Southern Cross FEBRUARY-MARCH 2024

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God’s green earth

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In the garden of the Lord

Green and growing: The Rev Ben Gray gets among the bananas in the community garden at All Saint’s, Petersham.

Judy Adamson The sun is hot and the bees are busy in the community garden at St Matt’s, Botany. We’re less than a kilometre from Sydney Airport on a busy road, but the garden itself is a green oasis amid the industrial hub that surrounds it. Jen Beer, the garden’s co-ordinator, is busily weeding when I arrive, standing up to greet me and give me the tour. Against the fence are a range of fruit trees – mulberry, fig, pomegranate, guava – and a mango tree that’s fruiting for the first time. The zucchinis are finished but there’s a bed full of sweet potatoes and plenty of herbs and spices familiar to those who favour Asian cookery: lemongrass, ginger and chilli, shiso and coriander, plus the eve r - p re s e nt p a rs l e y and tomatoes and a beetroot or two.

Trained to climb up a little archway are vines of tiny, watermelon-shaped cucumbers called “cucumelons” (above) that the kids love to pick because they look like little sweets; while tucked in a sheltered corner is the banana tree, just above the native beehive and near the rioting choko vine. “People either love chokos or hate them,” Ms Beer says with a laugh. “I can divide a room with the choko, that’s for sure!” St Matt’s is just one of many

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churches in the Sydney Diocese with a community garden, and while each location utilises its garden differently, the goal is always the same: welcoming p eople in, creating and deepening relationships inside and outside the church, and – if and when people show interest – an opportunity to meet Jesus or get to know him better. In Petersham, the All Saints’ community garden has been running since about 20 09 and is well known to locals. It grew chiefly out of the parish’s outreach to the nearby boarding h o u s e co mmu n i t y , w h i ch includes a weekly dinner on Tuesday night and lunch on Thursday, but the garden is open to all. “It’s a very green-conscious area with very little green space in people’s homes, so having this green space that people can

enjoy and contribute to gives us that soft contact point,” says Petersham rector the Rev Ben Gray. “There are probably a dozen people from church on two different teams looking after the garden, with about three or four from the community... Then you have people who come at their own time to do their composting or water the garden or wander around, and periodically carers will come with clients to do watering or garden therapy.” Neighbours who need herbs for their cooking know they can just pop down to the garden and get some. Each Anzac Day, the local RSL knows there’s an endless supply of rosemary. And, depending on the season, the garden provides produce such as pumpkins, spinach, bananas, cucumbers, passionfruit and tomatoes that can be used by

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26 MARCH 2024

7:30-9:30pm | City Recital Hall Speaker: Ed Loane

o t In he t l al d l r wo Join us and pray for our graduates as they go into the world to serve Jesus.

A GREEN SPACE IN SYDNEY’S HEART During major conservation works at St Andrew’s Cathedral about 25 years ago, hoardings went up on the corner of George and Bathurst streets, behind the Chapter House. As anyone who knows the city will tell you, they’re still there. “At one point, there was an informal, temporary playground in the space but essentially, it’s been a builder’s yard ever since,” says the Dean of Sydney, Sandy Grant. “The Cathedral garden project will finally remove the eyesore [right] that has blighted our beautiful Cathedral for a quarter of a century.” The community garden planned for the Cathedral is not the type with herbs and vegetables, but the kind where the church, school and community will be welcome. “Instead of saying to a friend that you’ll meet them on the Town Hall steps before you go to the movies, you could say, ‘I’ll meet you in the Cathedral garden’,” the Dean says. “There will be places to sit, and places where it’ll be shaded and cooler. It will be one of the rare deep soil places of the city.” The plan is not for the space to be open 24 hours a day. There will be a fence and gates that – at certain times – will be closed to the public, such as when St Andrew’s Cathedral School wants its Gawura Indigenous class to have an

outdoor education experience, or if the Cathedral’s Sunday school group wants to hold a particular class outdoors.

Sydney can be enhanced in a way that doesn’t undermine other important ministries.

However, if there’s a community “We want to see new churches in new barbecue planned with the Cathedral’s communities, my heart breaks for the community chaplain, the gates will be many Anglican Aid projects sending open and the barbecue will be held in support overseas, and we’d love to see CMS able to send more missionaries,” the garden. he says. “Yet we also have unique “It will be so wonderful to have an opportunities in the heart of the city, outdoor space that can be used for where people come to us by choice... both Cathedral and school activities, We want to introduce them to Jesus, and also be available as a passive, quiet, and having an outdoor ministry space recreational space to members of the that’s both welcoming to the public and public during daylight hours,” Dean available to strengthen the Cathedral Grant says. community will really enhance our Funds are being raised to help bring ability to introduce people to Jesus, the project to fruition, and he hopes the and be for the welfare of the city more Cathedral’s ability to serve the city of broadly.”

For more information about the Cathedral’s community garden, the plans and the fundraising project, see

church members or utilised in the community dinners. “It’s a place where people from church can serve, connect with others and form relationships,” Mr Gray says. “The fact that there are people here and things growing also shows others there are things happening at the church – and it gives our people working in the garden a chance to say ‘Hello’ [to passing locals]. “Our goal is for it to be an inviting space where people can come, take a load off and just have a chat... It’s certainly one way we’ve gotten to know some of our nearest neighbours, who we wouldn’t have otherwise connected with. They haven’t joined the church, but they’ve certainly got to know the church a bit better.” 4

COMMUNITY IN THE OUTDOORS Dr Jen George, whose company Comcorp is working pro bono to drive plans for a community garden at St Andrew’s Cathedral (above), believes such spaces are crucial for church outreach now and into the future. She points to data released last year by McCrindle Research that shows most Australians choose to find community in the great outdoors. “ F i ft y - t h re e p e r c e nt o f Australians consider natural, outdoor gathering spaces as the primary hub for community interaction,” she says. “In the survey, the local neighbourhood also rated highly after the household for social connections.” Cho osin g a place in the

outdoors trumped the local pub or club (45 per cent), community centre (43 per cent) and school (33 per cent) as the best place to seek community, while only 29 per cent looked to church first. The researchers noted that, since lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, “the renewed recognition of local community spaces and their enduring significance has become even more apparent”. Adds Dr George: “Here is a wonderful opportunity for the Christian community to consider how and where we can connect with the broader community in meaningful and relaxed ways. There is also much research on the benefits of being in green space [for] our wellbeing”. COVID certainly proved no

barrier to the busy volunteer gardeners at St Mark’s, West Wollongong, who have been tending its community garden for more than a decade. “ We j u s t co nt i n u e d o n during COVID,” says garden co-ordinator, Rosemary Tolhurst. “We all like gardening and we like getting our hands dirty. We were outside in the air, spaced well apart – and could go anywhere and be lost in one part of the garden.” The parish site occupies a big parcel of land near the centre of town, with a large housing commission property behind it. Residents walk through the church property all the time, and Mrs Tolhurst says the hope when the garden was first established was that it could be SouthernCross

February–March 2024


February–March 2024

You say potato: Emily Zunica and Fran Miller harvest some spuds in the garden at St Mark’s, West Wollongong. photo: Rosemary Tolhurst


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a form of outreach to them. REACHING OUT “The hope was that we would Back at Botany, Ms Beer is get some people to come up picking me a bag of cucumelons to help and we could support to take home. I’m concerned them, teach some skills in there won’t be enough for the gardening and give them some kids, but she assures me that the vegetables, but that hasn’t more she picks, the more fruitful happened, unfortunately,” she the plant will be. Which is good, says. “Sometimes they come and because they’re delicious. chat if we’re in the garden... and “It’s nice to plant something say, ‘We’ll come and help you’, that the kids can harvest,” she and we say, ‘Well, we’re here says. “They also like to pick the from 8.30 through to 12 o’clock!’ flowers. Nothing’s precious, They haven’t come yet, but it’s a and if playgroup is doing a talk respected place, which is lovely.” on something appropriate we T h e s m a l l b a n d o f f i ve can provide flower seeds or gardeners tend the raised beds, whatever they need for the talk.” landscape garden, planter boxes, There’s weeding and cutting native garden and other areas, back to do, as always, and she harvesting each Saturday and jokes that “You have to have a selling produce – from potatoes minister who can tolerate the to asparagus, and pumpkins to shagginess – a garden’s never rhubarb – for a small cost to neat! Andy [Bootes, the minister] church members the following is very tolerant”. day. All proceeds go back into St Matt’s invites its community the garden, as do coffee grounds to take part in monthly working from a local café, as well as the bees and gardening workshops. café on the church site. If they’ve been harvesting, they O n “ Fo o d a n d F r i e n d s sit down for a cuppa afterwards Mondays”, St Mark’s offers a and talk about how they’re going range of support services to to cook what they’ve picked. those who need them. One of “It’s a very low bar for anyone these is to cook and give away to participate, and you have hot meals, and Mrs Tolhurst says such good conversations with that if the cooks want something people as you work alongside from the garden they can just them for an hour or so,” Ms go and get it – “although I make Beer says, adding that when the sure they know how to pick church hosts carols or other big things without bringing the community events, the garden is whole plant up!” the first thing visitors talk about. The rector of St Mark’s, the “We’ve tried to reach out to Rev Alex Zunica, is thankful for different cultures with what the servant-heartedness of the we grow, and we find that’s a gardeners and loves the potential real talking point when people of the garden to be a ministry to visit – asking what something a wider group of people. is or how you use it,” she says. He says his father-in-law “And we’ve certainly had people came to see the St Mark’s join the church after coming set-up before starting another to garden, or members of the community garden at St Philip’s, church becoming more involved Caringbah, and his daughter in the church community, and Emily likes to join the St Mark’s that’s been a great blessing. gardeners most Saturdays. “I don’t think we appreciate Mrs Tolhurst, who has been a how hard it can be to walk gardener since childhood, says into a church if that’s not your she would “love to introduce background. But a garden is some little ones to the garden” such a great icebreaker. It has – calling it “God’s special place”, such a calm and welcoming vibe where she will often pray as she – and there’s always something works. to do!” SC

Find out more 9421 5344 5

Suicide prevention program now available Australia-wide.

A first-of-its-kind course saving multiple senior lives Equipped to help: Yolanda Couchman (left) with workers from the Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program.

