Encouragement in the midst of a challenging year

“It’s important to take moments to stop and reflect in order to see the ways God has worked in our lives. We want to celebrate how God has blessed churches, sustained and expanded ministries, and grown his kingdom this year. Join us in giving thanks for the year that has been!…”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, Judy Adamson reminds us there is much for which we can be thankful.

Sydney Diocese’s Unchanged Priority for over Eighty Years

“The world’s greatest need is evangelism. With all the earnestness and strength that are in me I urge upon you that fact. I urge it especially upon my brethren of the clergy. Study evangelism; preach evangelism; live evangelism.

Let us not, by neglecting it, betray the Lord that bought us; let us not, by neglecting it, betray the souls of men who look to us for light and leading; let us not, by neglecting it, betray our own souls on the day of judgment when God shall call us to give account of our stewardship.

‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ we cry. And our cry would be one of despair did all not remember that “our sufficiency is of God”. That sufficiency comes to us through the medium of prayer.”

– Archbishop H. W. K. Mowll, Presidential Address to the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Twenty-fourth Synod of the Diocese of Sydney (Monday 15 August, 1938) (Year Book of the Diocese of Sydney 1939, p. 247)

Picture: Archbishop Howard Mowll, painted by Alfred G. Reynolds, 1958. On display at Mowll Village, Castle Hill.

“PRAY FOR AUSTRALIA” DAY

Phillip Jensen has written to encourage prayer –

Our country is desperately in need of our prayers so would you join us for a day to:

What better day than Australia Day, 26th January (the public holiday just before the year gets under way)?

What better way than in our parish churches – with connections to others meeting to pray?

Last January we started an evangelistic prayer day with a group of young adults.

PRAY FOR AUSTRALIA
DAY

It was a great way to start the year. So, we are repeating it in 2021.

Since then, thanks to Covid, we’ve all learnt how to link up with other groups through live streaming and sharing recorded talks to use simultaneously.

This year we are recasting our program and inviting you to join us in your church or hall.

Date:   Australia Day, Tuesday 26th January 2021

Time:   10:30am to 3:00pm

Pre-recorded talks

The morning session will have two talks – ‘Praying Evangelistically’ and ‘Evangelising Australia’, with time for prayer after each one.

The afternoon session is up to you, but we would encourage you to use it to articulate your 2021 parish vision as the basis for prayer.

We will pre-record the two talks and send them to you to show at your church.

We will also have a Facebook event where we will interact with other groups also meeting to pray. ‘PRAY FOR AUSTRALIA’ Day Facebook event.

I hope you can join us – happy to hear of any way to help you.

Yours

Phillip

New contemporary service planned for Bathurst Cathedal

Phil Howes, minister at Narromine Anglican Church, has been asked to move to Bathurst to help start a contemporary service to complement the work already being done there.

In his online service for Sunday 15th November, Bishop Mark Calder asked Phil about the planned move, and how people could pray for him, and for the team at the Cathedral.

The interview begins 12 minutes 30 seconds into the video.

Fuel for your prayers.

Redeeming Time — an App you probably need

Andy Geers and his team at Discipleship Tech (think PrayerMate) have just released a new, free, app.

“According to some estimates, internet users spent an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking in 2019; and in the midst of a global pandemic that figure is only likely to have increased in 2020. But in that same time, you could read the entire Gospel of Matthew or the Acts of the Apostles. Even with just two minutes you could read the whole of 2 or 3 John.

Many of us are increasingly disillusioned with how social media is draining our time and attention. This week, Discipleship Tech launched a brand new app, Redeeming Time, seeking to change that and help us reset our relationship with our phones and reconnect with God through His word.

Just tell the app how long you’ve got, and it will recommend books of the Bible that you can read in that time. You can also scroll up for longer books and it will track your partial progress through them, letting you carry on where you got to last time. At six minutes per day you could read the whole New Testament in six months.”

