Around the Diocese

“We are the Elders of tomorrow, hear our voice.” The theme for Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar Schools’s 2020 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Jarjum’s Day) echoed through our Junior School this month as our littlest students came together to celebrate our First Nations People with some local indigenous community members and Elders from our community. A huge thank you to Uncle Victor Slockee; Tristan Houghton; Gypsy, Rory and Tahni Togo; and Adrian Itong for sharing their culture and stories.

The Parish of Kingscliff held their first session of  Making Marks in the garden of St James’ church. It was a relaxing afternoon despite a cheeky wind. They had three visitors and gazed, doodled, had a cuppa and chatted. They had a flying visit from three Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos.

And so it begins: the next stage of the Cathedral roof project has commenced.

Bishop Murray had a pastoral visit to Wauchope Anglicans this month.

Earlier this month Bishop Murray visited the Parish of Orara Valley. Under their COVID-Safe Plan only 15 people are allowed in the church, so many could not join in, but it was a blessing to be able to worship and share together.

Port Anglican enjoyed the sunshine for their service recently. However, due to the windy weather their equipment didn’t last!

A whole school chapel service was held via Zoom today in the grounds of the Clarence Valley Anglican School. A lovely story of the Velveteen Rabbit was the highlight of the service reminding us that when we are truly real and truly loved we aren’t afraid to be who we really are. As well on the flip side are we the person who unconditionally loves others for their realness, quirks and all? As Jesus replied to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:37-39 “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

Happy International Dog Day to Amber from Emmanuel Anglican College. Amber has already made such a wonderful addition to EAC and all the students love her.

As part of National Science Week, Kindergarten students at St Columba Anglican School have been exploring the wonderful world of living things. Chris Tejcek, Indigenous Liaison Coordinator, visited to highlight the huge variety of native herbs, fruits, seeds, insects and wildlife that Indigenous Australians have been eating for tens of thousands of years. Of course, it’s important to know which flora is edible and which could be toxic! This range of local flora has played an important role as a food and medicine source for the Birpai people.

A little surprise for the Emmanuel Anglican College Year 12 students as they sat their exams last month – a sweet treat from their prayer partners at Ballina and Lennox Head Anglicans. Amber was on-site to greet them as they entered the exam room.


Once a week, Year 9 students taking Child Studies at St Columba Anglican School visit the Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre to develop their skills in positive play and interaction with young children. Gorgeous photos!


The Investigation Centre at Bishop Druitt College is now open. To say the Stage 1 students are enjoying it is an understatement. They are LOVING it! Outdoor and indoor play and investigation in one environment.

Improvised Ministry School Takes Place in Grafton

While many gatherings have had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was refreshing to gather with the Clergy and Stipendiary Lay Ministers for an in-person (yet scaled-down version of) Ministry School.

An improvised Ministry School took place in the Hunt Hall at Grafton Cathedral, appropriately socially distanced etc.

This enabled us to touch base with one another, talk about how we are travelling in the current crisis, and to benefit from two sessions (by Zoom) with Tim Dyer on working together in teams. Two days prior to this the LLMs had a Zoom Lay Conference with Tim on the same topic.

Also in August we had our first ever Diocesan Schools Symposium on Religious Education and Anglican Identity. Originally planned as an in-person event, it worked quite well by Zoom, with Jonathan Sargeant (Lay Education Officer, Diocese of Brisbane) who spoke to about 40 staff from our schools about what it means to be an Anglican and how this affects the ethos of an Anglican School. We aim to have another symposium next year, hopefully in person, on the topic of Religious/Christian Education.



Performance Centre Underway

The Performance Centre at Clarence Valley Anglican School has continued to be busy with earthworks and footings in progress.

The second site meeting was held on-site on August 20 with the Queensland-based architect participating via “Zoom”.

The Principal was very excited to see a hole in the ground and inspected progress first-hand after the site meeting, “Maybe it was just an excuse to show-off her leopard-skin pattern boots!”

Fine weather although windy in the last few days has assisted the building program.

CVAS Business Manager, Ian Morris, has been snapping some photos of the building progress showing the concrete being poured for the footings.


Pen Pal Program Promotes Positivity Through Pandemic

It has been a tough year for students worldwide. Learning time has been disrupted, students and teachers are having to adapt to the online classroom and many of the much-loved school calendar events have been cancelled or postponed. At St Columba Anglican School students have been practicing gratitude despite the challenges they have faced. This reflection has got them thinking about the people in the community who are less fortunate than themselves at this time, in particular those in Aged Care.

One in five Australians over 75 and over feel lonely with up to 40 per cent of aged care residents in Australia not receiving visitation. This is expected to get worse due to the aged care facility lock downs. Residents are in some instances not allowed any visitors and their group gatherings and external excursions have been cancelled.