Tara Sing It only took two hours for Yolanda Couchman to implement what she had learned from Anglicare’s Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program. Although Ms Couchman had worked in aged care for a long time, she saw a need for more understanding around senior citizen mental health. As the program manager for tailored support with Anglicare, working with a team to care for older women in Anglicare’s affordable housing, she wa s used to walking alongside women who have experienced trauma such as domestic violence and require a high level of assistance. “We were so excited [about this course] because it identified a need that we’d been talking about,” she says. “It gave us the skills to identify risks, empathise and be with [older women] on that journey.” Anglicare launched the Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program in 2022 to equip those working closely with seniors to identify and support those who are at risk of suicide. It has since trained almost 6000 people to recognise the signs, step in to offer hope, and connect the elderly to services and resources that can help. 6

Those over 85 have the highest suicide rates in the country of any age or sex, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In 2022, the suicide rate among men over 85 was 32.7 deaths per 100,000 people. Females over 85 now have the highest suicide rate among all females, with 10.6 deaths per 100,000 people. “Younger people are more likely to tell others if they are ex p eriencin g su i cidal thoughts,” says Mike Sheedy (right), the head of mental health at Anglicare. “We give our participants the knowledge and skills to pick up on warning signs, identify risk factors and have a conversation with the older person who may be having thoughts of suicide.” Of the thousands of people who have been trained, 40 per cent came across a situation where they implemented the skills and knowledge they had gained within three months of completing the program. Of those people, 97 per cent said they had effectively connected and empathised with the senior citizen. “One of the things we do is give people confidence to ask the question, ‘Are you thinking of taking your life?’, and 99 per

cent of participants completing the Suicide Prevention for Seniors Program who came across a crisis were able to ask that,” Mr Sheedy says. “We feel it’s saving lives. It’s tremendous.” The same afterno on that Ms Couchman completed the training, a colleague alerted her to an unfolding situation. “A lady had taken herself to an unsafe place,” she says. “We were able to assist this lady. I was able to coach my colleague and we were able to ensure that this lady had the attention she needed from emergency services. “My colleague said to me after she could see the confidence [the training] gave me and…we could work together as a team to ensure this lady was safe.” The free program is the first of its kind in Australia and has now been rolled out nationwide. Last year the program was officially accredited by Suicide Prevention Australia.

“Nobody [else] in Australia is specifically targeting suicide prevention for older people,” Mr Sheedy says. “It fits with Anglicare’s mission, vision and values. Previously, older p eople were offered generic wellbeing strategies that didn’t acknowledge the specific challenges they face such as chronic pain, bereavement from losing a partner, losing their sense of purpose and social isolation. “Older people are also less likely to verbalise that they’re thinking suicidal [thoughts]. So we give people the strategies to look out for in a sensitive way.” SC

PLEASE PRAY: • for those who have completed the training to confidently step in when they suspect an elderly person may be struggling and contemplating suicide • for more people to be equipped to see the signs and offer hope and support • that senior citizens would be seen and heard, and their mental wellbeing looked after • for Anglicare as it continues to serve in the aged care and mental health spaces


February–March 2024

Five ways your website can help people planning to visit.

What people with disability want to know about your church Bec Baines If you were going to visit the called upon to assist their child

• A walk-through video that

to ask for the support they need gives a tour of the church will be greatly appreciated. We can be helpful, particularly want to prepare people for what for people to see the bigger to expect. If someone is nervous picture and catch details about sensory overload, for photos might miss, such example, knowing how long the as door width or a lip in an music runs in a service can be CLEAR INFORMATION CAN entranceway that would helpful. REDUCE WORRY make it hard for someone in If a child knows there will be a It’s great that church websites a wheelchair. game followed by the Bible, they a re s t a r t i n g to a d d m o re • Use captions can start readying themselves information for those planning If your church posts for the next transition rather to visit for the first time. speaking videos online, than being surprised and having However, there is often little be sure to add captions to only a few minutes to shift to a to no detail about what the them. If posting images, different activity. church space looks like, the put an image description In addition, it’s always good access options (e.g. ramps for to help people with vision to invite feedback, such as: “We mobility aids, hearing loops or impairment understand would love to see you here, and if transcripts) or what happens what’s being posted. there’s anything that we can be VISITORS MIGHT BE during the service. Any information that saves a doing to help you access church, WONDERING… Often the first thing you see person with a disability needing please do let us know”. SC When we open the doors for on a website is the service times, people in our community, we followed by the latest sermon need to show them what church series. These are good things, peace of mind is, and how they can be part of but what’s the next step? with home care it – including how they’re going Here are some suggestions for to access the space and the useful website information: teaching. • An Accessibility tab For a person with a disability, Even if you already have or the family of a person with a an “I’m New” tab, it saves disability, it is similar to anyone scrolling through lots of visiting for the first time, but information to find what with an added layer of questions. you need to know. Parents of a child with a • Service structure disability might wonder if he It can be helpful to include or she will be welcomed by a detailed structure of the their peers and if things will service – with as much go smoothly. There may be detail as “from 9.45 people Trusted for over 75 years, Anglicare At Home supports uncertainty about whether the start arriving to check older people with compassionate and specialised family will be welcomed back or into church and socialise home care. whether leaders will understand before service starts at 10”. Enjoy peace of mind, knowing your health and support their child’s communication and Describe what the kids’ and needs are in caring, professional hands behaviours. youth programs look like. Services range from help around the home to high care Parents wonder if they might • Include photos to help nursing support. We also offer complimentary pastoral care services. hear comments such as “They describe such things as the were hard to manage” or “We’re location of the accessible Looking for Home Care? not sure this is the place for your entrance, how to get to the Call 1300 111 278 or visit child”. They will wonder if they’ll toilets, the fenced-in area get to have fellowship after the for kids, where the hearing service, or whether they will be loop section is and so on. Louvre in Paris for the first time, what might you want to know? You already know it houses the famous Mona Lisa, but you need information such as how to get there, what to expect or how to buy tickets. It’s not as though you can just turn up at the front entrance and know everything to expect before you get inside! It’s similar to a church. Most people know that when they go to church, they’ll hear from the Bible (like knowing that the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre!). But what do they need to know, prepare for and expect?

and forego meeting and talking with others. Adults with disability may simply wonder if people will talk to or spend time with them at all.



February–March 2024


Student numbers the highest in five years.

Wanted: more Scripture teachers Tara Sing Edward is feeling nervous Education streamlined the SRE per cent increase in sales for the Gross and Rutland into the value about school this year. For the first time in a long while he will be stepping back into the classroom – although this time it won’t be as a student. This year, he’s volunteered to help with Special Religious Education. A full-time engineer and father of three girls, he approached his employer to see if there was any flexibility to make time for teaching a Scripture class. “I can work from home one day a week, and I can work back later or start work earlier [on that day],” says Edward, who attends St Thomas’, Enfield and Strathfield, and was motivated by how his own Scripture teachers had blessed him as a child: “I remember… their care and dedication each week”. After the Depar tment of

enrolment process with a digital system, there has been a rise in class sizes to their highest numbers in more than five years, meaning people like Edward are needed more than ever. The new system has contributed to more accurate numbers, with 350,000 students signed up for SRE classes of all faiths across NSW – 200,000 of them in Sydney. Christian Scripture makes up two-thirds of that figure. “The online enrolment system has been a game changer in terms of SRE enrolment in the past 12 months,” says Andy Stevenson, the head of Ministry Support and the SRE Office at Youthworks. He adds that an early sign of the new system’s impact is “a 57

kindergarten SRE curriculum”. Previously, families wanting their children in SRE had to opt-in via a paper enrolment form that was often handed out after the start of the school year. This relied on the students to safely transport the forms to and from the school. The new system smooths out the process by allowing parents to select faith-based SRE online at the time of school enrolment. To date, almost half of State schools have set up the online system, and Mr Stevenson predicts class numbers will continue to grow as the rest of schools follow suit, He estimates there will be close to 5000 Christian SRE classes in 2024, given that “roughly 100,000 students are in Anglican SRE [in greater Sydney]”. The Sydney Diocese has almost 1900 registered SRE teachers. WHO WILL BE A BLESSING? The Rev Canon Craig Roberts, CEO of Youthworks, speaks of the immense value SRE offers the entire community. “From the research of scholars

of SRE to contemporary society, SRE provides an effective values education, important p s ychol o g i c al b e ne f i t s to students’ mental health and wellbeing, strengthening the multicultural fabric of Australian schools and creating safe places to explore deeper questions of identity and faith,” he says. Edward wants p eople to consider if they can also be a blessing to schools and society by volunteering to teach SRE. “For me, things lined up and I needed to ask, ‘Why am I not [doing it] – and if not now, then when?’” he asks. “There is always a great need. If we have flexible working hours, why not use the flexibility for something that is one to two hours a week to benefit [others] and the kingdom?” Adds Mr Stevenson: “There’s a great opportunity [for people to teach]. If you’re a university student, if you have flexible hours, if you work from home, if you’re a mum... “We need to train more SRE teachers to cover the students [and classes] we’ve got.” SC

PRAYER POINTS • Pray for SRE teachers and co-ordinators, especially those starting in 2024, to be faithful in their teaching, preparation and example to students. May they be excited about the opportunity, encouraged by the rise in student numbers, winsome as they recruit others to teach and engaging in their classrooms. • Pray for all parents and students in NSW public schools, for encouragement and education for Christian students and for the exploration of faith for families. 8

• Pray for Youthworks as it oversees SRE across the Diocese and resources others across NSW to set up SRE correctly in every school in the state. • Pray as Youthworks meets with schools to arrange enrolments and classes, runs the SRE conference for more than 2000 teachers in person and online, helps recruit and train more teachers and works with the Department of Education and Christian and otherfaith SRE providers to implement policy and procedures for a stronger SRE.


February–March 2024

Future GAFCON now

Keen to encourage the next generation: delegates at the 2022 GAFCON Australasia conference in Canberra.

Russell Powell GAFCON Australasia’s second afresh of the diversity of the says. “So, we thought that we’d auditorium to be full with conference has set its sights firmly on the future of the church in Australia, for the first time welcoming youth to be fully involved in the movement. GAFCON, the Global Anglican Future Conference, began as a meeting in Jerusalem in 2008 and grew into a movement for reform and renewal in the Anglican Church across the world. The Australasian branch held its first conference in Canberra in 2022, where it announced the formation of the Diocese of the Southern Cross to cover congregations that had to withdraw from the Anglican Church in various parts of Australia because of teaching that went against the Bible. In Brisbane in July, GAFCON Australasia will convene with a focus on children and youth. “The invitation is for every leader in your church: male and female, young and old, clergy and lay,” says the chairman of the conference committee, the Rev Jodie McNeill. “This is an opportunity to gather those from remote or rural settings, from large suburban teams, and from situations which might be very different from your own.” As a delegate at GAFCON’s international conference last year in Rwanda, Mr McNeill, who is rector of Jamberoo in the Sydney Diocese, was reminded SouthernCross

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global Anglican church. “While there were men and women from many nations, the next generation of Anglicans w e re n o t p re s e n t a t t h e conference,” he says. “Even though the average Anglican is aged in their 30s, there were almost no delegates in the lower half of the population range. “It suddenly dawned on me that if we wish to inspire the next generation of Anglicans to the mission of proclaiming Christ faithfully, then they need to be in the room where it happens!” There is ethnic diversity in the movement in Australia, with some of the newer Diocese of the Southern Cross congregations in South East Queensland including a large proportion of members from Tonga, Samoa and South Sudan. But diversity in age is also in the sights of conference organisers and, with a “stretch goal” of 30 per cent of delegates a ge d under 30, the 2024 conference theme is Building The Future – with speakers includin g the principal of Youthworks College, the Rev Mike Dicker and Moore College lectu rer the Rev Dr Mark Earngey. “We have reimagined this to be an event that would minister to younger Anglicans as well as those who already attended GAFCON events,” Mr McNeill

run special children’s and youth workshops [and] we’d make under 18s free, with students and most ministry spouses half price.” The venue, Riverlife Baptist C h u rch s o u t h we s t o f t he Brisbane CBD, sits on five hectares of land with two acres under roof, and the main auditorium seats 1500 people. Mr McNeill’s vision is for the

delegates of all ages. “We want the kids and youth to be present, and even to participate in the running of the main sessions, so that we might encourage and inspire people in smaller churches who have no other option but intergenerational ministry each Sunday.” SC For more details see www.


