and stand for discipline, and all the ways of worship, out of love for Christ; and to show my thankfulness; to seek and know his will from love, to hold it in love, and daily to care for and keep this state of heart.

Thou hast led me to place all my nature and happiness in oneness with Christ, in having heart and mind centred only on him, in being like him in communicating good to others; this is my heaven on earth, but I need the force, energy, impulses of thy Spirit to carry me on the way to my Jerusalem. Here, it is my duty to be as Christ in this world, to do what he would do, to live as he would live, to walk in love and meekness; then would he be known, then would I have peace in death.

The AI bot rewrote this as:

Your main goal and purpose is to make Christ glorified and beloved in Heaven, where he is now ascended, and where all the chosen will one day be able to see his glory and love and praise him forever. Even though I may not love him much here, I hope that will be my destiny. You have given me a start in this world, and one day it will be perfected in the afterlife.

You have helped me to understand and know Christ, even if it is not completely clear, to accept him, possess him, love him, and bless him in my heart, words, and actions. I should strive to learn and practice the ways of worship out of love for Christ, to show my appreciation, to seek and know his will out of love, to keep it in my heart, and to take care of it every day.

You have led me to put all of my being and joy in unity with Christ, to have my heart and mind focused only on him, and to be like him in doing good for others. This is my paradise on earth, but I need the strength, energy, and motivation of your Spirit to take me to my heavenly home. It is my duty to be like Christ in this world, to do what he would do, to live as he would live, to walk in love and humility, so that he will be known and I will have peace in death.

Although some may lament the loss of the poetry and beauty in the original language, the resultant prayer is easier to understand for many people.

The IBIP prayer app, incorporating AI (, is due for release in July and Mr Oades is already thinking of other uses.

“One Christian mission has raised the potential of handling multiple languages within the prayer app,” he says, “The app doesn’t cater for this yet but the potential is to use AI to enable people to share and receive prayer points using their preferred language. This feature could benefit churches with members for whom English is not their first language. For example, this potentially enables Chinese, Spanish and English people to join the same prayer group.”

There’s a lot more to this new technology than the current headlines would indicate and it may yet be harnessed to help boost prayer for individuals and churches.

To that we say, “Amen”. SC

from page 32 SouthernCross May–June 2023 31

Can Artificial Intelligence help our prayer life?

If you want to start an argument, ask people what they think about written versus extempore or spontaneous prayers. Depending on your age and background, you will usually love one and dislike the other. Add to that the possibility that an artificial intelligence “bot” might have written the prayer and we are in a deep theological and ethical discussion.

You may already have heard of ChatGPT, otherwise known as Open AI. The technologically savvy among us know that it is one of a new breed of Artificial Intelligence (AI) bots, which can mimic human conversation but also provide answers to questions by summarising information on the internet. Smart home devices such as Amazon’s Alexa have already been doing this, but ChatGPT has supercharged the field.

First, the bad news. ChatGPT can only work with the information it has, and for something with intelligence in its name it can give some dumb answers. But it can also be surprisingly

inventive and people have been using it to compose songs, write poetry, do homework essays and, now, compose prayers.

App developer Steve Oades, a Sydney Anglican church member, admits this is controversial. He has begun to cautiously incorporate some AI results into a project called I Believe in Prayer (

“AI-generated prayers are often not appropriate as they can be hard to comprehend, too verbose or incorporate poor theology,” he says. “That sounds a bit like normal human prayers – which is not surprising given AI learns from human content. But AI can ‘learn’ what is ‘right’ from feedback and gradually improve. It can learn the pray-er’s preferences, and it can surprise them with challenges and new prayer items.”

However, composing prayers might only be a minor application of the technology. Mr Oades is looking for feedback on other uses such as translating old prayers to modern English, finding Bible

continued on page 31 SouthernCross
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