Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lambeth and NZ

Reading the blogs on the right, especially about Lambeth has been very time consuming lately and also depressing. I will leave most of it to them as anything I could say would be just second hand.
On Saturday, as mentioned earlier, I attended a meeting at the St James Institute on "Do Australian Anglicans have a future?" It was led by Bishop Tom Frame who was Bishop to the Australian Defence Force but is now Director of St Mark's Theological Centre. He seemed to be glad to have relinquished the role of a Bishop.

He had some interesting things to say about where he thinks the church will be in 2028. He thinks there will be 3 types of Anglican churches.
1. Mega churches (already one in Castle Hill, Sydney and another somewhere in Melbourne) with over 10 on staff and more than 750 parishioners. Exclusive in outlook so I won't be there.
2. Urban/regional churches with 2 on staff and 100 to 750 , inclusive and welcoming, I guess like St James, King Street today so obviously my choice except I will probably be in a nursing home by then :-)
3. Small house churches with honorary staff and less than 50. I do not think I would like these. I gain much benefit from liturgy, processions and choirs.

I did not like Bishop Frame's comment that we should consider the plight of African churches having to live with Islam. It seemed to be this common idea of supporting them at the expense of the many GLBT people in the west (and also in Africa?)

I am afraid Lambeth will leave us in much the same position as at the end of the previous one in '98. TEC and Canada may not accept that and go its own way but most dioceses in Australia (obviously not Sydney) will claim they are inclusive of all people including GLBT but we will remain 2nd class members who cannot be ordained while in an open relationship and whose relationships cannot be blessed. That, to me, is unacceptable.

New Zealand, on the other hand, is much more welcoming. I know for certain that some parishes in the Diocese of Auckland bless same-sex relationships and the Diocese of Dunedin has ordained a man living in a same-sex relationship.

Just a week before I last visited Dunedin in 2006, Bishop George Connor had ordained as a deacon Rev Juan Kinnear, a man who was living in a same sex relationship. There was a great amount of press about this and it was opposed by some evangelicals within the diocese and a group of evangelicals from the neighbouring Diocese of Christchurch. Although some of the NZ bishops had reservations, they did not oppose it but I had understood there was a moratorium on his further ordination to the priesthood. I am glad to now find (in the NZ gay press, not the Anglican) that his ordination as a priest occurred late last year without any publicity. He is an honorary associate priest in the cathedral. More research has found the following statement from Juan about his first ordination as a deacon.

The Revd Juan Kinnear shares some thoughts on his recent ordination

Part of his statement follows:
The Diocese of Dunedin has a long established practice of welcoming suitable, committed Christian homosexual men and women into ordained ministry. What occurred on 4 November 2006 is no recent innovation, but a continuation of the diocese’s refusal to exclude gay men and women from full participation in the life of our Church. The locus of authority within Anglicanism is the diocese and its bishop. Overarching questions about how theological divergence can be reconciled with the notion of a Church Catholic are unlikely to be resolved by the creation of an Anglican magesterium or the implementation of a Covenant with which to beat up those with whom we disagree.

I often wonder what life would be like in an ideal world. Perhaps we would all be happily married, with two girls and a boy, a Labrador and a Volvo station wagon in the driveway. Who knows? What I do know is that we do not live in an ideal world and that, for better or worse, we are required to do our best, be as faithful and committed as we possibly can and live as joyfully as our circumstances allow. I also know that my sexual orientation is not subject to change by prayer or self discipline. I believe that I am not alone in this. So, I contend myself with the belief that I am saved by grace and called to continually seek sanctification. I thank God that I share my life with someone who cares for me with all his heart. I am committed to work for the Gospel and to be Good News to those around me. Where I fail, and I fail continuously, I ask for strength to continue on and to do better. A sinner yes, but never, ever do I buy into the idea that I am “dirty” or that my life has to be confined by a cage of words, authored by those who choose to stand in judgment over me. Joy and life in abundance!

When(If?) I move to Dunedin, I think I will worship at the Cathedral but I have found the blog of the Vicar of the parish, St John's Roslyn, in which I hope to reside (Available Light). He has just had an operation for cancer and is returning to work on Monday. His post on Gafcon is interesting but a bit of the middle way I discern in Australia (outside Sydney).

"As our church divides, as it surely must despite the Gafcon hand waving, which side do I go with? The liberal rump, now unfettered by conservative reticence? You've got to be kidding! The Gafcon conservatives, with their stifling self perceived certainties? No thank you! I have about ten years to go before retirement. Perhaps if I hunker down in St. John's Roslyn and pay all that stuff no mind, I might just make it through before I have to make that sort of choice."

