Diocese of Newcastle
Anglican Women

Anglican Women Newcastle

 

Anglican Women Newcastle was formed in 1960 as an 'umbrella' organisation for ALL Anglican women in the Diocese.

Prayer

Anglican Women's Prayer

Eternal God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the hearts that serve you, help us to so know you, that we may truly love you, so to love you that we may fully serve you, for to serve you is perfect freedom, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Events

AWA State Conference programme

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From 5-8th June 2017, Anglican Women Australia will hold their bi-annual State Conference, hosted by Anglican Women, Diocese of Newcastle.

It will take place at Club Macquarie, 458 Lake Road, Argenton, a suburb of the City of Lake Macquarie, near Newcastle NSW. The theme of the conference is ‘Thanksgiving for the ministry of women’.

Programme

It is shaping up to be a most interesting time of worship, fellowship and learning with a range of very interesting speakers. They include Lisa Towle, President of Episcopal Church Women of the USA; Lucille Henniker President of Anglican Church Women of Southern Africa, Jan Malpas of the Diocese of The Murray, who has served with the World Council of Churches, Lifeline, Mothers’ Union; the Revd Lu Piper, and Members of MOWatch (Movement for the Ordination of Women. The evening programme will include Bush Poet Bob Bush, a Sing Australia Choir, and Policewoman Sergeant Debra Rowe. (see attached programme)

Conference Chaplain will be The Venerable Sonia Roulston, Archdeacon of Newcastle. Women from the dioceses of Sydney, Bathurst, Canberra & Goulburn and Riverina are expected, as well as ‘locals’ from the Diocese of Newcastle.

Cathedral Service & speakers:

The Annual Newcastle Diocesan Anglican Women’s service on Tuesday, 6th June at 10.30 am (morning tea from 9.45), will be part of the conference. It is open to anyone who would like to come, at no cost. Bishop Peter Stuart will celebrate and Adn Sonia will preach. It will open with a colourful procession of symbols of the ministry of women in its many diverse ways. The Rt Rev’d Kay Goldsworthy, Bishop of Gippsland Diocese, will be the guest speaker  following the service.

After lunch we will hear from Prison Chaplain, The Revd Di Langham, then participants of the conference will travel to The Mission to Seafarers Centre at Wickham, where they will view the facilities, hear about its ministry and enjoy afternoon tea, before returning to the conference venue at Argenton.

The cost to attend the full conference (Monday 5th to Thursday 8th June) is $275 (plus your accommodation). Day only: Wednesday, 9am to 5pm $50 (incl. lunch, m/ & a/teas).

Accommodation:

You will need to make your own arrangements directly with the motel/hotel of choice, mentioning the AWA Conference. We also offer the option of billeting with parishioners in the area, or you might like to stay with family or friends if you do not live nearby.

Some of the options include:- The Macquarie Inn, Argenton, which is connected to the Conference Venue. ph 02 4911 9595, email: <macquarieinn@clubmacquarie.com.au> www.clubmacquarie.com.au/stay

Rates per night from $154 — based on 2 guests, any extras $30.00 per person per night.

The Esplanade Motel, Warners Bay is about 15 mins. drive from the venue. It is situated right on the lake, with walking tracks for miles. Ph: 02 4948 9666  <info@theesplanademotel.com.au> www.theesplanademotel.com.au  Rates from $119 – $159 per night.

Below are PDFs which can be downloaded: – a Newsletter with information,  a a Conference Registration Form, a programme- plus a Registration Form for those just wishing to attend on the Wednesday 9am to 5pm. (Note: there is no need to register or any cost to just attend the Cathedral Service on TUESDAY.)

AWA newsletter AWA Conf. 

AWA program-2-3-17

AWA Conf. Regn form.compressed

AWA Conf. DAY Regn

2016 AW Spring Celebrations hear of Kairos Outside

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Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Deaneries meet at Mayfield

Thanks to all and the parishioners of MICA, who contributed to such a lovely day of fellowship, worship, sharing of stories and of special gifts at St Andrew’s Mayfield today, 6 September 2016!

