New Presiding Bishop of REACH-SA

Today’s GAFCON prayer request

“We prayed for the synod of REACH-SA last month. Three new area bishops were elected. Also, The Rev. Dr. Siegfried Ngubane has been elected as the eighth Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa. Pray for each of these bishops to know the Lord’s help and guidance as they prepare to take up their roles.

(Photo: Presiding Bishop Elect, Siegfried Ngubane, meeting with Bishop Glenn Lyons).”

At Sydney Synod earlier this month, Bishop Malcolm Richards moved –

‘Synod, noting –
(i)  the long partnership between the Diocese of Sydney and the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA), and
(ii)  that the Synod of that Church met from 11 to 13 September 2023,

(a)  gives thanks to God for –

(i)  the election of the Rev Dr Siegfried Ngubane as the eighth Presiding Bishop of the REACH-SA,
(ii)  the faithful service of the current Presiding Bishop, the Rt Rev Glenn Lyons who will hand over leadership at a date to be announced, and
(iii)  the election of three new Area Bishops for the largest regions (dioceses) in REACH-SA, and

(b)  requests that the Archbishop’s office write to Dr Siegfried and Mrs Maureen Ngubane and to Bishop Glenn and Mrs Sandra Lyons assuring them of the prayers of our people, expressing the congratulations of this Synod and the commitment of this Diocese to continued gospel partnership.’

from the draft Synod minutes.

New book on the Peter Cameron Presbyterian “Heresy trial”

Many Sydney Anglicans will remember the so-called ‘heresy trial’ of Presbyterian minister Dr Peter Cameron.

It began in 1992 when Dr Cameron, the Principal of St Andrew’s College at the University of Sydney, spoke at a centenary women’s event at Ashfield where he referred to the Bible as ‘sub-Christian’. In response to the apostle Paul teaching about women, he replied, ‘So what?’.

The disciplinary proceedings came about not because Dr Cameron was in favour of women’s ordination (even though most media reports claimed that was the case), but because he dismissed the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture (not just in that sermon, but on other occasions).

The Presbyterian Church had to make a crucial decision. Would they accommodate theological liberalism as did the Uniting Church which they had declined to join fifteen years earlier?

Now, thirty years on, Paul Cooper and David Burke have edited a series of essays exploring what happened and why –

From the back cover of the book:

“In 1992, the Presbyterian Church of Australia through its disciplinary procedures convicted one of its ministers, the Rev Dr Peter Cameron, Principal of St Andrew’s College, of what the newspapers of the time called ‘heresy’. The secular media and commentary were strongly supportive of Cameron and highly critical of the Church.

Cameron, in 1994, published ‘Heretic’ which told the story from his point of view.

This book, Principle & Principal, invites the reader to consider the other side of the Cameron Case. It reflects a different bias to that propagated by Cameron and his supporters. It tells why the Presbyterian Church took this action knowing that it would result in an avalanche of criticism. While over thirty years have passed since the finalisation of the Cameron Case, and the ranks of those involved have thinned, many of the chapters in this book are written by people who participated in these events.”

Campbell Markham at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Hobart has written this review for AP.

– Details and ordering information from Eider Books.


The Crisis of ’77 – personal reflections by the Rev Bob Thomas on the decision of Presbyterians to ‘continue Presbyterian’.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia: Highlights from the 2023 Federal Assembly

“Every three years the General Assembly of Australia (GAA) meets for a week-long conference to discuss business relating to the federal church. Whereas the various state assemblies focus on governance and state based responsibilities, the federal assembly has supreme oversight and focuses on oversight of matters of worship, doctrine and discipline…”

– While the Synod of the Diocese of Sydney is meeting this week and next, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia met at Hurstville earlier this month.

The national journal of the Presbyterian Church has this summary of the GAA’s proceedings, including a link to their “Statement on Sex, Gender and Marriage”.

Sinicization of Christianity comes to Hong Kong

“Hong Kong is becoming just like any other Chinese city, and this is increasingly true for religion as well. In CCP jargon, ‘Sinicization’ of Christianity does not mean adapting churches to Chinese culture but making them subservient to the Party. …”

– Story at

Former Uniting Church congregation affiliates with Diocese of the Southern Cross

“At least a couple of ex-Uniting Churches have been pondering whether to join the new Diocese of the Southern Cross, an Anglican lifeboat set up to look after conservative churches in progressive dioceses (church regions).

Now the first ex-Uniting Church has crossed the denominational boundary and become conservative Anglican. Others will follow.…”

– At The Other Cheek, John Sandeman reports that Faith Church in Mooloolaba, led by Rev. Dr. Hedley Fihaki (former head of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations) has ‘joined’ the Diocese of the Southern Cross.

