It’s just over a month since the Reverend Career Blind-Alley (or whatever his name was) of St Stephen’s Bellevue Hill hit the spotlight after sending a couple of very childish (not to mention downright nasty) letters to Justice Kirby, one of Australia’s most respected public figures.
Since then Rev. Blind-Alley has been an obedient Matthian, and lain low without making a sound until all the fuss dies down. Rumours that this was influenced by coadjutant Bishop Falstaff are completely unfounded, as is the report that Bishop Falstaff was seen carrying 50 feet of rope and several roles of duct tape into the St. Stephen’s manse.
So, as is the usual means of dealing with hiccups on the path to world evangelical domination, all reference to the event has now been removed from the official histories. All that remains is an unwritten (and oh-so softly voiced) warning for Sydney clergy to in future ignore powerful and popular persons of alternate sexuality, and simply continue picking on their traditional target: the vulnerable and easily intimidated. Consequently I was deleting my unused pictures of St. Stephen’s, since the story has no further mileage and they won't be needed any more, when when I noticed something...
As you can see, when it comes to noticeboards St. Stephen’s believes more is better. That’s not unusual in these parts: perhaps someone in the Cathedral offices a few years ago had a brother-in-law in the sign business.
Look at the close-up of the left sign above, and you’ll see the Sunday evening “Contemporary Evening Meeting” (no + Iker –your new friends from Sydney never call it “The Eucharist”. Ask them why at GAFCON – they’ll be happy to explain.) is held at 7pm.
Yet the sign on the right says it starts at 6pm. So which is correct? When should anyone interested arrive?
One thing is certain: they don’t run two services. Matthians like their sermons long (anything less than 40 minutes suggests the preacher has liberal tendencies), so there’d be no time for Rev. Blind-Alley to double up. Besides, Bellevue Hill isn’t exactly a hot-bed of revival (bet you’d never guessed, right?), so anything more than a dozen bums on pews for one evening service would be surprising.
This indicative of something you see in churches everywhere: it’s certainly not just a Sydney Anglican thing. Those in the know, the pious insiders, have the correct time, and they undoubtedly show up every week as regular as clockwork. The reason the signs haven’t been fixed is because the people responsible don’t care about those not in their clique. They have more important things to do than worry about signs. It doesn’t matter that outsiders don’t know when to arrive for the evening service, because outsiders aren’t really welcome.
If Sydney’s commitment to mission and growth is anything more than lip-service and a "we can do it too" response to World Youth Day (and they’ve a long way to go before I’ll be convinced it is) the men in charge are going to have to start caring about those who aren't on the inner. Showing they care. Listening even. Actually loving those who have not yet attained the authorised (and self-assessed) degree of sinless righteousness.
And gee, it’d help if they could let people know what time things start.