Masks

“I don’t understand why people would have a problem being asked to wear a mask. It might not be popular to say it out loud, but we all put on masks.

So what’s the problem? Long before COVID came along we were masked and long after it will disappear we will continue to be masked. So what’s the problem?…”

A gospel slant on masks from the Bishop of Armidale, Rick Lewers.

Peter Grice elected Bishop of Rockhampton

Peter Grice, Dean of Geraldton Cathedral in the Diocese of North West Australia, has been elected Bishop of the Diocese of Rockhampton:

“With much joy and gratitude to Almighty God, I announce the successful election of the Very Reverend Peter John Grice as the thirteenth Bishop of the Diocese of Rockhampton. The Episcopal Announcement was made at a Special Session of Synod, via Zoom, that was also livestreamed today.

Peter currently serves as the Dean of the Cathedral in Geraldton, Western Australia. As a family, Peter, Virginia and their five children, have ministered previously in the Dioceses of Armidale and North West Australia.

Peter was born in Newcastle, NSW and completed High School in Wollongong, NSW. He studied a Bachelor of Commerce/Law at the University of NSW before working as a solicitor in Sydney.

He has completed Theological Studies through the Australian College of Theology, studying at Sydney Missionary and Bible College. He holds further Post Graduate qualifications from Moore Theological College and Trinity Theological College. After completing his initial theological training, Peter responded to the call of Parish ministry in the Diocese of Armidale, where he was deaconed and priested in 2001 and 2002 respectively. He served as the Assistant Minister and then Incumbent of St Augustine’s Inverell for 14 years, before accepting his current position as Dean and Minister-in-Charge of the Holy Cross Cathedral Geraldton in January 2015. He is also licensed as the Vicar General of the North West Australia Diocese.”

– See the full announcement by the Administrator of the diocese, Tom Henderson-Brooks. (PDF file)

Photo: Peter and Virginia Grice.

Re-gathering in the Northern Territory: the new normal for St Peter’s Nightcliff

“For 11 weeks our church gathered virtually for live-streamed services filmed in our church building. When the Northern Territory announced its ‘Roadmap to the new normal’, we realised we couldn’t allow as many people into our church space as before lockdown …”

– at The Australian Church Record, Joshua Kuswadi shares the news from Darwin.

Church under Coronavirus: Bathurst Diocese

“Why was there no special gathering to mark the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Bathurst on 5 May 2020? Was there much to celebrate anyway?

Consider the state of the Diocese. Spasmodic rainfall has not broken an extended drought in the region. In recent decades the church has been impoverished. Successfully sued for a multi-million dollar debt, it had to sell much church property. Griefs for these losses endure. Only the generosity of Sydney Diocese keeps things going.

More property still must be sold to help redress wrongs done to victims of sexual abuse. The Diocese is clouded with sadness for those ‘scarred and forever damaged’, as Mark Calder, Bishop of Bathurst, recently described the victims. …”

– In The Australian Church Record, ACL Emeritus Vice President Allan Blanch writes of much encouragement in Bathurst Diocese, despite much stress.

(Allan is the author of From Strength to Strength – A Life of Marcus Loane and A Pioneering Pastor: Thomas Sharpe of Norfolk Island and Bathurst.)

Bathurst Diocese Church services resuming


Here’s a media release from the Diocese of Bathurst:

The bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst (which covers central and western NSW), Mark Calder, has welcomed the announcement from the Premier’s office today that services of worship may resume again, so long as there are no more than 50 people present and that appropriate hygiene requirements, health checks and social distancing is observed.

“We have been in preparation for this announcement for a couple of weeks and have been readying our church leaders for the possibility that church services may soon resume in a modified form,” Bishop Calder commented.

“However, because some of our buildings are quite small and many of our people fall within the most vulnerable age group, we are taking a cautious approach to resuming services.

“While the cleaning, checking, contact recording requirements are all perfectly understandable, they are quite onerous.

“So we are leaving the decision about whether or not to resume services at this time, to each local church’s leadership. People should contact their local church, to see what is planned.”

Should churches wish to resume, they must apply to the Registrar of the Diocese and sign off that they have met all the demands of the multi-faceted checklists which have been provided.

“Everyone in their local context has to be comfortable with this decision. Clergy ought not to press lay people to meet the requirements of meeting again, nor should lay people press clergy to resume,” Bishop Calder said.

“Our relationship with God is not dependent on following certain rituals and ceremonies but is nurtured as we hear the Bible read and explained and respond with prayer and transformed lives.”

Bishop Calder has been producing online services each week since lockdown, (available here https://www.bathurstanglican.org.au ), and many parishioners are content with this form of church for the time being.

