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Australian Presbyterian World Mission Annual Meeting

A great privilege to attend the annual meeting of the Australian Presbyterian World Mission today.

From around the nation, many of those present have personally engaged in cross cultural work, representing decades of wisdom gained from practical experience.

This is required, for while technology and living standards have made the world a seemingly much more accessible place, the action of going to other nations in a responsible and accountable fashion is increasingly complex.

The APWM seeks to support both those who are called to serve and those who seek to support the work by providing an administrative and pastoral framework that frees them to do what they want to do, while we provide what they need in order for it to happen well.

Legal requirements in Australia, along with seemingly myriad and changing legal requirements and cultural considerations in so many different countries and regions call for a depth of insight and an agility of thinking and problem solving.

Our national church is well served by this body, and particularly by our National Director Kevin, his assistant Sheryl, our treasurer Peter, and the committee chair Alex.


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APWM Timor-Leste Subcommittee Meeting

The little committee that could keeps working.

We’ve been helping the Australian Presbyterian Church relate constructively and formatively with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Timor Leste for over ten years. A Victorian ( transplanted from Darwin), some NSW folk and me. Our fellow committee member Brian phoned in from Western Australia because he couldn’t make the scheduling work.

No posing in the photo. It’s a working committee. (Robert Benn approved this photo for public release)


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Two Destinations

I’m traveling to Sydney for committee meetings of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and am due back Saturday.

Next month I’ll be attending standing committee meetings in Brisbane.

Margaret would have travelled to Brisbane with me and seen her parents for a couple of days.

At fairly late notice we decided she should go to Brisbane today instead so she can spend a longer time with them and them come home with me mid-February.

So, we spent a very early morning drive together to get to Adelaide airport, and now we go our separate ways for a while.


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Forty Years On And A Question About Protective Investment Or Sacrificial Investment (via John Wilson)

John Wilson, current moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia remembers the time forty years ago when the Presbyterian Church of Australia continued after the departure of those who formed the Uniting Church.
It was a season in which the desire to continue had to be matched by a vision of what was worth the struggle of continuing.
After some history and some observations John includes six questions that are posed as challenges to a denomination that has no reasons to rest on its proverbial laurels.
Here’s the sixth and final challenge:

Notwithstanding our generous giving to support cross-cultural work here in Australia, world mission and relief of the poor, the PCA is not free from the love of money. Somewhere … between our personal wealth and congregational accounts and our denominational resources … we have enough wealth within PCA to securely fund 600 first-inducted ministers and then 600 assistants to the ministers and then to fund 600 church plants. (Spending time working alongside our colleagues and friends in India and Africa has shown me that). But we have our wealth tied up in seldom-used property, worldly investments, material comforts, insurance safety nets and superannuation nest eggs. We still have a holding mentality (holding reserves for a rainy day) instead of releasing funds for expansion, church planting, new works and different works for the kingdom (refreshing our memory of my point 2 above).

Question: Can we be content with less, for the advancement of the kingdom (1 Timothy 6:7)? Are we really free from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).

Read the whole post here.


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Through The Love Of God Our Saviour – #GAA_16

The singing and devotional content at the 2016 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia has been a feature.
A number of the sermons/addresses are available to listen to at the PCA website.
Here’s a two verse clip of Through The Love Of God Our Saviour.
Thanks to Michael Wharton.
Not quite Welsh choir standard, but a very acceptable substitute.
And Richard did a great job on piano.


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Australian Presbyterian World Mission, Relations With Other Churches, PresAID #GAA_16

Tuesday night featured the reports of Australian Presbyterian World Mission, Relations With Other Churches, and PresAID.
All three of these committees work toward developing relationships that lead to Gospel partnerships.
A feature of the APWM report was witnessing the signing of a partnership agreement with the Presbyterian work of Japan by John Wilson and Kiyoshi Endo.
Kiyoshi Endo (Japan), Thang Bwee (Myanmar), Roy Yosef (Vanuatu), and Hiralel Solanki (India) were all personally acknowledged with a presentation made by John Wilson.
During the Relations With Other Churches report we heard from Flip Buys who told us about the World Reformed Fellowship and the fostering of relationships between like-minded denominations and churches of differing cultures from around the world. Our denomination has fostered and supported the growth of the WRF, and we were encouraged to maintain this relationship. John Nicholls (Moderator Free Church of Scotland) and David Bain told us about the work of the Free Church and Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand respectively. Flip Buys, John Nicholls, and David Bayne were also personally acknowledged by John on behalf of the Assembly.
Finally, Bob Thomas spoke about the work of PresAID, which he pioneered and is now handing off the convenership. PresAID remits 100% of donations to the causes for which they are solicited, the denomination underwriting administration expenses. In its ten years of operations PresAID has received and distributed over one million dollars. 

All in all, we started the day at 9.30am (after over half the Assembly had already attended the prayer meeting from 8.45am-9.15am) and finished at 9.20pm with two one hour breaks (plus morning tea).
A long day, but a great finish.
If I find some pictures tomorrow I’ll try to harvest them.
sidebside
(Thanks to Michael Wharton for this image of the signing.)


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A Small Alteration, A Significant Statement – Change To Ordination Vows #GAA_16

The General Assembly considered a proposal to change one of the vows taken by ministers-elect and elders-elect at their ordination into their respective offices within the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
The question currently asks “Do you believe the Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, to be the only rule of faith and practice?”
The proposal was to omit the words ‘contained in the Scriptures’ and alter the question so that it would take the form “Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only rule of faith and practice”.
In doing so the intention is to embrace the intention of our church standards with regard to the nature of the Bible.
Changing understandings of the word ‘contained’ and a lack of understanding about the situation in which our church standards were framed can lead to confusion.
Our standards demonstrate that Holy Scripture is contained in the Old and New Testaments alone, not in any other writings, and the Holy Scripture contains all that is needed for what we are to believe and how we are to live out that belief.
The old question did not mean that God’s Word is present in the Bible along with other material that is not God’s Word, though it may mistakenly be taken to mean that, and might be used to defend defective interpretative practices as being valid in the life of our church.
The statement that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience is congruent with the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession, and so comfortably fits within our historical understanding of the Scriptures while better suiting the modes of expression and the theological issues in the age in which we live.
The proposal was debated, with consideration of what the change means and whether there were any unintended consequences.
The change has been approved and sent to State Assemblies and Presbyteries for their consideration before being considered for final implementation at the next GAA.
In a climate where the Bible is being eroded by sections of it being questioned or downgraded in the church, or where it is placed alongside other supposed sources of revelation from God; the Presbyterian Church of Australia has sought to affirm the unique and sufficient nature of the whole Bible, and its testimony to the Lord Jesus as the Word of God incarnate, the author and perfecter of our faith.