The ‘parliament’ of our Diocese, the ‘Synod’, met between October 10 and 17, 2016 with three representatives from Gymea Anglican; Barbara Archer, Graham Crew and Alan Watson. Some 780 members gathered from all churches of our diocese which is quite extensive, stretching from Broken Bay in the north to Lithgow in the west and to Ulladulla in the south. In all some 280 parishes are represented.
The greatest impression was the spirit of harmony, goodwill and readiness to tolerate different views. Although there were strong differences aired, there was no jeering or hostility but a willingness to listen and consider. The debate is of a very high standard with those speaking being well prepared and in most cases wonderfully articulate.
Synod began with a communion service in the Cathedral addressed by the new Dean Rev Kaniska Raffel, and then met in the Wesley Centre, Pitt St, on each of its four days. The proceedings included the archbishop’s address, a daily bible study, mission reports, and much business with prayer.
Archbishop Davies’s address began by recognizing the Gadigal people and denounced sexual abuse in the church and community, expressed support for the plebiscite on same sex marriage, asserted that women may preach in church (subject to the rector’s approval), noted that Moore College has a new six story building that will also house Youthworks College and said that, with the sale of Bishopscourt, he himself was a transient in more ways than one.
Rev Gary Koo, a former medical doctor and now the rector of Carlingford and North Rocks parish, led the daily bible studies from Ephesians. We are challenging the common idea that Christianity is a western religion, he said. It is an opportunity to display God’s wisdom and power. (Our own diocese, with two of the five bishops of Chinese parentage and a Dean with Sri Lancan heritage as well as many clergy from non-western families, is a good example of this power and wisdom.)
Some Highlights. The Synod,
- sought gambling reform, including a $1 limit on poker machine bets.
- urged government to expedite the settlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the processing of asylum seekers detained at Manus and Nauru.
- expressed its concerns over Same Sex Marriage. Many Christians don’t seem aware of the consequences of SSM and some 30% of the population are undecided. A booklet, “What has God joined together?” was released for use by members of congregations and will soon be available free to help in conversations with neighbours and others.
- commended the alternate forms of Anglican Church fostered by the Department of Evangelism and New Churches Board and encouraged parishes to partner with ENC.
- rejoiced at the recognition of the Soul Revival congregation as a church and received a report of it vigorous growth from Rev Stuart Crawshaw.
- rejected the false notion that euthanasia represents dying with dignity and expressed concern that the South Australia parliament may soon pass a voluntary euthanasia bill.
Many more matters were resolved. The full text of the Archbishop’s address and a summary of business are available at www.sds.asn.au