From twenty-something college graduates to an experienced Aboriginal pastor, the 18 candidates for ordination at St Andrew’s Cathedral on February 19 shared both excitement and a sense of privilege and responsibility as they made their vows.
“To be honest, it feels a bit surreal,” said the Rev Gordon Luk, from Willoughby parish, as he took his place among the group. “I'm so thankful to God. I'm already so undeserving of his mercy and forgiveness that he's given me in Jesus. I'm also so undeserving to be able to be Christ's ambassador and entrusted with such a task!”
The crowd of family, friends and their church congregations were right behind them but, as Mr Luk acknowledged, it was a smaller number than they would have liked. “It's sad that the COVID restrictions have meant that many couldn't come, but I wouldn't be here without their support and encouragement.”
I am all in. I have no reservations I was wholeheartedly ready to stand up and stand before God and make these vows...
The Rev Michael Duckett, who has pastored Macarthur Indigenous Church for the past 14 years, wore his trademark hat and Aborginal art mask.
His daughter Tori and Uncle Tom Moore (above) gave the Acknowledgment of Country as many of the congregation watched the service online.
“I have sent out the link to people and then we will have a little ordination celebration on Sunday at church,” said Mr Duckett who is also chairman of the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee. “For me, this means an opportunity to be more cemented in the Diocese. As a lay person, I didn't feel [fully] a part of it, in a sense. Being ordained will just mean I get to sit at the table with the big fellas. “For our church, they will be appreciative that I will be as good as a white man. Not that we need to be like them but it just means that I will have the same recognition as any other Anglican church. We will have the same standing and will be recognised in the system.”
Supporters gathered round Mr Duckett after the service, including members of the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee.(see main photo above)
Mr Duckett even snuck in a brief photo sitting in the Archbishop’s official seat. “The Archbishop has been great,” he said. “I've seen him two or three times this week and he is as excited as I am. It's not going to change the world but it will change my world.
“I am all in. I have no reservations. I was wholeheartedly ready to stand up and stand before God and make these vows, that I will adhere to. I am not just doing it for the sake of doing it.”
But Mr Duckett also senses it will pave the way for others. “That's the other side in my mind. I look forward to it as another step in the right direction… laying down a path for the next generation of Aboriginal people. The pathway might be a bit smoother. So that's the second part of my motivation, to jump through the hoops and to do what I have to do to be able to stand as others are in the Diocese. On the same footing, no shortcuts, no back door.
“Also to have Aboriginal culture valued and acknowledged and appreciated. I believe we've got a lot to bring to the Diocese and I hope I clear the way for those younger ones who will come after me.”
The excitement was shared by other ordinands. The Rev Jocelyn Bignall, a parish worker at Petersham, said it was “an exciting step to be taking, a formalising of the privilege of the position I’ve been put in. I think I see this as an affirmation and commitment to my church family and the ministry I believe God has called me to.”
Above l to r, Chaplain, the Rev Bethany Downes, Archdeacon for Women’s Ministry, Kara Hartley and the Rev Jocelyn Bignall
The Archbishop acknowledged the fact the service had more ceremony than most would be used to, but Ms Bignall said, “I’m so happy to have friends and family here with me – it feels like a really special occasion and important to mark it. All the people who are here or wanted to be here have reminded me how many wonderful brothers and sisters God has put in my life.
“I’m looking forward to being part of the everyday work God does in bringing people to himself and growing them to maturity. Seeing him work through his word and his people to do that.”
For Bethany Downes, her ministry as an Anglicare chaplain involves shuttling between the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick and at the Dillwynia Correctional Centre for women near Windsor.
“I've been reflecting on the immense privilege and responsibility it is to be taking this step,” she said. “I feel very blessed that I am able to use the gifts that God has given me… to be set aside to minister to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
During her time at Moore College she was a student minister at Dillwynia, which houses just under half of all the women in prison in NSW.
