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Anglicans, ecumenists and prominent child abuse royal commission figures recognised in 2019 Australia Day Honours

Overseas aid chief, former diocesan registrars and leading Anglican and Uniting Church ecumenists honoured

Recognition: Order of Australia recipients announced on Australia Day included (top row, from left) former Melbourne diocesan registrar Ms Leigh Mackay OAM, Anglican Overseas Aid chief the Revd Dr Bob Mitchell AM, former royal commissioner into institutional child sexual abuse Justice Jennifer Coate AO and (bottom row, from left) the Revd Professor Emeritus Robert Gribben AM of the Uniting Church, Mrs Ruth Christian OAM of Geelong, Anglican ecumenist the Revd Dr Charles Sherlock AM and international reforestation pioneer with World Vision Australia Mr Tony Rinaudo AM.

By Emma Halgren and Mark Brolly

January 29 2019The leader of Melbourne-based Anglican Overseas Aid (AOA), the Deputy Chancellor and two former Registrars of the Diocese of Melbourne and an internationally recognised Victorian ecumenist and theological educator are among leading Anglicans recognised in the 2019 Australia Day Honours List.

The Revd Dr Bob Mitchell, CEO of AOA since 2012 and author of Faith-based development: How Christian Organisations Can Make a Difference, has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the community through charitable organisations, and to the Anglican Church of Australia.

Dr Mitchell has a long history of involvement with not-for-profit, faith-based and social service organisations, having previously served with World Vision Australia and currently on the global board of the ACT Alliance, one of the world’s biggest humanitarian networks. He is also a director of the Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Corporation and serves on the Council of the University of Divinity. He is a member of St Barnabas Anglican Church Balwyn.

“We are all called to use the gifts we have in the service of others,” Dr Mitchell said in response to news of his honour. “There really is nothing exceptional about this. I am delighted to receive this award, but it should be seen more as a reflection on the many wonderful organisations that I have had the privilege to be involved with.”

Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Clyde Croft received an AM for significant service to the law and to the judiciary, particularly through commercial arbitration. Justice Croft has served the Anglican Church as Deputy Chancellor of the Melbourne diocese since 2007 and as Primate’s Chancellor and member of the national Church’s Appellate Tribunal, both since 2014. He also has been Chancellor of Wangaratta diocese since 2010.

A Lay Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, Associate Professor Kate Drummond, was awarded an AM for significant service to medicine in the field of neuro-oncology, and to community health.

Professor Drummond – a member of the Cathedral’s 9am Sunday congregation, a Bible-talk leader and a congregational representative on Chapter for several years – has been Head of Neurosurgery at Royal Melbourne Hospital since 2017, was founder in 2008 of the Neuro-Oncology Service and is an Associate Professor at the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne. She is also Chair of Pangea Global Health Education (previously Specialists Without Borders), which runs programs in Zimbabwe and Malawi. 

An active Anglican, High Court of Australia Justice Michelle Gordon, has been made a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the judiciary, and to the law, to legal education and judicial administration, as a role model, and to the community.

A parishioner of St Alfred’s North Blackburn and Principal Adviser to World Vision Australia’s Natural Resources, Food Security and Climate Change Team, Mr Tony Rinaudo, becomes an AM for significant service to conservation as a pioneer in international reforestation programs. Mr Rinaudo has pioneered the Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) re-greening methodology that has helped regenerate more than 200 million trees on five million hectares of degraded farmland across the Republic of Niger and has actively promoted this method across Africa and parts of Asia.

“I really hope it spurs a conversation about how protecting and restoring the environment should be a major part of humanitarian work,” Mr Rinaudo said upon learning of his honour. “Regenerating forests and farmlands doesn’t just help protect people against the effects of climate change, it also helps reduce hunger and generates opportunities to earn an income.”

The Revd Dr Charles Sherlock, a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission since 1991, also receives an AM for significant service to the Anglican Church of Australia, and to theological education.

Now based in the Bendigo diocese, Dr Sherlock has had a wide range of roles within the Church, including as a lecturer at both Ridley College and Trinity College Theological School, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne, secretary of the Anglican Liturgical Commission for more than 20 years until 2010 and editor of national Anglican weekly newspaper Church Scene from 1995-98.

