Deacons called to be leaders of relationships

Reclaim "core business" of the faith, deacons encouraged

February 14 2019Archbishop Philip Freier ordained 20 new deacons, including nine women, at St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday 9 February.

Head of Theological Education in the Diocese, Bishop Brad Billings, told TMA that this was the fourth year in a row where there have been “good numbers of ordinands” and that there continued to be “strong numbers of aspirants coming through the system”.

“The diversity and quality of men and women being called into Holy Orders in his Church, exemplified among these 20 new Deacons and those who I hope will follow them in the next few years, continues to fill me with confidence in the future of the Anglican Church in Melbourne,” he said.

Preaching at the “day of great celebration”, former diocesan parish partnerships coordinator the Revd Jan Crombie called on the new ordinands to become leaders in building relationships in order to strengthen the church.

“In the truth of the Royal Commission we need to come through the shadowy reality of causing absolute harm with absolute reclaiming of the core business truth of Jesus Christ,” she said.

“Our core business is relationships. It is always about relationships and how we relate to God and each other. It is the processes of what we do together that counts: how we make decisions together, how we develop leadership culture, what we focus on in community, how we live in community.”

Mrs Crombie, who is now the rector of the Anglican Parish of Kenmoore-Brookfield in Queensland after many years of work in the Diocese of Melbourne, said one of the “key learnings” in her previous role as parish partnership coordinator was “discernment of capacity”, which these new leaders would need to develop.

“So as new vision and ideas come to build relationships with community and within community, it is obvious that we have to let go of many things we have been doing for a long time and enable new wine in new skins.

“This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of leadership: to assist a community to imagine what they need to look like in response to God’s call on their life as a community.

“Thus, we, the Church, must prioritise the need to call, and train, the leaders for this work, and leaders who realise nothing is possible without God’s Holy Spirit as partner.”

Of the cohort, 13 of the deacons studied at Ridley, five at Trinity and two elsewhere. One is destined for service as an ADF chaplain after serving their curacy in the Diocese, while one will lead a Mandarin-speaking congregation and another a Farsi-speaking congregation.