David Crain, Interim National Director
Technically ‘yes’, but ‘no’ in the stuff that excites celebration, sticks in the memory and inspires others to dream. Centuries do matter. Don Bradman’s last innings – London 1948 – ended with the second ball, out for a duck. If he had scored only four runs his average would have been 100.00, the perfect century, but forever it stays at 99.94. ‘The Bradman Collection’ in the South Australian State Library laments: ‘Cricket enthusiasts will mourn that dismissal forever.’ Not so Steve Waugh’s innings against England in Sydney in 2003. All the talk had been that he was past it. The Australian captain regained strike for the last ball of the day. He was on 98. Even in the stuffy members’ stand they were on their feet, holding their breath till Waugh drove the ball to the fence for four. One second, silence; the next, the loudest cricket roar in Sydney since Bodyline: a massive celebration for a fabulous century!
May 26 is celebration day for BCA’s fabulous first century. A hundred years ago over 40 per cent of Australians belonged to the Church of England. Today we Anglicans are down to 18 per cent. At the same time Australia’s population has mushroomed from 5.4 million to over 25 million. It still means twice as many Australians today call themselves Anglican than was the case in 1919 but of course the rural and remote proportion of Australia has lessened. So, the big picture is sobering. The local picture however has been noble and impressive.
Across this century every state has received a steady flow of BCA Field Staff into parishes or ministries which would otherwise not have happened. The good news of Jesus has been broadcast in the bush where the local believers were too few to afford a pastor. Originally our Field Staff were all clergy or deaconesses. Since then there have been nurses, Scripture teachers, hostel house parents, evangelists, youth workers, school chaplains, a diocesan administrator, staff at Nungalinya College, pharmacists, mine chaplains and leadership trainers. As church life has grown weaker in many rural areas, BCA has often kept the gospel flag flying and over & over people have put their faith in Jesus.
The frequent isolation from fellowship, family, services and support have been overcome by the power of the Spirit, the prayer of countless supporters and the certainty of God’s call.
This has been a fabulous century, so worthy of being celebrated as we praise God for His constant call, provision and presence. And gear up with zeal for century number two when BCA will be as urgently needed to go the distance as we were in the last.