“The safety of our people and the community is of primary concern, and churches who do resume services, will be absolutely committed to keeping everyone safe.”

Preparing and praying for return


“Archbishop Glenn Davies and diocesan bishops have held talks with the NSW government about re-opening churches for up to 50 people as June is set to begin with pubs, clubs and restaurants allowed to have 50 seated patrons. …

Dr Davies said until there was an official lifting of numbers for churches, ‘We should all be prepared to continue, as we have successfully been doing for the past two months, with our online services.’…

Dr Davies recommended that, ‘Until there is clear medical evidence that it is safe to do so, no congregational singing should be allowed, as a precautionary measure.’…”

SydneyAnglicans.net has the latest.

Public Statement from the Bishops of NSW and ACT, 12 May 2020

“The Diocesan Bishops of the Province of NSW meet regularly for prayer and fellowship throughout the year, but have been in greater contact by email and zoom meetings these past few months. The outcome of these meetings was our Public Statement on 18 March 2020 which announced the closure of our church buildings and the suspension of normal church services in early March, in the interests of public health and safety.

We met again this week to discuss the Prime Minister’s release of the three Step Roadmap for a COVIDsafe Community. While we acknowledge the lifting of restrictions on public gatherings, allowing up to ten persons at a religious gathering, we believe that Step 1 is not the time to recommence meeting in person for Sunday public worship.

There are various reasons for this decision which will be communicated to each diocese by their Bishop. We are grateful for the patience of our congregations as they endure the continuation of church online, rather than in their familiar church surroundings, but we believe the health and safety of our own community, as well as others, should be paramount.

Yet we welcome the increased flexibility for gatherings in private homes and would therefore recommend that small groups of people take advantage of this liberty, perhaps gathering for prayer and Bible study or meeting together to join in watching online church. However, in such cases social distancing and hand hygiene must be observed, as we should remain vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID-19, acknowledging the health guidelines that our State and Territory Governments have issued.

We continue to pray for the leadership of our Prime Minister, Premier and Chief Minister of the ACT as they lead the nation in these challenging times. We also pray for our health workers as they care for those affected, and for those seeking to develop a vaccine. We continue to urge all Christians to pray that our heavenly Father may be gracious to us in stemming the spread of this disease in our land and throughout the world.

The Rt Rev. Mark Calder (Bishop of Bathurst)
The Most Rev. Dr Glenn Davies (Archbishop of Sydney)
The Rt Rev. Dr Murray Harvey (Bishop of Grafton)
The Rt Rev. Donald Kirk (Bishop of Riverina)
The Rt Rev. Rick Lewers (Bishop of Armidale)
The Rt Rev. Dr Mark Short (Bishop of Canberra & Goulburn)
The Rt Rev. Dr Peter Stuart (Bishop of Newcastle).”

– Via the Diocese of Armidale.

How are you going with COVID-19? — Bishop Rick Lewers

“I keep being asked how we are going with the COVID-19 lockdown.

Like most people, I am watching the news, I have, with some discomfort, downloaded the app and sought to be a good citizen of the nation following Government requests. Although I’m a bit of a rebel, this has not been a time for rebellion but a time to make whatever contribution we can. …”

– Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers shares some experiences from lockdown.

Diocese of Bathurst 150th anniversary statement from Bishop Mark Calder

Bishop Mark Calder has released this video statement on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Bathurst.

It’s also available in written form as this 240kb PDF file.

North West Network May 2020

The May 2020 edition of North West Network is now available at this link. (3.3MB PDF file.)

Fuel for your prayers for the Diocese and people of North West Australia.

Gospel Presentation by Bishop Rick Lewers

Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers shares the heart of the Christian faith.

Give thanks for bishops who know and tell the gospel!

A man for such a time as this

“In his Easter sermon, the new Anglican Bishop of Bathurst, Mark Calder, spoke about his grief over what had been lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and how he yearned for the restoration of normality.

And yet at the same time, he can see how God has gone before him, preparing him for just such a time as this when churches across the nation are closed.

Before entering ministry, Calder’s professional background was as a video editor. …”

Eternity News has this profile of Bishop Mark Calder.

It’s a good reminder to pray him and also for the people of the diocese of Bathurst.

Corona Crisis — a Five week series from the Bishop of Bathurst

Next Sunday, the Bishop of Bathurst, Mark Calder, begins a 5 week special sermon series addressing issues raised by the crisis.

This weekend, he turns to Psalm 13.

Do pray that this series might be a blessing to many across New South Wales, and further afield.

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