"Its international influence reaches beyond the churches assisted through the GAFCON/FCA network, however. Some time ago it moved into the heartland of the Church of England through its close ties with the conservative Evangelical movement, Reform.This all sounds like rather a big octopus reaching around the world with its tentacles, destabilizing Anglican churches and their global commitments with each stretch of a tentacle. The fact is, it ain't so. Sydney has a role in influencing Anglican churches around the world - so do other dioceses and Anglican provinces, through companion relationships, through mission societies, through hospitality offered to (say) students invited to study in theological colleges - but what Sydney is doing does not add up to destabilization of the Anglican Communion. To the extent that 'destabilization' is occurring, many players are involved, and most of them jump to their own commands, not to the influence of others. Citing, e.g., a lawyer drafting the ACNA constitution is pathetic: ACNA is big enough and strong enough to do its thing without Sydney, but it is also humble enough to accept help from others.
Similarly, there are links with conservative movements in the Church of Ireland, in the New Zealand church, in South Africa, and in the US and Canada. Sydney Diocese has also been closely involved in the formation of the breakaway Anglican Church of North America, with a leading lawyer from Sydney Diocese assisting in the drafting of the ACNA constitution.
The Ministry Training Strategy program (MTS) developed in the late 1970s by Archbishop Jensen's brother Phillip - now Dean of St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney - when he was chaplain to the University of New South Wales, has spread across the globe.
It boasts that it has been "developed, copied, refined and implemented in many parts of Australia and the world." It claims it has reached into Britain, France, Canada, Ireland (both north and south), Singapore, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan and South Africa. Effectively, over almost 20 years, it has exported a program to recruit and train ultra-conservative Protestant ministers around the world."
Porter then describes the complex situation in the Anglican Church of Australia in which the Diocese of Sydney undoubtedly plays a significant role (it is the largest diocese, it is different to most of the rest of the church, especially on the matter of the ordination of women to the presbyterate and to the episcopacy). But no worries. Porter's train of thought steams on to the conclusion that Sydney's dark, significant threat is to the whole of global Anglicanism:
"The Australian church is facing a real crisis that may yet prove to be the "bridge too far." How the national church will be able to handle this situation and prevent possible repercussions both nationally and internationally is as yet unclear.This is just nuts. Why is Ashgate, an otherwise solid academic publisher, involved with a book which argues beyond the evidence?
For all these reasons, Sydney Diocese can be seen to pose a threat to the stability of the Anglican Communion, to the cohesion of the Australian Anglican Church, and also to other Anglican churches such as those in the United Kingdom, in the United States, in Canada, and New Zealand.
It is also potentially a danger to those third world Anglican churches that are part of the GAFCON organization, because it claims its involvement is in response to Gospel truth. Sydney and its friends are the true believers.
Churches not aligned with it, taking a different view principally on the issue of homosexuality but also on women in ordained ministry, are portrayed as deniers of the Gospel. These claims, from determined, persuasive, well-resourced church leaders bearing gifts of support for, and assistance to, emerging churches, are hard to resist.
Overall, Sydney's influence is of real concern for the future of world Anglicanism."
For instance, Porter in this article on the ABC site, repeatedly mentions Sydney's influence on the Anglican church in New Zealand. Did she actually interview anyone here I wonder? If she had interviewed me, this is what I would have said:
1. Some Anglicans in the Diocese of Christchurch have been influenced by the Diocese of Sydney, both generally through sharing some of its ideas, and particularly through a few ministers being trained at Moore College.
2. I know of no other diocese in New Zealand in which either a general or a particular influence is at work. (For the record: I know of no general or particular influence in the Diocese of Nelson, a diocese which long ago in the past sourced three bishops in succession from the Diocese of Sydney, and for a period until around 1970 had a significant number of its clergy drawn from Moore College training backgrounds).
3. The majority of evangelical Anglicans in our church are enthusiastic supporters of their dioceses, support the ordination of women, and are open to charismatic theology and experience. That is, they are not particularly sympathetic with hallmarks of Sydney evangelicalism such as congregationalism, opposition to the ordination of women, and a negative line towards charismatic theology and experience.
4. I detect no destabilising influence in our Christchurch Diocese from those with links to Sydney.
5. In a worst case scenario in which a breakaway Anglican church was established in NZ (i.e. as has been murmured from time to time since the ordination of Gene Robinson) then (a) any 'Sydney' part of it would be a minority; (b) any such breakaway would be small relative to the totality of our church; (c) our whole church would not be destabilized in such an event. (In other words: conservatives in our church, including conservative evangelicals are quite capable of working out their own responses to issues before them, they are not at all bound to do anything which would destabilise our church, and the last rather than first thing they are liable to do is to make a phone call across the Tasman to Sydney).
In eight words: Sydney is not a threat to NZ Anglicans.
Quite the contrary, Sydney has been a good friend to us, not least, this year, in offering financial support to our Diocese as it seeks to rebuild.
I wonder if Muriel Porter in her book ever mentions actions by other churches in the Communion as destabilizing the Communion ... say, against the grain of Communion thinking, ordaining a gay bishop or two?
Just a thought!