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Judy Adamson

New training to reach “massive mission field”

T h e M e n to r i n g Ac ro s s

A heart for Hindu people: The Rev Clive Buultjens (in the dark red shirt) takes a group of Christian university students to the Hindu temple in Mays Hill, near Parramatta.

JOAN AUGUSTA MACKENZIE TRAVELLING SCHOLARSHIP Applications are invited for the Joan Augusta Mackenzie Travelling Scholarship to enable the recipient to undertake study and/or gain experience in parish work overseas, preferably in the United Kingdom. The Scholarship is usually awarded for post graduate study.

Applicants must: • be clergy of the Anglican Church of Australia who have served at least two years since ordination as a Deacon and • have been educated in Australia and • intend to return to Australia at the end of the scholarship period.

The Scholarship will commence on 1 September 2024 and is for the period of study or experience. The value of the Scholarship is $30,000 each year, normally for up to three years.

The Trustee, Perpetual, awards the Scholarship in consultation with the Principal of Moore College and the Rector of St Thomas’ Church, North Sydney.

Applications close at 5.00pm on 30 April 2024. For more information and application forms, please email


Cultures apprenticeship, or Mentac, is adding another string to its bow in 2024 with the establishment of a training program to reach Sydney’s growing Hindu population. Until now, Mentac – which operates under the umbrella of the Church Missionary Society – has focused on ministering to Muslims. Apprentices immerse themselves for two years in Muslim communities such as Lakemba, and are supported and mentored as they live among people from very different backgrounds, love them well, share Jesus with them and con sider long-term crosscultural work here or overseas. To date, half the people who have completed Mentac are serving in Muslim-majority countries, with several more continuing to work among Muslims in Sydney. Last month a Mentac stream for Hindus was launched at CMS Summer School. At the helm is the Rev Clive Buultjens, who has had a heart for ministry to Hindu people for the past 20 years. Last year he left his role as an assistant minister at Merrylands to wo r k w i t h E van ge lis m and New Churches, training churches and individuals for ministry to Hindus and other South Asian people in Sydney. “Twenty years ago, there weren’t many people thinking about reaching people from

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February–March 2024

Hindu Mentac begins in Sydney.

Hindu backgrounds, but God are not engaging intellectually has been bringing more and with their faith. It’s much more more Hindus to Australia and experiential. They want to know South Asians are now the largest what the Christian experience of migrant group in Australia,” Mr following Jesus looks like... They Buultjens says. want to see if following Jesus He says that as he sought to works. Does Jesus really change learn about Hinduism in the my life? Does he make sense early 2000s, “the more I learned, of everything? Do Christians the more I realised how diverse actually live with Jesus as Lord? and confusing it can be. “In addition, we often focus “I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just read on an individual and try to the Hindu scriptures’... but evangelise or read the Bible with there are so many! It’s said that people one to one. But Hindus no human being can read all the just don’t think about their lives Hindu Scriptures in their lifetime. as detached from their family There’s no single founder like or community. Every decision Mohammed or Jesus, and no is seen in light of the impact creed or doctrine that defines on the group... So [we need to] what Hindus believe. Hinduism help Hindus get to know Jesus is practice and experience.” while honouring and staying Over the years, God has taught connected to their community.” Mr Buultjens a good deal about the Hindu worldview and South “NEVER WALK IN Asian cultural values. DARKNESS” “As we share the gospel, we Mr Buultjens now partners with often try to engage with people five Sydney churches to reach intellectually or theologically,” out to Hindus and South Asians he says. “But most Hindus and holds a monthly meeting

with those keen to increase their skills in ministering to this growing people group. He says the highlight last year was when everyone came together in November to make connections and do Bible storytelling at the Diwali festival in Wentworthville. “It was awesome. We asked people what Diwali, the festival of lights, meant to them. There was a range of things, but for most there was the general hope that light will defeat the darkness – to which we were able to say, ‘Did you know that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world?” So, if you trust in Jesus, you will never walk in darkness’. It was such a great opportunity to connect with people. “God has been answering my prayers for believers and churches to realise the need to reach this massive mission field. There’s so much need and so few workers, so that’s why I’m excited that CMS has agreed for us to start a Hindu Mentac.” SC

For more information about starting a two-year Hindu Mentac apprenticeship or visiting a Hindu ministry night, email or For general details about Mentac go to get-involved/mentac/

PRAYER • Give thanks for the 28 people who have completed the Mentac Muslim apprenticeship and are sharing their lives and faith with Muslims here and overseas; pray the ongoing work and training will change many lives for God’s glory. • Pray the Lord would raise up people to take part in the new Hindu Mentac program, and that many Hindus would come to trust and worship Jesus. • Pray for both Mentac pathways to honour God through their ministry, remain faithful to his word, and rely on his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.

“LIVES IN TRANSITION ARE OPEN” ~ Rev. Stuart Starr Research shows that when people move into a new area (just like this one at Oran Park) they are open to all sorts of new things. Of course, they are on the lookout for a new hairdresser, butcher, and park for the kids to play in, but at the same time, people in transition are more open to the outreach of a gospel community. And this has been shown at NewLife Anglican Church, Oran Park. That’s why at NCNC, with your help, we’re building more gospel communities in greenfield areas of Sydney. God is at work in these places! New suburbs are springing up all the time and people are moving into their new homes day-by-day...

WILL YOU HELP US REACH THEM? Simply scan the QR code to partner with us now. Your contribution will make a new church in a new community one step closer to reality!


February–March 2024


Conversations in the lead-up to Easter.

Lean in to Lent with Catholic friends

“For a lot of Catholics, it’s a time of heightened spiritual awareness and devotion”: the Rev Mark Gilbert.

Tara Sing There’s a good chance you and lasting for 40 days. During Mr Gilbert says. “If they share will cross paths with a Catholic giving something up for Lent this year, given that one in five people in Sydney belong to the Catholic faith. The lead-up to Easter is an important time for all Christians to remember the work of Jeus, but this season holds a special s i g n i f i c a nc e fo r C at h ol i c people. Understanding this is key and can unlock some great conversations about Jesus. “Lent reminds us that there are lots of Catholics around us, and [it’s a good prompt] for us to understand our Catholic friends and family and colleagues better,” says the Rev Mark Gilbert, who serves with Certainty 4 Eternity – which helps people have good conversations about Jesus with those from a Roman Catholic background. For those who are unfamiliar with the season of Lent, it’s a period in the liturgical calendar leading up to Easter Sunday, beginning with Ash Wednesday 12

this time, many Catholics will choose to go without something as an act of penance for sins and to acknowledge the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. “The penance [for Catholics] is an act of spiritual devotion that [they believe] has the effect of ameliorating some of their sins,” Mr Gilbert says. “For a lot of Catholics, it’s a time of heightened spiritual awareness and devotion.”

“There might be something that they’ve given up something behind [their sacrifice] so that for Lent, we can respond with God can answer a particular ‘Oh wow, we don’t give up stuff prayer. for Lent in our church, tell me “Catholics are more aware more about it’. of their sin over Lent. They’re “ B e g e n u i n e l y p o s i t i v e giving up stuff because of their about wanting to find out and sin. [They see] Lent as a way to understand what it is and why get better. But we know from they do it. For a lot of Catholics, Titus 2, God’s grace saves us it will be a family tradition. You and God’s grace teaches us. can share something about your The things we know and value own spiritual background after as Christians, we can share all you’ve asked them about theirs of those things with Catholics and that can lead to further during Lent.” SC conversation.”

CURIOUS CONVERSATIONS Faith conversations can be less natural with people of a A KEY QUESTION Catholic background. For many, “A really good question to ask conversations of a spiritual people is, ‘What can I pray nature happen with priests for you over Lent?’” he adds. and qualified people, rather “Sometimes people are doing than featuring in everyday a particular fast, or giving discussions with friends or something up for a particular colleagues. reason. Maybe it’s so their kid I t c a n b e e a s i e r to a s k will go to church, or for their questions and learn about our elderly mum who has been Catholic friends’ beliefs during diagnosed with cancer, or Lent. “Being curious is a good because they’re finding work thing, to be genuinely curious,” difficult.


• that Catholics, with their increased activity at this time, get to encounter Jesus clearly through his word and know his forgiveness for their sins, both now and forever • for Protestants, that Lent might be a time where we get to know and love our Catholic friends, neighbours and colleagues better • that we might have great conversations about Jesus


February–March 2024

Called to serve – either here, or there

Judy Adamson D o missionaries have a of this calling is specifically to “in the little patch” around him. overseas with CMS. Another “special” calling? How do we know what our vocation is? And how do we balance pursuing the ordinary good gifts of this life against making sacrifices for the kingdom? These were some of the questions that began a special session on vocation at last month’s Church Missionary Society Summer Scho ol in Katoomba. The purpose wasn’t to “guilt trip” listeners into offering to serve in crosscultural mission, but to challenge each of them to think about what their true service for the Lord should look like. The Rev Dr David Sandifer, who has spent the past three years teaching at a theological college in the Netherlands, sought to provide a framework to help listeners to respond to the questions. First, he noted that while the purpose of human beings has always been to glorify God, for Christians a “call” also refers to our election and God’s purposes for us. “In fact, in Jude 1:1 the ‘called’ equals ‘the Christians’,” Dr Sandifer said. “So, the heart of our calling, as Christians, is to join Christ and his work in redeeming the world... and part SouthernCross

February–March 2024

suffer for Christ, as 1 Peter [2:21] makes clear.” He added that each of us has unique “callings” – some of which we enter into deliberately such as marriage or a new job, while others are determined by situation and are outside our control, such as living with a disease or caring for a loved one. HOW TO BE MOST USEFUL FOR THE LORD Dr Sandifer said that while it wa s go o d to a sk how – with our particular gifts and opportunities – we could give God glory in our lives, a better question to ask was how our lives could be most useful for advancing the kingdom of God on earth. He told the group that as a young man he had considered a career in automotive design. Eventually he decided that, although there is certainly a place for Christian car designers, he felt he could be most useful for the kingdom by choosing the path of full-time ministry. His fellow presenter at the session, new missionary to Tanzania, Brenton Kilby, told the group he had once thought his contribution to global mission would be to do what he could

