Imogen paints an amazing picture of her little sister
Fran and I see Star Wars at the Moonlight Cinema
Fran and I see Star Wars at the Moonlight Cinema
an afternoon on the Harbour
dinner with friends
Soren receives his HSC! 🙂
I receive a foreword for my book from the Grand Mufti of Syria
Celebrating the birthday of my friend, Paul
Team Watego make it to Binacrombi and meet Bob
with my wonderful Affinity friends - Mehmet Saral and Ahmet Polat
Last Sunday was my last service in my current position at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dulwich Hill, where I’ve been parish priest since 1990. Father Hugh Isaacs joins us this Sunday. Although he’s not officially on staff until March, next Sunday, to my reckoning, marks the beginning of the new era for me and for our church.
Where the church goes from here is hard to know, and I accept that I have very little control over that. As to where I go from here, I feel similarly vague, and I’m not sure whether I have much greater control over that. What I am sure about is that all the good things that have happened over the last 30 years in Dulwich Hill need to be celebrated, and the date to do that will be April 19th – the first Sunday after Easter.
I’m not sure how that day will pan out. I envisage a big Sunday service with plenty of pomp and ceremony, with the organ blasting, and having all my friends and supporters with me. We’ll celebrate some of our triumphs over the last 30 years:
Our initial ‘Get off the gear and into the ring’ outreach heroin users
Trinity’s Youth drop-in Centre, which ran for 24 years
All the Work for the Dole programs we ran
Our food-distribution programs
Refugee support initiatives,
Of course, behind each of those programs there are thousands of very personal stories – some heartbreakingly painful, and others wonderful stories of success. Hopefully, April 16 will be a day when we can share a lot of those stories.
I will have to do some boxing on that day. Perhaps I could do a couple of rounds with each of those who helped me develop those outreach programs. You’ve all been fighters – even those who didn’t actually step into the ring (like my best mate, Walter, who is fighting to recover from a stroke at the moment). Even so, when I think of all of you who have traded sporting blows with me over the last 30 years, it would make quite a spectacle if we could all get together for one final stoush!
Of course, we have some months between now and that final stoush and, from a church calendar perspective, that interim period will be dominated by the season of Lent (which seems kind of appropriate). I’ve ordered some special devotional material for the church this Lent, entitled, ‘Into the Wilderness’. Hopefully, this Lent will prove to be a fruitful wilderness-wandering for us all.
While Lent is indeed approaching, we are still in the season of Epiphany at the moment – the season that has as its starting point St Matthew’s strange story of the ‘wise men from the East’ who come to honour Jesus, the new-born king.
I think we need to keep coming back to this story as it reminds us that while Jesus is indeed ‘one of us’ in His humanity, that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a member of our tribe. The new Testament has lots of tribes represented in those early Gospel stories, including this bizarre group of astrologers. We don’t know where they’re from, they don’t speak our language, and they are definitely not a part of our religion. Even so, it seems that God has invited them to join the party too!
There’s quite a few things happening in the next couple of weeks:
We’ll have our third episode of Revved Uptoday, featuring me and my colleague, Rev. Joy Steele-Perkins, discussing current social and political issues, along with this weeks’ Gospel reading. You can tune in live at midday via my Facebook page.
Next Saturday (Feb 15) we’ll be screening “Rocking the Foundations” here in the church hall. This 1985 film by Pat Fiske tells the story of how a union stood up to the NSW government to stop Sydney turning into a high-rise jungle. Mr Fiske will be with us for a Q&A after the screening.
Monday, February 24th, will be the day the US begins its extradition hearing against our brother, Julian Assange, in London. We’ll be protesting outside the US embassy in Martin Place in Sydney from midday. I’m privileged to have been asked to be one of the speakers at the rally.
The other big thing I’m working on at the moment is another possible trip to Port Moresby to support our asylum-seeker friends who were on Manus. I’ll tell you more on that when dates are confirmed, but it will involve working with Amnesty International as well as a team of high-profile boxers. I’m hoping we can do it at the end of March or the very beginning of April.
