Today is the day that the election in Synod begins. It is sad to report at the beginning of this day that the Very Rev Philip Jensen, Dean of Sydney and leading proponent of Rick Smith for Archbishop has been misrepresenting the other candidate's views in the context of an important election. (In the context of academic debate one could have a leisurely to and fro across several articles to clarify matters when misunderstanding/misrepresenting occurs. A couple of days out from an election it is plain unfair to make allegations about the theology of a candidate in an election where theology is very, very important). Read for yourself the pickle Jensen (and the also naughty Australian Church Record) has thrown the election into, here. Glenn Davies himself feels he has to respond to the misrepresentation. Sadly, if Rick Smith is elected there will be Sydney Anglicans who will wonder about the fairness of the campaign conducted by his supporters. A double sadness because Rick himself has kept entirely out of the fray of such tactics.
On further reflection, do supporters of Rick Smith feel they might lose ...? What is at stake, let us remember, is not so much which person is elected but which grouping within the diocese has control of the future theological and missional direction of the diocese.
(PS: The link above takes one to a civil, polite response to the misrepresentation. But on Facebook I see a colleague noting that Facebook exchanges in the build up to the election are 'toxic'. What is at stake that leads to such intensity of feeling?)
In another part of the world there has been a bit of dust up over a book about Jesus written by a Muslim with a now viral video of a Fox TV interviewer making herself look silly as she interviewed the author. Good for book sales though. Of possible interest is review of the book itself, here and here.
++Justin Welby is going to be a great leader of the C of E and of Anglicanism. Why? Because he understands where we are in history. In a crisis we need leaders who can look beyond the crisis to what comes next. Check out a major address he has given recently to New Wine. His point about religious communities is pertinent - a visit yesterday to a local community here (Beatitudes, Leithfield, for local Canty readers) reminded me of the "light" work such communities do in the growth of the kingdom.
I have a motion to put to our Synod in a month's time which asks our ministry units to celebrate the bicentenary in 2014 of Samuel Marsden preaching the gospel for the first time on Aotearoa NZ shores by doing some evangelism. One possible way to do evangelism in our islands in 2014 is to embark on a local, even a national hikoi (journey) through sacred sites and special places. Bishop Kelvin Wright has a plan for his diocese which we could all read and ponder on the imitation thereof.
Near finally, for today, and maybe for a few days to come as busy in the life of our church, a reminder that each week I am attempting to publish reflections and notes on the readings for the Sunday to come, at Resourcing Preaching and Worship Down Under.
Last but not least in this round up, for NZ readers, and those here in Canterbury and Westland in particular, just seven days to go until the close of registrations for the Tough Questions Today: Exploring Theology of Marriage conference, 16-17 August. All the details are here.