God remains the same… mission through a pandemic.

During the last two years we have all been faced with challenges due to the global pandemic of Covid-19. For me, living in Melbourne Australia, I believe at some point we were deemed to have had the most number of days being in the longest lockdown across the world. And to say the least I felt at times like I was living in a strange land and I didn’t know when we would get out of it. Personally, I chose to try new things to pass my time, jigsaw puzzles, knitting, colour-by-numbers painting, Lego, and I even restored a beautiful big dining table, sanding it back, restraining and varnishing it. I was quite proud of my accomplishments in these strange times. But I also spent much time in prayer, questioning, what is it that the Lord wants from us (SOMA) at this time?

Obviously with no travel allowed due to the pandemic, our mission organisation, who usually spends much of their time planning and doing ministry and mission abroad each year, needed to seek how we could be of use to God through these strange times? I was very aware that although I found myself in lockdown in my home, with my two daughters, I had no needs or massive worries. We were secure in our big house, with all our creature comforts, plenty of food on the table and apart from supporting each other through some times of mental strain, we were safe and well. Yet through social media I could see the devastation taking place in other countries, including one of SOMA’s partner countries, Nepal. As I sat comfortably at my computer, I witnessed my brothers and sisters in Christ suffering greatly in Nepal.

Many were being infected with Corona Virus, many were dying, food supply across the country, especially in the small distant villages, was scarce. Not only were they dealing with the pandemic, they were facing their yearly bout of natural disaster flooding as well. The Anglican church in Nepal were doing all they could to support their communities and the villages spread across the country, setting up medical camps to care for those suffering with the virus, delivering rice and food supplies to those without food, and sharing the love of God to all everyone they met. How could we (SOMA) possibly help them in their time of need.

Thankfully, God always makes a way to meets his children’s needs and this is where, with a bit of thinking outside the box, prayer, and guidance of the Holy Spirit comes in. So we knew that we couldn’t travel to do mission, but what had also taken place through this pandemic was, everyone was doing things ‘online’. Church was online, schools and businesses were all taking place online, so what was to stop us from doing mission and ministry online. I knew that the clergy in Nepal were gaining some spiritual support and meeting for monthly devotions online, yet there are also many woman leaders who work tirelessly in the Church of Nepal. Often when the men are away doing ministry in the villages they can be gone for days, even weeks, and the woman remain behind, caring for the church, their own families and the community around them. It was through this knowledge that God placed on my heart, that this is where God was calling SOMA to minister for a time such as this.

In February 2021 I arranged an online meetings with the Dean and Assistant Dean of Nepal, proposing that SOMA Australia facilitate a monthly online meeting with the Woman in leadership, in the Anglican Church of Nepal. This proposal was welcomed and endorsed, and a month or so later it began. The SOMA team to commit to this online ministry was made up with, Jill Lambert (NSW), Carolyn Goode (VIC) and myself (VIC). On the second Tuesday of every month we meet on zoom with, sometimes up to 40 women across Nepal. Although at times we have difficulty with language translations (which brings much laughter), we worship God, share in His word, and pray together. The time spent together is a blessing for all who participate, as God encourages, strengthens and empowers each to continue to work and ministries within the church, our families and communities, by the power of Christ living in us.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt over this time of travelling, what seems to be a strange land through this global pandemic is, God remains the same. It doesn’t matter, how many challenges we are going through, all the things we do not understand, our feelings of disconnect, ceasing to do things the ‘way we have always done them’… God remains the same! And God’s call on his children remains… ‘to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God – for your own wellbeing’, (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Let us not stop seeking what God is asking of us, it may not look like anything we’ve done before, but as we turn to God seeking his will, may our love for him stimulate our love for others, that we may keep ministering, encouraging and strengthening each other, for a time such as this.

Please join us as we continue to pray for our brothers and sisters of Nepal, and please do pray for SOMA Australia, as we discern God’s will for us moving forward.

Shalom – Rev Liz Rankin, National Director

What has god been cultivating through you, and getting ready for you to propergate…?

A Happy New Year to you all!

What a blessing it has been for me, personally, to take a couple of weeks leave, and even though all plans were thwarted, I was forced to just stop, be present and take time to renew my energy as I potted around my home.

I must also admit that I spent much of my time wrestling with God. In my own ministry context, it so often feels like two steps forward, one step back and that’s not even contending with the opening and lockdown rhythm we’ve all needed to contend with over the last two years due to Covid-19. All of the lethargy and weariness that I have felt brought me to crying out to God and asking, Lord, seriously what is going on? What is it you want of me? and how are we to bring about the building of your church in such a time as this?

