Surprised by extent of growth

Craig Schwarze

The highlight of Synod the last few years has undoubtedly been the Archbishop’s address - this year was no different. The address was compassionate, intelligent and showed a real evangelical heart.

The Archbishop covered wide ground, and I was stimulated and challenged by every matter he raised.
There was a negative element, of course. A significant amount of time was spent addressing our current financial difficulties.

I originally planned to write about this issue, but I’ve decided to defer that until next week. Instead, I will look at something much more positive. Toward the end of his address, the Archbishop made the following report -

Through Connect 09 the Lord has blessed our renewed commitment to the community, as a way of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all. Counting church-going Sydney Anglicans is very difficult. But on the figures we have, and using considerable caution, we grew numerically in 2009, perhaps by even as much as 5%. To grow at all is significant; to grow by anything like that percentage is sensational. The figures may be approximate. But grow we did in the very year when we all together prayed, shared the word of God and went out into the community. We give God our praise. Let us take fresh heart, and keep sharing the word of God.

This was quite unexpected - and quite delightful.

In 2008, the mission midpoint report gave us the grim news that the diocese had not grown for several years. I was frankly doubtful about our ability to reverse this situation, and fearful that we were on the brink of decline.

I’m very pleased to have had my fears allayed - the credit belongs to the grace of God, and also to the hard work done by the Connect09 team.

I know the job is not done - it is hardly begun - but praise God for his generosity in giving us some immediate fruit for our labours.

Let’s pray that much more will follow.