I feel happier reading the comments of Bishop Gene and am thankful for the wonderful, thought provoking blessing from him (below) for which I thank Boocat. My first attempt at placing a video in my blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Prayer and Bishops

In wandering around the blogs, I found this amusing comment. I will not link to the person as he is from the Diocese of Nelson and has the usual evangelical views which set my teeth on edge these days. However he is referring to priests and bishops in the diocese of Christchurch.

In the 1950s the priest was rung by Bishop Warren to ask if he would like to be the Vicar of Woolston. Woolston being an excellent evangelical fit, he promptly said 'yes', to which the bishop replied, 'shouldn't you pray first?'

Some years went by and the next Bishop of Christchurch rang and said, 'I want you to go to Twizel.' Twizel being a little remote etc, the priest said to the bishop, 'I would like to pray about that.' To which the bishop replied, 'we have already prayed!'.

The priest went to Twizel!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

St James Day

Yesterday was the start of our Patronal Festival at St James, King Street and I attended Choral Eucharist at 6.30pm in the evening. I thought as there was no sermon it would be over in time for me to catch the 8.10pm train and be home by 10pm but I did not account for the singing of the choir which while beautiful can be a bit long sometimes so I did not arrive home until 11pm which is way past my usual bedtime.
As I had to go to the city, I decided to make a day (well afternoon and evening) of it and went first to a concert being put on in the church by Southend Boys' and Girls' choir. The poor things had just arrived from the UK the day before (lots of yawning). It was probably the coldest day this year in Sydney (not much above 12'C in the city) and rained most of the day. Some of their mothers were talking to us and mentioned it was 29'C in London. (Hey, it is winter here). Sadly there were only 6 unattached people in the audience including our rector and organist. Hopefully they will have a better attendance at the Opera House on Sunday afternoon when they will be singing with the Sydney Male Choir. At least today is sunny, although a chilly start by Australian standards. I bought one of their CDs as I felt so sorry for them.

Then after coffee and cake (sorry doctor I cannot resist), I went to the movies to see 'The Band's Visit' which is a mildly funny, sad, thoughtful movie.

However the point of this post is the Choral Eucharist. There were about 100 there on a cold wet Friday night and the entrance hymn was "For All the Saints who from their Labours rest" which really had me reminiscing.
In the 60's when I was at university I attended St Philip's Eastwood although I did not live in the parish (I seem to make a habit of that). It was only 15 minutes away by train and lots of my friends from University attended. The Rector, Rev Eric Mortley was well known for his intellectual sermons (of course evangelical but not like today). We always knew when it would be less meaty but evangelistic if there was no tape recorder mounted on the pulpit. I sometimes felt a bit sorry for his less academic parishioners. At his funeral many years later I was very uncomfortable finding myself surrounded by all the friends of those years with their doctorates. I had a basic Arts degree and post grad teaching diploma. Since then I have added another post grad diploma in library and information science but nothing like my contemporaries of those days. Rev Mortley's son, a close friend in those days, became a professor of ancient languages and chancellor at a number of universities.

Anyway, last night the singing of "For All the Saints" took me back to the packed Evening Prayer services at St Philips when we would often sing that hymn. In the 60's young people went to Fellowship on Sunday evening and onto Evening Prayer, life has changed. Obviously not like St James today but uplifting none the less.

My local church Holy Trinity, Concord West was asking me to return to assist with the youth group. I did not want to go, it was the antithesis of the intellectualism of St Philips. I was singing in the choir at Holy Trinity in the morning. I put my name forward for various elected positions in the Fellowship at St Philips and it was expected I would be successful in one of them. For some reason I was not (perhaps there was some resistance to my coming from out of the parish). My friends were shocked and immediately offered to co-opt me to the committee but I felt it was God's guidance and became Assistant Fellowship leader at Holy Trinity. It was difficult but after 2 years I became the Fellowship Leader, a position I held for 3 more years. Hopefully I was where God wanted me to be. It certainly gave me a more practical outlook on the mission to young people.

Back to this weekend at St James. I will soon be catching the train down to the city again to hear Bishop Tom Frame speak on "Do Australian Anglicans have a future?"
Bishop Frame was Bishop to the Australian Defence Force but is now Director at St Mark's National Theological Centre. He will also be preaching tomorrow at our Festival Choral Eucharist. Perhaps I will blog about him later.
Bishop Alfred Holland, retired Bishop of Newcastle will be preaching at Choral Evensong. Note that although none of the Sydney bishops are at Lambeth , they are not attending the patronal festival at St James either.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

St James and World Youth Day

From our Church's Weekly News to show all Anglicans in the Diocese of Sydney are not as curmudgeonly as the Dean and Bishops.
St James is located opposite the Catholic Cathedral.

