Tribute to Peter Jensen | Sydney Anglican Synod

Rick Smith finished his moving speech...refering to Peter's last words on the ABC Q&A the other night ...and how Peter pointed us to Christ. I want to start with Dr Jensen's very first words to the city of Sydney as Archbishop...speaking to our gathered media... In a packed news conference:

First, I want to stake my life on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

My journalist friends went along to the press conference said there was a vibe around the news conference ..... Wow - this guys got views. And depth. We have a new player in town. A new leader in the city.

And over a decade that view of Sydney’s media ... hasn’t changed... A Channel Seven journalist said to me - Whatever Jensen says is news. Pell as well, but especially Jensen.

Going back 15 years ago before Peter, I think Sydney Anglicans were defined in the media and amongst ourselves by our enemies.

But it wasn’t just the media... it’s been our view of ourselves - as Sydney Anglican Evangelical Christians.

Peter, with your election and your adoption of a diocesan ‘heart grabbing goal,’ his championing of the mission of Jesus....

You have given us a goal, a purpose, a direction, to unite behind --- Christ.

One old dog from this chamber said to me, Peter enjoys more support in synod than any Archbishop I can remember because he is so clearly leading us to where we want to go - he is leading us to Jesus.

*** I have been excited as we have started to do the review of the diocesan mission, our mission.. to begin to chart the progress that has been made.

  • It is amazing to reflect that under Peter’s chairmanship we have seen the conversion of ANGLICARE.
  • Our social issues committee - they are now so sharp and incisive in their statements to the world.
  • The way Anglican Retirement Villages have been brought back into the family.
  • The way Anglican Media is about promoting the mission of Christ.
  • And the way we now have a confidence in Youthworks that ten years ago - we just didn’t
  • And then the revolution in the school system - with the Christian Principles and School Councils!

Things we could not have imagined 15 years ago.

Well done good and faithful servant!

Hobart to Straughn - January 2, 2012

It was a long and difficult drive from Hobart to Straughn.  We left just after ten and apart from stopping for lunch in Queenstown we were on the road till mid afternoon.  The drive had hills, corners, a moonscape appearance and more corners. On the way out of Hobart we stopped at the hardware to buy a new plug for the sink - having survived this whole trip without a sink plug (washing up at camp kitchens).  At the hardware the kids were playing a game and Hannah’s iPhone screen was smashed (this wasn’t an emotionally neutral event - there were requests that we go straight back to Sydney and the Apple Shop).

I arrived at Straughn completely drained.  The campervan and windy hills are hard work.  It takes me coke and chocolate to get though - and when I’ve pushed myself I’m then wacked afterwards.

Queenstown was nothing much a town - a center of mining activity - and a place Cathie’s late dad Wilf, used to work - along with Wittanoon and Mount Isa (being a mining engineer seemed to work in a trifecta of unattractive mining towns).

Straughan was much more attractive and we set up the awning - we were staying two nights (fantastic!).

Cathie and I went down for a coffee at the coffee shop and to check out the cruise timetable etc for the next day.

The Wall

By far the cultural highlight of the day was a stop at ‘The Wall.’  It was well worth stopping for - and a welcome break - about halfway between Hobart and Straughn. A Tasmanian sculptor has chosen to display aspects of his area’s history in 26 wood panel carvings.  Each carving is 3m x 1m of huon pine.

It was absolutely inspiring as a work of art - due to be finished in five years.

There are no photos of this on this blog as taking photographs was forbidden.  There were quite a few unfriendly signs about the taking of photographs - and I get that the artist needs to make money and a way to do that is to restrict the taking of photographs.  However the strength of this message did leave me with a tinge of rejection.

Mobile Phone reception

It really is quite astonishing how bad mobile phone reception is in Tasmania on the Optus network.  I don't think we have had mobile reception anywhere on the west coast of Tasmania (from the outskirts of Hobart all the way through Queenstown, Straughn, Cradle Mountain) finally getting it back as we headed into Sheffield.



Today was New Years Day in Hobart.  I woke about 7 and listened to a talk on line by David Jones on Song of Solomon.  I am reading and listening to everything I can on the Song at the moment ahead of speaking on it in February. Getabout Camper

We touched base this morning with the other owners of a Getabout Camper in this caravan park.  Despite having owned a Getabout since 2008 and spending 4-5 months in the campervan in that time - this was the first time we have seen someone with a Getabout.

