A Tassie Update
- Written by: Richard Condie
Bishop Richard Condie has had since March 2016 to find his bearings in the Diocese of Tasmania, and to take up the challenges of episopacy. This article is adapted from an address he gave at the 2017 General Synod EFAC Dinner, where Richard offered an account of his joint endeavours in collaboration with his clergy and people.
In June 2017 the Diocese of Tasmania launched a new vision for our future ministry together, but it would be a mistake to think that this was a new beginning. It is rather the fruit of a longer journey that began back in 2000, when Bishop John Harrower was appointed Bishop of Tasmania. He had a vision for ‘every Tasmanian committed to Jesus Christ’’, and declared the diocese to be ‘the Missionary Diocese of Tasmania’, with every Anglican challenged to live as ‘a missionary disciple’. He brought in a new era with new patterns of Christian community, an expectation of missional leadership, a stated aim to be willing to take risks for the gospel, a missional ecclesiology, and a deep culture of permission giving. The mood in the diocese moved from ‘no’ to ‘yes’; from what was, to what could be; and from maintenance to mission. It was a time of huge change in the make-up of the clergy and in the embracing of lay ministry. John also cleared up the mess of historic child sexual abuse and internal dysfunction. He really brought in a new season of health and vitality. I can recommend following a bishop who is a missionary! Perhaps we could make bishops out of more returned CMS Missionaries to go and sort out the dioceses of Australia. So, fast forward from 2000 to 2016, and the diocese was ready again for a new phase, open to new leadership. I have never been in a place so open to being led, so appreciative of direction, and so receptive to ministry. All of which I put down to these foundations which had been laid.
GAFCON 2018 in Jerusalem
- Written by: Ben Underwood
The third GAFCON has recently concluded in Jerusalem, and people you know may have returned with stories and ideas. Here three of the Australian delgates share something of the conference, its life and its concerns.
Katrina Holgate is Rector/Priest-in-charge at St Matthew’s Guildford, Perth Diocese.
It is said that the Fifth Gospel is the land of Israel—the sights, sounds and smells of the land that Jesus walked. Well, attending GAFCON in Jerusalem in June was so like that description. The sights, colours, music, accents and teaching were a joy to behold, remarkable. What better way could there be to celebrate 10 years of GAFCON than to be among the 1 950 delegates from 50 countries, representing the majority of the world’s Anglicans? The vibrant colours of the African women dressed so beautifully, celebrating life in their national costume, even Mothers Union representatives were wearing MU printed fabric. Chatter and laughter filled the conference centre; phones and cameras captured moments that will be remembered for years to come. The music was terrific, especially the Nigerian choir who inspired and led us to praise our Lord and Saviour for four of the five days. Each new day they led us in their vibrantly coloured costumes, which matched the celebratory conference music.
But there was serious business to be done in amongst it all, so Bible studies and teaching were very much part of the conference. We all became well-versed in the call of the conference, ‘We will proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations’, a call that should be on the heart of every Christian. To serve that purpose nine ministry networks were launched to be a driving force of GAFCON into the future. These networks are:
- Youth and Children’s Ministry
- Church Planting
- Bishops Training Institute
- Global Mission Partnership
- Intercessors Fellowship
- Lawyers’ Task Force
- Mothers' and Women's Ministry
- Sustainable Development
- Theological Education
Words cannot fully capture the wonder and historical significance of this amazing conference, but video might add something where my words leave off. I recommend that you watch parts of GAFCON 2018 by visiting the Conference Video page in the Jerusalem 2018 section of the GAFCON website. There you will find all the videos taken in open session, as well as many of the interviews live streamed during the week. By the grace of our Lord Jesus, we were blessed and privileged to have the opportunity to attend GAFCON 2018. Praise be to God for his faithful people.
Kanishka Raffel is the Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney Diocese.
The third Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) held in Jerusalem at the end of June was a gathering of Anglican Christians (including 316 bishops, 669 other clergy and 965 laity) from more than 50 countries around the world. A truly global gathering in the City of David where Jesus preached, was crucified and rose again, and poured out his Spirit on his disciples for the preaching of the gospel to the whole world. It was a privilege and a joy for me and Cailey to be among the participants.
