Jan 192020

Happy New Year!

I wonder how your new year has begun?  For many it’s a time of connecting more with family and friends and a time for some rest and holidays. Here at St Philips we aim for it to be an intentional time of abiding. As part of that, around twenty of us have taken the opportunity to reflect together on 2019 and what God might be inviting us into in 2020 using a process called Hello Goodbye. If you weren’t able to attend one of those sessions and would like the resource we used, let me know.

It’s been a different January for me. As someone who has been involved in Scripture Union for most of my adult life, often on staff in roles overseeing programs, January has generally been a busy and exhausting month. Since being on staff at St Philips I’ve directed a beach mission in Augusta which a number of our congregation have been involved in. In early 2019, I felt very strongly that God was saying to not be involved with the Augusta Beach Mission this summer. I could see the wisdom in it but it was also a difficult choice given that I understand the importance of the longevity of relational connections in such mission situations and I have also valued the relationships that are formed on the team as we have engaged in mission together. Ultimately I know that God’s ways are best and so I did follow what I felt he was saying, though not without a bit of wrestling. I also know that stepping into that kind of mission, if it’s not where God is leading would be rather fruitless and hard work anyway! And I have no doubt that it’s been a good decision. The opportunity for a slower time and time to set up the year has been incredibly valuable. I wonder what God might be leading you to lay down as we begin 2020.

Speaking of Scripture Union programs, it’s been great to have ten of our young people on SU camps over these weeks and I’m looking forward to hearing about how God’s been at work in their lives, the adventures they’ve had and friendships they’ve made. Please keep praying for them as they head home from camp.

One of the things I’ve been working on as we set up our year for ministry at St Philips is new material for our Sunday morning children and youth times.  From the beginning of February, we will be using The Gospel Project material on Sunday mornings for our kids and youth. It’s an excellent and very thorough resource that teaches through the whole Bible systematically and points to Jesus through it all.  As well, I’ve been working on the process for introducing new forms required by the Diocese for people in leadership roles in Anglican churches.  So over the coming weeks, everyone in leadership within St Philips will be asked to complete these forms. Stay tuned for more information around that or come and ask me about it!


Feb 232020

Days for Girls – God’s provision

Our God is an amazing God! I know that most of you know this and I know it too – so why am I so surprised when things ‘just seem to work out’?

Towards the end of last year I spoke of how excited I was that some of the Days for Girls (DFG) kits that we had made at our sewing days at St Philips would be making their way to our sisters in Kalobeyei, Kenya with some men travelling there from Perth. Imagine my disappointment when I had a call saying that they hadn’t fitted the kits in their luggage as they were going to have to pay a huge (over $1,000) excess baggage fee. The kits were returned to me (via Aballa who was also extremely disappointed). Our disappointment was nothing compared with that of the 60 women and girls who had been looking forward to the arrival of the kits which would have given them a means to hygienically manage their monthly period and all of the opportunities that come from that – going to school and work etc.

I felt deflated and, I must confess, I was not very prayerful about the situation. I just kind of assumed that this was the end of it; I gave up. I was reluctant to stand up the front at church and ask for money again, and it was a busy time for everyone with Christmas approaching.

Then I had a call from Graham Whitley who told me that John Pearman’s sister in England had heard all about DFG from John and she had sent a donation out of the blue.  Graham suggested that perhaps this could go some way to the next delivery of kits to Kalobeyei. He also said that the Art Matters group, who have been regular supporters of DFG, had raised $200 to donate.

A week later at church, Barb T announced that E (now in year 6) and two of her friends would be busking during morning tea to raise money for DFG! E has been a regular at our sewing days, but this was the first I knew of her fundraising for the cause. I checked with her mother and she agreed that the girls would love the money to go towards kits for the women in Kalobeyei who had been disappointed with the kits not arriving as planned. The girls raised $368!

My very generous parents-in-law (Clive and Barb) contributed the (not insignificant) remaining amount in lieu of my Christmas and birthday presents, meaning that I was able to order 60 kits from a local Kenyan enterprise. The kits were distributed in January through St Philips Kalobeyei to other women within the Kalobeyei refugee settlement; training was delivered by a young member of the congregation who had been trained earlier by DFG trainers from Uganda.

Oh, me of little faith! Thank you God for putting DFG on people’s hearts!


Feb 162020

I was at St Philips a few weeks ago and grabbed the weekly pew sheet and read the musing. It was delightful to hear from Malcolm what his movements will be while away for three months. It made me think that I should touch base with you, knowing that I will be stepping in and serving in Malcolm’s position while he is away. Although my time filling in will cause a heavier workload for me, I am really looking forward to leading with the staff team and coming back into the St Philips church family.

It has been two years since we stepped out from St Philips to plant a new church called ‘The Common’. Most of you know me from my five years as the Associate Minister. They were five wonderful years for my family. It will be a joy to rekindle the friendships we made during that time and get to meet more recent St Philippians who have become part of the church since we left. My relationship with St Philips during this time has remained very strong. Malcolm and Cheryl are our dearest of friends and we meet together often. This includes a ‘Mal and Jimmy’ weekly catch up. Mostly this involves Malcolm listening as I try to process the many moving parts and complexities of my life and role.  (Thanks Pottsy!)

