Monthly Archives

October 2018

ATHEIST POLITICIAN FINDS GOD AT 85

By Australian Newsletter

Bill Hayden, former Governor-General of Australia and lifelong atheist, has found God and been baptized in a Catholic Church at 85 years of age. Hayden “said it was witnessing so many selfless acts of compassion by Christians over his lifetime, and deep contemplation while recovering from a stroke, that prompted his decision.” Hayden, who during his political career identified as a humanist, was baptized on September 9 at St. Mary’s Church in Ipswich. Hayden revealed that he had been experiencing “a gnawing pain in my heart and soul about what is the meaning of life.” “What’s my role in it?” he stated of the questions that bothered him.

He said that although in declining health, he is hoping his new-found faith will inspire others. “This took too long, and now I am going to be devoted,” Hayden noted. “From this day forward I’m going to vouch for God,” he pledged. Father Peter Dillon, the Catholic priest who baptized him, said that despite his life-long atheism, the former federal opposition leader and foreign minister had a change of heart several months ago. “It was a big thing for him, an act of submission to the fact that there was no denying for him that God is real and he had come to discover that,” Dillon said.

Hayden revealed that a big influence on his conversion was his own Catholic mother, who taught him the principles of humanity, social commitment and service to others. It was a recent hospital visit to see Sister of Mercy Angela Mary Doyle, the 93-year-old nun famous for her long history of helping the poor, that finally motivated him to turn to God, however. “I have always felt embraced and loved by her Christian example,” he said. “Sister Angela Mary Doyle was for twenty-two years administrator of Mater hospitals in Brisbane, a citadel of health care for the poor of South Brisbane where I grew up towards the end of the Great Depression,” Hayden explained.

“Dallas (my wife), our daughter Ingrid and I recently visited Sister Angela Mary in the Mater Hospital where she was a patient,” he added. “The next morning I woke with the strong sense that I had been in the presence of a holy woman. “So after dwelling on these things I found my way back to the core of those beliefs, the Church.” Hayden said that he would like to play an active part in the St, Vincent de Paul Society, one of the major Catholic charities in the country. Amid his conversion, Hayden did touch upon a major controversial topic that has gripped Catholic churches worldwide, namely decades-long child sex abuse. “The problems are caused by human agents of the Church, but we shouldn’t let our faith be undermined those who aren’t quite as good as they should be,” the former politician said of the issue.

Source: The Christian Post

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DOCTORS COULD BE DEREGISTERED FOR PERSONAL BELIEFS

By Australian Newsletter

A new threat to the freedom of conscience, speech and action of doctors is the Australian Health Practitioners’ Regulatory Authority’s (AHPRA’s) proposed revision of their code of conduct called: Good Medical Practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia. AHPRA is the statutory body that controls registration of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. It has the power to deregister health professionals if it sees fit. Changes to the wording of the code mean that doctors could be deregistered for expressing personal opinions.

The proposed revision says: “The boundary between a doctor’s personal and public profile can be blurred. As a doctor, you need to acknowledge and consider the effect of your comments and actions outside work, including online. If making public comment, you should acknowledge the profession’s generally accepted views and indicate when your personal opinion differs.

Behaviour which could undermine community trust in the profession is at odds with good medical practice and may be considered unprofessional”.

This proposed draconian change to the code seeks to silence any dissent to the view expressed by AHPRA. It threatens the livelihoods of doctors who do not subscribe, for example, to the view that gender dysphoric children should be quickly pushed down the path of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones or who have a conscientious objection to abortion, to name but two.

Toowoomba GP Dr David van Gend is currently being investigated by APHRA for simply retweeting comments.

Please pray:

  • that the wording of the final code will not result in the limitation of free speech.
  • that the committee considering the new code will not be influenced subjectively by pressure groups.
  • that the voice of all in the medical profession will be heard and considered before final decisions are made. The loudest voices or vested interests do not always represent the majority view.

Source: Australian Family Association 

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STUDENTS SET FOR RADICAL 21ST CENTURY CURRICULUM

By Australian Newsletter

Australian students are set to be taught fashionable but contentious 21st-century skills, ranging from critical and creative thinking through to “mindfulness”, “gratitude” and “resilience”, with moves under way for a radical redesign of the national curriculum. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has started a review of the curriculum that is understood to draw heavily on the recent Gonski review, an OECD future of education project and the work of a US-based “futurist” who has been contracted to help “modernise” the mathematics curriculum.