The conference theme was ‘Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations’. Each morning began with Morning Prayer and Bible exposition from Luke 22-24, looking at the dramatic final hours of Jesus’ life and the stunning victory of his resurrection. The Bible teachers for the morning sessions came from Uganda, UK, Chile, Australia and Singapore. Our singing was led by a Nigerian choir, in colourful costume and joyful praise. Our discussion group comprised members from Congo, Nigeria and USA. Plenary sessions were themed around God’s Gospel, God’s Church, God’s World and God’s Strategy. Again, we were served by speakers from around the globe - Nigeria, Rwanda, Canada. Elective seminars covered topics as diverse as the uniqueness of Christ; the clarity of Scripture; engaging with the Buddhist and Islamic worlds; marriage and sexuality; the work of the Holy Spirit; nurturing new Christians; equipping every Christian for ministry and many more.
The context of contemporary global Anglicanism is one in which issues of human identity and sexuality have come to be the touchstone for deeper issues of the authority of Scripture and the shape of repentance and godly living. Tragically, a deep chasm has been exposed. Some Anglican churches (notably in America, Canada, Scotland, Brazil and most recently, New Zealand) have rejected the teaching of Scripture on such matters and embraced understandings and practices that contradict the teaching of Scripture. Biblical Christians cannot affirm that it is loving or faithful to distort or reject God’s Word in this way. On the contrary, the truth that sets us free is precisely, the truth that God has preserved in his written Word for his people in all generations. Jesus said, ‘if you love me, obey my commands’ (John 14:15, 21, 23).
In affirming faithfulness in marriage between one man and one woman, and chastity in singleness (Lambeth Resolution 1.10), GAFCON represents more than 70% of the world’s Anglicans and the unbroken teaching of Scripture throughout history. The departure of some Anglican churches from this biblical standard not only fails to serve and love the wider world by obscuring God’s truth; but it has also rent the fabric of fellowship between Anglicans. In America and Canada, hundreds of Anglican clergy faithful to the Lord’s teaching in Scripture have been deposed and removed from their ministries. Congregations have been forced to leave their church buildings. Whole dioceses have been forced to leave their denomination. Tragically, the existing global Anglican institutional structures have failed to uphold godly discipline, to correct error or defend the faithful.
GAFCON affirmed the urgency of Jesus’ worldwide mission (which can only proceed on the basis of his true, holy and life giving Word); and called on those parts of the global Anglican family who have abandoned the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith to repent of their error and return to fellowship. The conference statement, ‘Letter to the Churches’ reflects the contribution of every Anglican Province present at the conference and was unanimously affirmed. Can I commend that letter to your attention (find it on the GAFCON website)? It reads in part:
‘The uniqueness of Jesus Christ lies at the heart of the gospel: “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The gospel confronts us in the midst of our confusion and sin but it does not leave us there. It includes a summons to repentance and a call to believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15), which results in a grace-filled life. The ascended Christ gave his Spirit to empower his disciples to take this gospel to the world […] As members of Christ’s body, they are sanctified in him, called to live lives of holiness and to be salt and light in the world […] Yet faithful proclamation of this gospel is under attack from without and within, as it has been from apostolic times (Acts 20:28-30) […] We dedicate ourselves afresh to proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, working together to guard the gospel entrusted to us by our Lord and his apostles.’
Eugenie Harris attends Geraldton Anglican Cathedral, the Diocese of North West Australia
The shenanigans that occurred in Texas when The Episcopal Church (TEC) invited a 27-member choir from Rwanda to tour are worthy of a Netflix political drama. The talented Anglican Church singers jetted in, but before taking the stage they were presented with a document that required signed agreement with TEC’s inclusivity protocol.
The Bible-believing choir was not able to agree and so the US Church abandoned them. No accommodation, no food, no airfares home….nothing. It required intervention at the most senior levels in the Church of Rwanda and Rwandan Government to organise their rescue and repatriation.
I include this shameful episode because it helps explain the context for the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem in June. This was the third gathering of the Gafcon movement - set up in 2008 to promote Bible-based, mission-focused ministry in the Anglican Church. It’s a much-needed body providing vital Christian fellowship and support for churches in the worldwide Anglican communion that wish to remain orthodox in their faith despite threats from within and without the church.