Students in Year 6 and Year 7 wanted to do something to make residents of local aged care facilities feel connected in this isolating time. Throughout Term 2 and Term 3 they have ‘adopted’ resident pen pals who they write to and receive letters from. Receiving letters from their pen pals is a much-anticipated event of the week.

This experience has been extremely rewarding and has taught students about loving and assisting others in a time of need. Our school community are putting their hope in Christ to find a calmness during this unprecedented time so that they may look to serve others around us.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7.

Transforming Relationship

By The Rev’d Tim Booth

How did you fare when services of worship had been suspended during COV-19? I found inspiration in isolation through a remarkable picture in the book The Divine Dance by U.S. Franciscan Richard Rohr. The image was of a 15th Century Orthodox icon called The Trinity by Andrei Rublev.

Rohr describes the three ‘persons’ in Rublev’s icon seated around a table: ‘the Father’ in the gold of fullness as the ultimate Source; Christ in blue with two extended fingers representing his dual human and divine nature, unifying spirit and matter; and ‘The Spirit’ in green’s divine aliveness making everything grow and bloom. Rohr helped me see three other profound features.

At the table’s centre is a common bowl of food – symbolising table fellowship around a meal. Also, the Three share a gaze of deep respect with each other – reminding us that to love is to pay open attention to. Finally, the icon has a space at the front of the table. What is this for? Art historians say that the original icon had glue in this rectangular-shaped gap, perhaps where a mirror tile was pasted! There is room at the table for a fourth person – you!

At the heart of the Christian revelation is that God is not a distant and isolated king, but instead the Holy One is known in the dynamic loving relationship of Three. This divine fellowship is like a banquet that we’re all invited to share in right now. Like the experience of ongoing loving table fellowship over food, this relationship transforms us through the receiving of and sharing in love.

Despite our separation from Holy Communion’s table fellowship in our faith communities over recent months, we’re reminded that the precious gift of faith brings co-participation in the transforming banquet of divine relationship. The hospitality of God draws us into deepening union with the divine mystery.

So, when can you recall receiving the loving gaze of another, and who do you gaze on in this way? How has sharing in the hospitality of others over food impacted you? In what ways has your experience of receiving and giving love changed your life over time? We can ponder these questions as we gradually return to our regular worshiping communities again.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Cor 13:13)

Tim is a Deacon in Brisbane Diocese. In February this year he was a presenter at Clergy Conference in Grafton Diocese.

The Love of God Prevails

By Sister Helen CSC
September 2020

On September 29, we Sisters celebrate the feast of Michael, the archangel, our patron. We are encouraged by the example of the angels to embrace a life in which the worship of God and active ministry to others merge together in love.

Recently in Australia, as the photo above suggests, we have experienced a lengthy drought, prolonged bushfires and now face the coronavirus pandemic with its subsequent suffering from the illness, imposed restrictions and an end that keeps disappearing. And yet, God’s love for the world continues to prevail, surrounding and permeating all. Can a reflection on this picture give us hope today, in our grief and anxieties?

We believe God is ultimately in control of our world, although in the present situation this can seem questionable. We might well ask, “Has God abandoned us, or lost control of our lives, country and world?”

Sometimes we may feel a bit like the three friends of Daniel in Daniel chapter 3, but perhaps a little less optimistic! When threatened by King Nebuchadnezzar with death in a raging fire if they refused to worship his golden statue, they replied that the God they served could save them, but even if he did not, they would not worship any other gods. They believed that God was in control of all and could save them, but they did not presume that God would. They were prepared to accept whatever happened to them.  What happened is that they were indeed thrown into the fire, but were saved from burning, and another joined them.

The photograph on this leaflet depicts an icon of Michael, the archangel, in front of a flowering wattle tree. The black background and bare earth suggest something of how the past year has panned out for many people. The yellow blossom and the icon of Michael stand out as a burst of new life against their stark setting.

The story concerning Michael in Revelation 12:7-12 is of a war in heaven where good defeats evil but does not destroy it. In the life of Jesus as recounted in the gospels, there is suffering and death but also resurrection and new life. Again, suffering and evil are not annihilated, but God’s love is shown as in control and more powerful.

For those who believe in God and for Christ’s followers, there was and is no guaranteed avoidance of suffering, but there can certainly be spiritual and emotional growth in the midst of it and through it. Our suffering can arise from many directions such as the acts of other people, the weakness of our bodies, or as a consequence of something we have done, but from wherever it might come, I believe that God is with us in it and can use it for good.

Returning to the story of Daniel’s three friends, they endured the terror of being tied up and thrown into the fire, yet they were not burnt, and later their clothes did not even smell of smoke. In this ordeal they found that God did not abandon them but was in the fire with them, saving them and overturning King Nebuchadnezzar’s plan for them.

