Moderator's Comments - Posted 16 February 2016

On Friday 12 February, at the invitation of the Australian Christian Lobby, I joined a delegation to meet Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in his Sydney office.  It was agreed that we confine our remarks to the issue of the plebiscite regarding single gender marriage which will be held, in the event of a coalition victory, soon after the next Federal election.

The issues which concerned us were:

  • The framing of the question to be answered in the plebiscite.  Would we have input into this so that it did not unfairly encourage the preferred response of either side?
  • The question of religious freedom both during and after the debate, if the plebiscite is lost.
  • If the Commonwealth was  to provide funding for campaigns, how would such funding be allocated?  The campaign in favour of single sex marriage in Ireland outspent the traditional campaign, 15 to 1.
  • When will the proposed Bill to change the Marriage Act and enable the plebiscite, be available?
  • Will the PM do all in his power to ensure equal access to media for both sides of the argument?

The PM was warm and engaging and assured us that he was interested in matters of spirituality and, “enjoys a good homily”.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 8 February 2016

I am starting 2016 preaching at a conference called Sweatcon, being held in the south western suburbs of Sydney. The theme of the conference is, Discipleship in Mission and I will be speaking on Jesus’ answer to the fourth, of the four most fundamental questions of life:

• Where did I come from?
• Where am I going?
• Why am I here?
• How do I live?

In Matthew’s gospel, chapters 5 to 7, Jesus answers that fourth question in the Sermon on the Mount.

In October, 2017 we will celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s attachment of his 95 theses for debate, to the large doors of Wittenberg Cathedral in Germany.

Luther, an Augustinian monk, had felt the gates of paradise open to him when he understood Romans 1:17 the righteousness of God as that righteousness which He does not require but that which He provides through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Pastoral Letter

Moderator's Comments - Posted 14 January 2016

Australia normally goes to sleep while we holiday for the five weeks after Christmas, undisturbed except by the latest cricket scores calmly delivered to us by Richie Benaud. That has not been the case this year, the standard of cricket has been poor, Richie is no longer with us and the following events have turned our minds to more disturbing matters: the resignation of two Federal ministers, Mal Brough and Jamie Briggs; the Chris Gayle interview involving journalist Mel McLaughlin; the ongoing drought in Western Queensland and NSW while NSW spends $7 million on fireworks on New Year’s Eve; the reports of widespread sexual harassment in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve; North Korea’s “hydrogen” bomb test, the beginning of the cyclone season with Vanuatu once again being in the path, this time of Cyclone Ula.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 December 2015

We celebrate the incarnation of God, Jesus Christ, the Word, become flesh, who made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). John says, “we have seen with our eyes, we have looked at, our hands have touched … we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard” (1 John 1:1, 3).

Paul put it in these familiar words, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich! (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The immediate context of these words is Paul’s urging of the Corinthians to be generous in their support of the suffering saints in Jerusalem. The gospel drives generosity, Jesus Christ rich as he was, became poor in order to enrich us, so Paul says, follow his example of generous giving and support the needs of the saints.

One of my eye opening experiences, since becoming Moderator, is to get to know the work of PresAid, the Presbyterian Church’s own aid organisation which was founded by the General Assembly of Australia in 2007. Since that time, PresAid has distributed $850,000 to aid projects in Pakistan, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Bangladesh, India and Vanuatu.