Getabout Camper

It was good to have a chat with them about what we have thought of the camper.  Overall we have both been very satisfied.  They had problems with the tyres, we had problems with our tyres on our second campervan.  They were five years old, even though the campervan was only 2009.  Our only difficulty with the current campervan is with the door that folds down as a step - the rivets that hold the step up have broken - meaning that we have had to replace them with little nuts and bolts


We left Cathie with the campervan and headed into Hobart.  It was great to walk the docks and check out the Sydney Hobart yachts and then walk around the food and wine exhibition, the museum and art gallery and find the state parliament.

Investec Loyal at Hobart Wharf

We saw the winners and the Ella Bache one, sailed by the youngest crew, headed by Jessica Watson - but didn't get to see Jessica.

Ella Bache with Jessica Watson

We did see however - a large scale photograph of the ABC Radio crew on the side of a bus - including a life sized image of former workmate and friend from 2WS Louise Saunders.

Hobart (in population terms) is slightly smaller than Townsville in Queensland but felt much smaller to me.

Crossroads Church

This afternoon we visited the Crossroads Church 4pm service. They have terrific facilities, meeting in the Brethren Church building.  The service was friendly, songs we ones we were mostly familiar with, the praying was tremendously encouraging and the sermon preached by Dan was faithful and pointed us to Jesus.  It was great to catch up briefly with Mikey Lynch and then with Christine and Mike Jolly.

It was also great to get a text from Ian Powell with an update on how things went this morning at Village: “Matt was brilliant.  Church as a whole had a good feel.  Youz were thankfully prayed for.”

Then back to a banquet at Huw and Emma’s home about a hundred meters from Hobart’s cricket pitch.  It was lovely to seem them and Tom with cheering from the cricket in the background.

All in all a terrific start to 2012.

Port Arthur - New Years Eve - December 31, 2011

Today up early and away from Bicheno just before ten.  We drove straight to Port Arthur, listening to David Jones talk on Joshua 1 on the way.  Abraham stayed awake for this one and we had a couple of good family discussions about about church planting, God's promise, God's word and God's presence.  


Port Arthur is now a significant tourist destination.  When Cathie came here last time in the days after we were engaged in early 1993 the broad arrow cafe was there, but it wasn't the key attraction it is now.


We went on a tour - which was supposed to last 40 minutes and actually went for an hour - and was about twenty minutes too long.  Then coffee, then a harbour cruise - which was excellent.  Our guide was a descendant of convicts and part aboriginal as well.  He told us to google 'black wars Tasmania' to learn about the massacre of Australia's first inhabitants at the start of the nineteenth century.  His presentation was fascinating - although I wondered whether he presented Port Arthur a little too positivelly.


We enjoyed looking through the museum facilities and the 'separate prison,' an early experiment in solitary confinement.


On thing that did disappoint me was the memorial to the victims of Martin Bryant's massacre in April 2006.  The victims were well remembered but the story wasn't told at all.  All our kids were born after the massacre, none of them knew about it at all.  


It was a sharp contrast to Beaconsfield yesterday where there was a historical presentation stretching back on mining over two centuries but a special focus on the mine emergency of a few years ago.  


Today, I felt disappointed that there wasn't a room in the display to tell the story of what happened in 2006 and how people responded - as part of educating a new generation about that terrible page in Australian history.  



We drove to Hobart and registered at Barilla Caravan Park where we will spend the next 48 hours.  As I write this it's just before midnight on New Years Eve.  As a family we have just watched Harry Potter Seven Part Two.  The caravan park is delightfully quite (in fact we were the noisy ones - someone came and asked us to turn the speakers on the movie down).  This is such a delightful contrast to Currarong Caravan Park the last five+ years where we have faced consistent drunken unpleasantness on New Years Eve - and the kids a sitting around now debating whether or not to stay up to midnight or not.  

We decided to stay up.  So Sol is serving everyone an extra plate of ice cream! 



Beaconsfield, Bass and Flinders and Launceston - Friday December 30, 2011

We started this morning at Kelso Sands Caravan Park. I woke at 6:30am read the SMH online then went back to sleep till a little after nine. We were up at 9:30am and driving out of the caravan park at 10:30am (just a little past the scheduled check out time). I felt for the family with little kids in the tent next to us who started packing up way before we were out of bed and were still packing when we left. Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Center We headed into Beaconsfield and found the Mine and Heritage Center. I thought at first that the mine was old and out of service (like the main one at the center of Broken Hill). But in fact it was the active mine - the one in which Brant and Todd were trapped underground for 14 days in 2006.

We paid our $30 family admission and headed in. I was quite emotionally affected reading the narrative of what happened in 2006. There were short accounts from each of the players involved in the rescue. At the supermarket later in the day it was clearly apparent how many of the locals knew each other - and that these two trapped miners would have beewell-known to many in the district.