St Philips has chosen to be part of our financial support group for the first three years of The Common and there are also individual supporters from within St Philips. I know many of you pray for us and it’s always fun and encouraging to return and report on what is the latest from the Duffs’ life.

Technically, The Common has not been a St Philips church plant as it is not Anglican or part of any other denomination.  St Philips’ role has been supporting us, the Duffs, as missionaries.  Our expanded vision and role as missionaries is to multiply disciples and churches in Australia. We see The Common as being the first church planted and a hub for other churches, missional communities and small groups to be transplanted from.  Some might orbit The Common, but we pray that many won’t – instead have home-grown leaders who stand on their own two feet as a church.  We continue to pray, receive ongoing training and supervision as we take steps in this adventure together.

During my period at St Philips, you will see me around for most Sunday services and in the office a few days during the week. I’ll support the staff team and lead staff meetings; lead services including mid-week communion; do some preaching, write some musings and provide some pastoral care.  Please pray for us as we come and walk these three months together, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.


Feb 092020

I have spent my working life working in, consulting to and seeking to support, build and grow communities, civil institutions and the best of industry.  Never before has a Christian faith that exemplifies loyalty to God, our deepest beliefs and which offers a positive face to our community been more important.

In Australia today the percentage of people who have a personal relationship with God through their acceptance of Christ is extremely low; Christians are exiles in their own land. Just as Daniel was in a pagan land in Babylon, so are we in a primarily pagan land called Australia.  

How have we got to this point where the percentage of people who know the Bible stories is dropping dramatically with each generation?  The number of people who even think about going to church is tiny; the number of people who proudly call themselves atheist or agnostic is rising.  It is more acceptable to be Buddhist, or anything other than Christian. Sneering at those who believe in God is being normalised.

The unintended consequences of such a movement away from an understanding of Christianity is one of the root causes for the values of our society no longer reflecting our Judeo-Christian heritage. The values no longer reflect what are known as the Fruit of God’s Spirit in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Actually, the opposite is true!  The core values of our society are all about ’Me’ – My fame and wealth . . . My pleasure . . . What’s in it for me? . . . The suppression of others through jealousy . . . Look at me . . .  Put me on television . . . Make me the boss . . . Promote me . . .  (Galatians 5:19 with a bit added).  The cost to society is huge.

Replacing ‘common good’ with ‘selfishness’ and the demise of the great Australian mateship legacy are indications of what is occurring.

We are so busy with ‘Me’ that loneliness is one of the biggest causes of illness and morbidity rates in older people. The implications of the death of Christianity and our values are profound.

So what do we do?

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.

Be very comfortable in breaking the new conventions of our society by simply being the person God created you to be.  Feel free to say, “I am a Christian”; show God’s fruit in every situation;  live out Christ’s teachings; welcome the stranger;  stick with what you believe; be generous; smile in the street; offer a helping hand.

People will know you by the fruit you bear.

Allan Tranter
Founding Director of Creating Communities

Feb 022020

For Bible Readers Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching  (1 Timothy 4:13). Today I want to put the Bible reading in its proper place – the high point of the service.  The Bible reading should be the high point of every worship service because that is where we get to hear the very voice of God. Amazing! In particular, I want to encourage and inspire our Bible readers to prepare [continue reading…]

Jan 262020

You may have been made aware that I am taking some Sabbatical time in 2020, beginning in March and returning mid-June.  Yep, three and a half months.  Forbes magazine says the purpose of Sabbatical, “is to give an employee a chance to step back from their role at work and focus on personal enrichment and professional development . . . though it can include times of rest and relaxation, a sabbatical is decidedly different than a vacation and it is not simply ‘time [continue reading…]

Dec 292019

Welcome to our Christmas and New Year services and news sheet. This is just a word of welcome and recognition that we are saying “goodbye” to 2019 and “hello” to 2020. We at St Philips refer to this as our month of ‘abiding’.  It’s a season to slow, stop and reflect and acknowledge what has gone by: to say thank you, to celebrate, as well as to be honest about disappointments and sadnesses . . . and take these things [continue reading…]

Dec 222019

The Bible’s Christmas story introduces us to all sorts of people-with-purpose.  Their purposes seem well-formed – by birth, natural gifting, education and Divine Providence.  The Magi, wise guys who discerned the coming king through astronomy from way over in Iraq and brought well-thought-out gifts, are a good example.  The shepherds, whose lot in life was set by birth and for whom the revelation of God was pure grace and wonder, are another.  We meet Zechariah, the priest, John the Baptist’s [continue reading…]

Dec 152019

Theology in the Raw (Podcast) Recently I’ve been listening to some very interesting podcasts called Theology in the Raw by Dr. Preston Sprinkle. He is a professor, author and president of The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender. He earned a Ph.D. in New Testament from Aberdeen University in Scotland. His titles include People to be Loved, Living in a Gray World, and the New York Times bestselling book Erasing Hell. I found the following three podcasts to be fascinating [continue reading…]

Dec 082019

Some of you will be aware that I love reading – in fact, some good reading time is one of the things I am most looking forward in our abiding time in January. My list of possible books is rather long and I expect it will end up being a mix of theology/ministry, novels, biographies and social research. Stay tuned for some reviews in the new year! You too might have some more space for reading during January so, with [continue reading…]