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Next steps to respond to Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill

Bp Richard Condie writes:

The End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill) has recently been tabled in the Legislative Council and will be debated over the coming weeks. The Bill is a cause of concern to me for a number of reasons. 

As Christians we affirm that every life is valuable, regardless of the state of the person, because we are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27). We therefore believe that our life and death is in the providential hands of God. The Psalmist affirms that “our times are in his hands” (Ps 31:14), and we know that it is God who determines our length of days. Our lives are not our own, but we belong to the creator (1 Cor 6:19). We know that often people suffer from illnesses and that these are part of our human condition. We express compassion for those who suffer, knowing that Christ himself entered into our embodied humanity, and shared the griefs and trials of our human condition. 

While we do not expect wider Tasmanian society or our law makers to necessarily hold to Christian ideals, the “sanctity of life” is not only a religious idea but the foundation of many of our laws and many government programs. We have just had the most unprecedented restriction of our economy to protect lives from the threat of Coronavirus based on this idea that life is worth saving.  

The proposed legislation allows for a person to take their own life with the assistance of a medical practitioner. While the legislation calls this “assisted dying” and stops the death being recorded as a “suicide”, this is exactly what it is – a suicide, the taking of one’s own life. The suicide of its citizens should never be allowed or encouraged by a government.

 

I have concerns about the inadequate protections in the Bill for the vulnerable in our society. We have an alarming problem with elder abuse, and while the legislation tries to mitigate the risk of a person being coerced into accessing it, one can imagine this may happen in some families. If just one elderly Tasmanian is pressured into taking their own life under the legislation, that will be one too many. Another concern that I have is that the legislation has not been subject to a great deal of scrutiny. Some information sessions have been held but have been inadequate in testing the legislation. We need to call on our Parliamentarians to support full consultation on the Bill."

 

What can you do?

1. Check out this website - https://livendiewell.org

2. It is good to hand-write and post letters to local Members Parliament. (All letters can be posted to ‘Parliament House Hobart 7000’). The next best is to print, sign and post a letter. If you can only write one letter, please address it to ‘The Premier’ or email peter.gutwein@parliament.tas.gov.au .Another option is to phone the Premier’s office (6165 7650) and leave a message.

A letter/phone-call/email need not be long. See the below example:

Dear Premier/MP,
Thank you for your service to Tasmania, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Tasmanian lives really do matter which is why I am writing to ask that you establish an inquiry into end-of-life matters in Tasmania before Mike Gaffney’s End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 is debated.

This is because I have been informed that Mr Gaffney’s bill allows for people to request to be euthanized even if they have no physical suffering at the time. I also believe that palliative care in Tasmania is underfunded and that many people don’t understand their end-of-life choices.


Sincerely,
Your name and address

2020 AGM - How to complete nominations for Parish Council & Warden

Background

In this coronavirus climate, the Diocese of Tasmania has made several new provisions to facilitate safe process and in-person gathering. One of these is electronic nominations for leadership positions: the two offices for election and appointment for 2020-21 are Parish Councillor and Warden.

 

What are these roles?

A suitable Parish Council member represents the wider church, in particular their home congregation, and joins with the Rector in "ensuring the affairs of the Parish are properly conducted". More importantly, a Parish Council member is committed to life with, like and for Jesus for themselves, as they demonstrate a passion for the vision and welfare of Wellspring.

A suitable Warden will fit the above description also, as well as having a greater degree of responsibility in the spiritual discernment and welfare of Wellspring Parish (our people and property).

 

How do I nominate someone?

A sample email communication is provided below for you to copy & amend. Reference is made to two documents, which are attached to this post.

Eg. John Smith has nominated Tom Black for Parish Council. Joan Smith is the secondary nominator. Both Tom Black and Joan Smith must confirm by return email that they consent to nominate/be nominated. At every point, the nominee's address, nominators' addresses and admin@wellspring.org.au must be included in the email thread. 
 

We, 1. John SMITH (cc’d in for confirmation)   and 2. Joan SMITH

Electors of the Parish of Wellspring

HEREBY NOMINATE as Parish Councillor , Tom BLACK (cc’d in for confirmation)

By return email, Tom BLACK agrees to this nomination and declares that he has read the Faithfulness in Service Code of Behaviour (Ministry and Tribunal Ordinance 1998, Schedule 5).

 

He agrees to meet the requirements of Safe Church Communities Endorsement as defined in the Safe Church Communities Ordinance 2009, Schedule 1, for holders of this office, if so elected.

Growth Group Discussion Questions - 8am & 10am congregations - Jul/Aug 2020

On Jul 16th, Rob preached on John 10:1-18 and Psalm 23 with the theme of "Life with Jesus"

  1. In what ways has this COVID-19 pandemic clarified your life? Eg. What has emerged as important and not-so-important? How have you changed your outlook on relationships, work, money, health?
  2. Re-read Jn 10:1-5 and Ps 23:1-4. What signs of an intimate relationship do you see reflected in these?
  3. Discuss what you understand by the phrase "hearing the Shepherd's voice". Read Matthew 7:24-27 as a prompt.
  4. Share your reaction to this statement: "The goal of Jesus' cross is not only our forgiveness but our reconciliation to the Father." See Colossians 1:19-23.
  5. What sort of enemies can you identify in your life that make intimate, abundant and responsive life with Jesus difficult?

