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.
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.
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)
By Chris Nelson, Registrar/General Manager.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Appeal to shared values, such as peace, freedom, hope and safety.
- Emphasise human agency.
- Be solutions focused.
- Use positive framing, communicating what we want to see rather than what we don’t want to see.
- Use tangible terms and jargon-free language.
- Emphasise Christian mission and identity, including the interconnectedness of all life in our theology.
- Be discerning about scripture choices.
- Tailor messaging for a local context and for the given audience.
- Be respectful at all times, listen to the other’s point of view, ask open questions and seek to foster genuine dialogue.
- 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 email@example.com.
First published on the anglican focus news site on 14 May 2021 (text updated with September workshop information).
On October 20 we held our second ordination service at St Mary’s Ballina. It was a beautiful and well-attended service with numbers at the maximum.
It was lovely to be joined by Bishop Bill Ray who had been journeying with the ordination candidates and his wife Robin.
Bishop Bill’s sermon reminded the congregation and the candidates of their Christian ministry and collaborating and supporting each other.
Congratulations to The Rev’d David Brown and The Rev’d Aaron Coates, now transitional Deacons in the Anglican Church. Both newly ordained Deacons were presented with generous gifts from ABM that included a green stole each. Thank you Ballina and Lennox Head Anglicans for hosting.
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.
Bishop Murray Visits Coffs Harbour
Alstonville Anglicans Messy Church families created animals out of recycled waste. Out of concern for climate change they chose to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Creativity and fun was had by all. The creatures are now on display outside St Bart’s. Beware!
Clarence Valley Anglican School
Nine-year-old Taj Cruz Lakin takes the responsibility of stewardship of God’s creations seriously. The Year 3 St Columba Anglican School student loves his local coastal environment and is passionate about keeping the beaches of Port Macquarie clean. Fuelled by his passion for marine conservation, Taj recently entered a video in the Reef RADicals competition run by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and James Cook University.
His proposed campaign titled ‘One Step at a Time’ which would involve creating artworks with environmental messages on beach steps in Port Macquarie saw him place runner up in the nationwide competition. The prize for Taj’s efforts was a virtual reef dive experience where he and his year group were able to explore the Great Barrier Reef virtually and ask the diver questions live while they were underwater.
The success of Taj’s campaign was acknowledged by Member for Port Macquarie, Mrs Leslie Williams. Mrs William congratulated Taj during a speech in Parliament House, saying he was a fantastic role model and advocate for his community.
While the competition may have wrapped up, Taj’s motivation has not. Taj hopes that he can take his campaign further and is determined to get the attention of his local council in order to educate residents and visitors about keeping our local beaches clean. Taj’s goal is to receive a grant and the support of Council to paint the beach steps. His vision is to have Indigenous artists, schools and local artists to collaborate on the project in order to empower the entire community.
Taj sees the beauty in God’s creation every day, especially when he heads to the beach to bodyboard. He understands that it is our responsibility to work within creation and to hand it back to God unspoilt. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” Psalm 24:1