EFAC Australia

Anglican Communion


General Synod will meet this year with contentious issues in the air. Kanishka Raffel, Dean of Sydney, and Karin Sowada, Sydney Lay Representative, preview the 2020 Session in its various modes.

An Ordinary Session of General Synod will take place in Maroochydore from 31 May – 5 June. The meeting will gather diocesan bishops and 250 or so elected lay and clergy representatives from every Australian diocese of the Anglican Church. The circumstances of our meeting are tense, and a new primate to be elected in March will chair the proceedings.

Foremost will be discussion about the blessing of same-sex marriage, following decisions by the Synods of Wangaratta Diocese and Newcastle Diocese. These actions prompted referrals to the Appellate Tribunal in 2019 and dozens of submissions have now been received. It is possible that the Appellate Tribunal will not have issued their opinion on these questions by the time the General Synod meets. In addition, the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney tabled nine motions for debate ‘at the request of a diocesan synod’. These will now form part of the General Synod meeting agenda. The nine motions include an apology to LGBTIQ people, an affirmation of the historic Anglican understanding of marriage and singleness and address matters of discipline and fellowship within the Anglican Church of Australia.

Unusually, the Standing Committee of the General Synod agreed to a proposal that the General Synod meeting include one and half days in conference mode to consider matters of sexuality and the future of the Anglican Church. It is expected that this conference will adopt a conference model known as ‘Open Space’. Any member of General Synod will be able to suggest a topic for discussion and members will break into self-selecting small groups to discuss the topic of their choice. Each group will record their reflections and any action items they propose, although there is no mechanism for implementation of action items.

Other General Synod business include a raft of legislation that forms a significant part of the Anglican Church’s responses to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. A General Synod working group led by Sydney representative and barrister Garth Blake SC has worked tirelessly in this area since before the Royal Commission was called. The national Church is greatly indebted to Garth and his team.

The General Synod will also receive a progress report on the vital work being undertaken by the General Synod Task Force on Family Violence led by Melbourne representative, the Rev Tracy Lauersen. The Task Force has commissioned independent research into the nature and prevalence of family violence in the Anglican Church, facilitated discussions between family violence working groups in several dioceses, and is examining available resources for use by dioceses to assist in developing appropriate policy and pastoral responses.

Regrettably, the 2020 meeting of General Synod may be dominated by internal disagreement about matters of longstanding ‘catholic and apostolic’ patterns of biblical faithfulness and holiness in areas of personal sexual integrity and marriage. This is greatly to be lamented. The pressing task of evangelising Australia is likely to take a back seat.

But the intractability of the disagreement between dioceses about the character of the discipleship that is faithful to the Lord’s calling to ‘be holy, because I am holy’ threatens to undermine the sustainability of the national Anglican project. There is great need for earnest prayer that the Lord would preserve us in the bond of peace and the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Even as this conversation takes place, the national church is well aware of the precarious state of many dioceses. The hollowing out of rural communities, the distress of drought, the burden of legacy assets, falling church attendances, and growing secularism requires strategic discussion to enable the re-invigoration of evangelism and gospel mission. It would be a missed opportunity to bring the national church together and simply re-arrange the deck chairs.

It is easy to wonder why we bother with the Olympic Games. Especially as drug scandals mount and novel(ty) sports are included on the program. The round of world championships typically host more events and are a better funnel for the world’s best talent than the Olympics. Yet there is something about the Olympics that galvanizes attention and retains its significance. In some ways the coming Lambeth Conference can be viewed in the same light. Why have Lambeth at all when we have our own national or diocesan bodies with clear goals and greater capacity to make binding decisions? Yet, the Lambeth Conference lives on. Like the Olympics there is something in the gathering that is significant even if the significance is difficult to pin down.

One key to unlocking the potential significance of the coming Lambeth Conference is found in its its birth. The first Lambeth Conference arose in response to two crises. The crises were both prompted by the inaugural Bishop of Natal (John Colenso). One regarded his approach to reading Scripture, the other was to do with his determination to baptise polygamous men. On my reading this could be characterized as two aspects of a familiar story: how to truly understand God’s intention for his people (a hermeneutical question), and how to recognise the church in new or unfamiliar territory (a missiological question). It is not surprising that Bishop Colenso provoked strong reaction as people sought to determine what should be done. In discovering that bishops and councils could not simply coerce Bishop Colenso to do or not do something an appeal was made to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Charles Thomas Longley) to intervene and sort it out.