During the week we have had a once-in-a-lifetime experience at St James' with hundreds, indeed thousands, of young people and many older people in St James' at all times of the day and evening, but especially during the 12 times of Prayer with the Brothers of Taizé. They came from every country imaginable and, as part of the prayers, we heard the Scriptures read and the Lord's Prayer prayed in many languages. The church itself was decorated in orange and gold and awash with candles. The large cross from Taizé and the icons, softly lit with candles, added to the sense of prayerfulness and attentiveness on God. People milled on the steps and porticos, coming in or going out. The prayer times themselves, led by the brothers in their white habits, and supported by a young choir and instrumentalists, were simple, still and meditative. As the city was caught up in World Youth Day, there is no doubt that St James' was well and truly ''in the thick of it'' and it was a great place of prayer and fellowship. I am grateful to all the members of our staff, together with the many volunteers who assisted, who worked so had to make our involvement with World Youth Day 2008 such a memorable experience.
— Fr Peter

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Supermarket Shindig

Please can I beat Madpriest to a religious joke.

A man goes to confession and tells his priest that he has sinned but that he would like, one day, to go to heaven. What should he do to get there ?

The priest hears his confession and says to him: " My son, to get to heaven you should give up smoking, gambling, drinking and sex. Live a clean and godly life and surely you will join the angels."

The man takes this on board, goes away, and does his best. But on returning to the confessional the next week he has to admit that not all has gone well.

"Father, I gave up smoking, gambling and drinking. It was hard, but with the grace of God I did it," he said. "But I found I couldn't give up sex. The other day I saw my loving wife, her gorgeous body leaning over the freezer, and I had to make love to her there and then, right on the spot."

The priest was shocked. " My son, they won't like that at all in heaven," he said.

"I understand," said the man. "They weren't too crazy about it in Woolworths, either."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On the other hand, a wonderful bishop

My broadband plan gave me 1 Gb per month at 512kbps after which it reduced to dial-up speed (64kbps) until the new month began (actually the 23rd). Since becoming involved in blogs this has been happening earlier and earlier, leaving me with nearly a fortnight of slow and frustrating speed. Knowing I would be away for 2 months I delayed changing the plan. Last Friday (10th), it slowed down and I had to be content with reading about Bishop Gene's sermon at Putney as any attempt to watch it would have been excruciating.

I rang the company to increase my plan to 5 Gb and speed from 512 to 1500kbps (not sure I need that much but it comes with the plan). I remember when I thought 64kbps on a new modem was great. The rules say it would change on the 23rd but the lady on the phone was very nice and offered to upgrade me overnight so today I am back to fast speed (not sure I have the 1500 yet) and was able to watch and hear Bishop Gene without any delays.

Wonderful, wonderful man. I only wish I could have heard such a sermon when I was in my 20's but the times were not right, people did not discuss sexuality and gay sex was illegal anyway.

In case you are someone who has not watched it "Be not afraid"

Why Sydney Oh God?

It is claimed Sydney is a godless, pleasure and money seeking city. Is it any wonder most see the churches as irrelevant when we have two Archbishops who could only be regarded as complete jokes except they are serious.

I do not say much about Cardinal Pell but I taught in Catholic schools for many years and know most of my fellow teachers were exasperated by him. He is in the limelight at the moment at World Youth Day and yesterday he said
"Jesus didn't run around handing out condoms, we preach what Jesus taught."
He didn't drive round in a popemobile either, nor wear funny red caps and he did not condemn homosexuality.
He also said
"No western country is producing enough babies to keep the population stable, no western country"
This in a country suffering water shortages and facing food shortages in the long term but then Pell has admitted he is a climate change sceptic. He is wrong anyway, Australia's population growth is still increasing even before immigration.As for the other Archbishop of Sydney, I have written enough but must publish the wonderful cartoon from Madpriest.

You have to laugh

Two items in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Our stupid State Government passed a law that anyone annoying a World Youth Day pilgrim could face a fine of $5,500. Fortunately the courts had more sense and it was thrown out yesterday but you have to give it to one of our evango-fundie churches for slick advertising.
"Seen outside All Souls Anglican Church, Leichhardt, on Sunday: 'SAVE $5000 AT WYD. COME HERE AND ANNOY ANGLICANS FOR FREE.' "

and with apologies to my American friends.

"Yesterday an American pilgrim being interviewed on TV was surprised but happy to find that our Mass was the same as theirs in the US," reports Robyn Lewis of Raglan. "It reminded me of an incident in St Paul's (Anglican) Cathedral in London. My husband and daughter were at Morningsong, enjoying the ambience and music. During the Lord's Prayer an American exclaimed 'Golly Gladys, this Lord's Prayer is the same as ours!"'

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sermon Fr John Beer at St James

The sermon by Father John Beer, one of the honorary associate clergy at my church. Remember this is a church in the Diocese of Sydney under Archbishop Peter Jensen
Worth the 2 hour train trip each way.

