Download PDF version
Welcome to the Second Session of the Forty-Third Synod of the Diocese of Adelaide. As we gather we acknowledge that we are meeting on the land of the Kuarna people of the Adelaide Plains and acknowledge and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and their relationship with the land. We acknowledge the impact European settlement had and continues to have on the first peoples of this land and we continue to seek and pray for reconciliation.
As I begin my first synod as Archbishop, I want to thank the people of the Diocese for the welcome that has been extended to Lynn and me. We have had a very happy time in the six months we have been here and are comfortable with the sense this is where God wants us to be. I also want to acknowledge Bishop Tim Harris and his assistance to me as I begin to understand both the role of Archbishop and the culture and history of Adelaide and the Diocese. Both Bishop Chris and Bishop Tim are fine colleagues and have given me generously of their wisdom and experience.
During the course of this Synod, members will have the opportunity to meet the new Registrar and Secretary of Synod Amanda Harfield who will take up that role in early January 2018. Archdeacon David Bassett has done a wonderful job as Acting Registrar and Secretary of Synod. He has worked very hard, achieved a lot and has been of great assistance to me. Thankyou David for all you have done and what you will do in this acting role until Amanda is in the chair. I also want to acknowledge Susan Bassett, since David’s change of ministry over the past six months has impacted his family too. Thank you also to the Parish of St Matthew’s Kensington for being prepared to lend David to the wider Diocese. This is an encouraging example of parts of the Diocese working together to make the whole stronger.
I also want to pay tribute to the staff of church office and on your behalf thank them for their dedication to the ministry of the Diocese. There have been many, many changes in the past eighteen months or so and the staff of church office have continued to provide a great service to the Diocese and are committed to the mission of God in this place.
Our Ministry Context
Having been in Adelaide for six months now, I am beginning to have some idea of the challenges that face us as we seek to be effective collaborators with God in the mission of the kingdom. The results of the 2016 census released this year give us an indication of the context in which we minister.
While the census figures reveal a decline in the numbers of people who identify as Christian and as Anglican, it is important that we see that as our context and not as a reason for retreat or any kind of despondency. The context is important because that is the environment where we seek to live out and proclaim the good news that is Jesus the Christ. Our ministry is not controlled by the context but since the gospel needs to be incarnated in a culture in order to be good news, understanding the context is important.
Earlier this year, I read Michael Hilliard’s history of the Diocese entitled Godliness and Good Order. I was intrigued to read a quote from the Pastoral Address given to the 1924 Diocesan Synod by Bishop Arthur Nutter Thomas. In his address the Bishop, reflecting on declining church attendance and Christian observance said – “religion is not fashionable any more”.
Two things strike me from those words. First, the context of decline is not new. Secondly, I reflect on what happened about thirty years after the Bishop spoke those words. Bishop Nutter Thomas could never have imagined the impact of the Billy Graham rallies and the social changes in Australia, which led in the 1950’s to the highest rate of church attendance in Australia’s history - quite a turnaround - from progressive decline to very significant growth. That says to me we do not know what is in the future, but God does. Our task is to be aware of our context but only so we can carry out our God given task - to share in his mission and the proclamation of Jesus the good news in most appropriate ways. We are not defined by our context. We are defined by our baptism and the mission we have, which is to share the mission of God.
We are currently engaged in a refresh of Vision 2016, the Diocesan Vision statement from 2013 to 2016, and we will spend some time tomorrow considering the feedback that has been received from parishes over the past month or so. I don’t want to pre-empt the priorities that will come from the refresh process. But a number of areas of importance are already clear.
I have been asking the Diocese to pray-to pray for growth and growth in four ways:
· Growth in the numbers of people coming to trust in Jesus as Lord
· Growth in the depth of discipleship of Jesus
· Growth in service to the community
· Growth in generosity in terms of money and resources.
I have no hesitation in praying for growth in these areas and I have no hesitation in asking the Diocese to join me in this. Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we pray – “Your kingdom come”. That is, the kingdom of God. We pray that we want to see the world come to be as God wants it to be, that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Bishop Tom Wright’s words – “the world put to rights”. But our prayer requires our action. We want to see more people reconnected and reconciled with God. We want to participate with God in that mission, and we want to see lives and families and communities more whole and full of ‘life in all its fullness’, lived in a forgiven and grace filled way. Since we are collaborators with God, to pray is completely logical. It is completely logical to want growth in these areas for the sake of the kingdom for which we pray in the Lord’s Prayer and in obedience to our Lord’s command to go and make disciples.
