The Fourth Quarter
- Written by: Paul Barnett
These are for Anita and me our twilight years. Ageing and loss are sad realities of the passing years but there is the joy of engaging with now middle-ageing children and vibrant emerging grandchildren. But most of all there is the existential anticipation of renewal in God’s good kingdom. Ageing and loss deepens hope.
Apart from routine ailments of the septuagenarian and octogenarian years I have been blessed with good health, although all the while aware of slippage, including memory. What is it about names? You are poised to mention a name, and it just takes wings and flies away. Thankfully it mostly flies back later.
I was glad to retire as a serving bishop at 66. Freedom! No more meetings to attend or pastoral crises to resolve. My time was now my own and it was and is great to be living in our own home. Anita and I joined a church and threw ourselves into various forms of ministry through which we have developed deep and abiding friendships. Our church family is a much valued parallel to our personal family. In both we are deeply blessed and feel appreciated and valued.
For Anita that means pastoral fellowship and support of some older ladies as well as having served on the board of what was Anglican Retirement Villages. Her nursing experience and involvement in geriatric care at St Vincent’s were very helpful on the Care Committee of the ARV. For Paul it means preaching periodically, leading an annual mid-week congregational teaching series, leading a largish weekly Bible Study group and being member of a small, monthly men’s group.
Until covid I was leading a fortnightly Bible Study for a dozen or so Supreme Court judges. This has been quite a challenge as well as a privilege. These are highly intelligent and experienced men and women who provide superb service to the community. I am grateful to successive principals of Moore College for opportunities to teach. This is my final year. Apart from our six years in Adelaide I have had unbroken connection with the college since 1960 — as student, lecturer, half-time lecturer, part-time lecturer. Lecturer emeritus.
I have also been part of a small Macquarie University committee that publishes the journal New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity. My association with high level scholars of classical antiquity along with travels to the lands of the Bible have contributed to my understanding of the texts of the New Testament. My main work 2002-2022 has been writing. Since retirement I have had published sixteen papers in peer reviewed journals and twenty books including five commentaries.
In these past twenty years Anita and I have travelled overseas, mostly leading study groups to Jordan- Israel, Turkey-Greece, and Malta-Sicily-Italy. It has been rewarding to see group-members deepening their Bible understanding in the setting of visiting the actual biblical sites. We have also visited the cities of the great reformers Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and also to Oxford, to be reminded of the faithfulness of the martyr bishops. One highlight was to visit missionary friends in Damascus and to travel throughout Syria. There have also been ministry visits to Canada, the US, South Africa, the UK, Singapore, Thailand. I also visited China twice to teach at universities in Chengdu, Wuhan, Shanghai and Shangchun. We also visited Uberaba in Brazil, where Anita was born and visited the grave of her missionary father, Alexander Simpson.
The pandemic probably means the end of overseas travel.
There are many challenges at this stage of life. Not least is the sense that our country along with other western cultures are moving away from Christian faith and values. I remain confident in the power of God working through clear and strong preaching in the setting of insightful pastoral ministry and warmhearted congregational fellowship. Today many instruments for ministry seem closed off to us, crusade evangelism or street evangelism, for example.
But the local church is and always has been a potential for reaching the outsider. That, certainly, was my experience many years ago. Likewise, very important are the many faith-based schools.
In one of his Synod addresses former archbishop Mowll encouraged Anglican laypeople to consider engaging vocationally in public office, a call I believe issued in a number of laypeople seeking election in local, state and federal politics. The standard of political discourse and service is and always will be open to improvement, so the challenge is there for our laypeople today.
So for us the ‘Fourth Quarter’ has been a challenge, as for others, but also very fulfilling. Our ‘golden’ years.
Bishop Paul Barnett is the former Bishop of North Sydney and has lectured at Moore College for many decades. He is the author of many books and is married to Anita.
General Synod Update
- Written by: Stephen Hale
Most of the news in the secular press and various religious media from the Anglican General Synod has focussed on one motion and one issue. Indeed, General Synod did consider an important motion seeking to affirm the traditional understanding of marriage. The context for this was the Appellate Tribunal decision in relation to same sex blessing in the Diocese of Wangaratta. The Tribunal had indicated that if the General Synod wanted to make a statement on marriage it was should do so. The motion to affirm a statement on the doctrine of marriage was moved by Archbishop Kanishka Raffel in a thoughtful and sensitive speech and seconded by Natalie Rosner (Melbourne) who spoke to the pastoral challenges of upholding the Bibles teaching. While it was solidly supported in both the house of laity and the house of clergy, the house of bishops narrowly voted not to support it. It is worth noting that Sydney delegates accounted for roughly 50% of the lay and clergy support. There was therefore strong support from people from a wide range of dioceses across the country.
