Western Region - Link - 11/02

AMS Staff

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highlights

• 112 First Grade games for Gordon Rugby Club, 1955-64

• Manly Rugby Club, 1965-67

• NSW Waratahs 1960

• Chair of Quest, Sydney Olympics outeach 1993-2000

Bishop Brian King farewell:
- Tribute by Paul Barnett
- ‘Dynamic and democratic’ leader will be sadly missed
- Bishop Brian King’s sporting life
- Bishop refuses to hang up his boots

- Youth work all action not entertainment
- Why clean toilets matter
- Service for those who have lost children
- No place for children
- Primary school Scripture relaunch

Bishop Brian King farewell

by Paul Barnett

It has been my pleasure to know Brian King since the time we were both members of St Stephen’s Willoughby, that is, 45 years ago. As a new Christian, finding Brian already on the scene was critical for me. At conversion in my early twenties I was a bit older than most of the younger group at St Stephen’s and felt a bit isolated. Brian used to look out for me and, humanly speaking, I think he was the difference between me going or staying. So I owe him a great debt of spiritual gratitude.

Pamela Gifford was likewise a huge encouragement. Together she and Brian brought blessing to untold numbers over the years.

Brian was at his footballer’s prime in those days. I lived a few doors up from Chatswood oval and often saw Brian play, as he did, for the Gordon team. As a lanky lock, he was a phenomenal athlete who covered a huge amount of the paddock in the course of eighty minutes. But for his commitment to ministry I suspect Brian would have gone on to enjoy a long and illustrious career in representative rugby.

Our time in Moore College overlapped so we kept up our friendship. I have memories of Brian always in a dressing gown, ambling around the corridors often ‘borrowing’ other people’s notes and exam summaries. It was a form of reverse delegation, which he developed into an art form. He was the ring-leader of a wicked conspiracy to abduct me and leave me tied to a swing in the rain on Manly esplanade.

After college our paths diverged. It was a great joy, therefore, when we found ourselves as regional bishops working together in the 90s. Anita, my wife, and Pamela had been to school together so that their renewed friendship meant a lot to them.

Brian’s Christian commitment runs very deep. He often led Bible studies at our weekly meetings and I was always impressed with his thorough preparation and strong evangelical application. His love for the Lord runs deep.

His zeal for the people of the ‘west’ is well known. He and Pamela have served them faithfully and well and they will be greatly missed.

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‘Dynamic and democratic’ leader will be sadly missed

by Jim Wenman

Sadly, as 2002 comes to an end the Western Regional Council and indeed the whole Western Sydney region will miss Bishop Brian King’s dynamic and democratic leadership.

Brian’s many contributions to the region can be easily noted when one reads a copy of his communication newsletter to Clergy and Lay Workers called ‘On The Western Front’. In this publication are Brian’s Pastoral words, his ‘Ministry Workshops’ and important supplements like the ‘Quarterly Prayer Diary’.

Brian also helped lead the Regional Council through new regional strategies and goals which are the first major Diocesan organisation’s expressions of the Archbishop’s Mission Statement. These strategies and goals have been summed up by Brian in the acronym SEED (Supporting Encouraging Evangelism and Discipleship).

So often as the Council faced an impasse, Brian would ask ‘So what’s the way forward?’ and soon an innovative decision was made. The Regional Council will miss Bishop Brian King’s caring and inclusive leadership.

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Bishop refuses to hang up his boots

After 37 years in full-time ministry, including the last nine as Bishop of the Western Region, anyone could be forgiven for thinking that the time had come for Brian King to ‘hang up his boots’ and settle into retirement.

Set to retire as Bishop on January 31, Brian King and his wife, Pamela, are planning to leave Australia’s shores in the first week of February. But it won’t be for a well-earned vacation. Instead, the Kings will head to the UK, where Brian will assume the role as pastor of a small, 30-person congregation at South Malling, near Eastbourne in Southern England.

Bishop King was offered the post by Bishop Wallace Benn, the Bishop of Lewes and an assistant bishop in the Church of England Diocese of Chichester. Having led the Bible studies at the 2001 Archbishop Election Synod, Bishop Benn has formed close ties with the Diocese of Sydney and is well known for his evangelical approach.

It was clear that Bishop King did not see reaching ‘retirement age’ as the end of his ministry. But he admits that he was ‘puzzled’ as to what ministry God had in store for him after he served the Western Region for so long.

While Wallace Benn had signalled his enthusiasm to work with Brian King upon his retirement, it was only last month that the offer became official. And Bishop King was delighted to accept.

“I praise God that he has kept the fire of the gospel alive within me, and that he has provided something to do in a new church,” Bishop King said. “It will be very helpful as I walk away from the Western Region.”

The Kings also have family ties to the area, with their son, daughter-in-law and grandchild living in the UK, just an hour from their new parish.

“It all came together to provide us with a wonderful new opportunity,” Bishop King said.

Having served at the parishes of Dural, Wahroonga and Manly (as both curate and rector), before becoming Bishop in 1993, Bishop King said he is looking forward to a return to parish ministry. In fact he said the local parish has been the focus during his time overseeing the Western Region.

