Missions and the Diocese of Newcastle: In 1847 The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle was created as a Missionary Diocese.
Did you also know, that one of the earliest actions of our first Bishop, William Tyrrell, was to travel on a missionary journey with Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand, to some of the Melanesian Islands.
Mission is in our DNA. It’s part of who we are as a Diocese. The Great Commission (Matthew 28. 19-20) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” is our foundation for how we seek, as Christians, to live our lives and share the good news.
The Diocese of Newcastle is one of the most generous supporters of external mission in the National Church.
In 2014, we collectively gave $371,916.31 through our parishes and agencies, to support the work of Mission in Australia and overseas.
At a time when demands are being placed on financial resources, we, as the Diocesan Missions Committee, give thanks for this generous and faithful response. We also acknowledge that this amount is not the definitive total of Mission giving, as there is additional giving from individuals throughout the Diocese to support the work of Mission, both in kind, and through direct giving and gifts.
The Diocesan Missions Committee exists “to support and encourage all Anglicans in the diocese of Newcastle” in enabling the spread of the gospel. Largely we do that through liaising with and sharing information from our endorsed Diocesan Mission Agencies.
These agencies are:
- Anglican Board of Missions (ABM-A) – in 2014 we gave $201,341.58
- Anglican Aid Abroad (AAA) – in 2014 we gave $3,950.51
- Bible Society – in 2014 we gave $6,249.67
- Bush Church Aid (BCA) – in 2014 we gave $59,878.13
- Church Army (CA) – in 2014 we gave $ 1,976.72
- Church Missionary Society (CMS) – in 2014 we gave $67,317.36
- Mission to Seafarers – in 2014 we gave $19,852.98 (and this amount is rising)
- National Home Mission Fund (NHMF) or Outreach Fund – in 2014 we gave $9,186.86
- SparkLit (formerly Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Australia (SPCK-A)) – in 2014 we gave $1,568.35
- Sharing of Ministries Abroad (SOMA) – in 2014 we gave $594.15
Members of the Diocesan Missions Committee are both elected by Synod and appointed to reflect the diversity of the agencies we support. Members of the Diocesan Missions committee are always happy to come to speak with parishes, parish councils, ministry teams, schools and other agencies, about ways in which external mission can be promoted and encouraged, and integrated into ministry.
In March 2015, we were delighted to assist with the visit of Bishop Nathan Tome, Bishop of Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands in the Church of Melanesia. Guadalcanal is our Companion Diocese. During his week in the Diocese, Bishop Nathan spent time travelling with Bishop Greg Thompson and Bishop Peter Stuart around the diocese, and visited parishes, Lakes Grammar, Mission to Seafarers, and Samaritans. Bishop Nathan and Bishop Greg also reaffirmed the Covenant between our Dioceses at Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral. We look forward to further exchanges between our dioceses.
Thank you for your ongoing, generous support. Look for the Mission Presentation at Pre-Synod meetings in your area for more information on what we do as a Diocese to enable the spread of the gospel!
Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) - Caught in Cyclone Pam
MISSIONS GIVING 2014 $201, 341.58
ABM’s Program Officer, Jess Sexton was in Torba Province in Vanuatu on a monitoring trip in March when Cyclone Pam hit the islands. Jess shares her experience and reports on the destruction locals faced.
The start of my trip was spent in Sola where we were warmly received by Bishop Worek Patterson, who was eager to discuss both the progress and the challenges relating to the church and the wider province. We were to spend five days viewing these for ourselves, with a particular focus on the work relating to water, sanitation and adult literacy.
Several days into our visit, we began receiving reports of a cyclone heading towards Vanuatu, and although the system had not yet developed into a category five cyclone, the region was put on red alert. Locals rushed to reinforce their houses with sand bags and large palm leaves, and purchase extra supplies from shops. As the winds became gale force and heavy seas threatened to break the banks around the town of Sola, vulnerable areas were evacuated to higher ground and cement buildings.
The Provincial government drove through the town making announcements in Bislama, the language most commonly spoken, to warn about various dangers and to guide people in their preparations. Text messages sent from the Vanuatu Bureau of Meteorology also kept us updated as to the cyclone’s course, which was an essential service in an area with limited electricity and internet access.
For several days strong winds and torrential rain lashed the town and the cyclone moved south at a painfully slow pace of 7 km/h. As these affects subsided, we emerged from our bungalows to survey the damage, unsure of what we would find. Thankfully, there was very little destruction in Sola.
Minor flooding had occurred and there were roof repairs needed on several buildings, but infrastructure such as roads and bridges remained intact. The area causing most concern amongst locals was the loss of produce from village gardens and fruit trees, as these are heavily depended upon for food.
