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It is no secret that the Anglican Church is in crisis. As a Global Church we are shrinking, we have abandoned our historical and theological moorings and we have little vision for what we should be doing in the world. In many ways, everyone appears to be doing what is right in their own eyes. This is an enormous problem. It is almost like the reality and authority of God has been methodologically excluded from many Anglican churches and leaders’ theology, thought and life. Churches have left God and his Word out in the cold.
It is for this reason that in the second half of June, I will be heading to Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). GAFCON is an opportunity for like-minded Anglicans from across the world who believe in the authority of Scripture, the evangelistic mission of the church and the resurrection of and uniqueness of Jesus to gather, to pray, and to strategise. The GAFCON movement is a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion.
Our mission is to guard the unchanging, transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world. We are founded on the Bible, bound together by the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008, and led by a Primates Council, which represents the majority of the world’s Anglicans.
GAFCON works to guard and proclaim the unchanging, transforming Gospel through biblically faithful preaching and teaching which frees our churches to make disciples by clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ in all the world.
The GAFCON journey began in 2008 when moral compromise, doctrinal error and the collapse of biblical witness in parts of the Anglican communion had reached such a level that the leaders of the majority of the world’s Anglicans felt it was necessary to take a united stand for truth. A crowd of more than one thousand witnesses, including Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, clergy and lay leaders gathered in Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON).
The second conference, GAFCON 2013, was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, at which over 1,300 delegates from 38 nations and 27 Provinces of the Anglican Communion were present. The gathering gave the Primates a mandate, through the Nairobi Communiqué and Commitment, to take forward the work of the GAFCON movement.
This year, almost 2000 will gather to encourage each other and pray for the work of authentic Anglicans around the world.
Over the next few weeks I want to share some stories about the faith and faithlessness of Anglicans from around the globe so you might be able to see the crisis clearly and pray. If you have any questions about GAFCON, please feel free to ask.
This article was previously published on sydneyanglicans.net
There is one religious inscription on an Australian headstone in the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in France that I often recall because of it contains both a statement and a question:
REDEEMED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS
IS IT WELL WITH THEE?
The inscription is on the headstone of Private William Leonard Walker, aged 18, who was killed in action on August 8, 1918. The first line of the inscription is taken from 1 Peter 1:18-19a and it is slightly altered but not significantly: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ”.
I know very little about Private William Walker apart from what can be deduced from his service record. His headstone states that he was 18. He may have been younger. He joined the army in November 1916 when he was 17. Perhaps this is the reason he spent all of 1917 and the first half of 1918 in Australia: he was too young for overseas service. He did eventually go to the Western Front where he joined the 19th Battalion (AIF) in July 1918. He was killed in action 19 days later.
What must it have been like for William’s parents to have learnt of his death: the loss of expectation they would have felt, the pain of having a child predecease them, the immense sadness of not being there with him as he died? And, yet, when they came to choose the personal inscription for his headstone they chose something that spoke of hope and life rather than hopelessness and death.
For that is how Christians respond to death: grief, yes, but hope built on the certainty of Jesus’ death and resurrection that transcends the grief and pain. And so, they chose REDEEMED WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS. For the grave and headstone was not the end, is never the end, for those who have been redeemed by Jesus.
And note the second part of the inscription: IS IT WELL WITH THEE? This could be a question directed at William himself or a more general question directed at the reader. Most people I spoke to who have read his inscription have opted for the latter reading: Is this how it is for you? That is what it is asking.
William’s epitaph speaks of the assurance of those who have trusted themselves to the Lord Jesus. And yet it does more because it challenges all who read to consider where they stand with regard to the Lord Jesus. A thoughtfully chosen epitaph can certainly engage and challenge the reader. William’s thoroughly Christian inscription certainly does that for me.
The Rev Dr Colin R. Bale is the vice principal and academic dean of Moore College as well as head of the department of Church History.
