Comments: Sydney Anglicans

While I don't disagree with the general thriust of the article, it paints a simplistic picture. Sydney is a big diocese, and not all "Sydney Anglicans" are alike. Despite what the ABC article suggests, there are still Anglo-Catholic and liberal parishes in Sydney, and they tend to kick against the pricks. What we are really discussing is not "Sydney Anglicanism" as a whole, but the rather narrow sectarian elite associated with Moore Theological College and with the brothers Jensen. It's also notable that some of the most implacable opposition to the ambitions of the Sydney elites comes from other dioceses in Australia, and from the current primate the Archbishop of Brisbane.

Here is a link to a major Anglo-Catholic parish in central Sydney:

And here is a link to a forum for liberal Anglicans in Sydney:

Posted by rjb at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 3:07pm BST

Muriel can't get over the fact that Sydney are growing and her brand of Anglicanism is dying.
Sydney Diocese is far from conservative..

lay presidency ( radical) and unfermented fruit juice at communion. vestments virtually abolished.

Archbishop Jensen has fearlessly stood up for decency to Asylum seekers.

The investments may be down but they will rise again, but Sydney Diocese's real wealth are her dynamic people. Over flowing vocations and growing churches everywhere..with much outreach to ethnic minorities.

Yes there are some liberals and a handful of Anglo Catholics..but they know their place.

Posted by Robert ian Wiliams at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 4:19pm BST

I remember, when in Australia ten years ago, that God seemed peculiarly absent from the Cathedral in Sydney and all the choir offerings had to be in English, Latin is not allowed. At Christ Church St Laurence the celebrant at High Mass wore a cope since a chasuble was forbidden by the diocese. It is worth reading the submission by CCSL to the Archbishop's Commission (on CCSL website) which analyses the causes of the Diocesan financial crisis and the cultural elements behind it. These deny the diocese the best talents and minds by its insistence on the acceptance of narrow formularies.

Of course, since GLTB people are denied a place in (most of) the diocese of Sydney and women cannot assume 'headship' the range of talents available is serely limited anyway.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 4:56pm BST

I met a man from Sydney at a recent conference in Glasgow who said he would rather worship in Morhdorh (dwelling place of Sauron...) than in Sydney! Sounds like he was on to something...

Posted by Steven McQuitty at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 5:43pm BST

Robert Ian Williams

Even if you would take communion where the celebrant was a lay person, can you not see that this might be a problem for some?

Posted by Savi Hensman at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 6:52pm BST

Oh, please Robert Ian Williams, everyone who knows anything about Sydney knows that it’s the Anglo Catholic and liberal parishes there that are among the fastest growing churches in the diocese!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 7:07pm BST

Too true, Kurt Hill. I travelled 80km each way on Sunday to attend a church in Sydney where I was accepted. I knew elderly people living nearby who were upset they could not find a true Anglican church nearby and were unable to travel such distances. At least, being straight, they were accepted at the pseudo-Baptist offerings at the local so-called Anglican church. I saw the writing on the wall and 2 years ago migrated to NZ and a city where an associate priest in the cathedral is a partnered gay man, the Vicar on my first Sunday preached in favour of homosexual acceptance and is now the bishop and one of his predecessors was the first woman diocesan in the Anglican communion. There are many woman priests working in the diocese and one, an archdeacon covered my parish as well as her own while we searched for a new vicar. My local church, while not as anglo-catholic as I might like, is definitely Anglican, vibrant and growing. My only concern is too many Anglicans in NZ do not realise the danger just across the Tasman. They know Sydney is strange in its attitudes to women and gays and have commented that on visits the services did not seem Anglican but do not realise the threat posed by the plans of the Jensenists. I was in Sydney last week and picked up Muriel's book which I have been reading on the way home. I would love to give it to all my fellow Anglicans here in NZ so they are aware of this threat. I was a member of Anglicans Together when I lived in Sydney and while I admire them very much they are very small in number and as each priest retires, it is very hard for a parish to find a sympathetic replacement. The assistant priest at my previous parish is an excellent man and even his area bishop has spoken well of him but his time as acting priest in charge is the highest position he will attain in the diocese because he committed the "terrible crime" of marrying a divorcee.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 10:36pm BST