Michael in the icon is depicted holding the world God created and controls. Above the world is the sign of the cross of Christ, a symbol of the great love of God which is continually with us sharing our pain and suffering.

When struggling with our anxieties, we can discover love and compassion, perhaps from unexpected sources. We may find that God uses nature to lift us up by showing us something beautiful if we are open to see it. Wattle, with its vivid flowers appearing towards the end of winter, can brighten our backyards, car parks and the empty or barren places in our lives. Sometimes it might be strangers who offer us love and concern when we are gripped by darkness or grief.  Animals are also able to sense our feelings and comfort us.

Michael’s name means “Who is like God?” It is the archangel’s cry to all who would want to worship another god, be it money, power, possessions or themselves. On the other hand, his challenge can be understood as ambiguous, reminding us also to keep following or being like Christ, accepting our suffering and allowing God to use it so that we can better share God’s love with others.

As God used the loving life and death of Jesus to bring new life to all, God uses our acts of love and kindness, along with our suffering, failures and even evil, redeeming and gathering them all up in God’s great plan of salvation. This action of God does not encourage us to deliberately seek suffering;  rather, it strengthens our belief that even though we do not understand how or why it happens, in the end, God’s love always prevails over and through all else.

Trusting that God is in control of all life gives us hope, as we journey on with Christ towards full life in God’s love forever.

New Northern Beaches Independent School for Woolgoolga

An exciting development has occurred with Bishop Druitt College Council fully endorsing a Kindergarten to Year 4 Northern Beaches campus in the heart of Woolgoolga at 1852 – 1856 Solitary Islands Way.

This site is opposite Woolworths and will be a shared site with Ohana Early Learning. Stage 1 plans are with Coffs Harbour City Council at present for the change in DA to be approved.

The college council were extremely enthusiastic about approving the models. So now we can proceed to the next step of securing approvals from regulatory bodies. The Northern Beaches region and Woolgoolga, in particular, are growth regions and all are seeking another school to meet the shortfall,’ Principal Mr Nick Johnstone said.

It is expected that a Kindy to Year 2 multi-years class will commence at the start of 2021 with stage 2 construction to occur next year for Year 3 and Year 4 to follow.

This exciting new school will offer:

  • Local village ‘feel’
  • Focus on sustainability
  • Safe environment
  • Walker Learning experience
  • High engagement and quality teaching
  • Small class sizes
  • Access to BDC resources and specialists
  • Personalised learning

Enrolments are now open for Kindy to Year 2 for 2021.

If you are interested in the new campus, or know someone who is, then please visit the BDC Woopi pop-up shop at 42 Beach Street Woolgoolga from 9am-12pm Monday to Friday or call (02) 6651 5644 ex 208 or email

Enrol online via:

Pictured from left: Bishop Druitt College Principal Mr Nick Johnstone and BDC Council Chair Mr David Ford.

Rural Young Scientist cracks Water Prize shortlist

The Science Teachers Association NSW and the Australian Water Association congratulate Emma Serisier on being shortlisted for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

Ms Emma Serisier, from Bishop Druitt College in Coffs Harbour, a budding, young, female scientist has juggled school work, bushfires and an impressive science project to compete on the international stage.

“Very simply, my research, Crack for the Future, shows that the redirection of eggshell from landfill to soil can attract and soak up phosphates from fertilisers and manures and retain them in the soil, that would otherwise run off and pollute waterways,” Says Ms Serisier.

“For the first time in history, the Stockholm Junior Water Prize is being complemented by a People’s Choice Award. We’re extremely proud to get behind Emma and support her on this exciting journey. Emma follows in the footsteps of many clever young water scientists. With Australia winning the 2019 competition, Emma’s entry this year continues to showcase Australia’s excellence in water science on an international stage,” says Ms Corrinne Cheesman, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Water Association.

“Emma is a rising female star of science in Australia and a role model for young emerging scientists across the country, especially in rural areas,” says Ms Margaret Shepherd, President of the Science Teachers Association NSW.

“Show your support for Emma by voting in the People’s Choice Awards. Every vote promotes the hidden talent in every student to solve the world’s problems through science, technology, engineering and mathematics- it was through the NSW HSC Science Extension subject, Emma had the opportunity to feed her curiosity and passion delving deep into new advances for sustainable water management.”

“I cannot believe that an unassuming farm girl could be in the realm of international young scientists. I envision a more sustainable future and hope to inspire others like me to create and implement local solutions for global problems; history has shown that global change is achieved through action on a local scale,” Ms Serisier said.

“The Australian Water Association and the global and Australian competition sponsor Xylem has been proud to support the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for many years, a prize which recognises students for their innovative water-related projects,” says Ms Cheeseman.

