From preaching to the choir to shifting fence sitters

Peter Branjerdporn at a snap donation drive for people seeking asylum at risk of homelessness in June 2018

By Peter Branjerdporn.

In 2012, I spent a year on the Thailand-Burma border volunteering as a pharmacist-trainer in a refugee health and community centre. There, I became friends with people seeking safety from one of the world’s longest civil wars, and started advocating for stateless Rohingya families in the region via social media.

When I returned home and became increasingly involved in advocating for the rights of people seeking asylum, I joined Love Makes A Way, a movement of Christians seeking compassion for people seeking asylum through prayer and nonviolent actions. At our refugee vigils I met many amazing people, including The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt who was Chair of The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce at the time. We worked and campaigned tirelessly, but found it very difficult to change people’s negative perceptions of the rights of people seeking safety. It quickly became clear to me that many Australians’ attitude towards refugees had worsened while I was away!

Years of negative messages and effective fear campaigns about people seeking asylum by our elected leaders and parts of the media made it difficult for people, including Christians, to feel compassion towards these fellow humans who are made in God’s image. This reality prompted one of Australia’s major refugee advocacy organisations to commission research on what messages resonate with Australians, so that we could communicate more effectively – both in advocacy campaigns and also in conversations with friends and family. That organisation subsequently ran workshops for refugee advocates, like me, from different walks of life. At one of these workshops, I learned how reframing our communications and conversations can help us to be more effective in shifting people who are ambivalent or on the fence about refugee needs and rights.

The research and Australia-wide workshops had a huge impact on the effectiveness of how refugee advocacy and service provider organisations around Australia communicated about the rights and needs of refugees and people seeking asylum. This contributed to a shift in how Australians viewed refugees and people seeking asylum, which consequently resulted in a positive outcome for campaigns like #KidsOffNauru, where 170,000 Australians signed a petition to get children evacuated from Nauru to Australia.

My experience advocating for people seeking asylum taught me that you can have a lot of passion and good intention for a group of vulnerable people or for an important cause, but that the right words and approach are needed for people to see your point of view or join the movement for justice.

A friend recently mentioned how a prominent justice advocate made her feel inadequate and guilty about her and her family’s lifestyle. I could feel a sense of disempowerment in her voice when she then said that she could never be as useful or dedicated as that advocate. We need to speak up for justice, whether it be for people living with disability, refugees or creation care. However, when we communicate in a way that does not resonate with our audience, we can end up wasting time and energy ’preaching to the choir’ and often alienating everyone else, including those we could potentially shift for the common good.

In my role with the Anglican Church Southern Queensland’s (ACSQ) Justice Unit, my top priority shifted two years ago from refugee advocacy to climate and creation care. A safe climate is one of the most effective ways to prevent people from being displaced from their homelands due to extreme weather events and the resulting poverty and geo-political conflicts.

The Brisbane Cathedral and the Justice Unit hosted climate conversations for Anglicans and other Christians over the past two years. At these events, we learned a lot about words and phrases that are unhelpful and helpful when speaking about climate and creation care. Along with ACSQ Resource Church specialist Michelle McDonald, we have produced a suggested key-principles-and-tips resource outlining alternative ways to frame climate and creation care conversations and communications for Anglicans. The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, Michelle and I are currently running online workshops for Australasian Christians to explore these alternative principles.

The Jesus whom we follow is himself the Word, who became flesh and lived among us. He learned and understood what it was like to live in the world with all of the pressures and worries of life. He learned the vernacular and effectively shared his message of radical compassion and care for humanity and all of Creation. May we also learn to better reframe our words in the climate and creation care space for the common good.

A free online ‘Reframing climate and creation care communications for Christians’ workshop, co-hosted by Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton and St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, will be held on Wednesday 29 September between 12 noon and 3 pm. While the free workshop has ‘sold out’, there are a few spots still open for Grafton Diocese clergy, communications professionals and advocates if they register by 5pm Monday 27 September by emailing contact@doingjustice.org.au. Although the workshop will focus on climate and creation messaging, the principles explored have application across broad advocacy areas.

