Relationship of church and military strengthens in Australia
Those concerned about the church being too closely aligned with the military will be worried by the news that for the first time the Anglican Church in Australia has ordained someone for service as a military chaplain.
Helen Dinsmore and Clyde Appleby were ordained deacons in the ceremony at All Saint's Cathedral in Bathhurst, and will now spend two years of on-the-job training in parish ministry within the Diocese before they are commissioned as chaplains to the armed services.
Both have spent many years in military service - Helen Dinsmore holds the rank of Squadron Leader in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), while Clyde Appleby is an officer in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
In the past, military chaplaincy positions have been filled by clergy who have worked in mainstream parish ministry.
The Dean of All Saints' Cathedral, the Very Revd Andrew Sempell (a former military chaplain) said the significance of this
ordination is that it will be the first in the Anglican Church of Australia to include ordinands trained by the Australian Defence Force(ADF) for the purpose of full-time chaplaincy.
"It is also a sign of the good co-operation between the Australian Defence Force and Anglican Church, as these ordinands will complete their ministry training within parishes in the Diocese of Bathurst," Andrew Sempell said. "There are currently around thirty-five full-time and fifty-five part-time Anglican chaplains serving in the Navy, Army and Air Force."
The relationship between the Anglican church and the military came under the spotlight during the invasion of Iraq as some bishops throughout the Anglican communion opposed the war, and concerns were raised about church services which might be seen as sanctioning military action.
But Andrew Sempell said that chaplains would be principally concerned with the provision of pastoral care and counselling, sacramental ministry, the conduct of church and memorial services and instruction at the Defence Force's many training colleges.
"The leadership of the Bishop to the Defence Force, Dr Tom Frame, had been instrumental in the ongoing development of the relationship between the ADF and the Church, which has brought us to this important milestone in chaplaincy training," Sempell added.
In his sermon during the ordination service, Bishop Tom Frame acknowledged the 'generosity of spirit' shown by Bishop Richard in starting a new relationship between the Defence Force Chaplaincy and the Diocese of Bathurst.
"Our work in the Defence Force is the most significant youth outreach of our Church, and I'm pleased this diocese has shared in it," Bishop Frame said.
He also noted the role played by Diocesan Archdeacon Peter Danaher in the process of selecting the candidates, and setting up the placements and processes of ongoing training.
During the service the Registrar of the Defence Force Chaplaincy, Colin Aiken, was installed as an honorary canon of All Saints' Cathedral - a procedure that Bishop Frame described as cementing the relationship between the Diocese and the chaplaincy service.
Apparently steering clear of passages that talked of Jesus rejection of violence, "turning the other cheek", and peacemaking, Bishop Frame highlighted the words of Jesus to those he sent out in his name: "Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals".
"We take lots of things with us, 'just in case'," he said. "We burden ourselves, and we leave a very heavy footprint on the ground."
He said St Luke emphasised the importance of Jesus' directions to his disciples, to proclaim the message of God's forgiveness by the manner of their being. "While we might provide materially for those in full-time mission, and seek financial support for those in full-time ministry, neither the material support nor the financial resources ultimately determine the outcome or the quality of the ministry," he said. "Those who are ordained today must remember that their ministry depends more on who they are and how they live, and much less on what they carry or on what they possess."