Dear brothers and sisters,

There are a few matters I want to share with you for your information and prayers.

1. Last Sunday: Thank you SO much for your part in a wonderful Sunday last week! Ellie and I were thrilled with the opportunity to see old friends again and meet new ones. Many were involved in making the day a special one and I am so grateful for all they did. Do thank them if you know who they are!

2. Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to NSW Parliament: It is a rare occasion when as a church we will highlight issues in the political sphere that we think worthy of your attention and consideration for action. However, this I believe is one such matter which our Bishops have rightly encouraged us to share with you.

This bill will endanger the lives of many of the most vulnerable in our society if it passes. The Social Issues Committee of our Diocese has prepared this briefing paper on it. A parliamentary inquiry into the Bill is being held and the inquiry has set up a short online survey here to find out what people think about this issue.

The survey asks for your name, email address and postcode, whether you support or oppose the Bill, and allows you to make a comment of up to 300 words. This document lists 8 reasons to oppose voluntary assisted dying. If these reflect your views, you might like to put some of them in your own words in your response. Please don’t copy-and-paste, as the Inquiry will not accept pro-forma submissions.

3. Discipleship Groups 2022 and beyond: On the 18th of October the leaders of our Discipleship Groups joined me and Luke Shooter for an evening where we shared a ‘vision’ for beginning Central Discipleship Groups in 2022. The link for this can be viewed here.

The leaders are currently giving their feedback on the evening and initial ideas which we will be looking at as we make further plans.

I want to reiterate that for those house groups where meeting centrally is not the right thing I am absolutely not enforcing a change! I am glad that they will continue as before. However, I am also excited by the prospect of many other existing house groups (and new ones) beginning to meet as a group but alongside other groups on a Wednesday evening at St Thomas’ from February 2022.

There are a number of hugely positive benefits of this model of fellowship and ministry:

i) Evangelism: It is so much easier to come to a central location with lots of others – Christian and non-Christian – to explore the gospel (for unbelievers) and integrate into the church family (for new Christians) than to visit someone’s house. The ‘barrier’ is much lower for them and the invitation much easier for us.

ii) One church: With 8am, 10am, 5pm and Lights Leaders groups meeting onsite together at the same time there will be a wonderful opportunity for us to enjoy intergenerational and cross congregational fellowship in a way that is complementary to our Sunday gatherings. How wonderful it will be to benefit from this kind of rich relationship as whole church family! (Alongside our central meetings we will also want to encourage groups to develop their relationships by also meeting at other times e.g. for Sunday lunch or a Friday evening dinner or even going away for a weekend as a group).

iii) Training & Teaching: Meeting centrally and studying the same Bible book will enable myself and the Bible teaching staff to invest far more deeply in the training and support of our already excellent leaders such that their ministry will be strengthened even further. In turn this will enable the word of Christ to dwell among us even more richly and deeply (Col 3:15) which will be such a blessing to us in our growth and witness as a church.

Thank you for reading this slightly extended letter if you have made it this far!

I am so looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Your brother in Christ,
Mickey Mantle