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Mixed report on growth and income given to Sydney synod: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 15, 2010 p 8. October 16, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Evangelism.
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Dr. Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney

 

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

There were more people in the pews in 2009, but there will be less cash to support ministry in 2010, delegates to the Diocese of Sydney’s 48th synod learned this week.

In his presidential address to the Oct 11 session of synod, Archbishop Peter Jensen reported the Connect 09 evangelism programme led to a five per cent increase in church attendance last year.  However, the archbishop also reported the diocese was still feeling the aftershocks of the global financial crisis, and that declining rates of return on investments would mean a drop in income.

Dr. Jensen stated that “through Connect 09 the Lord has blessed our renewed commitment to the community, as a way of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all.”

Based upon “the figures we have, and using considerable caution, we grew numerically in 2009.  Perhaps by even as much as five per cent” or 3000 people.

“To grow at all is significant; to grow by anything like that percentage is sensational,” Dr. Jensen said.

The Rev. Andrew Nixon, executive director of Connect09, told Synod the programme was “God’s campaign, in God’s time, with God’s people sharing God’s grace”.

A survey of parish evangelism and outreach found that 97 per cent of Anglican churches in the diocese had distributed Christian literature during the campaign, and “during 2009 between 40 and 50 percent of households in the Sydney diocese were contacted by their local church. That means that 1.75 million people were contacted and know that we want to connect with them,” he said. “That’s not just a good start, it’s a million good starts.”

Dr. Jensen said the Connect 09 “figures may be approximate. But grow we did in the very year when we all together prayed, shared the word of God and went out into the community. We give God our praise. Let us take fresh heart, and keep sharing the word of God.”

Dr. Jensen also used his presidential address to address the question of “what it is to be human in glittering Sydney,” singling out the issues of penal reform and euthanasia for special attention.

New South Wales’ prisons were overcrowded and understaffed, he said.  “We have too many gaols, we have far too many people in gaols, we keep them there too long, we have people on lengthy remand who are then proved innocent, we have a high percentage of prisoners with psychiatric illnesses, there is a disproportionate number of indigenous people in goal,” he said.

Dr. Jensen also criticized moves to legalize euthanasia, saying “my fundamental problem with it is that we are sinners and we do not have the moral capacity to administer it.”

The archbishop told the Synod the diocese was still reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis and the “financial issues are grave.”

“In round terms, it seems possible that the amount of money available” he said “to support diocesan works in the next few years is going to be reduced from the $7.5 million of 2010 to something like $4 million.”

The cutbacks in diocesan spending in 2008 were “only the beginning,” he said and warned that parishes might be asked to pick up a larger share of the diocese’s expenses in the years to come.

“We are,” Dr. Jensen said, “asset-rich but cash-poor.”

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