​Bishop Andrew Curnow of Bendigo preached
at the Opening Eucharist of the 51st Melbourne
Synod at St Paul's Cathedral on 16 October.

​Melbourne Anglicans should trust in the generosity of God in order to see more clearly that their Church had a future, Bishop Andrew Curnow of Bendigo told them on 16 October.

Bishop Curnow, a senior Melbourne clergyman until his appointment to the northern Victorian diocese 10 years ago, told the Opening Eucharist of the 51st Melbourne Synod at St Paul's Cathedral that the greatest means of healing the Church's ills was its people.

Preaching on Isaiah 38: 1-8, 21-22 (in which King Hezekiah seems doomed to die but is granted an extra 15 years of life by turning to God) and Matthew 12: 1-8 (Jesus rebuking the Pharisees' complaints about his disciples plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath), Bishop Curnow said they were two very rich pieces of Scripture to look at the health of the Church today.

He said Hezekiah had boils, which in those days would have led to septicaemia.

"Do we follow Hezekiah's example in the face of the demands and the challenges we face as Church, which was implicitly trusting and turning to the Lord?" Bishop Curnow asked.

"How do we as dioceses see the next 15 years if God is blessing us with the same generosity for the 15 years hence?

He said the figs used to heal Hezekiah were, in our day, the people of God relying on the generosity of God.

Bishop Curnow told of bringing to Bendigo a consultant from the Church of England, Canon Phil Potter -- who was announced this week as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York's Missioner and leader of the Fresh Expressions team -- and of asking him after a week travelling around the diocese what he thought. Canon Potter replied: "You are a Third World diocese in a First World country."

The bishop said he could have taken that very hard but added that Canon Potter then said that despite that, Bendigo Anglicans were doing some very creative things. They had identified the figs that had to be put on the "boils" they were suffering from as individuals and as a Church.

"The greatest fig we have is our people, just as we have here tonight... that is what we have to energise and focus on," Bishop Curnow said.

"I urge you as a Diocese of Melbourne to have that same sense of generosity that Jesus gives to His disciples, to pluck the heads of wheat, to enjoy what God has given us because in doing so, we not only discover the generosity of God to us and the generosity of God to His Church, but we see that we have a future as the Church."

The Synod's first business session broadly dealt with procedural matters, although a motion of prayerful and practical support for the Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, after the recent suicide bombing of All Saints' Church there, which killed 85 people and injured more than 120 others, passed overwhelmingly on the voices.

Bishop Paul White of Melbourne's Southern Region, who moved the motion, said he hoped the money collected at Synod as part of the motion could be used particularly to support families left without an income after people lost their "earning hands" through death or injury to themselves or loved ones. Bishop Philip Huggins, of the Northern and Western Region of the Diocese, was seconder.

The Diocesan Advocate, Dr Ian Gibson, outlined the extensive consultation involved in bringing the major legislation to be considered by Synod this year, on parish governance.

An amendment proposed by Diocesan Council member Mr Colin Reilly, to defer the deadline for amendments to the legislation by almost 24 hours until Friday 18 October, was defeated on the voices.

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