Stockholm Junior Water Prize People’s Choice voting is open August 1 – August 10 via this link 

Reflection: Emerging into a New Place

On Sunday June 28, we in Kempsey celebrated the Eucharist together for the first time since March 22. We gathered, not in All Saints Church, but in the Church hall. During the intervening time, we had been through Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost praying alone at home or watching live-streamed services on our laptops or phones.

Being unable to meet for worship with other Christians was hard, but it did not stop us from being active members of Christ’s body in the world. Instead, perhaps because of our isolation, we were more aware of the needs of others and responded to them in the best way we could.

That first Sunday back was somewhat strange. There were no hymns sung, no wine given during Communion, and we sat on our sanitized chairs in four square metres of splendid isolation!  When sharing God’s peace we could only bow or wave to one another.  Yet we were there, the body of Christ, meeting together. After the service there was no chatting over hot cups of tea or coffee, instead we just smiled, exchanged a few words and went home.

Attending the Sunday services that have followed, we knew what to expect and could enter more deeply into the worship, at least this was how it was for me. I could appreciate praying with others and receiving Christ’s Body in Holy Communion. We are not where we were before the virus, but in a new place, socially distant from one another.

In the past we could comfort a friend in distress by putting an arm around them. Now we must refrain from touching others, even when it is what we want desperately to do. By sharing in their pain in this different way, it could be more meaningful for us. Has such a change, the potential to deepen our faith in God’s love and increase our understanding of Christ’s suffering for us?

When healing people, Jesus often touched them, laying hands on them or taking their hand and lifting them up. On other occasions Jesus healed a person by his voice only, pronouncing them healed, even at a distance.  When Jesus was confronted by the Centurion’s request to heal his servant in Matthew 8:5, it was the Centurion’s faith in Jesus’ healing power to act at a distance that enabled the healing to take place. The daughter of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:28, was healed when Jesus responded to her mother’s faith and persistency with affirming words.

Participating and connecting with others using Zoom and Skype, reminds us that God is with us and working in and through us wherever we are. Regulations about distances to be maintained between people can never keep God and God’s love from being present and active in our inmost beings and relationships. As Paul affirms in Romans 8:38-39, nothing can separate us from God’s love, but it is experienced differently in different situations.

When we are forced into isolation, separated from our families and friends, it can be a desert time of distress and grief allowing depression to seep into us. It can also be a time of reaffirming our faith in God present with us and in us. If at these times we receive God’s care and compassion unexpectedly through another person, it is particularly appreciated. We can also find comfort when we in turn minister to others in prayer or any other way open to us. By phoning or sending an email to someone who might be sad or lonely we can share God’s love in our world today.

We are in an unstable new place and we do not know for how long. In NSW we think restrictions are coming to an end and then hot spots emerge and we are back to more lockdowns and border closures. Our own physical, economic and emotional problems may have been put on hold, increasing our stress level, as we live one day at a time, meeting and responding to demands as they arise.

When in Matthew 14:13 Jesus heard of the beheading of John the Baptist, he departed in a boat to a deserted place to think and pray. But his plan was frustrated. The crowds pursued him by walking along the shore, and were waiting for him when he arrived. He could have rejected them and hurried off elsewhere, but instead he stayed, fulfilling their needs by healing and even feeding them. Only after this work, did Jesus go up a mountain by himself to rest and pray to God. We, too, can gratefully accept a desert space that may have opened up for us, to find and talk with God, care for ourselves, and relax in God’s love.

The empty hall looks desolate and unfruitful, but when the body of Christ meets there, Christ is present feeding, strengthening and guiding his Church with his Spirit. In this unsettling time and new place, we can feel empty and long for the past to return. But in our tiredness and barrenness it may be easier for us to be open to receive God’s love and to share it with others, especially in a world where poverty, anxiety, grief and depression are rife. By receiving care and giving of ourselves for others in unpromising places we are truly following Christ and embodying his life where we are, becoming with Christ food offered to all for fullness of life.

Sister Helen CSC
August 2020

COVID-19: Physically Distant, Spiritually Together

Lismore Anglicans have been connecting throughout COVID-19 with online services. Parishioners have been sharing their interesting outlooks for joining in service, such as the back of Bourke, Bribie Island, a caravan, and of course, online while in a church pew. One parishioner shared a photo of streaming while in North Queensland.

As our churches were reopened, we began to see a new normal to how we come together for services. Preparations were underway at Lismore Anglican with training for their COVID cleaning volunteers.

St Mark’s, Casino came back together recently for their first service. “Great attendance, great Sermon, all respecting the covid-19 safe practices. Welcome Back.”

Port Anglican came together in July to gather in person and online. They held an outdoor service which allowed them to have more space for people – with plenty of room for social distancing.