Barwon District Anglican Churches Vicar’s Report 2017
Presented at AGM 27 August 2017.
Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. They will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.’ (John 10:14–16). This is what we must be on about as a church family: hearing the voice of our shepherd and following him, and leading others to listen to his voice and join his mob.
We’ve heard his Word and grown through it. In 2016–2017, we heard Romans 11–16, Isaiah 40–66, Colossians, John 6–10, and the topics of ‘Ought Christians speak up about “Same Sex Marriage”?’ and The Spiritual Battle. Today we return to The Reformation, and later in the year will consider a vision for our church and spiritual gifts (in response to the NCLS). Next year I look forward to an 8-week series on forgiveness and conflict resolution.
We’ve met through the week in Bible studies. There was great encouragement from the Six Steps To Loving Your Church series and the obvious difference this made in people’s lives. As I write, three groups are meeting each week for Christianity Explored; this is reading Mark’s Gospel unpacked with helpful DVD’s.
This year is the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation. This reminds me of the difference it makes when individuals read the Bible for themselves. It’s fair to say, individuals reading the Bible for themselves began The Reformation that has changed the world. I still believe the greatest need for our district is not more rain, more employment, better education, or stopping the drug dealers, but is individuals reading the Bible and praying each day. While these material needs are great, they are not eternal. Further, the transformation that comes through reading the Word of God would bring God’s perspective on these challenges for our district. Will you be the one who starts the reformation of our district by reading the Bible and praying?
At times, it appears God’s flock in our district and the nation is shrinking. In the increasing busyness of life, the cost to following Jesus and gathering with his people will be more apparent. If we speak the voice of God on current issues our trust in Jesus will be more apparent. In the same sex marriage debate, those who promote God’s good plan of marriage between a man and a woman are branded ‘bigot, homophobe, and hate speech.’ Can I encourage you to not be afraid to vote ‘no’ in the upcoming postal plebiscite?!
Marriage is not a human right. It exists for a purpose: the marriage of a man and woman is the one relationship where children can be born and raised to adulthood by their biological parents. Whilst it is not the government’s business to register or regulate ‘who loves who,’ it is in government and public interest that we have stable and strong families. Marriage is for this purpose, and so is for the common good.
If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to take and read the booklet: ‘What has God joined together? Jesus’ good message about marriage for Australia.’
As the cost to following Jesus becomes more apparent, I would encourage us to remember the words of Jesus: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)
That said, there are more opportunities for gospel ministry in our district than we can handle! As Jesus said, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’ (Matthew 9:37–38). Please join me in praying that we would be gospel minded, each considering how we serve Jesus with our time and generosity. If we all do our bit, it frees others up to serve in other ways. It still saddens me, for example, that we have no disciple-making ministry among the youth or high schools. I would love to see us care more for grieving families after the funeral has occurred in our church buildings. And of course, it saddens me at the lack of men in our church family.
Before drowning in sorrow or starting a pity party, I am amazed at how much good gospel ministry happens through our church family. It’s fair to say we are punching above our weight.
I am thankful to God for the partnerships we have with South Tamworth, North Epping, Ryde, Turramurra, and Narrabri Anglican Churches. It is encouraging to know they pray for us, give generously, and come all the way to fellowship with us and share in the work of the gospel.
All across our Diocese, Christians give generously to our church. They ask how things are going and pray for the salvation of our district. On this note, can I please draw your attention to the Diocese Development Fund (DDF). Investing money in the DDF allows interest to be returned to ministry in our district, arguably a better investment eternally and a far better place for interest than the profits of the Big Banks! Please talk to me or the Registrar Ron Perry if you want to know more.
I want to particularly thank the Bishop Rick Lewers and Registrar Ron Perry for their assistance. Please pray for our Bishop as he leads our Diocese, and engages with other Dioceses that no longer listen to the voice of Jesus. In June 2018, Bible-believing Anglicans will meet at GAFCON in Jerusalem to consider the future of the Anglican Communion – please pray for Rick on these matters, and myself. Our Registrar Ron will soon retire, and I honestly wonder how our church would exist if it were not for his administrative assistance (humanly speaking, of course!).
Finally, I want to thank Fiona Denyer for doing a great job of looking after the finances and keeping us out of trouble in this department!
In Christ, Tory Cayzer.