Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Ascension to Pentecost: 29 May – 5 June

We keep this time of prayer because the Church does not yet conform to the will of Christ as expressed in  his prayer:

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. . .”

Jesus prayed that his followers would be one in him but what do we find when we look at the actual situation today? There are many different churches in Australia and around the World.

The result is that the witness of Christians is divided and our preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ is not heard clearly. So what should we do about it?

There is a clue in some words of Metropolitan Platon who was a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kiev, many years ago now. He said: The walls of separation do not rise up as far as heaven.

Instead of concentrating on the things which separate us we should look up above these barriers to God who can lead us into the unity which he desires. This is the reason for the Week of Prayer — Christians of all traditions are asked to look up to God so that they can join together in praying to him for that unity which should be found in those who are united together with his Son.

The first Week of Prayer was held in 1908 as the result of the efforts of two Anglican priests (an American and an Englishman) but it had one major flaw — its object was that all separated Christians should acknowledge the Pope as the head of the Church and become members of the Catholic Church.

This was not acceptable to many Christians, as you could imagine, and it was a French Catholic priest from Lyons who showed how the Week of Prayer could be made acceptable for all Christians.

The Abbé Paul Couturier was born in 1881. He was educated in Algeria and Lyons. He studied theology and was then ordained priest in 1906. He continued his studies and 1909 obtained a Science degree, after which he began teaching maths and science at a Catholic College in Lyons. he remained in this position, except for a few years during World War I, almost to the time of his death in 1953.

However, it is not as a science teacher that we remember him. We remember him as a pioneer of the ecumenical movement — the movement which has as its goal the unity of all Christians. His involvement in this was the result of two main influences.

First, he became concerned for the many Russian refugees (there were about 10 000 of them!) who came to live near Lyons in the 1920s, after leaving their homeland following the revolution in 1917. Here was a group of Christians whose faith could not be denied but who had never been under the jurisdiction of the Pope.

Second, he made contact with a Benedictine Priory at Amay which was making a special effort to promote understanding between Christians. It was here that he first learned about the Week of Prayer and formed the desire to introduce it back home in Lyons, but he realized that it would be difficult for all Christians to join in it as it was at that time.

As a result, from 1933 when he promoted its observance for the first time until it became a world-wide movement at the time of his death, Paul Couturier stressed that what we were praying for was:
the Unity of the Church which Christ desires
and by the means which he chooses.

This is a prayer which everyone can make, in spite of our divisions. It is a prayer which does not limit us to any particular scheme of the reunion of Christians but which does open us up to the leading of the Spirit and may result in Christians being led to particular schemes of co-operation or reunion.

The original week was held in January, but when it was introduced to Australia in the 1950s it was thought that this was an unsuitable time for us and the period from Ascension Day to Whitsunday was chosen instead. For many years the week was promoted personally by the Abbé Couturier and in Australia by unofficial committees in each State. It was then taken over by the Councils of Churches.

The spirit which Paul Couturier showed in his dealings with other Christians and which he recorded in his writings about the Week of Prayer was a most significant influence on the lives of many people whom he met. It received wider recognition amongst Anglicans when the Bishops meeting at the Lambeth Conference in 1958 recommended the observance of the Week of Prayer in the way in which he had taught that it should be kept. He also influenced the thinking of his own church and the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council owes much to him.

However, all that is history! It is now up to us to do our part. First by making sure that we do all that we can to ensure that we are one in love with the members of our own congregation and parish. Second by adding our prayers to the prayers of all Christian people, whatever their tradition, so that the walls of separation will be overcome.

Let us pray that:
We may all be one
according to the Will of Christ
and by the means which he chooses.

Christmas Services

 

Worship with us this Christmas.

Sun 19 December – Advent 4
8.15 am Holy Communion, St Mary’s Milang
10.00 am Holy Communion, Christ Church Strathalbyn
6.00 pm Readings & Carols, Christ Church Strathalbyn

Wednesday 22 December
9.30 am Holy Communion, Christ Church Strathalbyn

Fri 24 Dec – Christmas Eve
4.30 pm Crib Service, Christ Church Strathalbyn
7.30 pm Holy Communion, St George’s Meadows
7.30 pm Holy Communion, St Mary’s Milang

Sat 25 Dec – Christmas Day
9.30 am Holy Communion,  Christ Church, Strathalbyn

Sun 26 Dec – Christmas 1
10.00 am Holy Communion, Christ Church, Strathalbyn

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray from Ascension to Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus.

Since its start in May 2016 God has grown Thy Kingdom Come from a dream of possibility into a movement. Christians from 172 countries have taken part in praying ‘Come Holy Spirit’, so that friends and family, neighbours and colleagues might come to faith in Jesus Christ.

This praying together has been across our diversity and differences as every person, household and church are encouraged to pray in their own way. According to our annual survey findings an astonishing percentage of people said they were praying for family and friends to come to faith in Jesus, and a significant number of people join in for the first time, we recognise there is much more we can do together to help Thy Kingdom Come be fully in the lifeblood of the Church.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, it is hoped that everyone who takes part will:

  • Deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness

After the very first Ascension Day the disciples gathered with Mary, constantly devoting themselves to prayer while they waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Like them, our reliance on the gift of the Holy Spirit is total – on our own we can do nothing.

Through the centuries Christians have gathered at that time to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ picks up this tradition. Over the years more and more worshipping communities have dedicated the days between Ascension and Pentecost to pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’.

