Seeing churches that love, trust and obey God is one of the top priorities for the new Sydney Anglican archbishop.
Last month, Kanishka Raffel was elected by the Anglican church to serve as Archbishop of Sydney and officially took up the role last Friday, May 28.
“My top priority is to see churches that love the Lord, and trust Him and obey Him, and are joyful in knowledge and service of him,” the new Archbishop told Hope 103.2.
His second priority is to encourage the Anglican community and other Christians to be prayerfully concerned for their neighbours and friends who don’t know Jesus.
“We take the opportunity to share with others the gospel of the Lord Jesus and call on them to turn to Him and to join us in acknowledging Him as their Lord and Saviour,” Mr Raffel said.
“My top priority is to see churches that love the Lord, and trust Him and obey Him, and are joyful in knowledge and service of him.” – Sydney Anglican Archbishop Kanishka Raffel
He also sees it as a priority to use his new position to be an advocate of Jesus on a wider scale.
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“I think the position of archbishop gives me an opportunity to speak into the public square, I suppose, and at the community at a broader level.
“So, if the local church is ministering to the local community, and individual Christians are reaching out to their own friends and neighbours, the archbishop has a slightly bigger platform and I want to use that to point people to Jesus.”
Mr Raffel has been a strong advocate for the indigenous community.
In the past, Mr Raffel has been a strong advocate for the indigenous community.
“I have tried to be a person who listens and learns from Aboriginal people about their experience, and especially Aboriginal Christian brothers and sisters,” he said.
“I want to continue to pursue, friendship and understanding in that way. My goal is to be a good learner from Aboriginal people and especially Aboriginal Christian people.”
From Buddhism to Christianity
Raised as a Buddhist, it was during university that Mr Raffel became a Christian. It all started with a friend giving him a copy of two gospels.
“When I read John’s Gospel, I was very struck by the person of Jesus; he was a compelling character,” he said.
While reading the Book of John, he came across several passages that used the phrase “at this, the people were divided”.
“That kind of rebounded back at me to say ‘Well, Jesus divides people, where do you stand?’ And, so, I found myself asking the question ‘why am I against Jesus?’,” Mr Raffel said.
“When I couldn’t think of a good reason, I thought I should throw my lot in with the Lord and so that’s what I did.”
At the time, he had no idea of all that Jesus offered, such as the gift of forgiveness and adoption into God’s family, he was simply struck by the person of Jesus and wanted to follow Him.
“The love of God in the Lord Jesus is inexhaustible. It just keeps on growing and sustaining and encouraging and nurturing us,” Mr Raffel said.
“Because it’s a living relationship, because God is powerfully active by his spirit today and, so, that’s a dynamic thing. Relationship with God is dynamic and living.”
“When I read John’s Gospel, I was very struck by the person of Jesus; he was a compelling character.” – Sydney Anglican Archbishop Kanishka Raffel
Being faithful in small things
Prior to taking up his new role, Mr Raffel was serving as dean in Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral. Throughout his time as a Christian, he also served in several leadership positions in the church.
“I’ve been helped by people who encouraged me to serve. From the time I first became a Christian, there were people around me showing me what it means to serve Jesus and His people and encouraging me to do that,” he said.
This led to him attending Moore College to get formal training and getting ordained in the church to join a local church and serve the church community.
However, he loves the parable about being faithful in the small things.
“Wherever we are, there is a faithfulness in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in because our lives are all different,” Mr Raffel said.
“Whether that’s in parenting, local church leadership, working in an office or having a formal ministry role in the life of a denomination, whatever it might be, I think you can faithfully pursue what God is putting in front of you and trust Him to use you in that situation.”
“Whatever it might be (parenting, church leadership, office work), I think you can faithfully pursue what God is putting in front of you and trust Him to use you in that situation.” – Sydney Anglican Archbishop Kanishka Raffel
Classical music and “tramping”
When he’s not working, Mr Raffel enjoys listening to music.
“I’m a fan of classical music, so I do love to go to a concert every now and then. And that’s been a bit hard to do during COVID, but they’re coming back online,” he said.
It is the music of Beethoven and Handel that captives him. Apart from music, he also loves spending time outdoors with his wife.
“Cailey and I, since we came back to Sydney (after living and ministering in Perth), we’ve been getting into a little bit of bushwalking around some of the pretty parts of Sydney. So, we go to do a bit of ‘tramping’ as the New Zealanders call it.
“I used to do a bit more cooking, but I don’t do too much cooking anymore,” he said with a laugh.
Mr Raffel considers it a great privilege to be serving God as the Archbishop of Sydney. Although he finds it a little overwhelming, he is not fazed.
“We are confident that the Lord is able to provide what we need to do the work that He’s appointed for us to do, so we’re trusting Jesus and moving ahead,” he said.