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.


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


A joyful 2017 Lent Retreat

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The 2017 Anglican Women’s silent Lent retreat at St Joseph’s Retreat Centre at Kincumber. What a wonderful time of refreshment, fellowship, worship and laughter!
Our theme was ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Neh. 8:10), with Retreat Conductor, The Revd Jane Trigg, Rector of Branxton/ Lochinvar/ Gresford.
She shared her own story, and read wonderful and humorous Dr Seuss books to illustrate certain points. Well prepared – she didn’t read her talks, but just talked in a very informal and relaxed manner. It was a delight!
There were also very simple and practical ideas, with sessions on meditation and ‘mindful moves’.
A new venue for many of us, the facilities were excellent, it was very comfortable, were chapels and many little nooks and corners, indoors and out, where one could sit quietly. The green, lush grounds were beautiful – though rather damp as it rained nearly all the time. Some managed to walk the Labyrinth or the Way of the Cross – a couple even had a swim in the rain in the pool!
There were 19 full time ladies and 11 who came for the day on Saturday. 

Some of the comments included:
• “I thoroughly enjoyed my retreat. The accommodation and meals were excellent. The theme of ‘Joy’ was not something I would have thought of for a Lenten Retreat, however it was wonderful and I experienced different things from her talks. A casual, laid back retreat.” Yvonne

• “I enjoyed the Dr Seuss stories – it’s been a long time since anyone has read me a story! The concept of increasing joy by changing our thinking is at once simple and profound and sorely needed in our diocese, when it has been easy over the past year to be overwhelmed by the negative… I enjoyed the body scan and the mindful movement exercises – good to DO something. There was a lot of practical stuff that I can take away and do – never too old to learn something new! All in all it was one of the best retreats I’ve attended.”

• “A wonderful retreat. The venue was quiet. It gave one time to think in the lovely grounds, although the rain curtailed our walks. Mother Jane is a card – has a mix of old and new ideas – I found her refreshing.” Coral

• ” Our theme of ‘Joy’ was very uplifting. We were encouraged to take paper and pencil and draw, doodle etc. I have never been one to draw… but this exercise made me look at the scenery more closely than normal. I found many colours and shapes – what a joy to see this in nature – all I needed to do is train myself to SEE. The sessions were great and the time spent with the Lord gave me great joy.”

• “Excellent venue and meals. Although a silent retreat, I would have loved to have a quiet chat with our meal. Our retreat conductor was a joy to listen to…” Chris

• “I am taking away with me a wonderful sense of peace and connection with God. The devotions and meditations led by Mother Jane were centering and calming… The environment was conducive to what we were trying to achieve. The grounds are lush and the labyrinth allowed me to go deeper.” Bronwyn



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’.


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).


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

$6,000 raised for Alzheimers

Anglican Women has been able to send $6,000 to Alzheimers Australia (NSW), the money raised through Thank You box giving from September 2015 to September 2016 – a wonderful effort. Thank you to all who contributed!

Lent Retreat for Women**(Note only weekend)

Venue: St Joseph’s Spirituality  Centre, Kincumber South

Theme: JOY: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’ Nehemiah 8:10 

Retreat Conductor: The Rev’d Jane Trigg, P-in-C  Parish of Branxton-Greta-Lochinvar

Retreat 1 (weekend): Friday 4pm 3 March to 3 pm Sunday 5/3/2017

***Retreat 2 (weekday): Tues. 7/3 to  Thurs. 9th. PLEASE NOTE: SADLY THIS ONE HAS HAD TO BE CANCELLED. We regret any disappointment this has caused.

Day Option: Saturday 4/3/2017;  (9am to 5pm)

(Download/ print a copy of the brochure with Registration Form –   retreat-brochure-2017w  )

About our Retreat Conductor,  The Rev’d Jane Trigg

The Rev’d Jane Trigg has been the Priest- in-Charge of the Parish of Greta-Branxton-Lochivar since February 2016.  She writes:

The Rev’d Jane Trigg

“A cradle Anglican, and only child of two professional musicians, I was born and grew up in Melbourne.

My life to date has been an incredibly rich, diverse and at times challenging one. . . I have moved home nineteen times, lived in five different Dioceses, had ministry training and stipendiary positions in parishes and chaplaincies, endured the challenges of relationships, have one living parent, raised two daughters, loved numerous pets, played in orchestras, sung in choirs, sailed on seas, and have been present and nurtured in diverse faith communities from evangelical to anglo-catholic.

Those who have inspired my spiritual journey are St Ignatius of Loyola, Thic Nhat Hanh and of course, Jesus. Also women like Amy Carmichael, Mother Theresa and Nadia Bolz-Weber.

I also love icons, prayer beads, labyrinth’s, water, and all of God’s creation. . . journaling, doodling, retreating and endeavouring to find God in all things.

“I am looking forward to sharing with you in March.”

Venue: St Joseph’s Spirituality Centre

After many years of meeting at the Monastery, Stroud, safety concerns have forced us to consider other venues. So this year we will gather at St Joseph’s Spirituality & Education Centre at Kincumber South, in a natural bushland setting in a quiet corner of the beautiful Central Coast.

