Southern Cross MARCH-APRIL 2024

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Hundreds watch as Sydney’s latest ministers make their promises

On one of the hottest days of February, a congregation of more than 700 gathered to support ordination candidates as they made the final official step to ordained ministry.

Twenty-three men and women lined up across St Andrew’s Cathedral and, in a first, in the front row was guide dog, Trixie,


volume 30 number 2

who accompanies the Rev Nicole Tillotson in her work as Anglicare chaplain at Elizabeth Lodge. Miss Tillotson is visually impaired and has only had Trixie for a few months, but was pleased her dog kept calmly guiding her, even amid the singing and bustle of the big day.

The traditional service, along

March-April 2024


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cover image: Sum Chim Ho and Peter Blake.

with ordination robes, is a formal culmination of many years of study and training, all supported by family and friends.

The candidates make promises of faithfulness in teaching, life and service before the Archbishop, and Sydney bishops place their hands on the head of each ordinand in a sign that they

Publisher: Anglican Media Sydney

now have authority for ministry.

The promises being made were very much in the mind of the 23 ordinands.

“These are solemn promises,” said the Rev Osmond Wong, assistant minister at Georges Hall. “I’m definitely humbled yet somewhat energised to serve God’s people at the same time.”

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The class of 2024: the new deacons, plus guide dog Trixie, pose on the Cathedral steps for the all-important photo with the Archbishop. Russell Powell
2 SouthernCross March-April 2024


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For Merrylands minister the Rev Josh Donohoo, it was also “a great encouragement to hear a representative from the Diocese stand up and answer the Archbishop, saying, ‘I have inquired concerning them, and I have examined them. I believe them to be fit for this office’.”

There was also special encouragement from his family.

“It means a lot for me to have my grandfather there, who was ordained a deacon something like 60 years ago. I know that he prays for me, and for my family, as we enter into ministry. The other week he showed me the New Testament that he was given at his ordination, in which he had written notes from the sermon. I hope to still be wielding my New Testament after decades of ministry, too.”

For the Rev Belinda Burn, chaplain for the Office of the Director of Safe Ministry, it was also a family affair, as her sonin-law, Grant van der Merwe, was ordained on the same day for ministry at Vine Church in Surry Hills.

“I never could have imagined I’d end up ordained for a whole lot of reasons,” she said. “I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and, when I became a Christian as a teenager, my parents told me that it was a phase I’d grow out of… my dad tried to convert me to Communism! I’m pretty sure none of my friends would have expected I’d become a Christian, much less an ordained minister.”

Ms Burn’s road to this day

“Solemn promises”:

was long. “My husband and I were both working full-time and raising our five children, so it took me 9½ years to finish my BTh [degree] – I didn’t graduate until I was 48.” But she says the support of family was crucial.

“They know better than anyone – except God – my weaknesses and sinful inclinations, and so to have their blessing in being ordained is humbling, and motivating. I have one friend here today who led me to Christ and she is still the most incredible role model almost 40 years later.”

The Rev Jonathan Adams was very much at home in the Cathedral, as he is an assistant minister at St Andrew’s. On the day, he was particularly grateful for the crowd of faithful men and women who had been part of his journey to ordination.

“I’ve always enjoyed the mutual encouragement that comes from being united with others through a common faith in the Lord Jesus,” he said. “I believe it’s important for the contributions of other believers to the lives of the ordinands to be recognised and celebrated as important

ways by which God equips ministers of the gospel.”

The Rev Tim Young, assistant minister at Minchinbury, also said he was “honoured to make these promises before God and family. So amazed at how many people also want to come and support me as I promise to serve Christ and his people in full-time ordained ministry.

“I’m really looking forward to learning about ministry in the west and serving Christ there. Lots of culture, which we love,

and the team is so experienced and supportive”.

The Rev Stephanie Adams, assistant minister at Panania, is excited about the challenges ahead. “I’m looking forward to helping people to love Jesus, and to learn from the Bible. In God’s kindness I hope to do that significantly through modelling and equipping leaders of children in our parish, but also just by being a child of God and servant of others in my daily and weekly relationships.” SC

A family event: The Rev Grant van der Merwe and his mother-in-law, the Rev Belinda Burn, were ordained on the same day. (from left) Osmond Wong, Josh Donohoo, Jonathan Adams, Tim Young and Stephanie Adams.
4 SouthernCross March-April 2024

A different ministry road

For Jade Hajj, the journey into shepherding God’s flock had a very different beginning to others.

At his ordination, he smiled and posed for photos with family and friends on the Cathedral steps, celebrating the completion of theological studies and anointing into the Sydney Diocese. Yet more than 10 years earlier, he had found himself thrust into church leadership with no theological training.

“I lived most of my life in Lebanon,” says Mr Hajj, who moved to Australia in 2016. “It is a great country with very difficult neighbours, so we had political problems. This affects your childhood and how you think about things.

“The church in Lebanon is

very human-resource poor. My pastor died of cancer at 33 and we couldn’t find another pastor. The committee searching decided that I, along with two others, should be the leaders of the church. I had no Christian family, no theological training, and I was meant to lead a church!”

This experience inspired Mr Hajj to take up a ministry apprenticeship with Grace City Church shortly after arriving in Australia.

“There’s no time for training in Lebanon,” he says. “The resources are small and the urgency so real that no one has time to train before serving. There was no financial support in Lebanon for training; most


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would train in college and be working on the side and serving in full-time ministry.”

Life in Lebanon also came with other challenges. Political tensions, conflict and food shortages affected how people received the gospel.

“There was a period of six to seven months where we had a car bomb every Friday,” Mr

Hajj recalls. “We knew it would happen, and once it happened then we could go out. In 2006 we had a full-blown war with Israel. During that time there was no food or water, you eat what you have – beans and lentils This makes people very sceptical.”

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SouthernCross March-April 2024 5

Surprised by God’s ministry plan

The Rev Peter Blake remembers well a drive from Sydney to Wagga Wagga, during which he announced to God that “he would never, never, never, never get me into ministry”.

Yes, he was a Christian. He couldn’t remember a time when Jesus wasn’t his Lord and Saviour. He was just dead set against going into ministry.

Of course, God has a habit of turning our pronouncements on their heads, which is precisely what happened to Mr Blake. He’d been in the Army for nine years, working as a logistics officer and recruit platoon commander. He enjoyed the adventure the Army offered, the pay and the respect.

He’d been convicted early on in his military career by the importance of living for Jesus,

thanks to a birthday card from his father, the Rev Michael Blake, while he was training at the Australian Defence Force Academy. The card contained the challenging verses of John 6:66-69:

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God”.

“It really served to help me nail my colours to the mast and live for Jesus,” Mr Blake recalls. And yet, despite his faith, ministry was definitely not an option. “I was firmly a Christian, but

I didn’t read my Bible because I thought that God would convict me – because I know how God works! I deliberately kept myself immature so I wouldn’t go into ministry.

“Then I had a conversation with someone who asked me, ‘Are you in danger of thinking that you’re Christian enough?’ That hit me, because once we start thinking that we’re Christian enough... it’s a sign that we’re not really living a life of repentance and faith –we’re living a life of convenience. And I thought, yes, I am just trying to be Christian enough.”

At the same time, Mr Blake began reading his Bible in earnest. When he got to 1 Corinthians 7:26, he was struck by how the Apostle Paul spoke of a “crisis”.

Hajj transitioned from Lebanon to Australia. “God worked deeply on my heart as I tried to reconcile the differences in how people respond to the gospel in these vastly different climates. “Everyone needs to hear the gospel and everyone needs Jesus. What I continue to learn is how we must be prepared to communicate that need in relevant and appropriate ways, depending on each environment.”

Serving in a range of churches and contexts as part of the training process, along with theological study at Moore College, provided Mr Hajj with an opportunity to tease out the ministry and cultural differences in various communities.

“I deal with all the nationalities at our church: Australians, British, Asians – people who have been here a few weeks and people who were born here,” he says. “A lot of times the barrier

“A little further down he says that what he means ‘is that the time is short’. And I’d never really thought of people who were non-Christian as being in a crisis before, or in distress. But that’s the way that God sees it, and that’s the way that we should see it.”

Mr Blake then started a doorknocking group at his church and, as they went from suburb to suburb around Wagga Wagga, they asked people: “Who do you think Jesus is?”

“Person after person said, ‘Hopefully he’ll let me into heaven if I’m a good person’... and I thought, ‘I’m in the Army trying to protect Australia from a crisis, when in reality there’s a much bigger crisis [here] – what’s being done for these

[to faith] has nothing to do with the gospel. Lots of people say, ‘I don’t have a problem with God: I have a problem with Christians’. “From a cultural perspective, everyone’s background is complicated. You have to try and be sensitive and not cocky. I identify with the cultures I know, but there will be people in my life who can see what I can’t in other cultures.”

Mr Hajj will continue to serve at Grace City as an assistant minister and campus planter. He is looking forward to establishing a new campus for the church over coming months.

“I’m very excited to see how God will continue to grow me as my wife Karen and I venture out into spaces that are new to us... We are very thankful to be part of such a profoundly faithful Diocese, which loves the Lord Jesus deeply and works to see his name glorified.” SC

Judy Adamson
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from page 5

people?’” he recalls. “That’s when I realised that I needed to go into ministry.”

He describes his ordination for work as an assistant minister in Normanhurst as a “very solemn” event. Exciting, yes, a great privilege and something to rejoice in, but also very serious because the commitments he made before God are of such importance.

“William Taylor said once in a Summer School talk that when people asked him what he did he said, ‘I prepare people for judgement’. And I think that’s the nature of what we do: we are preparing people to meet their Creator,” Mr Blake says.

“We’re encouraging people, rebuking people, teaching people – all those things that Paul talks

about in 2 Timothy. We’re doing those things so that God’s people might be found blameless on

that last day. We’re doing all that through the Spirit and God’s word, but it’s us that God

has selected to work through, and that’s why we need prayer. Because it’s a big deal.” SC

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Working “through the Spirit and God’s word”: Peter Blake with his wife Leah and son William after the service.
SouthernCross March-April 2024 7
“I just want to keep doing God’s good work”

It’s been a long path to ordination for the Rev Sum Chim Ho, whose varied work has included primary school teaching in her native Hong Kong, language learning in Japan, and music therapy training, theological study, university work and parish ministry in Sydney.