Like rjb I agree with the general thrust of the article and indeed the general thrust of Muriel Porter's book. However, rjb is correct. There are other kinds of Sydney Anglicans even among the minority who attend church. But the great majority of once moderate or central or liberal evangelical PARISHES have over the years been captured by the successful tactics of the Anglican Church League and by what the late Archdeacon R.B.S.Hammond once called "carnal" methods. In recent years the situation has become far worse. The number of "Anglo-Catholic and liberal parishes" is smaller than rjb suggests and middle-of-the-road moderate churches are very hard to find. Too often the new, un-Anglican, neo-Puritan ideology has been imposed from above, and often associated with a very sad lack of pastoral concern for those on the fringe or outside the congregation. For example, in my more than a dozen years of honorary hospital chaplaincy, not one Anglican has joined our chaplaincy team, even though - in a multi-ethnic area - those who identify as Anglicans are still by far the second largest group among our patients. And all too often, the ideology of many Evangelical clergy (not all) discourages good people from bringing their children to baptism or from marriage in church or even from Christian burial.

But Robert Williams is right in some respects. In some (especially middle class)areas Sydney churches have seen growth as have some other very hard-line conservative, essentially sectarian, forms of Christianity and religion, and some is of a healthy kind. Generally, that is not so, however, in the south west part of the city where I was a Rector for 22 years and where I have lived since in retirement. Williams wrongly claims there are growing churches "everywhere". I know of too many where attendances have fallen and fallen badly. I know too that some good Anglicans continue to attend and suffer what they find in their parish church for the sake of the fellowship. Others go to a Uniting or even a Roman Catholic church. Some travel long distances to get to a normal Anglican services and there are very few of those. But too many thinking Anglicans, still faithful but alienated, hardly now go to church at all. In my own area,for example, the various diocesan campaigns I think have been hardly noticed in our community. And I have not even mentioned the continuing loss of income - caused by very unwise gambling on the stock markets. One might add that many older, winsome, truly Anglican Evangelicals are dismayed at what has happened and at what continues to happen. Fortunately, as Muriel Porter suggests, this situation will not continue for ever. In various and sometimes unexpected places in our Diocese, one senses a new Gospel spirit, or comes upon fresh springs, or sees signs of new life. "Great is Truth and it will prevail".

Posted by John Bunyan at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 10:38pm BST

For once, I think I agree with Robert Ian Williams. Whatever the Jensen brothers and their coterie are - and they're most certainly something - they cannot really be described as 'conservative' (I for one wouldn't dignify them with that term). The question, perhaps, is: are they Anglican?

Posted by rjb at Monday, 29 August 2011 at 11:46pm BST

With rjb, I agree that the big question about the Jensen sodality is: Are they truly Anglican? And, I'm fairly certain that their own answer to this question would be: "We are Christians", the identity of their Faith Family being peripheral - if at all considered as any different from the ana-Baptists.

Thank God, however, not all of Sydney's Anglicans (at least in name) are fundamentalists, misogynists or homophobes. In the City Centre there are at least 2 significant parishes - St. James and Christchurch St.Laurence - whose vibrant spirituality is both Catholic and Inclusive - after Christ in the gospels - where the Eucharist is celebrated on a daily basis, and where the all-pervading love of God is preached.

I think that the Jensenism presently living in Sydney will become less virulent with the retirement of it's principal practitioners.

As a New Zealander, I do not believe that Sydney Evangelical Anglicanism is a great threat to the common-sense spirituality of most of our Anglican parishes - even though Sydney has tried its utmost to invade our ethos. We are not given to didacts, preferring the Word-made-flesh in the Eucharist to Hell-fire preaching.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:22am BST

After reading this post on the Anglican hierarchy in Sydney and their identification with the far right, just goes to show it is as much a political front organization as it is a so called non-profit. It is sad but also a wake up call for progressives, to make sure their voices are heard and that the so called Fundamentalists are NOT the ONLY voices allowed in the public forum.

Posted by Chris Smith at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 3:42am BST

Sydney represents the intrinic Protestant soul of Anglicanism. Pity you can't face the reality of it.

When the Jensens retire, the same Churchmanship will continue.In fact Peter Jensen has tried to restrain it and furthermore he has a social conscience and has unashamedly denounced racism and other social injustices.

He even allows for women preachers , which his brother doesn't like.

