Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 January 2018

“One faith, one Lord, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4).

My diary entry for 27 August …
Words cannot adequately describe the exquisite experience of worshipping God with PCA’s partner church in central Africa – alongside beautiful, warm-hearted, faithful Malawian Christians at CCAP Mawira (on the Shire River at Liwonde). My Malawian brothers and sisters ministered to me in a powerful way. 

The first (English) service began at 7am, so the 4.30am rise at my Zomba lodgings was invigorating. Every element of the service was done attendant to purpose (to glorify God). Everything from the sincere welcome speeches in the vestry with the elders, through the singing, Bible reading, prayer, announcements, preaching and even the closing prayer, formal thank-you, handshakes and singing of amazing grace in the vestry post-service was done with reverence and dignity.

Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 December 2017 

There’s never been a better time than now to be a Christian, and to offer to our world the way of hope. God encourages us to shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life (Philippians 2). And it’s never more timely than now.

  1. It’s official: the trifecta is in.The unborn child has no protection - it’s legal to take his or her life up to 24 weeks gestation and beyond that if two doctors agree (in Victoria). Though fearfully and wonderfully created in the image of God (Psalm 139), the unborn child is not safe even in the womb.
  2. The national same-sex marriage poll will soon deliver a fundamentally different view of what a marriage can be. In rebellion against God’s creational design and purpose for man and woman, sinful desires and unnatural relationships between persons of the same sex (Romans 1) are now given dignity through the redefinition of marriage.
  3. With Victoria leading the way, it will become legal to allow and assist people facing the prospect of a painful end, to take their own life. No longer content to rest in providence that God gives life and God takes away (Job 1), the state has become God.

15 November 2017
Pastoral letter in response to the Yes vote on legalising Same Sex Marriage
While we respect the result of the postal poll in which, of those Australians who voted, 61.6% have voted to support provision for same sex marriage, we are very disappointed in this. We believe that provision for same sex marriage is not in the best interests of Australian society, and especially so in the case of children.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia continues to hold to the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman as we believe it best reflects the Lord’s creational design for human flourishing.  We reserve our right to hold and express that view.
At a denominational level, we will closely watch the subsequent political and legal processes and will make representations within them. We pray that secure provision is made for freedom of expression and freedom of action for those Australians who have conscientious objections to recognition of same sex marriage.
Should the Marriage Act be changed to permit same sex marriage, we will consider any further institutional response through our state and general assemblies in due time.
We are aware that within our own congregations and the broader community people voted in different ways and for different reasons. We urge sensitivity towards people with different opinions, and that we offer them a listening ear, a tempered tongue and an ability to explain our opposition to same sex marriage in a way that combines love and truth and which points to Jesus Christ.
The same sex marriage issue highlights a need for clear thinking about how we as Christian believers relate to wider Australian society in an increasingly post-Christian age. This is an important task at all levels of the church and we commit ourselves to it as a denomination.
Finally, although disappointed, we bow before God’s providence in this matter.
Please God, keep us from the folly in which we bring your just judgment on ourselves by trying to live in your world our way. Save us from ourselves we pray.

Issued by:
John Wilson, Moderator General, Presbyterian Church of Australia.
David Burke, Moderator, Presbyterian Church in NSW
Bill MacRae, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Western Australia
Dan Shepheard, Moderator Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
Greg Watt, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Queensland
Robert White, Presbyterian Church of Victoria

Moderator's Comments - Posted 31 October 2017 

(John and Paula Wilson are leading the reformation tour on behalf of our denomination, in John's absence past Moderator General, David Cook writes this month's column).

When abortion law reform was introduced through Australian State Parliaments in the 1970's, it was done so, 'under strict medical circumstances'.
Most of us believed this was a necessary reform and that probably there were valid grounds for 1 or 2000 abortions each year in Australia. That figure has now grown to 180000 to 200000 abortions each year!

I am now hearing the same argument for the proposed introduction of legislation allowing the termination of adult life, 'under strict medical circumstances'.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia offers this package of three church history videos to assist your church – particularly in its small-group ministries – to help celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses, and the subsequent Protestant Reformation … 31 October 1517.

There are three consecutive video sessions (each lasting about 50 min) followed by suggested discussion questions. Ideally, they’ll be of most benefit during the last two weeks of October and the first of November, but they’ll be available for as long as they are being used. Our prayer is that this might be a means of blessing for many people in our churches and that also it might promote a sense of unity across the PCA, as in our home group meeting we realise that other home groups in different places might be doing likewise.


Why the Reformation still matters - a three-fold exploration of some of the principles of the 16th century Reformation

  1.  Martin Luther - (1) the struggle in his heartScripture: Romans 1:7-17

How the Reformation brought clarity regarding how we’re clothed with God’s righteousness – an alien righteousness of God declared as a gift, as distinct from where Luther had come from … a background of earned merit to appease an angry God by doing good and filling up on grace delivered by the church. We close with application on how we feel about ourselves and our sense of worth before God, and how we too can be right with God.

View Video

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  1. Martin Luther - (2) the struggle against his churchScripture: 2 Timothy 3:10-17

Moving from soul struggle to church trouble, and Luther’s break with Rome. A look at what 31 October marks as a 500th anniversary this year, and what all the fuss is about. What’s the significance of his posting 95 theses on the chapel door, and what his first major arguments and debates with church officials were all about (i.e. his famous stands at Leipzig and then Worms). Overall, the theme is another great principle of Reformation: how do we trust the words of Scripture and why? i.e. bouncing off Luther’s: ‘A simple layman armed with the Scriptures is superior to both Pope and Councils.’ The application will ask questions about our trust in Scripture and our willingness to let the truths and principles of Scripture change and rule our life, because they are the very words of God.

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  1.  John Calvin - developing the church’s theologyScripture: Acts 2:38-47; 1 Tim 3:14-16

Shifting from first generation reformers to the second, and to Calvin’s special contribution. Overall, the theme is another great principle of Reformation: the church - what do we view as the true church of Christ and why? i.e. bouncing off Calvin’s grand objectives in writing his 1536 Institutes: ‘(a) To convince the King of France that evangelicals were not heretics but rather they were the true church, and (b) to build up the church by the simple teaching of the doctrines of faith.’ The application will ask questions about our view of the church, the value of belonging to such and our willingness to let true gospel preaching of the church and the fellowship of the church edify us in godliness (Calvin’s great aim).

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Download Booklet

How do I run this video from my laptop to display it on my TV … what do I need?

John P Wilson (Moderator-General)

Presbyterian Church of Australia