“It just so happened that God has opened the door [to ordination] now,” she says. “In 2021 when I finished college, I’d wanted to serve as a chaplain in aged care, but that door hadn’t opened. Yet I could see the door open wide to international student ministry with EUFOCUS [at the University of Sydney], which was something I’d never thought of before. The ministry was so fruitful by God’s grace, so I just stopped considering ordination.”

While at college, Miss Ho had been a student minister at Sylvania, and stayed on as a part-time pastoral worker after graduation, developing strong connections during COVID. It was her rector here, the Rev Mark Charleston, who raised the idea of ordination again, but she was doubtful. Perhaps she wouldn’t be the kind of assistant

minister the parish would want?

However, she recalls, when Mr Charleston announced her new job to the congregation, “they were all very excited and happy and somebody also came to me with tears! They were so glad that I can stay and have a substantial position at church... my minister and faithful church family members are all very supportive alongside me in this journey.”

Miss Ho grew up in a Christian family in Hong Kong. They went to church every Sunday but, she says, the church was one where members didn’t regularly open the Bible during the week. She put the pieces together in her late teens after she and two other young people were chosen to lead on a summer Bible camp in the US under the guidance of the Rev John Peterson, an American missionary based in Hong Kong.

“We experienced worship, we read God’s word every day and saw how God’s people love one another – you see how committed they are,” she recalls.

“John Peterson was the one who trained me... He was always very encouraging; he helped me to understand more about

Christianity and what it looks like for Jesus to be in our dayto-day life.”

After this, Miss Ho spent several years working in Hong Kong as a schoolteacher before going to Japan to learn the language (on top of her existing fluency in Cantonese, English and Mandarin). It was during this period, when she had “more time with Jesus”, that she had a growing conviction of giving the rest of her life to him to use as he saw fit.

But what would that look like? People during her 18 months in Japan had spoken about Bible college and ministry, yet an earlier desire to train in music therapy also returned. So, in 2012 she travelled to Sydney to study music therapy for two years, attending a Chinese service at St John’s, Parramatta, where she ended up working after university.

“I didn’t plan to stay – but now it’s my 12th year!” she says. “It was totally not my plan, but everything makes sense now when we look back.”

Miss Ho now has training in numerous fields, work experience with people of all ages, and a busy and varied

ministry of home visits, SRE, student work, music ministry, walk-up evangelism and – soon – easy English classes.

So, it’s not surprising that, in addition to her parents (who flew in from Hong Kong to witness her ordination), Miss Ho had supporters and friends at the Cathedral from Sylvania, Parramatta and EU, among others.

“It’s not just my ordination; they’re all part of it and we all worked together on this journey – it’s so encouraging,” she says. “I had over 30 people come from Sylvania to support me, and a dozen of them are over 80! And when I went back to church the next day, they had also prepared an ordination cake for me, and because my parents were here as well... they had my parents in the photo to [help] cut the cake.

“I just want to keep doing God’s good work,” she adds. “Our God is a God to all nations. Because I’m a minister from a different culture I want to encourage people how to be united in Jesus, in God’s word. Regardless [of] what culture you are from, what language you speak, we have to share that love, share that gospel, with other people.” SC

“We all worked together on this journey”: Sum Chim Ho is surrounded by supporters after the ordination service.
8 SouthernCross March-April 2024

Attacks in Mozambique’s “land of fear”

An Anglican bishop has made an emergency call to Sydney’s Anglican Aid as a jihadist insurgency, linked to Islamic State, has brought terror to northern Mozambique.

In an appeal, Bishop Vicente Msosa cites the one million people displaced by the insurgency, which has erupted in new violence – especially towards Christians.

“The situation is heartbreaking,” he says. “From January this year… they went into villages in Mocímboa da Praia district, killing people, burning houses and market stalls.”

Bishop Vincente leads the Diocese of Zambezia, where those fleeing the violence in Cabo Delgado have sought help.

The January attacks appear to be part of Islamic State’s global campaign against “infidels” with

the slogan: “Kill them wherever you find them”.

The southeast African nation has a large Christian population, although there are Muslimcontrolled areas in the north. The Cabo Delgado region is already known as “the land of fear” because of repeated Islamist terror attacks targeting Christians since 2017.

Terrorists are trying to gather more members but, according to the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, they are failing to recruit young people.

“This is partly due to the greater awareness of communities, which are also now on alert,” President Nyusi told a local news agency. “As a result, terrorists are moving away to other districts as a way of surprising young people. That’s one of the reasons for the current terrorist

attacks”. But still, infrastructure such as schools and churches have been destroyed.

The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that more than 60 per cent of displaced people in Cabo Delgado are children. It says many of the displaced women are pregnant, and there are also people with disabilities and the elderly.

“The humanitarian need is a huge challenge,” Bishop Vicente said in his appeal. “In December, we shared 100 bags of flour and rice to the displaced. We couldn’t cater [for] every family due to limited resources. January to April are the most difficult months for the displaced.” SC You can donate at au/mozambique-aid-2024/

“The situation is heartbreaking”: delivery of food for the needy in the Diocese of Zambezia. Children among the hardest hit in the latest emergency.
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Technology and Aboriginal art come together


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10 SouthernCross March-April 2024

Brendon Garlett only took up painting recently, but already his designs are set to be featured on a St George NRL team jersey, and he has also used his gifts to foster partnership with Indigenous ministry.

“I find it’s a way to tell a story,” says Mr Garlett, who pastors the Shoalhaven Aboriginal Community Church (ShACC). “For me, it’s just an expression, storytelling stories through pictures.”

He was prompted by his wife to enter the St George Indigenous jersey design competition. “She said, ‘Oh, let’s have a go at it’ –so, I did and yeah, they liked it!” His design will feature on the St George jersey for this year’s rugby league Indigenous round.

The gift for painting has helped the growing partnership of Sydney Anglican churches with Indigenous ministries. The Rev Michael Duckett, who chairs the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry

Committee, uses his paintings to communicate gospel truth.

In Synod, he has presented painting and carving as powerful symbols of Christian partnership in the Diocese.

Mr Garlett was visiting St Jude’s, Bowral, a link church of ShACC, when its rector, the Rev Dr Gavin Perkins, raised the idea of a special painting to hang at the church.

“We have been able to support ShACC, pray for their ministry, and at the same time be enriched in our own understanding and appreciation for the work of Christ amongst Australia’s Indigenous people,” Dr Perkins says. “Brendon is a wonderfully gifted artist… [I thought], ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a piece of Indigenous art that expressed our partnership in the gospel of Christ?’”

To create the artwork Mr Garlett combined technology with ancient art. “I wanted to do something that connects Bowral

and our church in Nowra,” he says. “I went on Google Maps and I saw the aerial view. I just drew a line from Bowral to Nowra and followed the road.

“In Aboriginal art when you want to join places, like a journey, it’s usually three lines that connect them. So that’s what I went with, just like a journey. In Aboriginal symbols, I painted the mountain range, coloured it in green and then I included Kangaroo Valley and Cambewarra Mountain and Nowra.”

The painting now hangs in a special place at Bowral’s church centre. “I am so glad that Brendon was willing and able to create the work, which

is titled ‘Connected in Christ’,” Dr Perkins says. “When we installed it, Brendon spent some time with the staff explaining the significance of the symbolism.”

Mr Garlett is pleased with the intersection of new tech and old art. “A lot of the Aboriginal art was usually landscapes, and it was aerial views – but they just kind of guessed what it looked like or probably saw it from mountains. They didn’t have the privilege to have Google Earth!

“Now I can show the links between our gatherings, which symbolise our connections, surrounded by all our supporting churches as one big family of God.” SC

Art unveiled: (from left) Brendon Garlett, Gavin Parsons and Uncle Tom. Symbols of connected Christians.
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School leaders urged to “practice humility in the service of others”

It is an annual tradition that the Archbishop of Sydney invites Anglican schools to commission their prefects each year at a large gathering in the city.

This year, 35 Anglican schools tested the limits of St Andrew’s Cathedral as hundreds filled the centre, sides and gallery of the building. They came from the South Coast, the southwest, all parts of the city and just across the Cathedral Square to be commissioned and question Archbishop Kanishka Raffel about leadership.

“The instruction is, ‘Practice humility in the service of others’,” said the Archbishop, paraphrasing Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3 as he began his address.

“Now, I’m very, very glad indeed that our Anglican schools are open places and diverse places, which include people of all kinds of backgrounds and dispositions. So I know that not everyone here will identify as a person holding to the Christian faith. Nevertheless, I assume that you would all be happy to affirm these words that I’ve just read.”

The Archbishop went on to point out that Western culture still largely approves of humility as a virtue, citing the fact that, in Australia, the quiet achiever is still a heroic figure.

“The Roman world, the world into which Jesus was born, did not regard humility as a virtue at all,” he told the students. “The ancient world prized honour and reputation and status. The Roman world regarded humility – lowering yourself to serve others – as shameful and disgraceful.

“But when Paul writes to the first Christian church in Europe, he’s saying something not just surprising and strange, but something shameful and disgraceful – something that would never have been said to a community or an individual. In humility, value others above yourself, ‘not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others’ (Phil 2:4).”

The students had morning tea together in Sydney Square, followed by the Q and A session and, later, several selfies and group photos with the Archbishop.

The theme of humble service ran through the whole assembly, with the Archbishop fielding questions from prefects about his own leadership and conversion to Christ.

One of the questions asked was how leaders should handle testing situations.

“I think one of the most testing contexts is simply failure,” Archbishop Raffel said. “When you make a mistake, when you get something wrong, when you say something you shouldn’t have said because you didn’t know the whole story, when you made an assumption about a person which was untrue.

“The more leadership responsibility you have, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. It is inevitable that you will get the decisions wrong at some point. The test is, can you own up to it? Can you go to the person and say, ‘I was wrong, I’m sorry’?”

