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EFAC Australia

General

As I write this it seems that everything has changed. A number of media commentators have already begun to speculate as to what life will be like once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Will there be a new ‘roaring 20s’ post-pandemic as there was post-WW1 and Spanish Flu? Will there be a reassessment of value and meaning after so much upon which we have come to depend was so radically upended?

In 1625 an outbreak of the bubonic plague killed more than 10,000 people in London, during which time the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral was the poet-priest John Donne. In his biography of Donne, John Stubbs writes of the fear that gripped London during lockdown.

‘Certain of waking up with the telltale sores on their bodies any day, people were gripped by criminal fearlessness to seize and enjoy what they could while they were still alive. Donne understood what motivated the spirit of suicidal hedonism that was loose in the city. [In a sermon he] described those who said to themselves, “We can but die, and we must die… Let us eat and drink, and take our pleasure, and make our profit, for tomorrow we shall die, and so were cut off by the hand of God”.’ (John Stubbs, John Donne: The Reformed Soul, Norton and Co. 2006, p. 424-5).

Will we see a revival of this same worldly fearlessness and hedonism, much like was witnessed in the 1920s? What we can be certain of is that even as the world stops its ears to theAs I write this it seems that everything has changed. A number of media commentators have already begun to speculate as to what life will be like once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Will there be a new ‘roaring 20s’ post-pandemic as there was post-WW1 and Spanish Flu? Will there be a reassessment of value and meaning after so much upon which we have come to depend was so radically upended?

In 1625 an outbreak of the bubonic plague killed more than 10,000 people in London, during which time the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral was the poet-priest John Donne. In his biography of Donne, John Stubbs writes of the fear that gripped London during lockdown.

‘Certain of waking up with the telltale sores on their bodies any day, people were gripped by criminal fearlessness to seize and enjoy what they could while they were still alive. Donne understood what motivated the spirit of suicidal hedonism that was loose in the city. [In a sermon he] described those who said to themselves, “We can but die, and we must die… Let us eat and drink, and take our pleasure, and make our profit, for tomorrow we shall die, and so were cut off by the hand of God”.’ (John Stubbs, John Donne: The Reformed Soul, Norton and Co. 2006, p. 424-5).

Will we see a revival of this same worldly fearlessness and hedonism, much like was witnessed in the 1920s? What we can be certain of is that even as the world stops its ears to the word of God and lives for the present moment, the word will not be chained. The eternity set in the hearts of each person will certainly be reawakened for some by the failing of earthly confidences and the collapse of worldly forms of security.

This edition of Essentials includes good food for thought in our ‘lockdown’ state, as well as continuing to make a contribution to issues that will no doubt return to the prominence in the not too distant future. Jodie McNeill reflects on some flexible ministry methods and opportunities during the recent bushfire season, and now during the suspension of public services. Chase Kuhn asks a theological question about the nature of church particularly relevant to those with an ecclesiology centred on gathering and fellowship—are we still the church if we cannot meet? Chris Brennan thinks through the issues of ministry resilience, expectations and burnout. In two separate but related pieces Andrew Judd and Steven Daly contribute to the ongoing conversation on same-sex marriage and human sexuality. We also join Ivan Head as he leads us into the deep riches of Romans 8. Finally, the issue also includes several book reviews, on the assumption that, while some of us are working frenetically at the moment, others among us might have some spare time to dig into a worthy tome!

Gavin Perkins
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Welcome to the autumn Essentials, a road trip that will take us through all manner of country. From the seven deadly sins to the four rules of evangelical longevity; from a bishop-to-be expelled from the Anglican Church in his ardent youth, to the return of psychedelics; from Christian work amongst WA school students, to the preaching of eternal hope at Sydney funerals: all this and more is here between these covers.

Topical sermons done well can season a basic diet of working though Biblical books for both preacher and hearers. I share some of my adventures in topical preaching on the Ideas Page. The funeral of Bishop Anthony Nichols was a significant occasion for members of EFAC WA, and we have a version of Anthony’s wife Judith’s eulogy included here. I am sorry not to have been at the New Cranmer Society Breakfast last year to hear the talk that Rhys Bezzant delivered there, but the next best thing is to read it here. Rhys achieves a rare combination of integrated theological and personal reflection in this engrossing piece.

2020 has the potential to be a significant year in the national Church and in the communion as the business of the Appellate Tribunal, the General Synod and Lambeth all unfold. We have news and opinion on these matters from Stephen Hale, Matthew Brain, Kanishka Raffel and Karin Sowada.

There are reflections on fresh work being done in WA as CRU West begins to fly, and on past work done in Sydney, as Peter Bolt draws our attention to the first Australian-born clergyman, 44 years the Dean of Sydney, the eternity-minded William Cowper.

The Bible Study might have been better in time for Christmas, but there’s nothing wrong with meditating on the birth of the Messiah in prophecy at any time of year. Thanks Michael Bennett for this encouragement. The book reviews are (I hope) a stimulating mix of secular and evangelical titles.

I also hope you are enjoying our new journal design (thanks Clare Potts). We are back to black and white printing this issue, but the team is continuing to think about how we can give Essentials the most bang for your buck. We are thinking about three 24 page issues per annum, and wondering whether this will allow us to afford colour printing. Let us know what you think about the frequency, length and level of production you think Essentials should aspire to. Let us know what you liked and what didn’t work for you. We hope to stimulate, connect and encourage EFAC members and others across Australia. Drop us a line.