During Synod, we will distribute and make more widely available a prayer for growth and I encourage its use at every opportunity.
Prayer is the most important thing we can do. If we did nothing more than pray faithfully, I am sure God would bring growth. Prayer is our acknowledgement that it is God who prepares, motivates, equips, convicts and allows the scales to fall from our eyes.
It is important, however, to do as well as to pray. The refresh of Vision 2016 is part of that. The Church of England for some years now has been conducting research into what factors seem to be important in church growth. In 2014 the report From Anecdote to Evidence was published. Following on from that report is a resource called From Evidence to Action. The English research says that a growing church is likely to:
1. Have a clear mission and purpose and where clergy and congregations are intentional about growth
2. Understand its context, actively engage with it and with those who might not currently go to church
3. Have clergy and lay leaders who innovate, envision and motivate people
4. Be willing to self-reflect, change and adapt according to its context
5. Nurture disciples
6. Be welcoming and build on loving relationships with people
7. Actively engage children and young people
8. Have lay people as well as ordained clergy active in leadership and other roles
The report and resource materials to help parishes engage with those factors for growth is on the Church of England website and the address is: www.fromevidence to action.org.uk.
What seems to be important in each of these factors is intentionality. None of these eight factors will happen without planned action. One of the actions I hope will happen in our Diocese is that each of our churches will have a plan for its mission that is reviewed each year. I am not hoping for some complex document that sits on a shelf. I am hoping for planning and action. Parishes can use the eight factors from the Church of England and the resource material from the Church of England website, or the quality characteristics from the planning tool Natural Church Development, or the four elements of growth we are praying for or any of the other frameworks that are available. The key is to pray, to consider, to plan, to act and to review and then repeat the process regularly.
A number of those growth factors from the Church of England research certainly resonate with me as I think about the Diocese of Adelaide and may well have a part to play in our Diocese-wide planning and action.
The first is discipleship. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the commission to make disciples in Matthew’s gospel. The sending of disciples to continue the work of Jesus is clear in all four gospels. But there has been a marked absence of intentional effort to make and nurture disciples of Jesus. This has been recognised as a need in the wider Anglican world. Last year the Anglican Consultative Council called ‘for every province, diocese and parish in the Anglican Communion to adopt a clear focus on intentional discipleship and to produce resources to equip and enable the whole church to be effective in making new disciples of Jesus Christ’. A resource entitled Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making: An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation has been produced and is on line at anglicancommunion.org on the mission page.
Reflecting and acting on our own discipleship and our growth in discipleship is important as well as thinking about what we can do to help others to become disciples of Jesus. We need to engage with this season of intentional discipleship and disciple making. The question is how we will do that intentionally.
The second of the factors for growth from the UK research that I believe is important for us is engagement with children and young people. The small number of children and young people engaged in our congregations is a concern to me. I am also concerned at the almost non- existent resourcing and assistance provided by us as a synod to parishes of the Diocese to assist this very important ministry. I acknowledge the good and valuable work of our chaplains in Anglican schools but that ministry is under resourced. As well as increasing the number of chaplains and youth workers in schools, which will help growth in discipleship and evangelism to take place, we need to be doing what we can do to improve our engagement at a parish level. I know youth and children’s ministry is challenging but in churches where there is a clear commitment to engage with children and young people and where at least some resources are in place, youth and children’s ministry seems to grow.
The third growth factor is leadership and having leaders, both clergy and lay people who innovate envision and motivate people. In order to have leaders who can do this, they need to be identified, trained, developed and supported. The Council of St Barnabas College is in the process of reviewing the vision for the College and one thing that seems to be important is a need to offer not only degree and post graduate degree programs, but also courses for people with no interest in gaining a degree but who want to grow in their knowledge of the Bible, church history and theology so that they can minister in their own context, and also ministry programs, which focus on practical ministry needs and character development. Whether these extra dimensions can be accommodated within St Barnabas College is yet to been seen but leadership development and ministry training is a significant need for us.