That’s plenty for now. Keep me in your prayers as I do you.
with our friends from the Australian Federal Police!
Ange's birthday dinner
Veronica and Soren
Protesting Australia's military action in Syria
with comedian Rob Shehadie, supporting Palestine
with the girls from #Spread Hummus not Hate
with the girls from #Spread Hummus not hate
Imogen at #FightNights at Movie World
Father Dave here with a very belated newsletter.
I do apologise for the long lapses in communication. There was a time when I managed to keep in touch with my friends and supporters almost every week. Nowadays I struggle to find time each month, and probably wouldn’t manage it now, except that I’m in synod this week and find myself with time on my hands between sessions!
For those who don’t know what a synod is, it’s the Annual General Meeting of the church – not of our local church community in Dulwich Hill but of the whole Sydney Anglican Diocese, which includes us along with 382 other church communities!
I will say a little more about synod towards the end of this post but I have a lot of things I want to share today, and lots of events I want to invite you to, so I’ll list them all here first and you can choose where you want to go first:
Please redouble your prayers for Syria. The situation there is very volatile at present, and let me challenge you too to question everything you hear in the media.
Whatever else you’ve heard about Syria lately, you’ve almost certainly been told that:
The Syrian government and the Russians are committing atrocities in Aleppo.
The violence in Syria will never end unless there is a humanitarian intervention from the US and NATO.
I’d suggest to you that both of these seeming truisms are completely false.
The problem, as I see it, is that the Syrian Arab Army (and their Russian, Iranian and Lebanese comrades) are on the verge of winning the war against DAESH/ISIS, Al Nusra, etc. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the recent ceasefire (during which period the rebels in Aleppo re-armed) that battle might be over already, and once Aleppo is back in Syrian hands, the war is basically finished.
My reading of all the rhetoric coming in about the atrocities of the Syrian Army and the Russians is that it’s an attempt to slow things down, at least until Hillary Clinton takes the reins in the US, so that the violence might then be escalated.
I appreciate that this will sound outrageous to those who get all their news from ABC and CNN, but let me offer you two pieces of alternative media:
This video of my friend, Vanessa Beeley, interviewed by the Ron Paul Institute
And if you’d like to hear what I’ve personally been saying about Syria lately, there’s a video of a short speech that I gave at a recent ‘Hands Off Syria’ rally below.
Praying with me in Syria
While I can’t divulge any details at this stage, I may have an opportunity in the near future to head back to Damascus to pray for peace with Syrian religious leaders. I’m looking for church leaders who will join me – the more high-profile the better.
My main aim, as always, is to allow the Syrians to tell their story. If we can put together a high-profile religious team, we’ll be able to take a strong media team with us, and if we have the media with us, we can open up the real Syria to the people back home.
If you’d like to join me, let me know. All my contact details are on www.fatherdave.org (the non-mobile version).
Supporting Refugees and Asylum-seekers
I appreciate that not everybody is able to travel to Syria, and it may be that you can do far more for Syria and for Syrian refugees from where you are. One very simple thing you can do to highlight the plight faced by refugees and asylum-seekers in Australia is to help promote the ‘Skye Boat Song’ by my friend, Ruth McCall!
Ruth is a musician, and she has gone to enormous trouble to put together this video/song as a protest against the treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention centres. Sydney musicians and choirs got together to say ‘no more’ to the cruelty off offshore detention and seek to promote an honourable response to the current worldwide refugee crisis. You can contact Ruth via her website: www.ruthmccall.com.
Australian-Indonesian Boxing Club
As a part of our greater effort to build bridges between people of different races and religions, I am proud to announce the foundation of the Australian-Indonesian Boxing Club!
We’ll be having an official launch ceremony for the club at Holy Trinity’s Australia-Indonesia Friendship Afternoon on October 23rd, and you are invited!
