Closing the Gap
- Written by: Jude Long
Jude Long shares some insights about some of the crucial issues for Indigenous people in the remote parts of Australia
Jude Long is Principal of Nungalinya College, Darwin, NT
We hear a lot today about closing the gap between Indigenous and non–indigenous Australians. Government policies are developed, and decisions are made about how we (usually meaning non-indigenous people) are going to do that.
“The gap” has become a shorthand way of describing the inequalities in Australian society between the first and second peoples of this country. The gap exists across Australia, but it is very different for urban Indigenous people compared to those in remote communities. I can only talk from the context of Nungalinya College where most of our students come from remote communities across the Top End and down into the Centre of Australia.
Here is a story to illustrate the health gap for people in remote communities. We had a student come in to an intensive with a sore foot which had been burnt in a fire. Her community did have a clinic but it was currently closed because a 14 year old girl had committed suicide by hanging herself outside the clinic and so everyone was too scared to go to the there. She showed her foot to our staff who thought it smelled not so good so took her along to the hospital. It turned out that she had gangrene and had to have 3 toes amputated.
Life Expectancy Gap
The Missing Question
- Written by: Peter Brain
Peter Brain considers the Report of the Viability and Structures Taskforce, produced for the 2014 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia.
Peter Brain, formerly Bishop of the Diocese of Armidale, is the Rector of Rockingham, WA.
This is a sad report. Not because of declining numbers, the precarious financial status of many dioceses, or the difficulty most dioceses have in attracting ordinands. Those anxieties for church members, local church and denominational leadership are real. The real sadness of this report is its failure to address, or even pose, the possibility that our problems might be theological. Could there be a failure to be clear on the nature of our calling, the content and power of the gospel and the primacy of the local church?
Time after time the Report suggests that our problems stem from the fact that the number of nominal Anglicans is declining. In all the years of being a Christian it has never occurred to me that my ministry should be restricted to Anglicans. As long as there are people who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour our Lord calls us to take the gospel to them because they are perishing. People who are not members of other local Christian churches are our mission field too.
Could this be the result of a far deeper and more serious problem? A failure to be on the same page as Jesus in regard to the content of the gospel and its power to save sinners. The Report nowhere speaks about this matter. On a couple of occasions it makes the assumption that we are Christians by virtue of our baptism. Apart from having no Biblical warrant, honest reflection would keep us from this folly. Not only does it ascribe to the sacrament a power it cannot possess, robbing the Holy Spirit of his wonderfully life changing work, but the fruits and habits of baptised uncommitted Anglicans betray their need for conversion.
The focus of the Report is on the diocese. Indeed the report, in response to the tragic problems caused by some of our members in improper sexual behaviour, suggests that we ought to be one national church. Whilst the reasoning — that people and governments don’t understand our diocesan diversity — may be laudable, it is an approach that can only move us further away from the coalface of healthy and vibrant local churches. This betrays a misunderstanding of where real growth, healing and discipleship takes place.
At the risk of opening myself to the criticism of pride or grandstanding, the Report, whilst acknowledging the low ratio of ordained pastors to census Anglicans, the availability of ordinands, the healthy financial position and the numbers of attenders of Sydney and Armidale Dioceses, never posed the question as to whether there may be a correlation between these facts and the kind of theology and ecclesiology practised and held in these two dioceses. I would imagine that any secular investigation would be very happy to have a city and a rural diocese by which to compare what is going on. I hasten to add that neither of these dioceses would be content with either the size of congregations or with their rate of growth. But they are there and there are clear differences between these dioceses and others. They provide an opportunity that was missed by the Report to compare, contrast and enquire.
The emphasis of these two dioceses on the authority of the Bible gives to their pastors and members a confidence in God and the content of the gospel. The fact that Jesus is Lord and that repentance towards God and trust in Jesus form both the content and call of the gospel means that false hopes (like you are saved because you are baptised, good, spiritual, sincere) are consistently exposed and the sure hope based on God’s grace to us through the uniqueness of Christ, his substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection, confidently held out to all. The emphasis on the life of the local church, where converts and seekers are drawn into its fellowship, provides a context for these gospel realities to be observed, tested, proved and learnt. The diocese can nurture and encourage this ministry (and must do so) but the diocese will never be a viable substitute for the local church.
As one who has returned to parish ministry after 12 years in diocesan leadership I am rediscovering the privilege but also the challenges of this coal face work in evangelism and pastoral care. It is in a warm hearted and gospel focussed local church that those hurt by past sins might regain confidence. Those of us who are committed to evangelical truths have no right to be proud, smug or self- confident. We do however, have a mandate from our risen Lord to be confident in him and the gospel he has entrusted to us. We are part of a denomination that is struggling and asking questions. The Report is honest at this level. However the Report does not encourage us to find any answers from God who has so graciously called us to build his church through his gospel.
The Report of the Viability and Structures Task Force is General Synod 2014 Book 8, and is available at www.anglican.org.au/general-synods/2014/documents/books/book%208_for%20website.pdf.
Making it work in the parish - Caulfield
- Written by: Mark Durie
Essentials asked Mark Durie how they went about combining three parishes into a team and how it worked out.