Finally, our parishes are a critical part of our life. If we have healthy churches, our capacity to grow disciples and impact the community for the kingdom of God is enhanced. We need to find ways to assist, encourage and resource parishes. There are lots of well- intentioned, committed lay and ordained leaders, and there are many resources that can help parish ministry, but the task is bringing them together. We need to find ways to assist, support and resource our parishes as they continue to share in the ministry of the Diocese.
When we have clarified our priorities going forward, there will need to be a discussion around resourcing, which may well involve a shift in expenditure and also an investigation of the means by which we can release more resources for ministry.
Many people are concerned about unity in the Diocese, as I am. Not much is recorded in the gospels about Jesus’ own prayers but we do know he prayed for the unity of his disciples. Jesus prayed that his disciples would be united because unity reflects the relationship of the Trinity and because unity impacts the effectiveness of evangelism. One of the first steps to unity is a shared vision and purpose. When we know where we are headed together, many of the stresses on unity decline in importance.
We need to be clear that refreshing our priorities is all about our engagement with the wider community. It is not about church survival, it is about church engagement with God’s vision for the whole world.
25th anniversary of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood.
On the 5th of December 1992 Joan Claring-Bould, Flo Monahan, Susanne Pain, Susan Straub and Sr Juliana S.I. were ordained priests in the Church of God. This was a very significant moment not only for those who were ordained but also for the whole Diocese following acceptance by the Diocese of the principle of ordination being open to both men and women. Twenty-five years later a priest who is a woman is not a novelty in this Diocese, but is very much part of the landscape. Despite the number of years since those first ordinations, we need to continue to encourage women to consider a vocation as a priest and make sure we are supporting those on that journey and ensuring the gifts of the ordained are properly given expression in leadership responsibilities. We give thanks to God for this anniversary, for the ministry offered by the women clergy of the Diocese and we pray for those women the Lord of the church is calling in the future.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is expected to deliver its final report to the Federal Government on December 15th this year, bringing to a close five years of really incredible work. As at the 1st of September this year, the Royal Commission had received over 40,000 telephone calls, 24,000 emails, has conducted over 7,500 private hearings, 57 case studies or public hearings and made over 2,300 referrals to authorities including police.
A very major part of the role of the Royal Commission has been to listen to the stories of survivors and their families, and from that listening and other research provide reports that will assist in the care and protection of children in the future and in responding to those who have been abused and their families.
The Royal Commission is finishing its work but it is critical that institutions generally and the church and this Diocese in particular do not think that this is now almost in the past and we can move on. There is ongoing work to be done to continually improve our screening systems and processes and especially embed child protection into our culture so that we do all we can to prevent the tragedy of child sexual abuse happening again within the church. An important part of the mission of the church is to protect the vulnerable and so we seek to provide safe environments for children as an integral part of our mission.
The Royal Commission is expected to make recommendations concerning the Anglican Church as part of its final report and has already signalled some of those. The Commission, hearing from abuse survivors, wants a consistent approach to child protection and redress for those who have been abused.
The recent General Synod passed a number of canons in an overwhelmingly positive way to provide for uniform child protection standards as well as episcopal standards. We have a large amount of General Synod legislation to deal with at our Synod but much of it is really critical to give adequate response to the concerns raised by the Royal Commission. I hope we can pass those pieces of legislation positively. Passing the legislation is, of course, just the start. One of the provisions of the proposed legislation is an independent audit of each diocese in the country in terms of its compliance with the agreed child protection standards. The results of the audit will be published on the General Synod website. This is a necessary measure that will help to hold us accountable and provide transparency for the wider community. From discussions I have had with abuse victims in this Diocese, they are not primarily looking for contrition, that is expressions of apology, they are looking for repentance, that is change. Actions that demonstrate that we understand the causes and impact of child abuse within institutions and are prepared to follow through on the practical implications of the apologies we have made. I am committed to doing that and I invite all the members of the Adelaide Anglican community to support this unwaveringly too.
There is no doubt that the revelations concerning child sexual abuse in the church and the failures both to protect children and deal appropriately with perpetrators and victims has significantly accelerated the decline of trust in the church by the community generally. There is no doubt that a loss of trust was under way anyway as part of a trend against institutions, however, the child abuse failures have certainly exacerbated that. The view of the church on any kind of moral question is now easily dismissed. We have lost our voice and any kind of right as a significant part of the community, for a seat at the table of public opinion. We have been marginalised even more.