His dream had been to work in crocodile research in northern Australia and be a witness in the science world. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, except that I had chosen this course of life without ever really considering God’s call to global mission,” he said. “Not everyone is called to be a missionary, but I’d never even entertained the thought. “We often say we are willing to go, all the while planning to stay. We are willing to go in response to a golden envelope coming down [from heaven] on a cushion with a personal, signed calling card!... What if we flipped it? What if we all planned to go but were willing to stay? What would our lives look like then? “Ultimately, God’s promises and calling compelled [my wife Mel and I] many years ago to plan to go and be willing to stay. We would work towards going, and if God’s church told us we weren’t the right people to go, then we would serve in Australia, supporting global mission from here.” Mr Kilby said he knew one couple who had been at Summer School in 2023 and, a year later, were on the cusp of serving God’s global church

couple who realised they were “planning to stay” had had a similar conversation with CMS, which showed them they weren’t yet ready or suited to go. They planned to revisit the idea in five years. IT’S GOD’S CHOICE Dr Sandifer said surrender to the Lord’s will was really at the heart of our calling as Christians, adding: “If we want to discern what God is calling us to, we need to be sure that we have laid our lives on the altar – that we have consecrated our lives to him completely, and without reservation. “It is not a question of ‘What is my calling?’ but ‘What is God’s calling on my life?’. God is the one who gets to decide.” He said that while some people might experience a call “through a strong personal sense of God’s leading, maybe even a voice, like the apostle Paul... [a call] may come through more ordinary means, as we pray and consider possibilities. “But, either way, we can trust that God will lead us and be clear. Though it may involve great sacrifices, to follow God’s path for our lives is the most joyful thing possible.” SC 13

Archbishop writes

Compassion at the end of life Kanishka Raffel


n the past five years, two momentous decisions have been

taken by our State Parliament, both under the banner of “right to choose”. The first, the abortion liberalisation in 2019, was a change against which Sydney Anglicans, led by my predecessor Dr Glenn Davies, took a firm stand. The other was in 2023. On November 28, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022 (NSW) (the Act) came into force in this State, enabling eligible people to choose to access euthanasia in accordance with the regulations and guidelines stipulated by the Act. This watershed shift in medical practice and community expectation marks the final abandonment of one of the cornerstones of Western civilisation over the past two millennia: the sanctity of life. The idea that all human life is inherently precious was not generally affirmed in the world into which Jesus Christ was born (although it was a tenet of Judaism). It spread with the growth of early Christianity and finds expression today in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was a distinguishing feature of the early Christians that they began to rescue infants who were “exposed” – left to die in the weather – and to care for the sick and disabled. Two factors, at least, were operative. The first was the conviction that all human life was imbued with special and inestimable dignity and value irrespective of age, health or gender, having been created in the image of God. The second was the example and command of Jesus

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to love neighbours, and even enemies, as oneself. On both counts, Christians have opposed the taking of life and promoted care for the vulnerable. Famously, the Roman Emperor Julian complained in an anti-Christian tract he authored in the fourth century that, “the impious Galileans [Christians] support not only their own poor, but ours as well”. Advocates of voluntary assisted dying (a deeply misleading cluster of words) emphasised not the sanctity of life, but quality of life as subjectively experienced, and the primacy of autonomous choice. During the debate, a man whose wife tragically died from a degenerative disease said to me, “Archbishop, if you don’t want to choose assisted suicide you don’t have to, but don’t get in the way of those of us who want the right to choose”. I understand the depth of feeling – who could not – and the logic. But this way of arguing – “If you don’t choose it, it won’t affect you” – is naïve. It neglects the way in which practices form culture; the way laws create values. To enshrine a “right” to die in law crosses a boundary. A legal right to have another person, a physician no less, assist in your death affects everyone precisely because it is a matter of public law. And laws shape culture, values and community standards. Despite our best efforts, the euthanasia lobby has prevailed. The practice is now law and causing confusion and anxiety in the community. On one hand we have suicide prevention efforts and

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February–March 2024

VAD laws and how to respond.

on the other, an option of assisted suicide which, if NSW follows the overseas trends, will be extended to more and more categories of illness, mental and physical. How do we Christians respond? First, we must remember God is sovereign. When our society walks away from his wisdom for our lives, it is an expected outcome of the rejection of his Lordship. We must not lose heart as if, somehow, God is not in control. We must continue to proclaim God’s grace and his good purposes. As Sydney Anglicans gathered last year, the Synod made clear its opposition to voluntary assisted dying and called on the NSW Parliament to repeal the Act. Further, it expressed support for Anglicare Sydney as it continues to work out the contours of faithfulness to Christ amid the new medical landscape. It is important to note that bringing in a regime of VAD has led to a cut in end-of-life care. This lack of support for vital palliative services may push people into assisted suicide. There is a petition to oppose the funding cuts which I urge all Anglicans to support. You may sign the petition online at the Legislative Council website or via this shortcut In personal situations, it is entirely possible that a member of your extended or close family may consider VAD at some point. We should respond with compassion. I am extremely grateful to the Social Issues Committee for producing the resource Voluntary Assisted Dying in NSW: Pastoral Guidance and Theological Reflections

for Sydney Anglican Diocesan Ministry Workers. Although aimed at those working in ministry, this resource is available on the Sydney Diocesan Services website (or by using the shortcut https:// and can be accessed by any interested person. I commend it to you. The document begins with several fictional but highly plausible pastoral scenarios and offers helpful reflections on how Christians might respond. As that resource points out, our pastoral responses to VAD must be shaped by the gospel message and what it means for all forms of suicide. I hope you will pray that the NSW Government will permit institutional conscientious objection, as permitted in other states, so that residents of aged care facilities and retirement homes are not confronted with the spectacle of physician-assisted suicide in the place they call home. Pray, too, for doctors and nurses, aged care workers and others who will soon find that they need to engage with distressed people considering VAD. And pray for palliative care physicians and other specialists, that their work would receive adequate funding – especially those working in rural and regional areas. Most of all, pray that at the end-of-life people will have the opportunity to know the hope that is the gift of the gospel and find themselves supported to die, assured of God’s love and forgiveness and the abundant life that only Jesus gives. SC

How long ? A service of

lament, hope, and healing for survivors of abuse


February–March 2024

7:00pm, Thursday 7th March 2024 The Bridge Church, Kirribilli cnr Broughton & Bligh Streets, Kirribilli, NSW For more information:


Moore College

Wise words for good faith

David Höhne


Words are trouble; Words are subtle Words of anger, Words of hate Words over here, Words out there In the air And everywhere

hese are some of the silly words from the Tom Tom

Club’s Wordy Rappinghood for those of you who listened to the radio in the early 1980s. The song asks us to consider what words are worth to us – and this was when mass media only meant TV, AM radio and having another two daily newspapers in your capital city. In the era of blogs and podcasts, tweets and threads, it is hard to avoid other people’s words, and there is no reason to withhold your own. Some would say that social media is akin to a global epidemic of verbal diarrhoea. Previously, in this column (SC, November-December 2023), we listened to the words of Solomon about finding wisdom in times of bad faith. With Solomon’s guidance, we searched for the good faith that would restore our trust in words: Iniquity is atoned for by loyalty and faithfulness, and one turns from evil by the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 16:6, CSB). Among other things, the iniquity that Solomon referred to is our foolish disregard for the healing power of rebuke! The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness (Prov 15:12). 16

However, if we are confident that the one to whom we turn for words – even words of rebuke – is loyal and faithful, then, Solomon exhorts us, we shall find the fear of the LORD in turning away from evil. The realisation of Solomon’s observation about loyalty and faithfulness is found most perfectly in the cross of Christ, for there, as nowhere else, we see the immutable faithfulness of God to his creation; the saving loyalty of Christ Jesus that atones for the iniquity of the world. Furthermore, in the Spirit of wisdom, we can hear God’s rebuke to turn away from death and live in the fear of the Lord. At the cross, the Word himself prepares us to receive the gift of good faith that gives us saving words to hear and speak. Therefore, with this gift of good faith, we should meditate on what we can do with words to create good faith in our community, for “Better a poor person who lives with integrity than someone who has deceitful lips and is a fool” (Prov 19:1). How wretched are the people and community where crooked and untrustworthy words are the norm. What’s more, the modern phenomena of fake news was foreseen by Solomon centuries ago: SouthernCross

February–March 2024

What the Book of Proverbs says about pure speech.

A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions (Prov 18:2). In the power of God’s Spirit and through the wisdom of Solomon, our verbal lives together can be different. Let’s consider four ways we can improve our speech and the lives of those around us. THE FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF PURE SPEECH We need to hear two main things from Solomon this time: the characteristics of pure speech and the incentives for them. So, in Proverbs 18, there are four characteristics of pure speech. • Blessing consistently The words of a person’s mouth are deep waters, a flowing river, a fountain of wisdom (18:4). Pure speech is to the community what a torrent is to the desert – a teeming source of life. But it’s not just the quantity of words on view here. Words that bring depth and richness are found in the ability to verbalise complex ideas and pose solutions to puzzling questions. A succinctness that feeds the community with substance to nourish and satisfy. This is much more than the drive for minimalism that keeps sermons simple and churches stupid. Rather, as Solomon also says, “Counsel in a person’s heart is deep water; but a person of understanding draws it out” (Prov 20:5). Pure speech seeks always to foster loyalty and serve faithfulness in the community. • Reporting accurately A grumbler’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being (18:8). The CSB has “gossip” here and I went with “grumbler” but, literally, we are referring to the words of a “murmurer”. Think of the Israelites murmuring to each other about how good they had it in Egypt compared to the desert or, later, how much bigger the Canaanites looked when the spies went into the land of promise. The power of this proverb lies in the combination of attractiveness and penetration. We gobble up the words of gossip like sickly sweet chocolates – and worse, we keep rehearsing the vicious rumours in our minds, toying with the possibility that they are true, delighting in and despising them simultaneously. And we become angry with ourselves for listening, and with the “grumbler” for feeding us such tangy yet indigestible stuff. The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth (20:19). Good faith in words among the community is poisoned by undisciplined gossip with winsome, seductive flattery. They betray faith and sneer at loyalty. • Listening carefully The one who gives an answer before he listens – this is foolishness and disgrace for him (18:13). Perhaps you know the shame of lecturing an audience of family or friends, having attended to half a matter and filling the balance with ignorance. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, right? But the point here is sharper. Rash words from a position of power are a presumption on grace at best and an insult or abuse at worst. Think of the husband who has assumed that he is smart enough to know what his wife will say before she says it. He has treated her as less than his complement (or at least, less than himself) and has shamed and insulted her, and himself, by revealing his insensitivity and ignorance. There can be no good faith in words when they are so foolishly employed. SouthernCross

February–March 2024

• Questioning studiously

The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him (18:17). A natural correlate of accurate reporting and careful listening is the discipline required to understand, as much as possible, the whole picture in any given situation. Playing the inquisitor with questions that ensnare or corral is always tempting, but that hardly makes for good faith in words. Instead, the parts that make up a generous whole come from asking humble, empathetic, curious questions. So, if these are the characteristics of pure speech that chart the course towards good faith in words, what – according to Proverbs 18 – can we anticipate for the community?