“I have tried to fashion the role of Bishop in the Western Region to be an encouraging and facilitating role,” he said. “I have tried to be helpful to congregations and clergy in pursuing the spread of the gospel.

Bishop King admits that he is yet to learn much about his new congregation. With the year ‘1626’ etched on the front of the building, it is sure to be the oldest church he has been associated with in his long ministry career. And as a church under Bishop Benn’s oversight, he expects that they will be keen to sit under evangelical teaching.

The Kings have been appointed to South Malling for ‘up to twelve months’. They plan to return to Sydney at the end of that time.

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Bishop Brian King’s sporting life

‘Gentle giant’ was a reasonable description for the tall, athletic and energetic young footballer who joined our young team of Christian sportsmen, recalls Tom Treseder, recently retired head of the Bible Society in NSW.

“It was in the early 60s that Brian began to travel with us in the work of sports evangelism,” he said. “He brought with him an exuberance and vitality which sprang from his personal love for the Lord Jesus.

“Brian was both feared and respected on the football field, and his illustrious representative achievements are admired by all who follow the game with the oval ball.

“As Bishop, he was well-fitted to lead the Sydney evangelistic thrust for the 2000 Olympic Games. This model is marking and will mark many world sporting events for years to come.

“Brian is a leader of men and follows in the path of the one known as The Man, even Jesus.”

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“Lessons I have learned in ministry life”

by Brian King

1. The security of sound doctrine, especially the sovereignty of God and his atoning sacrifice.

2. The need for intentionality, especially planning for evangelism and to ensure maintenance becomes mission.

3. The inevitability of criticism. Some will be justified, so handle the problem, not the person.

4. The inadequacy of our skilling for ministry. Many don’t know how to integrate evangelism and pastoring, or how to mobilise volunteers, or how to handle conflicts. Many in ministry lack ‘soft’ skills: how to chair a meeting; or run a team ministry; or delegate …

5. The danger of mid-life crisis to children, to a marriage, to the congregation and to personhood.

6. The necessity of our own household management.

7. The value of relating-ness. This is important for the credibility of sermons, but is also necessary to ensure change and resolve conflicts.

8. The helpfulness of church-growth analysis.

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Youth work all action not entertainment

by Natasha Percy

Outside school, Sydney’s youth have an increasing number of entertainment options to choose from. As church youth leaders run their weekend activities, they face strong competition from cinemas, ice rinks, bowling alleys and shopping centres and there is also the growing popularity of computer games and the internet.

Tim Hawkins, youth pastor at St Paul’s, Castle Hill, understands this situation. Since he started his ministry at St Paul’s 15 years ago, there has been a rapid increase in entertainment venues attracting young people in the area. In 1993, the focus of the St Paul’s youth ministry changed from providing entertainment to presenting the gospel. Consequently the number of teenagers attending the youth group halved in the same year.

However, more teenagers committed their lives to Christ in 1993 than in any previous year, despite the fall in numbers. While the years since have seen youth numbers rise to their original sum, Tim says the pressure and temptation to see successful youth ministry in terms of numbers misses the point.

“In the end, numbers don’t produce disciples. They just produce a crowd,” he said. “You need to produce fruit that is going to last.”

One way of doing this, Tim maintains, is by teaching kids to sit under God’s word. Part of this can be achieved through small Bible study groups, where kids can gain a greater understanding of the Bible under the care of a leader. But it is also important to teach teenagers patiently to respect the Bible, understanding that this might not happen straight away.

“When we first started Crossfire (St Paul’s youth group), it was a battle to get the kids to listen. Now I get people coming along to visit and they ask, ‘How do you get the kids to sit and listen for 20 minutes?” Tim recalls. “It’s showing the kids you love them and you’re glad they’re here, but it’s also challenging them that, when God’s word is open, we need to listen,” Tim said.

Teenagers also need to know they are in a safe and supportive environment. Year 12 student Matthew Oxley has been particularly impacted by this. “The leaders look after us from Year 6 to Year 12 and they don’t stop caring,” he says. “I know I have tons of support from leaders, the church and the youth pastor, both in prayer and in person.”

Tim Hawkins has also found that kids are now more likely to confide in leaders when the going gets tough. “More kids will cry with me now than they ever used to,” he reflects.

Involving teenagers in up-front youth ministry, through playing in the band, singing, performing in a skit or giving their testimony, both at church and at Crossfire, has helped them to feel they have a purpose in the work of God’s kingdom.

Finally, Tim asserts the importance of using young people to reach young people with the gospel. Rather than relying on one-off events to bring newcomers, he aims to see kids filled with the passion to pray for their friends and encourage them to come along to Crossfire.

Tim Hawkins asserts that reaching kids with the gospel, rather than with entertainment, is what youth ministry is all about. “Your leadership needs to reflect that you trust in the power of the gospel, because it works,” Tim says.

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Why clean toilets matter

by Neil Macken

How much are we prepared to sacrifice, and do we care enough about the details to ensure lost people feel welcome at our churches?