And it was Archdeacon TC Irish missionary to Catholiocs who shaped Sydney Anglicanism , when he became the Principal of Moore College in 1935. And don't worry about Sydney fnances, they are still better than the rest of Anglican Australia combined and are on the up.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 9:43am BST

There is a significant minority of clergy in the Church of Ireland, at least in the North, who openly admire Sydney - we are, after all responsible for the Sydney ethos being what it is - and who see that as the future of the Church of Ireland. I think an unlikely prospect but sadly not an entirely impossible one.

And of course there is the Church of England in South Africa, which holds to all sorts of strange un-Anglican and un-catholic doctrines, and is very chummy with Sydney Diocese.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 1:47pm BST

Lest we forget Matthias Media, a substantial international evangelistic outreach of the Jensens. To see their personnel working in the US see: offering "outreach growth training and follow-up" Here is their mission statement:
"In the part of the world where our ministry was born (Sydney, Australia), ‘evangelical’ is a way of saying that you walk in the footsteps of the Reformers and of the evangelical movements that followed them. For us, being evangelical means that we love the famous ‘solas’ of the Reformation: Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, Grace Alone and Faith Alone, all to the glory of God alone. It means that we are driven by the evangel (good news) of Jesus Christ: we centre our theology on it; we read the Bible through its lens; we are compelled by its irresistible logic, and love to see the name of Jesus preached and held high everywhere." ... So much for the three legged stool.

Posted by EmilyH at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 9:15pm BST

I was shocked to the core when I read a book recently published by Mathias Media, that said it was ok for single teenagers to masturbate!

I am also afraid that they are also very liberal on divorce.

However at least you know where Jensen stands on homosexuality...unlike Rowan, who has a private face and a public face!

The sad thing about the Church of Ireland is that it gives a disproportionate representation to the liberal southern dioceses, whilst the evangelical north is actually 75 per cent of the Church's population.

However Reform Ireland have a vision for the Church of Ireland look out Gerry.

The Church of Ireland voted for women bishops twenty years ago and there is still not one women who has been elected to a bishopric!

Posted by robert ian williams at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 10:29pm BST

Robert E.Williams is confusing the learned Irish-born Archdeacon T.C.Hammond (1877-1961), Principal of Moore College, with Archdeacon R.B.S.Hammond (1870-1946), Rector of S.Barnabas', Broadway, the latter a great evangelical Anglican, missioner and practical social reformer.

Posted by John Bunyan at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 10:29pm BST

re EmilyH's link to 'Matthias Media' - Sydney's outreach arm in the U.S.; I notice they have a 'shopping cart' installed on the web-site. I'm just not buying into any of it.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 30 August 2011 at 11:44pm BST

Archdeacon T.C.Hammond (1877-1961)

wrote In Understanding Be Men. I studied it long and hard in my teens and still have it. Lovely hard back. He was a great Anglican Evangelical.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 9:50am BST

Sydney Anglicanism was drifting towards liberal evangelicalism in the 1930s and Archbishop Mowl imported TC Hammond to save the day. Hammond actually drew up the Constitution for the Church of England in South Africa. A staunch evangelical, his son became an Anglo-catholic in the English diocese of Rochester!

Interestingly the Anglican missionary society which works for the conversion of Catholics is still going strong and very well endowed. Its headquarters in Dublin and the head of it is an ordained Anglican cleric, heavily involved with Reform Ireland.They are rather "chagrined" that Roman Catholics in the south have converted for liberal rather than Protestant reasons!

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 2:48pm BST

It's the phrase 'world Anglicanism' in the article's title that's really unsettling: I thought the point about Anglicanism is that there was only the local sort.

Posted by Joe at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 3:31pm BST

I am curious as to what it is about liberal thinking that so threatens posters like Robert Ian Williams to use such vicious attacks on those with different ways of looking at the world and religion. I see very little evidence of love in his words but a great deal of anger and control issues. I find this very sad. Dialogue between Christians of differing views must first begin with respect for each other. We should not do this with insulting remarks that devalue the other person or their opinions.

Posted by Chris Smith at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 4:48pm BST


I don't think it's accurate to describe the northern C of I as evangelical as baldly as you have just done. It certainly has a large evangelical contingent, but an awful lot of it is just old fashioned 'low, slow and decently done'; indeed, a lot of it would be described as 'central tradition' if it were across the water, especially in Belfast.