Here we encounter the key to unlock Lambeth’s significance. Archbishop Longley was clear in his own mind that he too did not have the power: either personally or via the various bodies within which he played a leading role, to prevent Bishop Colenso from ministering. So he decided to call a conference at which the bishops of churches for whom their foundation was associated with the church in England1 could discuss their approach to exercising the relational influence they shared through their common ordination and office. From the beginning the key to the Lambeth Conference’s significance was the opportunity for these new national churches to act as a consistent and catholic whole, especially given that, in contrast to the Church of Rome, missionary expansion was not attended with coercive power2 Lambeth’s activity and self-conception has waxed and waned over the decades, but realising the fundamentally relational nature of the Conference has led me to ask how I might then measure the significance of the approaching sitting. If I am looking for it to make decisions that bind one or other party or coerce this or that behaviour I suspect that I will be disappointed.

To be truthful, I am relieved that this is not so. I am an Australian and do not take kindly to being pushed around by larger more powerful groups. Further I am a child of the Reformation who understands that I must weigh my action first before God, even as I sit in the counsels of God’s people. However, I am content that this sitting of the Conference is significant because it can do at least five things, each of which is necessary in an era not unlike that which provoked the first.

The most important aspect of the Lambeth Conference is that it amplifies relationship. Even if I am troubled by my association with others, I am inescapably linked to folk from all over the world. While we may need to work hard to discern what we understand to be our ‘gospel to proclaim’, our related-ness must give way to actual relationship. This is connected to but different to unity (a declaration of being) in that relationship is instrumental rather than ontological.

This leads to the second significant property, in that part of relationship’s instrumentality is that it affords an opportunity for clarification. Too often I find that relational (let alone geographical) distance leads to misunderstanding, misrepresentation and the entrenching of positions before solutions can be discussed. There may be no solutions to offer, but unless each generation tries it is wrong to assume that there are none. Lambeth began as a key way for those asked to lead the Anglican Church in an environment that did not make for ready conversation which allowed for problems to be discussed and reservations shared. I do not think that we are far different from then.

One of Anglicanism’s weaknesses is that we try to legislate to ensure correct behaviour. It is the artefact of the good desire for doing the Christian life ‘decently and in good order’, but simple legislation is far from sufficient to deal with matters that involve deep difference. Given the freedom of a non-coercive framework, being able to simply talk (for its relational instrumentality and the chance to clarify meaning and intention) is a blessing. If too much weight of expectation is hung upon the Conference, it will be easy to be disappointed. However, it is surprising the opportunities that can arise if discussion is pursued knowing that I cannot make you do anything.

The fourth significant aspect is that this sitting marks a return to the matters that prompted the first sitting. In my reading the need for Lambeth was an artefact of the Anglican Church’s success. It became necessary because of missionary expansion and because of the unique diocesan episcopalianism the Anglican Church holds dear. It is hardly surprising that we need to continue to conference 153 years later.

And finally did I mention it is an amplification of relationship? I am reminded once more of the lengths that Paul went to in maintaining relationship with the Corinthian church. He did not agree with them frequently. He drew them into his confidence at personal cost. He lost sleep over their beliefs, actions and attitudes. Yet he remained in relationship (yes even the expelled brother was included in this!). If Paul could do it at such cost, then a Conference once a decade is no hard ask.


1 A deliberate phrase

2 It is interesting to reflect on this decision as it relates to Article XXXIV (Of the Traditions of the Church) and the nature of locally derived congregations who share an apostolic and episcopal heritage.

Recent initiatives in the Diocese of Sydney

We can’t ignore the fact that rotten things go on in Christian households too. Kara introduces the ways Sydney Diocese has recently sought to improve its practices of education and response to the scourge of domestic abuse. Kara is the Archdeacon for Women in the Diocese of Sydney. 

In 2014 domestic violence became a national conversation after the death of Luke Batty at the hands of his father. Luke’s mother Rosie was named Australian of the Year in 2015 and became a strong voice for the victims of domestic abuse. Since that time greater attention and resources have been directed to raising awareness of this significant problem in our community.

