2 March 2024

Fifty years of ‘humility and joy in ministry’


7 February 2019

Friends, family, colleagues and parishioners came together at St John’s Toorak for a celebration of 50 years of ministry by Archdeacon Emeritus Philip Newman OAM.

Held on 1 December 2018, the service marked an extraordinary career across the Diocese of Melbourne by Archdeacon Newman, who will mark his
79th birthday in April.

Archdeacon Newman’s curriculum vitae is far too vast to mention all of it here. On top of his roles as Archdeacon of Essendon, then Malvern, and later for Christian Unity and Relations with the World’s Religions, he was parish priest in three parishes, including St John’s Toorak for 16 years, has served as a locum for 14 parishes, and was a member of a number of diocesan committees.

In 1986 he co-founded what is today known as Anglican Overseas Aid. He served as its director from 1991 to 2001, and was on its board from 1987 to 2014.

He has also been a member of a number of wider church, ecumenical and interfaith bodies,  including having been president of the Victorian Council of Churches, and he served on several school boards from 1984 to 2010.

In 2002 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia “for service to the community through the Anglican Church of Australia, for refugee relief, and to people overcoming drug and alcohol addictions”.


Preaching at the service, the Revd Canon Heather Marten remarked on the broad nature of Archdeacon Newman’s service.

“I hope you notice a common theme: breaking down barriers and bringing people together; raising the possibility of a more just world; creating community; providing opportunity for so many to discover their common humanity and their shared experience of faith.”

Canon Marten also acknowledged Archdeacon Newman’s role in the debates around ministry and ordination of women in the diocese and wider church.

“During those difficult days of the ’70s and ’80s, Philip along with a small group of other priests courageously led where many others were fearful of doing so,” she said.

“Several of us here tonight and some whom we miss greatly benefitted from his courage and his capacity to lead, to minister and behave as though acknowledging and including women in ministry was the most normal thing in the world.”

Canon Marten added that throughout his career Archdeacon Newman showed an “ongoing commitment to and passion for parish life”.

“For this is a priest who firmly believes and teaches that local faith communities can be and should be communities in which faith is found and renewed; where understanding grows; where hospitality is offered and received; where generous love is present; where community is shared; healing takes place; and the gospel of Jesus is proclaimed,” she said.

“In Philip, here is a priest who genuinely values and finds joy in all the ministries that are associated with being a parish priest.”

Canon Marten also offered her thanks to Archdeacon Newman’s wife Becky, whom he married in 1965 after meeting her at a community at-risk-youth program in New York.

“This has been a partnership,” she said. “In so far as we celebrate and thank Philip tonight, we also celebrate and thank Becky.”

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