As always, God allowed me to pour out my heart to him, and he gently and patiently waited until I’d said my piece. It was then, on my last day of leave, when I was in my garden ready to dismantle a large Aloe Vera plant that I had purchased from someone. It had many little new plants growing up underneath the main plant and I’d never done anything like this before, so needed to do my research. But then, I put my had to it and began the process of propagation, and as I did this the Spirit began to show me an analogy that I believe is worth sharing…

So I began the process… removing the entire Aloe plant from it’s pot. It had hundred of long deep roots and connected to the stem of the ‘mother plant’ and there were many small pups (new offspring) growing from it’s stem. I needed to loosen the soil from the many roots first, and in the process of doing this, you do actually lose some of the roots, as they are brittle, weak and break off, but no need to fear, as the roots that remain connected are strong enough to keep the plant alive and keep growing.

I then carefully separated each new pup from the main plant, and you can see these in the pictures, there were many new plants that were growing. Once I’d split them apart, I needed to leave them all out to air dry for 24 hours, this allows the many open wounds on the plant to heal over. And then, you are ready to plant them all in fresh soil to live and grown independently, and one day be ready to grow offspring’s of their own…

Cultivation and propagation is what God our Creator is all about. And church… yes YOU, the body of Christ, are being called to cultivate and propagate for a time such as this! This has been helpful for me to spiritually ponder this analogy for my own context. To recognise the deep roots of the faithful… not fearing the weak and brittle roots falling away, yet also recognising the need for new models of connecting with the generations that we have allowed to slip away. I truly believe that God is in the process of renewing his church, but we, his church need to be in tune with the process of cultivating and propagating, and allowing the Spirit of God to work through us.

I hope this analogy gives you some encouragement and something to spiritual ponder as you enter this new year. May you each be entering the year ready for action. Action of love, hope, challenge, patience, faithfulness and stepping into whatever God is calling you, and making it happen in the mighty name of Jesus.

Take some time now for some Spiritual pondering.


Liz Rankin – ND SOMA Australia

The Anglican Renewal Network Australia – ARNA

ARNA Origins

Decades ago the Anglican Renewal Movement in Australia coordinated an effective ministry to both encourage and equip clergy and lay people specifically in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  The Cursillo Movement has also provided an effective link into empowering, predominantly lay people, for Kingdom work.  In more recent times there was an initiative similar to the New Wine UK, based in Canberra which was sustained for a few years.  The only other Anglican organisation with a focus on teaching around the person and work of the Holy Spirit, is SOMA (Sharing of Ministries Abroad) Australia (  SOMA, which celebrated its 40th anniversary of international ministry in 2019 in Melbourne, had as its focus, the sending small short-term mission teams, across the world at the invitation of Anglican Diocesan Bishops.

As COVID19 brought a temporary halt to opportunities for overseas mission, the SOMA Australia Board, sought God in prayer as to what should be their focus during the lockdown season.  The SOMA Board believed that it was called to initiate a new network (not a Movement), to encourage all Anglicans seeking renewal by the Spirit, regardless of tribe. This new network was to be about new wine in new wine skins and not simply a shot in the arm for older charismatics of the 1970’s.  Thus the network would have a different purpose and focus than the previous ARMA (Anglican Renewal Movement Australia) and a broader appeal than SOMA.  An initial canvas of Dioceses through existing known contacts established a data base of over 200 interested members and parishes.

ARNA Working Group

An ARNA Working Group was established in 2020, the original members being Bishop Ian Lambert,  (former Bishop to the Defence Force, current Chair of SOMA Australia , Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn);  Archdeacon Helen Phillips (Diocese of Melbourne);  Rev Mark McDonald (Diocese of Melbourne); Rev Tim Watson (Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn); and recently,  Amy Warren (Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn); Katy Lambert (Diocese of Bendigo); Alisha Moyle and Rev David Perryman (Diocese of Gippsland).

The Need

Observers of the Anglican Communion in Australia, have been witnessing declining numbers and in many areas, a greater focus on survival, rather than salvation of souls and transforming lives. COVID 19 has further exacerbated the Communion’s mission.  As we know, salvation and transformation, can only be brought about through the grace of God – God’s empowering presence – by his Holy Spirit. We believe that it is time to raise a fresh network of Anglicans who are interested in the pursuit of a spirit empowered ministry for the sake of the Kingdom.  By establishing a new network, we would hope to encourage and support lay and clergy who wish to explore this aspect of ministry, which is currently given little attention from the mainstream theological colleges.