He assured the students from personal experience that “People generally are not used to someone who has a leadership position come to them and say, ‘I’m sorry I got it wrong... will

you forgive me?’ People are not used to that happening and I’ve never met a person who said, ‘No, I won’t forgive you’. They will actually trust you more because they know that if something happens again they can talk to you about it and you’re not going to be angry or defensive or deny it. That is really hard but it’s really important.”

A Christian testimony was given by Roseville College student Abbey Sherwood, who spoke of the pressures the student leaders would face in their HSC year.

“In the moments where school or life is stressful, remember that God is real,” she told the assembly. “Know that he will never leave you nor forsake you in times of stress or doubt. Know that he loves you more than the times you stuff up. Know that you are precious to him, so much so that he sent his son to die for you, so that you are freed from sin to a relationship with him.

“Trust God to guide us this year and I pray as we leave, as we have fun, as we study, we can look forward to the things he has in store for all of us.”

Time to chat: Archbishop Raffel meets prefects from Macarthur Anglican School and Barker College. Russell Powell
SC 12 SouthernCross March-April 2024

God bless our principal

Dr Julie Greenhalgh was formally commissioned as the ninth principal of The Illawarra Grammar School last month by Archbishop Kanishka Raffel.

In a service marked by the theme of God’s goodness, the chairman of the school council, Professor Tony Okely, and Archbishop Raffel, gave thanks for the provision of Dr Greenhalgh at this time in the school’s history.

In turn, Dr Greenhalgh remarked on the sheer audacity of the school’s founders to establish a grammar school in what, at the time, was predominantly a steel city.

With the changing face of the Illawarra over the past 20 or so years, the new principal said she sensed an almost prophetic impulse in the school’s foundation 65 years earlier.

With hundreds of students in attendance from years 3 to 12, the musical abilities of various groups were on show at the commissioning service, including a unique performance of “Waltzing Matilda” by a string sextet.

TIGS’ deputy principal, the Rev James Rogers, said it was “genuinely exciting to consider how The Illawarra Grammar School might go ‘from

strength to strength’ under Dr Greenhalgh’s leadership” –drawing on the school’s motto, which is taken from Psalm 84:7. Added Mr Rogers: “We are

truly blessed to be gifted with such an outstanding leader who has a clear vision for our school and the ability to bring that vision to fruition.” SC

Hoping to grow the school “from strength to strength”: Dr Julie Greenhalgh is welcomed as principal of TIGS by school leaders. Russell Powell Illawarra Grammar’s new head commissioned.
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“One good rain away from a flood event”

The one thing we seem able to predict about modern weather patterns is their unpredictability, so it’s clear that, as a society, we need to be prepared – not just for bushfires, floods and other crises, but for supporting those affected by them.

And although some seasons carry more potential danger than others, we never know what’s around the corner.

Magnus Linder, Anglicare Sydney’s head of disaster recovery, says frankly that “NSW has gotten off very, very lightly [this summer]. It’s been very hot, no doubt about that, but the rain caught everyone by surprise.

“We started off with both fires and floods on the far South Coast at the beginning of the season, but then while Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria copped it in various ways – floods, cyclones, heatwaves and uncontrolled bushfires – NSW just had localised flooding in various areas. So, our volunteers were called to some incidents, but nothing large.

“We’re very thankful for that. But we’re still wondering

what comes next, because the river systems are very full –Warragamba Dam is 97 per cent, and people who live near there know they are one good rain away from a flood event.”

This might seem unnecessarily downbeat, but Mr Linder and the team that trains and manages Anglicare’s 750 disaster recovery (DR) volunteers know they need to be ready for anything, at a moment’s notice.

Heather Gwilliam is team leader for the Nepean, which covers the Penrith, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and Lithgow areas. Since she took on the role 11 years ago, she has been involved with 12 disasters – mostly local, but including towns as far away as Moree in the state’s north and Batemans Bay on the South Coast.

“It’s the thing you volunteer to do in the hope that it’s never needed,” she says thoughtfully. “But the reality these days with climate change is we will be.”

Last year marked 25 years since Anglicare began offering DR services. It was also the organisation’s most successful recruiting year, with 100 men and women (including the

Bishop of the Western Region, Gary Koo) trained to step in and care for people during a disaster.

Having said that, Mrs Gwilliam says “most teams could double or triple their size and still have need for more”. There are 76 people on her team but not everyone is able to come and help each time they’re asked, “so I could easily use another 30 to 40”.

This is partly because, at the height of a disaster, evacuation centres are open 24 hours a day and it doesn’t take long to churn through dozens of volunteers. There is also the need to provide help at post-crisis recovery centres after evacuation centres close.

“Every disaster is different –there’s no formula for how you do it,” Mrs Gwilliam says. “It’s all about care and concern for people in need, and that’s what you’re there for.

“I joined when I was in my late 40s. I wasn’t that active, but I knew about it and I was trained. You can’t come and help if you haven’t done the training... so even if you can’t commit to volunteering, get trained and get associated with a team so that

when the time comes, you’ll be ready.”

Mr Linder says the teams that work best are those able to find jobs for people with different gifts – from pastoral care, to training and mentoring, to arranging shopping vouchers or setting up a short-term op shop.

“The majority of our volunteers are committed Christians, but I’ve been encouraging our teams, pastors we’ve talked to and team leaders to invite their friends, neighbours and colleagues – who might not darken the doorway of a church – to come and volunteer with us,” he says.

“I think that’s a very cool ministry in itself. They don’t have to be a believer or an attender at any church, but they need to respect [Anglicare’s] mission and values. We always pray together and talk about the work we’re doing from our Christian perspective... so if they join one of our teams, they’re going to have a dozen Christian friends, just like that!” SC

Anglicare’s DR training involves two short modules, offered online. For details, see https://www.anglicare.

Celebration: Bishop Gary Koo, Anglicare CEO Simon Miller, Heather Gwilliam, Anglicare’s first DR manager Jenni Sawyer and its director of advocacy, Sue King.
14 SouthernCross March-April 2024

Anglicans honoured in 2024 list

Anglicans are among the Sydney recipients of Australia Day honours, including two professors of medicine for their roles in the COVID-19 response.

The honours are awarded by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Council of the Order of Australia.

Professor Julie-Anne Leask was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to health and medical research, to policy advice and to enhancing community understanding of immunisation.

Professor Charlotte Hespe (right) was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to general medicine as a practitioner, academic and mentor. Both women, members of Sydney Anglican churches, were also named on the COVID-19 honour

roll announced at this year’s awards.

Julian Bickersteth of Wahroonga was also made an AO for distinguished service to the museum and arts sector, and to conservation and the environment. Mr Bickersteth is a member and former warden of St James’, Turramurra.

Pioneering educator Dr Stuart Quarmby was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia

(OAM) for service to primary and secondary education. Dr Quarmby was the foundation headmaster of Wollondilly Anglican College from 2004 to 2020 and previously deputy head of Broughton Anglican College.

Adrian Jackson, a church treasurer for 18 years at St Philip’s, Caringbah, has also been given a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Mr Jackson

is a former member of the Shoalhaven Anglican School council and was administrative officer at Danebank Anglican School for Girls. He is a trustee and treasurer of the Katoke Trust for Overseas Aid. SC

In related Australia Day awards, Angus Olsen – a member of St Hilda’s, Katoomba – won the NSW Local Hero award for his work with childhood cancer as an illustrator and fundraiser.

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“We’re better together”

Rejoicing was the order of the day on March 3, when Christ Church, Mortdale and Church@thepeak celebrated their new identity as one parish at Church@thepeak’s home –Peakhurst South Public School.

“It was a squeeze to fit everyone into the hall, but we did it!” says rector the Rev Stuart Maze. “When we started our partnership in November 2022 we had an all-in service at Mortdale, so we wanted to reciprocate at the celebration service and host everyone at Peakhurst.

“It was a great morning. I was able to speak from Mark 8 about how, in a world of hyperindividualism, Jesus calls on us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him...

“It was wonderful to have Bishop Peter Lin there to encourage us in our new venture together, and we also heard from different congregation

members about the things they have appreciated about the amalgamation so far and what they are excited about for our future together. We gave thanks to God for those things and committed our ministry together to him in various prayers. Then we finished up with the world’s biggest (almost!) morning tea.”

Discussion about a merger began in early 2022. Mortdale had been looking for a new rector for more than a year when a conversation began between them, Mr Maze and Bishop Lin about the potential for the parishes to join together.

“The nominators interviewed me to see what they thought about me as a potential rector,” Mr Maze says. “Then they handed the process over to both sets of wardens to consider: do we think this merger is a good thing?”

When the answer was “Yes”, the two parishes decided to test

the water in November 2022 with a year-long partnership. If that went well, congregation members would then vote on a merger.

“We did a lot of communicating via church email, town hall meetings, some surveys – just continuing to clarify what things would look like going forward,” Mr Maze says.

“We tweaked the ministry models during that period to make it work better for both churches... and then we did a final survey of everyone in December, and 97 per cent of people voted in favour of it, which was encouraging. And, as of January 1, we’re one church.

“A lot of people are excited about the possibilities and opportunities of coming together as one church – combining our resources and location and strengths. The phrase we’ve constantly used throughout this is that ‘We’re better together’,

and that’s been clear right from the start. We could carry on in independent ministry if we wanted to, but it wouldn’t be as good as we are together.”

Mortdale’s assistant minister, the Rev Alan Wood, adds that the celebration service was “a good opportunity for all of us to be in the same room [and] express that, ‘Yes, as a parish we’re unified, we’re all on the same team, and we want to go forward together from here in our different locations’.”

It’s not all new in 2024. The parishes’ two youth groups and evening services became one at the outset of the partnership, and meet at Mortdale – which, with a new-ish worship centre, hall and office complex, has the full-time space and resources Church@thepeak lacks.

Uniting these ministries was very welcome for Mortdale, particularly with regard to its evening service, which had been

A day for all to rejoice: (back row, from left): the Rev Alan Wood, the Rev Stuart Maze, the Hon David Coleman, Member for Banks; (front row): women’s discipleship pastor Briony Nurcombe, pastoral care co-ordinator Karen Ray, the Rev Dan Tooma, Georges River councillor Ashvini Ambihaipahar, Bishop Peter Lin.
16 SouthernCross March-April 2024

hit hard after COVID.

