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Message from the General Secretary

Sr Elizabeth Delaney sgs

Dear friends

The past weeks have been so full!

During four days of this week, I attended the fourth international receptive ecumenism conference in Canberra. As you know from the advertisements for the conference, the theme was Leaning into the Spirit: Discernment, Decision-making, Reception.

Paul Murray from Durham University was present as were visitors from WCC, Sweden, England, USA, Iceland. It was wonderful to have the General Secretary of each of our state ecumenical bodies, as well as a number of Presidents. One of the highlights for me was the address of Archbishop Peter Carnley. Another highlight was hearing about ARCIC III. While this dialogue document has been completed, it will be another year of so until it is made public as the process of reception by the two churches continues.

Having arrived home only last night, I have not put my reflections on paper. I encourage you to talk with people from your state or church who attended. Should I find that any of the papers become with available, I will endeavour to keep you informed. I am certainly hopeful that the papers will be published – I am told that this can take well over six months! So keep watching.

To take the theme of the conference and apply it more broadly:

Leaning into the spirit conjures many images: being nursed and sheltered by a loving parent, … taking shelter against or within a structure, … being carried along by a strong wind …. Joining energy with others for a common goal …

This raises the question of where the power of the Spirit is blowing and carrying the church. In these past weeks, the situation of the asylum seekers on Manus Island has caused many Australians much angst. Within our churches many are assisting people who have left their homes and come to Australia. Practical assistance – teaching of English, legal advice, accommodation, advocacy, daily needs – has enabled people to live with a greater level of dignity than might otherwise have happened. While the government may have taken positive steps, many Australians believe that they have not done enough.

Is it conceivable that if our churches – leaders and members – acted together some real change might come about? Would churches acting together in response to an ever growing need be a powerful sign of our hearing the Gospel? Is this where the Spirit is blowing, where we are being called to lean together into the Spirit?

Let’s lean!

Sr Elizabeth Delaney sgs

General Secretary