INCENTIVES FOR PURE SPEECH • Peacefulness A fool’s lips lead to strife, and his mouth provokes a beating. A fool’s mouth is his devastation, and his lips are a trap for his life (Prov 18:6-7). Our context makes it hard to imagine, perhaps, but indifference to relationship dynamics in the form of an incendiary tongue breeds violence in the community. I belong to a very large extended family and, in the long past, at many times and in various ways, outrageous demands and/or exaggerated accusations led to protestations, recriminations and even, as they say in the NRL, “the biff”. It was shameful at the time and now, years later, it is part of a tragic story that led to an untimely death. Foolish words are lethal for the peace of a community, whether it’s unsolicited advice on parenting or the constant reminder of


Talking points

how much better your home church or hero pastor does ministry. • Fruitfulness From the fruit of a person’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the product of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit (18:20-21). Fruitfulness and productivity are captured here in how wise words reproduce life in various ways and contexts. Wise words shared in good faith enable us to see things differently and give us the confidence of insight; they sponsor imagination and creativity. They are the patrons of resourcefulness and the mentors of inspiration. On reflection, they give birth to gratitude and parent thankfulness. With pure speech, the community experiences great richness: There is gold and a multitude of jewels, but knowledgeable lips are a rare treasure (Prov 20:15). The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble (21:23). The one who loves a pure heart and gracious lips – the king is his friend (22:11). CONCLUSION So, through pure speech, we may enjoy good faith among each other and live peacefully and fruitfully together. When we report accurately, listen carefully and question studiously, we have the conditions for the possibility of continuous blessing. Of course, despite our best intentions, we fail, and foolish words fly forth from our lips before we can grab hold and stuff them back in our mouths like so many paper plates from a picnic lunch on a windy day. Solomon’s wise words come from a time when Israel was truly God’s people in God’s place under God’s king. But we have one greater than Solomon, God’s Word in the flesh, who not only spoke the words of life that made Solomon wise but died the death that casts a shadow over all our words. Therefore, we must remember that good faith in words is a gift from God – the gift that is given in the words of forgiveness. That great word of forgiveness is the Word himself given for us, and even the ability to hear that Word is the gift of his Spirit. Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people (1 Cor 2:10-13). SC

The Rev Dr David Höhne is academic dean of Moore Theological College and lectures in Christian Thought. 18

Radical bill challenges religious freedom Michael Stead


he Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill

2023 introduced by Independent MP Alex Greenwich is due to be debated this month and voted on in March. The bill makes wide-ranging changes to 20 pieces of NSW legislation that will undermine religious freedom and entrench a radical gender ideology in NSW.

• Undermining religious freedom

The bill hollows out, or entirely removes, existing provisions in the Anti-Discrimination Act that are designed to allow faith-based institutions to maintain their faith-based character. The bill also removes protections for faith-based schools and other religious institutions. This will prevent faith-based institutions from keeping their faith identity by employing staff who uphold the faith, or by operating according to their beliefs. It will force religious institutions to act like secular institutions. The bill will also open faith-based institutions to constant and costly complaints of discrimination that will need to be defended and will allow judges to decide whether religious beliefs are “reasonable”. • Bypassing the parent-child relationship The bill permits a child under 16 to consent to medical treatment, against the will of their parents, so long as a doctor says that “the child is capable of understanding the nature, consequences and risks of the treatment and the treatment is in the best interests of the child’s health and wellbeing”. It also deems all young people 16 or over to be competent to make medical decisions for themselves (including life-altering procedures) as if they were an adult. This drives a wedge between parents and their children and SouthernCross

February–March 2024

empowers a minority of activist medical practitioners to push their ideology and override parents. It would also allow one parent to consent to medical treatment, even if the other parent strongly objects. This has the potential for the medical treatment of children to be used as leverage in family disputes. • Sex self-ID The bill allows people from 16 years of age to change their sex on their birth certificate whenever they want, regardless of biology or surgery. This places women-only spaces such as refuges, schools, prisons and places of worship at risk because they will be forced to treat people according to their newly declared sex. • Promoting prostitution The bill protects sex work under anti-discrimination law, making it equivalent to protected attributes such as race and disability. No other form of employment is privileged in such a way. The bill also removes existing limits on prostitution – including laws that prevent coercing a woman into prostitution, public acts of prostitution and soliciting prostitution outside a school or place of worship. • Commercial surrogacy The bill allows and assists the commercialisation of surrogacy, including paying disadvantaged women in third world countries to bear a child who is then taken from them and brought to Australia. WHY HAS THIS BILL BEEN PRIORITISED? At 1.30am on November 30, 2023, the Government voted to prevent this bill from expiring, give it priority for debate in the very first week of Parliament, and guarantee a vote on March 14, 2024. A bill that was expected to lapse is now going to be forced to a vote within weeks. Given the radical nature of this bill, it is SouthernCross

February–March 2024

alarming that it is being rushed through without any time for proper community consultation. WHY THE BILL NEEDS TO BE REJECTED IN FULL Mr Greenwich’s bill is extreme and prioritises the interests of one group over all other parts of society. A more balanced approach needs to be taken, with wide consultation. The legislation is 50 pages long and makes more than 80 changes to 20 different pieces of legislation. This includes 52 amendments to the AntiDiscrimination Act – even though the Act has been referred to the NSW Law Reform Commission. There is no safe way of splitting this bill, or passing parts of it, without risking significant unintended consequences, because the legislation is complicated and interlinked. The different issues are interwoven, with consequential amendments to one section dependent on others. WHAT CAN YOU DO? Christians need to act immediately to make our opposition to this bill known. We need to contact our local State members. Most politicians have little idea about the contents – let alone the consequences – of this bill. It is important they hear our concerns before the bill’s scheduled voting day on March 14. Freedom For Faith has created the website that will assist you to call, write or meet with your local MP. SC

The Rt Rev Michael Stead is Bishop of South Sydney and chairman of Freedom for Faith. 19

CMS Summer School

Mission in the st 21 century David Williams



February–March 2024


When it’s for God’s glory… and when it isn’t.

y wife Rachel and I recently visited some

CMS missionaries in South-East Asia. We met the pastor of their church – a wonderful, godly man who had just returned from a mission trip himself. He had been working in western Kenya, helping equip churches to address some very practical issues. So, we were visiting Australian missionaries in South-East Asia who go to a church where their pastor is involved in mission in sub-Saharan Africa. That kind of thing is entirely normal in 21st century mission and shouldn’t surprise us at all. Mission has been “from everywhere to everywhere” for at least half a century. As we talked with the CMS missionaries we were visiting, we found that they loved their church and their pastor. We also discovered that some other missionaries in the area tended to avoid local churches. They preferred to operate separately because they felt local churches slowed them down. Their goal was rapid gospel growth. This experience in South-East Asia illustrates two significant themes of 21st century mission: listening to the voice of churches in places like South-East Asia or Kenya; and the desire to see rapid growth. MISSION AS LISTENING World Christianity is the “in vogue” term for the majority of the world’s Christians – those in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It’s a movement seeking to give voice to theologians and missiologists in non-Western, or at least non-Anglo, contexts. Consider the frustration of Chilean theologian Gonzalo Arroyo who, when commenting on American theology professors, asked: “Why is it that when you speak of my theology you call it ‘Latin American theology’, but when you speak of your theology you call it ‘theology’”? A significant proponent of world Christianity was Andrew Walls, a British missiologist who undertook an important re-examination of mission history. His research enables us to tell a more complete, more accurate story of 19th and 20th century Protestant mission. Walls shows that the massive growth of Christianity in the past 200 years has typically followed a pattern. Western missionaries arrived and their ministry usually resulted in a very small number of local people becoming Christians. The explosive growth of a church typically came through the ministries of those local Christians, not the missionaries. It was the evangelism of people like Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first Nigerian Anglican bishop, that led to great gospel growth. And yet, in 19th and early 20th century writings, the focus tended to be only on white missionaries. History ignored the contribution of world Christians. All this has led to great interest in recovering a more accurate sense of our history. We are wonderfully recovering the stories of great saints like Apolo Kivebulaya, Angelina Noble, Samuel Crowther, Betsey Stockton and Pandita Ramabai, and learning from the missiologists and theologians of world Christianity. In the 21st century, we have the joy of worshipping the Lord Jesus alongside brothers and sisters from many cultures and countries. We have the rich privilege of reading the Bible with different cultural perspectives. There are many wonderful things about world Christianity. SouthernCross

February–March 2024

But there are also areas for concern. While it is wonderful to record history accurately, it doesn’t help if we simply repeat past mistakes. Just as it wasn’t wise then to airbrush out non-Anglo people, it is not wise today to airbrush out Anglo mission work and give the impression growth has come entirely from the national church. A great theme within world Christianity has been the appeal to listen. To listen to the theologies and missiologies being written in the Global South. We absolutely need to do that. But in the hands of some this has been taken a step further, saying Anglo Western churches should listen and stop speaking. Some missiologists urge the West to take the road of humility and silence. Humility – yes, absolutely. Silence – surely not. To say Western mission should be silent is clearly not a road we want to travel. In a similar vein, the world Christianity narrative sometimes argues that mission is not about sending. We’re told that sending is a neo-colonial narrative. But mission in the New Testament cannot be separated from the concept of sending. MISSION AS GROWTH Of course, if we are gospel people we long to see others come to know the Lord Jesus. The vision of CMS is a world that knows Jesus. That vision has an expectation of growth and transformation built into it. We want to reach gospel-poor peoples for Christ. Again, that imagines growth. But there is a bigger story here. In contemporary missiology, we can trace “mission as growth” back to American missionary and missiologist, Donald McGavran. He argued that while many things were included under the umbrella of mission, one thing was more fundamental and important than everything else: the growth of the church. He developed a whole set of strategies based on sociological argument and observation. For example, McGavran argued that mission should focus on people or people groups who are responsive to the gospel, and not focus on those who are not. We can trace a clear line of thought from the Church Growth Movement in the 1970s and ’80s, to church-planting movements in the ’90s and 2000s, to disciplemaking movements today. A definition of the latter says, “Disciple making movements spread the gospel by making disciples who learn to obey the word of God and quickly make other disciples, who then repeat the process”. Notice the emphasis on scope and speed. Churchplanting movements and disciple-making movements aim to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. The promise of these models is huge gospel growth. We are invited to return to the first years of the early church as its growth is described in Acts. This promise is supported by accounts of rapid multiplication of small churches and cells of believers in Asia, North India and across the Muslim world. Now, let me outline three areas of concern. • Biblical When Luke records growth stories, it is striking that he always takes the same approach. He never says the apostle grew the church. Growth is recorded in one of two ways. Sometimes, Luke tells us, “the word of God increased and multiplied” or “the Lord added to their number daily”; on other occasions he uses the passive voice – “there were added” or “believers were added”. Luke deliberately puts a degree of separation between church 21