It is on again! Our bi-annual Seniors’ Retreat will be taking in the sights and sounds of Jindabyne and the Snowy Mountains in 2018.
From Sunday November 25 to Friday November 30 we will be heading to stay at Lake Jindabyne Hotel and from there your accommodation, meals and day tours are all covered.
We will be visiting a variety of locations and attractions throughout the week that are all detailed belbow – though subject to change!
We have created a waiting list for those who are interested but cannot commit at the moment. Please register below by ‘purchasing’ a ‘Waiting List’ ticket. There is no charge for this.
More information below the form.
Our trips to Bright and Merimbula have been brilliant and this one is shaping to be equally good – if not better. We, with Leanne, have loved these special times with our church members!
Now is the time to register your intention to come. Just pay $50 now to secure your spot with full payment due later in the year.
If you have any specific questions at this stage, please speak to Judith Taylor or I at church.
I hope you are able to come and spend the week away with us.
Nigel Fortescue & Judith Taylor
Itinerary (subject to change)
Day One: Travel to Jindabyne with a lunch stop in Canberra. Enjoy a three-course meal at dinner and relax in the evening in preparation for a great time away!
Day Two: We head for the mountains with stops at Thredbo for a chairlift ride to the top of Crackenback, Bullocks Flat and Charlotte’s Pass where you can see Mt Kosciuszko.
Day Three: A visit to the Snowy-Hydro System will begin the day as we take in Adaminiby and Eucumbene Dam.
Day Four: We will take in some of the local attractions such as the Gaden Trout Hatchery and Wildbrumby Distillery before an afternoon to rest or explore Jindabyne at your own pace.
Day Five: A day for the history buffs as we step back to 1890 in Dalgety, Bombala, Burnima Homestead, Nimmitabel and Cooma Gaol.
Day Six: All good things must come to an end as we depart Jindabyne and wind our way back to Campbelltown.
Summer Ministry Training Week 2018
As the year starts, we are inviting you to kick start your year serving Jesus with some input and training to spur you on. As a growing Christian community, we need to keep working at developing the gifts we have, further devoting ourselves to maturing in Jesus and promoting the Glory of God. This is what Summer Ministry Training Week is all about.
Feel free to come to one workshop; feel free to come to them all! The program is plentiful and diverse and gives you the opportunity to pick and choose the areas you need help and encouragement in or the ways in which you can help and serve others.
How to Deepen your Faith in 2018 – Simon Twist
Learn how to engage with God so you can deepen your trust in God and consider the opportunities available to you in 2018.
How to Make Church Awesome – Nigel Fortescue
Learn how to come to church ready to have an awesome time engaging with God and helping others to do the same.
Sharing Jesus – A 3 part workshop – Mick Bullen
Learn how to bring Jesus into the lives of friends a family through creative, gracious, calm Christian thinking. This three part series must be taken in order but you can do just Part 1 or Part 1&2.
How to read the Bible with kids – Simon Twist
Nurturing the faith of the little ones in your life is both an opportunity and a responsibility. Learn how to do it effectively and thoughtfully.
Pastoral Care with the Bible open – Leanne Burns
Learn how to lovingly engage in caring for others using the Bible. An opportunity to learn more about how to listen, think quickly, answer calmly & bring God’s love to those in need.
How to Read the Bible Aloud – Simon Twist
An opportunity for our church Bible readers and those thinking about joining the team to learn or refresh your skills in bringing God’s word alive to the congregation.
Song Writing (2 hours) – Rob Smith
Rob Smith is a well known Australian writer, singer and song writer who has collaborated with the EMU Team and many others over 3 decades. He will lead a 2 hour workshop on song writing basics.
Pastoral Care – Praying with others – Leanne Burns
Learn how to pray in the most difficult of situations, calling upon God for healing and help. An opportunity to learn more about how to listen, think quickly, answer calmly & bring God’s love to those in need.
