28 October 2021

21 - 27 October

53rd Melbourne synod coverage

The Melbourne Anglican team has been banging away at their typewriters for the past two weeks to bring you all the news and developments from the 53rd Melbourne Synod. Held online for the first time due to covid-19 restrictions, the synod passed several pieces of legislation and motions that will shape the future of the diocese. But others didn’t make the cut. See our coverage here. 


St Paul’s College opens doors to women after 165 years as male bastion

Sydney University’s all-male St Paul’s College, which was once renowned for its sexist culture, will open the doors of its undergraduate wing to women from 2023 despite opposition from some students and alumni.

The council of the 165-year-old college voted on the proposal on Monday night, saying that in order to “excel at forming the nation’s leaders” in the 21st century, it was important to include women.


Be bolder, Archbishop of Canterbury urges world leaders heading for COP26

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has warned that a failure to curb dangerous climate change risks driving severe conflict around the world, ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit being hosted by the UK from 31 October.

Dr Welby, who worked in the oil industry before being ordained, said the fossil fuel era was, and must be, coming to an end, but warned the transition away from coal, oil and gas had to be fair to poorer people in the UK and to those in developing countries.


Vax and unvax – a view from a Melbourne church

Presbyterian minister Neil Chambers recently gave a detailed response to how the church he leads will respond to Melbourne’s journey out of lockdown. Here, he urges each group, the vaccinated, unvaccinated, and the vulnerable to accept an imperfect solution. His church plans to re-open and hold one “vaccination status unknown” service (limited to 20 under the Victorian rules) as well as three larger services for “vaccinated only” when their state gets to the vaccinated target of 80 per cent 16 years and over.


The numbers are not adding up for the Church of England

The cash-strapped Anglican hierarchy in the UK must tread carefully as it rethinks the role of the traditional parish, opines a new Guardian editorial. Anglicans find themselves at a historic crossroads – obliged by dire financial circumstance and sparse congregations to rethink what the church is for, and where it should be.

There are growing fears that at next month’s General Synod, measures will be taken to make it easier to close hundreds of parish churches, drastically reduce numbers of “vicars on the beat” and sell off assets to raise funds.


Fired After Endorsing Vaccines, Evangelical Insider Takes a Leadership Role

Endorsing vaccines from an evangelical perspective cost Daniel Darling his job as spokesman for the National Religious Broadcasters, a largely conservative group of some 1,000 members employed in Christian media. The news exploded not just in evangelical circles but also into the mainstream media, giving Mr Darling a turn in the polarized news cycle that he had previously observed from the sideline.

But now he has been named the director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. The Southern Baptist seminary hopes that under Mr. Darling the center will help shape evangelical conversations on a wide spectrum of political and cultural issues, from bedrock evangelical issues like abortion and religious liberty, to technology, race and immigration.


Worried Christians ‘Wait and See’ After Sudan Coup

Sudan’s Christians are on high alert following a military coup on 25 October. Buoyed by recent religious freedom gains, they now wonder if the military junta led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan will wind back civil liberties. Sudan’s civilian government had won international praise for its promotion of religious freedom, removing Islam as the state religion, dropping the death penalty for apostasy, and even letting Christians march for Jesus in the capital. Sudanese Christians were greatly encouraged as changes moved their government away from the discriminatory practices of former dictator Omar al-Bashir’s regime.


For Afghan Hazaras, where to pray can be life and death choice

Hazaras have long been discriminated against in Afghanistan from a mix of factors, of which religion is just one. But while thousands died under the last Taliban government from 1996-2001, it was the appearance of Islamic State in Afghanistan from around the start of 2015 that made them and the wider Shi’ite community a systematic target. Many hundreds were killed in suicide attacks on mosques and community centres by hardline Sunni militants who do not see them as true Muslims. Although the Taliban have promised that all of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups will be protected, the killing has gone on since they seized power in August.


How some ‘Jewitches’ are embracing both Judaism and witchcraft

In both the modern witchcraft and Jewish communities, people are bringing together magic — often called witchcraft — and religious ritual. The ways in which these two seemingly distinct practices merge is often highly personal, depending on heritage, education and spiritual calling. Here, Religion News Service speaks to several women who feel the pull of both witchcraft and Judaism. 


How proponents of bible-focused teaching overthrew a revered Principal

What’s the point of church-affiliated schools that don’t teach the church’s values? It’s been a long debate. In 1984, the elite Presbyterian Ladies College in Melbourne decided not to renew the contract of its celebrated headmistress Joan Montgomery, noted for her liberal and humanist approach to girls’ education. 

Law academic and former PLC school captain Kim Rubenstein tells the story of the dispute, and the much bigger debate behind it, in her new book “The Vetting of Wisdom: Joan Montgomery and the Fight for PLC.” Here she speaks with the ABC’s Andrew West about the book.