Some of you may have seen the recent media reports of the crisis of ministry in the Bathurst Diocese of the Anglican Church in Australia. There have been radio and TV interviews with Mark Calder, the Bishop of Bathurst, who has described the difficulty in attracting ministers out west, with the result that 17 churches in the diocese are currently without ministers. Coincidently, I am about to become an ordained Anglican minister in the Bathurst diocese! Here’s how it all came about.
Over the last 18 months, my wife and I have been in discussions with the Bishop of Bathurst, (who is a close friend of mine) about becoming involved in regular short-term ministry in under-resourced churches within his diocese. The idea is that we will become part of a church community for 6 to 8 weeks, where I would lead services, preach, hold outreach events, run training programs for ministry leaders and facilitate planning days for the local church leadership. We are aiming to do this 2 or 3 times each year, for the foreseeable future, each time helping out in a different church (or sometimes going back for a second ‘stint’ in a church in which we have previously worked). The first of these short-term ministries will take place in May and June this year, when we will be spending 8 weeks with the wonderful people at St George’s Anglican Church, Parkes.
Two months ago, the Bishop began a conversation with me about the possibility of being ordained into Anglican ministry, which would enable me to be of greater use to the churches within the diocese that we spend time with. The ordination would be in recognition of my previous theological training and my 20 years in ministry as a Churches of Christ Minister and a Baptist Chaplain. Sandy and I have been prayerfully considering ordination since then. Last weekend, we met with the Bishop of Bathurst and an ordination panel and, subsequent to that interview, they have formally invited me to be ordained, which I joyfully accepted.
The service will be held on Saturday 24th April at All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Bathurst, where I will be officially “made a deacon and ordained a priest in the Church of God” (the official phraseology).
Sandy and I are very excited about this new chapter of our lives where we will have new opportunities to serve God and be a blessing to his people. It is our heart’s desire to continue to serve the Lord in whatever way we are able, for as long as we are able.
There are probably friends from my previous ministries who might be a little surprised at this development but who, I am sure, will join us in praying for the help and strength of God’s Holy Spirit as we embark on this new adventure. When I think of the many dear friends we have known in various churches over the years, it would be wonderful to see some of you at my ordination, to share in this special moment with me. I am not sure what the seating capacity of the Cathedral will be (with whatever COVID rules are in place by then) but I will keep you posted with details.