Download the flyer here, print it, copy it, share it around, pin it to the fridge, etc.
We expect to have the Indonesian Consular General with us for the occasion, along with a good assortment of community leaders. Most exciting of all, not only the Indonesian Consulate, but also Lina and her team from “Spread Hummus not Hate” will be providing us with a sumptuous afternoon tea to enjoy!
When: October 23rd, 2016, 2 pm
Where: Trinity’s Community Centre, 2 Herbert Street, Dulwich Hill
The Friendship Afternoon officially finishes at 4 pm and Fight Club starts at 4.30 so bring your gloves and complete the day’s celebrations with a few rounds in the ring!
Following the foundation of our new club, the obvious next step is to head to Binacrombi – our training camp in the middle of the Australian bush – for another Warrior Weekend, so we’ll be attempting to train like Trojans and pray like monks over the first weekends of both November and December.
These bush training-camps are guaranteed to build your physical and spiritual fitness. They will also hopefully give you a chance to make some of our new Indonesian friends!
The flyer for this one is here. Download it, fill it out and give it back to me. And if you’re not clear as to exactly what you’re signing up for, watch the video.
An invitation to join the Binacrombi management team
And while we’re on the subject of Binacrombi Bush Camp, here’s a question from left-field: would you like to be a part of the management team?
We’ve been developing Binacrombi for fourteen years now and we’re on track, I believe, to build our bush-camp into Australia’s greatest ever retreat-space for young people. We’re now at the stage where we need to upgrade our management team, and train up a new group of people to help manage the site on weekends. Are you interested?
Perhaps you’ve often thought of yourself as a bush-camp manager?
You love dirt-bike riding
You know how to operate generators and pumps
You can work with people
You may be just the person we’re looking for! Here’s the deal:
You get $300 for your efforts when your turn comes
It’s not a huge pay-out, but we’re not looking for people who are in it for the cash.
We are the Fighting Fathers. Our mission is to offer an alternative culture to our young people, based on values of courage, integrity, self-discipline and teamwork. We don’t run at a profit but we do need funds to keep our programs going and this is how we make it work.
Interested? Let me know. All my contact details, as mentioned already, are on www.fatherdave.org (the non-mobile version of the site). We’ll be training people between now and the end of the year.
Video Break II (Sermon Time)
The lies and the violence of the great powers can be so overwhelming! That’s why we constantly need to be reminded of the love of God for all of His fragile and broken children. Few of Jesus’ teachings bring home that love more powerfully than his well-known parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to [Jesus]. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)
And so Jesus told them a joke …
(and if this video isn’t displaying properly, you can view it here)
Synod has been a tense time for me personally this year as one of the main subjects under discussion is the church’s stand on same-sex marriage.
I published an article supporting same-sex marriage some four years ago (see here) though I appreciated, even back then, that my views were not shared by many in my Diocese. This disappoints me, but of more immediate concern to me is the way this issue has affected my friend and colleague at Holy Trinity – the Rev Dr Keith Mascord.
Keith recently published his second book – Faith without Fear – in which he raises lots of questions about our traditional understanding of the faith, including issues of sexuality. Keith is also a supporter of same-sex marriage. In his case though, his views seem to have cost him his license to minister as a priest in the Diocese (which you can read more about here)! This has been a cause of great upset for both Keith personally and for our parish.
There was much said in synod about Keith and about same-sex marriage. I kept quiet for the most part but decided that something had to be said in opposition to a motion put forward that was designed to mobilise the church in opposition to same-sex marriage. I was the only person to speak against the motion. I forgot most of what I meant to say but an audio of that I did say is below.
The motion was passed, of course, despite my plea, though I did hear at least two or three other persons say ‘no’. I guess I expected that. What I didn’t expect, and what I personally found much harder to deal with, regarded a proposed amendment to the motion, put forward by my friend Rev. Michael Palmer.