Eunice and Margaret shared very moving stories and gave us an insight into the ministry of KOW. May we all be challenged to support Kairos Outside for Women in any way we can, and may God richly bless their special ministry.

And the sublime music of David & Julie Webb from Southlakes Parish was a real blessing.

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Then the Upper Hunter met at Muswellbrook. . .

On Wednesday, 7th September 2016, another beautiful Spring day, ladies from the various parishes of the Upper Hunter gathered in the beautiful historic Church of  St Alban’s at Muswellbrook for a lovely service, again with well-chosen hymns and an excellent Homily from rector, The Rev’d Scott Dulley.

The speakers from Kairos Outside this time were Shirley and Karen who travelled up from Newcastle.  They gave most informative talks, illustrated with a Power Point presentation. (some of this information about KOW will follow in a few days.)

Lunch in the Hall again was an example of wonderful country cooking – thank you, ladies!

Thursday it was at Raymond Terrace for the Deaneries of Maitland & Paterson

Another beautiful Spring day – with lovely worship, good fellowship and learning about the ministry of Kairos Outside for Women in the Hunter. This time Sue Royal, well-known in Anglican circles, spoke about the origins of KOW, what happens on a weekend and how we can help (see next article).  Theresa shared her very personal and moving story, which touched many hearts. Then lunch and and a time of warm fellowship as we caught up with friends and made new ones.

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Friday: Central Coast AW gathered at Lakes Anglican, Gorokan

On Friday, 9th September, it was the turn of women from the Central Coast to gather at Lakes Anglican Church at Gorokan, where we were welcomed by Deanery Leader Noeline Darcy.

Following the Eucharist, celebrated by The Revd Cathy Walker, Margaret and Lee from Kairos Outside in the Hunter shared their very moving personal stories, followed by information on the what, how and when of KOW, as it undertakes this very important and worthwhile ministry.

We heard of how KOW provides a safe space for guests, offering unconditional love, support  and acceptance, as they share their life journey and help to foster spiritual growth.

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2017 AWA State Conference hosted by Newcastle AW

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Anglican Women of Australia Conference Theme: Thanksgiving for the Ministry of Women

Anglican Women in the Diocese of Newcastle will be the hosts for the 2017 Bi-annual Provincial Conference of AWA. Anglican women from many dioceses in Australia, including some from overseas, will be attending. Join us for a time of fellowship, worship and learning!

What is AWA: Anglican Women “exists to celebrate and support women, both lay and ordained, in their ministries and in their witness by providing opportunity for fellowship and the concrete expression of their unity in Christ”. (Most Rev’d Philip Aspinall, 2009)

Anglican Women exists in many dioceses. It is an ‘umbrella’ organisation for ALL women who belong to the Anglican Church. It does not aim to compete with other organisations, but rather to bring them together in a spirit of partnership and co-operation, as well as making provision for those not included in such groups. It aims to work toward the extension of Christ’s Kingdom through encouraging worship, study, service, fellowship and giving. There is no subscription and no admission service. However parishes and organisations are asked to pay a small annual affiliation fee.

All Anglican women, and their spouses, are most welcome to attend this Conference.

(Note: 2017 is the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Newcastle (1847-2017); the 30th anniversary of the first women made deacon in this diocese (10/5/1987); and the 25th of the first as priests (12/1992).

DATE: Arrival & registration from Monday 3 pm, 5th June to Thursday noon, 8th June, 2017. (You may like to stay a little longer to explore our lovely region!)

VENUE: Club Macquarie, 458 Lake Road, Argenton NSW (Lake Macquarie, Newcastle Diocese). Set beside the tranquil shores of Cockle Creek, it provides a very comfortable, welcoming and attractive venue with excellent facilities, meals etc. Next to Cockle Creek train station, not too far from Cardiff Station. Plenty of parking.

The Venerable Sonia Roulston, Conference Chaplain.

Adn Sonia Roulston, Conference Chaplain.

Conference Chaplain:  The Ven. Canon Sonia Roulston, Archdeacon of Newcastle.

