19 August 2022

11 - 17 August

‘Orthodox … Biblical Anglicanism’, or an ‘outright lie’? GAFCON divides

Beliefs about salvation are core to the Anglican church’s division on sexuality coming to a head with the GAFCON movement, leaders say. 

The Global Anglican Future Conference Australia established the Diocese of the Southern Cross in September 2021. 

GAFCON leaders said this existed as an option for those people and congregations who may choose to leave the Anglican church following such a decision. 

Some say engaging in same-sex relationships excludes one from partaking in fellowship. 

Others say this view is divisive and outdated, and that differing perspectives ought to coexist in the Anglican church. 


Anglican church splits: conservatives form Australian breakaway

Australia’s Anglican church has split, and conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage have launched a breakaway movement led by former Sydney archbishop Glenn Davies aiming to lure Anglicans who are unhappy with progressive bishops. 

The Diocese of the Southern Cross was formally launched in Canberra on Sunday. The first service was led by a rebel minister who resigned from the liberal Brisbane Archdiocese because he “cannot go along with same-sex blessings”. 

Davies, who finished his term as Sydney archbishop last year, said many Anglicans felt the Australian church had strayed from the teachings of the Bible, particularly on same-sex marriage. At present, they must move to another diocese if they disagree with their bishop. 

But they can join the new church from anywhere – it will cover the whole country – and Davies expected many will do so. 


Decision to sell unused Stockinbingal church triggers community backlash

A group of Stockinbingal community members have expressed outrage at the proposed sale of their local Anglican church. 

The Parish of Cootamundra decided to close the St James Anglican Church, Stockinbingal, in 2019 when attendance was not high enough to match the costs of maintaining the building. 

Stockinbingal resident James Coleborne wrote to the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn bishop, who oversees the parish, saying residents were “angry” with the decision to sell. 

“We feel like we’ve been sold out,” he said. 


Cathedral ceilings and local tales: in praise of country church do-overs

Eager buyers are snapping up unused churches around Australia and giving historic buildings a new life as homes, accommodation and workspaces. 

For people seeking a slice of history, church do-over projects are an increasing source of fascination. Renovated into homes, accommodation and workspaces, these buildings have been restored and put to a new purpose – a process which can bring to light old tales from a time when they were the centre of the community. 


School chaplains are needed now more than ever

From aged care and youth support settings, to hospitals and correctional facilities, and in sports, law enforcement, armed forces, and of course, school settings, chaplains have served Australian communities for many generations. As ongoing pandemic-related challenges combine with cost-of-living pressures, chaplains are needed more than ever. 

The reason for this is that chaplains continue to occupy a unique space in the wellbeing sector, bringing the gifts of time, presence, faith, spirituality and pastoral care. 

In the case of school chaplains, during pandemic-related lockdowns across several major Australian cities, they provided vital social, emotional and spiritual support as people sought a confidante to talk through the season of increased uncertainty, anxiety and isolation. 


Gafcon forms new diocese in Australia — and is welcomed by the Archbishop of Sydney

THE former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has been named as the first bishop of a new Gafcon diocese in Australia. 

The creation of the Diocese of the Southern Cross was announced on Monday at the inaugural Gafcon Australasia Conference, held in Canberra. The diocese, which is to function Australia-wide, is expected to be an extra-provincial diocese under the auspices of Gafcon, the conservative Anglican movement begun at the Global Anglican Futures Conference in Jerusalem in 2008. 

The current Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Revd Kanishka Raffel, who succeeded Dr Davies in May last year (News, 7 May 2021), welcomed the new diocese, saying that he was “happy to extend the hand of fellowship to the Diocese of the Southern Cross, and may God bless Bishop Davies and his work”. 


Commonwealth and church leaders take note: the days of colonial prejudice are over

The British empire may be dead but its ghost refuses to lie down. In the past fortnight, two relics, the Commonwealth and the Church of England, have come to prominence, incanting their slogans of virtue. The Commonwealth claims to be a “major force for change in the world”, the C of E to be a bond of “living in love and faith”. They are strong on abstract rhetoric, but leave little firm ground beneath their feet. 

The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham displayed one genuine breakthrough: for the first time, disabled athletes were given equality in medals and games ceremonial. But it was left to the diving athlete Tom Daley to spoil the parade. He pointed out that of 56 Commonwealth member states, 35 outlaw homosexuality and variously imprison, beat, stone or kill gay people. They include Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. While a few athletes carried the rainbow flag in Birmingham, Daley told the BBC that most were terrified of being identified. 


Virgina Episcopal Diocese to spend $10 million for reparations. But how?

Growing up, Dorothy Davis was not welcome in the “other” Episcopal Church in her rural Virginia community — the White one. So, Davis, now 86, wept this fall when the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia voted to repair its centuries-long break with Black members like her. 

After decades of votes and commissions and studies and promises, hundreds of clergy and lay leaders voted in their annual convention to commit $10 million to reparations. 

But now comes another phase with a new, hard question: What does it mean to make reparations? 

“When you mention the word ‘reparations,’ White people think you’re going to hand out money to Black folks. There is very little conversation here about what’s next,” Davis said. “You can look at the expressions on their faces. If we say ‘racial reconciliation,’ that’s okay, but the word ‘reparations’? No.” 


The Stabbing of Salman Rushdie Renews Free Speech Debates

Two years ago Salman Rushdie joined prominent cultural figures signing an open letter decrying an increasingly “intolerant climate” and warning that the “free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” It was a declaration of principles Mr. Rushdie had embodied since 1989, when a fatwa by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, calling for his murder, made him a reluctant symbol of free speech. 

The letter drew a backlash, with some denouncing it as a reactionary display of thin-skinnedness and privilege — signed, as one critic put it, by “rich fools.” 

The reaction dismayed Mr. Rushdie, but didn’t surprise him. “Put it like this: the kinds of people who stood up for me in the bad years might not do so now,” he told The Guardian in 2021. “The idea that being offended is a valid critique has gained a lot of traction.” 


‘Attack on a dream’: Muslims in fear as Indian democracy turns 75

As India celebrates 75 years of independence, the country’s Muslims and other minorities say they find themselves in a state of siege. 

Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014, the South Asian nation has lunged rightwards under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with an overt and organised state patronage to a Hindu majoritarian agenda worrying its Muslims. 

For the first time in India’s history, its governing party does not have a single Muslim parliamentarian.