A church for every kombini — Japan needs Jesus

On our days off we’ll occasionally take a drive, usually to the seaside. It’s refreshing to go through the country, but also discouraging. As we drive through village after village, there is always a shrine or temple, but rarely a church. We see beauty, vigour and tradition, but we don’t see much hope of people coming to know Jesus in these towns.   

My family and I are part of a project to plant a church in Chiba City, the capital of Chiba prefecture, neighbouring Tokyo. We are patiently, diligently turning soil, preparing, hoping and praying for gospel growth. We dream of a vibrant, growing church in our city. We want to see new believers keen to share their faith, uninhibited and enabled for the task.

We’re begging you to join us.”

– Helane and Adam Ramsay send encouragement – and a plea – from Japan. On the CMS Australia website.

Photo: CMS.

Jesus: the light worth celebrating

“There is a reality in Sydney that we need to be aware of: we are home to many people from the Asian subcontinent! First generation migrants and second-generation children of migrants, these are people who have been educated in various systems, from different countries, practicing a variety of religions and surviving in different socioeconomic conditions. Our subcontinental neighbours are the fastest-growing migrant population in Sydney.

With such a smorgasbord of tribes, tongues and nations in our suburbs, Christians should be asking how we can reach these friends with the salvation and assurance that comes only through our Lord and Saviour. …”

– Ben George writes to encourage Christians to build bridges of love with their subcontinental neighbours. At The Australian Church Record.

Archbishop Glenn Davies gives Thanksgiving prayer for the end of drought

Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Glenn Davies, leads in prayer at the end of the drought, and also prayers for those labouring for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Thanks be to God for his many mercies.

People and the Reformation

“October 31 is remembered in some places, not as a wretched Halloween Day, as the date when, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses in Latin to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg in Saxony. In doing so, he unwittingly, to some degree at least, triggered off the Protestant Reformation. …”

– The Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, writes for Reformation Day, this coming weekend.

Churches, Give People a Message of Hope

“Tom Holland is the spiderman of historians. His latest conversation with Glen Scrivener is well worth the listen for it includes more than a few intriguing thoughts in the web of ideas.

I really appreciate his thoughtfulness and honesty. It was this reflection by Holland that especially struck a chord with me. He said,

‘I felt that over the course of this year the churches have been a let down. I think that the experience of pandemic, it sets you to asking why is this happening…it raises profound issues of theodicy.’…

Holland isn’t knocking churches for talking about their buildings, social distancing and COVID-19 plans. He notes that these things are important. The overall presentation of Christianity that he has heard and seen over the last 6 months (and keep in mind Tom Holland is a studious observer of Christianity), the message he’s received is overall bland and uninspiring and offers little hope to a world he says is desperate for salvation.”

– Murray Campbell in Melbourne writes at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Sydney Preaching Clubs Reopening in 2021!

News from David Cook and The Expository Preaching Trust –

“The Trust’s preaching clubs will reopen in Term 1, 2021. They meet four times each year, once each school term, in Abbotsford on a Thursday and at Cronulla on a Friday.

Membership of each club is free…

Learn more about this invaluable resource here.

A place of hope opens in Sydney’s West

“’To the Glory of God and the growth of His Kingdom’ – so says the plaque unveiled at the official opening of Sydney’s latest Anglican church building.

The 21st-century design of the Stanhope Anglican Church was projected on the screen in the auditorium as Archbishop Glenn Davies joined the church’s pastor, Steve Reimer, members of the church and invited guests in opening the building. …”

– Good news from Russell Powell at SydneyAnglicans.net.

Staying fresh as a Rector

“Even before COVID-19, every rector was aware of the growing pressure of the role: the demands of compliance, managing expectations and criticisms from the congregation, tensions within parish council, the demands of meeting the budget, keeping the staff aligned with a common vision, and the challenges to see both church and gospel growth.

COVID-19 has simply escalated that stress by requiring so many decisions on an ever-changing treadmill. The result is that we can be left feeling tired and uninspired with a gnawing sense of failure as we count the days to our resignation or retirement.

At different stages of my ministry I found refreshment in the following…”

Encouragement from Ray Galea, at The Australian Church Record.

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