(Members of the Order of the British Empire Association present at 11am.)
READINGS: Genesis 24: 34-38, 42-49, 58-67.
Psalm 45: 10-17
Romans: 7:14-25
St. Matthew:
It is our pleasure welcome to St. James’ this morning members of the Order of the British Empire Association. And in doing so it is interesting to observe that during the 19th century the Christian religion and the Anglican expression of it spread all over the world as part of the great missionary endeavour of the Empire. It was a religion that was comprehensive and tolerant and which was planted in Australia under difficult circumstances, as Richard Johnson, the chaplain appointed to accompany the First Fleet attempted to plant the seeds of true religion among an unwilling and motley group of convicts and settlers.
The first and only Anglican Bishop of Australia, William Grant Broughton, was enthroned here in this church of St. James’.

What an extraordinary and ironic reversal we are witnessing to-day as the African bishops and others from the Third World are attempting to impose their particular brand of Anglicanism back in England and elsewhere - an Anglicanism that is both Biblically literalist and intolerant!
And what another ironic contrast - as our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are saddling up in the paddock at Randwick Racecourse for a big evangelistic and eucharistic rally, our Anglican leaders from around the world are gathering at Lambeth in an atmosphere of conflict and dissension!
Last week a substantial group of Anglican bishops clergy and and lay people from various parts of the world met in Jerusalem for a conference. It was designed primarily to bring about a change in the structure of the Anglican Communion. Ever since 1867 the Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned bishops from the various provinces around the world to meet at Lambeth Palace to share fellowship and exchange ideas and issue statements on questions relating to the faith in the contemporary world. This conference has no coercive power. We don’t have in the Anglican Church an infallible pope or, for that matter, an infallible Bible, although some believe we have the latter.
Having been excluded from entry into Jordan where the conference was to be held originally, the conference moved across the border to Jerusalem, much to the annoyance of the Bishop in Jerusalem. Our own archbishop and his assistant bishops were present at this conference. According to a newspaper report they were engaged in what Dr. Jensen called ‘a battle for ideas between the liberal wing who want to export their ideas to the rest of us and the Biblical Anglicans’.
This may be so, but even though controversy in the Anglican Church, has been at times as fierce and inhuman as other kinds and filled with bigotry, partisanship and bitterness, we ought to remember that it as also produced a fellowship in which, for the most part, different traditions in doctrine,worship and life have lived together and enriched each other.

The problem we have to solve is a difficult but not insurmountable one As the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week, ‘it is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Anglican Communion. If they aren’t working effectively. The challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise short term solutions which will only continue to create more problems. The group of bishops and others who have been meeting in Jerusalem have been joined by large number so African bishops and others from Third World countries, unlike affluent Australia or America, who are living with incredible ethnic strife, widespread disease and crushing poverty. The fact that they are being harnessed to advance the power and influence of people living in the richest suburbs of the United States is surely an obscenity. As the ABC Religion Report on Wednesday commented the funds for this conference undermining
Lambeth have been bankrolled by five American foundations and by a group of American multimillionaires with some very wacky ideas. They have poured millions of dollars into a movement to undermine the Anglican Communion and to try to mould it into their particular Anglican mindset.

This crisis has arisen all because the Anglicans in the Diocese of New Hampshire in the United States elected as their bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, now divorced and living happily ever after with his male partner. Much has been said and written in the media on this matter and will continue to be with the medias insatiable appetite for sensation and scandal.
Before putting it aside I should mention that Bishop Robinson actually attended a Eucharist here in St. James’ last year!

The sad fact is that the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, while claiming to be about Biblical truth is really about power - endeavouring to set up an alternative Anglican power structure that will exclude those who refuse to toe the line. As Bishop Tom Wright of Durham has said, what we need is some kind of agreed process by which to handle problems so that the church can get on with being the church in all its glorious diversity in unity.

St Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians was written to a church with more than its fair share of troubles, conflicts and problems. In our reading this morning from the Letter to the Romans St. Paul anguishes over his own conflicting actions: ‘For I do not know what I want’, he says, ‘but I do the very thing I hate. ‘ The evil I do not want is what I do’.
To counter this St. Paul summons his readers to a unity in Christ by that allfulfilling virtue called love. It was into this world that that Jesus brought the simple and liberating message that God is love - that he loves and values all people, not merely collectively but one by one regarding the smallest child as of infinite worth. And the truth is that God will not love us if and when we become good - he accepts us and loves us now and as we are. He draws us into his cleansing and life-giving fellowship. Week by week and day by day He welcomes us to his table to feed us with the bread of life.