First published on the anglican focus news site on 28 May 2021 (text amended and updated with September workshop information). 

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Tips when talking to people with Asperger’s Syndrome

“I’m currently working in an internship for neurodiversity and access in the Diocese of Brisbane as part of the Equitable Participation Working Group” (Tom Hammer August 2021)

By Tom Hammer.

Upon returning home from a large barbeque gathering one evening, my mum asked, “Hey, Tom! Who was at the barbeque?”

“Sam,” I replied, telling her the name of the person who turned the sausages and steaks at the grill.

It’s easy for people like me to misunderstand what is being asked.

At a young age I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome; what’s recognised as a form of Autism that is low in support needs.

I’m currently working in an internship for neurodiversity and access in the Diocese of Brisbane as part of the Equitable Participation Working Group, along with The Rev’d Ann Edwards from St Mark’s, The Gap and Peter Branjerdporn from the Justice Unit.

We are aiming to create educational resources on neurodivergent conditions, including, but not limited to, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The resources will be accessible to people in our Church community who live with neurodivergent conditions, have loved ones who are neurodivergent or who minister to people who are neurodivergent.

While growing up with Asperger’s, I’ve reflected on my lived experience, so this brief article is an informal piece offering a few practical suggestions and tips.

Tips and advice when talking to people with Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 1 or ASD 1 (Asperger’s Syndrome)

  1. Understanding that eye contact is different

Conversation between neurotypical people usually involves eye contact (observation of the century, I know). This signals to neurotypical people interest, confidence, honesty and that there’s a mutual respect between each party.

For people with ASD, eye contact can be a difficult thing to maintain, so when we’re not giving eye contact, please understand that it’s not a sign that we’re disinterested, lacking in respect or dishonest.

  1. Asking what name the person wants to be called

Sometimes we find it hard to maintain our own individual identity and being called ‘Mate’, ‘Boss’ and ‘Deary’ or a nickname (even by friends) that we dislike makes things hard. These names, while intending to be friendly, can imply a closeness in a relationship that doesn’t mirror our reality. And, in the case of ‘Deary’, it can be outright confusing.

Asking neurodivergent people what name they prefer and if they’re comfortable with being called ‘Mate’ or ‘Boss’ or a given nickname can go a long way to ensuring meaningful interactions.

  1. Understanding that non-verbal cues can often be missed

Similar to eye contact, non-verbal cues are an integral part of neurotypical communication and general social interaction. These cues often communicate an implicit meaning through subtle facial expressions or bodily gestures, such as when people are sad (e.g. corners of the mouth being drawn down or eyes being lowered) or running short of time (e.g. looking at a watch). These can be very hard to read for people with ASD1 (Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 1).

Using exaggerated expressions or being outright explicit in what you mean can be very helpful in communication.

  1. Being explicit and specific with your invitations and requests

Imagine four people sitting together at a table. One of them lives with ASD1 and the other three are neurotypical. Two of the neurotypical people are discussing a board games night that they have decided in that conversation to plan. The remaining neurotypical person recognises that due to the pair talking about the event in such an open matter that there is an implied invitation for that person to join in the forthcoming event. However, the neurodivergent person may not pick up on this implicit invitation and may even feel that it’s inappropriate to intrude on their business.

Giving people with ASD1 an explicit invitation might help a lot. I guess I wanted to bring this point up because while a lot of ASD1 people hate the feeling of loneliness, it’s something we end up feeling at home with.

  1. Asking follow-up questions

The barbeque anecdote given above shows how important it is to phrase your questions when talking to neurodivergent people. It’s also important to ask follow-up questions, such as when clarifying responses to your initial question.

For example, asking questions like ‘What do you mean by that?’ or ‘Can you expand upon that, please?’ can go a long way to better understanding what neurodivergent people mean when they respond to you.