“Everyone was on the roster for everything,” Mr Wood says. “The folks who were there were absolutely committed to the service happening, and that was great, but numbers were low and it was hard work. So, to be able to combine with Church@ thepeak’s night church was great, because the feel of coming to church in the evening became better immediately just from that change.

“We had been doing combined things with Church@thepeak already – our Mission Area collaborates to run the Life course, which we host here at Mortdale. So, there was that sense of co-operation already, and it was good to build on those relationships as we did more together.”

The combined parish is yet to decide on a name, but there’s an optimism about their present and future under God.

“I am very excited about what lies ahead for our church,” Mr Maze says. “We have a great team, a wonderful group of servant-hearted and missionminded leaders, and a church family who want to make and grow disciples of Jesus. But most importantly, we have an awesome God and a life-giving message to take to those in our community!

“May God use us for his glory in Peakhurst and Mortdale.” SC


• for the ongoing integration of the two churches and their ministries

• that members would continue to be outwardfocused and live out their mission to make and grow disciples of Jesus and that, by coming together, they would be even more effective in doing this that God would help them to work together for the cause of the gospel in Mortdale and Peakhurst

Passion play with puppetry

Judy Adamson

When Epping rector Bishop Ross Nicholson first raised the idea of a Good Friday passion play centred on a large puppet of Jesus, the response was sceptical. Could this really work?

Given that his previous church in Tasmania had done the play for years, he was able to reply with an enthusiastic “Yes!”

“Every time we’ve done it, from Launceston to Epping, people come away from it gobsmacked,” he says. “They are visibly moved by the whole program.”

The genesis of the play came about in 2013 when Bishop Nicholson was at St John’s, Launceston, and there was the desire for a different, creative way to celebrate Good Friday.

He took all four gospels and wrote a continuous biblical narrative from the Last Supper to the crucifixion and burial – breaking it up into separate scenes such as the communion and Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet – and added an introduction that includes Creation and the Fall.

He then created a life-sized puppet of Jesus, operated by three puppeteers: one taking charge of the head and eyes,

and the other two operating one hand apiece.

“I’ve always been interested in puppetry and how a puppet can relate adult concepts in a disarming way,” he says.

“I think puppets are like a piece of visual art and, because they’re not lifelike, they stimulate your imagination.

“It’s such a dramatic story, but I didn’t want to do it with real actors because it’s always done that way – and also, if you’re up there and you’re being Jesus at the Last Supper, it’s so hard to get the importance of it and all the emotions across.”

Simple props are used to illustrate the story such as a tree and snake in the Garden of Eden, bread and wine, a crown of thorns and a cross. Action onstage this year is interspersed with choral singing, congregational hymns, a solo performance of “Were You There” and communion for the whole congregation.

The event is simply, and appropriately, named Friday “I’ve had people say to me, ‘I was crying during the crucifixion’,” Bishop Nicholson says.

“In the crucifixion, the puppet’s eyes are able to be closed... when Jesus breathes his last, the puppeteer closes the eyes and that really has an impact upon people.

“What also takes place when he breathes his last is that the puppeteers let him slump down and the back curtain behind the cross rips open, and a red screen appears behind the dead Jesus.

“People really enter into the emotion of it. We use the NIV text of the gospels, so it’s true to the story, but there’s something about art that connects to us. The word and the art are a powerful combination.” SC

The trial: Jesus, with puppeteer. The gospel story: Jesus is laid in the tomb and the curtain of the temple (rear) is torn in two, from top to bottom. Powerful Good Friday drama at Epping.
SouthernCross March-April 2024 17

High costs mean more are struggling

A big crowd of people are huddled around tables when I arrive at St Mark’s, Sadleir. It’s a wet Tuesday morning and despite the dreary weather, they have rocked up early to wait for Anglicare’s Community Pantry truck to bring the fortnight’s affordable fresh produce and pantry staples.

While Anglicare’s food and financial support programs are not new, the increase in numbers gathering to access these services is at a level never seen before.

“There’s a lot more people waiting,” says Tai Piilua, one of Anglicare’s volunteers. After a busy morning, she is packing empty produce boxes and sorting the few remaining bunches of kale and loaves of bread. She and a small crew of volunteers travel across Sydney and the Blue Mountains delivering food.

“Normally people come one by one, but today they were waiting for us,” she says. “We are seeing that across different churches.”

In January, the ABC reported living costs had risen by 9 per cent in the year to September 2023. While figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the true increase in household costs, many families don’t need the ABS to tell them they’re struggling.

Low-income earners are prioritising shelter above all else, resulting in things like food rationing, hunger and avoiding the use of heating in winter. Anglicare has had an increased demand for its services, with more than 20,000 bags of groceries and produce given to those in need in the past year.

I ask Sue King, the director

of advocacy for Anglicare Sydney, if there has been any improvement in people’s circumstances in the nine months since the Hungry or Homeless report was published.

“Things have not improved,” she says. “People who are on very low incomes are finding it incredibly difficult... People are sacrificing in order to stay in their homes. If you’ve got a choice between maintaining rent and going without something, such as food or medication, you would always choose paying the rent as much as you can over everything else.

“Very low-income earners have less discretionary income to spend on essentials like food, medication, school supplies etc. It’s an indication of how dire things are.”

Back at Sadleir, rector the Rev Dave Morgan has seen an increase in demand for groceries – especially after Anglicare added fresh produce to its grocery service last year.

“The numbers have certainly grown at Fresh Food over the last 12 months,” he says. “I’m hearing lots of talk about the cost of living in our area, and

that’s definitely a big factor in the growth of pantry numbers.”

Can Anglicare keep up with the demand? In addition to the groceries given out in 2023, more than $1 million was provided for rental assistance and $500,000 for utilities. Fiftysix churches also offer mobile community pantry services.

With an increase in people contacting Anglicare for help, requests for support are not showing any signs of slowing, with older single women and young families at greatest risk.

“There’s always been more demand than Anglicare can meet,” Ms King says. “The number of new people who have never before accessed community support with a need for food, medication or utility bills are people who are working [but] just can’t manage. We find it’s an escalating issue. It’s not going away as long as we have the issue of rental affordability.”

In such dire circumstances, I ask Ms King what can be done to help.

Support “Sixty per cent of funding in this space is reliant on donations. People can make a difference that way. A lot of

churches have food drives that come through to our community hubs. Participating in those [really helps].”

Volunteer “During COVID we lost a huge number of volunteers – 40-50 per cent of our force [are] volunteers in the emergency relief space.” Anglicare is looking for people who can spend a day a week, or fortnight, handing out food bags or helping talk to people at a mobile food pantry.

Look out for others “If you see neighbours struggling, let them know Anglicare can help them with bills, utilities and food. Find your local Anglicare community hub and let those people know that we’re here to help.” SC


• that people in need become aware of the support services available to them and how they can be accessed

• for shifts in Government policy that improve the situation for those suffering financial hardship

• that Anglicare will have enough resources to meet demand; pray for an increase in funding

Travelling the Diocese to provide food relief: Tai Piilua (left) and other Anglicare volunteers at St Mark’s, Sadleir. Let people know Anglicare can help.
18 SouthernCross March-April 2024

Using rock climbing to share God’s glory

Tara Sing

According to Jack Faulkner, a day as a Youthworks Christian Outdoor Education trainee begins with quite a few giggles and an outfit check to ensure everyone is looking sharp –there are a multitude of activities and adventures to look good for.

Today he is helping lead a group of primary students at one of Youthworks’ many campsites. setting up for group games, preparing hiking equipment and getting ready to rock climb.

There’s plenty of running around, singing, time for a hearty lunch and ball games, followed by an afternoon exploring the bush and a range of other outdoor activities including abseiling, archery and the planned rock climbing.

One of his top priorities: having fun! His main priority? Sharing the word of God with the thousands of young people he meets.

Mr Faulkner is completing an 18-month Christian Outdoor Education traineeship with Youthworks. It allows him to share the word of God with thousands of young people over the year, serving them in the great outdoors.

Since 1984, Youthworks has trained more than 400 people to share the gospel while adventuring in creation. The trainees minister to about 200 children and youth nearly every week.

Encouraged to do a traineeship by his youth minister, Mr Faulkner loves presenting Christ to kids and seeing them face challenges head-on. “Being able to explore God’s creation and marvel in it [with] those who come is something I will never take for granted,” he says.

During their 18 months, trainees complete a Certificate III in Outdoor Leadership, begin working towards Certificate IV training and grow in their character, convictions and competency as Christian leaders through study at Youthworks College.

More than 12,000 children attend Youthworks Christian Outdoor Education camps each year, so the traineeship is a core part of Youthworks’ ministry to young people, raising leaders who can both safely run physical activities and clearly explain the grace and hope Jesus offers.

“To have the opportunity to share the gospel, our team

members need the right level of training and qualification so we can care for the physical needs of students and teachers in our care,” says Scott Balhatchet, the recruitment and development


manager at Youthworks.

“Through this training our team members are able to care for the people on our programs physically so that we can also help them spiritually.” SC

• Praise God for 40 years of Youthworks Outdoor Christian Education and for those who have grown in their faith as a result of conversations and encouragement from Youthworks leaders

• Pray for trainees to have continued energy and enthusiasm to engage well with students and spread the word of Jesus, helping those who are exploring or strengthening their faith

• Pray trainees would always be growing in their love of the Lord and seeking daily opportunities to share this love and have meaningful conversations about Jesus

• Pray that God would provide people who are keen to be trained for this unique ministry and participate in sharing the gospel through outdoor adventures

In the great outdoors for Jesus: Jack Faulkner gets out and about with fellow trainee Bronte. Thousands of young people hear the gospel each year.
SouthernCross March-April 2024 19


Jesus conversations with more than a billion people

Tara Sing

When Simon Cowell started learning Italian at school as a child, he didn’t imagine he would one day be living in the south of Italy teaching Christian university students to share Jesus with their friends.