The spacious grounds front the Kincumber Broadwater, creating an atmosphere of tranquility and peace that enhances the spiritual and reflective nature of the Centre.

The quality and presentation of the accommodation add to the overall prayerful ambience. Comfortable, well-appointed twin or single rooms  have modern en-suites. You can have a room to yourself, or share if desired with a friend. All areas have fans/heating, some main areas air conditioning.

The common areas include conference rooms, Chapel, comfortable lounge areas, a small prayer room, Library/reading room, garden meditation areas, walking tracks, a Labyrinth and pool.

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 Residential Retreats include:

Dinner on arrival evening, Accommodation x 2 nights, plus

Day 1 – Breakfast, m/afternoon teas, lunch, dinner; Day 2 – Breakfast, morning tea and lunch

(You do NOT need to bring own linen.)

Residential attendance cost:  $325

Day attendance 9.00am – 5.00pm includes: Morning and afternoon teas, lunch. Cost:  $60

REGISTRATIONS CLOSE: 17th February 2017

Take: toiletries incl. soap, insect repellant, comfortable clothes, Bible, notepad, pen.

Pool available – so bring swimmers.


First things first, when you go on a retreat you don’t have to prepare meals, keep your room tidy or even drive anywhere.

As women, we often find ourselves too busy running things that we leave ourselves short on time to nurture ourselves. It is important for us to find a balance between doing and being.

This retreat is designed to give you a break from the distractions of everyday life in order that you might spend a little more time thinking about how being a Christian woman affects the way you live out your life.

It can be tough at first, but we want you to relax, unwind from all your commitments and take this opportunity to have your mind extended, share with other women and spend time with God.

“The most effective listening to God is achieved when our silence allows us to be more receptive to Him. To do this we need few distractions. Reflecting, meditating, mulling, thinking, listening and travelling are attempts of the soul to perceive the divine.

The essence of a retreat is to grasp at the divine and to live it from within, to embrace the divine with all our pain and grief and to offer them to God’s greater love.”

Courtesy Mothers’ Union HQ UK


St Joseph’s Spirituality Centre, 8 Humphreys Road, Kincumber South, is about 30 mins drive from Gosford, and an easy drive from Newcastle.

Take F3 freeway as far as the Gosford exit. From the north take Gosford exit (Central Coast H’way).

Follow all the East Gosford/Terrigal signs until you end up on Central Coast Highway just past the East Gosford shopping centre. Stay on this road for about 2 kilometres. Make a right turn at lights to Kincumber and Avoca Beach. Stay on this road, Avoca Drive, until you pass Kincumber Shopping Village on left (1) and Kincumber Public school on left (2).

Then at the roundabout (3) take a right turn to Woy Woy and continue along Empire Bay Drive. Pass Nautical Village on the right (4), then after 0.4km turn right into MacKillop Road (5).

Make a right turn at T-intersection into Humphreys Road (6) then a right turn into the driveway (7) beside historic sandstone Holy Cross Church.


Old Pacific Highway, through SWANSEA – at the roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Pacific Hwy/A4311 min (15.4 km)
Turn left onto Elizabeth Bay Dr to Budgewoi
Follow Central Coast Hwy/A49 to Ocean View Dr in Wamberal
Continue on Ocean View Dr. Take Scenic HwyAvoca Dr and Empire Bay Dr, Mary McKillop Rd, then rt into Humphreys Rd in Kincumber South.
 OR get a train to Woy Woy Station, where there is a lift, and then a taxi. (or if notified of time of arrival, we might be able to arrange a car to meet you.)( www.stjosephskincumber.org.au/ )

Quiet Day at Taree

Anglican Women in the Manning Deanery has organised a Quiet Day 2016 to be held on Monday 7th November at St. John’s Anglican Church, 294 Victoria Street, Taree. Conductor will be Mrs Kara Ford.

It will commence at 10.00 a.m. with Morning Tea [Provided], followed by Holy Communion at 10.30 am.

Come along and enjoy a peaceful day of quietness and learning. An opportunity to sit overlooking the river (weather permitting), and a time to reflect on our journey with Christ.

Please remember to bring your own lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided..

The Day will conclude with closing prayers and departure at 2.30 p.m. 

For further information, contact Maureen Guthrie-Horwill, Deanery Leader AW – phone 0414 183 808, or email <maurpet@activ8.net.au>


Please pray for Kairos Outside weekend

This weekend, 14-16th October, a weekend for women who have a family member or friend in prison, takes place at Myuna Bay on Lake Macquarie.

This ‘special time’, Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, is covered by prayer, 24/7. Please add your prayers for those who are guests and for the team.

At Kairos’ weekends, Guests find a safe environment where people are willing to listen to them. Often, they think they are the only ones that this has happened to. They think that no one could possibly understand what they are going through. They are blown away when they discover other women who have been through these same experiences, and these same feelings. Imagine their surprise when they discover women who have not only survived, but are also doing well. This is the beauty of Kairos Outside. They offer a listening ear without condemnation, as they seek to love them as they listen.

The weekend program is based around eight Talks. The topics are Choices; Isolation and Rejection; The Church; Communication with God; Anger; The Home Environment; Relationships; and Perseverance through Community. These talks are given by selected members of the Team, who are often previous Guests.

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).



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’.