Sydney Synod 2002: “Excitement for Mission is palpable”
The widespread excitement for the newly approved Mission was palpable in the sample of parish representatives Southern Cross approached. The focal point of Synod 2002 was the detailed plans flowing out of the Diocesan Mission Strategy.
Mission Strategy for the Diocese
1. Diocesan Mission
To glorify God by proclaiming our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ in prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, so that everyone will hear his call to repent, trust and serve Christ in love, and be established in the fellowship of his disciples while they await his return.
2. The Goal of the Mission
To see at least 10% of the population of the region of the Diocese in Bible-based churches in 10 years.
3. Strategy for the Diocese
To multiply Bible-based Christian fellowships, congregations and churches which equip and nurture their members and expand themselves, both in the Diocese and “in all the world”.
In submission to the Lord Jesus Christ and his command to make disciples of all nations,
1. To call upon God for such an outpouring of his Spirit that his people will be assured of his love through his word, seek to please the Saviour in all things, manifest the godly life and be filled with prayerful and sacrificial compassion for the lost in all the world.
2. To enable parish churches to expand numerically, equip and nurture their members, and become the mother-churches of as many fellowships and congregations as possible; and also to take further initiatives to create fellowships by penetrating structures of society beyond the reach of the parish church with the gospel.
3. To multiply the number of well-trained persons (ordained, lay, full time, part time, voluntary) lovingly dedicated to the creation and development of such parishes, congregations and fellowships by proclaiming the gospel.
4. To reform the life of the Diocese (including its culture, ordinances, customs, use of resources, and deployment of ministry) to encourage and enable the fulfilment of the fundamental aim.
In submission to the word of the Lord Jesus, the Archbishop and Bishops of the Diocese have committed themselves in unity of heart and spirit to give example, energy and leadership to this Mission. They are doing so in fellowship with the Archdeacons, the Synod, the Standing Committee and its Mission Taskforce, and they invite the whole Anglican community in the Diocese of Sydney (with all other believers) to join them by taking the initiative to see that Christ is proclaimed to all people.
Synod approves tough new rules on sex abuse
Extended applause from members greeted the passing of tougher sex abuse rules by Sydney Synod last month.
The Diocese originally passed laws to deal with sexual abuse by churchworkers in the wake of Wood Royal Commission in 1996. Moving the new law – the Church Discipline Ordinance 2002 – Diocesan Advocate Garth Blake SC, said that while the 1996 legislation had been ‘generally’ effective ‘experience has pointed out areas for improvement’.
Mr Blake said that experience in the Diocese of Brisbane and elsewhere had shown that the Church had to be tougher on pre-ordination behaviour and there had to be mandatory investigation of all allegations, whether they occurred within a Diocese’s jurisdiction or not.
In seconding the motion, Bishop Glenn Davies said Christians have a duty to protect the vulnerable. “We must seek righteousness and justice, and do that in a way that would honour the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
Synod also approved an increase in funding for the Diocese’s Professional Standards Unit, which will allow for the employment of a part-time chaplain to deal specifically with victims of abuse.
Christians living under Shari’a need Sydney’s help
Bishop Josiah Fearon, whose people in the north of Nigeria struggle under an oppressive Shari’a Islamic regime, told the Synod Missionary Hour that Christians there need the help of Sydney Anglicans.
“The situation is one of complete domination. It is designed to make non-Muslims feel like second-class citizens,” he said.
“We are an evangelical church. We cannot but reach out,” he said. “But we Africans need to know that there is an evangelical diocese in the West.”
Bishop Fearon also encouraged Sydney Christians to evangelise the 300,000 Muslism in Australia. “Our mission is to find the missing Christ. There is Jesus in the Koran, but there is no Christ in the Koran.”
However Bishop Fearon said that the Christian’s first task is ‘to love the Muslim’ and not get bogged down in doctrinal debate.
A number of local Anglicans shared there strategies for reaching out to their Muslim neighbours, including those asylum seekers in detention.
Comments on Mission from parish representatives
“This meeting of Synod was unique and historic. Unique, because this Synod, like no other, has united members in a common cause and purpose. And historic, because the procedures used have allowed for a lot more input from members, as we work out how best we can win more Australians – and those beyond our shores – for Christ. The evidence for that is the number of first-time members that spoke with confidence and contributed so much. This Synod was based around ministry, rather than procedures and arcane rules.”
Philip Griffin, Wentworthville
“This is a historic Synod. It’s very exciting.
“Such a large number of people, including myself, have spoken for the first time. It’s more open than ever before and we feel like our opinions are being sought and listened to. I have actually enjoyed Synod this time.”
“Our church needs the direction and the focus that is being provided by the Archbishop.
“My parish is facing some very tough issues. We have a lot of old people trying very hard to reach our suburb. But Waitara has an incredible number of high rise buildings being constructed. I don’t know how we are going to reach these people. There just isn’t physically the space for our church to expand.”
“Looking at the big picture and being able to contribute ideas has been really good. You don’t have to be a professor or a lawyer to get involved in these things. Most Christians have ideas on evangelism.
“It was not what I was expecting because the focus has been on the big issue. I was expecting lots of little issues and discussion on ordinances. It’s encouraging to know that generally all of Sydney is focused on evangelism, and on trying to get the balance between that and not neglecting people inside and outside of the church who are struggling with day-to-day living. Having that focus is encouraging, especially in a small, struggling church. Encouraging people to think outside the square is a good thing.
“I really liked the idea of being able to fill in the feedback forms and have the ideas collated.”
“This is my third Synod, and it’s been very different to the last two. It’s been very positive, and very personal. There’s a keen sense of common purpose that means the Synod members will go out and get enthused about making the mission happen.
“The most important thing has been the broader discussion of the suggestions of what people will now get out and do. It’s gone beyond the motherhood statements to start considering the mechanics of actually doing things.”
“It is very good to guide the whole Diocese in a clear direction.
“I’m encouraged that ethnic ministry is highlighted in many ways. The emphasis is to reach out. With my invitation to come to this Synod, I feel we can contribute together. It has helped me understand more clearly other people’s perspectives.
“I am very grateful. It is my first time, and people say they have never seen it like this before – talking about the principles of mission, not just minor procedures.”
Jeff Robinson, an engineer at BHP’s Port Kembla steelworks, felt ‘energ-ised’ by Synod’s mission-mindedness. He called on the Diocesan leadership to hit the road each year to do evangelism. (To Synod’s great amusement).
“In my speech I reflected on something Bishop Josiah from Nigeria shared when he spoke at Synod a number of years ago. Each year his bishops, including himself, go out on mission, and sometimes that involves taking their bed rolls and sleeping on the dirt in a village as they share the message of Christ. I believe it would be helpful for all Christians, including our Diocesan staff and clergy, to be part of a mission each year to help encourage and focus them.”