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Weekly SNAC 28 October 2018: Don’t believe everything you read in the papers!

For the past two weeks the Synod of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church has been meeting. The Synod began on Monday 15 October and concluded Tuesday 23 October (don’t worry it only met for 5 afternoons and evenings in that time!).  For the past two weeks the Synod of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church has been meeting. The Synod began on Monday 15 October and concluded Tuesday 23 October (don’t worry it only met for 5 afternoons and evenings in that time!).  

The Synod is made up of all the bishops, senior ministers and elected lay representatives of every Anglican Church in the Diocese of Sydney (stretching from the Hawkesbury river in the north, Ulladulla in the South and Lithgow to the West). As an Anglican church we are part of this affiliation of churches and the Synod is, broadly speaking, responsible for governing the diocese. If you want to know what it’s like, it’s a bit like watching parliament on TV (but without the bad behaviour!). What decisions does Synod make? The Synod passes ordinances for the governance of the diocese, elects people to important boards, councils and committees, and scrutinises the work of the Standing Committee which does the Synod’s work during the year.

Over this Synod we have dealt with issues as diverse as:

- the funding of the Diocesan organisations and initiatives

- a policy on the use of property owned by the Anglican church, especially in light of concerns over freedom of religion in Australia

- the priority of evangelism in our use of church resources

Some of these things catch the eye of the secular media and not all of that reporting is fair or balanced. In particular, there was much discussion in the media over the policy confirming that church property should not be used for things that are inconsistent with Christian doctrine. As a Synod member I found this a little perplexing as surely most fair-minded people would argue that a church should not be forced to use its property for something that it fundamentally disagrees with? The reality of the Synod debate was very different to the media coverage – gracious, fair-minded, yet committed to Biblical principles. Sadly on the last day of Synod there was a contentious debate on the issue of divorce and remarriage. Again, reports in the media were far removed from both the actual decisions and tone of the debate.        

In the end, this is the most wonderful thing about the Synod of our Diocese. The manner in which over 600 people conduct themselves and debate controversial issues is so different to the way our world works. People speak with grace and kindness and respect one another’s opinions even when there are strong disagreements. There are even small minorities who argue for liberal theology and against the Bible’s view on issues such as marriage and homosexuality. Even these arguments are treated with fairness and respect (if not agreement). Of course, this is not the picture painted in the secular media.

Please join me in thanking God for all those who serve on the Synod. However, especially give thanks to God for the Sydney Anglican Church. Despite its imperfections (as all human bodies will have) it seeks to stand firm for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible. This is not something to be taken for granted.

Phil Colgan