In a quiet corner away from the hall where the Sydney Anglican Synod is taking place, a sheet of paper attached to the noticeboard contained disturbing news. A gentle decline in attendance figures is shown in a table compiled in answer to Zac Veron, Senior Minister at Bayside Anglican in Sydney’s Inner South.
|YEAR||Average attendance per week|
The plunge for 2021 and 2022 is almost certainly a Covid response. Despite churches offering online services, it is clear people became disengaged during this period. The 2023 and 2024 figures should show signs of an uptick.
There are some minor inconsistencies with figures supplied in earlier synods. Here are the figures supplied at the 2022 Synod, which are the same for most years, but the later year figures (2019, 2020 have been revised down. (In fairness, the earlier table was labelled a draft.)
But the effect of a gentle continuing decline is more apparent in the more recent pre-covid figures, which The Other Cheek suspects have been rechecked by the diocesan staff. While in the past it was reasonable to say the figures were bouncing around, the newer set of figures are smoothed out.
Its just possible that one or two parishes (local churches) have dropped off those giving returns. it is impossible without details of which parished returned their stats, to exclude that possibility. We’ll wait to see the correction from the covid era, which should emerge next year. It is worth noting that decline occurred despite significant church planting during the period covered in the tables
Letters to your MP
Three letter-writing campaigns were urged upon Anglicans at the Synod.
Online Sports Betting: Cathedral Dean, Sandy Grant freely admitted he a taken the Bible verse for his motion urging support for the bi-partisan response to online gambling from a campaign in the Armidale diocese
“Whoever mocks the poor insults his maker; he who is glad at calmity will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 17:5)
The synod commending the “You win some, you lose more” campaign called on the federal governmnet to prohibit all advertising for online gambling” in line with the recommendations of a bi-partisan parliamentary inquiry.
Sandy Grant warned that unchecked, online gambling could soon become as big a problem as pokies. That was the second motion to pass for Anglicans to campaign and call for a Royal commission into gambling – and to get the trial of cashless gaming over as soon as possible.
Introducing a third issue, homelessness, Grant revealed as a busy cleric, he almost missed out on reading Anglicare’s “excellent qualitative research report ‘Hungry or Homeless – Tough Choices in a Cost-Of-Living-Crisis.’” The report’s conclusion was cited by Dean Grant: “A coordinated, multifaceted approach by all levels of government is required which targets the low level of JobSeeker and rapidly expands the supply of social and affordable housing. The levels of hardship being experienced by so many in our community, many of whom are children, need to be addressed if we are to ensure that people are not going hungry, can pay their bills and are not at risk of homelessness.”
A call to support the Voice
After a complicated series of procedural motions, which actually assisted in focusing discussion, the Synod welcomed a statement by the Indigenous committee of the Diocese.
The motion reads: “Synod welcomes the statement of the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples’ Ministry Committee about the Voice referendum, as follows –
“‘The Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples’ Ministry Committee affirms that God’s voice is sovereign over all peoples and lands, and notes –
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been denied a voice following European settlement in this land,
- That there are benefits and challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through a recognised Voice to the Australian parliament,
- The passing of Resolution 33/22, ‘First Nations Voice’ by the Sydney Anglican Diocesan Synod and
- The “Statement on the Voice to Parliament” as affirmed by the General Synod Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of Australia.
“We encourage all church members to prayerfully seek God’s voice as they search his wisdom in considering a ‘yes’ vote for the approaching referendum.’”