Now, I want to just reiterate that I don’t claim to be a medical expert on Autism Spectrum Disorder or the neurodivergent spectrum. I am also learning. However, like all people with lived experience of ASD1, I have insights that can assist neurotypical people seeking to understand how we see the world and how we can be better engaged. This is important so we can participate more equitably, which is what being part of a Church is all about.

First published on the anglican focus news site on 23 August 2021.

Relating with God

By Sr Helen Jamieson CSC.

Everyone and everything in our universe is unique, which suggests to me that everyone and everything has a relationship with God which is both similar and different. We are all embodied in our Creator’s one overwhelming love, while also being individuals with our own special experience of prayer or relationship with God.

Relating with God can be explained by using the image of a pipe organ. An organ has many pipes. None are the same and each makes a different sound when air passes through it. We, also, are different from one another, and when God’s life moves in and through us we each have something unique to offer to others of God’s love. As Christians, members of Christ’s body, this variety is important for our work of helping to spread God’s kingdom in the world.

John Vianney, (a French priest who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries) wrote in his Catechism on Prayer: “Prayer is a foretaste of Heaven, an overflow of paradise. It never leaves us without sweetness. It is like honey descending into the soul and sweetening everything. Troubles melt away before a fervent prayer like snow before the sun.”

This may have been true for John Vianney, but what of our prayer? Perhaps we pray for something, but it does not happen. “Where is God?” we ask. Our prayer may feel empty, painful, boring and a waste of time. On the other hand, prayer can also be a time of deep peace, resting in God’s presence and love. Regardless of how we experience prayer, our faith can help us to hold on to the unchanging truth of God’s continual love for us.

At present, when we are faced with the restrictions of yet another lockdown resulting from COVID-19 and its variants, it is easy to slip into depression. Depression can cause us to think that God has left us, and even to question God’s existence. At these times we may be comforted by remembering that Jesus also experienced a feeling of being deserted. On the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15.34). Later, before Jesus died, he was able to say, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23.46). These are words of faith, trust and oneness.

God, who loves us so much, does not withdraw from us when we are in trouble, any more than God turned away from Jesus dying on the cross. At our lowest moments Christ is closest to us, sharing our suffering. We experience something similar when a person we love is in grief or distress. We want to comfort them, share their pain and support them – not abandon them. Prayer at these times is not felt by us as ‘sweetness’, but rather as anguish.

We may pray for people or situations by asking God to intervene in a particular way. Alternatively, we may place people or situations in God’s care, praying for God’s will to be done, and trusting God to work in a way that is best for all. Both these ways of prayer may ask for some action by us.

Whether we pray formally with others or alone, sometimes our prayer can seem boring. When we recite the Lord’s Prayer, for example, it may become just words, which we say while our mind is busy elsewhere. At a Sunday Service, perhaps during Holy Communion, we receive Christ’s life under the outward forms of bread and wine. Such a service can feed and nourish us spiritually, and bind us to others present, yet it does not always feel like that. Afterwards we may not even remember the sermon! However, when we say the words of traditional prayers, in a sense we join with other Christians, who have used or are using the same or similar prayers, to extend God’s rule in our world.

There is also another way of praying which is sometimes overlooked. It leads us to becoming more aware of our life with God. We choose each day to briefly pause to enjoy sharing moments with God. It might be gazing at the beauty of an amazing sunset, singing a hymn, thanking God for the feel of soft yellow wattle blooms or an old gnarled tree trunk. Perhaps we pray for someone who passes us on the street, or thank God for the help we have just received from a friend or stranger. Whenever we hear or read about current disasters in our world, we bring the situation and all involved before God to be loved and healed in God’s way. On waking in the morning, we can ask God for guidance during the day. At the end of the day we may take time to review with God what has happened for us—to say sorry for hurting or failing another, to discuss how and why we said or acted as we did, and to be open to listen to God speaking to us through it all.

If we return to the image of an organ, air directed by the organist moves through particular pipes producing beautiful music for all. When we pray, we enter into the unique relationship with God for which we are each created. Linked with one another by the breath of the Spirit, I suggest that in prayer, as the body of Christ, we present our love and life to be received and used by God for others.