growth and human agency. The apostles proclaim, witness, strengthen, encourage. God is the one who grows his church. A second question is whether growth is always God’s intention for his people. In Acts, there seems to be an overall trajectory of growth, although it is sporadic and not linear. But when we read John’s letters to the churches in Revelation, it is clear the Lord Jesus might act in judgement against a church. Maybe the Lord Jesus will bring the churches in Sardis and Laodicea to an end? In the same way, it’s obvious from the Old Testament that the nation of Israel experiences both great growth and terrible contraction. Growth is not necessarily the outcome God gives to his people. • Cultural A second area of concern relates to secular culture. Growth is the narrative of Western capitalism. For a company to be successful, it needs to grow. This growth is measured in terms of speed and size. A successful company is one reaching ever more people, ever more quickly. When churches buy into the growth narrative unreflectively, they risk exhausting their congregations and burning out their staff. For the Western mission movement, the growth narrative is the air we breathe. We assume growth is an automatic good. The mission world easily buys into this. • Practical If we have swallowed the growth narrative of Western capitalism and believe growth is our responsibility as mission personnel, we face many challenges. The most obvious is to our transparency and integrity. There are many stories of gospel workers inflating the size and scope of their ministry to keep supporters on board. If we believe mission must be about growth, and we see no growth, we inevitably conclude that we are doing something wrong. Perhaps a more insidious problem with the growth narrative is the temptation to instrumentalise relationships. Instead of seeing people for who they are – God’s children, made in his image – we see them for the ministry potential they might offer us. Mr Maina stops being Mr Maina and starts being a potential convert, or a potential small group leader. We want to be effective in ministry and assume that we are only effective if things are growing. So, how do we care about growth without making growth an ultimate good – that is, a good in its own right? I suggest one way is to define the goal or purpose of mission in relation to God. Rather than thinking mission is ultimately about the growth of the church, I suggest it is ultimately about the glory of God. MISSION FOR GOD’S GLORY In the book of Ezekiel, God works consistently to preserve the honour of his name. In the experience of the people of Israel, perhaps it felt as though God was changing his mind. However, Ezekiel makes it clear this is not the case. In the early chapters of the prophecy, God removes his presence from Jerusalem and reveals himself to Ezekiel in exile. The Lord withdraws from Jerusalem because the people who represent him are bringing his name into disgrace by worshipping idols within the temple. Later in the book, foreign nations say the God of Israel has not been able to protect his people. So, God will restore Israel from exile – but for the sake of his holy name (Ezekiel 36:22-23). He has acted consistently for the sake of his glory. We see this theme repeated over and over in the Bible. Our God is holy. He delights when his people reflect his love, justice and mercy but will separate himself from the profane. When his 22

people rebel against him, he will act in judgement. We see God both engaging with and withdrawing from his people in the Old and New testaments. When we recognise the ultimate purpose of mission is God’s glory, this brings the way we practise mission into focus. It is obvious that God is not glorified by dishonest, deceitful or manipulative activities. One of the problems with “mission as growth” is that this distinction might become opaque. If growth is considered a good in its own right, then the way that growth happens might not matter much. One of the problems with the Mars Hill Church in Seattle was that growth became an ultimate good. If you weren’t on board the Mars Hill bus, then the bus ran you over. But, as we’ve seen, growth is not an ultimate good. And we know the New Testament cares a great deal about the way growth happens: “we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary...” (2 Corinthians 4:2). If our desire in mission is to bring glory to God, what we do and how we do it must be God-glorifying. Mission as listening has lots of useful things to teach us – but God is not glorified if we only listen and never proclaim the gospel. Similarly, mission as growth has lots of useful things to teach us – but God is not glorified if we make growth an ultimate thing, or if we pursue growth in ungodly ways. People who are engaging in mission in a way that glorifies God will be growing in godliness. Let me be clear what I mean by this. I’m saying that the way we proclaim the gospel should simultaneously grow us more like Christ. The way we do mission should grow our characters in godliness. WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN? • The ultimate purpose of mission is to glorify God Our heavenly Father wants to set apart a people for his own, a people marked out by their likeness to him. He is glorified as that happens. He is not glorified if those who profess his name are profaning him. • Mission is relational Yes, some people come to faith in Christ by picking up a Bible and reading it. But most come to know Jesus through another person’s engagement with them. Human relationships lie at the heart of the activities of mission. And the quality of those relationships, the attention that we give to them, is very important. In a technological age, we risk instrumentalising relationships. We risk turning relationships into tools we can use. Levers we can pull. But love does not do that. • Serving in mission grows us in godliness If I am serving Jesus but growing bitter, getting angrier, becoming cynical, something is wrong. I need to serve in mission in a way that grows me in love, joy, peace, patience. If mission is ultimately about the glory of God, we will think carefully about what we do and how we do it. What we do must be shaped by God’s glory, so we engage in the mission activities God commands us to practise, not because we ought to; not because it is our duty; not because we feel guilty; but because we delight in God. And how we engage in mission must also be God-glorifying. We will do God’s work in God’s way. SC Dr David Williams is director of development and training for CMS Australia at St Andrew’s Hall in Melbourne. This is an edited version of a talk from CMS Summer School in January. SouthernCross

February–March 2024

Who can you pray for in 2024?

Fire up!

Evangelism for the terrified Dave Jensen


don’t know about you, but I find evangelism utterly

terrifying. It didn’t start that way. After becoming a Christian in my late 20s, one of the things God did in my heart immediately was help me see that following Jesus and sharing the news of Jesus were two sides of the same coin. “How hard could it be?” I thought. Very hard, as it turned out. My first go at it was with my oldest mate. His response was to take a sip of his beer, look me straight in the eyes and say, “Don’t you ever, ever, speak to me about this stuff again”. The next few responses were no better; I was mocked, abused and made to feel completely stupid. It wasn’t long before I shifted from being someone who looked for opportunities to share my faith to being someone who would do anything possible to avoid it. In my experience I’m not alone. While evangelism is something most of us want to do, it’s also something that most of us never do. The reason? Fear. Specifically, the fear of rejection. So how do we engage in evangelism when it’s so terrifying? It’s always tempting to think that the answer will be found in some kind of new conversational technique, or social engineering. The idea is that if we just do this or just do that, the people we’re speaking to won’t react badly to us. However, the gospels show us a different perspective. In Matthew 10, Jesus sends his disciples out to proclaim the gospel into a world that would hate them. He explicitly warned them of the danger to come. But then he does something surprising. He doesn’t give them a set of directions about what to do in order to avoid the danger; instead, he offers a different way of understanding the opposition they would face: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). According to Jesus, what matters most in life is not the here and now, but the eternal future facing us all. It is God who has control over that, not people. The good news is that God shows us grace through Jesus, guaranteeing eternal life for those who trust in him. The consequences for us transform how we understand fear. SouthernCross

February–March 2024

“We don’t need to fear people. We need to fear God”: Dave Jensen. photo: Katoomba Christian Convention

John Newton put it this way in the hymn “Amazing Grace”: ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. We don’t need to fear people. We need to fear God. When we do, it means we are set free from being slaves to the opinion of people. We are able to see that it’s his opinion that truly matters. But not only that. Fearing God means we shouldn’t be afraid of people. We should be afraid for people. The future for those who do not fear God is eternity in hell. So, what does that mean for evangelism? It means that evangelism starts not with how we talk to people about God, but with talking to God about people. We need to pray that God would have mercy and save those we know, and that we would have the courage to live our lives based on the fear of God, not people. Can you think of four people you could pray for in 2024? SC Fire up! is a new, regular column with a focus on evangelism. Dave Jensen is the assistant director of Evangelism and New Churches in the Sydney Diocese. 23

Faith in practice

Better Bible reading Aman Kaur ST MATTHEW’S, WINDSOR

I always read [the Bible] every night before bed. Sometimes I will choose one gospel, or Paul’s teachings; sometimes I’ll choose a psalm. It depends on how my day was. Sometimes my day is good, but when it’s not so good I read Psalms for something encouraging. I read almost every day.

Tara Sing


any of us started the year hoping to improve

our Bible-reading habits. Whether we wanted to read more regularly, study the Scriptures more deeply, or even power through the Bible in a year, there are many of us who longed to do better than we were currently doing. Now that we’re really getting into the swing of 2024, how are we all doing? If you’re like me, perhaps your motivation and discipline are beginning to wane slightly as the pace of life picks up. I spoke to four people who were dobbed in by their pastors for having encouraging Bible-reading habits. They’re incredibly humble, lovely people who allowed me to ask them how they approach Bible reading and how it’s been a regular and joyful feature of their lives. The following are summaries of their stories. You can read the full stories at 24

I have been thinking about sleep – it is the most important part of your life. You’re giving rest to your body and your mind. If I sleep after watching a movie, [being] on my phone, or watching news that is really terrible, it’s stressful for my mind. But if I read something very calm and encouraging, the next morning I wake up “smooth”. That’s why I read every night before bed. It gives me encouragement and the next morning I wake up fresh with good thoughts. Reading the Bible is a mindset. It’s how you have time for dinner, and you always have time to watch your phone. When we start watching videos on our phone, we don’t realise how many minutes pass – 20 or 30 minutes! But to read your Bible, you don’t need that much time and it will give you real growth to your mind. I try not to use my phone at night and so I try to read something [from the Scriptures]. Once you get into it – I am giving you my assurance from my experience – somehow you’re going to get it and you will love to read the Bible. I love to read my Bible and before that, I didn’t even know about Jesus. Do not [be] pressured to read it, but try to read it a little bit. If you finish one paragraph, or verse, or chapter, observe it and grasp it in your mind. That’s more important.


February–March 2024

Tips from committed Bible readers.

Julie Reynolds WEST RYDE

I’m 84, a widow and live by myself. I have plenty of time to read the Bible.

I’m always distressed at how sinful I can be, and I think, “Why can’t I get out of the habit?” or “Why do I still do that?”. If you’re reading the Bible, you’re going to feel like that. There’s no other way to react to it, because it’s meant to do that to us. It’s meant to show us how unlike Christ we are, even though we want to live the way he wants us to live.

I get up in the morning, make myself a cup of tea and for the next hour and 30 minutes I read my Bible, read devotions and pray. I feel very privileged to have the time to do that. I have various ways of doing it. I can read a whole book of the Bible [and] I use “Explore” notes from the Good Book Company. I’m quite varied with what I do, but basically I’m working through books of the Bible using notes to help me. [My first minister], Peter O’Brien, encouraged me in daily Bible reading. He said, “If you want to know somebody, you talk to them. If you want to know God, you read the Bible. That’s God talking to you”. The sentiment was that reading your Bible as a Christian was absolutely essential and I took that on board. Even though my children were [young], I still had a little time in the morning before they got up. So I just started reading in the morning. I’ve been reading the Bible in the morning for almost 50 years.

I think that people who don’t read their bibles are missing out on such a lot of richness in their Christian life. All the riches are in those words. Not that the words are magic, but the richness is in the things that Christ is sharing with us. We never need to fear what is going on in the world. It’s horrible to read about, and makes us frustrated or angry, but we don’t have to worry. We know the truth. There is only one truth. It just gets better with God. It’s not that he gets better, but hanging in there with him is amazing. He never leaves you or forsakes you.

Eden Conway

Sally Bower



About five years ago, my growth group leader at the time asked if he could disciple me. We started catching up each week… the deal was that we would text every day with our personal devotions. I was doing personal devotions already, but the daily discipline was greatly improved by doing it with a friend.

I really love God’s word. I became a Christian reading it. I picked up a Bible and haven’t been able to put it down since. God has used it to bring transformation into my life. I have such a hunger to know more.

Over the last five years, I’ve been increasingly amazed by what I find in his word every day. I feel I’m learning more each day than when I first started – which is counterintuitive!

Usually I get up very early in the morning and pick books of the Bible. I usually work through one at a time. I’ll read a chapter, look at what is jumping out at me; I might look at references and search up other parts of the Bible. I like to see what God is saying through his word.

I do a seven-minute quiet time. The idea is that you can’t ever get to the end of the day and say, “I didn’t have seven minutes today”! The process is to pray for 30 seconds, then read for four minutes, then pray 2½ minutes.

I also sometimes go for a walk and listen to a [Bible] podcast, or I’ll listen to a good sermon. I find the morning time is the best; it’s the only time that doesn’t move. I find that in the quietness of the morning, I hear God more loudly.