Rather than stating that the church joined the Diocese, the Faith Church website says it is now ‘an affiliate member’ of Diocese of the Southern Cross:

“At Faith Church, we are proud to share a strong connection with the Diocese of the Southern Cross as an affiliate member, an organisation of like-minded churches that shares our commitment to the gospel, biblical teachings, and Christ-centered living. Through this partnership, we foster unity and collaboration among our congregations and ministries, strengthening our collective impact on our local and global communities.

Our relationship with the Diocese of the Southern Cross provides our congregation with valuable resources, guidance, and support as we work together to advance the Kingdom of God. We benefit from the exchange of ideas, shared experiences, and joint initiatives that enrich our faith and enhance our ministries.

Together with the Diocese of the Southern Cross, we are dedicated to upholding our core values and beliefs, fostering spiritual growth, and serving our communities with compassion and love. By partnering with like-minded churches and leaders, we can accomplish more and inspire lasting change, united in our mission to spread the Gospel and demonstrate the love of Christ to the world.”


Uniting Church: Post 15th Assembly Pastoral Letter from the Assembly of Confessing Congregations – July 2018.

Photo: Rev. Dr. Hedley & Mia Fihaki.

Christmas 2022 message from Dr Peter Barnes, Presbyterian Church of Australia

“In the din and distortion of a modern Christmas, it can be easy to miss the claim that the Child in the manger is the Saviour, the Messiah, and the Lord. …”

– See the full Christmas message from the Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

Baptists haven’t sold their soul, they are following God’s heart

“No, Baptists have not sold their soul over same-sex marriage. What they have chosen is faithfulness to God and upholding gospel unity.

New South Wales Baptists have reaffirmed the Bible’s teaching on marriage and are following Jesus’ teaching on human sexuality. They have also reaffirmed the importance of the Baptist doctrine basis by requiring accredited pastors and churches to affirm these statements. …”

– At the time, we missed this development from the week before last. Murray Campbell in Melbourne looks at news from NSW.

Calvin University votes to allow Faculty to embrace heretical views on sexuality

“The trustees of Calvin University voted to keep faculty who reject the Bible’s clear teachings on what constitutes sexual immorality.

Will the denomination step in, or will they allow the school to embrace heretical views?”

– Joe Carter summarises the story for The Gospel Coalition. What would John Calvin think? (Image: John Calvin by Hans Holbein the Younger.)

A visit to Grace Presbyterian Assembly in NZ

“As Moderator during the covid pandemic, I visited a few places in person – notably Hurstville for the ordination of two elders and New Dunesk for its opening as the centre of the work of the Presbyterian Inland Mission. Then there were the Zoom meetings.

But from 3-7 October 2022 I was able to visit the Grace Presbyterian Assembly in Auckland. …”

– We are so thankful for the formation of the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand (CCAANZ) in response to the liberal trajectory of the Anglican Church in NZ.

Peter Barnes, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Australia briefly reports on another response to liberal theology in NZ – this one by faithful Presbyterians.

Essendon — Thorburn resignation: Press Release from Presbyterian Church Leaders




7th October, 2022

The Presbyterian Church of Australia is deeply concerned at recent events surrounding the resignation of Andrew Thorburn as chief executive of the AFL’s Essendon Football Club. We believe that this marks a watershed moment in Australian history – the day we have departed from some well-established common law principles, where there was freedom of conscience and religion, to being a society where only certain views are permitted in public life. 

While Israel Folau was discriminated against for his own beliefs, we note that Mr Thorburn was forced to resign from his post merely because of the particular church he belongs to. There is apparently now a religious test for significant employment posts in Australia.   

We note that the ethical position Mr Thorburn’s church—City on a Hill—takes on the subjects of abortion and sexuality, are the same as that of the mainline Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.

Will the Essendon Football Club now no longer welcome people who have sincere religious convictions from being involved with the club, at either an administrative, coaching or playing level? GWS player Haneen Zreika has announced she will be opting out of the upcoming AFLW pride round. Will she be hounded out because of her faith?

Essendon Football Club says it supports “wholeheartedly the work of the AFL in continuing to stamp out any discrimination based on race, sex, ‘religion’, gender, sexual identity or orientation, or physical or mental disability”, whilst at the same time forcing Mr Thorburn to resign because of his religion. This looks rather like speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth. 