Yet for the Christian church it is not just a problem ‘out there’. Tragically, it is also a problem within our own community and a problem we have often been too slow to acknowledge. At times, due, perhaps, to naivety or misplaced generosity, we’ve downplayed, dismissed or dealt poorly with claims of domestic abuse from those within our congregations. Yet domestic abuse in its various forms—physical, emotional, and, yes, even spiritual—does exist in the Christian community. It causes untold pain and anguish; primarily for its victims, but also for the church as a whole. It is shocking and painful to discover a member of our fellowship, perhaps even a leader, is a perpetrator of domestic abuse. It is distressing to know a spouse has been suffering—often silently—the trauma and ordeal of an abuse victim. It is an evil that does not belong in any marriage, especially one where the couple profess Jesus as Lord.


Following on from EFAC’s video series at the Anglican Conference in Melbourne 2018, we now meet Anglicans from around the world. When you think of an Evangelical Anglican in USA, you might think of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). However, as well having Evangelicals scattered through The Episcopal Church (TEC), there are also several other breakaway groups. First to be interviewed is Ryan Flanigan, who is part of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) which operates as a mission society, not a denomination. Following his interview is Amanda from The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), which split in 1873. Her church was led into Anglicanism when its pastor began exploring Church History.


Ryan Flanigan, Dallas, Texas
All Saints Dallas
Anglican Mission in the Americas (AmiA)


I had the privilege of studying with Robert Webber in 2005-2006 before he passed away in 2007. I was enrolled in other classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School(TEDS), but a friend of mine, the Chaplain of Trinity, and probably the only other person at TEDS who had previously attended Christ For the Nations Institute (CFNI), pulled me aside and told me to drop all my classes and to go study with Bob Webber for a year. Somehow he knew what I needed, and that Bob Webber would be taking a sabbatical the following year, and that I would miss my opportunity to study with him if I didn’t do it now. So, trusting my friend, I did as he said, and I have never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. What did I learn from Bob? In a nutshell, Bob gave me the vision for bringing the best of all Christian traditions together into one cohesive worship life. He was the first person to tell me that I didn’t have to choose between being charismatic, evangelical, or catholic. At first he called it “Convergence Christianity,” but later it came to be known as Ancient-Future worship: the way forward for the church in the West is to rediscover the ancient practices of worship that we find in the historic liturgy, which have been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years. Bob himself was an Episcopalian, in part because Anglicanism had enough space theologically and in form and expression for him to be a charismatic, evangelical catholic. He passed this vision on to me. That year and for the years to follow I oozed Bob’s vision from my pores. I immediately put his vision into practice at the Vineyard church where I was leading worship, and have continued evangelizing to all my friends in the charismatic and evangelical worlds for the recovery of the ancient practices of worship. One thing I will never forget about Bob is how available he made himself to his students. He offered to take us to Starbucks after every class, just to shoot the breeze or to ask him crazier questions. He was full of so much joy and was such a non-anxious presence.


After a very intense three-year season of vocational wilderness in 2011-2013 (the non-denominational church I was serving got tired of my vision for ancient-future worship, and my identity was wrapped up in my work, and so I suffered from some extreme discontentment and took the church’s rejection of my vision very personally), and after a friend pastored me back to health in 2014 and helped me discern the Lord’s calling into a tradition to which my worship convictions aligned, in 2015 I joined the staff of All Saints Dallas, a three-stream Anglican church in the heart of Dallas and part of the Anglican Mission in America, a mission society for church planting and new apostolic works. By 2015 I had been leading worship in churches for 17 years. I had come to know my strengths andweaknesses and was able to articulate them to All Saints during the interview process. Together we crafted a job description that would enable me to thrive in my strengths. Basically, I spend half of my time planning and performing music for church services, and the other half of my time on music projects and artist development outside of our church. It is no exaggeration to say that I moved from a culture, 2011-2013, in which I spent 90% of my time trying to convince people we needed to be worshiping differently, to a culture here in Dallas where I spend 90% of my time freely working in my calling. I am now four and a half years in, and it’s still dreamy. As far as Sunday worship and other special services, I love how the songs serve the liturgy. I love how the liturgy speaks for itself and doesn’t demand that I add words between songs to create a seamless worship set. I love the spiritual formation my family is receiving through immersion in a liturgical community that is serious about the transformational power of the historic practices. And I love that this vision has been around for hundreds of years, and that I don’t have to convince anyone that we need to be doing it this way. The joy I have found leading music in the church has freed me to spend the rest of my time writing songs, developing songwriters, and pouring into the lives of other artists outside our church. I’ll talk about two special organizations in particular: Art House Dallas and Liturgical Folk.