Newspaper front pages of Beaconsfield Mine Rescue - from Beaconsfield Heritage Museam

There was 900 meters of scarf on display knitted by people from all around Australia. Apparently they wanted people to knit a scarf 900 meters long - the distance that Todd and Brant were trapped underground. But 2.5 kilometers of scarf came in. The rest is in the Uniting Church Hall where it will go on display down the track.

Abraham checking out the old phone system at Beaconsfield Heritage Center

The Heritage Center was well worth attending. Even Cathie - who doesn’t normally like museums had a good time.  We were amazed to see that Beaconsfield was the place that they trialled putting fluoride in our water supply in 1951.

Batman Bridge

Batman Bridge

We were heading to Georgetown and stopped for a few minutes to look at the Batman Bridge. Cathie had heard of it. And thought she’d heard stories of it collapsing - but when we researched we realised she was confused with Hobart’s Tasman bridge (we will find out about that on Sunday I guess).

Georgetown and the Bass and Flinders Center We headed to Georgetown for lunch under a tree looking over the water and then headed up to the Bass and Flinders Center. On arrival we explained to the friendly attendant that none of the kids had any idea who Bass or Flinders  were or what they did - and so we had come as parents to take responsibility for this lapse in parenting and failure of the NSW education system. The man agreed to conduct a test on the way out.

Inside we found a model of Bass and Flinders craft the Norfolk and their little boat the Tom Thumb. The Norfolk generally operated with a crew of eight. The two men circumnavigated Tasmania, discovered Bass Straight, opened the way for later Tasmanian’s (Batman was one of them I think) to discover a place that was later called Melbourne (opening up Victoria for settlement).

They also did much of the mapping of Port Jackson, Botany BAy and the George’s River (although this was of less interest to our Tasmanian hosts). Flinders later in life was responsible for circumnavigating and mapping much of the wider Australian coastline as well.

We had good times climbing all over the Norfolk, learning about Flinder’s cat called Trim. Trim finished his life probably being eaten by natives who had taken Flinder’s and him captive. (Cathie and I earlier read the Bryce Courtney book Matthew Flinder’s Cat - but can’t remember much of the plot).

Launceston We called in at Launceston and had the tyre replaced, bought food from the next few days, had an aborted visit to the Gorge, attempted to get new nuts and bolts for the campervan steps, failed again to find a campervan shop where we could buy a sink plug, saw petrol on sale for $1.51 and set up camp at Bicheno.

On the drive from Launceston to Bicheno we listened to a talk on Wisdom relating to Money on Proverbs by a student minister Steven and then had a good discussion about how we might use money wisely.

On arrival, I called Matt Andrews and felt encouraged about his planned talk for Village Church on Sunday morning.

'The Spirit of Tasmania' - Thursday December 29

This morning we were up at 5:30am and with lots of shhhh shhhhh we managed to pack up the campervan and be on the road on the way to the 'Spirit of Tasmania' ferry terminal by just after 6:30am.  Melbourne traffic between Christmas and New Year was a picnic and we were pulling in at the Ferry terminal before 7am.


The kids started to get really excited as the ferry came into view.  It is huge.  We were checked by quarantine people - they made us open up the car and campervan - but the search was pretty perfunctory.

In the lounge of the 'Spirit of Tasmania'

We headed upstairs and claimed some seats in the lounge bar (planning to sit there together from 9am to 7pm).  The boys and Hannah toured the ship looking for better seats - but Cathie preferred to stay where we were.  That was fine until some singers started around 2pm making clear that they would be singing right the way through until we pulled up in Devenport.  We stayed for a while - and the singing was nice - but we couldn’t stand five hours of not being able to speak to each other - so we went off around the boat looking for somewhere new.

Interestingly the TV on board the ferry was screening the Northern Territory Impaga channel.  The ads were all Northern Territory - don’t be absent from school - don’t drink like an idiot etc.

We first tried the recliner lounges - but discovered that they were for people who had paid a premium.  We ended up on level ten in a not particularly satisfactory seating arrangement (all the better places had been taken).

I watched Phineas and Ferb (a movie the kids chose a week or so ago) on the iPad and read a commentary introduction on the Song of Songs.

We spent ages sitting in the car waiting to disembark and then an even longer time in a six lane queue waiting to get through Tasmanian Quarantine.  They are serious about not wanting fruit into the state.

We discovered that Tasmania was basically closed after 7pm and that our caravan park was a full 1.5 hour drive from Devenport.  This was a mistake as I was exhausted - having driven 11 hours yesterday - then risen at 5:30am.