For those present there was significant upset at the outcome of this motion. While disappointing, it doesn’t change anything in any Diocese, nor does it change the previous statements of General Synod which have consistently upheld an orthodox doctrine of marriage. The reality is that since the Appellate Tribunal decision in 2020, Dioceses have been free to make their own decisions in relation to same sex blessings.
Another important motion did pass which clarified a definition of unchastity as sexual intimacy outside of marriage, with similar levels of support in each house, the only difference being that the house of bishops very narrowly supported it.
From an EFAC perspective there are two things to note. Firstly, the bishops of our church are now clearly out of step with the lay and clerical representatives at Synod. How this will play out is uncertain. The Diocese of Melbourne will be a focal point given the unexpected action of its bishop at General Synod!
Secondly the Synod reflected the fundamental shift that is taking place in the ACA. The majority of those elected or appointed for both the Standing Committee and the Primatial Election Board (except for the House of Bishops) are evangelicals from across Australia. During the Synod there were wonderful speeches from evangelicals from across Australia and many people from many places made great contributions. There was a high level of cooperation between evangelicals at Synod from across Australia.
EFAC Australia ran an evening session at General Synod with around 80 people present. Bishop Mark Short led an interactive panel of Kara Hartley (Sydney), Kate Beer (NT), Bishop Matt Brain (Bendigo) and Bishop Richard Condie (Tas). It was a great session and we spent time in prayer for the Synod.
General Synod reflects the life of our church in many respects. However, it doesn’t reflect the day to day reality of people serving our great God in and through the parishes, church plants and agencies of our church.
Stephen Hale is the former Lead Minister of the St Hilary’s Network and a Regional Bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne. Stephen is the Victorian Director of Overseas Council Australia and Chair of EFAC Global and EFAC Australia.
Editorial - Winter 2022
- Written by: Stephen Hale
This issue of Essentials focusses on retirement. There are great contributions from some of the leaders of our church from a range of eras of retirement.
Given that most of us will be living longer lives the issue of retirement becomes even more challenging and important.
Being in the younger bracket of this phase of life I don’t really regard myself as retired! When I’m locumming I’m working full time and in between I have more flexibility!
On top of that I have the opportunity to chair a number of Boards and to coach younger leaders. As well my wife and I volunteer with a local charity and we have the privilege of playing a small part in a remarkable work that assists those most in need in our city. I’m doing this without the stress of leading a church and all the joys and challenges that that represents.
There are wonderful contributions in this issue from some of the great leaders from the past 50 years or so. What they each illustrate is that ministry continues on for each of us, but it is being expressed in a diverse range of ways. If we’re open to God’s leading then He is always open to using us in His service.
At the same time Moyra Dale has written a beautiful and honest article which captures what happens when our plans are disrupted by major illness.
There is a genuine need for more conversation about how we can continue to serve God in the unfolding phases of our lives after our ‘full time ministry’ or paid work ends.
I trust you’re refreshed by each of the articles and the book reviews.
STEPHEN HALE, EDITOR
Essentials - Winter 2022
- Written by: Stephen Hale
Essentials Winter 2022 pdf (4MB)
Essentials Autumn 2022 pdf (4MB)
Essentials Summer2021 pdf (3MB)
Essentials Spring 2021 pdf (3MB)
Essentials Winter 2021 pdf (3MB)
Essentials Summer 2020 pdf (3MB)
Essentials Spring 2020 pdf (1MB)
Essentials Winter 2020 pdf (1MB)
Essentials Autumn 2020 pdf (4MB)
Essentials Summer 2019 pdf (8MB)
Essentials Spring 2019 pdf (5MB)
Essentials Winter 2019 pdf (5MB)
Essentials Autumn 2019 pdf (5MB)
Essentials Summer 2018 pdf (5MB)
Essentials Spring 2018 pdf (5MB)
Essentials Winter 2018 pdf (5MB)
Essentials Autumn 2018 pdf (5MB)
Fresh Expressions Evaluation
- Written by: Guerin Tueno
In 2005 the Church of England published Mission Shaped Church.1 The Report recognised the drastic need for renewed mission work in England, but also the creative work already being done by groups that would be labelled as Fresh Expressions of Church. This term came not from their new-ness, but from their missional orientation; they were seeking to fulfil the ordinal's instruction for the ordaining of priests to proclaim the gospel afresh to each generation. It also liberated the work of mission from just the priest to the Church – looking back to Jesus' great commission in Matthew 28. Some read value judgments in the language employed – surely to call something 'fresh' is to imply 'staleness' in what already exists,2 but this is a value judgment not inherent in the name, and this led to Archbishop William's description of Anglicanism as a mixed economy3 in which the inherited and the fresh forms of church are both welcome and needed. Amid early excitement, there was an Australian adoption with Building the Mission Shaped Church in Australia.4 Sadly, this enthusiasm has waned.