What a joy it was to join in Jerusalem with some 2000 bishops, clergy and lay people, including many from the Global South, representing some 70 percent of worldwide Anglicans, for Bible studies, prayer, praise, discussion and deep fellowship. It was like a foretaste of the new Jerusalem in old Jerusalem. There arose in me a wonderful sense of relief to be amongst a great cloud of witnesses, united by the gospel, driven on by the desire to proclaim Christ crucified in an increasingly dark world. We may feel like our church is little and swimming weakly against the tide of the world. But Gafcon is testament that we are not alone and we should never doubt the truth of God’s good Word.
The Bishop of Lango, Uganda, the Right Revd Dr Alfred Olwa opened the conference with a stirring call to take a firm stand for Jesus and the true gospel.
‘None of us here can escape the responsibility of proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations so that people — when they come to Jesus in repentance and forgiveness of their sins — will escape the judgement of God. They will escape hell.
‘We need to remember that Jesus was tried and rejected, later resurrected. He lives and is going to come back. There is only one Jesus. King Jesus. One story from our God.’
Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh followed with a warning about the need to discern and combat the false gospel. We should not ‘distort the gospel in order to take away offence, for the gospel without offence is an empty gospel,’ was his impassioned plea. Praise God, and pray for, the many African church leaders who have such a clear and uncompromising commitment to the gospel, despite often enduring poverty and persecution.
One of my highlights was the Mothers Union (MU) luncheon. I felt rebuked that my prayer life had been so parochial, so uninformed and unaffected by the trials of sisters and brothers in other nations. Take, for example, my prayer partner who had received word that a church elder had been abducted by Fulani tribesmen. “May he not be beheaded,” was her petition to our Lord. Then there was Nigerian MU elder stateswoman Mama Gloria—the wife of Nigerian Archbishop Ben Kwashi. Her life is an extraordinary testimony to faith in the Lord Jesus. Early that morning she had become a mother again, to an 11-month-old boy, orphaned and delivered to her home when his own mother was shot dead. There are now 50 children (plus a group of older teenagers) living together in the Archbishop’s residence, in humble dependence on the grace of God.
To help guide continuing reform and renewal of the movement, the conference delegates produced a Letter to the Churches—a pledge to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations and guard the gospel entrusted to us by our Lord and his apostles. I commend to you gafcon.org online resources, including the Youtube channel. I have listened over and over to these magnificent talks, gaining incredible encouragement. My prayer is that you too may be spurred on, marching forward, looking to Jesus the perfecter of our faith.
We most need to seek Christ
- Written by: Ben Underwood
Essentials interviews Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy
Being a diocesan bishop is a demanding ministry, and all the more given the current declension in Christian adherence, belief and practice, which means that clergy and laity alike are fervently hoping that their bishops will have some wisdom and energy for the challenges Christian churches face. Kay Goldsworthy was installed as the eighth Archbishop of Perth on 10 February 2018. She is not an evangelical, but many evangelicals serve in her diocese, and as she takes up this metropolitical see, evangelicals here and across the country are keen to see what her priorities, convictions and attitudes are, and what kind of leadership she will offer. In this short interview, Kay has graciously and gladly given us some insight into her initial thoughts and responses to the opportunities and responsibilities of her new role.
Ess: How are you settling back into Perth?
+Kay:I am loving being back here, closer to family and reacquainting myself with people, parishes and places, as well as discovering new places and meeting new people.
Ess: What are your initial priorities as Archbishop of Perth?
+Kay: The first priority is to prayerfully listen to the Diocese. It has been an unsettling time and in God’s gracious providence these times of careful listening are allowing hope and healing for this new season.
Ess: What do you see as the greatest challenges and tasks for the Christians in the churches you oversee?
+Kay: There are various challenges for our parishes. Those in the rural and remote areas of the Diocese face particular concerns as communities and populations shrink. Many city parishes are seeking God for new direction in sprawling suburbs and communities who see the church as irrelevant. Hope is ever present even in small congregations. It is wonderful that so many men and women are in ministry formation and study. The challenge of speaking, living, being faithful to the love of Jesus are very real, and a great responsibility for all of us.
Ess: What do you think we most need if we are to face those challenges and fulfil those tasks?
+Kay: We most need to seek Christ in and for our own lives and communities, and I believe to find and celebrate the common ground of Jesus’ love for the world together.