On the drive we listened to Paul Dale’s talk on thinking wisely about how to use one’s tongue.  Each of us had things we were challenged about.

We rang ahead to the caravan park at Kelso Sands.  The lady was annoyed with us for not letting us know that we would be arriving late (we had told her 8pm) and the ferry only arrived at 7pm.  She advised us to buy milk in Beaconsfield.  But Beaconsfield was closed (both pubs were shut, the bottleshop was open but didn’t have milk).

In fact Tasmanians seem to go to bed remarkably early (culturally it’s different to the inner west of Sydney where one would be able to buy milk at 9pm).

When we got to the caravan park the manager greeted us, was critical of me for mistakenly attempting to drive through the wrong gate, but did (thankfully) sell us some milk.  Mobile phone coverage on the Optus network seems abysmal.  The scenery is amazing with lots of small rich farms.

Village News

Book that changed the world launch tomorrow nightThis is so cool! I just crashed the conversation between Greg Clarke and the SMH's Leesha McKenney about Celebrating The Book That Changed The World exhibition that opens tomorrow night here at Village Church Annandale Sydney. The exhibition opens at 7pm check the photos here. Introducing God starts Tuesday July 26 I am really excited about the reports of people praying and inviting people to our Introducing God Introductory night on July 26. Summit From Monday a group of us from Christians in the Media will be away for the whole on our Summit Conference looking at the Holy Spirit and praying for holiness in our own lives Peter and Vini Riches Are in Fiji for seven weeks missioning with the Year 13 crew. I’ve enclosed their prayer program.

Annandale North School Big day here at Village Church. We’ve had 400 people through the church building today from Annandale North Public School to watch their senior school drama.

Welcome Lounge

We’d love to see you at a 'Welcome Lounge'!

Join us for tea, coffee and supper after church every Sunday evening, 8.30–9pm.

We’d love to meet you personally & introduce you to what goes on at Village Church.

Please call 9660 2444, for more information.

See you there!

Rescued or trapped?

The judge said tomorrow the court will sit not at 10am but at 1pm. And so we all changed our arrangements.

Defendants, Plaintiff, Barristers, Solicitors - we all arranged our day differently.

Why? Because of what's at stake. A court can compel. A court can take away freedom.

And we so want freedom.

Jesus' Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christian Church in Galatia writes:

Galatians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age,

It is the Apostle's view that we are trapped in this present evil age - and in need of a rescue.

I was trapped and now am released. God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. God sent an angel to rescue Peter from Herod's jail.

What are some of the symptoms of being trapped? When we make good things into primary things. When we make our marriages primary - instead of God. When we make our children primary - instead of God. When we make ourselves primary - instead of God.

Jesus gives himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age.

Let me put it bluntly - have you been rescued or are you still trapped?

Tim George

Tim George celebrated his 50th birthday today. There were about 70 people there for the lunch in the backyard of his and his wife Liz's home at Epping.

I've known Tim for 25 years exactly. He was the first person to systematically read the Bible with me.

My key memory is of sitting with him as he insisted that we contribute nothing to our salvation and that it is all of God, from Ephesians 2:8-9.

This was the first time I had really grappled with that idea.

I am very grateful to God for Tim and for his 25 years of example of Christian manhood, marriage and family life

Ten Pin Bowling

Cathie and I had a really great family time with the kids at Ten Pin Bowling yesterday. When we got home we disassembled the swing set in the backyard and carried it down to church. It's going to be a while before we can afford a kids playground at church and we have outgrown the swing set at home and so it was good to give it to a useful home. ps Cathie beat me at bowling.

To baptize or to dedicate?

Friends had a baby on Monday. Today as I was visiting them we got into conversation about baptism or dedication. Our hope is that our kids will grow up never knowing a day when they didn't know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

So as were changing their nappies we would say: 'Mummy loves you, Daddy loves you' God loves you, Jesus loves you.'

Our thinking is that the kid's of Christians are Christian until they (God forbid) tell us they are not. just as we would think of the kid's of non-Christians as non-Christian until they tell us they have become Christian.

So our choice has been to act in faith along the lines that we are praying God would act. Hence we decided to baptize our kids as infants and then they will have the choice to confirm their decision when they are older.

If others choose to put the emphasis on a different place (dedicate as babies, baptize as young adults), that's totally fine.

The thing I want to speak against is Christians thinking of their kids as 'little pagans.'

Cathie's home

We called in to the hospital this morning to see Cathie. The registrar
had just been through and told her that she could go home. So we took
her home. Praise God for this amazing recovery - 48 hours after
surgery and she is in less pain than she has been for several months.