But as he discovered more about Italian culture it didn’t take long to learn that, for many Italians, being Italian is synonymous with being Catholic. Having now spent seven years in Italy with CMS, Mr Cowell is hoping to share what he’s learned in a course he’s co-authored called Talking with Catholics about Jesus

“Catholics are the single biggest non-evangelical group in Australia,” he says.

Worldwide, there are more than 1.38 billion baptised Catholics, and in Australia Catholics make up almost 20 per cent of the population.

“Even many atheists have a Catholic background. We want people to have conversations about Jesus with people from a Catholic background.”

Along with Chris Overhall, a CMS missionary living in Chile, and the Rev Mark Gilbert, who works with Certainty 4 Eternity, this course was created to help Protestants understand Catholics and have great conversations together about Christ.

The course is a combination of video material and workbook, perfect for small groups and individuals to explore the beliefs of Catholic friends and family.

A greater understanding of their worldview and identity is essential for fostering genuine connections and valuable conversations about Jesus.


When Mr Overhall was young, a Catholic funeral taught him some of the key theological differences.

“As I went to the funeral, they didn’t have assurance. The gospel of the Bible came with assurance, but my Roman Catholic friends weren’t sure. They had purgatory and prayed to saints. Assurance was one thing that was different.

“I used to think if you could just get them to think Mary wasn’t as important as Jesus, it would solve all the problems. But in writing this course, I’ve come to realise Roman Catholicism doesn’t depend on one doctrine. It’s not a few differences, it’s... the system that gives light to the problematic doctrines.”

Since 2018, Mr Overhall has worked in Chile, training people for ministry. When 75 per cent


• Australia has more than 5 million Catholics, representing 19.9 per cent of the population.

• The top five countries with the greatest percentage of Catholics, aside from Vatican City, include Timor-Leste (96.9 per cent), San Marino (90.5 per cent), Paraguay (89 per cent), Malta (88.7 per cent) and Andorra (88.2 per cent).

• There were more than 13.7 million Catholic baptisms performed around the world in 2021. More than 81 per cent of these were for children under 7.

• The Catholic Church recognises more than 10,000 saints. There is one recognised Australian saint: Mary MacKillop.

• Almost 20 per cent of students across Australia are educated in a Catholic school.

• 15 per cent of immigrants coming to Australia have a Catholic background.

of a population identifies as Catholic, it’s vital his students understand biblical doctrines.

“Helping future pastors and leaders think really hard about what is the gospel, who is Jesus, what is the church – Protestants and Catholics have very different answers,” he says. “We might use the same words but mean different things.

“We need to have clarity so we can speak the truth in love, correct and be wise in how we work with other Christians in our areas.”


Mr Cowell says conversations with Catholics can go in a number of directions. His hope is that the course can “help people like me when I was 20, who might have had Catholic friends – some of whom were really active and theologically literate, and others for whom it was part of their identity but didn’t affect much of day-to-day life.

“Often it’s a conversation killer [when someone says] ‘Oh, I’m Catholic’. A helpful question to ask is, ‘What does that mean for

you?’ I’d love for the course to help anyone who experiences that response to push into that further.

“Our prayer is that this course will help people to chat to their Catholic friends about Jesus. We hope this will help people to do that and feel less awkward, confrontational and rude about doing it.”

Adds Mr Overhall: “I would love people to have a generous openness towards Catholics and not just get into [theological] fights... I love people to build bridges with Catholics to have conversations about Jesus.

“I would love this course to train people to have good, gospel-soaked conversations to help their friends see Jesus in the clear teaching of the Bible.” SC


• for Protestants to have a genuine curiosity towards their Catholic friends, ask good questions and listen well in order to have great conversations about Jesus

• that Catholics, no matter how active in their faith, will be open to conversations about Jesus, encounter him clearly through the word and know his forgiveness for their sins, both now and forever

• that the course might be a helpful tool for Protestants to remove any incorrect assumptions about the Catholic faith, and help them understand the differences in doctrine

with Catholics about Jesus.
20 SouthernCross March-April 2024
Clarity and wisdom: Simon Cowell (left) in Italy and Chris Overhall in Chile.

Chaplaincy on track

Getting the love of Jesus to people “who would never darken the door of a church”: James

Kate Nipperess’s family will never forget the phone call they received on July 28, 2016. A head-on collision with a loose horse left their jockey daughter with severe injuries, requiring extensive surgery with an unknown outcome.

“My family were left in a mess in the waiting room, being told they didn’t know what would happen to me or if I would make it through the surgery,” Miss Nipperess says. “I broke my neck, most of my ribs, my shoulder, both of my lungs and I was knocked unconscious.”

While the family waited for surgery to finish, the Rev Colin Watts arrived and stayed by their side. Miss Nipperess thought she would never be able to ride again given the extent of her injuries, which left her wheelchair-bound. However, she is now able to ride again, and aspires to compete in the 2024 Paralympics.

Her story is a familiar one for Mr Watts, a former Sydney rector who has been a full-time racing chaplain with Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy for almost 15 years. Along with other chaplains in ARCC, he supports the wellbeing of people in Australia’s thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing industries, caring for their physical, spiritual, emotional and mental needs in a holistic and non-judgemental way.

“We’re there to support people who work in the racing industry, and that involves getting alongside them in whatever they’re going through in life,” Mr Watts says. “We do that because of our Christian conviction that God loves all people – and therefore people in racing – and that’s what drives us.

“It’s a huge industry and the needs are great… but there is tremendous acceptance and support for the chaplains.”


James Flavin, CEO of ARCC, observes that chaplaincy is “the way we get the love of Jesus to the people who would never darken the door of a church”.

“The racing industry is a dangerous one,” he adds. “People are hurt and people die. We have chaplains there. Ninety-five per cent of the time it’s for a quiet, simple chat, and 5 per cent it’s for when life is rotten, when relationships break down, when there are job issues, and [the need to] lead funerals.”

There are over 160,000 people involved in the racing industry in Australia. According to McCrindle Research, in a 12-month period, ARCC chaplains attended 331 races, had more than 1000 pastoral conversations, responded to 35 critical incidents and directly ministered to 642 people

– from those on the turnstiles to workers on the stud farm, owners, strappers, jockeys and trainers.

Last year ARCC chaplains also visited 50 different people in hospitals across the country.

“Mostly it’s racing-related injuries,” Mr Flavin says. “Sometimes it’s one visit, sometimes it’s weekly visits for three to four years. The chaplains have earned the right to be there because they’ve been at the track [alongside people] on the coldest and wettest of mornings. They’ve been there for the straightforward chats, so they’re respected and trusted.”

In a world that seems so far away from church, conversations turn to Jesus really fast. “I was at a Melbourne track and a trainer said, ‘You won’t want anything to do with me, I don’t believe in God’,” Mr Flavin recalls. “My response was, ‘That’s okay, he believes in you’. We had a 90-minute chat about Jesus. There’s an awareness of mortality in this industry. That people die in the racing industry makes things a bit more acute.

“The hours are really hard. Most training happens very early and it’s seven days a week. I was in Scone last year with one of the workers of the studs, and I asked what Christmas Day looks like. He said, ‘We do everything we do in the morning, then we have

a nice lunch, then do everything we would do in the afternoon’.”

The racing industry is not without its critics, whether due to issues of animal cruelty or problem gambling. However, chaplaincy is incredibly valuable and a wonderful way that people can share the love of Jesus with those who may not otherwise have a chance to hear it.

“One of the reasons sports chaplaincy is important, especially post-COVID, is because during COVID we realised how much we love community,” Mr Flavin says. “Sports is where the people are. It’s a place chaplaincy can thrive.” SC


• Pray for safety in the industry for all involved. Even with all the care and precautions taken, injuries happen and many are very serious.

• Pray for the tenacity of chaplains as they dedicate many hours to walking alongside people and building genuine relationships.

On days when there is an injury, a death, or relational and life breakdown, pray that our chaplains will be a source of comfort and support and reflect the love of Jesus.

• Pray that more people would be willing to volunteer as chaplains to the racing industry.

Flavin at Randwick Racecourse.
SouthernCross March-April 2024 21

Understanding the cross

At the centre of the Christian faith are the great Easter events – Jesus’ death on a cross, and on the third day his bodily rising to new life, victorious over sin and death and the devil.

Australians embrace these events as a holiday but most regard them with sentimentality. For Christians, however, the days could not be more weighty, for in Good Friday and Easter Day we glimpse hell and heaven.

Our culture’s trivialisation of hell is tragically misinformed and Christians should know what the Bible says. In the Bible, we find that the person who speaks most about hell is not a New Testament apostle or an Old Testament prophet. It is the man at the centre of the drama of Easter, the friend of sinners, the Saviour of the world, the Lord of glory and of grace: Jesus himself.

When we say that ideas of hell are barbaric, spiritually crass or morally objectionable we are claiming moral and spiritual superiority over Jesus Christ. Author and translator Dorothy Sayers put it this way:

Let us face the facts. The doctrine of hell is not “medieval”; it is Christ’s. It is not a device of “medieval priestcraft” for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s judgement on sin… it confronts us in the oldest and least “edited” of the gospels; it is explicit in many of the most familiar parables and implicit in many more… We cannot repudiate hell without altogether repudiating Christ. Any person who spends even a few moments in serious contemplation of hell immediately feels the emotional stress it creates. This is not surprising, but it is revealing. We were not made for hell. It is not anyone’s home. We were made for fellowship with God, to know and enjoy him forever. But hell is the just punishment of our wilful rejection of God and rebellion against him.


In Luke 16, Jesus explains that a rich man who did not lift a finger to assist the beggar Lazarus at his door has earned hell. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that words of hateful anger spoken to another person, and lustful adulterous desire, earns hell. In Matthew 25, Jesus says those who did nothing for his brothers and sisters who were hungry, thirsty, naked and in prison deserve hell. In Matthew 7, Jesus says religious hypocrisy deserves hell.

Jesus also teaches that hell is destruction and banishment. In the Sermon on the Mount, he says:

Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt 7:13b-14)

In the New Testament the word for destruction can mean “made unfit for its purpose”. The word “destruction” is applied to the “wasteful” pouring of perfume on Jesus’ feet in Matthew 26 and the burst wineskins of Matthew 9. When coupled with images of the unending nature of hell, this suggests the destruction of hell is not the annihilation of those who go there but their total ruin; the disintegration of their being.