We are in a dangerous place as a nation when a premier can seek to impose his own personal ideologies on everyone else. Such behaviour is itself “appalling, hateful, bigoted, unkind and exclusive”.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia will continue to uphold the Bible’s teaching, that marriage should only ever be between a man and a woman, and that the lives of unborn babies must always be protected. This is for both the flourishing of families and all of human life. There is nothing loving about killing unborn children and promoting an anti-life view of marriage.

We pray for our political leaders and remind them that they, like us all, will one day have to give account before Almighty God. We also urge our people to pray, stand firm for the faith, and not give into the opposition from those who reject our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Finally, we ask those whom God has placed in authority over us in this world, for the freedom to live out our faith, without intolerant bullying.   


Rev Dr Peter Barnes
Presbyterian Church of Australia

Rev David Maher
Moderator, Presbyterian Church NSW

Rev Peter Phillips
Moderator, Presbyterian Church Victoria

Download the Press Release PDF file.

Assembly of Confessing Congregations — UCA situation is ‘untenable’

The Assembly of Confessing Congregations National Assembly has been meeting on the Gold Coast this weekend. Chief among their discussions was their position within the Uniting Church when that organisation’s Assembly holds to two contradictory doctrines on marriage.

This statement has been posted today on the Assembly of Confessing Congregations Facebook page:

“The ACC National Council has come to the conclusion that the situation we are in is ‘untenable’. We cannot continue to live within the illusion of so called ‘two integrities’. The position of the UCA Assembly on the one hand, and that held by orthodox Christian members, congregations, networks and Presbyteries on the other, represent two contradictory and mutually exclusive understandings of truth, salvation, and therefore also of mission. This situation raises an essential impossibility of pursuing a common mission between these two respective positions.

This weekend, the ACC National Assembly has now put in place a mechanism of action towards navigating its way to a process of a collection of action items to be decided in an upcoming decision in March 2023.”

Source of the text and photo.


A message to Uniting Church members about the decision on marriage from Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer  – 20 July 2018.

Presbyterians extend hand of fellowship to Bishop of the Diocese of the Southern Cross

Dr Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, has written a letter to Dr Glenn Davies, Bishop of the Diocese of the Southern Cross.

The Clerk of the General Assembly of Australia has sent a copy to all Ministers and Session Clerks, adding,

“The Moderator-General has requested that this letter be forwarded to you with the request that it be circulated amongst the members of your congregation.”

Here’s the letter:

22 August 2022

Dear Glenn,

Your many Presbyterian friends have watched recent developments in the Anglican Church in Australia and are delighted at your appointment as the Bishop of the Southern Cross Diocese. This is a strong stand for biblical truth, and we trust the Lord preserves and keeps you, and uses you greatly.

We are most appreciative of the kindness shown to us, especially concerning theological education in NSW in the 1970s, and also the use of Anglican church buildings for worship and would be more than happy if we could help out in any way by facilitating the use of our properties and making them available to you and your flock.

In the meantime, be assured of our prayerful good will and eager interest in what the Lord is doing through you.

Kind regards in Christ

Rev. Dr Peter Barnes
Presbyterian Church of Australia

Endorsed heartily by previous Moderators-General: Rev. Dr John Wilson, Rev. David Cook, Rev. David Jones, Rev. Professor Allan Harman, Rev. Bruce Christian, Rev. Robert Benn, and Rev. Bob Thomas; and Rev. David Burke (Moderator-General Designate).

PDF file.

Allowah Children’s Hospital Dollar Matching Appeal

We’ve previously mentioned the attempts by the Allowah Children’s Hospital in Dundas (run by Presbyterian Church) to find funding.  They are “the only hospital dedicated to the health of children with disabilities in NSW”.

They’ve launched a new appeal – see a video about it here.

APWM Ukraine news and appeal

Australian Presbyterian World Mission has released this video with some news of the Ukraine from neighbouring Hungary. Plus they are running an appeal in Presbyterian chureches.

“APWM Associate missionary, and Presbyterian Church of Australia minister, The Rev Dr Granville Pillar and his wife Ibolya, live just 50km from the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. They have been providing assistance for refugees.”

I Remember … When I was Licensed to Preach The Gospel

Presbyterian minister Bob Thomas shares his remembrances and encouragements. (For many years he served as the Editor of Australian Presbyterian Life, and also New Life Christian newspaper.)  –

“We’re in the middle of the Licensing Season, that time of year when this year’s crop of exit students has finished their formal studies and are about to embark on their exit appointments. Licensing marks this transition and confers on the licentiate the right to accept a call or appointment on the way to ordination. It’s a wonderful time in the church’s year, when a fresh platoon of front-line soldiers goes forth with stars in their eyes and hope in their hearts to win the world for Christ. …”

Read it at AP.

See also:

The Crisis of ’77. (June 2017)

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