Some people may never be aware of the beauty and wonder of prayer, but it does not make their relationship with God any better or worse. God loves us as we are, relates with us as we are, and cares for us as we are. Through our prayer, alone and with others, God’s love for all creation, human and non-human, can be revealed in God’s world. For us, our prayer will be both pain and joy.

Around the Diocese

Check out these recent pics of Bishop Murray and community members across the Diocese

On 11 July, Bishop Murray was welcomed by The Rev’d Dway Goon Chew and the St Cuthbert’s, Tweed Heads community

On 10 June, Bishop Murray visited St Columba Anglican School in Port Macquarie where he enjoyed spending time with Year 11 students talking about leadership

Some of the Bishop’s Registry staff on 8 June enjoying lunch at the Grafton Hotel to mark the retirement of Archdeacon Gail Hagon as Mission Companion

Bishop Murray and The Rev’d Grant Sparks on 18 July at Christ Church Cathedral where The Rev’d Grant gave a thoughtful sermon on the day’s lectionary readings

Bishop Murray at the deconsecration of St Peter’s, Eureka on 27 June

“A small congregation assembled for the Bishop’s visit to St John’s Rappville, near Casino, today for the deconsecration of the church. St John’s was one of the few community buildings left untouched by the fires in 2019/2020 which devastated the village and surrounding areas. An exciting development is that the Richmond Valley Council has purchased the building and will restore the church which will become part of the new Rappville Common complex on this site – a facility that will be used by the whole community” (Bishop Murray on Anglican Diocese of Grafton Facebook on 31 July 2021)

Orara Valley Anglican Transitional Ministry District: Zoe’s highlights and impressions so far

By The Ven. Zoe Everingham, Regional Archdeacon South and Intentional Interim Minister in the Orara Valley Anglican Transitional Ministry District.

What has been a single key highlight of your role as Archdeacon so far?

Supporting clergy and lay ministers in their own roles is a humbling experience. We are blessed in this Diocese to have mature experienced professionals who embrace a diversity of theological thinking in proclaiming the gospel: from liberal pioneer explorers, Anglo Catholics, to the more conservative end of the spectrum – all evangelical (Greek: euangelion ‘good news’) in different ways. Skill sets are diverse, too: counsellors, professional supervisors, youth workers, school chaplains, hospital chaplains, teachers, pastoral carers, prophetic voices and more. As we share our perspectives respectfully and listen intently, we can discern God’s life-giving wisdom and the blessing of being called to serve together. This excites me.

General Store owner Leanne serves a warm scone and jam to Zoe

What has impressed you most about the ministry district community members so far?

The Anglican Church has been present in the Orara Valley since the 1890s. Naturally, the current restructure with the loss of church buildings has been challenging and there has been a great sense of grief. Nevertheless, God is their rock! The remaining Anglican congregation may be small, but they are faithful to the vision of a diverse, inclusive, vibrant transformative Christian community. They are all heavily involved in local organisations, such as hall committees, craft groups, markets, service clubs and sporting clubs, and age is no limit. Our local treasure Bessie Webb, who turned 99 years old in May, joined the Lions Club at age 90! That’s impressive! They are hopeful in ‘being’ a refreshed engaged body of Christ, shaped by faith in a life-giving God.

What are your short-term goals and hopes for your Orara Valley Anglican Transitional Ministry District role?

In the short term, getting to know people in the area is very important to me, so is the regular gathering for worship as one community praising God with one voice, being changed by the Spirit’s transformative power. We have just launched our Facebook page ‘Orara Valley Anglicans’ and are building a website to assist with delivering faith-building resources into family homes.

Enjoying morning tea after church at the Glenreagh General Store, kindly served by Casey, with (L-R): Peggy (just out of shot), Beth, Ruth, Casey, Stan, Ted and Maureen

What are your long-term goals and hopes for your Orara Valley Anglican Transitional Ministry District role?

