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In May I was appointed Executive Manager for Mission and Training with Anglicare (NSW South, West & ACT), responsible for overseeing all induction, formal training, mission formation and chaplaincy within Anglicare. My role also includes engaging with parishes in the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

Six months into my new role and it has flown. It is a real privilege to see the way parishes and Anglicare partner together for those in need in their communities. Recently I have heard of an incredible Canoe project the Reverend Michael Palmer, Anglicare’s rural chaplain on the far South Coast, is doing. He is an amazing catalyst of connections with the indigenous community, the naval community and the local high school. The Eden Canoe Project has enriched the lives of local Aboriginal students giving them greater connection to Country and greater feelings of identity and self-worth. Building, painting, and paddling the canoes has allowed them to tap into unique creativity and spirituality that bonds them with the land and with each other. The project also enhanced the practical, organisational and teamwork skills of the students – skills which they can carry with them into their further tertiary studies.

In Orange, I heard of the huge need for emergency food relief as supplies are likely to run out in March next year. Our Anglicare rural chaplain in the central-west, Barry Porter, shared with me that Anglicare is the only agency left in some areas doing food relief for families in need.

I have had the privilege of hearing beautiful stories from the Reverend Andrea de Vaal Horciu about the palliative children with disabilities and how their families are supported in times of grief and loss through embracing ministries. Or the work of the Reverend Peter Malone who co-ordinates our Chaplaincy Area and serves in Anglicare Retirement Living caring and supporting others through the COVID isolation. He has gently gathered the key chaplaincy frameworks and models that exist within Anglicare ministries to inform the future directions for Anglicare Chaplaincy.

Each of our chaplains are bridge-builders into their communities. They are amazing servants of Jesus who deeply care for others around them. They create connections and bridges between groups of people to widen the safety net of care around people. They are enriched by the person and work of Jesus and that love shines through their words, deeds and emotions.

We are very conscious of the needs families and individuals are already expressing leading into the Christmas season. A mother with five children burst into tears after picking up some food and being offered a small target voucher to purchase some toys for her children.

Helping your unknown mate or fellow person who exists on ‘country’ with you is somehow now palatable after COVID. We have had a shared pain, a shared story, a shared challenge and so many families are now finding they are in economic crises like never before.

This is a deacon’s calling and promise; to live out the word of Christ and life of Christ to the glory of Christ for the benefit of others in the community. I have been serving the body of Christ in Anglican parishes for just over 30 years. The joy and challenge of the diaconate is that the ministry pathway is always unique to each deacon. I recall my very first activity as a deacon was giving my deepest apologies to the Archbishop. The front page of the Telegraph read ‘Bride of Christ & Bride of Craig – Sarah’s double wedding’. My ordination and wedding were one week apart. Nothing like starting off your public ministry with messaging around perceived polygamy by a reporter.

I was taught from a very young age to be a bridge-builder between the Church and the community

I was taught from a very young age to be a bridge-builder between the Church and the community; how to lovingly and prayerfully support anyone who may choose to encounter the other. I have worked in schools, in hospitals, in aged care and in international community development. I have sat on national and international boards learning from some amazing men and women. It is truly incredible when you trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways so he will make your path straight.

It has been a great privilege to see how God works in us and though us for his glory, even despite of us. I have so many stories of what God is doing around New South Wales and the ACT in Anglicare, so it is hard to know which ones to share. I learnt as an 18-year-old that a childlike faith in Christ will look to God’s people, but a mature faith in Christ will look to Christ and Christ alone. So I like to ask God to ‘fix my eyes on things above’, so God’s will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven. God’s righteousness in all things, including justice and truth, be revealed in all circumstances; God’s love pervade my heart so that it directs what I see and moves me to act to enrich and empower others.

Our work in Anglicare is messy. It’s done with a posture of walking alongside and listening to hard things that can stretch you, but, oh, what joy when you see the transformative work of God’s love and care upon one life.

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