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Sydney Anglicans

I have mixed feelings about Sydney Anglicans. They belong to the largest evangelical Anglican diocese on the planet, and one of the two wealthiest.

When I served as a Staffworker/evangelist with the InterVarsity Fellowship (later The Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students – AFES) for three years (1968-70) I often spoke at their churches and youth camps. I was impressed that over 20 of their churches saw at least 100 young people a week attending Bible Study groups -something you could not say about any other denomination in Australia at that time.

We’d been privileged to attend an Anglican church – St. Thomas’ Kingsgrove – for a whole year in 1963. It was led by an energetic and very gifted pastor-evangelist, Dudley Foord, who at the end of the year invited me to be his church’s youth leader. But I’d already determined to enter the Baptist Theological College in Sydney, and on a memorable day at Cronulla Beach when our two families were enjoying a picnic, I had to share that news with Dudley.

Dudley Foord was an excellent model of a conscientious Evangelical leader. Around that time he probably spoke to more University missions throughout Australia than anyone (see the references to his doing that in Timothy Dudley-Smith’s biography of John Stott), and there were many Bible study groups, neighbourhood evangelistic groups etc. operating from the church. Those neighbourhood groups encouraged church members to invite all their neighbours into a someone’s home, and Dudley or someone else would come and talk to them about the Christian faith, answer questions etc. The Sydney diocese’s statistics for this mode of evangelism were, if I recall correctly: on average 20 invitations would result in 14 individuals or couples saying they’ll come; 8 individuals/couples attended, and of these one would begin attending church and/or make a faith commitment. Not bad!

That’s the sort of evangelistic zeal which impressed me then, and does still. We used to say there were two ‘enemies’ within the Anglican fold – theological liberals who were (and are) too ‘wishy-washy’ and have no idea what Jesus and Paul meant by the ‘lostness’ of people without faith in God; and the ‘smells and bells’

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