Mike’s amendment, proposed after my brief speech, condemned the “vilification, bigotry or other expressions of hate or fear” directed towards “Christians holding or considering divergent views on same-sex relationships” (eg. me). This proposed amendment was defeated, meaning, one might think, that Anglican Christians in Sydney are at liberty to vilify me (and Keith and other dissenters) as much as they please! I’m sure that wasn’t the intention behind the rejection of the motion, but it did leave me feeling very alienated from the synod as a whole.
Please put in a prayer for Keith, for our Diocese, and for me, but most especially for the GLBTI+ community of Sydney who, I suspect, will interpret synod’s decisions as just another slap in the face from the church. These people have already been subject to a significant history of ecclesiastical abuse.
I do pray for the day when all forms of abuse and discrimination will end, and when the church everywhere will turn to their gay and lesbian sisters and brothers with love and respect, seeking forgiveness for past wrongs. I fear though that that day may yet be a long time coming.
I hope you’ve been travelling well since last we touched base. It’s been a period of highs and lows for me.
In terms of what’s been happening in our little hamlet of Dulwich Hill, it’s been almost all highs. In terms of what I’ve seen going on in other parts of the world (such as Syria) it’s been frankly heart-breaking.
Let me share the highs first:
The rebirth of the Youth Centre!
We had a magnificent afternoon at the Salvo’s centre in Dulwich Hill last week, celebrating the re-opening of our beloved Youth Centre and Fight Club in their new venue!
Thank God for the Salvo’s (click to enlarge)
It’s a real win-win situation!
The Salvo’s recreation hall and lounge area provide a magnificent space for both sporting activities and informal gatherings for our young people. In truth, it is a better space than we were ever been able to provide in the old church hall!
Having combined forces, we now also have (potentially) twice the person-power to drive the project forward. It’s just a pity that it took an arsonist to burn down our old Youth Centre before we were forced to see the many advantages of working together!
Admittedly, we are a bit thin on the ground at present with regards to staff and volunteers. I’m trusting that this will all be resolved over the next couple of weeks, but if you’re in the area and you have some time to volunteer just let me know!
A few rounds in the new ring with Kath Biggs
And if you can’t join us in person, please consider ‘liking’the Facebook page that the Salvo’s set up for our new venture.
Tears for Syria
I said when I came back from Syria that I felt I left a part of my heart in Damascus. It is still there. I still see the faces of so many of the people I met there and I wonder if they are OK.
One person I have kept contact with is Ghinwa Maia. She was translator for our delegation while we were in Damascus and is a sweet young girl, about the same age as my eldest daughter. That’s Ghinwa on the right, below, with her sister, Rima, on the left.
Rima and Ghinwa Maia in Damascus
I’ve had some lengthy text conversations with Ghinwa over the last few days where she has been telling me about massacres taking place in Alawite villages in area of Latakia. Ghinwa is an Alawite.
Let me share with you some excerpts from our conversation. Note that English is not her first language:
Ghinwa: The situation is very bad now in Latakia province. 7 Alawite villages were massacred. We know about the killing of 136 villagers all killed on sectarian bases. A friend of mind lost 21 member of his relatives.
Dave: If you can think of some way we can hep from here please tell me.
Ghinwa: I don’t really know. But perhaps you could help spreading the news about what is happening here! A friend of mine is going to document the witnesses of those who ran away or perhaps injured … Maybe I’ll be able to get this info and translate them. Send them to you. I will keep in touch if I would still be alive.
That was a week ago. Yesterday I received this:
Ghinwa: All of my friends who were documenting the name and the events of massacres in Latakia against Alawites are now being threatened to be killed by FSA and Al Nusra terrorists … On TV we are shown something different. It is only a propaganda. They’re trying to say that Alawites are not being killed or displaced. The truth is being hidden by mass media. .. This is sick… My sister now is very ill … I guess a part of her illness is caused by sadness … we are afraid.
