Sarah Macneil’s Sermons Removed from Church Website – What Was Wrong with Them?

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Well now this is fascinating.

Holy Covenant Church in Canberra, home of bishop-elect of Grafton the Rev. Dr Sarah Macneil, have removed the text of all of Dr Macneil’s sermons from their website.

Go have a look for yourself. The same is true of 2012.

The effect upon the actual pages is devastating – Dr Macneil preached the majority of sermons at Holy Covenant for the past 2 years and so now the pages look a little sparse.

Which of course will make many people ask one simply question:


There has, of course, been enormous attention on Dr Macneil’s own written words in the past month. They have come under much criticism but,Β if there is nothing wrong to be found there then why have they been removed? Surely not to remove Macneil’s own documented theological position from scrutiny? But again, why? Macneil’s positions are all thoroughly Anglican and orthodox.

Aren’t they?

And it would be a really effective step to take, unless someone had archived all that material already πŸ˜‰

[button link=”” color=”purple” target=”_blank” size=”small” title=”Full Archive of Holy Covenant site”]Full Archive of Holy Covenant site[/button]

[button link=”” color=”purple” target=”_blank” size=”small” title=”Sermon Archive of Holy Covenant site”]Sermon Archive of Holy Covenant site[/button]


If you wish, you can also download the archive.

[ddownload id=”6293″ text=”Holy Covenant website archive (16mb)”]


Just click on the above button to download a zipped archive of the whole website from when the story originally broke. Open up the file index.html in the zip file and you’ll have a complete copy.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Bruce Lyon

    When a Bishop ‘moves on’, their previous publishings are often removed from the previous posting, so as to leave a clean slate for the next Bishop …

    1. David Ould

      Dr. Macneil has not yet “moved on” and I have never come across a church website that removes the sermons of it’s ministers when they move to another job.

      It’s quite clear there’s another reason here.

    2. Andrew K (@Andrew_Kr)

      Unless the church completely changes their website and removes old content, I’ve never heard of content being removed.

      Also, Bruce, Dr MacNeil isn’t yet a Bishop, and her replacement at Holy Covenant Anglican Church will almost certainly not be a Bishop.

      1. Bruce Lyon

        Good point Andrew K ….

  2. Lucy

    I think it is clear they removed them because of criticism and a questioning over her theology. Although it maybe that the website is under maintenance?

  3. mpjensen

    Personally – and I know you won’t mind me saying so – I thinking keeping a link to her sermons is a bit tacky. I am as concerned as you by liberal bishops. But we’ve had liberal bishops before. Why this campaign now? It looks like a vendetta, and it is too easy to read it as being because she is a woman, not because she has more liberal than usual views.

    1. David Ould

      Thanks for the comment Michael. It allows me the opportunity to clarify a few things.

      1. It’s not about Dr Macneil being a woman. This is about her theological positions. I made that quite clear in the original post. Of course, that she is a woman and therefore our first female diocesan means she will garner much more attention but that’s not the prime reason for this.
      2. Why “this campaign” now? Simply because it was brought to my attention. I’ve run other “campaigns” before and I’m sure I’ll be running others in the future. It’s not like I only ever write about female clergy – quite the opposite in fact.
      3. Keeping a link to her sermons is a helpful way to do two things; first to raise extra attention to her own (or her church’s) decision to take her sermons offline. Second, to allow those still thinking these issues through to have full access to the information that is central to the question.
      4. Ten years of writing at Stand Firm has taught me that the very best way to fight these battles (and it certainly is a battle) is to get the information right out there. And the best information is the words that theological liberals in the church write and proclaim. Nobody is ascribing to Dr Macneil anything other than her own words in their full context. The big mistake of conservatives in TEC was to not call out false teaching when they could and to allow lines to be crossed almost continually.

      So I appreciate that there will be people who want to deal with this stuff in different ways, but we all want the very best for the denomination we were ordained into or in which we belong and so we all need to do what we think is most effective. And for me, personally, the lesson from TEC is that this is most effective.

      If somebody today asks “what’s the fuss all about” then it appears that is now the only place they can still get all the material to answer that question since either Dr Macneil or her church have taken what looks like deliberate steps to prevent her theology being in any way explored by those with a valid interest.

      1. Bruce Lyon

        Well said David. Keep the link up … the issue of poor theology is very important to highlight …

      2. mpjensen

        I still think it is tacky. And it is a tactic that may win Sarah some of the undecided middle ground Anglicans.

        I’ve had it happen to me before: things I’ve said being used in a way and in a context that I didn’t appreciate and in order to discredit me. I’ve deleted the material, only to find that someone had gone to the google cache. It was a particularly unpleasant experience.

        Don’t get me wrong: lines need to be drawn in the sand, especially over would be leaders who are mealy mouthed about their doctrine.

  4. Robin

    But isn’t it the whole point of leaving the original materials available so that people can make up the mind for themselves that they can read it in context instead of taking snippets from someone else comments.

    1. Bruce Lyon

      David has made these materials re-available again in the link above. Certainly, redacting these sermons causes yet more questions than answers. Who on earth would want to becoming a Bishop, when the good news of the Gospel is front and centre, and yet a potential Bishop is prepared to redact her past in order, perhaps, one might speculate, to serve her future …

      Bishop-elect Dr Macnell, why not put your sermons back up online. Why not do a public mea-culpa and admit you were and are less and ‘on the ball’ with these sermons, why in fact not just repent, recant, and re-focus on the literal Gospel Truth.

      In fact, why not become a member of FCA, sign TJD and stop all those tongues wagging right now.

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