Ben Underwood

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Summer smells. Sometimes, depending on where you are, it really stinks. The smell of a Christmas tree has strong connotations for me of late night worship, preparation for holidays, and a new year of opportunity coming up. Even the stench of rotting seaweed and dead fish has positive reminders of spiritual conversations with my grandfather as we spent hot summers on the beach. The best smells are the ones that indicate there is fresh life and a fresh start. I’m not sure what Essentials smells like for you when you open it, maybe a bit of a plastic and ink combination, but I hope the connotations you have is that there is something helpful and encouraging waiting for you inside as you read. This edition has a fresh new look and a trial of some new features so we’d love to hear your feedback on what works and what doesn’t work so well. It would be great to see our membership base grow and have an even larger readership so that gospel ministry stays strong in the Anglican church of Australia. EFAC can go places and support ministry in ways that other groups can’t so if you like Essentials then once you’ve finished reading this please find someone who’s not a subscriber and give it to them. If you’re in a position to make a donation or sponsor EFAC in an ongoing way then please give generously at efac.org.au. Inside we find out about some fascinating innovation happening in Tasmania to overcome some of the difficulties of small and remote locations. We also have some discussion around the impact and opportunity of church planting, we have an all new ideas page, and we get to know some Anglicans we have probably never heard of. And there’s more! We hope you enjoy this issue and may we continue to spread the pleasing aroma of the knowledge of Christ everywhere we go.

If you’re stuck in a rut and looking for ways to keep evangelical ministry fresh and engaged then look no further than some of these thought provoking options. User discretion recommended and please see your bishop if symptoms persist. Creative results may vary from person to person.

If you’ve got a good idea to share, send it through to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

PODCAST

With amazing titles like “Teddy Bears and Penalty Shootouts” and “Tetris and the Seed Potatoes of Leningrad” you’re sure to come across a good sermon illustration or two. This podcast is full of cultural factoids to empower your lateral thinking.

DOGGOS FOR THE GOSPEL

Needing an excuse to meet new people and build relationships? Buy a dog and hang out at an off-lead park. It’s instant friendliness, a whole lot of regular time chatting and has the bonus of being good for your physical and mental health. The tricky part is getting to know the humans and not just the dogs... and the financial cost of a pet

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COFFEE IS KEY

Expectations are high these days for quality coffee but it’s not easy producing a fair amount of reliable brew, especially if you need something transportable like Inner West Church in Kensington, Melbourne. You can get the Brazen, a grinder and a pump pot for under $400 and it means no pods, low waste, and it’s set and forget so it doesn’t require any skill.

ARTS & LETTERS DAILY

Arts & Letters Daily is like drinking from a cultural and philosophical firehose. If you want to see how the rest of the world is being pushed in its thinking then this is the place to go. I’m sure this is where Paul sourced his Titus 1:12 quote from. It’s a website but you can also subscribe to a weekly email update.

As part of its centenary celebrations, Bush Church Aid has republished a new expanded edition of Leon Morris’ Bush Parson.

Bush Parson is Morris’ autobiographical account of his service as the Bush Church Aid-supported minister of the massive and challenging Minnipa parish on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula during the Second World War.  

Leon and his wife Mildred, a nurse, travelled around the parish in a large green van named the St Patrick’s Van by its Irish donors. The van served as ambulance, clinic, bedroom, kitchen and study for Leon and Mildred. Mildred often drove over sandy, dusty and boggy tracks while Leon studied the Scriptures in their original languages!

Leon writes, “This…is my tribute to the big-hearted people I met in the outback. I want to acknowledge my debt to so many battlers in their very difficult situations. And with them I want to link those in our cities who are interested enough in what is done in this vast country to support with their prayers and their gifts those who go out to minister to their outback cousins. I am indebted to them both.”

Royalties from the book’s sales have been donated to Bush Church Aid by the Leon and Mildred Morris Foundation. Its Chair, the Rev Neil Bach, also Leon’s biographer, comments, “Leon wrote over 50 internationally acclaimed theological works, yet only one was autobiographical - the one describing his service with BCA. Who ever thought that this ministry would lay the foundations for Australia’s greatest theological scholar and writer?”

The book was originally published in 1995 by Acorn Press. However, when the BCA Victorian Regional Officer, the Rev Adrian Lane, discovered it was unobtainable, new or used, BCA approached Acorn requesting a new edition. Acorn, now an imprint of the Bible Society, generously agreed to cover all pre-publication costs. The new centenary edition includes rare archival colour photos from glass negatives from the BCA Archives and the Morris Archives, held in the Ridley College Library. A number of appendices from these archives are also included, including Leon’s original Application for Service with BCA. Adrian Lane comments, “The new edition is a significant value-add to the original, with its photos and appendices, all of which will make further study of Leon and Mildred’s ministry and remote area ministry more generally much easier.”

The new edition was launched at the BCA Victoria Centenary Dinner on the 4 May 2019 at Glen Waverley Anglican Church by Dr Kris Argall, Commissioning Editor of Acorn Press, the Revd Neil Bach and the Revd Adrian Lane, who prayed for its fruitfulness.

Adrian Lane is the Victorian Regional Officer of Bush Church Aid.

 

The book is an interesting, engaging, easy read. Copies are available from from BCA state and National offices, https://www.bushchurchaid.com.au/content/shop/gjjyqg and from other book sellers.

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