2 December 2021

25 November - 1 December

Aid organisation keeping eye on new variant

Melbourne-based Anglican Overseas Aid says it is keeping a close eye on developments around the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and how it might impact its projects in Africa and elsewhere. The virus was recently detected in southern Africa and declared a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation on 26 November.

 

How three families are preparing to celebrate Jesus this Christmas

With all the glitz and glamour of Christmas in stores, and Michael Bublé getting ready to burst into song at any moment, it’s easy to get swept away in the magic of the season and unintentionally leave what makes Christmas truly magical behind. Sydney Anglicans News’ Tara Long spoke to three families to hear the different ways they keep Christ at the centre of the holiday season.

 

Labor raises serious concerns over religious freedom bill inquiry timing

The timing of an inquiry into the government’s contentious religious freedom bill has been called into question after public hearings were listed to occur over the holiday period.

A joint parliamentary review into the proposal was agreed to following concerns of several MPs and community groups about the legislation. But the deputy chair for the committee reviewing the legislation has now raised concerns about how the inquiry is set to be conducted.

 

What’s at stake in the religious discrimination debate?

The last few years have seen an unprecedented level of public debate over religion and its place in Australian society, much of it focused on the Religious Discrimination Bill. Opponents of the bill argue that it opens the door to further discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community; others claim it does not go far enough in protecting religious freedom. While these issues are undoubtedly important, the bill and surrounding debate are also a litmus test for the future of the Australian state-religion relationship, argues law scholar Renae Barker. 

 

Pakistani minister whose church was bombed to resume ministry at home

Sydney-based Anglican minister, the Rev Ijaz Gill, is not letting fear stop him from returning to his homeland of Pakistan to resume his ministry – despite a horrific bomb attack that killed 122 of his congregation, many of them children, and injured 168 of his friends.

 

From darkness into light: Jewish Australians say Hanukkah this year comes at the perfect time

With COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia finally lifted, life is gradually returning to normal. For Jewish people in Australia preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights has come at the right time. The eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights starting on Sunday, and with eased restrictions in Melbourne and other parts of Australia, many Jews think now is a fitting time to celebrate.

 

Christmas No 1: LadBaby and Adele face competition from the church

Superstars Adele, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, and Abba are all in the running for this year’s coveted Christmas number 1 single spot, but the bookies say YouTuber LadBaby is the favourite. 

But now they all face competition from an unlikely quarter. The Church of England has announced its first Christmas single, a new version of the carol In the Bleak Midwinter, sung by the professional ensemble at the London church St Martin-in-the-Fields.

 

Primates write to Special Session of the World Health Assembly following Primates’ Meeting

The Primates of the Anglican Communion have called on the Special Session of the World Health Assembly, meeting from 29 November to 1 December, to be bold and courageous in its plans for an international agreement and treaty on global health emergency preparedness and response. 

In a letter to the WHA they call for the need to address and improve both equity in the distribution of vaccines and education to counter vaccine hesitancy around the globe.

 

Five-ton star hoisted atop Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia

A giant, 12-pointed star was lifted atop the new tower of the iconic Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona this week. 

At a height of 138 metres, the new tower of the Virgin Mary – the first to be completed since 1976 – is now the tallest of the complex, designed by visionary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.

The glass and steel structure known as Bethlehem’s Star has 12 points and will change the city’s skyline both day and night.

 

Anglican clergy on TV: not just ‘rogues or idiots’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently complained in a speech of the injustice of TV depictions of clergy, bemoaning that they are portrayed as “rogues or idiots”. Brilliant fictional portrayals of Anglican clergy in the era of Trollope, Eliot and Dickens were informed by a sharp sense of satire, but satire is a way of bringing the powerful to earth, and the Anglican clergy of today – in an era of shrinking and ageing congregations – are not terribly susceptible to that kind of treatment. Perhaps the archbishop must accept that the bland, benign, bumbling Anglican clergy of the small screen reflect the popular view of the church itself?