The push has attracted criticism from ACARA’s recently retired chairman, Steven Schwartz.  “The 21st-century skills movement is the latest in a long line of educational fads,” Professor Schwartz said. “In each case, early enthusiasm gave way to disillusion. The problem is always the same: children cannot learn to be critical thinkers until they have actually learned something to think about.” ACARA chief executive Robert Randall alluded to the review during a recent University of NSW lecture. He revealed the next iteration of the curriculum would be out within two years.

It is understood work is centred on two objectives: bringing 21st-century skills, known as “soft skills” and “generic competencies”, to the fore of what is taught in classrooms; and incorporating equally contentious learning progressions that have been linked to a proposal to replace student achievement, including A-E grades, with “gain” as a measure of a student’s success. Both were endorsed by businessman David Gonski in his recent review into educational excellence. Former ACARA director of curriculum Fiona Mueller, who resigned late last year after two years in the role, exposed the review in a recent online opinion article.

She lamented the “fixation on 21st-century competencies” and “lack of broadminded, transparent and objective leadership on the part of local decision makers”. Approached by The Weekend Australian, Dr Mueller said she was concerned that work under way amounted to a redesign of the curriculum by stealth. “You might call it a rather stealthy shift in approach, and the implications for students, teachers and other stakeholders are absolutely enormous,” she said. “What they are talking about is actually another radical shift in teaching and learning.”

Despite ACARA’s frequent assurances that any changes to the two-year-old curriculum would be “refinements”, it recently commissioned the US-based Centre for Curriculum Redesign, headed by self-described education thought leader and futurist Charles Fadel, to work on a new maths curriculum. It was referred to on ACARA’s website in July under the obscure heading “Australian Curriculum: Mathematics recognised as global leader”. A media release reveals the project would lead to the creation of a “world-class mathematics curriculum” that paid explicit attention to “21st century competencies” addressing the “learning needs of students for life and work in the 21st century”.

Mr Randall was quoted as saying that the project would be used to “inform any future refinement to the Australian curriculum in mathematics and to help guide improvement to ACARA’s overall curriculum design and development process”. Hailed by many as a panacea to declining educational results, both locally and when compared with international counterparts, the general capabilities received a big tick in the Gonski report, which described them as “critical to equipping students with the skills necessary to successfully live and work in a changing world and are increasingly sought after by employers”.

Positioned in the national curriculum with eight core learning areas, such as English, maths, science and history, there are seven general capabilities: literacy, numeracy, ICT capability, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, intercultural understanding and ethical understanding. Australian Catholic University research fellow Kevin Donnelly, a former secondary school principal who conducted the government’s 2014 review of the curriculum, said the push to elevate the role of skills and capabilities in education was a worldwide trend, driven by “globalist groupthink” about “changing times”.

It is to prepare students “for jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems that have not yet been anticipated”. It is also a major theme of the OECD’s Education 2030 position paper, The Future of Education and Skills, in which ACARA was heavily involved. The report, released this year, features a long list of “constructs” of competencies currently under review that could find their way into the curriculum, such as adaptability, compassion, equity, global mindset, gratitude, hope, integrity, motivation, justice, mindfulness, resilience, respect, purposefulness and trust.

“Such competencies represent a content-free approach to the curriculum that is guaranteed to further lower standards and ensure that Australian students continue to underperform and leave schools morally and culturally bereft,” Dr Donnelly said. Centre for Independent Studies senior research fellow Jennifer Buckingham also questioned the push, describing it as “well-intentioned but misguided”. “Of course it is important for young people to be able to collaborate, communicate and think critically and creatively, but there is absolutely nothing new about that,” Dr Buckingham said.

“What is new is the idea that these things can be taught by schools as a set of generic skills or capabilities disconnected from disciplinary knowledge. Good evidence suggest that this is a fool’s errand.” A spokesman for ACARA confirmed that the organisation was engaged in work designed to inform the next generation of the national curriculum, but any action would require the endorsement of all education ministers. The spokesman said that the recommendation in the Gonski report built on ACARA’s recent work in producing literacy and numeracy learning progressions, which “help teachers locate the literacy and numeracy development of their students and identify what development should follow”.

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HILLSONG TO BECOME ITS OWN DENOMINATION

By Australian Newsletter

Citing the growing global nature of the church, Brian Houston, global senior pastor of the popular Hillsong Church, has announced a split from Australia’s largest Pentecostal denomination to become a denomination of its own. Since their inception, Hillsong Church has been a part of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC), a branch of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, which is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. In a recent letter to the ACC, Houston said Hillsong’s operation as a church had outgrown the capacity of the ACC.

