Two churches come together in the Byron spirit

NEW RADICALS: Father Matthew Smedley of the Anglican Church of Bangalow, Reverend Hilary Singleton of the Byron Bay Anglican Church and Reverend Ken Day from the Uniting Church of Byron Shire will take part in Sunday’s combined service.
NEW RADICALS: Father Matthew Smedley of the Anglican Church of Bangalow, Reverend Hilary Singleton of the Byron Bay Anglican Church and Reverend Ken Day from the Uniting Church of Byron Shire will take part in Sunday’s combined service.

IN KEEPING with the spirit of Byron Shire as a place of festivals, the Uniting and Anglican Churches of Byron Shire will celebrate together with a joint service starting at 10am this Sunday in the Bangalow A&I Hall.

Rev Dororthy Harris Gordon, or 'Aunty Dorrie', a Bundjalung elder and Uniting Church minister in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, will celebrate communion, and Rev Dr Sarah Macneil, Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Grafton, will speak at the special service.

It is the second joint service and a "celebration of who we have been and how far we have come".

It may even be possible to see the churches as the new radicals, fighting on the front line of some of the biggest issues facing Australia.

In these charged political times, it is these churches who are taking up the fight for social justice and equity.

Two weeks ago Father Matthew Smedley from the Bangalow Anglican Church returned from the Grafton Synod where two motions were passed regarding refugees and asylum seekers.

"The stronger of the two called for the closure of the offshore detention facilities, and ceasing of the policy of turning away the boats from Australia," he said.

"The other called for the return of legal assistance to all asylum seekers."

Reverend Hilary Singleton from the Anglican Church at Byron Bay believes that with both sides of politics abandoning refugees, it was up to the churches to show moral leadership.

"We have to give voice to what Jesus taught. He was inclusive of everyone, especially the oppressed, the downtrodden or the out cast," she said.

"This is at the heart of the gospel and we as the church must speak for those who are becoming voiceless.

"And they certainly have no voice when there are deals being done at sea about turning people back."

Rev Hilary also signalled the churches' support for the divestment movement, where institutions cease investment in fossil fuels and other industries that harm the planet.

"From a theological viewpoint of all creation being interdependent, beautiful and sacred then we would also say that this is something that we need to have a voice on," she said. "We can then be formative in working against global warming and other environmental issues so that we can have sustainable future."

So are the churches the new radicals?

"I would like to think we are because that what Jesus was," said Reverend Hilary.

"He didn't hold back."


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