We are praying that the Spirit will inspire and equip us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with our friends and families, our communities and networks. It has been amazing how many varied ways there have been in which people from every tradition have taken up this challenge. The effects have been remarkable.

It is our prayer that those who have not yet heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and his love for the world will hear it for themselves, and respond and follow Him. Specifically, we again invite each and every Christian across the globe to pray that God’s Spirit might work in the lives of 5 friends who have not responded with their ‘Yes’ to God’s call.

Whether you have joined in ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ before or not, we invite you to take part – along with churches from over 80 different denominations & traditions in nearly 90% of countries (172) around the world.

“In praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we all commit to playing our part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.”

                                                        -Archbishop Justin Welby

Contact The Rev’d Alex Stone for more information. Email: thestones@antmail.com.au

St John’s, Langhorne Creek Final Service

On Sunday 27 December 2020, St John the Evangelist’s Day, the church’s Patronal Festival, members from around the parish gathered for what will be the last regular service to be held in St John’s for the time being. The celebrant was Fr Thomas, assisted by Deacon Margo with Marlene Potts playing the organ.

Following the service we moved to the Community Hall for morning tea.

Profession to Single Consecrated Life

On Saturday 20 October 2018 Deacon Margaret Holt who is a member of the Third Order, Society of St Francis made her vow to live a consecrated life öf simplicity, chastity and obedience to Christ after the example of St Francis and St Clare”.

Her vow was received by the Bishop of The Murray, Bishop John Ford during the celebration of the Eucharist at which the sermon was given by the Provincial Minister of the Society of St Francis, Third Order in Australia, Bishop Godfrey Fryar.

The service was held at Christ Church, Strathalbyn and was attended by many of Margaret’s friends from the Parish, the Third Order and the wider Church community.

Consecrated Life?

“All Christians are consecrated to God through baptism. However, God calls some to a more definite living out of their baptismal vows through a life marked by prayer and service. This life is usually lived with others also motivated in the same way.

“A traditional way in which this more intensely consecrated life has been lived is through taking religious vows. In the Benedictine tradition these vows are stability, conversion of life and obedience. For the mendicant and other orders which came later these vows are usually expressed as poverty, chastity and obedience.

“People with these vows usually live together in community, sharing their life with other similarly vowed religious. Each community (or congregation or Order) has a particular characteristic – its charism – the thing which God has called it to do and equipped it for.  Some are mainly contemplative. Their members work mostly within the monastery or convent and have ministries such as running a guest house or making and selling handcrafts. Others are more active, and more likely to be working in the wider world around them.

“All these communities are sustained by regular times of prayer together, forming part of the rhythm of day, and giving shape to the work and other ministries.

“In every age there have been new forms of community life which have kept some traditional elements of the life, but have also added new features in response to different needs in the world around them. These days the movement known as “New Monasticism” is one of these new forms. Each community is different but they include commitment to prayer, social justice, evangelism, and to living with each other in community. These communities usually include single people and married couples and perhaps families.

“Another form of consecrated life is that of living as a consecrated single person. This is essentially a “hidden life” – without any distinct dress or title.

“The Anglican Church in Australia has an Advisory Council formed of leaders of the “traditional” forms of community as well as representatives of the wider church. This Council, although mainly concerned with the “traditional” forms of religious community life, also has an interest in single consecrated life and is currently considering providing some form of networking of “new” forms of community life and the possibility of official acknowledgement for such communities.”

http://www.anglicanconsecratedlife.org/index.php/consecrated-life

 

Mothers’ Union 120 Years

The Strathalbyn Branch of the Mothers’ Union celebrated 120 years at its meeting on Tuesday 8th May at St George’s Meadows.

The first Mothers’ Union was formed in 1876 by Mary Sumner in Old Arlesford, in the south England. By 1885 it was a diocesan organisation in Winchester and quickly spread across England and then internationally as women migrated. In 1896 a Central Council was formed and in 1925 central headquarters were established in London. The Union received a Royal Charter in 1926 – the first granted to a religious and a women’s organisation. Until the 1970s, divorced women were excluded from membership.

Mrs Dorothy Harmer

The first Australian Mothers’ Union was formed in Cullenswood, Tasmania, in 1892, closely followed in South Australian 1895 when introduced by Lady Victoria Buxton and Dorothy Harmer – the wives of the Governor and the Anglican Bishop. Within five years there were 49 branches with 1,350 members across the state.

By 1904, Unions had been established in all Australian states. In the early 1900s, the Union frequently co-operated with other Christian women’s organisations, and sometimes the National Councils of Women, in campaigns for political and social reforms. Early activities included, for example, campaigns for the provision of sex education for children, censorship of films and the Bush Nursing Service. Its national journal, Mothers in Australia (from 1945 Mianza and from 1960 Mia, Mia) was established in 1917. The Union’s literature includes reams of advice about child rearing. While promoting Christian women’s influence in the wider society, the Union did not support the idea of working women.

Source: The Australian Women’s Register

The following news item appeared in the pages of The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser on the 17th December 1897.

Lady Victoria Buxton

“The Governor and Lady Victoria Buxton being on a visit to Strathalbyn, the opportunity was taken of asking her ladyship to attend a meeting in the institute on Monday afternoon for the purpose of establishing a branch of the Mothers’ Union. Although only a few hours’ notice had been given a fair number of ladies attended the meeting, and the Rev. A. Wheeler, the incumbent of Christ Church, presided. Lady Victoria Buxton gave a touching address on the objects and work of the society, remarking that although the society was worked on church lines that was not a barrier to any mother joining the union.”