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Recently Associate Professor Bonita Sawatsky invited me to co-present about church engagements to a small group via ZOOM® in Canada. The invitation made me think. Does the Anglican church currently matter?

In the article ‘Church, Disability and Rurality: The lived experience’, co-author, The Reverend Rob Haynes, explains that the Bible and life experiences are vital foundations for theological contemplations. Theologian and foundational thinker, Bonhoeffer, in ‘The communion of saints: A dogmatic inquiry into the sociology of the church’, asserts that the church be critiqued and understood theologically and sociologically.

In response to Haynes and Bonhoeffer I propose that one reason that the Anglican church of Australia remains relevant during this COVID-19 epoch is because it’s a collection of public spaces (either physically or virtually) where:

a) Theologically-speaking, people regardless of their background can continue to connect with the Bible, and,

b) Sociologically-speaking, people in solidarity can journey the experi­ence of living through a pandemic.

Each public space differs as it adapts to COVID-19 and reflects the needs of its local communities. Three examples in our Diocese are: ‘Jesus a Friend For All’, a church small group for people living with disabilities, has set up a Facebook page so its members can remain connected, share Bible passages and links to Christian songs and encourage each other when needed. Members of Mothers’ Union are skilling up in IT so they can actively support virtual activities such as Parakalea for ministry wives and a virtual ZOOM® dinner for ministry husbands. Churches like Gungahlin Anglican are teaching congregation members how to record themselves reading the Bible or praying so that church services can continue in a vibrant manner.

In reality, there are many more great stories to be narrated about our beautiful Diocese during COVID-19. Meanwhile, thank God, the Anglican Church of Australia remains a platform for mission, with the ability to actively cheer on people who wish to express their love for God and their neighbours locally including during this COVID-19 epoch (Matthew 22:34-39).

by Monica Short

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