The other description of hell is banishment from the Lord’s presence. In Jesus’ account of the final judgement, he welcomes the sheep into eternal blessedness. But banishes the goats into eternal punishment with the words, “Depart from me” (Matt 25:41). In Mark 9, Jesus speaks of a person being thrown into hell: far away from God’s gracious presence, into the darkness. Outside.

In this life, we can turn our backs on God and still enjoy the greenness of grass and the sun’s warmth; the joy of relationship and the companionship of a shared meal. Even if we ignore God, we benefit from his providential activity in the world. But when

Kanishka Raffel
22 SouthernCross March-April 2024
Archbishop writes

God sends us from his presence all that will be taken away. Our banishment is a punishment that destroys.


So often people say to me, “I cannot understand why Jesus had to die”. The answer is, to save us from hell. Perhaps the reason Jesus speaks of hell more than anyone else in the Bible is because he, unlike anyone else in the Bible, would face hell for us. Jesus’ death saves me from the hell I deserve, and does so because, on the cross, he experienced hell for my sake, though he was innocent and deserved it not at all.

In the events of Good Friday, we see the same characteristics of hell that Jesus spoke of in his ministry.

First, punishment. At Gethsemane, Jesus tells his disciples he is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Three times he prays to his Father, “if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”. What was this “cup” that so filled him with anguish? It was the cup of God’s punishment of sin. Hell is punishment. Yet as Jesus contemplated his coming death he still prayed, “not as I will, but as you will”. Willingly he offered to bear the punishment due for the world’s sins.

It is not right to say God punished Jesus. Rather, God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. God himself received, in the person of his Son, the punishment for sin. Jesus was no third party, he was the God/man bearing in his body God’s punishment for human rebellion.

Second, destruction. As Jesus was crucified, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Son was eternally begotten of the Father. Their mutual love and joy in companionship was from the beginning, and infinitely deeper and more complete

than the most intimate and passionate human relationship. But on the cross the Son is accursed.

For Jesus the cross was everything that makes hell, hell –darkness, pain, isolation, sin-bearing divine judgement, curse, alienation, utter darkness and separation from God. But for us the cross is everything that makes heaven possible – wisdom, righteousness, justification, forgiveness, cleansing, redemption and adoption. And love! Amazing love.


For Christians, the cross on which Jesus suffered hell for us is the reason for our joyful, self-abandoning devotion to Christ, our constant wonder and praise in his presence, our contentment despite present temporary affliction, our perseverance in doing good and serving others, our resolve to declare his praises. He did it for us, he did it for me, he did it for all. Jesus suffered hell for my redemption! How excellent a Saviour! How mighty a redeemer! How worthy a King!

Without hell we would not understand the cross. But without the cross we would not love God. Hell does not create love for God. Only the knowledge of God’s amazing love in Jesus’ death upon the cross breaks through our stubborn heart of sin and produces repentance that leads to life.

Will you come to the foot of the cross once again, or perhaps for the first time, and see there, in the face of the crucified Lord, the immense sacrifice he made for you? Will you turn away from self-rule, self-righteousness and self-reliance and take hold of the hand of the Saviour who gave himself for you? Will you see how greatly you are loved, how right it is that he should claim first place in your heart, and how wonderful it is to have him as King? SC

What Jesus says about hell.
SouthernCross March-April 2024 23

Remembering Nicholas Ridley

Many modern Christians have heard of Thomas Cranmer, some have heard of Hugh Latimer, but most have no awareness of Nicholas Ridley (c1500-1555).

This would have surprised his contemporaries – even his opponents – because of his centrality to the English Reformation. One of his enemies put it like this: “Latimer leaneth to Cranmer, Cranmer to Ridley, and Ridley to the singularity of his own wit”. It was thought that if Ridley could be toppled, then the prizes of Cranmer and Latimer would also be won. Evidently, Nicholas Ridley was a Reformation giant of his time, and we can appreciate much from his life and ministry in ours.

Ridley grew up near Hadrian’s Wall in the northern English county of Northumberland. It was a remote and rugged area plagued with robbery and Scottish marauders. His was a tough upbringing and his farming family had learned to diligently defend themselves. Whereas Cranmer and Latimer were reared in more prosperous areas, Ridley was a Reformer used to the rough

and tumble of life. Indeed, his strength of character would be immensely useful in his later ministry challenges.

Ridley went up to Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, where his academic talents were discovered, and he obtained all the theological degrees the university could bestow. He would walk through the college orchard while memorising Scripture, and for leisure he enjoyed archery and handball in between classes (the latter a tradition retained by current Moore College students!).

Martin Luther’s rediscovery of justification by faith alone was controversial at the time and, just like Cranmer, Ridley was a slow adopter. While he was not known to belong to the White Horse tavern circle of evangelicals, he eventually adopted the convictions of a gospeller and also supported King Henry VIII’s ecclesiastical Brexit from Roman obedience.

In the spring of 1538, Ridley became vicar of the parish of Herne in Kent. This church was only a few miles from Canterbury and was thus in the jurisdiction of Archbishop Cranmer.

Perhaps with a sense of episcopal protection, Ridley started

24 SouthernCross March-April 2024
Moore College

to push for reform. Preaching at nearby Hackington, he railed against the Latin liturgy and led services in the vernacular English language. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the Reformation also occurred around then: he convinced Thomas Cranmer to adopt a Reformed position on the Lord’s Supper. Years later, the deposed Archbishop would write: “Doctor Ridley did confer with me, and by sundry persuasions and authorities of doctors drew me quite from that opinion”.

Surely, we can learn from this patience and persistence in the context of Christian fellowship.


In 1547 he was promoted to the episcopal bench. As Bishop of Rochester, Ridley smashed the stone altar for the mass in his cathedral church and replaced it with a wooden table for the Lord’s Supper. In doing this Ridley was not denigrating the Holy Communion, but rather introducing a solemn sacramental ceremony stripped of superstition and reflecting the biblical belief in the completed sacrifice of Christ at the cross.

Ridley also participated as a member of the committee for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and the liturgy for the Lord’s Supper reflects this evangelical Reformed theology, which was unashamedly sacramental and unwaveringly biblical.

In due course, Ridley was translated to the See of London, the third most important episcopal jurisdiction in the realm. There were high hopes placed on him.

“He will, I hope,” wrote English Reformer John Hooper to the bishop of Zürich, Heinrich Bullinger, “destroy the altars of Baal, as he did heretofore in his church when he was bishop of Rochester.”

These hopes were not in vain. Ridley ordered every minister in his diocese to abolish the altars in their church or face ejection from their ministry. He wrote: “If we come to feed upon Christ, spiritually to eat his body, and spiritually to drink his blood, then no man can deny but the form of a table is more meet for the Lord’s board, than the form of an altar”.

While Ridley had the support of the abovementioned John Hooper in the case of the removal of altars, they would soon come to blows over another matter: the use of clerical clothing. In short, Hooper was soon to be consecrated as bishop but believed that the wearing of the clerical surplice (the white choir robe) was sinful. But this was not the opinion of English Reformers like Cranmer and Ridley, nor continental Reformers like Bullinger, Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr Vermigli. These Reformers thought that the wearing of the surplice was not a gospel issue, and that refusal to wear it would actually hinder the progress of the gospel in England.

Eventually (and after Cranmer gave him a short stint in the Fleet prison to reconsider his position!) Hooper gave way and was consecrated by Cranmer in full episcopal garb, no doubt to the satisfaction of Ridley.

Bishop Ridley was involved in various other reforming efforts during this time. He gave advice to the King on how to instruct preachers: “In all sacred sermons, this sole and singular rule must be the great aim set before all: that its great many hearers always gain Christ”.

He was on the 32-man panel for the reformation of the canon law ( Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum), was probably involved in the 1552 revision of the Prayer Book, and also persuaded the king to convert various empty London palaces into hospitals (e.g. Bridewell Royal Hospital, which is now King Edward’s School in Witley).


Ridley was even appointed to the bishopric of Durham – a return to his homeland in the north. Yet all these reforming efforts and hopes were soon dashed, for Edward VI died on July 6, 1553.

Ridley rallied to the side of Jane Grey (the so-called Queen of Nine Days) and preached in support of her at Paul’s Cross on July 16. However, this support for Jane required denouncing the ladies Mary and Elizabeth as illegitimate, and this was sufficiently unpopular for his sermon to receive boos from the restless crowd.

He warned that Mary would return England to Roman obedience and that she was an enemy of God’s word. This further exacerbated the crowd, who were left in an uproarious state. Thus, by the time Queen Jane’s privy council fell apart and threw its support behind Queen Mary a few days later, Ridley took the only option he saw possible: submission to the future monarch, who would soon consign him to the flames.

Nicholas Ridley was a marked man. He had destroyed traditionalist theology and denounced Queen Mary as an enemy of the gospel. Thus, he was rapidly rounded up and thrown into the Tower of London, where Cranmer and Latimer joined him.

After a brief period of comforting fellowship, the three Reformers were sent up to Oxford where they faced their heresy trials, which focused on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. Ridley stood fast and defended himself before the panel of 14 theological

The life and death of a great Reformer.

opponents, who eventually and officially declared Ridley a heretic, to which he responded, “Although I be not of your company, yet doubt I not but my name is written in another place”.

It took another year before the political machinery was in place to proceed with the consequences of his condemnation for heresy. In the meantime, he was industrious. He wrote A Brief Declaration of the Lord’s Supper and A Piteous Lamentation of the Miserable Estate of the Church in England – short books smuggled out of prison and onto the continent for publication by the Marian exiles. He wrote up the proceedings of his recent disputation and they were also smuggled out for publication.

Ridley was also able to write a number of letters: some to Cranmer and Latimer and one to John Hooper, which reaffirmed their fellowship despite their former conflict (“let us join hands together in Christ”).

At 8am on September 30, 1555, Ridley had his final examination. Refusing to remove his cap upon the mention of the name of the Pope, Ridley stood firm and refused his penultimate opportunity to recant.