I found it helpful to lower the bar with what I expect to get out of my Bible reading, so that I can jump in and do it each day. That’s a slightly lower bar than spending 30 minutes in prayer and devotion… but setting the bar low helps make it a daily practice. Something I’ve found helpful is having a committed friend who also wants to read the Bible every day. The process of texting them means I learn something and have one coherent thought about it. That’s been really good for me. Read your Bible every day and tell someone about it.


February–March 2024

I have set up a Bible reading encouragement group on Facebook in an effort to get people into God’s word. It’s purely for [posting] Bible verses. With the Bible Reading Encouragement page, if people haven’t had a chance to read God’s word yet [that day], they could still see some of God’s word in their Facebook feed. I hope it prompts them to go back to God’s word and read it. I think in life, nothing is certain. Everything else can give way. I crave God’s word. I need to know his truth and stand against the devil’s schemes. I need God’s word daily so that I can know Jesus more and cope with the things that I’m faced with.



Getting the Word right “Great joy” in training others: Peter Ryan teaches a group of Cornhill students.

Dr Peter Ryan was a missionary with Pioneers in Namibia teaching at NETS (the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary). He and his wife Paula returned to Australia in 2017. Peter completed his doctoral studies in Mark’s Gospel at Moore College and now serves as the director of Cornhill, a “Bible handling” course to help people prepare for ministry – especially in communicating God’s word. Peter and Paula have two children. He talks to Simon Manchester, who is also one of Cornhill’s visiting teachers.

Peter, do you miss the work in Namibia? What was great and what was difficult? Serving in Namibia was an immense privilege. We met some wonderful Christian brothers and sisters and had the opportunity to share life with them. We learned a lot about life and crosscultural ministry and had the joy of helping train people for ministry. There were also some significant challenges: health issues, opposition to gospel-shaped ministry, and shared grief. We do miss Namibia. Our son Ethan was born there, and our daughter Imogen has great memories of living there and we all talk often about going back to visit. Does the seminary in Namibia provide students with real depth in their theology and ministry potential? NETS is the only evangelical seminary in Namibia. It is a small and developing institution offering a variety of levels of training in residential and distance programs. It was exciting to be involved in curriculum review and development and in teaching students from many parts of Africa. In my time there I witnessed students growing in their love and knowledge of God and in their skills for ministry. Have you always had a special interest in training people, and for what in particular?


I have had a passion for training others for ministry for a long time. It began more than 25 years ago at my home church where I was involved in training young adults for youth and young adult ministry. It was what took me to Namibia, and now to Cornhill. It continues to be a great joy for me to be involved in training others. SouthernCross

February–March 2024

An interview with Peter Ryan.

Coming back to studies in Mark – a foundational book for Christians – did you find yourself discovering new riches that surprised you? Yes! I learned an enormous amount from closely studying Mark’s Gospel and I was constantly struck afresh by what a wonderful king Jesus is. I explored the motif of proclamation in Mark and discovered that while the Gospel of Mark lacks an explicit commissioning statement (such as is found in Matthew and Luke), the call to involvement in the task of proclaiming the gospel throughout the world permeates the book. Mark remains my favourite book of the Bible! Was the invitation to lead the work at Cornhill Sydney a perfect opportunity for your love of teaching and training? When we came back from Namibia I was not expecting to find myself at Cornhill, and I am just so thankful to be serving there now. It is a unique and exciting ministry setting. The students at Cornhill are an eclectic mix of ages and ministry backgrounds, but they all share a passion for digging into God’s word and thinking hard about how to teach it to others. Why is the training program called “Cornhill”? It started in England in 1991 at a place called Cornhill in London. It was founded by David Jackman under the leadership and influence of Dick Lucas (the then rector of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate). The Cornhill program began in Sydney in 2011, and in 2021 we started a second cohort of the course at Rooty Hill, in Sydney’s west. Can you explain the usefulness of Cornhill in a city that already has excellent theological colleges? Sydney is blessed with some wonderful Bible colleges (our time in Africa helped us to appreciate this even more). Despite this, I think Cornhill serves an important purpose in Sydney for people either preparing for college or getting better equipped for a role in their church. Our motto is “Getting the Word right and getting it across”. We have a particular focus on practical training to teach God’s word to others. Cornhill provides an opportunity to learn from experienced preachers, give numerous talks and receive feedback in a supportive environment. The program is only one day a week during term time and so fits well alongside ministry service, ministry apprenticeships, or for those taking a day out from their work to study. What does a Tuesday or Thursday look like – the program, but also the students who take part? In 2023 we had just over 50 students studying with us. The students at Cornhill include both men and women and range from young adults doing MTS apprenticeships or Cru internships to people preparing for mission, people already serving in parish ministry who want to work on their preaching, and lay and retired people who serve in various ways in their churches. They come from different denominations and backgrounds and have a range of ministry experience. This mix is one of the real delights of Cornhill and helps ensure that talk feedback is rich and stretching. It is such a joy to see younger and older Christians spurring each other on to serve Jesus! A regular Cornhill day involves a mix of subjects. Our program includes foundational subjects (such as Old Testament Overview and our Introduction to Teaching the Bible), as well as some subjects focused on learning to read and teach different genres SouthernCross

February–March 2024

in the Bible, and text-to-sermon subjects where we focus on a particular book of the Bible and work on how to teach that well. We have some very experienced Bible teachers such as David Cook, David Peterson, yourself and Luke Tattersall, who model how they teach particular sections of Scripture and oversee our preaching groups. We also do a number of occasional workshops on topics such as writing and leading Bible studies, giving a wedding talk and teaching the Bible to older people. We share morning tea and lunch together and have a lot of fun. I love my Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cornhill. How have students responded to what you offer? The students are incredibly enthusiastic about digging into the Bible and spurring each other on in their service of Jesus. It is such a privilege to see students growing in their love for God’s word, their understanding of it and their ability to pass it on to others. How many students would normally go on to theological training and what would others use Cornhill for? Over the past 10 years more than 40 of our students have gone on from Cornhill into further theological training. Others have already done theological training, are in ministry and looking to sharpen their preaching. Others have continued in various word ministries at their churches, in schools or chaplaincy or on the mission field. Has there been a wider interest in Cornhill – students online, for example, or people wanting it in their own town? Last year we started Cornhill Distance for students outside Sydney. We have a small and enthusiastic cohort who join us online each Thursday from Victoria, as well as students in Queensland, Canberra and regional NSW. By God’s grace it has been a wonderful encouragement, and we are planning to continue it this year. What would you suggest to those who want to give a day each week to growing through Cornhill? Come and join us! Again, I absolutely love my Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cornhill. It is such a joy to spend time with others who want to look intently into Scripture and grow in their ability to teach it to others. The culture and community of Cornhill is a delight, and the opportunity for practical feedback is incredibly valuable. If you are involved in any sort of word ministry (or thinking about preparing yourself for such ministry in the future), it’s a great place to be equipped and encouraged. SC

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What are these strange shows that pop up on Netflix?


Crash landing on Hallyu Russell Powell


uring lockdown many people caught the baking

bug, while some took up a craft or binged on novels. I caught Hallyu – which translates as “the Korean Wave”. Movies like Parasite, TV series such as Squid Game and food like Korean fried chicken have propelled Korean culture to the attention of many in the West, even white Anglo-Celts like me. There are several reasons for my interest in Korean culture. For a start, South Korea produces great music – both classical and K-pop. Some of the most popular groups in the world, like BTS and Blackpink, are from Korea. The Hallyu bug manifested itself in watching Korean dramas, which have surged in popularity thanks to billions of dollars in backing from Netflix. For the uninitiated, K-dramas are long, complex and soaked in Korean culture. They can be romantic, like Crash Landing on You (above), or ultra-violent, like Squid Game. Each series usually contains 16 episodes of an hour or more, and that’s a significant investment of time. Of course, you also have to read subtitles. South Korean movies and TV are high quality with the kind of dialogue you don’t get in Western productions. But amid the sumptuous visuals, you can also discern deep problems. I wouldn’t dare to judge a country’s culture simply through what I see on TV, so I compared notes with the Rev Kevin Kim, senior minister at Strathfield and Enfield Anglican Church. We started with the most successful K-drama, Squid Game, about a fight to the death involving a children’s game. “I think it was quite sensational how the rest of the world took on board this whole Squid Game stuff,” he says. “But if you watch it, you realise that, although it’s a satire, it is actually a fairly accurate description of how people operate in Korea at the moment.” Pastor Kim is not a fan of K-dramas, partly because of their addictive nature but also some of the themes that are explored. “It pains me to see – and I can say this because I’m a Korean – it’s a very superficial kind of culture,” he says. “People often are judged by how they dress and what sort of cars they drive, rather than really engaging with understanding people, listening to each other and exercising grace towards each other. 28

“It is a very, very competitive, cut-throat kind of environment. Generally speaking, Korean society, I think, is becoming – dare I say – disintegrated, because the family is falling apart. The suicide rate is skyrocketing. The birth rate is plummeting. And it’s covered up by the economic success. That’s pretty toxic.” While watching, I found myself wondering about South Korean spirituality. Out of a population of 52 million, 23 per cent of Koreans are Buddhist. Protestant Christians make up about 18 per cent of the population, with those who follow traditional folk beliefs or shamanism at 15 per cent. Compare this with North Korea, where the persecution of Christians is intense and often deadly. Do K-dramas represent Korean spirituality? Yes and no, says Pastor Kim. “I’ve seen a number of K-dramas where it depicts spiritual worlds and some spiritual themes. So, I know that Korean people – although they have become very, very secular – still remain very, very spiritual in many ways. Ancestor worship and that sort of stuff is still fairly rampant. But it is combined with really explosive economic growth, which turns people into more economy-obsessed. I really think a lot of the K-dramas reflect that sort of mindset.” Despite the number of Protestants in South Korea, Christians and churches don’t often feature favourably. “I think it’s in Korean people’s psyche that there’s more to this world than just a material world,” Pastor Kim says. “The unfortunate side is that the churches in Korea haven’t done any favours for themselves with their greed, their worldliness, and also moral failure of the leaders and so on. So, the church is not in the good books with people. “Although, for the last 30 or 40 years, Christianity has become one of the dominant religions in Korean society, all I’m hearing is that young people are leaving churches in droves and there’s a sort of anti-Christian sentiment flowing right through Korea.” As a Westerner, I’m glad I crash-landed on Hallyu because not only has it provided interesting viewing, it has also given me some understanding of North Asia and common ground with Koreans I meet. I hope the conversation can go beyond K-dramas to the one many Koreans worship – Yesu. SC SouthernCross

