Sydney mission expands
Sharing new mission initiatives and strengthening partnerships with Egypt and Madagascar helped make the annual Mission Hour a cause for rejoicing at Synod.
Speaking of Moore College’s decade-long link with the Alexandria School of Theology, college principal the Rev Dr Mark Thompson said, “There is… a massive opportunity for us here in Sydney to be involved in responding to the spiritual needs of the Middle East”.
Dr Thompson spoke of Moore’s assistance in training AST’s Masters students. Students have had online access to the college library in Sydney, and a range of faculty members have also visited Alexandria in the past few years to teach intensive units of study. “In March six students from the Alexandria School of Theology graduated with a Moore College MA in Theology,” Dr Thompson said.
Through conversations with local Bishop Mouneer Anis, he added, Moore had been made aware of the need to have AST lecturers trained to PhD level. Aided by a financial donor, the college has welcomed one of the Masters graduates, George Bishai, to Sydney to undertake a PhD in New Testament.
Mr Bishai said AST teaches students from all over the Middle East and Africa, in Arabic, and is then able to send these graduates out into as missionaries to the Arabic-speaking world.
“I think life in Christ and the hope the gospel can bring to us is the only chance that we have [in the Arab world],” he said. “If we have someone to trust, that one will be Christ. In [the ISIS] death culture the life of the gospel and the hope of the gospel is crucial… your partnership with us in the gospel is very important for our future.”
Synod members also heard how a small group from the Diocese visited Madagascar’s provincial standing committee in August at the invitation of the Primate of the Province of the Indian Ocean, Archbishop Ian Ernest.
The standing committee heard presentations from Federal Secretary of CMS the Rev Peter Rodgers, the director of Anglican Aid the Rev David Mansfield and the head of Moore College’s new Centre for Global Mission (see SC wraparound for details), the Rev Simon Gillham. They spoke of providing long-term trained people (CMS), scholarships for theological education and funding for community development (Anglican Aid), resources in the local language and other expertise (CGM) – each asking the Madagascans what they needed.
Regular PTC teacher in the region, the Rev Alan Lukabyo, said afterwards that, “This was a great vision to present to the church leaders. Most of the people of the standing committee are bishops and senior clergy who are trying to solve exactly these problems in their own dioceses.
“Coming from Sydney we encountered much in Madagascar that was exotic, strange or unfamiliar. We expected to. Perhaps more surprising to us was how much was familiar: an Anglican Church with leaders committed to the authority of God’s word, seeking to grow through evangelistic church planting and convinced of the importance of good theological education. There was a warm sense of fellowship and anticipation about our developing gospel partnership.”
Photo: AST Masters students, including George Bishai (red shirt), with Dr Ashley Null (centre)