How to Unlock the Old Testament – Nigel Fortescue
For many it’s a mystery, to others it’s just history but to the Christian it ought to be a place of refreshment and delight that leads you closer to Jesus. Come and learn how to understand and learn afresh from the Old Testament.
Why Porn Kills and How to Avoid it – Nigel Fortescue
We are surrounded by pornography and it is killing your brain, your relationships and your future. Come and hear some of the latest research and learn how to protect yourself and your children.
How to Minister to People with Addictions – Jason Moss
Everyone needs Jesus – including the complicated people in our lives. Come and hear Jason reflect on his ministry thus far and learn some practical skills for engaging with addicts.
Sound Desk Basics – Chris Bailey
Learn the basics to be able to run the sound desk at church or school. A must do for those interested in serving in production ministry.
Sound Desk – Upgrade your skills – Chris Bailey
Now you know how to turn it on and move some sliders, it’s time to understand the capability of the desk before you. A must do for those serving in production already or those who complete the basics workshop.
Science, Philosophy and Jesus: making sense of it all – Mick Bullen
How do you make sense of and share Jesus with a world that seems to move further and further away from him as it places new foundations on science and rational thought.
Insights into Aboriginal Culture and Ministry – Michael Duckett
Learn from Michael’s wealth of wisdom on Aboriginal Culture and Ministry and hear his challenge to engage more fully with the first Australians in our church and community.
Understanding Dementia (90 mins) – Cheryl Atkins
Learn what dementia is and how to engage with loved ones with dementia. A practical component on meaningful communication and connection with people with dementia will be included.
DINNER WITH THEOLOGY SESSIONS
Each night we have the opportunity to share dinner together while being theologically stretched. The dinner sessions provide an opportunity for conversation around tables, a stretching talk and time for questions. Registration will be out soon and you can pay your $10 and we will do the rest.
GROWTH GROUP LAUNCH NIGHT
A night for all the members of our church – those in a Growth Group, those curious about joining one and those not yet in one but keen to stay in touch with a group so they can be connected with our Christian Community. Hear about plans for the year and be encouraged to make your Group great.
I had the opportunity yesterday in some of our congregations to share some reflections and a challenge for Christians in the face of worldwide political movements and particularly at this time, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. Here is a short summary….
When there is a moment of political intrigue or controversy somewhere in the world, there is a moment for Christians to stand up and show the world that Jesus makes a difference to the way we think and act. But it is also a moment when that is difficult. Generally, the tide of people and opinion drive us to do some things that come far more easily. We are often tempted to…
- Join the yelling crowd – join in with the voices for or against, cheering or jeering, making noise. It is easy to be swept up in a tide of people who are keen to make their opinion known and when that happens we miss the chance to think and act in a way that is distinctive and glorifying to God.
- Post memes – we can also be tempted to join the cynical and satirical crowd who will not leave their house to join a protest but attempt to make their point known by using social media to flood the world with their preferred politics, often mocking or belittling the contrary opinion.
- Do Nothing – you can ignore the whole thing and hope it will go away.
I don’t believe any of those options are right for the Christian. Rather, there are four things we should do:
- Pray – I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2) If you have been busy cheering, jeering, posting or just doing nothing, you have missed the most powerful and important thing you should have been doing – praying! This is the most important thing any Christian should be doing in the face of worldwide political movements and changes.
- Remember who appoints kings – Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1) God is in charge of all who rule. He establishes them and he doesn’t make mistakes. That sounds particularly odd to students of history, but remember that God does not always appoint kings and rulers to do good. Sometimes he appoints them for judgement. So point 3…
- Remember why God appoints kings – Most rulers are appointed to bring order and justice to the world and they do so in (sometimes unknown) submission to the Lord. But on a few occasions we see that God appoints Kings to bring judgement – even kings who do not acknowledge him (see especially v.4 below). We cannot know what God has in store for the people of America but we can know that God is not one-dimensional in the way he operates – his wisdom is unsearchable!
