10 December 2022

Synod forced online as lockdown disruption continues

Melbourne Synod has been forced into an entirely online format as a result of Victoria’s repeated coronavirus lockdowns

By Stephen Cauchi

Melbourne Synod has been forced into an entirely online format as a result of Victoria’s repeated coronavirus lockdowns, the most recent of which placed some Anglican clergy – as well as Trinity Grammar School Kew – into quarantine.

The Diocese of Melbourne has again urged parishioners to be vaccinated, with Archbishop Philip Freier receiving his second Astra-Zeneca injection.

And in Sydney, which is enduring the most stringent lockdown in Australia, Archbishop Kanishka Raffel said he was praying for a “corona harvest” amid an upswing of interest in the Church.

Archbishop Freier, in a recent video message, also praised the public health response to the most recent outbreak of the virus in Victoria.

Dr Freier also acknowledged the burdens posed by the repeated lockdowns, including cancelled holidays and other disruptions.

The Archbishop, who was forced to cancel a trip to Queensland during his recent holidays, spoke of the “difficulty we have of settling on long-terms plans with confidence”.

The challenge for people was to turn their “disappointment into a reason for gratitude and thankfulness” by focusing on things they could do and people they could appreciate.

“It does give us an opportunity of focusing on the present and valuing the present, having thankfulness for the gifts of each day,” Archbishop Freier said.

Bishop Paul Barker told TMA that numbers of clergy had to endure quarantine after they or their families attended COVID exposure sites.

They included Bishop Genieve Blackwell (who attended the Wallabies-France rugby union match at AAMI Park); the Vicar of All Saints Clayton, the Revd Charlie Fletcher; the Lead Minister at St Thomas’ Burwood, the Revd John Carrick; and the Academic Dean at Ridley College, Dr Lindsay Wilson.

Trinity Grammar was also hit by COVID and forced students and their families into quarantine. These included Dr Brian Rosner, the Principal of Ridley College, and the Priest-in-Charge of the Holy Name of Jesus Anglican Church in Vermont South, the Revd Victor Fan.

Trinity’s chaplain, the Revd James Hale, is also in quarantine.

Melbourne Synod will be entirely online, said Bishop Barker. Plans for it to be held in person as well as online had to be abandoned.

“It was just too much work to plan for both scenarios,” Bishop Barker said.

Synod is to be held from Wednesday 13 October to Saturday 16 October.

Bishop Barker said that while “all of that time on Zoom doesn’t appeal … I don’t disagree with the decision because I can’t see any other way forward”.

In an article published on the Sydney Anglicans website last month, Sydney Archbishop Kanishka Raffel said there had been a surge of interest in the Church – a “corona harvest” – following the extended lockdowns.

“The transition to online ministry … has been accessed widely by newcomers and inquirers, the curious and the skeptical,” he wrote.

  • Read the full story in August’s TMA, available to subscribers from later this week and in churches on Sunday 1 August.

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