A few weeks ago, SBC hosted a four day long intensive on the subject THL315 – Anglican Foundations. The subject discussed Anglican History, Identity, and what it means to be Anglican today.
As part of this process, students were invited to write their own Anglican story that they could share with the college community. Here is one such story by Peter Chapman, a deacon in the Diocese of The Murray and a Bachelor of Theology student enrolled in the discernment and formation program.
My family were dedicated Bush Anglicans our family church for 5 generations has been in Gunnedah in NSW, on many special occasions we would attend services there especially for easter and Christmas. But my parents had a farm too far way from Gunnedah to attend regularly and we attended a tinny church in the village of Baan-Baa. Our farm was on the side of the Pillagar Scrub the priest only made it once in a while and the farmers would gather and alternative houses to worship during the other Sundays.
The Baan-Baa church was where I read my first word because the arch over the sanctuary in a timber arch was carved the words holy holy, holy, holy. I would have only been two then. My mum would put my twin sister and I in the children’s pew at the very front of the church where she would tie us to the pew as she sat behind us and wacked us in the ear if we became too boisterous. It was here that My twin sister and I were baptised at two and I can still remember that day. We would holiday on the east coast and join in with the beach Mission and the Children’s Special Service Mission, ran by Scripture Union. It was on the beach at the age of 8 that I made a decision to ask Jesus into my life. All my young life I had an intrinsic knowledge that God was part of my life
We later moved to Bellingen where I joined a Christian youth group at about 9 and heard the story of John Buyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. To do so I would rind my bike 5 miles into town to school so that I could attend the group and then ride home because I would miss the school bus. The story of Pilgrims Progress had a profound affect on me and the affirmation of my faith in God. We moved to a mountain farm in Dorrigo. We were being prepared for confirmation in an Anglican Church there. However, the priest was a real bully who would do RE at school and hit us with a one metre rule if he thought we were not listening. He ridiculed me in front of my class me because I said I was a Christian but could not tell him what that meant. I remember thinking he was so wrong.
I attended another youth group after school in Dorrigo, It was here that I saved up my pocket money for 6 months and brought my first Bible. However, the leader thought I was too rowdy and would often chastise me, one day I accidently knocked my sister over, and in front of everyone she soundly told me off. At the age of 10 I told her she was not Christian and that she was hateful and that I would no longer have anything to do with the group. Not long after this my parents relationship broke down, The farm house burned down and I was ran over and ended up in hospital for 3 months and found myself living in Queensland. My Dad was attending a church in Allora and would tell me what to wear and I thought that church I was incredibly boring and I was 13 by then and no one would talk to me. Eventually I told my Dad I did not want to go to church because it was not a happy place and I would tell the people there I was not happy and that I was made to come. My Dad hit me for the first time and this was the last time he and I went to church for a long time.
I left my Dad and went to Sydney, There I joined a Pentecostal church at 15, it was the people there that showed me I was loved in Christ and taught me the connection between the word and living as a Christian. I left that church after 7 years and travelled for a number of years until I came to Adelaide. There I supported an Anglican Church, not as a member, to build their hall. It was the people there who had a real grounding in their faith and had a desire to study the word. They were such an accepting bunch and this attracted me to once again join the church where I stayed for the next 22 years serving in St Ann’s, up until today.