Art House Dallas exists to cultivate creativity for the common good. The founding director is a parishioner at All Saints, so when I was hired I was expected to jump right in with their community of songwriters, and I have loved every minute of it. I have also helped them develop a spiritual formation program in which we help local artists connect their faith with their art.


Liturgical Folk is a new apostolic work of the AMiA, which I started when a retired priest and I began writing new hymns together. We are seeking to reimagine the hymnal for a new generation of worshippers. We attempt to make beautiful and believable sacred folk music for the Church and the world. We believe that the Church can once again become a credible artistic presence in the world. Our music is multi-generational, multi-racial, and ecumenical. Our goal from the beginning in 2016 was to release six volumes of new liturgical music in three years; to throw a critical mass of this (new?) kind of music at the wall of the church and to see if it sticks. We have identified a problem in the church’s imagination of the reduction of appropriate music to either “traditional” (choir, organ, hymns) or the “contemporary” (stage lights, fog, arena rock). We believe there is a third way that is grounded in the sounds already resident in a place, and whose words are historically-rooted and socially-informed. Half of our music is service music (liturgical settings, simple choruses, etc.) and the otherhalf is new hymnody, written by Father Nelson Koscheski and tuned by myself and other skilled melodists. We have already released four volumes of music (Table Settings, Crumbs, and Lent), and we have just recorded and are about release Advent and Psalm Settings. We have also beentouring the projects for a couple years, spreading the word and casting a vision for the appropriateness of liturgical folk music in the church. We have seen a decent amount of success with hundreds of thousands of streams and stories of hundreds of churches around the world using our songs.


My friend Brian Hehn points out the helpful fact that“traditional” and “contemporary” are misnomers; they don’t describe anything about the music itself, except that it “happened a long time ago” or that it is “happening now.” Both sides of the war have a reduced imagination for what music can be in the church. On the one hand you havechurches that think organs, choirs, hymns, and the like are theonly appropriate musical elements for worship. And on the other extreme you have arena rock, stage lights, and celebrities that project the ideal for what church music should be. In my estimation when a church reduces its musical imagination to one of these two sides it can too easily become a monolithic institution represented mainly by a narrow segment of the kingdom, especially in age and race. Not to mention how difficult and expensive it can be for the average church to pull off really good “traditional” or “contemporary” music. I am finding that a folk approach to liturgical music in the Western church is able to bridge the divides(or blow up the walls of traditional and contemporary, allowing parishioners to experience the breadth of Christ’s kingdom, especially its intergenerational and multi-ethnic nature. I’m talking about the music that bubbles up from the ground of a place. I would encourage ministry teams to put their ear to the ground and to listen for that sound. Tap into the music that effortlessly engages the soul. God put it there for us to find. And the best musicians are able to capture it and reflect it back to the people. The metric I use is whether the children and the old folks are engaged. They are the ones living the most down-to-earth lives in our congregations, so they will often be the first to access and engage with the music in the bones of a place.

Text Box:

Amanda McGill, Dayton, Ohio
Christ the King Anglican Church
Reformed Episcopal Church


I’m married to Jon and have two daughters who are 4 and 2. My husband and I grew up Baptist, were both Bible majors at a Baptist college and went to a Southern Baptist seminary — where we became Anglican. From early on in college, we were consumed with questions about the Church and troubled by the reality, “We want to give our lives to the Church, why do we hate Sunday morning so much?” While in seminary, we were able to connect with Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio. We were his summer interns in 2012, and going to his Anglican church really sealed the deal that we were Anglicans. We moved back to the Dayton, Ohio area (where I’m from) where we are members of Christ the King Anglican Church. I’m the music director and my husband, now a web developer with an M.Div is senior warden.