Variety and comprehensiveness have always been part and parcel of the Christian religion and of Anglicanism in particular since the days of the English Reformation. Diversity and variety will invariably create tension. Those who believe they are the sole guardians of Biblical truth will always demonise those from whom they differ and try to impose their way of believing and doing upon others. What we have to determine now is how are we todecide what forms of diversity are acceptable? We need some agreed process by which to handle such problems. As we the Christian community gather around God’s altar here this morning, let’s leave all this to the learned bishops at Lambeth over their cups of tea (or something stronger). In the meantime let us get on with the job of being the church in all its glorious and appropriate diversity.

There’s no point fighting over again the battles of the Reformation in an age when as the Herald Editorial noted on Tuesday the church is ‘Faced with steadily falling attendances’.
St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians makes it clear that conflict and disunity have been a feature of church and certainly of Anglican life for centuries as the church has become entangled with politics and culture. Yet Jesus who came to make all things new, eschewed worldly power as he hung on the Cross.
The Church from the very beginning has seen itself as having the responsibility to hold up a mirror to power and speak the truth to the powers that be. By its very nature the Body of Christ has to be involved in the life of the nation and that must include the nation’s political, social, economic and cultural life. For centuries it was only the church that ministered to the destitute, maintained hospitals and infirmaries and schools. And it has always supported the powerless. The Church of God says ‘Jesus is Lord of the world and the powers that be must be accountable. And if those secular powers collude with the powers of destructiveness and dehumanisation they must be called to account.
As St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians: For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the
heavenly places.

Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Christian church has recovered from more than one cataclysm and will also triumph over another. We are called to-day in these turbulent times to recover the essential quality of the Christian faith - to make all things new - we are to labour not for the meat that perishes but for that which endures to eternal life. Jesus did not present us with a creed but a life to live and proclaim - it was by the quality of his own life that Jesus drew his followers into a way of life by which they were liberated, forgiven and set free from self-regard.

Our task is to demonstrate the the relevance of Christ to the ideas and actions of our time, to expand our understanding of what faith in Him involves. This is no easy or simple task but it does mean that if it is our joy and duty to live eternally by believing on Him whom God has sent’.
If anyone be in Christ he is a new creation. The Gospel is all about change. What impressed those who heard Jesus was that he was different. Those who heard him said: He speaks as one having authority and not as the Scribes. They were struck by the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. ‘I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance’, says Jesus.

We come forward this morning to receive the Bread of Life and then go out to be the church and serve God in the world, remembering that He calls us to follow him. We do this by what we ARE rather than by what we say.
It is much easier for us to be judgmental and to cast stones towards someone we dislike or disagree with than to look to the faults in ourselves and try to bring about change. Conversion is essential but it is no magic bullet - like John Bunyan’s Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, it sets us out on a hard road towards the heavenly city and there are many obstacles. We are to continue the journey, remembering that we do not make it in our own strength.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thoughts from Church today

Again a wonderful Offertory hymn today. This time for Lambeth in my mind at least (I wonder if the new head of music had it in mind, he was inducted today so may not have actually chosen the hymns)

"O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray
that all thy Church might be for ever one,
grant us at every Eucharist to say
with longing heart and soul, "thy will be done."
O may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.

For all thy Church, O Lord, we intercede;
make thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
by drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace;
thus may we all one Bread, one Body be,
through this blest Sacrament of unity.
Tune may be heard at

Actually the new Head of Music seems to be quite a find for St James.

Warren Trevelyan-Jones

has just arrived from England.
He was commissioned at the 11am Choral Eucharist. My usual service is the 9am Sung Eucharist in which I can sing my heart out probably to the annoyance of my neighbours rather than sit as an admiring listener to the choir.

At the 9am service today we dedicated the young volunteers who are working with the Brothers of Taize at services in St James during World Youth Day (week?)
St James is located opposite St Mary's Catholic Cathedral (the bells sometimes conflict). To my knowledge this is the only official involvement of the Anglican church in the Catholic World Youth Day. We prayed for its success (along with Lambeth, I wonder if it is in the prayers of other Sydney Diocesan churches). Our Rector referred in his sermon to the Editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday which ends:

There is a lesson for clergy and laity alike in the words of author C.S. Lewis: "If you read history you will find the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."

The whole editorial is well worth reading.

He (the Rector) stated that those on the Right of the church think only of salvation as acceptance into Heaven while those on the Left think only of salvation in the world today. Rather we should be combining both in our concept of Salvation. Something to think about.

I also want to draw your attention to the (as always) wonderful article by Bishop Gene Robinson in the Guardian. He continues to amaze and inspire me. Was going to write more but Doorman-Priest has beaten me to it. However please read the blog and keep Bishop Gene in your prayers for his safety and for the words he speaks. Commentators and blog replies (often anonymous) say he is obsessed but I give thanks that he is speaking for so many of us who have not had a voice in the church in the past.