The process of regaining the trust of the community will be a long one and will require us to act humbly, consistently and with integrity. We have to walk the walk of disciples of Jesus before we will be allowed to do any talking. This change in circumstance while difficult may actually be beneficial to our carrying out the mission we have been given, as we will need to be very focussed on being who we say we are-disciples of Jesus, and we will not be distracted by trying to maintain the myth that the church is somehow in a privileged position in society.
Definition of Marriage
The non- binding postal ballot concerning the definition of marriage continues until the 7th of November. The media has reported that up to the start of last week more than 67% of eligible voters have returned their ballots so it is clear that Australians want to have their say on this question. The ballot and the debate surrounding it has uncovered some ugly truths about current Australian society. That people are afraid to say what they think on this topic at work or in social situations for fear of criticism, ostracism or fear of losing their jobs, reflects very poorly on Australian society. While the ballot itself has been criticised, it is not the ballot that is the problem, but rather the difficulty we are having in engaging responsibly and respectfully and in a non-manipulative manner in a debate about a very significant question.
In conversations with people in the Diocese it is clear that there is a variety of opinion about changing the definition of marriage. This was plain on the first Sunday after my installation back in April. I was preaching and presiding at the Cathedral and after the service was greeting people on the way out of church and a gentleman asked me my view on same sex marriage, and I told him what I had said as part of the election process last year and he said he agreed with me. The very next person in the line, who had obviously heard the conversation said – “well we will have to agree to disagree on that”. Two people, both worshippers, the same church, completely different views. That’s the way it is.
The recent General Synod passed a resolution on marriage. The resolution is:
The General Synod –
(i) recognises that the doctrine of our church, in line with traditional Christian teaching, is that marriage is an exclusive and lifelong union of a man and a woman, and further,
(ii) recognises that this has been the subject of several General Synod resolutions over the past fifteen years, and also
(iii) recognises that the nature of marriage is the subject of ongoing conversation within the church and wider community and that we need to listen to each other with care and respect, and
(iv) acknowledges the experiences and genuine concerns of LGBTIQ+ people within the church and the community, and therefore
(v) asks the Doctrine Commission to facilitate a respectful conversation in our church by means of a collection of essays on marriage and same-sex relationships that explores Scriptural and theological issues relating to:
a. The doctrine of marriage expressed in the formularies of the Anglican Church of Australia
b. Our current Australian context, exploring the relationship between the State’s definition of marriage and the church’s doctrine of marriage
c. Key Old Testament and New Testament texts on sex, marriage and friendship
d. Scripture and hermeneutics
e. A theology of blessing
f. A theology of desire
g. Godly disagreement on this issue
h. The case for and against same-sex marriage and/or the blessing of same-sex unions.
The resolution recognises the doctrine of the church is that marriage is an exclusive life- long union between a man and a woman. The resolution also recognises the experiences and genuine concerns of LGBTIQ+ people and the need for conversation within the church on this matter based on good research and with good resourcing. One of the essays called for by the resolution concerns Godly disagreement on this issue. We know there are committed Christians on both sides of this question so how we disagree on this and other important issues is important for the care of those whose lives are affected, for the unity of the church and for our effective witness as disciples of Jesus.
Whether or not the marriage act is changed, either next year or in the next few years, there will be a raft of pastoral questions for us to consider. If the marriage act is not changed, we will be caring for people and reaching out to people who feel strongly that it should be. If the definition of marriage is changed, we will have people who continue to believe it is wrong, and we will also have same sex couples married legally but unable to have their marriage blessed according to the rites of the church. There will be substantial pastoral challenges ahead.
Whether the marriage act is changed or not, the landscape in Australia has changed already. The context within which we seek to reach out first with the love of Christ, include not exclude people in the community of the church, be and make disciples of Jesus, seeking to live lives of holiness will be different. The mission we have will not be different but the context will be and great wisdom will be needed as we continue our work.
500th Anniversary of the Reformation
October 31 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg and is regarded as the beginning of the Reformation on the continent of Europe. Luther’s constant call that the just shall live by faith in Christ and not by any kind of good works was very important five hundred years ago and remains the same today. As Anglicans, we are positively shaped by the Reformation and give thanks for the work of Martin Luther and the other reformers whose commitment to Jesus Christ often proved very costly to them.