The cyclone had affected communications towers further south, causing a communication black out that was to last seven days. Without the means for accessing funds, and with food stocks running low, local shops were asked to supply goods on credit to the communities both in and around Sola.
Clean water was also a cause of concern, as most locals depend on fresh streams running from the mountains behind the town, and few have tanks. During the downpour, these streams became polluted with sediment and debris, and were unsuitable for drinking and washing.
Several tanks funded by ABM, installed through the Vanuatu Church Partnership Program in Sola, became essential in times like these. The community was able to access the clean water for drinking, substantially lowering the risk of diseases such as cholera and adenovirus infections.
Getting home was a great concern for my Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) colleagues, who I was travelling with, as they were anxious to see that family and friends were safe. Every day we would pray for their safety, pray for the communications towers to be fixed, and pray for the plane to come.
It was a great relief when a radio report announced that Espiritu Santo had been spared significant damage, as this was the island home of my travelling companions, and the location of the diocesan office of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. This was mixed with sadness, however, as the destruction in Port Vila was also revealed. We heard that many buildings had been destroyed beyond repair, leaving 10,000 people homeless, and that eight people had lost their lives in the chaos. There was no further information about the outer islands or even about the rest of Efate, due to the communications difficulties.
When the day for our scheduled departure came and there were still no flights, Bishop Worek went into action. He and other ACOM arranged a seat for me on a charter flight booked by the Red Cross, so that I would be able to make my international connection in Port Vila. The following day it was with reluctance that I boarded the small plane without them, knowing how much they wanted to see their families again.
Travelling from Sola to Port Vila is a journey I will never forget. The lush tropical forests that covered the islands of Vanua Lava, Gaua and Espiritu Santo stood in stark contrast to the brown wasteland on islands further south. As we flew over islands, we saw the trees had been stripped of their leaves and vines, houses and possessions had been scattered across the bare fields, and smoke was steadily rising from the debris being burnt away. It was like a scene of war, the destruction seemed so complete. I prayed that humanitarian relief would flow quickly, and that these communities would receive the care that they so obviously needed.
We arrived in Port Vila at dusk, and saw the city in disarray. Everywhere we looked, trees were blown over, buildings were damaged and crumbling, and boats were mashed together in the wharves. People were hard at work to clear roads and make repairs, even as darkness fell.
Electricity had been cut off to much of the city, and many carried torches or lit fires for light. However, the mobile network was fully functional in the capital, and much to my delight I was able to contact ABM and my family, letting them know that I was safe and had arrived in Port Vila. By the next day I had arrived back to a much relieved fiancé and the ABM family.
I am so grateful to everyone who assisted me during my time in Vanuatu – I was overwhelmed by the care and support that was going on in the background.
The humanitarian work in Vanuatu is only just beginning, and there is so much to be done. ABM has raised over $190,000 in its Vanuatu Emergency Appeal. This money will go a long way to support the church and locals to repair the damage and build their local communities.
Thank you to all the ABM donors who have supported this cause – please continue to keep Vanuatu in your prayers, to ensure that those who have lost everything can have hope for their future.
Church Missionary Society (CMS)
MISSIONS GIVING 2014 $67,317.36
Matthew and Samantha Archer have served as CMS missionaries in Bunda, Tanzania for ten years. During their past decade in Africa they have ministered alongside many remarkable people including Zakaria Luperengesha.
When Zakaria was 14, an evangelist visited his village of Kinyambwiga in Tanzania. It was the first time he had heard about Jesus. And it changed his life.
Before long he was teaching Sunday school and Scripture, eager to be equipped for further ministry. His gratitude to God created a deep longing within him to share the gospel.
Now 35, Zakaria is married to Esta and they have five children. He recently graduated from Bunda Bible College where he was taught by Matthew Archer and fellow CMS missionary, Jono Vink.
“Zakaria loves God and is very passionate about ministry,” says Matthew. “He has great ability and commitment to the Boys’ Brigade ministry.”
What is striking about Zakaria is his unswerving confidence in God despite poverty and suffering.
“I’d like to say in my service of Jesus since the beginning, I have seen many blessings in my family from Jesus,” he says. “He will give me strength for the future.”
While he was studying, he had to be away from his family and trust that God would take care of them. During that time, his home collapsed during a storm with his wife and children inside. No one was injured.
“He is very thankful to God for watching over them through that time,” Matthew says.
More recently Zakaria has been working alongside Matthew at the Boys’ Brigade Training Centre in Mara (BBMTC) helping to train other young men in the Bible and ministry. The BBMTC supports and equips young men with a trade and trains them in understanding the Bible. It was established to help young men who had not had opportunities to study and gain work, to be trained in practical skills.
