Letter from Australia 39 – Sydney -A City Transformed by Covid 19?

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday we had an extraordinary experience.  It’s difficult to describe or convey without the danger of misunderstanding.  The situation that the world finds itself in is pretty horrendous – in some countries more than others.  But might it be that there could be something good and renewing that comes out of this?  Might it be that the brakes have mercifully been put on some of the directions that humanity has been heading?

We have the privilege of being able to walk around one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Many times we have marvelled at walking around the Sydney harbour area – it is one of the great wonders of the world.  On Saturday we did a familiar walk – across the Harbour Bridge, down to Dawes point, along to Campbell’s Cove, then City Quay, the Opera House and then up through the Botanic gardens.  It has become familiar but this time was different….have a look at this link below –


This is a slide show of some of the views en route.

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Now I don’t post this to make you jealous – or to make you think that we live in some kind of paradise – but just because it helped me to think that there might be possibilities of great good to come out of this.  Perhaps there could be a chance to reboot our cities.   This photo below would not have been possible for me even a few months ago…


This is the quay where the giant cruise ships berth.  But the cursed cruise ships which brought the worst cases of Covid 19 to Australia have now been driven out by that very same virus.  And it’s wonderful!  How ironic that the cruise ships which flock to Sydney to admire its beauty, end up despoiling that beauty.    One good thing that has come out of this crisis is that the extra massive cruise ship berth which was due to be built has now been postponed indefinitely.     I could add that there are other good things – the closure of casinos and clubs being two of the greatest!   It was also lovely to be able to walk round CIty Quay with what appeared to be largely locals – with a few visitors.  I know that tourism is important but there is surely a balance to be had?  This applies across the world – the worst thing about the Isle of Skye for example is when it is swamped by tourists – Dubrovnik in Croatia is a nightmare because of the cruise ships.

IMG-8278Perhaps the Covid 19 crisis will lead us to look for a more balanced way of life and a more balanced economy – less reliance on China, immigrant labour and supply on demand 24/7?  We can but hope.    Balance is needed.  We do need trade, tourism and international students.  We don’t want our city streets to be like George St (on the left) yesterday.  I miss the buzz and the bustle.    But we also need locals to be able to live in and enjoy their own cities.  We need manufacturing, clean air and cities to be for the poor –  rather than just been destinations for the globalised jetsets and the metro elites.


In that regard – I thought this article in the Sydney Morning Heraldwas very thought provoking…

“There will be greater emphasis on individual building design and place design, including liveability concepts such as health and wellbeing, community living, use of internet technologies, precinct planning, gardens and outdoor space,”

The Church also needs to think about how we can genuinely seek the welfare of the city to which God has called us (Jeremiah 29:7).  Who knows but that God may yet bring great good out of this evil?

See you next week,

Yours in Christ


Letter from Australia 37 – Easter Hope


  1. I get what you are saying David. The way I have been expressing something not dissimilar is that as if humanity has had a reset button.

    1. I agree as well one of the best city’s in the world and so peaceful to work around in the moment and l hope it stays like that with out the Chinese.

      1. Joe – I’m sorry to hear that – the Chinese are a great enhancement to Sydney and its churches and I am very thankful for them….they have been here for a couple of centuries!

  2. Thank you for this – especially the video. It was fun to hear your voice and see into a bit of Australia during these times. I am grateful we still get to be with 1 of our 5 grandchildren during this.
    Also love that it’s quieter without all the planes.
    From Fillmore, California

  3. Hi David, I met Ian Shelton of Toowoomba in 1995 in Seoul. We met with 100 or so others on the Cities Track of the General Congress on World Evangelism. Earlier this month Ian was one of 150 or more City ‘networkers’ from 5 continents on a Zoom meeting hosted by EA’s Gather / Movement. Jer.29,7 was key then as it is now. BUT, the way we organise church presents all sorts of barriers. A new kind of facilitating leadership – team leadership is essential. City needs the Holy nation side of our identity and skill sets that are not taught in seminary.

  4. But then it follows in verse 8, not to be deceived by teachings not from the word of God.
    The Christian believers have a bright future as prophesied in Rev, the kingdom of the world changes to the kingdom of God.
    But the greatest question for a true believer is how we can receive the blessings in Rev 21 according to the standard of God, the Bible.

  5. Clubs can be amazing places of art, music and dance. I think they are essential to any thriving city.

    I see what you’re getting at but taking a jab at night culture isn’t the right approach.

    Glad you enjoyed your walk.

    1. Thanks Tom – maybe I’m wrong but clubs were in my experience(limited) what I heard some male participants describe as cattle markets and drug distribution networks. I think they are the death of any ‘thriving’ city……facilitators of hedonism, sexual immorality (and bad music!). When did they become ‘places of art’?

  6. What are cities for?
    It would be good to have a theological/ systematic/biblical perspective.
    A reach- for- the -sky, a skyline view of the city may reveal something of it’s roots, it’s philosophy, its etymology, its “spirituality”, it’s icons, its impostor, counterfeit gods of worship .
    As, indeed, would a ground level, labyrinthine view, revealing everyday identifiers of matters of first importance, drivers, teleological aspirations and liturgies of life, an emptiness or fullness : in short – relentless, godless, worship.

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