Sydney Anglicans in Financial Crisis

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the Sydney Anglicans are in deep financial crisis and contemplating severe ministry cutbacks. Damien Murphy writes:

THE world’s richest and largest Anglican diocese has lost more than $100 million on the sharemarket and is investigating ways to cut programs and ministries across Sydney.

Two years ago the Anglican diocese of Sydney was able to allocate $30 million to educate new ministers, spread the Gospel and reach out to young people. But returns from investments have plummeted so steeply that the funds available next year have been slashed to $5.6 million.

For more of this article see millions wiped out by church gambles. The Sydney Anglicans themselves are saying hard dicisions await the Synod and that courage is needed in touch times. Archbishop Jenses has also published his letter to Sydney Anglican churches.

15 thoughts on “Sydney Anglicans in Financial Crisis

  1. Yeah, I actually met an Archdeacon the other night who won’t have that job after next month, but at that time, I didn’t know of this information you have posted.
    All I can say is it’s a lot different from Luke 10!!! (quoted from New International Version) as following:
    “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
    5″When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
    8″When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11’Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ 12I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”
    I am really challenged by that.
    The Sydney Diocese has a lot to answer for on many levels, as do so many denominations, in fact, in terms of how they manage finances for the Kingdom’s sake. It’s the old argument of 80% of the resources going into propping up the institutionalised structure instead of being freed to flow where it’s really needed.
    There are many genuine Christians in these denominations, but perhaps they need “re-Jesusing”, and the kinds of crises that financial misfortune precipitates just might force some people to get back to the roots of what it’s all about.
    If churches put their money into greedy corporate investment structures, it’s inevitable to come unstuck eventually as we have all recently been reminded with the ripples around the current financial world.
    Vive la Revolution! i.e. revolving around the person and teachings of the real Jesus Christ…


  2. All churches and charitable groups that depend heavily on bequests / accumulated investments are going to feel some pain as we limp toward the end of the financial year. You don’t have to have been into speculative investments… interest rates are down, dividend returns are down… therefore income is going to be way down this financial year.
    My own position is paid for from a trust fund, so I may well be looking for a different line of work next year. Which is OK… as the Lord wills. If you get paid for doing your life passion it’s an immense privilege I think… most people do work to survive, and then spend their free time and their own money on their life passions.
    One of the issues with denominations is that you actually do have a legal and pastoral responsibility for the member (or affiliated) local churches… so even though it probably would be more fruitful use of “kindgom $” to support more novel forms of mission, I feel there is an ethical responsibility toward member/affiliated churches for denominations.
    It’s all a bit complex. But you don’t need to be paid to do fruitful stuff… some of the most fruitful things I do are my voluntary activities.


  3. Lucy said, “It’s the old argument of 80% of the resources going into propping up the institutionalised structure instead of being freed to flow where it’s really needed.” Yes, that’s where I am 100% on board with guys like Alan Hirsch. When you look to Southern and Eastern countries where Christianity is expanding there are much lower leadership and building overheads, principally because churches there are far more open to on-the-job leadership training (verses seminary education) and meet-where-you-can worship (versus purpose built entertainment complexes). How many extra Christian communities do you think could be resourced if denominational funds were diverted from university style leadership training to apprentice style leadership training? Don’t see many university style leaders supporting it though. And I wouldn’t single out the Anglicans for any special attention on this issue, all our churches resist it.
    Janet said, “But you don’t need to be paid to do fruitful stuff.” True, but its not just a matter of being paid full time or even paid at all. There is the problem is systemic resistance; institutions can passively or actively undermine new initiatives that aren’t “with the program”. The problem is also the problem of lack of support; even where there is not resistence there can still be an indifference which is just as unhelpful. For example, I have here one of the most prominant Christian blogs in Australia. I know for a fact, with insider knowledge, that my hit count exceeds that of some NSW Baptist organisations by several orders of magnitude. So what support to I get from my denomination? Prayer wise? Encouragement wise? Publicity wise? Zip. What encouragement I do get is entirely friendship based. I am not ordained so I don’t count. I do not loose any sleep over this but the effective message is, your on your own. Yet when I hear from African and Chinese Christians I hear of apostolic networks of support for all sorts of embryonic communities. Very different. And the results show.


  4. I find that lack of acknowledgment surprising Matt… among my mob ordination isn’t that big a deal because of the belief all are “ministers”, but that some are set aside to focus on equipping the saints. Half the people I work with on the M and M team aren’t ordained, and I’m not yet…
    I thought the Baptists and CofC’s were fairly close theologically over this issue… or is it a cultural one?
    (I realise in most denominations ordination has a different vibe altogether… more of the idea of a priest)


  5. (Sorry, excuse the shorthand… the M and M team is the Mission and Ministry team… those who work to resource local churches and church ministers… C of C is Churches of Christ! In Vic/Tas in my case)


  6. Janet, it just seems there’s a lack of any lay missional support structures. There’s no theological reason Ive ever come across. I have had some advocates in the past but that support was always personal, not systemic, and thus when they moved on it evaporated. And if people like me are pretty much left to their own devices(and I’m known by a number of well placed people) then I expect there are many more who fly completely under the radar.


  7. Denominational structures evolved in one sort of world… in the case of independent churches like the Baptists, constituted churches of a particular style affiliated with the denomination for services such as discount insurance, marriage licences, training/ordaining ministers for some measure of quality control, assistance with property loans, external help in case of dramatic conflict, etc.
    The missional/emergent world doesn’t make sense to the system that evolved for more conventional churches. A group that meets in a cafe may be doing fantastic missional things… but it may be ephemeral, and it certainly isn’t a constituted church body. How does affiliation work? What is a church member in this context? Is this group a Baptist ministry… and if so, what is it? Can their be any quality control (or responsibility for legal liability etc.) without exercising the kind of control that might kill the initiative in the first place? A blog may be a fantastic ministry… but it doesn’t “talk” to the system.
    So… I think any support from your denomination would probably be personal anyway… because I don’t quite see how denominational systems and fabulous missional initiatives can “talk” together in a systemic sense.
    However… I’d love to hear your thoughts and dreamings how this might work better. We do what we can… at C of C we love groups like Red Network, and we love the people who are doing other less well known missional initiatives… but they do sit outside the “system” a little for the reasons I’ve stated. One thing I do try to do is to periodically gather people to network or connect people to mentors… but I don’t think I do this well.


  8. Mentoring is one thing I would like to see more of. Local church pastors are ill equipped to mentor lay missionaries. No matter how well intentioned they are, they lack the training and experience. So I don’t want to single anyone out here, it is an unrealistic expectation. But is would be helpful to have some parachurch or denominational mentoring structures of some sort. Sometimes all I seek is someone who knows how to pray for me, pray for me missionally.
    What I mean is, I get tired of unmissional but well meaning Christians wanting to pray for my protection, fearing I may suffer demonic attack as I mix with Pagans and others, who never pray for my boldness, which is what I need, which is what Paul asked of his supporters. No, that’s more about their fears than mine. Not that it happens all that often, more often there is no prayer support at all. So yeah, just some prayer support from someone who knows how to pray missionally would be supportive.


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