News Stand

NewsStand 12-18 November

Archbishop Freier's message to students at end of tough year; Iranian converts hailed; former Dean queries Census question on religion; Anglican Primates call for equitable coronavirus vaccine access; report finds that attitudes towards religion are a bigger driver of prejudice than race ... and much more.

November 18 2020


November TMA is online now here. The print editions of November and December TMA will be posted out to arrive by the second Sunday of each month, as is customary for what are usually our Synod and Christmas editions respectively. 


Watching and waiting 

Advent, the lead-up to Christmas, is about watching and waiting, as the shepherds in the fields, the kings from the East and Mary and Joseph watched and waited, says Archbishop Philip Freier in a video message to staff and students at the Beaconhills College Advent service. Dr Freier says Victorians know about watching and waiting this year, not least students undertaking home schooling. But watching and waiting is a gift from God, he says, which is true despite being contrary to our expectations. 


Iranian converts 'a God-given opportunity'

Melbourne Assistant Bishop Paul Barker says “making the Word of God fully known” to Iranians in Melbourne is “a God-given opportunity for the diocese”, with diaspora ministry one of the most significant Gospel opportunities the Church in Melbourne faced, whether refugees, migrants or foreign students. 


Costello welcomes Federal Government’s $550m aid package to South-East Asia 

After years of urging successive Coalition Governments to increase Australian aid, only to have it slashed in budget after budget, Christian leaders welcomed the Government’s announcement as proof of Australia’s renewed commitment to the region. The Revd Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah Australia – a coalition of Christians who have consistently advocated for Australian aid’s increase – said he hopes the announcement heralds a new era of re-engaged Australian leadership in the region. 


When it comes to religion, the Australian Census is asking the wrong questions

Former Anglican Dean of Sydney Phillip Jensen – who recently took part in a polling sample testing the 2021 Census – says that when it comes to religion, the Census may be asking the wrong questions. “As our society changes and grows increasingly multicultural and religiously diverse, it is vital that the questions we ask about religion keep pace with those changes and not keep repeating anachronistic or unrepresentative categories,” he says.  


Safeguarding complaint against Archbishop of Canterbury ‘not substantiated’ 

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury has been cleared over claims that he failed to act correctly over allegations against the late John Smyth, a leading figure in a Christian charity who carried out sado-masochistic practices on young males. But the decision has been attacked by the complainant, a survivor of Smyth's acts, who said that the safeguarding team’s claim that it had reviewed all the evidence was “untrue”. 


Sowing seeds of change in the footsteps of courageous Christians 

“As people of faith and in the tradition of other Christians who have engaged nonviolent approaches, we know that positive change is possible and we seek out the most measured, strategic and effective ways to communicate our message,” says St Andrew’s South Brisbane parishioner Oscar Delaney. 


Hindus in India and Australia celebrate Diwali under coronavirus clouds 

Fear of the coronavirus and chronic pollution spoiled the party on Saturday as hundreds of millions of Indians celebrated the biggest Hindu holiday of the year. Diwali is meant to be the festival of light, but the pandemic has clouded the future for many in the country of 1.3 billion. And Australia's Indian community, which usually hosts big fairs and events, celebrated with more subdued affairs this year as concern around the virus lingers. 


Anglican leaders call for 'equitable' global access to COVID-19 vaccines

Potential COVID-19 vaccines should be made available to the world’s poorest people, the Primates of the Anglican Communion said. They made their call in a communiqué published after an online meeting held last week to discuss the global health emergency. During the meeting, they were briefed by two representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and discussed regional reports from each other on the impact of the pandemic. 


Religious intolerance is 'bigger cause of prejudice than race', says report

Religion is the “final frontier” of personal prejudice, with attitudes to faith driving negative perceptions more than ethnicity or nationality, a new report has found. How We Get Along, a two-year study of diversity by the Woolf Institute in the UK, concludes that most people are tolerant of those from different ethnic or national backgrounds, but many have negative attitudes based on religion. 


Compassionate consciousness the driving force behind the universe 

Quantum physics suggests we are all part of one great universal consciousness, which brings about reality, and in which all matter originates and is sustained. The Revd Don McGregor, author, retired Anglican priest and a former science teacher living in Wales, argues that this new scientific understanding supports the Christian view of God as the compassionate consciousness from which everything emanates and which holds everything in being, and that we can awaken to this through meditation.