There is certainly a very large minority contingent of evangelicals in the northern C of I, but we are a very long way indeed from being like the Diocese of Sydney (laus deo); my own parish, St. George's, Belfast, very much in the liberal Catholic tradition, while clearly being recognised as a 'little bit different' than most parishes is an accepted part of the spectrum of churchmanship in the Diocese of Connor and plays a full part in the life of the Diocese and the wider Church. We certainly don't exist in the state of virtual siege that Christ Church, St. Lawrence endures in Sydney.

Nor are most of our Evangelicals in the hardline 'Reform' camp. The slow but so far steady and inexorable decline in the Orange Order over the past generation hardly helps the Reform cause either. An awful lot of younger Evangelicals in the Church of Ireland, especially lay Evangelicals, are considerably more open than previous generations would have been; and the social and cultural context they live in radically different and more open than in the past. It's hard to underestimate just how much Northern Ireland has changed since about 1990 and the Church of Ireland doesn't live in a vacuum separated from that.

I'm well aware that Reform Ireland fantasise that they'll turn the Church of Ireland, at least in the North, into some sort of Sydney clone. They aren't exactly shy about that and no-one should be complacent about it. But don't forget the essentially small 'c' conservative and quite close-knit world of the Church of Ireland tends to recoil from radicalism of any sort - indeed your comment on our lack of women Bishops 22 years after we removed the legal barrier on them highlights that. Putting stories on your website with headlines like "Only Evangelicals Are Christians" - and no, I didn't make that up - is not the way to win friends and influence people in the Church of Ireland.

I do find it amusing that Thinking Anglicans' resident defender of papal orthodoxy is arguing in favour of some of the last proponents of old fashioned, foaming at the mouth anti-Papism in the English speaking world. I suppose that's the problem when you define yourself by what you're against rather than by what you're for.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 4:57pm BST


I missed your post of 2.48 pm. While the Irish Church Mission (a body with strong links to Sydney and indeed TC Hammond) is well endowed enough to maintain an office on the Quays in Dublin and pay for a full time staff, I'm not sure I'd describe an organisation that has achieved not much more than zero since the 1870s as 'going strong'. Unless you define 'going strong' as producing tracts, pamphlets and a website none of which are read by anyone.

As you youself note, they are more likely to put off the sort of person moving from the RC Church to the CofI, and the same applies to their Presbyterian analogue.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 6:15pm BST

I was shocked to the core when I read a book recently published by Mathias Media, that said it was ok for single teenagers to masturbate!

Well, at least they're sensible about one thing. But I thought said practice was now regarded as venial (at worst) by the Vatican.

This is all absurd.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 7:22pm BST

'I was shocked to the core when I read a book recently published by Mathias Media, that said it was ok for single teenagers to masturbate!' Good grief, riw, if that shocks you you really do need a wider social life!!

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 31 August 2011 at 8:23pm BST

This is one of the drollest articles I have ever read. Just about all the allegations of “unAnglican” and “irregular” tactics and methods which she flings as accusations at the Sydney Anglican archdiocese were employed by the proponents of WO in Australia in the 80s and 90s, until their final “triumph” there in 1992.

Not only that, but Mz Porter was cheering them on at the time, and even wrote a book on the subject after their “triumph” in 1992. Pot and kettle, anyone? Sauce for ganders and geese?

In fact, I have a very vague recollection that Sydney some years ago “justified” their “pushing the issue” on diaconal and lay celebration, and other issues, on the basis that they no longer felt obliged to defer to the “sensibilities” and “traditions” of other Australian Anglicans, nor regard themselves as constrained in these matters by Anglican institutional “restraints,” precisely on the basis that the proponents of WO had done the same things of which they were now themselves accused, and had not only not been punished, but had won the day.

Mz Porter reminds me of nothing so much as of some old Bolshevik that engaged gleefully in revolutionary activities to promote the triumph of "the cause," and then, once they ruled the roost, shreiks about the "illegal activites" of opposition groups and how, O, the audacity, they engage in "irregular" activities and "unBolshevik" manners of proceeding.

Posted by William Tighe at Thursday, 1 September 2011 at 3:30am BST

William Tighe: calling a lady "Mz" is just offensive and childish. It's not even funny in an Evelyn Waugh/grumpy old Catholic codger sort of way, just discourteous.