Programme: Highlights of an interesting and varied programme include:

  • Tuesday will see us travelling to the Cathedral in Newcastle to be a part of the Diocesan Annual AW Service. Special Guest and speaker will be The Rt Revd Kay Goldsworthy, Bishop of Gippsland Diocese. The afternoon programme will include a visit to The Mission to Seafarers, to hear and see something of their ministry to the Port of Newcastle.
  • Wednesday’s programme will include presentations by Lisa Towle, President of Episcopal Church Women in the USA; Mrs Jan Malpas from Sth Australia (MU,WCC, Lifeline etc); and members of MOWatch (Movement for the Ordination of Women) sharing their story of ‘The Movement for the Ordination of Women in Australia – Why it Still Matters’. There will be a special Conference Dinner with Sergeant Debra Rowe, (nee Joice) a passionate Christian police woman. She will talk about her faith and her career as a Police Officer, how much it has changed and some of the challenges she has faced.
  • Thursday will include the AGM for the Provincial Committees, other presentations, then a light lunch at 11.30.

Conference Fees: Full conference $275.  Day only: Wednesday, 9am to 5pm $40 (incl. lunch, m/ & a/teas). Registration Forms and a Newsletter are now available (see below).

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TRAVEL: Train – On Sydney to Newcastle line – Venue is next to Cockle Creek train station, not too far from larger Cardiff Station, then taxi (about 10 mins).
Road: From Sydney 152 kms via M1 (about 2 hrs).
Air: Nearest airport is Williamtown (c. 35 mins. by car to venue); or fly to Sydney, then Newcastle train to Cardiff or Cockle Creek.

ACCOMMODATION: You will need to make your own arrangements directly with the motel/hotel of choice, mentioning the AWA Confence. We also offer the option of billeting with parishioners in the area.
Motels include:- The Macquarie Inn, Argenton, which is connected to the Conference Venue. ph 02 4911 9595, email: macquarieinn@clubmacquarie.com.au  www.clubmacquarie.com.au/stay
Rates per night from $154 to $199 ­— based on 2 guests, any extras $30.00 per person per night.

The Esplanade Motel, Warners Bay about 15 mins. drive from the venue. Ph: 02 4948 9666   info@theesplanademotel.com.au    www.theesplanademotel.com.au      Rates from $119 – $159 per night.

Expressions of Interest: To help with the planning, we’d love to know if you are planning/hoping to come to the Conference. Please contact Co-ordinator:
Marion Willey, President, Anglican Women Newcastle,  email: <marion.willey@iinet.net.au>  phone: 02 4971 2205;  25/ 68 Pacific Highway, Blacksmiths  NSW  2281;
OR Laurel Brook, 24 Chelston Street, Warners Bay  NSW  2282, <lolart2@bigpond.com>

What is the blessing in the here and now?

With the Diocese still in the midst of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in the Church, 270 people, clergy and lay, from around the Diocese of Newcastle gathered at Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College on Saturday 13th August for the annual Diocesan Convention.

Instead of the planned program, much of the day focussed on what could have been the ‘elephant in the room’ – the Royal Commission, something which deeply affects many.

This is just my personal reflection on the day. It was one I found moving, disturbing, emotional – and yet encouraging and uplifting. I worked in the Diocesan office for 15 years (1986-2001), working and praying with the people there, and I was a full-time student at St John’s College in 1982, which was a great privilege and a joy, a time of learning and community.

I know I am upset, disillusioned and angry, not only by the injury done to children and youths by people whom we trust and expect to be loving and caring, but by the fact that there were people in the Church who knew and did nothing. And that those who tried to do something, were either ignored or themselves abused and ill-treated.

The Rt Revd Greg Thompson, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.

The Rt Revd Greg Thompson, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.

Bishop Greg Thompson’s address was profoundly moving. There was absolute stillness as he spoke. He shared with us “The blessing in the here and now” and also what has shaped him for this time. He spoke of what it is like when all our resources come to an end. In the small and the big we all wrestle with things we have no power to deal with by ourselves. At the moment many feel shock and anger, do not know what to do, but yet feel the need to do something.

