Cannon Dr Colleen O'Reilly, Dr Muriel Porter &
Archdeacon Alison Taylor


The Sydney Diocese “has changed in the past half-century from being an authentic and valued expression of low-church Evangelical reformed Anglicanism to a polity that is really only Anglican in name,” Dr Muriel Porter said last month.

Speaking at the launch of her book, Sydney Anglicans and the Threat to World Anglicanism at St John’s Camberwell on 16 September, she said that she had been asked to write the book by the UK publisher, Ashgate, and had reluctantly agreed to embark “once more on the painful experience of exposing my spiritual mother to the public gaze.”

“Writing this book gave me no pleasure… I was baptised and confirmed in what was at the time a typical Sydney parish – low-church Evangelical in every respect, but a parish that conformed entirely to the Anglican norms of formal, dignified prayer book worship and respect for the mother Church of England and worldwide Anglicanism generally… In all, it was the place where I was incorporated into the faith… [and] nurtured in the faith.

“But as the diocese began to change, my home parish became increasingly alien as it began to adopt the harsh sectarianism that now dominates Sydney Anglicanism.”

“Sydney,” she added, “is utterly convinced that it is always right and everyone else is always wrong, thus totally justifying their mission to spread their brand of Anglicanism into other dioceses and other countries. On the international and national scene, they are determined to get their way and to disenfranchise others. The rest of us have, I am ashamed to say, allowed them to silence us too often.

“That is why I have written this book, in the hope of re-energising us, and alerting the rest of the Anglican world to the dangers it is facing from this aggressive missionary activity. It is my very real fear than unless those of us who represent authentic Anglicanism begin to resist the Sydney incursions, our beloved church will be seriously damaged.”

In launching the book, the Revd Canon Dr Colleen O’Reilly said she would “prefer that this book did not need to be written. However, Muriel Porter’s book on the Sydney Diocese does need to have been written. It is an important book about complex matters and a ‘must read’ in these confusing and often distressing times in Anglicanism.

“Those who love and value the Anglican way of being a Christian, owe Muriel Porter a debt for naming and examining the forces of radical innovation that threaten the classical forms of Anglican worship and habits of faithful living that have sustained us for centuries.

“This is a necessary book for those who want to understand what… is going on in our Church nationally and beyond... The Sydney Diocese has been positioning itself to influence, infiltrate and if necessary replace anyone and anything it deems to oppose its version of the gospel, not only nationally but more recently internationally. A sustained and systematic course has been set to gain influence in many places, including Melbourne, through various ways of training people for ministry, evangelism at universities, [and] youth work in schools.

“What’s the energy driving the Sydney project?... Apart from increasing the numbers who think their way, which lessens the anxiety that there could be other legitimate positions, it’s the restoration of patriarchy, the rule of men; an order of creation as they see it. One of Sydney’s key beliefs is the inequality of women and men, the latest version of which is something called ‘complementarianism’ which teaches otherwise well educated women to believe they must submit to the headship of men and tutors men to imagine themselves entitled to ‘willing, intelligent submission’ from women.”

Dr O’Reilly said that the Sydney Diocese had shown a “foolish disregard for the fundamentals of Anglican order… by allowing deacons to preside at holy communion and only ordaining deacons as priests when they are made incumbents, [something which] may yet unravel new alliances with other Anglicans shocked by this refusal to adhere to such a basic structure as catholic order mandated by the very DNA of being Anglican…

“In the end the biggest flaws in the ‘Sydney project’ are imagining that the Church is necessarily at its best when most confident, or that it is our Church when in truth, it is God’s instrument for God’s purposes for the whole creation. This book may well do its most important work if the rest of us take that lesson to heart.”

TMA invited the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen to respond, both to this report and to the Book, but he declined.


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