February–March 2024

The way of the Lord

Judy Adamson The Chosen, Season 4 Episodes 1 & 2 In cinemas for seven days from February 1; streaming to follow


his crowdfunded TV series about the life of Jesus

begins to head towards the pointy end of his ministry in Season 4, as opposition from those in power increases. As ever, there is much to like and it’s excellent to have considered backstory and character depth for the men and women around Jesus – just as long as we remember that, as deeply informed by Scripture as the series is, the action we see is the writers’ version of events and not Scripture itself. After all, in the lead-up to Herod’s great banquet, mentioned in Matthew 14 and Mark 6, I can’t imagine the husband of Joanna actually said to her, “Is that what you’re wearing? It looks great!” So yes, some of the lines are cringeworthy, but people who’ve already seen Seasons 1-3 will be aware of this. For those who haven’t yet given The Chosen a try, if you can live with some below-par dialogue you should be fine: cast performances are solid, as are the makers’ efforts to provide cultural context. After all, in watching this series we’re essentially following the story of our Lord and Saviour and that will hold deep emotion for all believers. As regularly happens in The Chosen, Episode 1 of Season 4 takes us back in time in order to fully appreciate the narrative in the present. It begins with the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist and rejoices in the knowledge that SouthernCross

February–March 2024

this child will prepare the way for the promised Christ (Luke 1). The story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, and the loosening of Zechariah’s tongue to praise God after John’s birth, is one of my favourite moments in the Bible. To juxtapose their joy at the miracle of John’s birth with his end after Herod’s banquet is very poignant and beautifully done, as is the response of Jesus (Jonathan Roumie) to the death of his cousin. The theme of Episode 2 is forgiveness, wound around Simon’s (Shahar Isaac) confession of Jesus as Messiah, and the renaming of Simon as Peter: the “rock”. The very human frailties of the other disciples upon having Simon singled out in this way shows up the foolishness of the petty envies and concerns we as God’s people often dwell upon, rather than trusting in his plans. I love the way the disciples are helped to understand the truths they are blind to – such as the need to ask for, and grant, forgiveness. How thankful we can be that, like them, the Lord understands our weaknesses and patiently guides us along the road of faith. The Chosen is not perfect by any means, and we could probably do without a subplot here and there, but it genuinely seeks to present us with the Jesus of the Bible and how he transforms those who believe in him. I’m confident that those who’ve been waiting for Season 4 won’t be disappointed. SC 29

A new book reminds us who we are in Christ.

You are not what you do Judy Adamson


hat do you do?”

You can just about guarantee this will be one of the first questions you’re asked when you meet someone new. The answer may not be that easy if you’re retired or unemployed, of course, but most people are happy to talk about their work and it often breaks the conversational ice in a non-threatening way. It’s not so great, however, when our lives become indivisible from work. When we are so wedded to what we do that it essentially becomes who we are. This is a very familiar feeling for former journalist Andrew Laird (right) – so much so that he felt compelled to write a book titled I Am What I Do to help other Christians refashion their thinking about work along godlier lines. “Early on in my career, I recognised that I cared enormously about the opinion of my colleagues and my industry peers, and there was a real desire to get their approval for who I was and the work that I did,” Laird says. “It’s only in hindsight that I can see how incredibly burdensome that was, and how much it shaped the way that I worked and behaved around them. “The book very much is the fruit of many, many years of wrestling with that, and coming to a fresh understanding and appreciation of the sure and firm identity I have in Christ, his opinion of me being what counts, and my identity being shaped by who I am in Christ as a forgiven child of God.” Laird is now the national Life@Work manager for City Bible Forum, helping to encourage other Christians in secular workplaces to have a godly life and witness, and equipping them to share their faith with colleagues. After all, he knows from experience how hard it is to get this balance right. Yes, he had an active Christian ministry during his earlier work years, but this was paired with a need to work harder and push himself further to achieve the workplace “success” and peer approval he craved. When asked how he began to break this cycle, he bluntly says that, like many Christians before him, “God in his kindness brought a few significant seasons of humbling into my life – firstly, being unwell for a period early on in my career, but one that I talk about

at length in the book is a period of burning out. I was unable to work for about two months and then was recovering for a good 12 months after that. It was a really significant season where God humbled me and was at work in this particular area of my life.” I Am What I Do came out of Laird’s own reflections, the speaking and teaching he has done over the years with City Bible Forum and the recognition that he was not the only person wrestling with this problem. This prompted him to put his thoughts on paper with a desire to help others understand the issue before they also fell over the edge into burnout. “Some of us need that kind of wake-up from God before we listen, but you really wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” he says. He describes the first half of the book as the biblical foundation for our identity in Christ, and the second half as the application, amid the framework of freedom. “One of the things I have found is that when we have a sure and firm identity in Christ, that’s incredibly freeing – to not have to prove ourselves to others,” he explains. “And so, my hope is that Christians who read it will appreciate and experience afresh the freedom that there is in the gospel in this particular area.” SC I Am What I Do is published by Matthias Media.

from page 32

to many of the controversies we’ve seen play out in the media from megachurches in Australia and around the world. These include, but are not limited to, inappropriate behaviour of pastors, sexual misconduct, the irresponsible use of money and potential tax fraud. It can be satisfying to sit in our comparatively small congregations and criticise Prosper’s characters, the fictional U Star church and the flaws that seem so obvious and far away from our own experience. Yet we must be humble. Our hearts are deceptive and we are not immune to sin or to sinning against others. We 30

have a fabulous and faithful God who offers forgiveness every time we sin, but we must not fool ourselves into thinking that we are above stumbling. Arrogance comes too easily, especially when the downfall of megachurches is displayed for our entertainment. If we catch ourselves thinking “That wouldn’t happen” or “How foolish of them to do that”, we must stop and pray for ourselves and our churches. Finally, Prosper should prompt us to pray for our leaders – that they would hold unswervingly to God’s word, and be humble to SouthernCross

February–March 2024

Book review.

Towards structural separation? Jodie McNeill Double-Minded: How Sex Is Dividing the Australian Church by Mark Durie Deror Books


f you want to know how and why sex is dividing the church,

read this book. It begins by showing how sexual identity has become the beating heart of how most Westerners understand themselves and their place in our world. This helps explain why our culture has clashed with the traditional teaching of the church on sex. Yet, not all Christians agree on how to respond to this strange new world, and often there are clashes even within the same church. Some denominations have united in either supporting or opposing the modern view of the self, while others have disagreed among themselves in a painful war of words. This is why it can be so difficult to know what “the church” really thinks about sex and identity, and why it’s even harder to understand why we don’t agree. The answer, according to Mark Durie, is governance. In other words, the reason that some denominations are either united or divided is because of how the leadership and authority works within their church structures. Some have a powerful, central leadership that enforces official teaching and behaviour, while other denominations place the centre of authority and discipline within each local congregation. Anglicans have chosen to take a middle road, with defined leadership in each diocese, but with a looser relationship to others in the broader church fellowship. These differences in governance help us understand why some denominations can speak with one voice, while others can’t seem to make up their mind. That’s why almost two-thirds of this book is devoted to explaining the differences between the Australian churches, and why they’ve landed where they have on human sexuality. Durie then offers a fascinating review of the attitudes of Australian churchgoers, comparing the official doctrines of each

denomination with the beliefs and values of pew-sitters across the generations. Finally, we see that this examination of governance structures and congregational surveys have formed a trajectory for Durie’s predictions about the future of Christianity and, in particular, the fate of our divided denominations. For Australian Anglicans, he considers it “obvious and inevitable” that there will be “structural separation”, for it won’t be possible to sustain “mutually contradictory ethical approaches to sexuality”. He believes it is “inevitable that Australian Anglicans will drive apart, with the fault lines appearing between the dioceses in keeping with Anglicans’ episcopal polity” – while also recognising the “new home” that the Diocese of the Southern Cross will provide “for individual conservative congregations that find themselves in a progressive-trending diocese”. It remains to be seen how the present shift towards orthodoxy will play out in General Synod in the coming years, but it seems inevitable that the future of the Anglican Church of Australia will need a dual approach that includes GAFCON. For, as Durie rightly observes: “However much they may at one level grieve division, people in [GAFCON] look forward to the clarity and relief they hope division will bring. They do not want to be forever debating sexual ethics at the expense of focusing on the church’s mission.” While other authors have charted the impact of expressive individualism and the sexual revolution, Durie provides a valuable and accessible analysis of what this means for the Australian church into the future, for those both inside and outside “the church”. SC The Rev Jodie McNeill is rector of the parish of Jamberoo, and chairman of the GAFCON Australasia Brisbane 2024 Conference Committee.

accountability. The Quinn family certainly talks a lot about God’s word, but they don’t do a lot of listening to it. There are few if any accountability structures in place, and deals are done in darkness. We must pray that we and our leaders would live in the light and be above reproach in all aspects of our lives. And we must pray for our hearts, that the ambitions of God would trump every one of our own. May our number one concern be not to conceal our own sins and shame in return for worldly success, but to preach Christ crucified and live a life consistent with what we proclaim. SC SouthernCross

February–March 2024



When faith and corruption collide

Tara Sing Prosper Streaming now on Stan


hey say the higher you climb, the more spectacularly

you fall – and haven’t megachurch scandals and stumblings made for an unedifying spectacle. Capitalising on this “can’t look away” fascination many of us have with watching the mighty crumble is the latest Stan original drama, Prosper. Centred around the wealthy Quinn family, deep in the belly of a Sydney evangelical megachurch with sights set on global expansion, Prosper explores what happens when faith and ambition collide and when the end goal of glorifying God and protecting the church justifies the ungodly means of getting there. Prosper is the kind of eight-episode watch you might easily smash out over a weekend or two. Richard Roxburgh and Rebecca Gibney do an excellent job of portraying Cal and Abi Quinn, the passionate but calculating senior pastors of U Star church and the head of a family that appears picturesque and perfect. Throughout the series the couple tries desperately to hold together their family, church and, most importantly for them, their public image. Their struggles are not the only plot vying for centre stage, with each of their four children wrestling with a litany of sins and sufferings: from drug use to sexual misconduct, money laundering and political manipulation. Sadly, the Quinns are forgetting what they believed and how they lived when they first began in ministry, somehow managing to be corrupt, callous and caring at the same time. In one episode, Abi Quinn visits Juno, a grieving daughter, with a lasagne and genuine concern. The Quinn family helps Juno find affordable accommodation and work in the wake of her mother’s death. Yet Cal Quinn truly believes his wealth is a result of his

obedience to the work of the Lord, and struggles greatly when he fears he can no longer hear God’s voice. But when every success is a sign of blessing, and every attack or hardship is the work of the devil, there’s not much room for taking responsibility for your own sin. The moments of care and compassion for God’s church displayed from time to time do not excuse the Quinns’ twisted attempts at self-preservation or the controversy that surrounds them. The hypocrisy is frustrating viewing for anyone with an elementary understanding of the gospel and God’s word. Sometimes these shows can be hard to watch, and at other times they’re a little too easy to enjoy. They’re hard to watch because they can hold up a mirror to our own dark places or experiences. There is no institution immune to sin, after all. It can also be painful viewing because it reminds us of the times we’ve been hypocritical, the times we’ve acted with impure motives, the times we’ve been hurt by others in church or the times we ourselves have hurt people in our care. Prosper reminds us of the importance of accountability and being above reproach in every way, both in formal ministry spaces and in our personal lives. It’s a clear call to repentance if we are continuing to take part in similar behaviours that tarnish the reputation of the gospel. It points us to the forgiveness to be found at the cross for every sin and the call to full obedience to Jesus – to deny ourselves and our ambitions and, instead, take up our cross and follow in his footsteps. While some plotlines feel a little far-fetched, others look similar continued on page 30

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