Al Nusra promised to kill every Alawite and of settling those who came from Idleb and Aleppo instead of displaced Alawites. I have never been sectarian but what is happening here makes everyone think of sectarianism. I translated a report today from Al Jazeera International channel. They described Alawite vilages as being ‘settlements’ as if this land has never been a land of those Syrian people. I mean Alawites .. and even before Islam. Those who know the history of Syria, they know that Alwaites and Christians are the original people of Syrian and those Muslims came later on.
Dave: Have courage, my friend. All will be well. I am praying for you and for your sister. Please send my love to her. Are you happy for me to share what you are telling me with my online subscribers? I would like to share what you have said in my weekly email to my friends and supporters.
Ghinwa: Of course, Father, you could share all information with your subscribers.
Ghinwa in Tartous
Please join me in praying for this courageous girl and for her family. I would also like to give you the opportunity to talk to her about their crisis – perhaps as soon as this weekend.
I have asked Ghinwa whether she would be willing to do a conference-call with members of our Fighting Fathers online community. We haven’t done one of these for a while now but the pattern is:
I give you a phone number in the USA and a time.
You dial that number at that time and enter the access code I give you.
I do a brief interview with Ghinwa and then throw open the lines for discussion.
We’ll try to record the whole conversation for those who can’t participate in the call but, if we can make it work, it would be really great if we could have a good number join us live.
Anyway, nothing is confirmed at this stage. Getting a conference call to work from Damascus may prove no easy feat. Even so, if we can make it happen I’ll be emailing all subscribers before the end of the week with details.
Please note that it will be a Fighting Fathers members-only call. That should screen out any trouble-makers. If you’re not a financial member of fighting-fathers.com you’ll be able to listen to the recording afterwards but you won’t be able to participate live.
Stay tuned and keep praying!
The Rich Idiot
The struggles of Ghinwa and the people of Syria do help us put our own struggles in proper perspective, I think. If the worst problem we have is our mortgage, we’re doing pretty well really.
This was certainly Jesus’ perspective – “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Jesus’ words to His followers about money-matters are as clear as they are unpopular.
This sermon on ‘The Rich Idiot’ of Luke 12 isn’t the most brilliant or insightful I’ve ever given and yet I was surprised at how many people were apparently challenged and helped by it. Let me know how it affects you.
And before I let you go today, I want to take a moment to welcome back to Oz one of our long-time members, Fighting Father Mike, who has spent most of the year in Gaza.
Mike has been working on Gaza’s Ark, and if you want to know all about that work you’ll find the Ark’s website here.
Michael in Gaza, promoting the Ark
In short, Gaza’s Ark is sort of like the flip-side of the Freedom Flotillas, where the idea was to sail boats into Gaza from ports around the world in order to break the Israeli siege. In this case the idea is to sail a boat out of Gaza, filled with Gaza-made goods that can be traded in ports around the world to help support the struggling people of Gaza.
It’s a brilliant concept and I’d encourage you to make a financial contribution via their site. If you can’t do that, at least consider ‘liking‘ their Facebook page.
That’s more than enough from me for this week, but if you’re free this Sunday afternoon and in the area do consider joining us at the Croatian Club where a couple of our boys will be fighting, including the ever-popular Fighting Father Mungo!
In a bizarre twist, Mungo will be fighting the man I made I professional boxing debut against back in 1996, then known as ‘Jimmy Pat‘! It’s a long story, but if you want to see the latest chapter unfold you’ll need to be there on Sunday!
Fighting Fathers members can send words of encouragement to Mungo through the member site. If you’d like to see ‘Jimmy Pat‘ in action, the archive of the last round of our 1996 fight is here.
P.S. And as I’m apt to remind you, if you’d like to support our work, the best way is to become a financial member at fighting-fathers.com. It only costs you $10/month but it makes all the difference at this end!
It’s Father Dave, touching base with you again, relatively briefly this time.