Evelyn Waugh, by the way, badgered his friend Nancy Mitford relentlessly for many years, saying he could not understand why she did not come to The (i.e. his) Faith. Ultimately, she told Waugh that she could not find it attractive as it had evidently made him neither nice nor happy. There is a lesson for us there.

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 1 September 2011 at 9:17pm BST

Mr Tighe: Actually it is Dr Porter. PhD Melbourne, I think, though am not absolutely sure.

Posted by Grumpy High Church Woman at Friday, 2 September 2011 at 9:11am BST

I think all the spite and malice that underlies Mr. Tighe's remarks, which torpedoes any claim to seriousness or credibility, can be summarized in one title, "Mz."

Posted by Counterlight at Friday, 2 September 2011 at 12:04pm BST

"Oh, please Robert Ian Williams, everyone who knows anything about Sydney knows that it’s the Anglo Catholic and liberal parishes there that are among the fastest growing churches in the diocese!"

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

All I can say is that Kurt Hill either has a deep sense of irony or is deluded. Until this Easter I attended St James' King Street for over three years and I can tell you from firsthand experience that this parish is quite literally dying. Few members are aged under 60, it has only a handful of families, limited children's ministry, and nothing for youth. The demographics are that roughly half of the congregation will depart this life in the next decade. The giving from the aged congregation funds less than 60% of costs and if it wasn't for the rental the office block that contains the church office with the balance let out to barristers, then the parish would have folded financially years ago. The rental income is subject to an ordinance from the Diocese who one day may consider that they are getting a poor return from the funds being used to prop up a fundamentally small, aged and withering congregation, even if the moneys are spent on an excellent choir. The liturgy can be exquisite but what's the point when few if any attend? And St James' is probably in the best position of the few Anglo-Catholic/liberal parishes in Sydney. They are dying not because of any action by the Diocese but because few Sydneysiders are attracted to Muriel Porter's form of spirituality. I don't blame them. Why attend church when all it little more than a call to "come share our darkness" clothed in fine music and nostalgia?

Posted by Roland Cartwright at Saturday, 3 September 2011 at 3:25am BST

What absolute codswallop, Mr Cartwright.
As of the September newsletter, offertories for this year are above budget with 300- 400 regular attendees each Sunday from a parish roll of 600. The rental from the office block is needed to maintain the oldest church in Sydney but it is expected that within 5 years the ministry of the church will be covered by parish giving. The fact that the church is surrounded by office blocks and has few residential buildings within the area naturally reduces the number of young people. Most of the parishioners come from all over Sydney seeking to find a place of Anglican worship. The parish supports 3 full time priests, a full time choir master, an organist, organ scholar and paid choir and a number of full time office staff, managers and vergers. Personally I would have preferred less money be spent on music when I was a parishioner. However a large amount of money is spent on homeless, indigenous scholarships at the cathedral school and other outreach programs to the city.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Saturday, 3 September 2011 at 12:22pm BST

Mz Grumpy High Church Woman: Actually it is Dr. Tighe, PhD (Cantab), for certain.

Posted by Leo Ladenson at Saturday, 3 September 2011 at 1:33pm BST

Leo: I know. But since he couldn't use Dr Porter's title, I thought 'Mr' was appropriate.

Posted by Grumpy High Church Woman at Saturday, 3 September 2011 at 4:28pm BST

I always think it ironic and an example of the mysterious ways in which the Holy Spirit works, that in Sydney, the most homophobic and mysogynist of Anglican diocese, there is also the largest, most open and visible gay and lesbian community and the annual Mardi Gras is celebrated and draws visitors from around the world.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 3 September 2011 at 5:02pm BST

Brian Ralph,

One swallow does not a summer make.

If you had read back to the April 2001 edition of the SJKS Parish Connections you would have seen that the 60% figure (and consequent 40% deficit) relates to the full years of 2010 and 2011 and was provided by the Parish's then General Manager. He said in that edition:

"The stark reality is that the current model has overwhelmingly relied on distributions from St James’ Hall to cover all annual costs. Excluding this amount (which currently funds 42% of expenditure), the operating deficit for 2010 was $603,000 and is forecast to be the same for 2011 and slightly less for 2012."

Despite the favourable funding position in the most recent months, turning the trend around will not be easy. The demographics of the parish are as I outlined them and they don't favour the parish meeting its commitment to the Diocese to be self-funding as to ministry expenses in the next five years.

