NewsStand 30 April to 6 May
Anglicare Australia makes appeal for low-income renters beyond coronavirus; religious groups have embraced technology during COVID-19 and two UK surveys indicate it may be bearing fruit; the Archbishop of Canterbury's message of hope to online school students; is coronavirus divine judgement, a bishop asks?; prayers from a Melbourne writer for a time of virus; and much more ...
May 6 2020
The May edition of The Melbourne Anglican (TMA) is now available in various formats for reading online and printing. Please click here. The Prayer Diary has not been included within the pages of TMA this month, but can be found here.
The coronavirus supplement should be made permanent even though such a measure won’t solve the nation’s “massive” lack of affordable rental properties, according to Anglicare Australia’s latest Rental Affordability Snapshot report. The Federal Government’s move to double JobSeeker and increase other welfare payments was proof the “old rates simply aren’t liveable”, the report said.
East Timor has been gripped by fear and uncertainty as the coronavirus pandemic finds a foothold in the country, according to two Anglican missionaries from St Jude’s Anglican Church, but “while circumstances are changing rapidly and fear and anxiety dominate, we can speak of God who is our refuge”, they told TMA recently.
All religions are dependent on their cultural contexts. Throughout history, they have adapted to changed circumstances and new technology. This move during the coronavirus pandemic to embrace live-streaming and video-conferencing is no different. In fact, in this rapidly developing crisis, religious leaders have at times been ahead of political leaders.
A quarter of adults in the UK have watched or listened to a religious service since the coronavirus lockdown began, and one in 20 have started praying during the crisis, according to a new survey commissioned by Christian aid agency Tearfund. The findings of the poll reinforce indications of an increase in the numbers of people turning to faith for succour amid uncertainty and despair. A separate poll, commissioned by Christian Aid, found that The Vicar of Dibley, the Revd Geraldine Granger, the BBC TV character played by Dawn French, would be the public’s choice of screen priest to lead the UK through the coronavirus crisis.
Ivanhoe Grammar has narrowly avoided a showdown in the Fair Work Commission after it became the latest private school to reconsider standing staff down due to revenue shortfalls brought on by the coronavirus. Last month, the high-fee independent school stood down staff until at least the end of May. The Independent Education Union said about 60 staff were affected although the school declined to confirm the number. Mentone Grammar recently made more than 20 of its staff redundant due to the financial impact of coronavirus, while Haileybury and Ballarat Clarendon College stepped away from plans to stand down staff.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had to deliver a sermon to what was claimed to be the UK's biggest ever school assembly. The Most Revd Justin Welby was addressing the Oak National Academy, the free online school, set up for pupils studying at home during the coronavirus lockdown. Its online lessons were accessed two million times in its first week. Here, the BBC reports that the leader of the Church of England's message was intended to be uplifting – the voice of Zoom rather than the voice of doom. The word he focused on was “hope”.
In Australia, as elsewhere, the coronavirus emergency has presented a rare opportunity to reinvigorate the national conversation and breathe new life into our institutions – not just political but economic, cultural and educational. But do we have the foresight and skills to oversee this transition from a world in which practices and policies long accepted as the norm are no longer working, asks Emeritus Professor Joseph A. Camilleri?
The deliberate visiting of sickness on a people is more characteristic of Norse gods such as Thor, with his thunderbolts, or the capricious gods of pagan Greece or Rome, writes Church of England Bishop Graham Tomlin. “Judgement, in Christian understanding, is, perhaps, better understood as when the deformed shape of the world as we have fashioned it is revealed in all its brutal reality, when the final truth about us is displayed. Pestilence, therefore, may have more to tell us about ourselves than it does about God.”
Greek-based Australian writer Gillian Bouras revisits Albert Camus' novel, The Plague, prompted by an email from a former student of hers in Victoria. “What turned out to be extraordinary, the Melburnian and I agreed, was the familiarity of the subject matter, and the routines that Camus makes the authorities of the plague-ridden Algerian town Oran put in place: the quarantine, the isolation hospitals, the attempts to develop a vaccine, the volunteer health workers, and the way in which funerals were conducted in haste. Then there was the idea that the plague was ‘the flail of God,’ and even mention of ‘the flattening of the curve’.”
“Collects” are short prayers gathering up the needs of the day and stating them in a brief form. Here, Melbourne writer and oral story-teller Julie Perrin offers some of her own written during Lent amid COVID-19, accompanied by Ian Ferguson's photographs of East Gippsland after the summer bushfires.
The Gippsland Anglican is also available in a digital format this month. Click here to read the May edition.