The Swanson diocese

Posted on August 10, 2021 
Filed under Australian dioceses, Opinion

In October 2019, Joshua Bovis, Vicar of St John The Evangelist in Tamworth, wrote this opinion-piece for the Anglican Ink website.

It’s particularly relevant in the light of yesterday’s pastoral letter from the Bishop of Newcastle to clergy in that diocese.

Joshua shares something of his own experiences of the Newcastle Diocese from 2009 to 2013, the time during which he was a postulant, ordinand, deacon, and priest:

“At their recent Synod this weekend, the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle passed two bills to enable clergy to bless what God in His Word deems to be sinful, to bless what the Bible says is an expression of an anti-God state of mind (see Romans 1:18ff), to declare holy what God states keeps people out of the Kingdom of God, and redefined the doctrine of marriage. This move mirrors that of a similar proposal passed by Wangaratta diocese in Victoria. …

I am very saddened by this. For it was was in the Newcastle Diocese that I was ordained to the diaconate and to the priesthood. It was a very moving experience. (I am the man in the chasuble that is is almost all white).

It was very powerful hearing the exhortation to both in my public and private ministry oppose and set aside teaching that is contrary to God’s Word, to be told to encourage and build up the body of Christ, to preach the Word of God, lead God’s people in prayer, declare God’s forgiveness and blessing. Also the reminder to pastor after the pattern of Christ the great Shepherd, to lead the people of God as a servant of Christ; to love and serve the people with whom you work, caring alike for young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong; to studying the Scriptures wholeheartedly, reflecting with God’s people upon their meaning, so that my ministry and life may be shaped by Christ.

I was reminded of how great a treasure has been placed in my care and that I will be called to give an account before Jesus Christ.

It was in the Newcastle Diocese that I openly declared my conviction that the Holy Scriptures contains all doctrine necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and declared by God’s grace determination and intention and desire to instruct from these Scriptures the people committed to my care, teaching nothing as essential to salvation which cannot be demonstrated from the Scriptures. …”

Read it all at Anglican Ink, and do note the questions asked. How might you answer if they were asked of you?

(As Albert Mohler has warned many times, “Every Christian and every Christian ministry will come to a reckoning – we must all decide here and now where we stand. Will we pivot or will we hold fast to faithfulness and the hope of the gospel?”)

Photos: Joshua Bovis.