In truth, I had planned to have a Massive Missive for you today – centering around the latest pugilistic triumph of Dulwich Hill’s own Lovemore N’dou over the challenger from Cameroon – Rivan Cessaire.
The fight was scheduled for eight rounds at The Melbourne Pavilion in Victoria last Friday night. Lovemore had trained like a Trojan for the event. His fitness was great, we had a solid fight plan, and in terms of preparation, all that needed to be done had been done.
I was actually boarding the plane to fly down and meet Lovemore in Melbourne when he called. “How are you, brother?” I asked cheerfully. “Not so good”, he said. “I’m in hospital!”
Thankfully Lovemore’s health is picking up now, but it’s taken a few days of solid bed-rest. And we still have no idea how he picked up the virus that brought him down so rapidly. Quite likely it was something he ate after the weigh-in? We’ll never know for sure.
All in all it was a good lesson in humility. We make these plans and we think we’ve got everything worked out. All the contingencies have been covered and so the battle is as good as won! How easy it is to forget that we are only made of frail flesh and blood!
I was reminded of the wisdom of St James: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14)
Of course this doesn’t mean we have to diminish our vision. I still believe that we’re going to see some great fights, raise significant funds, and change the lives of many people, enshallah.
Details of the revised schedule will be coming your way soon.
Forgive the Whinge
Forgive me if I appear to be whinging today. In truth, half my family are overseas at the moment, so I’m struggling to find people to listen to my moaning!
What makes the distance particularly hard is that today is my lovely daughter Imogen’s fifteenth birthday, and instead of being here with dad she’s cycling her way through northern Italy!
I guess when you put those two options side-by-side, it’s hard not to choose the bicycle over the old guy. Even so, I miss her.
At least I have this lovely photo of me and my two lovely older girls, taken shortly before they both took off overseas.
In case you don’t recognise them, that’s Imogen on the right (my left) and my other jet-setting daughter, Veronica on the left.
Two Quick Favours
Actually, the favours may not be quick but I’m going to be quick in asking them as I’m not well myself. I’ve been struggling with a cold for the last few days, and I’ll need to get to bed soon if I’m going to recover properly.
Favour no.1: please consider making a comment on my blogs
I’ve noticed that the only comments I’ve received on www.fatherdave.org/blog lately have come from people who hate me.
Thankfully I set up my blog so that I’d have to manually approve all comments before they are made public, and I’ve just been deleting these comments as they’ve come in. I’m not worried if people disagree with me, but all I’ve been getting lately is foul-mouthed abuse.
Anyway, I’m guessing that the reason for the one-way traffic is because most of my friends read this as an email and reply to me with an email, and so you don’t bother going to the archived version on the blog and leaving comments there. Why would you?
Even so, it would be nice to have some balance on the blog. So if you’ve got any comments to make on anything I’ve said this week or in previous weeks, and you don’t mind sharing your thoughts with the world, go to www.fatherdave.org/blog and make your presence felt
The same goes for www.israelandpalestine.org of course. I put quite a bit of time each day into this site and have posted some great articles on it lately (such as this one by Noam Chomsky). It would be great to receive some more balanced comments on that site too.
Favour no.2: check out this web-promotion offer from my friend Raam.
This offer is only relevant to you have a website that isn’t getting enough visitors and you wouldn’t mind spending some money on it to see the site become more popular.
Raam’s promotinal techniques are similar to those I outline in my How 2 Change the World eCourse. The difference is that Raam and his team do all the work for you. This saves a LOT of time, but of course you have to pay for it
It’s an affiliate link, which means that we get a commission if you decide to use Raam’s services. In truth though, I’ve been a client of Raam’s for the best part of ten years now. I use his paid services every month and intend to continue to do so indefinitely.
OK. That’s enough from me today. I’m going to get to bed.
Hopefully I’ll be fighting-fit again by next week and have something bigger and better for you.
May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.