This was a major point of Archbishop Peter Jensen’s address to this year’s Western Sydney Regional Conference at Tara Anglican School on Saturday September 21. Catching the Vision was the theme.

To illustrate, Dr Jensen reflected on the state of toilets at some of the churches he’d visited. “How clean are the toilets at your church? What would visitors think?” he said.

The audience’s laughter and on-going comment revealed that this illustration was most appropriate and will be long remembered.

Archbishop Jensen outlined the Vision clearly and, looking at 1Corinthians8-11, challenged us to consider ‘giving up our rights’ to enable lost people to hear the gospel.

A video presentation How will the West be Won? demonstrated different ways that churches are communicating the gospel to lost people. The session A View from the Pew revealed how some very valuable ministries have small beginnings. The final talk, Equipping for the Vision, was a great note to finish on. The gathering prayed together in different ways at different times. All-in-all, a great day!

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Service for those who have lost children

St Matthew’s, West Pennant Hills, is holding a service of remembrance for family and friends of children who have died or are missing. The service will be held on December 4 at 7.30pm.

Christmas is a time of celebration for most in the community and can especially cause a family whose child has died to feel isolated.

The aim of the service at St Matthew’s is to provide hope and support for such families.

During the service, those present are invited to place a flower on the communion table, in memory of the child. Prayer support will also be available. All are welcome to the service.

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No place for children

Churches have a lot to learn from multi-nationals such as Ikea and McDonald’s, claims ROXANNE LAWLER.

The loud, colourful paint schemes in Ikea shops and the prominent bubble-shaped playgrounds outside McDonald’s restaurants did not get there by accident. Both companies spend billions thinking how to design their stores to be child-friendly.

It’s time Christian leaders turned a child’s-eye magnifying glass on their local churches. There is no reason churches can’t be colourful, friendly places where children can have fun as they learn to be a friend of Jesus.

Do parents at your church sink into pews, embarrassed, as their children moan ‘this is boring’, or do they get dragged into church by enthusiastic children desperate to get there on time?

It’s time to rethink the way we allow for children in our buildings and services – and you don’t have to be a ‘super church’ to do it. Minor changes can make a huge difference.

Some churches are ‘nametag churches’. Everyone wears one – even the children. These nametags imply ‘children are part of the family here’.

The inclusiveness of children can be seen at Glenmore Park Anglican Church. When you walk into the morning service you will notice children up the front. They’re not merely providing a spectacle to amuse adults. They are standing, microphones in hand, together with adults ready to serve as vocalists during the worship. They serve beside the adults in an important ministry.

Many churches send their children off for ‘children’s church’ as soon as they arrive, but some child-friendly churches set aside the first 15 minutes for all-age worship. This represents a concerted effort to cross generational boundaries and include everyone in worship. The pendulum will sometimes swing into this time being more adult-focused or more children-focused, but what matters is the church is striving to include children as part of its family.

One area where children are frequently excluded is during communion. When children are excluded from the Lord’s Supper, it gives the (unreformed) impression to children that communion is a special, magical experience reserved escpecially for adults.

‘Saved through age’ is how the Rev Richard Goscombe of Cranebrook Anglican describes the view being communicated to children. Cranebrook strives to include children in Communion by always explaining what is happening. The minister also invites parents to pass the elements to their children. Parents are encouraged to discuss the Lord’s Supper with their children to ensure they understand. For Mr Goscombe, it’s one more opportunity to share the gospel.

Including children also means providing resources: well-trained volunteers, a safe environment and ensuring children’s ministry recieves a slice of the budget.

Moving beyond a token inclusion of children, Northmead Anglican has discovered, demands a change of attitude.

At Northmead, children are no longer ‘peripheral’, but are a valued part of the church family. Children are very visible at the beginning and end of the services and adults and children alike are encouraged to ask each other ‘what did you learn today?’ This mindset shift away from ‘Sunday School is babysitting’ to ‘Children are a valuable part of our church’ has been a process, but one which the church says has definitely attracted new members.

It seems one local church is finally discovering what Ikea and McDonald’s knew long ago: ‘If children are happy, parents are happy’.

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Primary school Scripture relaunch

Anglican Youthworks, through its publishing imprint Christian Education Publications, is relaunching its primary school religious education curriculum Connect for 2003.

Youthworks CEO, the Rev Al Stewart, said school SRE is key to the Archbishop’s ten per cent vision. “It is through school SRE and other school-based ministries that this vision is most likely to be achieved. The battle for the hearts and minds of students will be fought largely in government schools, as they comprise the greatest proportion of student enrolments – approximately 69 per cent, compared to Anglican schools, which have around three per cent.”

Since 1996 Connect has been used by Anglican and other denominations in schools across Australia and New Zealand.

For 2003, Connect has been updated thanks to many customer suggestions. Some of the new features include a three-year cycle, a balance between New and Old Testament lessons each semester, a new music and drama CD, assembly ideas and training and support.

For more information on SRE please phone (02) 8268 3388.

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