Longer term, I pray we can establish new partnerships to deliver Christian-based services, and build the ministry district into a viable member of the Coffs Coast Network under the Diocesan restructure.

How would you like people to support you in your role?

My role as priest is only one of the leadership roles expressed in community. So I’d like people to pray for all of us in the Orara Valley. Pray for the Spirit’s transformative power that we may behave more in the likeness of Christ – broken relationships may be healed – gracious attitudes of abundant hospitality may prevail – the proclamation of the love of God through Jesus may be seen anew in creative ways.

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith…” (Hebrews 12.1-2a)

News from the Registry

By Chris Nelson, Registrar/General Manager.

2021 Synod

COVID-19 has had its impact on our diaries again. Unfortunately, our plans for holding Synod in Grafton on the first weekend in August have had to be changed. Under the current health orders, we would not be able to get sufficient people into the venue.

Synod members are now getting letters advising that the Synod has now been rescheduled to be held in November from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th.

Looking for Leaders in Governance

The Anglican Diocese of Grafton relies on the efforts of volunteer members in all aspects of church life across the Diocese. There are currently opportunities in Diocesan governance bodies that require volunteers who are willing to tackle the weighty issues of governance.

There are now three vacancies for Bishop-in-Council, the body that makes decisions on behalf of the Synod. Two of those vacancies are for clergy and one is for a lay member and nominations are open to Synod members.

There is a vacancy as Corporate Trustees, the body that handles the property ownership, investment and legal representation of the Diocese. Skills in finance, business or legal matters would be particularly valuable for a Corporate Trustee. Nomination is open to all Anglicans.

Anglicare North Coast, the key welfare group of the Diocese of Grafton, is looking for new board members. If this is your passion, Anglicare North Coast would like to hear from you.

Anglican Funds Grafton Diocese

Earlier this year, it was advised that the Corporate Trustees and Bishop-in-Council considered it prudent to wind up the operations of Anglican Funds Grafton Diocese (AFGD) in an orderly manner with a target of completing the wind up by the end of the year.

It is pleasing to report that the wind up has been going smoothly with the support of AFGD account holders.

In the next week or so, account holders will receive information from Anglican Funds South Australia (AFSA) who are keen to take on as many of the former AFGD accounts as it can. AFSA’s offer will provide AFGD account holders with minimum disruption and the chance to remain with an Anglican fund.

It will be up to each account holder to see if the AFSA offer suits their circumstances. For individual account holders that want to take up the AFSA offer, there is no waiting period. For parish account holders that want to take up the AFSA offer, there will be a delay until about September when the balance of loans and deposits in AFGD will allow parish accounts to exit the fund.

Learning Manager

The Anglican Diocese of Grafton has entered into a partnership with Catholic Church Insurance to use CCI’s Learning Manager product. Learning Manager is an online training tool on health and safety topics and this will become available later in 2021 for parish leaders and key volunteers to improve their health and safety skills and knowledge.

Learning Manager provides a very affordable and flexible way of improving our skills and knowledge for a safer church. More information will become available later in 2021.

Connecting times

By Sr Helen Jamieson CSC.

Connecting with others and developing relationships becomes particularly important in today’s ‘changing times’. It is also a basic aspect of life for all of us as interconnected beings sharing one planet, and therefore, in a sense, as kin. For example, we humans need plants, trees and minerals for housing; plants and animals for food and clothing; the sun for power; and, minerals to make the equipment so the sun’s power can be used for our electricity.

These facts are supported by our belief as Christians, that we are all, humans and the wider natural world, created by the one God. When we accept our kinship with nature as well as one another, it can change the way we look at and treat our environment, animals and other people.

Relationships with animals when working or relaxing together demonstrate respectful living with our environment and not a domination of it. We need nature, and must appreciate and sustain it, because without it we cannot remain alive.

