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Ex-Carlton vicar Dr Richard Condie takes office as Bishop of Tasmania

Richard Condie takes office as Bishop of Tasmania

By Mark Brolly

March 21 2016The former Archdeacon of Melbourne, Dr Richard Condie, has been consecrated and installed as Tasmania’s 12th Anglican bishop in 174 years.

Members of St Jude’s Carlton, where the new bishop was vicar for 14 years, were among the 700 people who packed St David’s Cathedral in Hobart for the ceremony on 19 March. They and representatives of Tasmania’s 45 parishes, as well as schools and Anglican agencies, were joined by Indigenous elders, Tasmanian Federal, State and local political leaders and the heads of other churches in the Island State.

Melbourne’s Archbishop Philip Freier, as Primate of Australia, led the consecration and installation service.

Bishop Condie, 50, succeeds Bishop John Harrower, another former Melbourne vicar, who has returned to Victoria to a part-time role as assistant to the Primate. Bishop Harrower led Tasmania’s Anglicans for 15 years until last September. Dr Condie was elected Bishop of Tasmania at a special Election Synod – comprising about 170 clergy and lay representatives from each parish in the state – in Launceston last November.

The new bishop said he desired a hopeful future for the Anglican Church in Tasmania and for the whole Tasmanian community.

“We can be confident as a Church because God is in the business of new life and firm hope for the future,” he said. “The resurrection of Jesus, that we commemorate this coming week, is the source of our hope.

“The Church is sometimes depicted as a ‘has-been’ organisation, irrelevant to contemporary Australia. But on the contrary, I see the church having a positive influence in our communities, especially bringing hope to the hopeless, and care for those in need. These things are expressions of God’s love for our world.”

Bishop Condie reached out immediately to survivors of sexual abuse by Church personnel by asking to meet survivor and long-time campaigner for justice, Mr Steven Fisher.

Mr Fisher told the ABC on 20 March:  “I believe it's a huge step for them to reach out and ask a victim to come down and actually talk to them.

“It's something we've been campaigning for for 15 years.

“This is a fantastic initiative, and credit where credit's due. I just hope other dioceses will take it on,” he said.

Bishop Condie told the ABC that the Church needed to keep learning and improving the processes to assist abuse survivors.

“It was very helpful for me to hear from [Mr Fisher] how he experienced the pastoral support scheme… he did have some criticisms of that.”

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held eight days of public hearings in Hobart from 27 January into the response of the Church of England Boys’ Society and the Anglican Dioceses of Tasmania, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane to allegations of child sexual abuse. Several serving and retired archbishops and bishops gave evidence at the hearing.

Bishop Condie’s predecessor at St Jude’s, the Revd Canon Dr Peter Adam, preached the sermon, in which he declared: “A Bishop without a Bible is no Bishop at all.

“Your special robes, your Pastoral staff and a cross, they are reminders to you, and to us, of your weighty responsibilities,” Dr Adam said. “But the Bible is your instrument of ministry, the powerful means God has provided for you to preach the gospel and train people in God’s service… It is not enough to use the Bible in the liturgy, if you don’t preach from it.

“It is not enough to have learnt the message of the Bible, and not continue to study and learn from it. It should be a book which is old, but always new; familiar but always strange; known, but always giving us new and deeper revelations of God and his ways.

“And it must be in every part of your life, and in every decision you make, and in every act of ministry, including preaching, teaching, training, counselling, warning, encouraging, comforting, and telling people about the Lord Jesus Christ, and calling on them to turn to him in faith and obedience.”

Dr Adam told Bishop Condie that “possibly the most powerful thing any of us will do today is to pray for you” but later joked that it was fun being able to preach to him “when you are not allowed to interrupt, object, or walk out!”

“It is a rare and thoroughly enjoyable treat, and one which I treasure very deeply. And perhaps others present will also benefit from what I am saying to you today.”

Bishop Condie and his wife Helen, a GP, have two adult children.

He grew up in Brisbane, where he worked for two years as a Research Officer in the Queensland Police Department, and later earned a Bachelor of Social Science from the University of New England in northern NSW.

Ordained a deacon for the Grafton diocese in 1993 and a priest the following year, he served as a curate in Murwillumbah. He completed a Diploma of Ministry and, in 2010, a Doctor of Ministry from the Australian College of Theology.

Bishop Condie was a Lecturer in New Testament at Ridley College Parkville from 1995 until his appointment as Vicar of St Jude’s, where his ministry encompassed the University of Melbourne, Carlton’s public housing estate and five congregations in Melbourne's inner-northern suburbs. As Archdeacon of Melbourne, he had responsibility for 17 parishes in the inner-city area, while nationally, he has been a member of General Synod and a prominent Evangelical leader.

*A former leader of Tasmania’s Anglicans, Bishop Phillip Newell, relinquished his Authority to Officiate as a priest in February. Mr Newell, who is now fully retired from ordained ministry, was Bishop of Tasmania from 1982-2000.