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Letter from Australia 19 – Fires, Farewells and Festive Outreach

Letter from Australia 19 – Fires, Farewells and Festive Outreach

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Today has been an emotional day. In fact it has been an emotional and somewhat stressful week. Today a lot of memories flooded back as we said farewell to Simon Manchester as our pastor in St Thomas’s. It was a wonderful and packed service. Myself and Annabel could empathise so much because only five months again we went through the same experience at our beloved St Peters.

Speaking of which we listened to the service from last Sunday at St Peter’s this morning. My unbiased opinion is that if you hear a better sermon this year than this one from Andy Robertson then you are blessed indeed.  Listen to it here – 


Newtown – Midafternoon   

Another aspect of the emotional and stressful week has been the weather and the smoke. On Tuesday I had my first cycle into work….it was tough but superb.


However I have not been able to do it again because of the smoke that has covered the city from the Bushfires, for the rest of the week. It sears into my lungs – which after my illness of 2011 are not something I want to take any risks with.   Apart from the health aspects its as though there is a pall of gloom over the city. We are praying it will end soon. Meanwhile as the politicians squabble about who is to blame, and the Greens jet off to yet another conference on saving the planet, the local firefighters are doing an amazing job. One of the fires about an hour north of us is now 300,000 hectares in size. That is an area more than 2.5 times the size of Fife!   By the way somewhat bizarrely as most of the State burns, there is an area in New South Wales which has just recorded the coldest summer day in Australia – EVER! The temperature in Threadbo did not rise about -1 degree Celsius on Monday – and there were large snowfalls – in Australia – in summer!

Festive Outreach

Screenshot 2019-12-08 20.45.16

But apart from that this week has been spent giving Christmas talks at various company meetings. As I mentioned last week it just does not feel by Christmas but it is – and this does give opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus. How did it go?   The first one was not good – poorly attended and for me a real struggle.   The third was fascinating – with the vast majority of a reasonably attended meeting in a major bank being overseas workers. But it was the second – with a stunning view over Barangaroo which for me had a real spark. Afterwards several people contacted me for more information.

You can hear the talk and some of theQ and A here.



Paramatta Cathedral

I have mentioned Paramatta Anglican Cathedral before. I am impressed with the outreach they are doing there – here is a short video of a recent service where around 900 people turned up and there were 35 baptisms.

I pray for you as you are involved in Christmas outreaches wherever you are. Please uphold us before the throne of grace – and pray for rain and for the fires to end.

I leave you with a song we sang this morning – Jesus, Lover of My Soul – I loved it but nothing beats this version from St Petes!


See you next week,

Yours in Christ


Letter from Australia 18 – The NHS vs the AHS


  1. Yes, Andy’s preaching was very good last week at St Peter’s – and he was excellent this morning also.

      1. From Media Watch the last time these claims were made:

        “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are found to be the least likely group to engage in domestic violence …”

        “That is, the more you go to church, the less likely you are to bash your partner.

        Which is a conclusion several other US and New Zealand studies have come to.”

        The journalist involved last time, Julia Baird, is a well-known opponent of the Sydney Anglicans as she was an advocate of female priests.

      2. It’s labelled as an opinion piece, John,
        and it does indeed express some opinions. Unfortunately it’s also poor journalism.
        The article inadvertently blames the victims for they too are evangelical Christians who take the Bible literally.
        It may well give comfort to perpetrators who already cauterise their consciences by telling themselves: ‘This is what real men do.’ etc.
        The link to another opinion piece — — is helpful but unless the link is followed, the use made of it is distinctly unhelpful.
        The ‘solutions’ suggested in the article are simplistic, inappropriate, counter-productive and ineffective. If victims, perpetrators and those who protect the perpetrators (by dismissing the victims’ right to even complain, for example) all think that it’s the Church and Christianity that’s being attacked, self-deceptions about abuses are intensified.
        One particular category error is the misidentification of a pastoral problem as a theological problem. To give a parallel example, someone who has been abused by their own human father is liable to be triggered by the very notion of the Fatherhood of God.
        Drawing attention to the Sidney Anglican Diocese — where a great deal has been done to address the issue — does not really help if those abusive churches that are in denial about there even being an issue, pride themselves in not being Anglican.
        Claiming to be Evangelical ought to mean something but the blessing becomes a curse if the evangel is [Jesus] + [Something else]. No matter how laudible the something-else is, it’s a pervertion of that something-else that will extinguish the Gospel in that place but an early calling out of the tendency by other Evangelicals often nips that tendency in the bud.
        The problem here is not of taking the Bible literally but of not taking the Bible literally enough — [Eph. 5:25] — ‘Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’

  2. A British Clergyman, newly arrived in Australia, is requested by the Bishop of Sydney to attempt to persuade the celebrated artist, Norman Lindsay, to withdraw a painting from a Sydney exhibition, on the grounds that the work is an affront to public decency.

    A good non – fiction film with a silly tag as “Romance”. That is certainly not the way Romans behaved.

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