The Bible rightly starts with the book of Genesis and its story of God’s loving creation of our world. At the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation, we are reminded not only of the presence, but also the importance of the non-human part of creation. In Revelation 5.13, after John in his vision was told that Christ alone, imaged as a wounded lamb, was the only one worthy to take the scroll and open its seven seals, a great song arose in heaven. This acclaim involved,
“…every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing…” Such symbolism suggests to me that not just human beings, but all creatures on the earth and in the sea are destined to experience, in some form, eternal life in God’s love.

The Bible has many references to the close connection between God, humans and nature. Psalm 50.10-11 is a good example of God’s relationship with animals. God declares, “For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.”

When we turn to the Gospels, Jesus is recorded as choosing to be alone in places such as a wilderness, a garden, and on a mountain top, where he prayed, made decisions and was strengthened and refreshed. Regarding animals, in Luke 12.6 Jesus explained that God cares even for insignificant sparrows, and does not forget them.

Knowing God’s close connection with earth and its creatures directs us as Christians to value all the life around us for its sake and our own. We are also told of this need by environmentalists, and encouraged to take action to care for nature by our experiences of global warming, floods, drought and bushfire. There will be no future life for young people, as we are reminded through public protests and the words of Greta Thunberg, if we do not respond to the state of our environment. Concern and working for nature, must surely be included in the command Christians have been given by God to love their neighbours.

In spite of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout being underway, lockdowns in Australia continue to take place wherever the virus emerges unexpectedly. One of the consequences of sheltering at home, especially when living alone, is the separation from both other people and from nature. With the aid of technology we can contact people in various ways, such as by phone, text messages, Skype and Zoom, but for our mental health, it is better when we can have face-to-face companionship with our family members and friends. For those with spacious gardens and animals, nature can greatly assist in our physical and mental wellbeing at these times.

When alone, we Christians can strengthen our close relationships with God and others in prayer. We can give thanks for others, and ask God for the healing of those who are suffering. I believe we can also include all creation and its needs in our prayers. However, we are not only called to pray for others, but when possible to physically act for their wellbeing.

We might choose to make contact, in a COVID-19 safe way, with people who are living alone. As for our environment, we might consider how we can better dispose of our rubbish, care about our water usage and treat the animals, plants and trees around us.

As human beings and especially as Christians, I believe we are called to connect with and develop loving relationships with all God’s creation, human and non-human.

From accidental double agent to more effective advocate

By Michelle McDonald, North Coast Anglican Editor.

I was raised by a psychologist mother who, looking back now, was years ahead of her time when it came to language use. I remember being in the car with her when I was roughly 13 years old in the late 1980s and her gently, but clearly, correcting me when I referred to someone being “disabled”. She turned toward me from the driver seat and said, “person with a disability” (now, she would likely respond with, “person living with a disability”). She then asked me why her alternative framing was different and after thinking for a bit, I answered with, “The way you put it isn’t a label. It’s more respectful.” I gathered by her smile and nod that my response was on the right track.

I am grateful to Mum for this lesson and have often reflected on this conversation, especially when needing to rethink my language use in advocacy contexts in my adult years.

Since 2015, I have been volunteering in the refugee rights space, variously writing media releases and speeches, painting banners and signage, running workshops and community forums, organising vigils and lobbying elected representatives. Each of these activities relies on well-considered messages to be effective.

Alongside many other local parents, I felt compelled to start volunteering in this way. I would tuck my son into bed at night and pray for the parents and children detained on Nauru, wondering how I would possibly cope if I were in their shoes. At times, my emotions would get the better of me in conversations with people, sometimes even with Christians, who held a different position on families being held in offshore detention, and I would call them out for their “racist” or “bigoted” views. This approach, unsurprisingly in hindsight, was completely ineffective – instead of creating space for dialogue, I would shut it down. It got to a point where I realised that I either had to rethink my choice of words or quit, as I was spending an average of 15 hours a week volunteering, but was largely wasting my time.

While I held the moral high-ground, supported by the Gospel message and Church teaching, I realised that it wasn’t enough to be right – I needed to find a way to be both right and effective.