Shortly thereafter he was given a final chance to change his mind. Being told he was an obstinate heretic, he was declared a heretic (once again) and formally degraded and excommunicated.

He was then taken to the prison house of Alderman Irish, whose wife wept upon hearing the news. Ridley comforted her and said the famous words: “though my breakfast shall be somewhat sharp and painful, yet I am sure my supper shall be more pleasant and sweet”.


The next day was his last day: October 16, 1555. He was brought to the ditch before Balliol College. Wearing a furred black gown and

velvet nightcap upon his head, he walked towards his death. As he passed the Bocardo Prison he looked up, to chance a glimpse of his long-time friend and archbishop through the window.

Although Cranmer was busy with his own interrogation at the time, Ridley looked back and was comforted at the sight of old Hugh Latimer coming towards him. “Oh, be ye there?” said Ridley. “Yes,” said Latimer, “I am coming as fast as I can”. Ridley held up his hands to heaven, as if to thank God. With a glad heart, he raced to embrace his brother, and said: “Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it.”

Ridley soon removed his garments and gave them and whatever else he had away. With little left upon him, Ridley held up his hand and said, “O heavenly Father, I give unto thee most hearty thanks, for that thou hast called me to be a professor of thee, even unto death. I beseech thee, Lord God, take mercy upon this realm of England, and deliver the same from all her enemies”.

Then an iron chain was placed around Ridley and Latimer, and wanting the chain to be placed correctly, Ridley said to the smith, “Good fellow, knock it in hard, for the flesh will have his course”. Ridley’s brother approached them and placed a small bag of gunpowder around the necks of the two former bishops – a small mercy.

After this, they kindled the flame, at which point Latimer exhorted his brother bishop with those eternal and encouraging words that they would light such a flame in England that would never be put out. As the flames grew, Ridley cried out repeatedly, “Lord, into your hands, I commit my spirit. Lord receive my Spirit”.

While Latimer quickly passed into glory, Ridley was in trouble. The wood was packed too tightly below to light upwards quickly enough. When his brother heard his painful cries, he attempted to improve things and heaped more wood on the flames. Alas, while the fire grew stronger below it only had the effect of burning off the lower half of Ridley’s body, as he shouted, “I cannot burn!”

Eventually his legs were consumed but his upper body was hardly touched. “Lord, have mercy… Let the fire come unto me, I cannot burn” cried Ridley again until another bystander moved the wood such that the flames went upwards and reached the gunpowder. Eventually, and suddenly, Ridley passed into the hands of his heavenly Father.

The story of Nicholas Ridley is deeply moving. “In the noble company of English Reformers,” wrote the great evangelical bishop J.C. Ryle, “no one deserves a higher place than Ridley.”

He was not an ivory-tower academic but used his intellectual gifts to apply the Bible in very practical and costly ways, for the cause of Christ and his church. He was not an independent operator, but worked in an orderly and deliberate way with his fellow English Reformers to see lasting reform. He was not a pushover, but was courageous in his convictions and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, he was an upholder of truth for the sake of souls.

May we be inspired to serve similarly in Sydney today. SC

The Rev Dr Mark Earngey is head of Church History, and lectures in Church History and Christian Doctrine at Moore College.

26 SouthernCross March-April 2024

Making the most of an “extensive job description”

There are no doubt many anniversaries to be celebrated in 2024, but the one I am personally thankful for is the 30th anniversary of the appointment of the Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry. I’m reflecting, with thanks to God, about all that has been done, who did it, and how we can continue building on this vital work.

First, some history. It was Archbishop Harry Goodhew who created the role, though it was preceded by Archbishop Robinson’s appointment of a Co-ordinator of Women’s Ministries. The Rev Maureen Cripps held this position for two years before retiring due to ill health in 1993.

In his presidential address in 1993, Archbishop Harry Goodhew announced that, with a view to advancing the ministry of women in the Diocese, I have appointed the Reverend Dianne Nicolios as an Archdeacon with special responsibilities for women’s ministry. She has an extensive job description, which includes the support and encouragement of women both ordained and non-ordained.

As the current Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, these words resonate for me. It was an “extensive job description” then and remains so today, but even though the shape of the ministry has changed over the decades as our culture and churches have changed, the gospel of Christ remains the same.

It is difficult to highlight in a brief article all the ways God used this role for his glory, or give due thanks for my predecessors’ work, but I hope this overview will go some way to doing so.

Before becoming Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, Di Nicolios had been an assistant minister at Annandale and a chaplain at Deaconess House, where single women were enrolled and lived

while studying at Moore College. There was then, by circumstances and design, a strong connection between the training of women for ministry and the role of the Archdeacon.

In reflecting on her time as Archdeacon, Di says, “I had no idea what challenges and what special times lay ahead, so it was a steep learning curve”. Part of that learning included creating opportunities for women to meet, usually over a meal and with a guest speaker. This led to SWIM – Sydney Women In Ministry – which was in many ways a precursor to the later growth in the conference movements among women.

Advancing the ministry of women also included regularly visiting those serving in vocational ministry, listening to them and hearing “wonderful stories of the work they were doing under the Lord’s hand of blessing”, as well as some of the disappointments and hardship they experienced.

In 2002, the Rev Narelle Jarrett was appointed as Archdeacon following Di’s move to Melbourne. At the time Narelle was the principal of Mary Andrews College (previously Deaconess House) – a role in which she continued until 2007, when she moved into the Archdeacon’s job full-time. So, for the best part of five years Narelle had the dual role of responsibility for the theological formation of women for ministry, and supporting them in the local church.

Narelle continued Di’s work in many ways, maintaining the patterns of visiting and gathering the diaconal fellowship, and expanded the team to include five more women (the Rev Jackie Stoneman, the Rev Sarie King, Jane Tooher, Lesley Ramsay and Christine Jensen), who were each tasked with different portfolios.

Talking points SouthernCross March-April 2024 27

She was intentional in seeking advice and input from women about how best to support them, as she recognised that many of the old styles and patterns of ministry were changing. Some of these changes included the growth of team ministry in the local church. As roles like children’s ministers or women’s ministers were on the rise there was an increasing number of stipendiary lay ministers, many of whom were women. While the Archdeacon remained committed to seeing women step forward for ordination as deacons, there was also a growing and significant work to be done among those who weren’t necessarily part of a cohort that had studied together at Moore College.

Thirty years on, the question remains: what does it mean to advance the ministries of women in the Diocese? I believe the effectiveness of the Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry is found in partnership, which happens when we truly embrace the biblical picture of men and women contending side by side for the gospel. This is Paul’s language in Philippians 4:3 in describing his relationship with Euodia and Syntyche. Truly advancing the ministries of women in the Diocese will mean hundreds of mission-minded and servant-hearted teams of men and women, modelling to their congregations and the world the beauty and benefits of God’s design of men and women living and serving together.

I appreciate the partnership my role gives me with our rectors. I have spent the past few years listening to and speaking with them, and will continue these conversations in 2024 as we explore how to create opportunities for women to serve in formal ministry roles in their context. It’s exciting to see how our rectors are recognising and harnessing the gifts God has given the women in their church for gospel work.

I genuinely love the partnership I have with women across the Diocese. The opportunity I have to meet, support and encourage them in their vocational ministry remains a key plank and joy of my work as Archdeacon. Our Diocese recently ordained four more women as deacons, and many others are seeking God’s guidance as to whether this is an appropriate pathway for them.

I am extremely thankful to God for the hundreds of women who, every day, walk into nursing homes and hospitals, train the kids’ church team, run youth groups, are chaplains in our schools, oversee the discipleship of women, engage in significant evangelistic opportunities each week and, in many other contexts, teach the Bible and proclaim Christ among the community.

It’s impossible to capture the privilege of serving as the third Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry. The opportunities are beyond one person’s capacity. So, I am very thankful that in the past two years, we have been able to expand the work. I am accompanied by Jenny Salt in thinking about how to promote the blessings and benefits of women in ministry, contending for the gospel side by side in partnership with men and joyfully making the most of that “extensive job description”. SC

How not to get flustered

The Ven Kara Hartley is the Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry in the Sydney Diocese.

My first job in Christian ministry was in the chaplaincy department of a private school in suburban Sydney. After the best part of a decade as an infantry officer in the Army my hope was that, in comparison, talking to teenagers about Jesus would be pretty easy.

It took me about 15 minutes to work out that, rather than this being a walk in the park, it was closer to a limp through the valley of the shadow of death. Quite simply it was the toughest thing I’d ever had to do. From day one I found myself confronted with an endless supply of objections to the Christian faith. Many of them I didn’t have a good answer to on the spot. Some of them I had never heard of!

The result of all of this was that, for the first year of my ministry, I was persuaded that in order to be effective in evangelism I had to be an expert in every single possible objection to the Christian faith. I scoured apologetics videos online to develop a working knowledge of not only secular philosophies and other religions, but also how to defend the faith when the topic turned to history, science, sexuality or any other objection.

Some of this was really helpful. It grew my confidence in the truth of the gospel. However, when it came to how to utilise it in evangelistic conversations, I still found myself quickly overwhelmed.

Fire up! 28 SouthernCross March-April 2024
Dave Jensen

The result was that I began to grow both in embarrassment at my inability to engage in conversation, and then anger at those whose viewpoints I couldn’t answer. It seemed much safer to simply say nothing and leave evangelism to the experts.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? Have you ever found yourself flustered or embarrassed in an evangelistic conversation because the person you’re speaking to has questions you can’t answer? It’s a horrible feeling. In my experience it’s an enormously common reason why many of us find evangelism so difficult.

Yet that’s not the end of my story. Fast forward 12 years to today and I can honestly say I don’t get flustered in evangelistic conversations any more. In fact, I really enjoy them, no matter who I’m speaking to and what objections they have.

So, what happened? What did I have to do in order to become so much more confident?

The answer is… nothing. Rather, someone pointed out to me that the most important thing that needed to happen first was not a change in what I did, but in how I saw. I needed to understand the reality of what’s really going on in evangelism. The reality that only God’s word can give.