“Chaplaincy in hospitals and prisons is such a great privilege, but it is very different to parish ministry,” she said. I get to meet people from all walks of life who have a wide range of stories and experiences in relation to God. It is my hope and prayer that I might be able to point people to the love of Christ wherever they are in their journey with him.”
New deacon the Rev Paul Berzekian is youth minister at Naremburn-Cammeray Anglican Church.
“I’m looking forward to keeping on with proclaiming Christ to teenagers, to see God raise up the next generation of gospel-minded believers in lower north shore Sydney,” he says. “Through our church we’re also currently running a weekly Armenian Bible Study, and our prayer is that God would bring more Armenians to know Jesus Christ. I’m glad to be joining a Diocese that has a priority to see the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed as of first importance.”
The Rev Gordon Luk (left) and the Rev Paul Berzekian
God so loved the world…
The Bishop for International Relations and director of the Centre for Global Mission at Moore College, Malcolm Richards, addressed those present, taking as his text the story of Nicodemus in John 3.
“It is a wonderful explanation of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus,” Bishop Richards told the congregation. “This makes it an important text for today as we set aside these disciples and commission them, as disciples, to go and make more disciples. It will remind them about who they are and what they are setting out to do.”
Bishop Richards reminded the deacons of the message they are charged with. “In verse 16 the gospel writer explains, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’.
“Note the important elements here. As God gives his unique son to die, this opens the way for anyone who believes to escape certain death and have eternal life. It's a message that the world rejects, but we keep sticking to this message because it's the power of God for the salvation of anyone who believes.”
The 18 ordinands with Archdeacon Flinders, left of the Archbishop and Canon Salier at right
The service also marked the ‘collation’ as it is known, of Archdeacon Simon Flinders by Archbishop Kanishka Raffel. Archdeacon Flinders will take up the new post of Archdeacon to the Archbishop in coming months.
In addition, the title of Honorary Canon of St Andrew’s Cathedral was conferred on the Rev Dr Bill Salier. Dr Salier has held several high-profile ministry positions, including vice principal of Moore College and principal of Youthworks College, and is now serving the Global Anglican Future Conference, GAFCON, an orthodox grouping that represents the majority of Anglicans internationally. “I am very grateful to God for the many wonderful opportunities he has given me for various ministries in Sydney Diocese that is signified by this occasion,” Dr Salier said. “I also hope that this might contribute to the effectiveness of my new role in serving the wider Anglican communion through my work on the GAFCON theological education network.”
Leading the ordinands into the Cathedral on the day was the director of Ministry Training & Development, the Rev Gary O’Brien.
“It has been a privilege for us to work with this group of men and women who have been ordained today,” he said.
“We have been meeting with each of them for a few years but their preparation goes way back as the Lord has been at work in their lives, shaping their character, deepening their theological convictions and equipping them for a life of gospel ministry.
“It’s a joy to see their enthusiasm for ministry and watch them spread out across our great city to serve in different congregations and ministries.”
Mr O’Brien also announced that the Rev Steve Rockwell will join Ministry Training & Development. “He comes with a rich ministry experience both here in Sydney and in South Africa. He also brings deep theological understanding of ministry through his study at Moore College and George Whitefield College [in Cape Town] and his recent teaching role as head of the Ministry Department at George Whitefield College.”
Mr O’Brien said Mr Rockwell will have a key role in recruiting, selecting and training young men and women to serve as assistant ministers in the Sydney Diocese.
The Ordinands are:
Timothy Adams Macquarie
Timothy Ash Camden
Dale Baikie Anglicare
Paul Berzekian Naremburn-Cammeray
Jocelyn Bignill Petersham
Rusdyan Cocks Nowra
Bethany Downes Anglicare
Michael Figueira Darling Point
Matthew Goodman Dapto
Paul Graham Springwood
Gordon Luk Willoughby
Toby MacGregor Annandale
Christopher Mann Pitt Town
Simon Owen Cloncurry, North Qld
Michael Duckett Campbelltown
Benjamin Pantlin Oatley
Brian Rennie Freshwater
Timothy Scoular Norwest
You can watch the service again online on YouTube.