Or rather, there was just one such school, because last Tuesday Archbishop Jensen, who chairs the Anglicare council which has operated Kingsdene school for the past 33 years, announced the school will close at the end of next year. After then there will be no facilities of this type available for children and their families. None.
That’s because the Sydney Diocese says it can no longer afford the $1.2 million a year needed to keep the school open, although the Sydney Morning Herald reported Anglicare Community Care director Ian Jackson as saying the closure was not a consequence of recent diocesan losses. Yeah right… forgive me if I don’t believe that either.
The reality is that in the great and glorious vision of global evangelical domination by which Sydney has been seduced there’s not much of a place for profoundly disabled children. Flying around the world and destabilizing British and American churches is a lot more exciting than caring for kids who dribble and aren’t ever going to join the Sydney University Evangelical Union where they respectfully admire the leaders’ brilliant Pauline exegesis. So when it comes to cutting corners…
Don’t get me wrong: I firmly believe that providing facilities for the weaker and needier members of our society is primarily the state’s responsibility, not the church’s, and I find it disgusting that a government who wastes $30 million on a V8 Supercar race refuses to provide appropriate care for those citizens least able to care for themselves. Yet in this case it’s not the government arguing against feotal abnormality testing, nor does the state teach that aborting a disabled feotus is a sin. If Sydney Anglican evangelicals want to set an example to a secular society they clearly consider their spiritual inferiors they must be prepared to lead the way when it comes to supporting those whom the world rejects. Setting a moral bar and then refusing to support those striving to meet it is the way of the Pharisees. And nothing more.
Nor is it enough to claim that since the government won’t put the money on the table then the Church doesn’t need to either. Ours is a calling to do more, not to meet apathy with apathy. If that means postponing the construction of yet another “multi-purpose ministry centre”, or a few less flights to meet and encourage liars claiming “this dispute is all about how we read the bible”, then so be it. Responsibility is not something Christ taught we can shrug off simply because the world doesn’t care either. Sure there’s no glamour (in this world, at any rate) in toilet-training incontinent teenagers, and the angels might rejoice when a 16 year old manages to learn the skills necessary to accompany their aging grandmother on a trip to the shops, but it’s not the kind of news that fills church-growth seminars. Yet since when has love been less important than having a “dynamic entrepreneurial missional focus”?
Forget whoever happens to be the latest gee-whiz evangelical guru: the parents of the children attending Kingsdene teach us all more about love, dedication, service, strength, and suffering than any Matthias Media paraphernalia can ever do. We reject them at our peril.
“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”Matthew 18:10