This is what the Lord says to his anointed,
to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
and to strip kings of their armour,
to open doors before him
so that gates will not be shut:
2 I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
3 I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
4 For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name
and bestow on you a title of honour,
though you do not acknowledge me. (Isaiah 45:1-4)
4. Remember who is really King! – I always wonder about Christian people who get worked up about politics and politicians. Have they forgotten about who really matters? Have they placed too much faith in human people when the only one really worth trusting in is God himself? It is utterly ridiculous to think that anyone but the Lord Jesus can really give you all you want and need. Only he is truly King and truly in charge. Even when your “man” gets elected, he or she is still under the authority and power of God and any good they bring about only happens under his control. The Lord Jesus is always among us as King as Revelation 1 explains:
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword.His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:12-16)
These are the things Christians ought to be doing when faced with moments of political intrigue, excitement or disappointment. Of all of them I urge you most of all to pray. Here are some suggested prayers:
Prayer for all in authority
Almighty God, ruler of the nations of the earth, give wisdom to Elizabeth the Queen of Australia, to the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull and the Premier of this state Mike Baird, to the members of Parliament and to all who hold office in this land. Grant that their decisions may be based on wise counsel, so that peace and welfare, truth and justice may prevail among us, and make us a blessing to other nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For good government
Gracious Lord, grant to our governments and all who serve in public life wisdom and skill, imagination and energy. Protect them from corruption and the temptation to serve themselves. Help us all to commit ourselves to the common good, that our land may be a secure home for all its peoples; through Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace. Amen.
For our nation
God of the nations,
we pray for Australia.
Inspire and direct our leaders
to seek first your kingdom
and your righteousness,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives
in all godliness and holiness.
Bring many Australians
to a knowledge of the truth about Jesus,
who gave himself as a ransom for us all. Amen.
And finally, here is a short video from one of my favourite musicians Colin Buchanan who has an uncanny knack of summarising deep theological thought into simple lyrics that even children can digest.
Next April, Campbelltown Anglican Youth are going to KYCK – Weekend #3 – April 28-30!
KYCK is an annual Christian Conference in Katoomba for teenagers. It is like Friday Night Youth 5 times over in one weekend. You can read more at kyck.kcc.org.au.
Registrations open soon so now is the time to register your intent to come.
Click here and register your interest and we will send you everything you need to know about payment and registration ASAP.
Costs will be determined by the type of accommodation we can secure in Katoomba but it is likely to be around $160.
Any questions, please contact Nick Ford (0433 483 611) or Nigel Fortescue (0429 939 410).
See if you can spot some Campbelltown Anglican Youth in this KYCK photo!
Life Today, Life Tomorrow
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:13-17
I was reading James this week and was reminded that to live realistically, is to realise that life is fleeting, brief, uncertain, and frail. Illness, accident, or the return of Christ could cut short our lives just as quickly as the morning sun dissipates the mist. In the end, death is the great leveller. But, James’ point is not ‘fear death’. He actually wants us to embrace life rightly.
We have to acknowledge that God not only exists, but that he is the owner of life itself. That he has a plan and that our plans ought to be in accordance with his. Our lives ought to be shaped by and lived in reference to God’s sovereignty and our mistiness.
I think you can diagnose your approach to life by looking at how you make decisions. Do you ask what is best for me? Or do you ask, how can I best serve God? Does your desire to serve God leave the church with you or do you leave it on the seats? Do you plan your day, your week, and your next year as though you were Lord of earth and time and there was no God in heaven.
Now we might note equally that saying or praying “God willing” is not some sort of purifying statement that makes things we do right. It is not a protective talisman. Or immunity idol. To be sure the words “If the Lord wills” can be said with little more than vain hope and superstition; but they can also be the sweetest and most comfortable reassurance to a humble and trustful spirit.
What James urges us to do is to order our live from God outwards.
This passage must drive us to recognise that God has given us our life to be used in service of him. Are you?