When Bishop Peter Lin spoke to the Archbishop's Election Synod this year, he shocked the audience with a series of big numbers.
"It is no secret that the city is going through massive infrastructural changes," Bishop Lin said, quoting the rapid population increase in the city’s west – which will see resident numbers in the Diocese grow to more than 8 million by the mid-2050s.
"By 2056, it is forecast that the current Western Region alone will have a population two and half times that of the South Sydney Region or the Northern Region," he said.
The future shock of the speech stirred a move to bring the Synod to the so-called “greenfields” areas of southwestern Sydney. So, for the first time since 1866, the church parliament of the Diocese will not begin its meeting in the city centre.
"The greenfields present one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities our generation will see for many, many years," Bishop Lin says. "There are important decisions we will need to make as a diocesan family that will have a gospel impact on many generations after us. So it is crucial to see and understand what is happening in order to make the best and wisest decisions we can, under God."
100 more people a day for 18 years
The new city of Bradfield, located next to Sydney’s second airport, will be a city of 1.5 million people.
"There will be over 300,000 people moving into just the immediate area around the new airport,” Bishop Lin says. “We currently have three churches available for those 300,000 people. Compare that with the fact that, for example, we have three churches in Lindfield alone, covering a population of 18,000 people."
This imbalance of church resources will be clear to Synod members next February when, for the first day of sitting, the members will meet at Oran Park High School.
The opening service and Archbishop Raffel's presidential address will follow bus tours of the rapidly developing new areas of Sydney. There will also be walking tours of Oran Park, where New Life Anglican Church, as well as school and Anglicare facilities, opened in 2015.
Stanhope Anglican Church opened its own building in 2020 after the church had been meeting in a leisure centre in Stanhope Gardens for 10 years. Construction of the Hope Anglican Church at Leppington should be completed early next year. Backed by the Archbishop's New Churches for New Communities and the Anglican Growth Corporation, the next project on the agenda is church facilities in the northwest at Marsden Park.
It is estimated that in the northwest and southwest growth corridors of Sydney more than 100 people per day will move in over the next 18 years – and Bishop Lin says it is vital for Synod members to see what is happening for themselves.
"I want people to see the vastness of the growth and therefore the magnitude of gospel opportunity,” he says. “I want people to see what we have done and what we can do again as hundreds of thousands of people flood into the area. I’m sure people will be wowed!"