Great mission

In “Archbishop Writes” last month I started to outline the work of an Archbishop.

The breadth of the task, and the desire to fully inform you of all the responsibilities I undertake on your behalf, has led me to a second column. I have already written about the dual calling, given to parish clergy as well as bishops, to be both teachers of God’s word and pastors of God’s people.

This is true of my visits to parishes around the Diocese and, in a wider sense,in my role as president of many Anglican schools and most diocesan organisations. I attend some of the councils or boards of these organisations regularly (Anglicare, Cathedral Chapter, Moore College, Ministry Training & Development, Property Trust) as well as preside over Synod and chair the monthly meetings of Standing Committee. These are important roles for the Archbishop as they keep him connected with the various aspects of the Diocese. Where time does not permit regular attendance at all school council meetings or all diocesan organisations, I schedule occasional visits to these boards and councils as my diary permits.

The office of Archbishop also carries with it the title of Metropolitan. This is a more ancient term than archbishop and reflects the position one “chief bishop” has over a number of dioceses. In Anglican polity a group of dioceses form a province and the chief bishop (hence archbishop) presides over provincial synods and consecrations of bishops. As Metropolitan the Archbishop has no jurisdiction over other dioceses in his province as the position is largely ceremonial, yet the title still carries with it a measure of respect and deference.

In the province of NSW there are seven dioceses and I maintain regular contact with each bishop as well as chairing the Provincial Synod’s Standing Committee each year and visiting the dioceses from time to time. In the past 18 months I have spoken at conferences in Armidale and Goulburn; addressed the synods of Bathurst and Grafton; consecrated the Bishop of Riverina and an assistant bishop in Canberra & Goulburn; and welcomed the new Bishop of Newcastle at his installation.

By virtue of being both Archbishop of Sydney and Metropolitan, I have opportunity to represent the concerns of Anglicans at high levels of government. This is a very valuable ministry and one which the Archbishop is able to exercise on behalf of the Diocese and the province of NSW.

Whether it be matters concerning refugees, SRE or same-sex marriage, upon each of which I have variously written to the Prime Minister and other ministers, we fortunately still live in a society where the Archbishop of Sydney’s voice is able to be heard and media opportunities continue to be offered.

Space has not allowed me to cover everything that an archbishop does, as the issues that come across my desk are diffuse and unpredictable – including people who call upon me to advocate for their particular cause. The national church, through its General Synod and Standing Committee, plus other international issues also comprise significant commitments of my time.

Yet while the responsibilities of the office are frequently daunting, I am constantly encouraged by those who say they pray for me regularly. It is easy to become so distracted by the details of administration that one loses sight of the main game – to see Christ honoured as Lord and Saviour in every community. That is one reason why I am excited by the New Churches for New Communities initiative which will help to see our vision become reality in new areas of growth in the north-west and south-west sectors of Sydney. This initative was officially lauched last month and will go hand in hand with the generous contribution from every parish to the acquisition of land in these growth corridors of metropolitan Sydney.

Complacency is not an option for a Christian – and certainly not an option for an archbishop! The task of glorifying God is ongoing, sometimes difficult, often demanding, but always rewarding as it brings pleasure to our sovereign Lord: “for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

Mission 2020 reminds us:

We commit ourselves afresh, in prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, to glorify God and love our neighbour by proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ, calling people to repent and living lives worthy of him.

Please join me in prayer and action so that we might all glorify God through this great mission.