We heard again the story from Genesis 32, of Jacob who has stolen the blessing of his brother, of him coming face-to-face and wrestling with God. Bp Greg spoke of the Blessing which is the grace of God – and the capacity of God to work in us, with all our doubts and fears and vulnerability.

We need to say the honest prayer – talk about what is going on, he said. We all may come to a time of impasse, when all else fails and we need to surrender all. But the dark can lead to light, hope to new growth. “We are here today because we have hope – God is there.” He concluded with the prayer:

O God, with whom we wrestle until the break of day: 
make us long to seek your face beyond the limits of our strength, 
that in our wounds we may remember you, 
and in your blessing we may find ourselves, 
through Jesus Christ. Amen (APBA p.568)

As Bishop Peter Stuart introduced the guests – The Revd Dr Robin Greenwood, Gill Fletcher and Tim Dyer, he spoke of the road to Emmaus, the friends who were in the depths of despair when joined by Jesus. For us, too, he said, ‘companions of the way’ are essential. We do not walk alone.

Gill Fletcher, a counsellor, a Baptist from Nelson Bay, who has been working with the Diocese for the last 9 months; and Tim Dyer, from the John Mark Foundation, who has worked with many Churches, and is an international expert on travelling this journey; helped us to reflect, listen, and talk with each other.

Among the points made were the need to move to God in prayer, to find ways to talk in meaningful and constructive ways; yet to be thoughtful and careful in our speech and language not to cause further injury, for everyone will have a different response to this situation.

The key speaker for the day was The Revd Canon Dr Robin Greenwood, a priest in Newcastle Diocese (UK), a practical theologian and author. He was to have spoken about his latest book, ‘Sharing God’s Blessing’: a guide for renewal in the local church. Instead, he had circulated, listening and speaking to many individuals. “I recognise the pain, confusion and hurt, so I want to speak to your situation rather than my prepared presentation.”

Robin reminded us that nothing is ever just our problem or joy – we are not alone, but part of a world Church. There are fellow Christians in this country and overseas who are holding us in their prayers, e.g. the dioceses of Leeds, York, Derby, Hereford, Hexham in the UK, Grafton in NSW and Lutherans in the USA.

When we are blessed, it is always in the shadow of the cross, it is not a private matter, but an equipping to do, leading to finding our true selves, so that we may be a blessing to others. We have to be real, perhaps broken, if we are to be a blessing to be used by God.

With the help of Gill and Tim we looked at how we felt, what steps we could take to support each other as ‘we face the past and shape a healthy future’. We examined Psalm 55: 1-8, 13-18, which really speaks to our situation – a cry for help, but it concludes with “But I will call to God; and the Lord my God will save me.”

Marion Willey
17 August 2016

2016 Annual Service: a great day

Held at the beautiful, historic St Peter’s Church, East Maitland on Tuesday 7th June 2016, we were made most welcome by the Rector, The Ven. Canon David Battrick BSG and staff. On a day that was fine, though very windy after a fairly extreme weekend, about 120 people attended from 37 parishes.

Bishop Peter Stuart brought greetings from Bishop Greg Thompson, who was unable to be with us due to the pressures of the approaching Royal Commission. He then celebrated and preached on the anxiety of searching and the joy of finding, in a joyful Eucharist, with music provided by organist Evanne Sherringham.

Following this, Guest Speaker, The Rev’d Fiona Bergstrom, a ‘retired’ priest from Woy Woy Parish, shared her reflections on the new AW theme for the year, ‘JOY: “The joy of the Lord is your strength”,’ from Neh. 8:10. Her explanation of JOY and its use in scripture was interspersed with stories of her own life and faith journey, which eventually led to her ordination in America in 1995.

From a sermon by John N. Gladstone she quoted:

‘The fruit of the spirit is JOY’, Paul said. JOY is a product of possessing the Spirit and being possessed by the Spirit.  It is the conscious possession of power adequate enough to carry us through every trial, every situation, and it will remain ours to the end…In this life, we shall never be free of sorrow. But, then, we shall never be free of JOY.’  (And JOY is the dominant note. We are in touch with a power that dries all tears, lifts all burdens, satisfies all needs.”)

