Bathurst Synod – Presidential address 2020

Here is Bishop Mark Calder’s first synod charge, as presented to an extraordinary session of the 49th Synod of the Diocese of Bathurst, 19th September 2020.

A powerful and challenging address. Fuel for prayer.

Update: The full text is now available.

North West Network, September 2020

The latest issue of North West Network, the newsletter of the Diocese of North West Australia, is now available.

Great to not only learn what is happening in the north west, but also as fuel for prayer.

It’s a 1MB PDF file here.

Bishop admits past failures and outdated services are hampering church growth

Here’s a Media Release from the Diocese of Bathurst, 18 September 2020:

Bishop admits past failures and outdated services are hampering church growth

The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst (covering central and western NSW) will tomorrow admit that there has been much in the past – including sexual abuse by church leaders and certain financial decisions – which has been shameful and damaging to the reputation of the church.

Bishop Mark Calder will make the remarks during his first major address to church leaders of the diocese at their annual gathering, known as synod, on Saturday 19th September just after 10am.

In the 45-minute speech, Bishop Calder will ask church leaders to ‘name the past’, ‘face the present’ and ‘explore the future’.

“There is significant baggage that we must deal with before we can move forward, including mistrust, unresolved conflict, a damaged ‘brand’ and lack of financial resources to try anything new,” Bishop Calder will say.

If we continue doing the same things the way we always have, we cannot expect any different outcome. We cannot expect to grow or reach those generations we are currently missing by doing more of the same.

“Looking to the future, church leaders must help renew the church through prayer, through becoming more outward-looking, through seeking new clergy, through more contemporary church services and through everyone becoming more confident in sharing the great news of forgiveness Jesus Christ lived, died and rose to make possible.”

The synod this year will meet electronically via Zoom for the first time in the diocese’s history due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

[Editor’s note: Please continue to pray for Bishop Mark Calder and for the churches of the Diocese of Bathurst, as they seek to live for Jesus.]

Bishop of Armidale flags return to parish ministry — at Shoalhaven Heads

“This has not been an easy decision but nor was the call to be a Bishop, but what a privilege it has been to serve among you.

In my time as Bishop I have watched the suffering of a drought affected rural diocese and stood beside and with you in such suffering. I have ordained and appointed many of you to positions. Like yourselves, I have lived with the frustrations of what can and can’t be done and been forced, like all of you, to fall back on our great God in faith. …”

– from Bishop Rick Lewers’ message to the clergy and parishes of the Armidale Diocese.

Please do pray for Rick and Janene, for the parish of Shoalhaven Heads, and also for the saints in the Diocese of Armidale.

West Wyalong Anglican Church

Bishop of Bathurst Mark Calder is praying for someone to serve as the new Minister at West Wyalong – someone who will bring the word of God to equip the saints and to make an impact for the Lord Jesus Christ.

It would good to join him in that prayer.

For more info, see Ministry Opportunities.

Archbishop Glenn Davies shares his personal response to COVID-19

In this weekend’s online service for the Diocese of Bathurst, Bishop Mark Calder asks Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies about how COVID-19 has impacted him.

And Glenn shares a familiar, but wonderful, verse for your encouragement.

It’s also available here as a standalone video.


“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 ), 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.’…” 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.

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