Despite the challenges we face, or perhaps because of them, I am encouraged as we continue to live and so proclaim the gospel. The word that is translated ‘gospel’ or ‘good news’ in the New Testament was not originally a religious word but was used to describe literally good news, and not just slightly good news but really good news. News like victory in battle or recovery from illness. The really good news we have to share and proclaim is Jesus. Mark’s gospel puts it really well in chapter 1 verse 1: ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus, the Son of God’. Following on from those words are the ministry, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus laid out in sixteen chapters.
The gospel is not a formula to be intellectually assented to. The gospel is Jesus, his life, ministry, death and resurrection to be embraced, trusted, lived, followed and shared.
We might be tempted to think with Bishop Nutter Thomas-that religion is not fashionable anymore or perhaps we could put it in stronger terms than that. But whatever the context, the mission of God continues. Two weeks ago, I attended a meeting of the Anglican Bishops of East Asia. They lead the church in places where being Christian and Anglican is to belong to a very small minority and where the ministry of the church is very difficult. Much more difficult than we have ever experienced here in Australia. One of the things that encouraged me was their commitment and enthusiasm to take the ministry forward and struggle on in the face of very great difficulty. They are leading in discouraging contexts but they were not discouraged-anything but. That for me put our situation in its proper place.
As we go forward as the Diocese of Adelaide may the Lord bless us and keep us as we continue as hope filled collaborators with God in the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not know the future-not even tomorrow. Our part is to stay loyal to Jesus, continue to be hopeful because of Jesus, do what we can do and trust in the Lord so that Adelaide might know and accept the good news and share in God’s vision for the world.
New Licences Issued to Clergy since October 2016
Associate Priest, Holy trinity, Trinity Bay Congregations
Archdeacon The City of Adelaide and The Port
Bishop’s Commissary for South Sudanese Congregations
Chaplain to the Lyell McEwin Hospital
Lau, Mee Ping
Parish Priest, Unley and Archdeacon for Multi-Cultural Ministry
Associate Priest, Unley
Senior Associate Minister for Multicultural Asian Ministry
Chaplain to the Repatriation General Hospital and Daw House Hospice
Chung, Tung Sing Joseph
Priest in Charge, Kensington Gardens
Parish Priest, Glen Osmond
Area Dean, South Western Suburbs
Parish Priest, Burnside
Archbishop of Adelaide
Acting Diocesan Registrar and Secretary of Synod
Associate Priest, Kensington
Priest in Charge, Prospect
Parish Priest, Broadview & Enfield
Ordinations 10 December 2016
St Laurence’s Court Aged Care – Anglicare SA
Parish of the Barossa
Parish of Tea Tree Gully
Parish Salisbury and St Andrew’s School
All Hallows Aged Care-Anglicare SA
Parish of Kensington and Diocesan office
Woman’s & Children’s Hospital and RAH Chaplaincy
Playford Anglican Ministry Team
Trinity Inner South
Parish of Unley
Parish of Glenelg
St John’s Halifax Street
Ingle Farm and Parra Hills
St John’s Halifax Street
McCall, William David
New Authority to Officiate (PTO) Issued to Clergy since October 2016
Resignations & Retirements – Clergy
Rev’d Paul Mitchell
Rev’d Paul Hunt
Rev’d Natasha Darke
Rev’d Peter Chilver
Rev’ Christopher Myers SSM
Rev’d Ken Bechaz
Rev’d John Warner
Rev’d David Smith
Appointments, Resignations and Retirements – Lay
Mrs Marianne Gillard, Ministry & Parish Support
Venerable David Bassett – Acting Registrar & Secretary of Synod
Mrs Tracey Jolly – Administration & Safer Ministry Assistant
Mr Simon Potter – Ministry & Parish Support
Mr Keith Stephens – Registrar & Secretary of Synod
Mr Jamie Anderson – Head of AFSA
Mr Michael Norris – Safer Ministry Administrator
Mr Brian Whitehead – Cemetery Gardner
Ms Sathya Lawson – Executive Assistant
Ms Alison St Jack – Executive Assistant
Professional Standards Office
Ms Andrea Forder – Administration Assistant
Obituaries are still to be finalised. These will be tabled at a Diocesan Council meeting and made available to the Synod.