“This JOY is not the joy of the world, but the JOY of the Spirit,” Fiona said. “To me this JOY is multi-layered in meaning and much richer, more peaceful, inspiring an inner confidence and strength. So often as we go about our lives, the word JOY is interchangeable with happiness, which to me is an important word, but does not carry the depth or breadth of meaning that Christian JOY brings.”

Speaking of her road to priesthood, she said: “the studying was hard, but it was JOY-filled too.” Of her first time to preside at a service… “during the Eucharistic Prayer of Thanksgiving at the altar…I was overwhelmed by pure JOY …  And that JOY is with me still.”

From John 15:9-11: ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my JOY may be in you, and that your JOY may be complete.’

Brendan Byrne in his book ‘Life Abounding: a Reading of John’s Gospel’ writes:

‘No JOY can be compared with the JOY of discovering that one is very much loved by someone whom one longed to be loved by but did not dare hope that such might ever be the case. . . Jesus has ‘said these things’ to the disciples in order that his JOY may be in them and their JOY complete. In other words, by sharing with them a sense of the love he receives from the Father, he is also communicating to and sharing with them a sense of the eternal JOY he experiences through that reception of divine love. The ultimate goal of his saving mission then is JOY: that human beings, through being drawn into the communion of love that is the godhead, may share in the JOY prevailing in that communion of love. When they share to the full the ‘eternal life’ of that communion, their JOY will be ‘complete’.”

Moving to Australia in 2011, to be closer to family and grandchildren, Fiona became involved in ministry in the Parish of Woy Woy, serving as p/time chaplain at Woy Woy Hospital and at Blue Wave Retirement Home. “Chaplaincy,” she commented, “is about meeting people ‘where they are’. As Chaplain I am chaplain to the patients, the staff and the volunteers who run the kiosk… As a chaplain one is privileged to hear people’s stories, and to have the opportunity to bring the light, love and JOY of Christ, in many differing ways.”

Fiona concluded: “I often have described our move to Australia as a giant kangaroo leap. And in some ways I found it a difficult move, so far away from England, Sweden and North America, places so familiar to us. My time as chaplain has helped me to feel connected to the community in a deeper way, and has certainly brought me great JOY over these years.

“I commend to you those four chapters of John’s gospel, starting with chapter 14. The love, JOY, and connectedness of Jesus to his father and to his disciples shines through. Jesus is facing his greatest sadness, leaving his friends and facing death, yet the sharing and teaching in his discourse and lastly the high-priestly prayer, are such a gift of JOY to us, today.”

President Marion Willey introduced the members of the AW Executive, then reported on the events of AW over the past year and a brief overview what lies ahead. She also raised the question of ‘What is the future of Anglican Women as an organisation?’

  • Are there people out there – are YOU – prepared to contribute through the Executive?
  • Do you still want / are able to attend, the events that we provide?
  • Are there any changes you would like to see?

If you have any suggestions, feel free to contact any of the Executive or myself.

After a BYO lunch in the hall, most stayed to enjoy the afternoon programme provided by the Senior Band from the Hunter Valley Grammar School — a wonderful selection of rousing joyful music, under the baton of teacher Shannon Laundon.

Altogether it was a great day of worship, learning, music and fellowship as we were able to catch up with members of the ‘church family’ from many parts of the Diocese.

In conclusion, a reminder that Anglican Women is for ALL women of the Anglican Church ­— as well as those who already belong to an organisation. There are no fees for individuals or rules and regulations. Events are organised for the benefit of all under its unifying ‘umbrella’.

Thanks: NT Aboriginal Clergy Fund

Thank You Boxes are distributed by AW. Mrs Kerry Thompson, the wife of Bishop Greg, spoke at the 2015 Spring Celebrations about the difficulties associated with bringing together indigenous clergy from remote communities for training and support.

Anglican Women recently received the heartfelt thanks of the Bishop of the Northern Territory, The Rt Revd Greg Anderson, for the cheque for $7,600 he had received from Anglican Women in the Diocese of Newcastle. He wrote:-

Bishop Greg Anderson, NT.

Bishop Greg Anderson, NT.