My friend Bley and I followed a lot of wonderful Catholic liturgical living blogs, but couldn’t find similar resources in the Anglican tradition. Bley is an artist and had already made a lot of liturgical living printables (such as her Jesus Tree Advent printables so starting a blog together seemed to make sense, mostly as a service for our own parish. We decided to call it “The Homely Hours” because we were talking about the fixed prayer system of the “Divine Hours,” and the word “homely” seemed very fitting as a description of our “hours” — cozy, but also fairly dishevelled


The church started as a non-denominational charismatic college ministry. Six years after officially becoming a church, Fr. Wayne unexpectedly became the pastor. He found himself overwhelmed, but felt led to read church history for wisdom. Over many years, he led the church toward Anglicanism. It was quite a dramatic shift — we actually use the 1928 Prayer Book, so you can imagine. But Fr. Wayne has always had the long vision and promised that after 10 years or so, it would get into everyone’s bones. That was in the 90s. My husband and I became part of the church around 6 years ago. It’s beautiful to see how much more at home everyone is in the liturgy even since we became members.


Our church is quite traditional, using the 1928 Prayer Book (i.e. we all have to learn what “succor” and “vouchsafe” mean) and the new Reformed Episcopal Hymnal (which is inspired by the 1940 Hymnal). However, we probably look different than what someone would imagine when they hear that. We’re located in a depressed area in our city. Homeless people come in and out. We have a ministry to a group home, and our members from there faithfully attend and add so much to our service — sometimes, at the wrong times, but that’s part of it. We also have a ridiculous amount of young children for a small church and we’re committed to having them mostly in the service with us, though sometimes that makes things crazy. So, our liturgyprovides a welcome structure when people are coming in and out and all the littles are disgruntled. With all this, we maintain a very real sense of Christ’s presence among us, which is highlighted by the presence of the “least of these” in our pews.


It’s always changing. In terms of daily worship, we do the shorter form of morning prayer every day, after we sing our hymn of the month; then we try to do evening prayer at night and sing the Nunc Dimittis. This year, it was our first time really doing something for Michaelmas — I bought a dragon pinata from Amazon. We “slayed” the dragon, and processed around the house with his head, singing A Mighty Fortress is our God. My kids loved it, though my 2 year old keeps coming downstairs in the morning and reassuring herself that there is no dragon. Generally, I’m just trying to do what we have on the site, buy the children’s books, etc.


Early in the 1870’s a substantial number of clergy sought to reform aspects of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Their efforts met with firm resistance resulting in a separation in 1873. One significant issue was a commitment to open communion with other Christian denominations. In our liturgy, we have this introduction to Holy Communion: “Our fellow Christians of other branches of Christ’s Church, and all who love our Divine Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in sincerity, are affectionately invited to the Lord’s Table.” I really appreciate this emphasis. One thing I love about Anglicanism is that I can still embrace all the very good things I received from growing up Baptist, and that we believe in sharing the Table with Christians from other traditions.


Our church community definitely has a strong interest in liturgy and the saints. I’m so thankful. In the past 5 years, two of my friends that have also been part of the Homely Hours, established our Godly Play program for young children. It’s such a beautiful program– this past week, the kids learned about baptism by going through the actual service, standing in the places of the parents and godparents. We try to plan our church gatherings around feast days, etc. We have big house blessings when anyone moves. Starting the Homely Hours was much less about our individual families, but integrating church and home — bringing what is already happening at Christ the King into our personal and family devotions

Rachael Lopez is a writer exploring both ancient and future practices of discipleship and worship. Full versions of these interviews may be found at www.alivetradition.com

EFAC is back, internationally speaking. Changing times in the Anglican Communion have catalysed the restart of the global dimension of EFAC. Stephen Hale, Chair of EFAC Australia, was our man on the spot.

Recently I had the privilege of attending the meeting of the revived Global Council of EFAC in Nairobi. EFAC International (now EFAC Global) has been inactive for the past decade or so, however in 2017 the Trustees (Bishop Keith Sinclair, Canon Chris Sugden, Stephen Hofmeyr, Bishop-elect Phillip Mountstephen) met and resolved to reactivate the Global Council of EFAC. There was a constitution, a set of aims and a statement of faith plus some money in a bank account. Richard Crocker was appointed as the General Secretary, ably assisted by his wife Caroline. They have worked tirelessly since to get EFAC Global back into operation.