“We want them to go back to their villages and work to make a good income and be responsible members of their communities,” Zakaria says. “There are challenges in the ministry of BB, but I want to keep telling people about Jesus so they can know him too.”
Effective ministry is a work of words and deeds. Living with integrity and grace is an essential part of being a missionary.
In the 21 years since coming to Christ, Zakaria has come to know many missionaries. He has studied under them, being discipled and encouraged and now works alongside them
“In body and spirit I have been blessed by CMS missionaries. Their ministry is very encouraging to work beside,” he says. “In Matt Archer, I have seen that through his life he loves Jesus and wants to tell others about him.”
And for Zakaria, what are his hopes for ministry?
“I really want to teach children, though I am ordained now, I want to stay in children’s ministry.”
The Mission to Seafarers in Newcastle
MISSIONS GIVING 2014 $19,852.98
The work of the Mission to Seafarers is focused on serving the 50,000 seafarers who enter the Port of Newcastle each year as workers on the bulk carrier and container ships that visit our port. We are committed to caring for seafarers by providing excellent services at our Seafarers Centre in Wickham and assisting seafarers, where possible, to enjoy valuable time ashore, away from their workplace, and time to connect with their families at home. We always aim to make seafarers feel welcomed, valued and well looked after. We provide free transport from the wharves to our Centre in Wickham. From there we offer transport to shopping throughout Newcastle or informal guided tours of our area.
The local community in Newcastle greatly values the work of our port, and the wealth and employment opportunities this brings to our city and the wider Hunter region. We are certain that the people of Newcastle are pleased to know that we are looking after seafarers, who are the backbone of this important industry, and that they are well cared for and provided with a safe and well-regulated workplace.
At our Wickham seafarers Centre we provide a free internet service so that the seafarers can keep in touch with loved ones and family. We’re always conscious of fact the that these seafarers probably won’t see their families for nine months at a time (which is the normal length of their contract). So contact via Skye and Facebook is very important. We also provide free clothing, food, entertainment and pastoral care, and give away Bibles in various languages and other Christian literature to help people connect with God in a way they can understand.
In addition to these services, we regularly visit ships in our ports to make valuable connections with masters and crew, and visit seafarers in hospital who are facing treatment or surgery.
We measure our success by the number of seafarers contacted in the course of our work each year. In 2014 we carried just under 13,000 seafarers in our buses, made 3,249 contacts with vessels and visited over 800 ships. These numbers will increase in 2015 because we now have a second bus and additional volunteers.
Our vision is to make contact with all Seafarers and visit all vessels coming into Newcastle, and we will work tirelessly until we reach this goal.
Bush Church Aid Society
MISSIONS GIVING 2014 $59,878.13
Coober Pedy’s Catacomb Church, which is served by BCA Field Staff the Rev’d Geoff Piggott and his wife Tracey, is a star of travel advisory site Trip Advisor. It has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence, which is presented to attractions that consistently earn great reviews from travellers.
The Church is ranked eight of 18 things to do in Coober Pedy with reviewers coming from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Germany, France and Austria to name a few.
Of the 72 reviews currently on Trip Advisor most fall in the excellent and very good categories. The church has received wonderful praise from visitors: “I have visited many churches, mosques, synagogues and temples around the world and I think this is the most impressive so far,” said Alan from the United Kingdom.
Tracey tells us more of the story:
Geoff sits quietly working in his Hobbit Hole Office and hears the sound of the church front door opening. Whenever possible he enters the church from our connecting tunnel to meet and greet tourists. Some are immediately friendly to this strange looking minister who seemingly appears from nowhere, while others start off a little warily.
Coober Pedy is such an interesting place and the Catacomb Church so unique that people warm up quickly as Geoff shares the history of the church and the area.
Soon Geoff is lying on the floor behind the Communion Table telling tourists to gather around. As I mentioned earlier, he is a strange looking minister! At first tourists are a bit taken aback but when he shows them that he has taken a photo of them up through the air shafts they are impressed and appreciative.
Geoff’s greatest thrill is to explain the Ichthys symbol which is carved into the rock wall and explain that the fish symbol is an acronym for Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, Saviour. He regularly tells people that we are here for treasure in heaven and not treasure on earth sought by many opal miners.
It is all this personal attention as well as the uniqueness and beauty of our church that has produced consistent positive reports from tourists and won us a Certificate of Excellence.
We rejoice in the truth of Isaiah 55:11 that the words going out from God’s mouth shall not return empty or void but accomplish the purposes for which He sent it.