The most widespread evangelistic tool currently used, the ALPHA Course, which has been adopted by a huge range of denominations, presumes (as a matter of course) that a transforming personal encounter with the Holy Spirit and the exercise of spiritual gifts are a normal part of Christian life.  ALPHA promotes a dynamic, mature and balanced theology of the Holy Spirit, working not just with Anglicans but key Roman Catholic figures such as Raniero Cantalamessa and Protestant theologians of the calibre of Miroslav Volf and Jurgen Moltmann.  The success of the ALPHA initiative and the linked ministry of HTB in the UK, points us to the reality that the spiritual intuitions of charismatic renewal, have a vital contribution to make to the renewal of Anglicanism, and are currently ripe for rediscovery.

The Aspirations of ARNA

ARNA would encourage Anglicans seeking renewal in the Spirit to:

  • Begin in personal and corporate prayer.  There would appear to be certain things that that the Spirit simply will not do unless believers are gathered together in prayer (Acts 2.1). Historically, charismatic renewal began in small, local prayer groups.
  • Work across the Anglican Communion  intentionally abstaining from participating in culture and doctrine wars, steering clear of the more obvious tribal fault lines, and equipping ourselves theologically to have good conversations and to “disagree well”. A key distinctive of Anglican Renewal generally (and ARNA specifically) is seeking to foster theological maturity, ecclesial loyalty, and deeply Trinitarian thinking that engages with the best contemporary theology.
  • Rediscovering our Anglican roots of renewal . “Look to the rock from which you were hewn” (Isaiah 51.1), valuing the deep roots of Anglican theological tradition, especially trinitarian theology, with the aim of broadening the study in pneumatology, and experiencing the person, work and ministry of the Holy Spirit .  
  • Earnestly seek the leading and grace of the Holy Spirit to assist in bringing new life to ‘dry bones’ and refreshment for individuals which has daily impact on their lives and worship. 
  • Explore our sung worship.  Rather than confining ourselves to either Together in Song or a shortlist of recent hits, we should make full use of the “treasures old and new” (Mt 13.52) in our worship storehouse. In assessing the distinctive worship legacy of the “renewal”, we need both a “hermeneutic of suspicion” about language, and also a “second naïveté” which frees us to sing not just ‘Oceans’, but Wimber, Kendrick, Scripture in Song.
  • Explore the convergence between charismatic, liturgical, and contemplative spirituality. Discovering how the Holy Spirit can be encountered in a range of liturgical and contemplative prayer practices, and how these spiritual traditions can enrich our theology and mission.
  • Acknowledge the conversation partners in renewal outside our own denomination.  This would assist in overcoming the staleness and tribality of intra-Anglican conversations, and avoiding endlessly revisiting fruitless old arguments.  As well it would resource Anglicans with the best possible theological conversation partners.

When ARNA starts to hear reports that local churches are growing as they open themselves to the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit; when church leaders, clergy and lay, feel supported and encouraged to continue the hard work of church renewal; when leadership isolation is lessened, connection is increased and people are empowered and confident to lead ministry renewal in their local contexts; when we are sharing better across the Communion, then, ARNA will be achieving its purpose.

How will ARNA achieve its purpose?

ARNA will provide a safe place for conversation and mutual learning, while encouraging people’s spirituality and prayer life. We desire to resource and support opportunities for connection, spiritual formation and ministry development for people from a range of backgrounds and experiences..

 Similar to ReSource in the UK, ARNA will provide access to resources to teach and equip people in the person, work and ministry of the Spirit. This will be achieved through webinars, face to face gatherings, on-line blogs and discussions, retreats, and mentoring of young clergy and lay leaders.   Regionally, ARNA is looking to establish hubs for prayer and mutual support. The end result will be a more effective presentation of the Gospel to the wider community, and a church ministering in the power and authority of Christ. 

ARNA’s on-line presence will be established before the end of 2021, with an e- launch in February 2022.                                                                            Brief prepared by Bishop Ian Lambert for ARNA Working Group. 11 October 2021

Our New Website is Live!

And we are live! Check out our new SOMA Australia website, be informed of who we are, what we are called to and what God has us doing now and into the future. Stemming from a prophetic word over 40 years ago, the ministry of SOMA remains relevant and apt for a time such as this, as we ‘join the Holy Spirit to care for the nervous system of the Church’.

We may have been locked down throughout the past two years with a global pandemic, yet SOMA Australia has utilised this time to take stock, review it’s vision and mission and to seek the Holy Spirit’s guide into the where, what, how from now. There has been three areas is which God has been working through us over this time; 1. ARNA – the establishment of Anglican Renewal Network Australia. 2. Engaging with young adults – sowing into generations for the now and future. 3. Sharing with sisters in Nepal – a monthly online fellowship with the women leadership in the Anglican church across Nepal. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing more about these ministries we’ve been investing in.

Check it out and get involved!