Another noted ecumenist, the Revd Professor Emeritus Robert Gribben, has received an AM for significant service to the Uniting Church in Australia, to ecumenical relations and theological studies. Professor Gribben has held numerous roles within the Uniting Church, and is an Honorary Research Fellow at Melbourne’s University of Divinity, and co-founded the Centre for Ecumenical Studies at Charles Sturt University in 1997.

Two former Melbourne diocesan Registrars were recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for their work in the Church and wider community.

Ms Leigh Mackay, who was Director of Philanthropy at St Paul’s Cathedral from 2017 until January 2019 and diocesan Registrar from 1995-2000, served on the boards of Anglicare Victoria, Christ Church Grammar School South Yarra and the Australian College of Theology. She has been a member of the Heritage Council of Victoria since 2015 and on the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries trust since 2016.

Mr John McKenzie, General Manager and Registrar of the Melbourne diocese from 2004-07, was Chairman of Anglican aged care provider Benetas from 2008-17. He has been a parishioner of St Dunstan’s Camberwell for 60 years. For 10 years, he was Executive General Manager of the RACV and was involved with the Federal Department of Transport in the development of mandatory seat belt regulations.

Dr Janet Duke, from Holy Trinity East Melbourne, was awarded an OAM for service to medicine as an on obstetrician and gynaecologist.

A Licensed Lay Minister at Holy Trinity and Spiritual Director at the WellSpring Ecumenical Spirituality Centre since 2007, Dr Duke was Sexual Harassment Adviser to then Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Keith Rayner from 1993-98 and also was a member of vestry at St Peter’s Eastern Hill. She is the widow of Fr David Warner.

The Revd Ron Browning’s OAM has been awarded for service to the community. Co-founder and President of the Australia-Karen Foundation since 2005 and a member of the Hobsons Bay Interfaith group since 2001, he has worked in the parishes of Werribee, Williamstown, West Coburg and Kensington, as well as serving as Tertiary Chaplain at Trinity College at the University of Melbourne.

Mrs Betty Cummings, a long-time parishioner of Holy Spirit Anglican Church Watsonia (part of the Anglican Parish of Banyule), received an OAM for service to music through community programs. Mrs Cummings, the founding Musical Director and Pianist for Wandering Melodies since 1967, has been pianist and organist in her parish since 1963 and was teacher and superintendent of Sunday school there for 10 years.

Mrs Ruth Christian, who worships at Christ Church Geelong, received an OAM for service to the community of Geelong. Mrs Christian served on Parish Council in various roles for decades and has been involved in numerous parish activities, including the Community Meals Program.

Mrs Margaret Dunbar’s OAM has been awarded for service to athletics. Mrs Dunbar, who worships at St Peter’s Murrumbeena, is a long-time volunteer with the Mothers’ Union, and was president of the Murrumbeena branch of the Mothers’ Union from 2008-2018.

Mr Jonathan Rolfe, from St Silas’ Albert Park, received an OAM for service to community health through fundraising contributions. Mr Rolfe has been a member of the Parish Council of St Silas’, and the parish’s treasurer, since 2012.

Two leading Victorians involved in the response to child sexual abuse were also honoured.

Justice Jennifer Coate, the only Victorian among the six members of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the law and to the judiciary, to legal administration, and to child and youth justice.

Justice Coate, the first female State Coroner in Victoria and inaugural President of the Children’s Court of Victoria, has been a Justice of the Family Court of Australia since 2013 – the year she began her appointment to the Royal Commission, which delivered its final report in December 2017.

Prominent advocate for child abuse survivors, Ms Chrissie Foster, receives an AM for significant service to children, particularly as an advocate for those who have suffered sexual abuse. Ms Foster and her late husband Anthony became driving forces for a royal commission after two of their daughters were raped by their Roman Catholic parish priest while at primary school.

  • In the UK New Year’s Honours List, former England Test cricket captain Alastair Cook, who was a chorister of St Paul’s Cathedral London as a child, was knighted, while the founder and chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas, was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for services to human rights and freedom of religion or belief.

The worldwide President of the Mothers’ Union, Lynne Tembey, was recognised with an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the MU, women and families.     

[with Church Times]