Synod 2019 Highlights

The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle has much to celebrate and give thanks for, plan and pray for, as it meets for its Third Session of the Fifty-Second Synod on 25 and 26 October at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. From its parishes, four Schools and two welfare agencies to its various mission and ministries in chaplaincy, children and youth, op-shops, social justice, Anglican EcoCare, festivals and markets, and much more.

Bishop Peter said about Synod, “I look forward to the opportunity to meet with the clergy and laity of the Diocese to pray and consider together significant matters affecting our Diocese. Synods were established in the nineteenth century so that we would have a forum to undertake the serious work of ordering our diocesan life.”

He said, “Synods stand in the great tradition of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 where disciples had strongly differing views about Christian life. We can anticipate and welcome much debate on some matters. There has been in the past and there will be in the future.”

“Our Diocese is committed to a comprehensive expression of Anglicanism which means we have a big tent with a big meal table. We come together because we are committed to the Anglican family and to the work of mission that God has called us to do together.”

There are a few particular highlights happening this Synod that might draw your interest. All papers, motions and bills can be found on our website, please be encouraged to take some time to read over them and to pray for those meeting next week:

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Motion to embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart

This motion (15.5, Supplementary Synod Business Paper) asks that synod, the diocese, Anglican agencies and each parish church of the Diocese of Newcastle take the lead and initiate a treaty process with the Awabakal, Wonnarua, Darkinjung, Worimi, Gea-Wegal, and Biripi people.

“This synod hereby

    • acknowledges and celebrates the Uluru Statement from the Heart
    • recognises that the sovereignty of the Aboriginal peoples, as enunciated in the accompanying Uluru Statement from the Heart, has never been ceded by, and is an important and deeply held moral position for, Aboriginal people.
    • acknowledges the rich spirituality of Aboriginal people that continues to make a vital contribution to the diverse culture of Australia
    • asks the Bishop to establish an Indigenous Consultative Group with whom the Bishop(s) will meet on a regular basis”

and; We call upon Federal, State and Local Governments and all people of Australia to action

    • to call for constitutional change to embrace this sovereignty,
    • to exercise restorative justice (Makarrata) in its full extent as defined by Aboriginal Peoples,
    • to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Constitution via treaty process.”

35 Years of the Samaritans Foundation

The Synod (15.1, Supplementary Synod Business Paper) will celebrate the deep commitment of this Diocese to social caring ministry in the name of Christ. Samaritans currently has over 800 staff and 450 volunteers who, along with the Boards and CEO’s, offer care and support to thousands of people in our local communities every year.

“On October 14, 1984 the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle founded the Samaritans Foundation as the social welfare arm of the Diocese. As Samaritans marks its 35th anniversary, this Synod gives thanks for the work of Samaritans Foundation.”

The motion provides thanksgiving for Parish partnerships and contributions, for Anglicans and others who have given financially, in-kind and volunteered to strengthen the Samaritans ministry through these 35-years. It also affirms its commitment to ministry that provides respectful, safe, unconditional, quality care and advocacy for people in need. If that is you, thank you!

The motion concludes with a prayer: “that God will guide and bless the work of Samaritans as they express the mission of God and the Church”.

Standing Against Domestic and Family Violence

This motion (15.2, Supplementary Synod Business Paper) “acknowledges and gives thanks for the continuing work of the parishes of the Diocese in collaboration with the Samaritans in relation to Recognising Respectful Relationships and standing against Domestic and Family Violence”.

Reverend Michelle Hazel-Jawhary, who is moving this motion, says: “the church is the place for people to come when other services are closed, to get what they need, like accommodation or petrol. The goal is to get alongside our communities”.

As such, Rev’d Michelle is encouraging parishes to be involved in the following initiatives through this motion:

  • “Thursdays in Black” initiative of the World Council of Churches to overcome gender based violence in support of a World without Rape and Violence;
  • White Ribbon, Australia’s campaign to prevent Men’s violence against women including activities promoting White Ribbon Day on 22nd November 2019 and the taking of the White Ribbon Oath;

After a motion at 2015 Synod, a range of Diocesan web resources (“Standing Against Family and Domestic Violence” and “The Bible and Family & Domestic Violence”) are available for parishes to download and share: https://www.newcastleanglican.org.au/community/social-justice-task-force/

Human Sexuality & Marriage

The Right Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard will be a guest of the Synod and will be assisting the Synod explore its response to discussions about human sexuality and changes in the Marriage Act.

Two Bills (11.1 & 11.2) will be discussed relating to these topics. The first Bill seeks to remove the potential for discipline against a member of the clergy who offers a blessing to a same sex couple as well as removing the potential for discipline against a member of the clergy who declines to offer a blessing. It is a complex bill that requires it to be passed, assented to by the Bishop and then for the debate to be held again next Synod with a further occasion of the Bishops assent. If passed the Bill would also allow a married clergy same sex couple. The second Bill seeks to propose a form of blessing for people who have been married in a civil service.

Welcoming and Caring for Refugees

The UNHCR estimates over 70 million people are displaced worldwide, this motion (15.4, Supplementary Synod Business Paper) will recognise the ever-present theme in Holy Scripture of welcoming and caring for the stranger. It also calls for two actions:

  1. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to develop more humane and life enhancing policies to meet the Refugee crisis;
  2. The content of this motion be communicated to the Prime Minister.

Dean Katherine Bowyer said, “Last year at Synod, we were encouraged to join in the #RefugeeBell movement, and toll our church bells on Fridays, for the number of children in detention. Parishes across the diocese joined in this call to justice and compassion. This year, this motion seeks to encourage our Prime Minister and Parliament to develop policies in which treat those forced to seek refuge as we ourselves would want to be treated.”

 

2019 Synod Business Papers:

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