I wanted to send you my personal thanks, on behalf of the diocese, for your generous gift from the Thank You Box. We so much appreciate your support of indigenous clergy here in the Northern Territory, which (as) you have heard first hand from Kerry Thompson, face so many joys and so many challenges – and also so many expenses.

You may be interested to know of the start of the new Ministry Development Team, which is led by the Rev’d Kate Beer, one of the CMS missionaries. This group of about seven (including myself) is at the front line in seeking to further grow and develop ministry in the territory, especially in the Arnhem Land parishes but across the whole board as well. Since the team began a couple of months ago, training tours have been conducted in different remote parishes to think about stewardship using Bible studies on 2 Corinthians 8-9 and about safe ministry.

Your funding will continue to provide training for more individuals than would have been possible by bringing together Aboriginal clergy in one place. Next year there will be a mix of bringing people together and travelling out bush

Thank you for your prayers as well as financial support for the next generation of leaders in all Territory parishes.

With every blessing,
      Bishop Greg Anderson

The Diocese of the Northern Territory is the youngest of the 23 dioceses (regions) of the Anglican Church of Australia. It is responsible for the ministry of the Anglican Church across the whole of the Northern Territory and comprises almost one fifth of the Australian landmass, over six times the size of Great Britain. The total population of the NT is only about 230,000 people, 30% of whom are indigenous Australians.

AW Thank You Boxes.

AW Thank You Boxes.

The current Thank You Box project is Alzheimers Aust. (NSW). Boxes can be handed in to your parish, at the AW Annual Service in June or the September Spring Celebrations.

 

AW Retreats: resting in God’s love

AW Lent Retreat 2016, w/end group

AW Lent Retreat 2016, weekend group.

 Over very hot summer days, in the second week of Lent, 35 full-time and 15 day visitors, gathered at The old mud brick Monastery in Stroud to enjoy a time of quiet contemplation, being still and listening to God. Organised by Anglican Women, Newcastle, the two retreats were led by The Rev’d Michelle Hazel-Jawhary, now the Rector of Cessnock.

Her three addresses focussed on the Anglican Women’s theme for the year, ‘God is Love’. She reminded us that we all have a need for unconditional love – God loves each of us, a love that is not subject to ‘if…’ or ‘when…’. As Paul wrote in Romans 8, “I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God…”.  Love demands unconditional trust, which in turn leads to surrender, a surrender not out of fear, but out of our love for God. She shared with us a beautiful ‘Love Letter from God’ – in Scripture we read just so many times that God loves us!

As we made this spiritual journey together, we grew closer as a community, united in our love of God and of each other.

Solidarity with persecuted Christians

persecuted Christians logo

INTRODUCING AN ECUMENICAL INITIATIVE

Amidst the hope-filled expectation and joy of the seasons of Advent and Christmas, the liturgy reminds us that the Christ-child was born into a world of struggle and violence, into a vulnerable family coping with many uncertainties, and into a religious community under great pressure.

As we ponder this mystery, let us hold in our hearts and prayer all who are walking a path through the violence and uncertainties of our own time.

In a particular way we remember our suffering Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world, and all who face persecution for their religious or cultural identity.

One way to support the persecuted Church is to keep the plight of persecuted Christians before the eyes of our parish communities on a regular basis, with the call to prayer, to material giving, and considered reflection.

To assist parishes in this, the following website provides prayers, stories, liturgies, church statements and items for parish bulletins. It is an ecumenical initiative flowing from our Tri-Diocesan Covenant.

Follow the link here:

www.actnowforpersecutedchristians.weebly.com

The website, soon to be linked to a Facebook page, is brand new and will develop as 2016 unfolds.

Parishes are invited to start using this tool regularly in a timely fashion that suits their parish or organisation’s schedule, conscious of the urgency of the issues at hand.

A strength of this initiative is its ecumenical solidarity, Catholics and Anglicans working together to support their persecuted Christian brothers and sisters of many different Churches. Pope Francis speaks often of ‘an ecumenism of blood’ that cries out for a response from the Churches and from the wider community. This initiative offers steps by which even the busiest pastor or least resourced parish can respond with prayer, aid and mindfulness.