She has been asleep for most of the day. But she would rather be here
sleeping than at hospital (even with the sound of kids squabbling).

It's been a quiet day otherwise. Hannah and Solomon's sport was
cancelled. Abraham has gone for a sleepover at a mates. Solomon's
AFL game tomorrow has been cancelled as well.

There's a BBQ after church that I'm looking forward to.

ps Our phone is being switched over to a new phone company so we have
a few days with no home phone.

A vision template from Stuart Robinson

This is a template for formulating a ministry vision that Stuart Robinson gave me in 2001 that I have frequently lookd back on.

1. Passion – for the Lord - share own heart - if not with me on this one - need to talk or you need to walk

2. Passion – for the Lost - share own heart - if not with me on this one - need to talk or you need to walk

3. Prayer – Personal

4. Prayer – Corporate

5. Plan – Core Values ( the priorities and assumptions which describe the personality or character of a ministry. C.V’s are essential for clarifying direction). Examples of C.V.’s include;

• the priority of reaching the lost
• the priority of mutual ministry
• the priority of equipping believers for ministry
• the priority of fellowship with God and each other

Note: Structures such as house groups or cell groups are not to be thought of as core values. Rather, they are the/a vehicle by which we can live out our core values.

1. Plan – A clear statement of Mission – (the ‘why does this particular church exist’ question). Examples include;
• ‘we exist to know Christ and to make him known’
• ‘we exist to reach people and to teach them to follow Jesus’
• ‘we exist to engage with our community, to evangelise the lost and to equip and establish the saints’

1. Plan – A clear statement of Vision – (the ‘where are we going’ question or the ‘what shape ought our church take’ question). Examples include;

Where do we want to be in five years ?? lets dream ??
• ‘Our vision is for men, women, boys and girls to move from being ‘outsiders’ (Colossians 4:5) to ‘disciples’ (Matthew 28:19) within eighteen months.’
• ‘Our vision is to exercise pastoral care and outreach through a developing network of cell churches’
• ‘Our vision is to engage in gospel growth by multiplying congregations’
• ‘Our vision is to provide a safe place for emotional and spiritual healing’

Note: Vision is very much a function of leadership. A vision which is borne out of prayer, consultation and research will ‘resonate’ with those in the planning group and will be a unifying focus for the whole church.


1. Plan – A clear statement of ministry Objectives – ( the ‘what specific areas will we target in order to fulfil our mission and realize our vision’ question). Objectives are generally non-negotiable. (In setting objectives always ask, ‘can I assign a person to take responsibility for this area?’). Examples include;

Set clear objectives - in which we will principally invest - people/money/prayer
- non negotiable core ministries for the next two years
- contain all ministries under ten !
- work out a goal schedule

• To provide a Christ-centred ministry to children
• To provide a Christ-centred ministry to adults
• To provide a christ-centred ministry in stewarding resources
• To provide a christ-centred ministry in leadership development



1. Programmes – An Ideas Shedule. In order to set goals (which facilitate objectives), the planning group need to take the time to brain-storm, dream and record their ideas – no matter how ‘out there’ they may seem. Time ought then be spent in prayer. An ideas schedule is to be completed for each objective.

2. Programmes – Goals. Out of the Ideas Schedule a series of

• Specific
• Measurable
• Achievable
• Result-oriented and
• Time-dated goals are to be set.

Note: Unlike Objectives, Goals are flexible and mid-course corrections may be appropriate.

1. Programmes – Evaluation. Goals which are ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ can and must be regularly revised and evaluated. Quarterly and annual evaluations are oft-used time frames.

2. Programmes – Celebration. Often overlooked, celebration (of goals which have been met) are a wonderful way of encouraging the ‘body’ and bring honour to Christ. Context is also created. This means the church can look back to what God has done in their midst and then boldly step forward with new faith-filled goals.

Note; Programmes put flesh on our Plans which inflame our Passion and inform our Prayer.

After postmodernity? Pragmatism!

The Introducing God course we wrote a few years ago is still seen by lots of people as the Christian course most suited to Introduce a postmodern to God.

If after evidence based modernity (with it's search for truth), comes post modernity (with it's conviction that truth cannot be found), then I am tentatively suggesting (I can't remember where I read it but I now think I agree with the suggestion) that after post modernity comes pragmatism.

In that if the world has given up caring about what is true then we will do what works.

I see this in the way the world functions but also in the wider church.

Is this thesis right and if it is how will it impact communicating Christ to an increasingly pragmatic world? As we come to write version two of Introducing God what changes would you suggest?