New Archbishop in media on mission
The Archbishop-elect of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies has given his first round of media interviews, saying he seeks to ‘galvanise’ his diocese.
Dr Davies was elected in an overwhelming final vote at a special election synod on Tuesday, 6th August, 2013. His inauguration service as Archbishop will be at St Andrew’s Cathedral on 23rd August.
Dr Davies faced a range of newspaper and television reporters only 24 hours after he was elected, fielding questions ranging from refugees and asylum seekers to the role of the Anglican Church in contemporary Australia.
While some reports concentrated on his views on current debates, the Archbishop-elect was forthright in his comments on the challenge of mission in Sydney.
He told reporters he sought to “lead and galvanise the diocese in a unified concern to bring the love of God to the people of Sydney, the Illawarra, the Northern Beaches and the Blue mountains, so that God’s word might be preeminent and people understand the challenge that God’s word brings.”
Despite the fact that he had not yet officially taken on the role, Dr Davies was questioned about plans for his tenure. “The archbishop is there to encourage, equip, resource, stimulate and excite the people on the ground, and I mean both clergy and lay people. Most of our churches are lay people, they are very important, and to encourage them to be unified in our mission to the city of Sydney and beyond” the Archbishop-elect said. “So at that level, I want to facilitate as many grass-roots ministries as possible. We’ve not only got parishes, we’ve got schools, we’ve got organisations like Anglicare and Moore College, Youthworks and retirement villages. They all reflect different aspects of our society where they are bringing the love of God and the saving message of Jesus to bear in their particular context.”
On the state of contemporary society, Dr Davies described Australia as “a very wealthy nation, compared with other nations in the world, we’ve got a robust economy despite the political debate at the moment. But,” he said “there are a lot of people who are not well off. There are a lot of people who are homeless, a lot of people who experience anxiety,depression and loneliness and one aspect which the church can speak into the world is that friendship with God, relationship with God is the most enlivening thing for the human soul. It’s what we were made for. As one theologian said, ‘We have a hole in our heart which is God shaped’ and once that is filled by God, then the person becomes whole.”
“That’s our challenge, to address the matters of humanity that are around us and not only invite them into relationship with Jesus, but invite them into relationship with God’s people. Because God’s people form a community of love and acceptance, regardless of your past, regardless of your prior beliefs, and come together around the Lord Jesus Christ, as Lord and Saviour. That’s our desire.” he said.
Questioned further about Christianity in Australia, Dr Davies said the challenge for the contemporary church is “to allow people to realise that we have a message worth hearing. That we are not just an old, fuddy-duddy church, as it were, an appendage to a past civilisation that we’re actually a vibrant part of the community”.
Dr Davies cited figures showing at least two-thirds of the nation believe in God. “Two thirds don’t come to church I know, but two thirds believe in God. Well, that’s a great base to start with” Dr Davies said.
“We believe everyone is made, even the other third, is made in the image of God and therefore we want to address people. The point of contact is that very image-bearing which every person has. Deep down in the bottom of their socks, every person knows they are made by God. But what they do is they suppress that knowledge and they try to live apart from God and out of relationship with God. Our job is to call them back to their maker who has also become their saviour and bring that relationship back which is only through Jesus.”
Asked by reporters about his predecessor, Dr Peter Jensen, Dr Davies said “I’ll do things in the way which God has made me and wired me, personality-wise, but having said that, I can’t imagine there would be a lot of difference.” He said he shared (with Dr Jensen) ”the same theological framework and passion about God’s word and the Gospel being brought into the lives of people around us, and we’ve got the same passion with regard to justice and injustice and the desire for people to be treated with dignity and respect. At that level, as issues come up, I will seek to address them with as much wisdom and grace as I have” the new Archbishop said.