Posted by Roland Cartwright at Saturday, 3 September 2011 at 11:41pm BST

I imagine there remain ( esp in the suburbs) parishes with a lowish church tradition that are recognisably Anglican in style...surplice / a prayer book liturgy / hymns etc. If not a lot of Anglicans ( esp those who come to Sydneyfrom other parts of Australia) must be unchurched.Perhaps a "Sydney moderate " might enlighten us? Of course the "newer style" might be popular with the 16-30 group..but they may begin to want something different as they get older...assuming they dont just lapse entirely,as a lot of keen Christian Union types do in the UK.

Posted by Perry Butler at Sunday, 4 September 2011 at 8:58am BST

Brian Ralph,

Apologies, I meant the April 2011 edition, where the title of the article is "Busting the Myth that this Parish Supports Itself".

Perry Butler,

Your imagination misleads you. Other than at some first services of Sunday (say 8am), where surplice may be worn and the prayer book used, at most main services (say 10am) in Sydney, suburbs or city, the clergy wear casual clothes, or at most formal a suit, no surplice or vestments, use limited or no liturgy and few if any hymns.

There is a lively discussion in the Diocesan magazine, "Southern Cross", which cannot be accessed online, about whether liturgy should be revived and whether services, now referred to as "gatherings" rather than worship, would benefit from a recovery of the elements of Anglican prayer book tradition. However, these elements often find expression in a manner that would be unfamiliar to Anglicans from outside.

Most Sydney Anglicans simply no longer share a common vocabulary with the likes of Dr Muriel Porter, either in worship, in ethics or doctrine. Arguably in worship it is the Sydney Anglicans who have moved away from Anglican tradition (though it may yet be recovered) but in ethics and doctrine they have held fast and it is the likes of Dr Porter who have moved away.

Posted by Roland Cartwright at Sunday, 4 September 2011 at 12:54pm BST

Of note there has been no response whatever to the substance of Dr Tighe's criticism's of Dr Porter, simply a taking refuge in denunciation of his dis-honorific, "Mz".

Is there an answer? What makes Dr Porter's strategies (or those with whom she agrees) "Anglican" and those of Sydney "unAnglican"?

(In the interests of full disclosure, I reject the innovations of both.)

Posted by Todd Granger at Sunday, 4 September 2011 at 8:30pm BST

Why is Roland Cartright posting such attacks on that parish ? Beats me. But then I am one of these dreadful (apparently) over-60s who are such a drain on himself ...

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 4 September 2011 at 9:09pm BST

"Other than at some first services of Sunday (say 8am), where surplice may be worn and the prayer book used, at most main services (say 10am) in Sydney, suburbs or city, the clergy wear casual clothes, or at most formal a suit, no surplice or vestments, use limited or no liturgy and few if any hymns."

Perhaps some kindly province might step up to act as a "Southern Cone" for Sydney to plant churches adhering to the Book of Common Prayer for the beleaguered faithful Anglicans of Sydney.

Posted by Geoff at Monday, 5 September 2011 at 4:31am BST

Todd, since you asked, there's a relatively simple answer to William Tighe's substantive point.

The whole point of the debate over ordaining women was premised on the threefold order of bishops, priests, and deacons being an essential expression of the ministry of the church. The fact is that the talking could have gone on another twenty years and the issue would not have been remotely close to resolution. Ordination is an action, not a theory, after all. As Dr Porter makes clear in her book, the majority of diocesan synods in Australia reached agreement that arguments over women's ordination were ultimately resolved in favor of taking action.

The diocese of Sydney's action in promoting lay and diaconal presidency is ultimately about substantially modifying the threefold order, if not overturning it altogether. This is what makes it essentially un-Anglican. Changing the structure of ministry comes together with some worrisome approaches to the doctrine of the Trinity, along with a style of gender politics that would even look out of place in most of Africa. Priestly ordination in the diocese of Sydney is now restricted to incumbents of parishes. Most ordinations to the priesthood now happen during an induction service in the parish. Clergy are no longer ministers of the Church in the first instance so much as ministers of a particular congregation.

The essential difference boils down to this: advocates of ordaining women were ultimately seeking to retain the structure of the ministry of the Anglican Church in Australia; the diocese of Sydney promotes actions that will compromise or destroy that very structure. William Tighe might not have a problem with this, given that he is not fundamentally committed to Anglicanism anyway. He seems like the sort who enjoys watching bridges burn.

