The Federal government will almost certainly seek to amend Anti-Discrimination Legislation so that religious schools lose current exemptions which allow them to have enrolment and employment policies that promote their mission and enable them to develop an educational community that reflects their religious convictions. In particular, the current exemptions which allow religious schools to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy would be removed.
The first step toward these changes is a review by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). The ALRC has now released a consultation paper: Review into Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws.
The ARLC is due to present a final report for the government in April which will provide a basis for drafting amendments to the legislation. It is important for the Christian and religious community to have a clear voice at each step along this process. This opening round will be crucial. The suggested changes will make it harder for religious schools to maintain their distinctive ethos.
Please pray with us that our God will protect Christian Schools in this country!
For further reading, check out the following link;
Please continue to pray for our nation. We have much to be thankful for, but much that is far from the will of God.
But how to pray? Take a lead from Rev Dr Peter Adam, emeritus of St Jude’s Carlton, formerly principal of Ridley College Melbourne, who has shared this prayer (as a model for us to regularly pray).
“Gracious Heavenly Father,
We thank and praise you for your creation of this world, including this land of Australia. We praise you for its beauty and its bounty, for mountains, hills and plains, for rivers, creeks and seas, and wonderful variety of animals, birds, and sea-creatures.
We praise you for the peoples to whom you first entrusted this land, each one made in your image, and all loved by you. We thank you for their careful management of the land, for the strength of their communal life, and the richness of their culture.
We lament the damage done to them by the arrival of the British in 1788. For the loss of life, land, language, livelihood, culture, and the damage done to structures of their communities. We grieve the sins of coveting, theft and murder committed by the invaders, and their failure to recognise the God-given human dignity and rights of the indigenous people. We lament the damage done to this land by greed, bad management, arrogance and ignorance. We pray that indigenous people may find their rightful place as citizens, and that their voices would be heard in our society. We pray that you would help us close the gap in the provision of health, education, housing, justice, and opportunity.
We praise you for Christians who came to Australia, who continued in their faith, who prayed and read their Bibles, who lived to honour you, who loved their neighbours, who planted churches, and who worked for gospel growth in their own generation, and for generations to come.
We thank you for Christian people who tried to defend the indigenous people, who provided for them, who brought them the gospel of the Lord Jesus, who translated the Bible into their languages, and who recognised their common humanity. At the same time we grieve their mistakes, and any damage they did, while trying to do good.
We thank you that Australia has provided a new start for people from many countries in every generation. We especially praise you that many who arrived with very few resources have been able to find education, training, and employment, and have enriched our common life.
Please forgive Australia for our greed, our worship of money, possessions, comfort and happiness, and our neglect of you, your Son, and your salvation. Please reform and revive your churches, that we may be a shining light for our nation, may serve your will for this country, and may bring many to saving faith in Christ. We thank you for indigenous Christians, and pray that they would continue in faith, love and hope. Please raise up the next generation of leaders for their communities and churches, and prosper their work and ministry.
Please give us good government, wise policies, justice and equity, and the ability and wisdom to tackle the major issues long-term of our day. Please rid us of corruption, incompetence, selfishness, greed, inequalities, and self-indulgence. Help us to contribute generously to our neighbouring nations, and to our world.
Please have mercy on all Australians, and teach us to trust in your Son and our Saviour, to love you, and to love our neighbours. May your name be sanctified in Australia, your kingdom come, and your will be done.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put vour hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
It’s almost 38 years since John Webster was inducted as the Minister of the Bendigo Presbyterian Church, and yet the news of his illness and subsequent death on 14th December 2022 were received with a sincere measure of sorrow by current members who remember him fondly.
John began his ministry in Bendigo in 1985 when the Charge consisted of two congregations, Eaglehawk and St John’s, at a critical time in the Church’s history. Just a few years earlier, the St John’s congregation had voted to join the Uniting Church and the Property Commission left the remaining Presbyterians with only the Eaglehawk Church to meet in – which was, sadly, almost on the point of being condemned. However, following on from the pastoral ministries of the Rev John Aitken, and then the Rev Colin Harrison, the ‘continuing Presbyterians’ found themselves in a good space, when they called John (Webster) to come and build on what had been begun. And ‘build’ is just what John did, and he did it as ‘God’s man’ for the hour. Faced with congregations who had been used to a more ‘liberal’ flavoured theology rather than Reformed or evangelical, John’s ministry was exercised in the context of a certain measure of opposition and criticism from some quarters. But this did not deter John nor the eventual growth of the congregations. His faithful and strong preaching, his firm commitment to the Church’s theological standards and his Presbyterian convictions shone through over the 10 years in which he served both congregations, resulting in significant growth in the Charge – especially in the St John’s Bendigo congregation, paving the way for it to become a full charge in its own right, something that John had been working towards and planning for, soon after John accepted a call to Hamilton (NSW). He could not have foreseen the fruit of his ministry in this city where now three Presbyterian congregations are flourishing under the teaching of God’s Word and days of opposition from within the church have long passed. Truly we are reaping where he has sowed.
John will be remembered for his love for and his labour in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he served faithfully and in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’
“O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth Long lay the world in sin and error pining ‘Til He appears and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices“
Adolphe Adam 1803-1856
It goes without saying that our world has been through too many ups and downs over the past couple of years. We found ourselves in situations where everything was constantly changing and uncertainty lurked around every corner. I’m not sure about you, but I am tired. I am exhausted. I am weary.
Even now when we are mostly back to normal, it took me a long time to get back into the swing of meeting up with people again. Now we are at the busy end of the year with breakups and celebrations I don’t feel like I can keep up!
At the first Christmas there was a lot of things going on too; pregnant Mary having to make a cross country journey, giving birth in a stable which mustn’t have been very comfortable, and then the shepherd visitors started arriving! It would have been a far cry from the images on our modern day Christmas cards – dusty, smelly and noisy!
But in all this seeming chaos there lay the longed-for baby, the one that not only Mary and Joseph had been wanting to meet, but the whole world. A Bible verse from Luke chapter 2 verse 11 proclaims “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”. The Saviour had arrived in the form of a baby and brought a weary world hope for a new future.
This hope was evident throughout all of Jesus life in the way that he was able to show that he was God’s son through his teachings, miracles and love for those who were deemed unlovely by society. There is hope for us now of new life in Jesus when he died on the cross to make us right with God- something that we could never achieve on our own. This is something that I know my weary self can rejoice in!
So in this Christmas season, if things seem overwhelming, turn back to Jesus and rejoice in the hope that his birth brought to our weary world.
We had a very informative and encouraging meeting last night (23/11/22) with Rev Hiralal Solanki and his wife Laxmi, who spoke to us about the ongoing ministry of Indian Reformed Fellowship Australia and updated us on the growth and progress of the gospel throughout the country!
If you would like to know more about IRFA you can visit www.irfa.com.au
Things are s-l-o-w-l-y returning to something like ‘normal’ (whatever that was!) with some of our ministries at St John’s with some small steps in the right direction over the last few weeks…
For a start, we’ve been able to re-establish our own Youth Group that has met once so far this term and is meeting again soon. It was a great start with just under a dozen youth from Grade 6-Year 12 attending, and with the PYV Summer Camp ahead, things are looking up..!
Then, just last week, after too long(!) of not meeting, our Sunday School is up and running again, and we are looking forward to hearing from our Sunday School scholars all that they are learning from Matthew 13 over the next few weeks!
We thank our great God for His blessing in this way!