What defines a Fresh Expression of Church? The Church Army in England set out ten parameters in a 2013 report:
- That the group is new (in their terminology, it was 'birthed'), rather than being a modification of an existing group.
- The group has sought to engage with non-churchgoers. They are not simply a new outreach programme of an existing church, but a new church with and for the unchurched to meet their cultural context rather than expecting them to confirm to an existing church paradigm.
- The new church community would meet at least once a month.
- The new church is to have its own name that reflects its identity, or is in the process of discerning its public nomenclature.
- The group is intended to be a church in and of itself, rather than being a bridge back into 'real church'.
- The church is Anglican – by which they mean it is accepted by the relevant Bishop as part of their 'Diocesan family'. The report stresses that being Anglican is not measured by use of centrally authorised texts or by being part of the parochial system.
- There is a system of leadership acknowledged both internally by the church itself and also from without by the Diocese and wider community.
- The majority of members see the group as their primary and major expression of being church.
- The group aspires to live out the four 'marks' of the church.
- The church is intended to be self-financing, self-governing and self-reproducing (ie, mission-shaped churches plant more mission-shaped churches, which are to be themselves 'fresh' and not simply replicating the parent church).5
ESL and Beyond: How English classes are just the beginning for gospel witness
- Written by: Mark Simon
Mark Simon with Louisa Afful, Sarah Hornidge and Kate Shrestha (Anglicare Sydney)
Mark Simon: All three of you are involved in cross cultural ministry through Anglicare. What are your particular roles?
Sarah Hornidge: I'm the Western Region crosscultural advisor. I support English as a Second Language (ESL) ministries in Western Sydney. Our team serves 100 church-based ESL classes through training, writing of resources, ongoing support for volunteers, and leading some classes myself.
Louisa Afful: As the Program Manager – Cross Cultural Services, I lead a team of eight Anglicare workers like Sarah active across all regions of Sydney and Wollongong in ESL ministry. We are also developing new initiatives to equip and support churches to widen their cross-cultural outreach beyond ESL with activities like cultural awareness training. The purpose of the team is to inspire, equip and support local churches as they reach out and respond practically to their multi-cultural communities and under God make Jesus known.
Kate Shrestha: I work in our church partnership team focused on Southwest Sydney, which is a very multicultural area. I work at building connections between churches and Anglicare, so that services like our mobile food pantry and family support programs are widely available.
Mark: What are some of the ways that churches you work with are reaching out to migrant and refugee communities?
Christians, Science, and Vaccinations
- Written by: Peter Corney
One of the things that has disturbed me as a Christian in the recent pandemic has been the number of Christians, and some pastors of congregations, who have questioned or sown doubts in the value and safety of the recent government national vaccination program. Sadly, this reveals a very shallow or faulty theology, and inadequate understanding of the Bible and our responsibility as stewards of the God given creation.
In our foundation story in Genesis 1:26-27 Christians learn that we are created in “the image and likeness of God”. We also learn that we are given by God the authority over creation and entrusted with the stewardship and care of it and the discovery and unfolding of its wonders.
One of the roles of scientists, and particularly bio-medical researchers is to fulfil that mandate, particularly in their work of preserving life, and in aiding the healing of the sick, and in preventing disease.
For many Christian scientists it is seen as a sacred privilege, duty, and vocation in which they engage with great dedication and care. They are also aware of the great tradition in which they stand of the Churches long commitment to compassion for, caring for, and the healing of the sick. In this they follow the example of Jesus in the Gospels. (Mark 1:29-42) This tradition has greatly influenced the medical community in general. For example, many of our public hospitals have their origins in Christian foundations. I had the privilege of serving a congregation for many years whose members included many in senior roles in the medical and scientific community, who all saw their work in this light.