Providentially, in 2016 I came across the ASRC’s Words That Work research, which was commissioned to resource advocacy communications in the national refugee rights space. The principles in this ground-breaking resource, which are centred around solutions, positive framing and shared values, completely shifted my approach. For example, when I heard people describe “asylum seekers” as “illegals”, instead of giving my typical reply “They are not illegals”, I began responding with the positively framed, “Seeking asylum is legal”. In doing so, I helped create a new ‘frame’ (a way of thinking that shapes the way people see the world), instead of operating within the frame created by those elected representatives, shock jocks and news organisations who sought to use people seeking asylum as political footballs to score points.

As I became more familiar with best practice advocacy principles in 2016, I suddenly realised that I had been operating as an accidental double agent – simultaneously campaigning to get the kids who were being detained off Nauru, while inadvertently reinforcing the cunningly framed messages of political leaders who sought to keep them there.

The best practice principles I learned and adopted are used in advocacy communications across different sectors, both locally and internationally. Since August last year, I have been working alongside The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt and Peter Branjerdporn from the Anglican Church Southern Queensland to develop an alternative way to engage local Christians in climate and creation care communications.

In partnership with Christ Church Cathedral, we will be running a three-hour ‘Reframing climate and creation care communications for Christians’ online workshop for Australian Anglican clergy, communications professionals and key advocates on Wednesday 29 September. The workshop will introduce a key-principles-and-tips resource that we have developed to assist church leaders and advocates in the framing of their written and verbal communications.

As Christians, scripture is the bedrock of our faith, and so we know the power of words. You are invited to join us as we explore how we can better reframe our words in the climate and creation care space for the common good.

Top 10 tips for effective advocacy communications:

  1. Appeal to shared values, such as peace, freedom, hope and safety.
  2. Emphasise human agency.
  3. Be solutions focused.
  4. Use positive framing, communicating what we want to see rather than what we don’t want to see.
  5. Use tangible terms and jargon-free language.
  6. Emphasise Christian mission and identity, including the interconnectedness of all life in our theology.
  7. Be discerning about scripture choices.
  8. Tailor messaging for a local context and for the given audience.
  9. Be respectful at all times, listen to the other’s point of view, ask open questions and seek to foster genuine dialogue.
  10. Use narrative and personal anecdotes to illustrate your key points rather than lean on facts and figures.

The free online ‘Reframing climate and creation care communications for Christians’ workshop will be held on Wednesday 29 September between 12 noon and 3 pm. Register online by 5 pm Monday 27 September. The workshop is co-hosted by Resource Church St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane and Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton. While the workshop will focus on climate and creation messaging, the principles explored have application across broad advocacy areas. To find out more, please email contact@doingjustice.org.au.

First published on the anglican focus news site on 14 May 2021 (text updated with September workshop information). 

Ordination of the Reverend David Brown and the Reverend Aaron Coates at St Mary’s Ballina.

Ordination of Kassimiro Yanga as Deacon at Coffs Harbour

The Rev’d Kassimiro Yanga was ordained as a Vocational Deacon by Bishop Murray Harvey at Coffs Harbour on 18 October.


Thank you to everyone who attended this joyous occasion. Due to COVID complications we had to break with tradition and have multiple ordinations around the diocese. Kassimiro’s was the first of the three at St. John’s Coffs Harbour followed by the ordination of the Reverend David Brown and the Reverend Aaron Coates on the 20th of October at St. Mary’s Ballina and Grant Sparks on the 21st of November at Grafton Cathedral.

Bishop Bill Ray graciously lead the ordination retreat in Lismore and was able to join us in person for the ordinations in Ballina and via recording at Coffs Harbour. Many thanks to the Reverend Christian Ford for facilitating this and for the parish of Coffs Harbour for hosting us all and congratulations to the Reverend Kassimiro Yanga. It was wonderful for him to be surrounded by so many of his family and friends.

 

Archdeacon Tiffany Sparks and Dean Greg Jenks were pleased to present The Rev’d Kassimiro Yanga with a gift from Anglican Board of Mission.

Thanks to photographer Rob Cleary/Seen Australia.