Contacts:

Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay: David Patterson david.patterson@dbb.org.au

Anglican Diocese of Newcastle: Michaela Sorensen michaela_sorensen@yahoo.com.au

Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Teresa Brierley Teresa.Brierley@mn.catholic.org.au

Sharing our Faith: ‘Gossip the Gospel’

2people_talking_375x253 The gifts of the spirit are many… But we can all speak with utter authenticity about our own lives, our own experiences of God. And sometimes those very personal stories are the ones which touch people…

Let us learn how to share our stories and encourage each other to ‘gossip the Gospel’…

Living our Christian faith is not only about reading the Scriptures, prayer, worship and about sharing the Gospel and our stories of faith. It is also intimately tied up with being accountable for how we live, as individual Christians and as church organisations.

Are our ministry units blessings to the communities they serve? What values do they model? Do we witness to Christ? This may seem a ‘no-brainer’ – but modelling, witnessing and being a blessing are core to our spiritual development, to our integrity and to our witness.

[The Rt Rev’d Dr Sarah Macneil, Bishop of Grafton, from her Synod Address, 6/ 2015]

Bishop’s Pastoral Letter, 11/2015

The Rt Revd Greg Thompson, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.

The Rt Revd Greg Thompson, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of  Newcastle.

19th November 2015

The Right Reverend Gregory Thomson

Bishop of Newcastle

MEDIA REPORTING OF CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AFFECTING THE DIOCESE

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In June, I called on the Diocese to “Face the past”. In what at times has been a difficult journey around the open discussion of child sexual abuse, we have seen people come forward to speak of their experience. We have seen parishes listen with deep care and attention to news of abuse and hurt in their past. As a Diocesan family we have heard directly from survivors, been moved to lament and expressed our deepest remorse. I have said on a number of occasions that we must be ready to hear more news that is distressing.

Earlier this week I accepted an ABC request for an interview, along with some others, for a story, they plan to run today. The ABC propose that several paedophile networks operated in Newcastle and suggest that politicians, teachers, lawyers and doctors were involved in child sexual abuse or covering up abuse.

The broader community is deeply interested in my concerns about cultures allowing abuse to flourish, including the culture within the church. My own experience of the Diocese, in the past and the present, is that there are people who do not want the culture to change. They seek either to groom people or bully people into silence.

What is becoming clear is that people, well known to each other, were involved in offending and in keeping their activities secret. I know that the Police and Royal Commission are examining this awful conduct. As a Diocese, we are committed to complete cooperation with these investigations and I know that in leading change, the Synod, representing the breadth of the Diocese, stands with me.

Once again, I encourage victims and survivors of abuse to join with me in telling their story to the NSW Police and the Royal Commission. I urge people who had or have suspicions about abusive behaviour to speak up. I encourage perpetrators to come forward to begin the long journey of putting things right.

In Ecclesiastes chapter 3 we read “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. This is rightly a time of deep scrutiny of the life of the Diocese and the community. It is a time when that which has been in darkness comes into the light. In this season, we must always keep at the centre of our thinking and prayers those who were harmed, seeking justice and healing for each.

With every blessing,

Bishop Gregory Thompson

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~

For help or advice, contact:

Lifeline  131 114,

NSW Police  Crimestoppers  1800 333 000,

Royal Commission  1800 099 340,

Diocesan Professional Standards  1800 774 945.

The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle takes allegations of misconduct and abuse seriously. Professional Standards Protocols provide formal procedures for handling complaints of misconduct.

We welcome and encourage people with concerns to come forward by speaking with a contact person.

Contact persons are trained to listen, will maintain confidentiality, can help you to understand the processes involved and if required, can assist in documenting the complaint.

Discussing child sexual abuse can be difficult. The Royal Commission has reminded us that is especially so for survivors telling their story for the first time, their families and professional staff supporting them.

The Royal Commission provides an extensive list of care and support services which can be found at Support Services. These services connect people with counsellors or special support groups.

Services marked as ‘Government Funded’ have been funded by the Australian Government to assist people affected by child abuse.