Failure for Newcastle Diocese Challenge of Sydney Affiliated Churches Ordinance

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The Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia has today issued an opinion on a series of questions put to it by the Diocese of Newcastle about the Diocese of Sydney‘s Affiliated Churches Ordinance [pdf]. The Ordinance allows for non-Anglican churches to affiliate with the Diocese of Sydney and so obtain a number of administrative and other benefits while not being recognised as Anglican.

The questions, which were amended after the Tribunal asked for them to be made clearer (not least to show which sections of the Constitution were in question), centred around whether the Ordinance was compatible with the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia. There are a number of affiliated churches in the area covered by the Diocese of Newcastle. The Diocese of Brisbane made submissions to the Tribunal, having a number of affiliated churches in its own area.

The Tribunal ruling [pdf] (posted by the Diocese of Newcastle and not available at the time of publication on the Tribunal’s own webpage) is detailed. It is structured around the questions and the responses provided by Newcastle, Sydney and Brisbane. It ends with the following comprehensive conclusion:

106. Implicit in the foregoing, we conclude that none of the constitutional grounds advanced for invalidity of the Ordinance have been established.

The Bishop of Newcastle has issued the following response to his clergy and others,

From the Bishop

Dear sisters and brothers,

Primate’s Reference to the Appellate Tribunal – Affiliated Churches Ordinance 2005 (Sydney)

The Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia has issued its decision today which has the effect that Affiliated Churches Ordinance of the Diocese of Sydney is not invalid. The Appellate Tribunal follows a legal approach in which questions must be posed, submissions made and addressed after which the 4 legal members and 3 episcopal members make a decision.

The Appellate Tribunal formed the view that, despite our best endeavours, several of the questions we raised lacked sufficient specificity to enable them to be addressed in their terms or addressed usefully in the constitutional context within which the Tribunal must function.

The Diocese of Sydney is able to continue affiliating non-Anglican churches in this Diocese and other dioceses if they wish. Affiliation does not make an affiliated church part of the Anglican Church of Australia nor part of the Anglican Communion. An affiliated church does not have a duty to conform with the Fundamental Declarations and is not subject to any governance by the Synod or hierarchy of the Diocese of Sydney. Members of affiliated churches are unlikely to be able to declare or establish that they are or remain members of the Anglican Church of Australia.

It is a lengthy judgement. A copy is attached here for your interest.


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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Bruce Lyon

    And so +Peter, FIEC churches continues on. May God richly bless their ministries.

  2. Moses Costigan

    Amen! This is a wise decision but I seriously wonder why the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle would even bother concerning itself with the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches because the Newcastle Diocese almost exclusively concerns itself with a very different ‘target market’ (nominally religious, universalist progressives) and is overwhelmingly more interested in the salvation of it’s public image, social relevance and finances than it is in the preaching of the gospel and the salvation of souls.

    1. revgregcolby

      Said by one, no doubt, who knows nothing about the make up of our diocese and the large number of evangelical parishes which the FIEC milk parishioners from.

      1. Moses Costigan

        Apologies Greg, I was not aware of the large number of evangelical parishes in the diocese that you report (i was aware of two…. Gloucester and Nelson Bay).

        As for your assertion that I know nothing about the Newcastle Diocese, you’re very wrong….. i’m connected via friends of my parents to individuals who would seek to minimise the predation of the alleged paedophile ring that was hiding in plain sight for decades with the knowledge of Roger Herft and his predecessors. I’ve heard the conversations among the laity which would seek the recast the alleged rape of a teenage boy by Graham Lawrence and Gregory Goyette as ‘a relationship with a young person’ rather than calling what it is…. the rape of a child.
        I’ve heard the rumours circulating in the diocese about allegations of child sexual assault directed at then Archbishop Greg Thompson presumably order to stop him shedding light on perpetrators in the Diocese.
        And I know of several parish priests in the Diocese who are lovely, kind and generous people who contribute much to the community around but simply do not preach the biblical gospel because they do not hold a biblically orthodox faith themselves.

  3. Bruce Lyon

    What about ANeW Greg, or Kincumber Anglican, or Tea Gardens or Nelson Bay Anglicans. .. all strongly evangelical. Yet too many local Anglican Churches are profoundly liberal progressive and not focussed on salvific teachings. That is not focussed on saving the soul from Hell.

    Even the current theologically lightweight Diocesan Bishop is privately sympatgetic to LGBTIQ sexuality matters inc gay blessings.

    He will not sack the Gosford Anglican Rector for denying the Resurrection.

    So what do you expect.

    You yourself are not far from liberal progressive teachings yourself.

  4. Greg Colby

    Bruce, you have no idea what my beliefs or teachings are – if you think that the engagements I have with you and on this page are the full sum of all my parts, then you are very mistaken. Our diocese has a strong Evangelical element with a Canon specifically to support those parishes and clergy who fish in that stream. Those of you who sound the death knell for our diocese will,Go wiling, be disappointed.

    1. Bruce Lyon

      I assume Rev Greg, quite reasonably, that you believe the teachings of the Church, fully, completely and whole heartedly, as your ordination vows would or should attest.

      The Nicene Creed.
      The Apostles Creed
      The 39 Articles of Religion
      The Veracity of the Scriptures.
      In Heaven and Hell.
      In Final Judgement.
      In the Body Resurrection of Christ.
      In the sin of man, including sexual sin outside marriage – male and female only,
      and so forth.

      Anything else wold place an Anglican Priest or Deacon or Bishop into the wrathful hands of the Living God.

  5. Greg Colby

    Why do you have to call people names and put them in boxes? Jesus used t hang out with the people the religious rulers rejected – so it seems to be that the assumptions people make about others have on real connection with the way they’re viewed by God.

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