­
EFAC Australia

Essentials

Is God Green?
Lionel Windsor
Matthias Media, 2018

Most Christian commentary on caring for the environment leaves me completely cold. I just can’t seem to muster up the motivation that other people have to ‘live sustainably’. There, I said it out loud.

The topic often makes me feel enormously guilty for my pathetic failures - I keep forgetting my Keep Cup and reusable bags, I haven’t done enough research into what products I buy that have microbeads ruining the oceans, and yes I know I shouldn’t duck to the shops in my petrol guzzling car to pick up dinner (that probably comes in too much plastic packaging) but I excuse myself by claiming that I just don’t have enough time to do better because I’m a busy mum who is just trying to get through the day. Too much mental load, people! Am I the only one who feels like this? I suspect not.

The Karen people on the Thai/Myanmar border have been persecuted for over sixty years, mostly because they are Christians. They are a minority ethnic group who have been driven from their homes with many living in large 'resettlement (refugee) camps'.

Anglican ministry amongst the Karen began some decades ago through a few trained evangelists who travelled through the jungles and villages of both the Thai and Myanmar sides of the border, establishing churches. These churches are together known as the KAMB – Karen Anglican Mission at the Border. They remain isolated from the resources of their official diocese, which is in Myanmar.

Christ Church Bangkok has been co-ordinating emergency supplies for the Karen since 1984, focussing upon the needs of the Karen refugees living inside the camps, but also supporting the Karen churches in the Thai border area, bringing training and encouragement to leaders.

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.

Surely God is complicated. How else could he be both one and three? Or create and uphold the swirling, manifold world we inhabit? Or be both just and loving towards us? Ben Underwood investigates.

‘There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions’
(Article 1 of The 39 Articles.)

I had a good grounding at theological college in Biblical studies, Biblical languages, Biblical theology and some areas of doctrine—atonement and justification for example. But you can’t cover everything, and one of the areas in which I did not manage to get much under my belt was in the doctrine of God. In recent years I have become interested in theology proper, the quest to think about what it is for God to be God, which includes trying to talk about the being and attributes of God. It has been a perennial conviction of Christian theology that one of the unique characterisations of God is that he is simple. But the student of theology quickly discovers that divine simplicity is in many ways counter-intuitive and not easy to grasp. And yet thinking about it has repaid the effort for me, as a way into reflecting on how God is not like his creatures, but transcends them, and why he can be depended upon.

Getting a feel for the meaning of God’s simplicity

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.

The wild, wide open spaces of the north of Western Australia make a big impression. Eugenie Harris sends us a postcard from the Diocese of North West Australia.

Arriving in the Diocese of the North West, my first impression was of ‘Australia on steroids’. Everything seems extreme. We’ve got the busiest port, the hottest town, most isolated community, most dramatic gorges…and the list goes on, because the region effectively powers our nation.
This vast land area draws people from all over the world, people chasing their fortune, pursuing travel experiences or escaping unhappy life circumstances. And the Diocese of the North West welcomes them all, taking every opportunity to proclaim the good news of Jesus. We are truly ‘bringing the gospel to the nations’.

Fresh Legs

This year will bring some fresh legs onto the Essentials editorial team. You may have noticed that a disproportionate number of the contributions to Essentials come from Western Australia (which is the price you pay when the editor lives in Perth!) In order better to tap into the EFAC networks in other states, we are glad to be welcoming two new editors: Gavin Perkins, Rector of St Judes, Bowral, NSW, and Mark Juers, Assistant Minister at St Hilary’s Network, Kew, Victoria. I hope and expect that these two will help us hear from new contributors and bring more national breadth to the journal. I am very much looking forward to what they will bring to this journal in 2019 and beyond.
Of course, as I always do, I encourage readers to contact me about making contributions to Essentials, wherever you live. It gives me great pleasure to have articles, book reviews, Bible Studies and Cabooses from city and bush, east and west, north and south, and off the mainland too.

Subcategories

­