As Hillsong Church has continued to grow, we no longer see ourselves as an Australian Church with a global footprint, but rather a Global church with an Australian base, our global office now resides in the USA. Two thirds of the people attending Hillsong Church each weekend live in countries beyond Australia. We have pastoral staff in twenty-four nations around the world, representing 123 campuses and locations, with 263 different church services on any given weekend. We consider it to be ‘One House, with many rooms,'” Houston explained in the letter.

“So with that growing footprint, it has become clear that we need to be able to credential our own pastors and restructure our church in a way that enables us to give due diligence to governance, risk, church health, safe church, and many other policies that are crucial to the future progress of Hillsong, globally,” he said. “For this reason, we are now registered by the Australian Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, as a recognized denomination with the ability to credential pastors in our own right. This recognition alleviates the issues that would occur if, for example, a concern arises that affects the credential of a Hillsong Church youth pastor in one of our campuses in Europe.

The Australian ACC cannot be expected to have adequate information to address this issue or even know who the person is, let alone the resources to appropriately deal with the issue on a personal or pastoral level.” In an email to the denomination’s pastors, ACC President Wayne Alcorn likened Hillsong’s decision to split from the group to a child growing up. “Recently Hillsong Church advised its desire for a change in its relationship with the ACC. In a way, this can be likened to a child who has grown up and now has a larger life outside the family home,” Alcorn wrote.

In his letter announcing the split, Houston noted that there was no dispute involved in the separation. “I love the ACC and have been a part of this denomination since I was a five year old in New Zealand, and have held a credential in Australia with the AOG/ACC for virtually forty years. I also served as NSW State President for six years, and National President for twelve,” he wrote. “It is a movement I have devoted many years of my adult life to both serving and leading. I believe wholeheartedly that Pastor Wayne Alcorn is doing a wonderful job in leading the movement, and I want to make it clear that we have no grief or dispute at all with the ACC.

Instead, this decision comes after almost two years of prayerful discussion within both our global and Australian church boards.” While Hillsong Church may be splitting from the ACC, it will remain at least in its doctrine, a Pentecostal church with a more contemporary approach to ministry. Notably, Houston has stated earlier this year that he prefers to call Hillsong “contemporary” or “charismatic” more so than “classic Pentecostal.”

Source: Christian Post

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FRANKLIN GRAHAM TO TOUR AUSTRALIA FEBRUARY 2019

By Australian Newsletter

There are so many people in your community and across Australia who don’t know Jesus Christ, and they need your prayers. In February 2019 Franklin Graham will boldly proclaim the Gospel in cities all over Australia and pray with Christians like you at free evangelistic events during the Graham Tour. Before the tour, you are invited to join with other believers from your city at upcoming prayer gatherings and ask God to open hearts throughout this country? We’ll worship and join together in Jesus’ Name to pray that many Australians will come to know Him. Before the meeting, will you lift up people across Sydney in prayer for the Graham Tour?

The first public expression of the 2019 Graham Tour is coming up fast. A prayer rally and Pastors reception will be held on Saturday 13th October and a second prayer gathering on Wednesday 24th October (details below). A Pastors and spouse reception will be held prior to the Prayer Gathering at Hillsong at 5:30pm on 13th October. The prayer rally will begin at 7pm. Hillsong Church will be providing worship and there will be prayers on the night by denominational leaders, as well as the Vice President of Crusades from Billy Graham USA, Rev Viktor Hamm.

Saturday, 13 October
7:00 PM
Hillsong Church Hills Campus
The Hub
1/9 Solent Circuit
Baulkham, NSW 2153
Senior Pastor and Spouse Reception at 5:30 PM
Or
Wednesday, 24 October
12:30 – 1:30 PM
St. Andrews Cathedral
Corner of George and Bathurst Streets
Sydney, NSW 2000

DATES AND LOCATIONS FOR THE 2019 GRAHAM TOUR
Perth: February 9, 2019
Darwin: February13, 2019
Melbourne: February 16, 2019
Brisbane: February 18, 2019
Adelaide: February 20, 2019
Sydney: February 23 – 24, 2019

To find more information on the Graham Tour and discover how your congregation can get involved and to register your Church go to www.GrahamTour.com.au  Also keep an eye out for Facebook events on the Billy Graham Australia Facebook page.  

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