I have decided to keep well away from Sydney (I live 80km away) during World Youth Day (Week). I do not like crowds and after 40 years as a High School Teacher have become allergic to young people but I will pray for its success even though I have reservations about some of the more conservative aspects as well as the cost. Alcibiades who lives closer to the centre of things may be able to keep you more up-to-date.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another Bishop speaks out

I am indebted to Not too much for a lead to the following from Bishop Phillip Huggins, one of the assistant bishops in the Diocese of Melbourne. In a Letter to the Editor of the Melbourne Age he writes:
It is easy to be deluded into thinking the world is defined by conference resolutions, when you have just had an "invigorating" time. This reflection is reinforced by Archbishop Jensen's article. Our colleague has yet to communicate directly with us other Anglican bishops, so we cannot help him see the down-side of his post-conference rhetoric; the effect on Anglicans who have to explain this negative publicity to friends and colleagues; the unintentional devaluing of how faithful souls seek to love God and neighbour in our parishes and agencies; the diminishing of faithful Anglicans in committed relationships across the spectrum; the potential danger to vulnerable young people, conflicted about their sexuality, threatened by homophobia; and the fact that people looking for "good news" hope the church might help to prevent violence, look after casualties in a deteriorating economy and provide God's grace and peace in communities of the faithful.

I have spent much of the week trying to comfort and encourage people in my region. By comparison with some of the Sydney Archbishop's examples, at least I am not trying to simultaneously care for folk on another continent.

Bishop Philip Huggins, northern and western region, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

In an interview following the letter in the same newspaper:

Bishop Huggins said the negative publicity hurt ordinary Anglicans, devalued the work of faithful Christians, and endangered young people who were confused about their sexuality and threatened by homophobia. He said he had spent much of the week trying to comfort and encourage Melbourne Anglicans.

He told The Age that Dr Jensen had breached protocol by publishing an opinion piece in another diocese without talking to his colleagues there, which put Melbourne's bishops in a difficult position. "We are not a client state of an imperial state required to be silent, and people have been hurt. People have been passionate about what the church should be since Peter and Paul were arguing in the first years of the church," he said.

Bishop Huggins was an assistant Bishop in Perth, then he was Bishop of Grafton (in the province of NSW led by ++Jensen) and has now been an assistant in Melbourne since 2004. From an article at that time, he seems to be quite a character and may have returned to Melbourne to follow his favourite Football team.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More from Archbishop Aspinall

I have found the full transcript of ++Aspinall's interview on ABC radio. This part interests me most

MONICA ATTARD: Justice Kirby of the High Court; an openly gay man has said in the past that he feels let down by the Anglican Church, I mean is that something that you feel deeply about?

PHILLIP ASPINALL: Yes it is, I feel a degree of sympathy for the hurt that Justice Kirby expresses and I guess at a personal level that's really what's at stake in this debate.

Quite a number of homosexual people have said that they are people of faith, that they are committed to Jesus Christ and believe they are faithful members of the church and they want to have a home in the church and they want their contributions to be received and valued and welcomed.

The question the church is struggling with is, is an active homosexual lifestyle compatible with the gospel?

And there is no clear cut answer to that question, people feel it very deeply and the feelings run deep and I guess that's part of the nature of human sexuality. It goes to the very core of our being and sometimes it's hard to get rational discussion about it but we have to keep at it until we can.

MONICA ATTARD: Would you not be able to put this debate down once and for all if you expressed your view?

PHILLIP ASPINALL: Monica what happens in the Anglican Church is people often cry out for the leaders to speak out strongly on one issue or another.

And whenever a bishop does, another group of people will shout out, why doesn't that renegade bishop keep his opinions to himself?

So me expressing a strong view one way or the other is not going to settle the debate, I can assure you of that.

MONICA ATTARD: But it might in Australia?

PHILLIP ASPINALL: Ah no, it wouldn't even in Australia. Archbishop Jensen expressing a strong view on it has not settled the debate in Australia.

A number of others have expressed a strong view one way or another and that has not settled the debate in Australia and Australia is not going to settle it in isolation from the debate going on it the rest of the world.

I guess I personally want him to speak out more clearly in opposition to Jensen but at least he shows more sympathy to the situation of gay members of the church.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bishop Gene Robinson

I am indebted to Grandmere Mimi for the latest Message from +Gene Robinson
It begins:
Later today, I leave for England and the Lambeth Conference. I am writing to you to 1) ask for your prayers, 2) to let you know how you can keep up with the goings-on in England, and my reflections on them, and 3) to assure you that I will be taking you in my heart everywhere I go.

He has created a blog - Nothing there yet
I will be writing a daily blog called Canterbury Tales from the Fringe

I have added it to my blog list on the right.

Please pray for him at this time.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Family Matters

Today is the 2nd Anniversary of Mum's passing into God's care. My sister joined me at the Eucharist at St James and was pleased to see I had put Mum's name on the service sheet in the list of 'Those whose year's mind falls about this time'.