 

On July 26th, Rob preached the first in our "Values" series (BELONG) from Psalm 139 and Romans 15:1-7

  1. Do you have a 'history' with this Psalm to share? A particular time in your life where part or all of it impacted you?
  2. Go through the psalm to count how many times God is spoken of as acting/initiating. What does this teach us about the first step of belonging?
  3. Re-read Ps 139:19-24. How does this section relate to the remainder of the psalm?
  4. Re-read Rom 15:1-5. How do these verses describe the life of a church community?
  5. Rom 15:7 instructs believers to "accept one another just as Christ accepted you." How did Christ accept us? What about this is meant to be replicated in accepting one another? Give a real-life example.

Springkids, regathering plans from July 26th 2020

If you're a 10am parent, please click below to read Children's Ministry Coordinator Lynne Grant provide an overview of what to expect this Sunday -

Pre-Budget communication, July 2020

Dear Wellspring community,

 

We’re entering into an important season for the life of our church, and I want you to come along.

 

As a church, we meet in August each year at our Annual General Meeting to decide on our ministry investments: where we think God is calling us to spend our time, our money and our passion for the year ahead. In the coming weeks, you’ll receive some communication to help you prepare for that meeting, but the upshot is that our year ahead will focus on being a community where people belongbelievegrow and share

 

Today I am writing with an update on where we think God is calling us to spend our money, so that these keywords can become realities. Parish Council have put together a proposed draft 2020-2021 Budget that includes a number of significant changes to decrease our expenditure, so that we are being good stewards of our resources by having a sustainable long-term budget.  (Further detail in relation to the changes is discussed further below).

 

For those who are new to Wellspring or need a refresh, here’s some context. Last year, Parish Council felt God calling us to step out in faith with an ambitious budget, a budget that invested in our key ministries with the prayer that these ministries would grow spiritually and in number to enable an offertory increase of over 25%. 

 

Based on the recent Parish-wide Strategic Planning survey, we note various shortcomings to how we presented our budget last year. In particular, we understand that last year’s budget took some of our church family by surprise, especially surrounding staff expenditure.  We note that some church members did not feel that they had an opportunity to express their thoughts during or outside of the AGM. We hope that this communication about key proposed changes will give insight earlier. 

 

As reported by our Treasurer Gemma Kleywegt in the last Finance Update, as well as throughout the year in the fortnightly church Newsletter, an offertory increase has not eventuated, and as at 31 May 2020 we remain at a shortfall of $157,000.

 

In addition to the offertory observations above, we have also identified the following key factors;

  • Regular Cambodia outreach support has dropped significantly, resulting in Wellspring needing to compensate the shortfall from general funds.  
  • Whilst we have not seen a significant reduction in financial giving from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic environment as yet, we are conscious that there may be some in our church family experiencing hardship now or to come.
  • The federal government’s Jobkeeper initiative, which all staff employed by the Diocese of Tasmania are eligible for, allows some budgetary relief but is not a long-term provision.

 

As compared to current spending, these are the key expenditure changes proposed for the 2020-2021 Budget:

  • Staffing investments
    • Rector – Rob Imberger – reduces by 1 day per week*
    • University Pastor – Sam Gough – reduces by 1 day per week*
    • Chinese Pastor – Michael Chau – reduces by 2 days per week*
    • Chinese Assistant Minister - Tzu Nin Kwan – reduces by 1 day per week*
    • Children’s Ministry Coordinator – Lynne Grant – begins employment 1 day per week for 5 months (until end of 2020)
    • Children’s Minister (to be employed) – 2 days per week for 6 months (from beginning 2021)
    • Music Ministry Leader – Jessie Whittle – begins employment 1 day per week (this will be funded from the Wellspring Ministry Trust, not offertory giving)
  • Cambodia mission
    • Reduction of $24,000 against last financial year*
    • Continued invitation for Wellspring members to give privately and tax deductibly via Global Development Group

*reduction to occur following the AGM 

 

Let me be clear: these are not easy matters, and your staff team have graciously and willingly agreed that the above be considered. 

 

With all of that said, recent strategic consult feedback also showed the priorities our church family sees in the year and years to come. They include: children’s ministry, international student ministry, local outreach, 10am congregational leadership, and more. 

 

How great would it be to see to see increases in offertory leading to increasing our ability to address such strategic priorities?

 

So please pray for your Parish Council and for our wider church family, as preparations continue to be made for our Annual Meeting. I encourage you to touch base with our Treasurer Gemma Kleywegt or myself if you would like to discuss any points above in greater depth.

 

Your brother in Christ,

 

Rob Imberger

Rector/Senior Pastor