Ess: What is your vision of an ideal diocese? What will you be working for the Diocese of Perth to become?
+Kay: An ideal diocese? Where is that? Perhaps the ideal diocese is the one which follows Jesus to the cross and into the transforming love of his resurrection which is freedom from fear and freedom for life, confident in the Father’s love.
Ess: What motivates you to take on the tasks of an archbishop?
+Kay: This has been an answer to a call of Christ’s Church. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful and surprising motivator for us all in our ministry. I am one among many. With you a Christian, for you a Bishop.
Ess: What would you like to say to the EFAC community?
+Kay: It is good to be with you. Thanks for your welcome. I look forward to us being a sign of Christ’s unity and a force for his love to be known. Please pray for us all; that Jesus’ love will be received, lives transformed and grace abound: ‘For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.’ (2 Cor 5:14-15)
General Synod 2017
- Written by: Stephen Hale
General Synod was held in sunny Maroochydore. If you’re going to have to spend five and half days in Synod sessions from 8.30am to 9pm this certainly helped to make it a better experience. On four of the mornings we met in table groups to join in the Daily Office as well as respond to the four Bible Studies delivered by Bishop Michael Stead (Sydney), Dr Matthew Anstey (Adelaide), Dr Dorothy Lee (Melbourne) and Dr John Dunhill (Perth). The group I led was animated and we had wonderful interactions as we engaged with the Scriptures and prayed together. This helped set the tone for the day and was one of the factors as to why I would say it was a good General Synod. The Primate chaired well in his relaxed but clear way.
Synod dealt with a lot of legislation: the Child Safe Canon; Episcopal Standards; The Redress Scheme; screening of volunteer leaders and many other matters. Substantial motions were passed: upholding marriage as currently defined; instructing the Doctrine Commission to produce papers on a range of issues related to human sexuality; giving an apology for domestic violence; investigating and possibly commissioning research on domestic violence in churches; child safety; assisted dying; gender balance on General Synod bodies; and the Reformation.
Matters related to the Royal Commission dominated proceedings. On the one hand Royal Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald commended the Anglican Church on leading the way in establishing comprehensive policies and procedures in relation to Professional Standards. On the other hand the flow-on impact of the National Redress Scheme was sobering to consider. Of the people who have had private sessions with a Commissioner only a third had had previous contact with the institution where the abuse occurred. The Commonwealth will operate the National Redress Scheme. Once an assessment is established with an individual the institution in which the abuse occurred will be invoiced for the cost of the payment to victims plus legal and psychological costs. Given that seven dioceses are currently assessed to be financially unviable, the flow-on impact of this will be massive in those dioceses, but in reality it will be substantial in all dioceses. The consequences of the sins of the past are being visited upon this generation.
Evangelicals had a good General Synod. At my first General Synod in 1994 there were only three diocesan bishops who were evangelical: those of Sydney, Armidale and North West Australia. Today it is a very different scene. All of the clergy and a majority of the laity elected to the Standing Committee as well as the Primatial Election Board were evangelical. Many long-term stalwarts of these boards didn’t seek re-election!
On the Tuesday evening we had 100 people at the EFAC Dinner. Given that the Dioceses of Adelaide and Brisbane had their own dinners this was wonderful response. Bishop Richard Condie gave a rousing address on his new Diocesan Vision. This, in fact, was probably the best speech given at the Synod!
My sense is that the future is going to be very challenging for all dioceses. Some of the structural changes that have been talked about for decades may be forced upon us. That, in itself, may not be a bad thing. God is at work in and through the Anglican Church. There is much to be encouraged about, but massive challenges also lie ahead.
Bishop Stephen Hale, Chair of EFAC Australia, judges this year’s General Synod a good one for Evangelicals.
Using Cranmer as your prayer-coach
- Written by: Peter Adam
Peter Adam points out that the Reformation sought to reform the praying of the church, and Peter seeks to continue that reform in our lives today.
Peter Adam is Rector Emeritus of St Jude’s Carlton. Vic.