The Offertory hymn was 'Be Thou My Vision' which we sung at Mum's memorial service. Mum chose it partly because she loved it but also because she knew it is my favourite hymn. Tears streamed down both our faces as we sung it.
It was the last day of our temporary music director (one of our organists, Peter Ellis) and he wrote the reason he chose today's music.
"Be thou my vision has been my comfort blanket for as long as I have had faith and the ability to articulate it"

I firmly believe God guided him in his choice.
Mum would have enjoyed the other hymns as well.
Entrance: We have a gospel to proclaim
Gradual : Jesus, good above all other
Post Communion: I heard the voice of Jesus say.

Peter is a former Baptist and says he likes to slide a few hymns under the incense barrier. He has my encouragement.

In the early part of my overseas journey I asked your prayers for my sister when it was discovered she had a melanoma on her back. Her doctor told her this week, after a further operation 2 weeks ago, that all of it has been removed and there are no further signs.

Thanks be to God.

A brave priest

One priest in the Sydney Diocese is willing to speak out. He is Rev Chris Albany of St Mark's Anglican Church, South Hurstville.
He speaks out in his sermons (see 15 June 2008) and he has written the following in the Sydney Morning Herald Letters July 5. (This link will probably change when archived.)
Unrepresented still

Peter Jensen says "Some in Australia will say, what has this to do with me? That has never been the way of the Anglican Communion …" Nor has it been the way of the Communion to refuse to meet those with whom one disagrees. I, with more than 1000 Sydney Anglicans, petitioned the archbishop and his fellow Sydney bishops earlier this year not to boycott the Lambeth Conference. I repeat that call publicly. We need our bishops to be part of that conference to contribute to and benefit from its rich, complex and diverse engagement with fellow bishops. We are told that after GAFCON there is no split in the Anglican Communion. Not attending Lambeth leads to the perception that there is.

Reverend Chris Albany

South Hurstville

One of our own Honorary Associate Priests, Rev John Beer, was quite scathing in his criticism of our Archbishop and the whole GAFCON mob in his sermon this morning (I felt like standing up and cheering)
Our Rector made a more muted criticism at the beginning of his sermon 2 weeks ago.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Bishop Farran speaks out

Bishop Brian Farran of Newcastle (Australia) has always been the local bishop willing to state his mind about GAFCON and Archbishop Jensen.He was interviewed by Stephen Crittenden on The Religion Report on July 2
I have copied the most interesting parts.

Stephen Crittenden
: The Bishop of Newcastle, Bishop Brian Farran, who lives right next to the Sydney Diocese says Archbishop Peter Jensen has created difficulties for his relationship with the rest of the Australian church.

Brian Farran
: Well I think it's particularly difficult within the province of New South Wales where the Archbishop is the Metropolitan. I think there's in fact emerging as he has, probably by default, as a principal leader of the GAFCON movement, and their statement in which they really encourage the formation of what seems like a church within a church. I think it would be difficult for him to come back and operate as if nothing has happened, and that the relationships that we have normally, through say our Primate with the Archbishop of Canterbury, that they're going to be a bit muddied by his relationship with this secondary movement.

Stephen Crittenden
: many Anglicans in Sydney who'd like to escape it. I mean is this the time when some kind of Episcopal oversight needs to be offered to alienating Anglicans in Sydney?

Brian Farran
: Well I personally don't agree with alternative forms of Episcopal oversight, so I'm finding myself rather constrained in all of this. Certainly I've been in contact with some of the Anglicans in Sydney who sometimes flee up to Newcastle actually for a dose of liturgical renewal, and they themselves have said that they're totally disappointed that the Sydney bishops are not going to be at Lambeth, and they really do feel abandoned in that. So I guess there will be people in Sydney who are looking for some kind of insight from Lambeth and some follow-on.

Brian Farran
: Yes. He's (Greg Venables who's the Archbishop of the Southern Cone) going to go. And I guess he will be a probable spokesperson for the GAFCON experience. The only Australian bishop that I'm aware of who went to GAFCON and is going to Lambeth is the Bishop of Armidale, Peter Brain. So it will be interesting for the Australian bishops to hear from him directly.

Stephen Crittenden: The BBC the other day was painting Archbishop Jensen almost as a patient reconciler. I wonder whether world Anglicanism perhaps doesn't sufficiently recognise the organisational significance of Sydney in all of this. They don't have quite the experience that people like you have, living right next door.

Brian Farran: Well that's a possibility. I mean we here in Newcastle experience the intrusions of Sydney, although of course they're in one sense, second order intrusions, and they're not actually initiated by the diocese as such. But there are parishes within Sydney that plant churches within the diocese of Newcastle as sort of evangelical beacons, although we do actually have classic evangelical parishes within the diocese. But these are bypassed by these initiatives.

