On Saturday 12 August 200 people from the Diocesan community gathered at Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College for the Diocesan Convention. As in past years, as people left they spoke of an encouraging and educative day as we explored together what it is to the be the Diocese of Newcastle at this time in our life.
The day began with the warm welcome which always greets us when we gather at Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College.
Bishop Jeffrey Driver, recently retired Archbishop of Adelaide, led our morning sessions, addressing the topics of “Remaining in the Grey Spaces” (Holy Saturday) and “Remembering in Zion”.
In these addresses Bishop Jeffrey reflected with us on the trauma that is still very much part of our life as a diocese and in our parishes. He spoke of the women taking spaces to the tomb of Jesus as part of their grief, and of the presence of Jesus with grief stricken followers on the Road to Emmaus. Grief and God’s presence… being there… aiding… walking respectfully alongside – these are the themes Bishop Jeffrey reflected on with us.
In his second session we considered, with the psalmist, what it is to “Sing the Lord’s song in a strange land”, and of being people in exile. In this Bishop Jeffrey pointed us to a future that is different from the past. This is a remembering that refuses to deny trauma, but rather lives through it – to quote Sheila Rambo, “The past does not stay, so to speak, in the past. Instead it invades the present”. In this we were reminded that Jesus helps us to remember rightly. And we were encouraged to remember that as we live this past and face our future we will find ourselves beginning to sing with God new songs – the songs of our future.
There were many encouraging reflections from people on Bishop Jeffrey’s leadership of us in the morning sessions.
In the afternoon, the Domestic Violence Task Force invited Danielle Habib to lead an excellent session on knowing about and responding to domestic and family violence.
As well as this we heard from the Bishop Nomination Board, and from Sue Williams and Canon Katherine Bowyer on our discernment and formation programs.
The day concluded with Bishop Peter calling Anglicans to a deeply generous engagement with one another and the community as same sex marriage is discussed in our community. He said, “Our Diocesan family is the spiritual home for gay and lesbian people who take their place in our parishes week by week. It is also the home to parents, grandparents and friends of gay and lesbian people who are angry, frightened and apprehensive about the next weeks. They fear for the wellbeing of the people they love. They need our special care and support. I see this as a season of being especially gracious to one another.”
As always it was great for the Diocesan family to gather, heard from excellent speakers, and enjoy catching up with each other and renew friendships.
You can read comments made by Bishop Peter here.