I don’t do tourism very well. While most people are awkwardly placing their hands up to hold a “leaning tower”, I can usually be found nursing the local coffee brew in a nearby cafe, pretending I don’t speak English.
But every now and again there is an attraction which piques my interest. The Anglican Parish of Gosford and its human rights friendly signage bonanza on the Central Coast, is one such attraction.
Here’s the Parish standing with Gillian Triggs (much like this other Central Coast hero).
Those daily signs are the most comforting thing in the country at the moment, which looks a lot like this currently:
The Anglican Parish of Gosford is the breath of fresh, contemporary air Christianity has been in urgent need of for a long time. With 24k+ followers on social media (a coveted following for IRL church attendance, no doubt) they are already a formidable force. With high levels of engagement and share-ability, the likelihood of the signs being shared, retweeted and pinned, increases with every frustrating new development in society and politics.
Their introduction and ethos is simple and straight to the point:
Welcome to the Anglican Parish of Gosford. We are a Christian Community seeking to deepen our spirituality and serve others.
What makes this church so radical is that it is one of the few institutions actually dedicating itself to the original Christian social justice mission of loving one another. Other notable figures in this arena include Father Bob Maguire who has a strong vision of ending homelessness, The Love Makes A Way movement dedicated to “seeking an end to Australia’s inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and nonviolent love in action” and Fighting Father Dave, a punchy human rights activist (no really he used to be a professional boxer) but also because of his hard hitting and radical anti-war views. The Pope’s radical new ideas on climate change also deserve a special mention.
I say radical because Christianity is becoming less known for its social justice side, and more for its negative, guilt-inducing whacky maniac side. They’re not used to getting good press coverage, as mostly negative news seems to trend in the media when it comes to religion. We rarely get to see priests and pastors send out messages of uplifting hope and tearing down ideas with scathing sarcasm and then having that go viral.
Father Rod Bower, on the other hand, is flipping these ideas right on their noggins. He takes the contemporary issues plaguing our world at present and comments on them in a highly visible way. Each day the familiar red and white signs bring comfort to the frustrated citizens of Australia, who feel that their voices are being drowned out in a sea of backward, fear-mongering and hateful policies from the current government.
It’s not all fun and games though, with this article showing how the Anglican church still won’t accept same-sex couples, meaning that for all the protesting being done here, Father Rod still won’t wed gay couples. Despite this, he still continues to advocate for marriage equality.
“I know that for the people it effects personally it’s all consuming but it’s not the only issue we’re concerned with and, to be blunt, when people are committing suicide in detention camps there are other issues which are a little more pressing.
“I’m interested in being part of the conversation rather than packing my bags because at our best we do wonderful things.”
Okay Father Rod, we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Especially since this screenshot shows you at Mardi Gras in a rainbow sash, texting.
You can watch the short documentary The Bower Effect by Kate Follington on how the church went viral:
One of the recent action links on the page is asking people to donate to The Welcome Dinner Project. You can take action below and donate.
But first, some of the golden sign hits are listed below for your perusal.
1. The offer still stands:
3. Not just out of step, but actually in a different race altogether and running backwards.
4. This one was accompanied with the action of walking against #DomesticViolence and it’s also the one that was up when I visited on the weekend, so it’s extra special:
5. Seriously Christians, get your shit together.
6. Taking aim at the Islamophobes
7. And finally promoting religious tolerance and harmony like a legit boss. Ramadan Kareem.
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