1. Which parishes did you combine and why?
St Catharine's South Caulfield, St Clement's Elsternwick, and St Mary's Caulfield partnered together for three years from 2012-2014. The three parishes are located next to each other in the inner southeast region of Melbourne. We partnered together in order to help launch a new young adult congregation at St Clement's and renew the parish of St Catharine's.
2. Can you give us a simple overview of the process that led to the parishes agreeing to combine?
At the start of the partnership the three churches, although next to each other, were in very different situations.
St Mary's had previously declined through the 1970's and 80's, and for a time its future had been in doubt. However the launch of a contemporary service in the early 1990's led to the development of a thriving congregation which today totals around 160 people, including many young families. For the past decade this community has been growing steadily.
St Catharine's was a small suburban church with a good site and a strong community with a wide variety of ages, but its congregation was small and for decades it had been a struggle to keep the church open.
St Clement's site is well located on a busy main road, but during a long incumbency it had gradually declined to a congregation of around a dozen mostly elderly regulars. Like St Catharine's, St Clement's was being sustained financially by a property lease, but its human resources had reached the point where it was unable to renew itself.
The Diocese, through our local Archdeacon, Brad Billings, invited three neighbouring parishes to consider partnering with St Clement's to assist it to find a new direction. St Mary's proposal was to plant a young adult congregation in the evening at St Clement's: the church site is in a prominent position at the end of a busy shopping strip which attracts many young adults. St Mary's proposal was received favourably by our regional Bishop, Paul White, who invited us to include St Catharine's in the relationship.
It so happened that the incumbencies of St Catharine's and St Clement's were vacant at the same time. The outcome of all this was that the three churches came together to partner for a three year period.
3. What does the new entity look like?
The partnership was created by two mechanisms, as laid out in a memorandum of understanding.
One was the appointment of a common incumbent. I was already serving as the incumbent of St Mary's, and was appointed as Priest-in-Charge of St Clement's and St Catharine's.
The other mechanism was a shared clergy team of four people who worked together across the three sites. I and RF, who were at St Mary's before the partnership joined up with Adam and Heather Cetrangolo, who came in from outside to focus on the church renewal and planting projects. The clergy took on evolving roles across the three churches as circumstances changed during the three years.
To simplify administration the clergy were paid through St Mary's, and the other two churches made contributions for staff costs according to the services they received. The three churches were in other respects formally distinct, each with their own vestry and wardens. Each church functioned separately, while sharing a staff team. However the congregations of the three churches came together for special events a few times a year, such as a Maundy Thursday passover meal.
4. What team (paid and volunteer) do you have and what do they do?
Each church's story is different. At St Catharine's the goal was congregational renewal. A small enthusiastic lay team led by a capable group of wardens welcomed change. Heather Cetrangolo took responsibility for worship, pastoral care, discipleship and developing a new vision - in short everything needed to grow the congregation - while I as priest-in-charge worked in the background with the wardens, looking after governance, budgeting, and property. There was much work to be done, changing service styles, discontinuing the organist's appointment - which the parish could no longer afford - and launching a new vision. Evangelism and discipleship programs led some on the fringes to come to faith and become committed members. A band emerged to support the launch of a new contemporary service. Exciting new programs such as a monthly community dinner proved a great success and helped bring new people into the church.
At St Clement's RF took on the task of assisting the existing congregation to grow in acceptance and support for the partnership. Under his experienced care they warmly embraced change, and the existing evening service was discontinued to make way for a new service. At the same time, while working at St Mary's for a year, Adam Cetrangolo was gathering a team of young adults to plant the new service at St Clement's. The new SALT service was launched in the middle of the second year of the partnership, and has drawn local young adults into the church. With a contemporary feel the SALT community has had the freedom to connect with young adults using forms of worship and discipling which appeal to its focus generation.
St Mary's community has continued to grow during the partnership. There are paid staff and a large team of volunteers involved in family programs such as Sunday School and playgroup. For the first two years Heather Cetrangolo, in addition to her duties at St Catharine's, also led a combined youth group based at St Mary's which drew young people from both St Mary's and St Catharine's. After a year of growth this work was taken over by a dedicated youth worker.
An unexpected parallel development during the partnership was the launch of a thriving Iranian congregation under the auspices of St Mary's. This arose from the work of an evangelist who became connected with St Mary's, and my interest in outreach to Muslims.
5. In what ways has it turned out to be a good idea? Has it been successful in stimulating evangelism and growth?
At this point the partnership is about to conclude.
From 1 October St Mary's and St Clement's are merging to form one parish, and St Catharine's will be standing on its own two feet with Adam Cetrangolo as the interim locum, while it continues its program of renewal, reaching out to unchurched people in its neighbourhood. The three church partnership gave St Catharine's new hope, and helped establish a base for the future. A good deal of enthusiasm exists in the parish to continue their efforts to grow the community.
A new service – SALT – has been established at St Clements, which is reading out to the young adults in our very secular and unchurched environment. An older dying congregation at St Clement's has been renewed in hope for the future as they have warmly embraced the emergence of SALT. Meanwhile St Mary's community has continued to grow and thrive, and has been blessed and enriched by a diverse staff team, with its varying and complementary talents.