We all need help in our praying. Let’s enrich our prayers by getting someone to coach us. And a good person to do so is Thomas Cranmer, the Reformation Archbishop of Canterbury. One of his most significant contributions to the welfare of God’s people was showing people how to pray, and providing good models for prayer. We might no longer use the prayers he provided for us in The Book of Common Prayer (or perhaps you still do), but he can still challenge and coach us in our prayers today. 3
The Reformation was about reforming and renewing doctrine, as it was about reforming and renewing ministry, daily life, church life, education, the structure of society, and much else. It was also about reforming and renewing prayer, and this included who prayed, to whom people prayed, what they prayed, why they prayed, and how they prayed!
The Gifts of Our Anglican Heritage
- Written by: EFAC WA
The Gifts of Our Anglican Heritage
- an affirmation of Anglicanism from EFAC WA
It is easy to feel that the churches have lost their way. Declining attendances and finances, falling Christian affiliation and loss of reputation, combined with Christian leaders trying to hold together clashing agendas being championed within their flocks, often produce the feeling that things aren’t going well..
And yet, as people who love and are committed to the Anglican church, our conviction is that our Christ-centred heritage is sufficiently deep and rich to provide us with what we need to persevere in faith, hope, and love through whatever may lie ahead. We long to see the churches of our diocese grow, flourish, and be a blessing to our local communities, and we believe that under God this is possible, not despite our Anglican heritage, but because of it. We rest in the promise of Christ that he will build his church, and give thanks for the gifts of our Anglican heritage through which Christ will continue to do this by his Holy Spirit.
So in the spirit of unity, we would like to share with you what encourages and excites us about being Anglican, and why we remain convinced that our reformed catholic tradition holds out such promise for our mission and ministry in the world.
We are Catholic – committed to the Catholic Creeds which affirm that we worship the triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In them the uniqueness of Christ the Son, his full divinity and true humanity, his conception by the Holy Spirit, and bodily resurrection on the third day are declared. We rejoice that this faith binds us to all Christians throughout time and place.
We are Reformed – committed to the doctrines of grace, recovered during the reformation and expressed in the 39 Articles of Religion. Accordingly we are committed to the teaching that we are unable to save ourselves because of our sin and are totally reliant upon the grace of God to convict us of sin and draw us to the reconciling love of Christ.
We love the Bible – being committed to the Canon of the Old and New Testaments as God’s gift, written by various human authors who were carried along by the Holy Spirit. We receive them as trustworthy, true, and sufficient for framing our lives, shaping our minds, and teaching our congregations the will, work and ways of God. We value reason and the tradition of the church, and uphold the Scriptures as God’s Word and therefore the supreme and the ultimate authority in matters of salvation, practice and faith.
We cherish our history – recognising with gratitude and humility that we have inherited both good and bad teaching and examples in our denomination. We cherish the good yet are mindful of the bad, including moral failures towards children and adults, and loss of our nerve in proclaiming the Kingdom. Whilst cherishing our history we seek to be humble and repentant, constantly allowing ourselves to come under our Lord’s scrutiny.
We are gospel people – because the gospel of Christ is of first importance, we believe that sharing the gospel is central to everything we do. Some are gifted to be evangelists, but all are called to be witnesses to the hope we have. We therefore encourage one another to take every opportunity to make the love of Christ known, prayerfully depending on the Holy Spirit who enables us to live out the sacrificial love of Jesus. Because the gospel both saves and grows people in faith, we are committed to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, by which Christ welcomes and nourishes us, and assures us of eternal life.
We are pastoral people – mindful of the exhortation given at the ordination of priests to encourage and build up the body of Christ, we are committed to the pastoral care of Christ’s flock and the wider community,‘caring alike for young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong’. We seek by God’s grace to serve our world and communities through evangelism, good works, and striving for justice.
We embrace episcopal leadership – recognising that good leadership is vitally important for the church. As Jesus is the great Shepherd and Overseer of our souls so leaders in his church are called to shepherd and teach according to his example. We are thankful to God for such leadership, especially from our bishops. We seek to respond to Christ’s call and example ourselves when in positions of leadership in the church.
We love our congregations – because in local congregations we see the church in its clearest expression as the body of Christ. This is where God gathers his people, nurturing and equipping them through Word and Sacrament, to serve one another and show forth the love of Christ in their local communities. We see the parish congregations as the backbone of the Diocese. We rejoice in our ordered, Scriptural and participatory liturgy which enables us to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Our Anglican liturgy engages our minds, forms our hearts and equips us for a life of worship.