Now, I have a question for you. How defensible is Tighe's position, given that he is a major promoter of the Papal Ordinariate in the United States? His ideological prejudices are pretty clear, given that his comment above is mostly given over to a personal spray on Muriel Porter. That's not argument so much as a public airing of one man's problems. If I weren't trying to avoid his blunders, I'd be curious to know when he stopped beating his wife.

Posted by kcrichton at Monday, 5 September 2011 at 11:02am BST


The answer is easily given. I'm simply seeking to demonstrate that Kurt Hill is wrong. If St James', the largest and wealthiest of the Anglo-Catholic/liberal parishes, actually isn't growing and will crumble due to its demographics, then he's wide of the mark. I also reference it as I have personal knowledge and so can speak (write) more accurately than I can of others.

As it happens, I have little sympathy with what might be regarded as hallmarks of Sydney Anglicanism, and there are reasonable criticisms to be made, but much of the commentary here in response to Dr Porter's article, like the article itself and the books on which it is based, bears no resemblance to the actual Diocese. It is neither as good or bad as respectively its champions or detractors claim/imagine.

If the aim is to understand the Sydney Diocese then a history like "Sydney Anglicans" by Stephen Judd & Kenneth Cable (AIO, 1987) will give you the formative past. The more recent times, including the elevation of Archbishop Jensen, are recounted in the oral history contained in Chris McGillion's "The Chosen Ones" (Allen & Unwin, 2005). McGillion's book relies heavily on the fifteen or so interviews that he conducted with "movers and shakers" but this at least allows them their own voice. His history of the time, albeit narrowly focussed on the episcopacy and the politics of the Standing Committee, is nevertheless generally regarded as accurate.

However, my suspicion is that most of the people who post on this site would rather rail against Sydney as a bogeyman than engage with it, constructively or otherwise.

Posted by Roland Cartwright at Monday, 5 September 2011 at 2:13pm BST

Its difficult to see the Sydney agenda ( as outlined here) really having much impact on the other conservative Anglican provinces though.Evangelical Provinces like Nigeria/Uganda etc may be steamed up about homosexuality and have a semi-fundamentalist view of the Bible but I cant see them abandoning presbyteral celebration of the Eucharist or liturgical worship rooted in an Anglican tradition. The Jensenite"revolution" of the 90's resemble ( in the opposite direction) the takeover of the High Church movement by the young Turks of what became the Oxford Movement in the 1830's, but will it become a legitimate part of the overall Anglican spectrum or will it split off and become a sort of Church of England in South Africa?

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 5 September 2011 at 3:04pm BST

I grew up in the Diocese of Sydney and went to University and was a leading participant in the Evangelical Union with many of today's leaders, Phillip Jensen and John Woodhouse were good friends. Today they do not want to know me. Like them I planned to study at Moore College. However I had to come to terms with my homosexuality. I saw one priest have several breakdowns(and eventually commit suicide) over that 'problem'. For years I worshipped in various parishes but discovered that if I let my guard down and revealed my sexuality I was no longer welcome in any role but as a worshipper (no doubt along with my offertories). I was even removed from rosters to read the lesson (like women in many churches). Finally I discovered St James, King Street where I was welcome despite my sexuality. Despite my evangelical upbringing I came to love the services. However attendance involved 2 hours each way by train. I know many older people who lament that they miss "Anglican" worship but cannot travel the distances to find such services in Sydney so have learned to tolerate the 'meetings' offered nearby or perhaps just attend the traditional service of Holy Communion offered grudgingly at 8am in a number of parishes.
I made the decision to migrate, while still possible, to Dunedin, New Zealand. The vicar, now bishop, preached in favour of homosexual acceptance. I can feel fully welcome in the parish church less than 10 minutes drive from my home. Eucharist is the main service every Sunday. In the nearby cathedral an associate priest is in a same-sex partnership. While waiting for our new vicar we had a woman Archdeacon care for our needs and of course Dunedin had the first woman diocesan in the Anglican communion.
I still attend St James, King Street when I return to be with my family at Easter and Christmas (the church is always packed). My sister is still a parishioner (travels for about 40 minutes) because. although not use to High Church, cannot find true Anglican services nearby.
So, unlike Roland Cartwright I am immensely grateful for the existence of St James, King Street and believe it will continue to function as a haven within the surrounding wash of evangelicalism. I think I have very good reasons to have a profound antipathy to Sydney diocese.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Monday, 5 September 2011 at 8:28pm BST

Thanks, Brian Ralph, for your openness and honesty in your personal account of your connections with the Diocese of Sydney. An ounce of experience is worth a tonne of theory; and those of us who do not inhabit the Diocese of Sydney can only have a faint understanding of what goes on there.