St Mary's and St Clement's have merged into a multi-site parish in order to minister to all ages from the base of their complementary sites.
The partnership has been a fruitful training environment for two younger clergy, and enabled us to pool the gifts and experience of a team to achieve things which we would not have been able to do if we were working independently.
The final proof of what we have done will be apparent in the years ahead, as the many initiatives begun over the past three years continue to grow and bear fruit.
Dr Mark Durie, the Senior Pastor, and Pastor for the 10.30 am service at St Mary's, is a theologian, human rights activist, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.
What stories will people tell about your leadership?
- Written by: Elizabeth Culhane
Elizabeth Culhane reports on the recent EFAC Emerging Leaders Conference
So began EFAC Australia’s Emerging Leaders Conference, held in Melbourne from 21-23 September 2014. Twenty-seven young leaders from around the country met to discuss the opportunities and challenges of being Christian leaders and Anglicans in twenty-first century Australia.
In the morning Bible studies, Tim Johnson helped us to consider the gifts and limitations of the two emerging leaders on view in 1 Samuel 9: Saul and Samuel. Our attention was drawn to the fact that it was a servant, not Saul, who consults and relies upon God for wisdom (1Samuel 9:6), foreshadowing the later issues in Saul’s leadership. Saul’s CV would have looked good, Tim remarked, but did he display the godly character required for leadership? Accordingly, do we choose leaders on the latter basis? Tim reminded us that godliness is essential for spiritual leadership (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-13).
The Conference was an excellent mixture of formal content, informal learning, and networking. We visited local churches and glimpsed the many different forms of Anglican ministry within Melbourne.
Andrew Katay spoke on how to think biblically about leadership, challenging us to consider it as broader than preaching and praying alone. Leadership has to move beyond just completing tasks, argued Katay. Instead, we need to consider our theology of church and discipleship, and how best to bring this vision to fruition with God’s help. He highlighted the necessity, for leaders, of reading books such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, and encouraged us to refrain from referring to the church where we work as “my church”, but rather as “Jesus' church”.
In Adam Lowe’s workshop we listed our views of the opportunities, challenges and sources of encouragement in our local churches and the Anglican Communion as a whole. Adam artfully categorised and graphed the results before we met in groups to discuss the most frequently nominated challenges.
The delegates’ chief local challenges were making and maturing disciples and healthy church communities, whereas our primary sources of encouragement were seeing faith in action, evangelism and mission, and encouraging co-workers. In regards to the Anglican Communion, delegates’ chief concerns were theological heterodoxy and uncertainty about Anglican identity.
Stephen Hale then gave an excellent address on how to live as an Anglican in the Church’s ‘Cross-Over Era’ from institutional and societal prominence to a more marginal position. [See page 2]
Delegates’ learning was also greatly enriched by evangelist Lindsay Brown’s lecture on the current status of world mission, and by Julie-Anne Laird who encouraged ministers to lead by example in evangelism. In addition, we spent time praying for our churches, Australia, the world, and each other.
The Conference was superbly organised by Adam Cetrangolo, along with Adam Lowe and Stephen Hale. EFAC’s 2014 Emerging Leaders Conference was a resounding success, and I would highly recommend anyone nominated to take up the opportunity to attend next time.
Elizabeth Culhane studies theology at Ridley Melbourne, and enjoys reading, writing and cake-eating.
She tweets at twitter.com/e_culhane
Interview: Peter Carolane - Church Planting
- Written by: Dale Appleby
Planting a Church
Peter Carolane has led a team in planting a new congregation in Melbourne's inner-north. Essentials asked him how they have gone about it.
1. Please tell us when and how this church plant started.
1.1 Initial Research for the Plant
Throughout 2012, Revd. Peter Carolane, Bishop Stephen Hale (with assistance from Archdeacon Condie and Bishop Huggins) investigated the viability of a church plant in the inner-north.
In December 2012, Peter Carolane held the first meeting for people interested in the plant.
1.2 Planning, Prayer and Vision Meetings
In February 2013, Peter formed a steering team of nine St Hilary’s people who started meeting weekly to plan the launch of the church plant
Midway through the year, two extra people joined the leadership team from St Jude’s Carlton.
In March 2013, a vision development day was held at Northcote Town Hall including about 25 people who inputed into the formation of the vision statement. The results from this day were further refined by the steering team and Peter (see below).
Making it work in the parish
- Written by: Dale Appleby
Gordon Killow, Graeme Middlewick and Matt Harding form the paid ministry team at Kallaroo Anglican Church in Perth WA. Essentials asked them about how they are getting on.
Who is in your ministry team?
Three full-time, paid workers: Senior minister – Gordon; Assistant minister – Graeme; and Assistant minister (Young adults) – Matt. Many who work through the week, leading Bible studies, ministry groups, parish council & wardens, newsletter & web-page, flower roster etc
What are the main activities of the church?
Preaching and teaching the Bible in Sunday services, home groups, Bible studies, children and youth groups, Simply Christianity courses and occasional training courses for things like Welcoming and evangelism.