Stephen Crittenden: And would you expect to see that kind of activity increase?

Brian Farran: It could be possible. I don't think it would be initiated necessarily by the Archbishop but I think there are some fairly gung-ho people around and they may take the lead from what's happening through the GAFCON initiatives themselves.

Brian Farran: It could actually degenerate into almost an ecclesial form of consumerism where people for a whole variety of reasons want to choose which bishop they have.

I have often wished we could have episcopal oversight from either Newcastle or Bathurst but, as stated, those bishops being true to the Anglican Church do not believe in such intrusions even though they suffer from them. Perhaps if those people referred to as gung-ho in the Sydney Diocese do become more obvious in their planting, some reverse activity may finally occur.

I hold Peter Jensen in complete contempt and if he were to enter a church where I was worshipping I would walk out or perhaps if he were preaching I could copy the Aborigines and their response to John Howard and stand with my back to him.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Archbishop Aspinall (Australian Primate) speaks out

I am always concerned at how Jensen is often portrayed as if he were the leader of the Anglican Church of Australia. Archbishop Aspinall of Brisbane is the Primate of Australia. However this is not a position of power, he is not much more than chairman of the Australian General Synod. It was explained to me last week that when the Anglican Church of Australia was created in 1962 the individual dioceses maintained a great deal of independence. Canons passed by the General Synod must be adopted by the individual diocese. Each diocese chooses its own bishop and, as long as the person is canonically fit, the appointment must stand. This is not true in the USA nor NZ where there are processes of confirmation by the national church. Both the dioceses of Perth and Canberra-Goulburn ordained women before the necessary legislation was passed by General Synod and while attempts were made to prevent it in the civil courts they were unsuccessful.
So as the GAFCONites talk about a committee of primates, I wonder who they will be.
The chances of Jensen becoming Primate of Australia (there is an election next October) are thankfully almost nil. Yet he continues to be the spokesman for the Primates who are in GAFCON and seem unable to speak by themnselves without displaying their inate stupidity. So how does Jensen think he will obtain the position of power he so obviously craves while still remaining within the Anglican Church of Australia?

Anyway ++Aspinall has finally spoken. In today's Sydney Morning Herald

THE Anglican Primate of Australia, Phillip Aspinall, has called on rebel Anglicans, including the Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, to reconsider their boycott of Lambeth, the decennial conference of national church leaders, saying reform must come from within.

Responding to the conservatives' threat to create a breakaway faction within the global church, Dr Aspinall said there was room for diversity within the church's boundaries.

Dr Aspinall said the implications of the Jerusalem declaration issued at the conclusion of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) this week were "not entirely clear and it may take some time before we know the likely impact of what is proposed".

"If participants at GAFCON … regard themselves as Anglicans, which I understand they do, then it seems to me they should be at Lambeth. It's there that the whole Anglican family will gather."

In attempting to find the original of this statement I came upon his sermon for the commencement of the Brisbane Synod last week. I have never heard him preach but he seems to have a sense of humour. He discussed the first Lambeth Conference and drew some parallels. I will quote some parts which appeal to me.

"The first Lambeth Conference in 1867 was marred by controversy over the authority of scripture, the legitimacy of certain sexual practices and mess over Episcopal jurisdiction and boundaries.

So you can see just how far we’ve come!

Now, you don’t have to look very far to see that this underlying tension is still with us today, not just disagreements about presenting issues. One perspective is looking for ‘definitive rulings, decisive moral leadership’, doing away with uncertainty and provisionality. The other is looking for a way forward that affirms what seems to be true in the conflicting positions of those who disagree.

One view seeks closure, the other is looking for openness. To those who take the first approach it seems completely inappropriate to permit change, development, and provisionality in a church that claims to have the truth revealed by God. It also looks weak and indecisive to those looking on from outside. And it’s bound to be a slippery slope. If first one thing, then another is altered, faith is undermined and the whole edifice put at risk. No, according to this view, the faith is clear. Truth is identifiable and must be maintained ‘clear and unambiguous’.

The second view is often known as Anglican comprehensiveness and recognizes that Anglicanism includes a number of perspectives that are often in tension with one another. It would be a mistake though to think that this second view simply seeks an easy compromise for the sake of peace and the avoidance of hard questions. Rather it recognizes, as Michael Ramsey once said, that ‘The Church is a scene of continual dying’. At best it only ever has a partial grasp of the infinity of God. The full ramifications of the gospel are always being worked out in the church. The reality of God can’t be reduced ‘to the dimension of one person’s, or one group’s, need for comfort and control’. From this perspective the journey into truth, guided by the Holy Spirit, rests not on any neat system, but on faith in a crucified and risen Lord who evades and upsets all the structures in which we would contain him.