My only experience of worshipping in St. Andrew's Cathedral there, was when the present Primate of All Australia was given his first welcome in the City - in the Cathedral. It could hardly be called a 'liturgical welcome' because the ceremony consisted of an evangelical gathering of bishops in rochet and chimere - with nary a cope or mitre among them - centred around the pulpit, with no sign of a central altar.

For Eucharistic worship, I repaired to the small church of Christchurch St.Laurence, near the railway station; where a splendid Sung Mass seemed a more appropriate setting for a proper Liturgical Welcome for the Australian Primate. This is a church and community that I believe, like that of St.James, is 'suffered' by Archbishop Jensen, as a necessary outlet for the more catholic Anglican worshippers of the Sydney Diocese - of which there are many.

You must be quite glad, Brian, that you are now in N.Z., where 2 of the diocesan synods have just expressed their welcome of Gays in the Church! I suspect your own diocese may follow the trend when it comes to the vote. Haere Mai! Welcome!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 6 September 2011 at 1:56am BST

There's an interesting article here, written by a Michael Jensen ( relative of the Jensens?) about Sydney Anglicanism and its claim to be authentic Anglicanism

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 6 September 2011 at 6:40am BST

Thank you so much for sharing that with us on here, Brian Ralph.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 7 September 2011 at 1:44am BST

Michael Jensen's article may be interesting, but it is not entirely accurate... Cranmer wrote the 42 Articles... the 39 Articles were part of the Elizabethan Settlement and were re-written esp by Parker with significant changes... and of course there were alterations to the BCP and Ordinal in 1662 ( and before that the sacramental sections of the catechism penned by Overall, no calvinist he). Anglican calvinists became rarer post 1662 and while the evangelical revival gave a boost to reformation doctrine Anglican evangelicals were very moderate calvinists..Simeon was typical with a great love of the Prayer Book and a strong sense of Church Order.
The problem is surely that it is impossible to say historically there is ONE authentic Anglicanism. Like most religious traditions it has changed and developed during it post Reformation can hardly be anchored in one particular epoch or place.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 7 September 2011 at 12:23pm BST

"kcrichton's" comment "That's not argument so much as a public airing of one man's problems. If I weren't trying to avoid (Tighe's) blunders, I'd be curious to know when he stopped beating his wife" (which seems to fall some considerable bit below the wit that one might expect of "thinking" Anglicans) puts me in mind of that wonderful piece of Augustan prose that the Rev'd Dr John Johnson of Cranborne (1662-1723) wrote in response to a critic of his learned, vast, and eccentric tome, *The Unbloody Sacrifice and Altar Unvailed and Supported ...* (1714, 1718), Dr Thomas Wise:

"We know the devil to be the common father of lies, especially such as are malicious; but, in the case now before us, I can see none of the craft or subtlety of the old serpent; the Doctor, in contriving this calumny, was left, I charitably believe, to to his own natural invention; I cannot say, the Doctor has the innocence of the dove, nor yet can I allow him the cunning of the serpent; he abounds with gall, but he wants the sting." And even gall seems to have lost its potency since the time of Dr. Wise.

Posted by William Tighe at Wednesday, 7 September 2011 at 12:40pm BST

I think it was John Johnson of CRANBROOK not Cranborne..... his eucharistic doctrine was, via Scotland, rather important for the Episcopal Church thanks to Samuel Seabury.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 7 September 2011 at 7:01pm BST

Thank you, Perry, for proving that we Thinking Anglicans cannot be Tigh-ed down to the approximate 'truth' of Mr. Tighe

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 9 September 2011 at 1:01am BST

Richard Ashby wrote "I remember, when in Australia ten years ago, that God seemed peculiarly absent from the Cathedral in Sydney..."

I was there yesterday and He seemed very present as His word was read and preached and as we spent time praying to Him.

Posted by C.J. Schafer at Friday, 23 September 2011 at 11:29am BST
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