Reading 2 Corinthians 4 was the “penny drop” moment for me. Listen to what Paul says:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they

cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

(2 Cor 4:4-6)

What does this passage tell us about reality? It tells us that the people we speak to are not the enemy. They are victims of the enemy, Satan. But not only that; the fundamental objection at the core of everyone who is not a Christian is spiritual, not intellectual.

It tells us that our role is not to be an expert in every type of non-Christian worldview, but rather to be experts in our own. What we need to do is faithfully proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord, explaining why we believe what we believe in the hope of seeing people saved.

But best of all? It tells us that it is God who switches on the light inside a person’s soul, not us. We know that for certain because he did the same thing for us! So, we don’t need to stress or worry; what we need to do is faithfully proclaim his gospel, knowing that God is at work and Jesus is with us until the end of the age.

Dave Jensen is the assistant director of Evangelism & New Churches and co-host of the Fire Up! podcast.

Overcoming self-doubt in evangelistic conversations
SouthernCross March-April 2024 29

New assistant for Western and South West regions

After Easter, the Rev Gary Haddon will move from the senior assistant minister’s position at Lower Mountains Anglican Parish to become assistant to Bishop Gary Koo (Western Region) and Bishop Peter Lin (South West Region).

Prior to his work at Lower Mountains, Mr Haddon and his family lived in Chile for several years, where he served at the Centro de Estudios Pastorales (Centre for Pastoral Studies) in Santiago.

He says that he’d been in discussions with Bishop Koo about his passion for the work he had done in Chile, “which was mentoring – not only our new graduates, but also those who had been in ministry for a number of years.

“And so, I was planning to give

Dr Amelia Haines

the Diocese one day a month to catch up with some people that Gary might like me to catch up with,” he adds. “But Gary eventually got back to me and said, ‘How about you do that kind of thing full time, not just as a service on top of your role at Lower Mountains?’ And I said, ‘Sure!’”

As an assistant to two regional bishops with the combined oversight of about 100 parishes in Sydney, Mr Haddon will be busy with a range of issues – but he hopes he can spend a good portion of his time caring for assistant ministers, freeing them to better care for their rectors.

“My heart’s really in pastorally caring for those in ministry, just to be a part of the formation of leaders for leadership and to love

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

Dr Amelia Haines

and serve God and his people well,” he says.

“I’ve been an assistant and a rector myself. I’ve been in a wonderful parish in the western suburbs and an assistant twice and been involved in the formation of Christian leaders for Latin America. God uses all those different things to help form you for the next stage of your ministry. Nothing’s ever wasted!

“I’m most excited about getting alongside the people that God has raised to serve him and love his people.”

Mr Haddon replaces the retired Archdeacon Neil Atwood in the Western Region, and the Rev James Davidson in the South West – who will continue as honorary assistant minister at Fairfield with Bossley Park.

After three years as a parttime assistant minister at Centennial Park and Woollahra, the Rev Marcelo Morbelli was inducted as rector of All Saints’, Woollahra on January 17. The acting rector of All Saints’, the Rev Canon Simon Manchester, will remain at Woollahra parttime as senior assistant minister. The Rev Jaime Dickson finished up as rector of Turramurra South in mid-February to concentrate on his growing pastoral supervision and coaching practice – with a focus on pastors, school chaplains and school leaders. He will also train in intentional interim ministry.

The Rev George Kazogolo , a former principal of Msalato Bible College in Tanzania and rector of St Barnabas’, Westmead for the past 26 years, retired on March 3.

Following eight years as rector of Eastwood, the Rev Bruce Stanley became senior minister of St Paul’s, Castle Hill on March 13.


List of parishes and provisional parishes, vacant or becoming vacant, as at March 4, 2024:

• Asquith-Mt ColahMt Kuring-gai Bankstown

• Baulkham Hills

• Belmore with McCallums Hill and Clemton Park Beverly Hills with Kingsgrove

• Concord and Burwood Cremorne

• Dapto

• Eastwood Epping Glebe*

• Helensburgh and Stanwell Park


• Liverpool South**

• Lugarno


Regents Park* Rosemeadow* Shoalhaven Heads

• South Head

• South Hurstville** Strathfield and Homebush

• Turramurra South

• Westmead

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

Dr Amelia Haines

M.B.B.S (Syd), M. Hlth Sc. (Sexual Health) Grad. Cert. Psychiatric Medicine

M.B.B.S (Syd), M. Hlth Sc. (Sexual Health) Grad. Cert. Psychiatric Medicine

M.B.B.S (Syd), M. Hlth Sc. (Sexual Health) Grad. Cert. Psychiatric Medicine

M.B.B.S (Syd), M. Hlth Sc. (Sexual Health) Grad. Cert. Psychiatric Medicine

M.B.B.S (Syd), M. Hlth Sc. (Sexual Health) Grad. Cert. Psychiatric Medicine

M.B.B.S (Syd), M. Hlth Sc. (Sexual Health) Grad. Cert. Psychiatric Medicine


M.B.B.S (Syd), M. Hlth Sc. (Sexual Health) Grad. Cert. Psychiatric Medicine






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Clergy moves.

from page 32

This is a world in which everyone is damaged – by loss, by experience, and by the corrosive effects of power. Even Prince Zuko (Dallas Liu), heir to the throne of the Fire Nation, bears the scars of his father’s disapproval, and is desperate to prove himself worthy of his lineage by capturing the Avatar.

As for Aang, he’s still a kid, so how can he play the role expected of him, heal a society that is so broken and put an end to the war? Especially when he is yet to master three of the four elements that undergird his power.


There’s no doubt Avatar: The Last Airbender is a masterful exercise in worldbuilding. The creators of the original animated series built a complex and rich environment, with each people group echoing elements of the history and culture of nations such as China, Japan, Korea, India and Tibet, as well as countries in South-East Asia and First Nations peoples in North America.

During production of the Netflix remake, the creators of the Nickelodeon series pulled out due to creative differences, but I’d have been surprised if the producers of the new show didn’t want to put their own stamp on the story.

In any case, with only eight 50-minute episodes, it was impossible for the new series to include all the storylines from the first season of the animated show (which contained 22 episodes of about half the length). And while devoted fans have complained about Netflix picking elements from the original and mixing them into other storylines, I’m not as fussed. Time is at a premium, we’re still told an excellent story and it retains a good portion of the first show’s wit – as well as some of its wacky characters like the hippy minstrels, who I will welcome wherever they appear.

In the world of ATLA , spirituality is key. It isn’t drawn from one particular faith, but from a range of religions and worldviews including Buddhism, Hinduism and indigenous cultures in the Americas. Those whose lives are not in harmony with the world around them seem emotionally stunted, and it’s clear as you travel through the series that everything on Earth is part of an unseen spiritual balance. In addition, there are spirits and spiritual places that are dangerous in themselves, or perilous to tamper with.


So, how should Christians view and respond to this show? While we could immediately dismiss elements as false or misleading, that doesn’t exactly encourage discussion. Yes, we can point to the Bible’s teaching in response to what the series says about reincarnation, talking to the dead or the indwelling of spirits in animals or places, but there is value in considering connection points that will help our conversation.

For example, Aang is clearly a type of messiah. He doesn’t quite grasp the nature of his role in Episode 1, but by Episode 8 he is very clear that the Avatar lives in service of others, even if that means sacrificing himself for their sake.

There is also a long list of serious issues and life lessons to consider, whether it’s who or what to trust in, the crippling power of grief and trauma, the value of love and sacrifice, or wider concepts such as care for the Earth, the domination of others, the danger of meddling with forces beyond our control, and understanding that this world is not all there is.

There are so many entry points for conversation about the faith we profess and hope in, if we can do it with the gentleness and respect encouraged in 1 Peter 3.

Finally, is Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender any good? It’s clearly a contentious question, but before Southern Cross went to press the show had a very respectable 75 per cent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes (although reviewers were harsher) and a score of 7.4/10 on on IMDB.

Is it as good as the original? No, but the same was (and is) true of the hugely popular, multi-award-winning adaptation of The Lord of the Rings from book to screen. Netflix’s ATLA is also aimed at a slightly different audience to the animated series, having an M rating rather than the cartoon’s PG. There’s no sex or swearing, but a good deal of violence and scary scenes that will always pack more of a punch because live actors are onscreen.

Speaking of actors, the young cast members are a little stilted to begin with, but the old hands are solid and dependable – and everyone finds their way amid a fantastical blur of CGI backdrops, strange creatures and, of course, fire, water, earth and air bending. And before long you’ll be sucked into the story with them. SC

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Teach me to save the world

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Rated M

Streaming on Netflix

When an incredibly popular story is retold in another medium, it’s never going to please everyone. So, it’s hardly surprising that Netflix’s live-action remake of Nickelodeon’s animated hit Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) has not gone down well with a number of fans.

Having said that, the new version of ATLA shot to number one globally within two days of its Netflix release on February 22, and while there are obviously a range of differences between the new series and the beloved cartoon, people are still watching it.

Plenty of viewers will be kids and youth – given that the four main characters are aged between 12 and 16 – but regardless of viewer age, Christians need to get to grips with the complex spiritual world the series inhabits to talk wisely and well into the space with friends and family.

For those unfamiliar with the story, it is set on a version of Earth in which there are four people groups: the Fire Nation, Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom and Air Nomads. Within each of the groups are people known as “benders”, who can telekinetically manipulate

their element in a range of ways to support and/or defend their people.

Only one person has the capacity to master all four elements –with the purpose of maintaining peace and balance in the world – and that is the Avatar. Much like the Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, after an Avatar dies he or she is reborn, in a neverending cycle, moving into a different people group with each incarnation but always with the same mission.

The Avatar of the title is Aang (Gordon Cormier, above), a 12-year-old Air Nomad who fled his home, overwhelmed by the responsibility of a role he does not feel prepared to face. A massive storm results in Aang becoming trapped in ice, where he remains in a kind of hibernation for a century – until Katara (Kiawentiio) and Sokka (Ian Ousley) from the Southern Water Tribe find him and restore him to a world now desperately out of balance. Why? Because there has been no Avatar for 100 years, and the powerhungry Fire Nation has been waging war against everyone else throughout that time.

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