2 March 2024

Presidential Address to the Melbourne Synod, 54th Synod

Archbishop Philip Freier delivers the Presidential Address to Melbourne Synod. Picture: Elspeth Kernebone

Archbishop Philip Freier

11 October 2023

Welcome to this first session of the 54th Synod of the Diocese of Melbourne.

We meet on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. Some who are joining online tonight will also be joining from Wurundjeri land while others from the lands of the traditional owners of your particular locality. Let us together, respect their continuing connection and custodianship for land and water. We give thanks for their ancestral knowledge and thank God for the ongoing right and responsibility of elders to care for this Country. Let us commit ourselves to work and pray towards a more just settlement for all Indigenous people and pay our respects to First Nations people amongst us.

We come together here at St Paul’s Cathedral and online to carry out important work in the life of the Church in this diocese. This is the first session of the 54th Synod of the Diocese of Melbourne. Just as we are called together so we have come to form a holy community from amongst the people of God over the days and then years of this 54th synod. You have an important responsibility for the corporate leadership of the church in this Diocese. Synod comes from a Greek word (synodia) meaning those who ‘journey together’. This word is used in Luke 2:44 when Joseph and Mary think that Jesus is with the synodia or group of travellers travelling home from Jerusalem. We are a group of travellers over these days, we travel with each other and with Jesus as we consider the important things that are before us in the life of the Church and the world. Just like a group of travellers, we need to travel in the right direction and with the right spirit towards our journey and each other. You might think that it is a strange thing to talk about at a time when we are mostly sitting down together as a journey, but we will use our agenda like a road map as we all aim to ‘get somewhere’ as a result of our discussions. We need to look towards the Lord and trust each other so we can travel together in the same way.

Read more: Review report requested, Anglican Communion motion withdrawn as synod begins | LIVE

I recognise that you all make a big commitment to be present and participate in a meeting of Synod. For those who are new, I hope that the induction material and presynod seminars have assisted your preparation. The Synod receives many reports that give an annual account of the different facets of work and ministry of the Diocese of Melbourne as well as background material to the legislation and motions that are being brought to this synod. The first session of a synod also involves the election of the people who will make up our governance bodies for the three year period of the synod.

The fourth day of this Synod is also the Saturday of the Referendum on the First Nations’ Voice to Parliament. However the Australian electorate responds to this question, there is certain to be much analysis of voting trends across the nation. All of the early indications ahead of the referendum suggested that Victoria was one of the most likely states to support the Yes vote. More recent polling seems to cast doubt on these early figures. How strong this support is and how consistent it is across the different parts of the state will be important information. If it proves to be decided in favour of “Yes” or not we need to be a better and more accountable society where First Nations people can flourish. Recent discussions about the referendum should also encourage us to have a bigger vision for ministry by and amongst First Nations people across this state. The best efforts of developing this vision nationally inevitably run up against the barrier of limited resources at the General Synod level. The reports of NATSIAC, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council to the General Synod make this point clear. The Aboriginal Council Anglican Province of Victoria (ACAPV) that first met in 2018 has called for autonomy in decision-making and confidence that plans can be properly resourced.

We have the example of the three Tikanga model of the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia which has achieved an autonomy of Māori ministry within the fellowship of their National Church. This has happened progressively since the ordination of the first Māori priest in 1928, the commencement of Māori General Synod representation in 1978 then equal partnership in the three Tikanga church since 1992. Australia has had some parallels with this journey, starting with the significant year 1925. That year saw the ordination to the diaconate of James Noble in Perth and the ordination to the priesthood of Joseph Lui and Poey Passi on Thursday Island. St Paul’s Theological College was established on Moa Island in Torres Strait in 1917 and Nungalinya College in Darwin in 1973. The National Aboriginal Anglican Council commenced in 1991 and became established by a canon of the General Synod in 1998, the Torres Strait Islanders having been included two years earlier. Apart from a contribution from this diocese made to establish an endowment for the work of NATSIAC and the national bishops, there is no dedicated funding at the General Synod level for this work. The bishops of Victoria have considered a proposal to work with NATSIAC in the province of Victoria. It is important that we approach new possibilities on a Victoria-wide basis since this was the extent of the Diocese of Melbourne when first founded in 1847 and was the diocese and jurisdiction during the period of the greatest displacement of Aboriginal people during the colonial period. The Dioceses of Victoria have a shared legacy and responsibility to work together with First Nations’ People as we look towards the future.

Read more: 2022 Presidential Address to the Melbourne Synod

Along with some others here in his Synod I travelled to Napier in New Zealand and attended the Anglican Indigenous Leadership Initiative Wananga in late September this year. This was an initiative of Tikanga Māori Archbishop Don Tamihere. He has a vision of new and ongoing wānanga or space of learning where an indigenous Anglican worldview can be utilised to shape a new cohort of leadership across the unique regions and contexts of the Anglican Communion.

As he said, “This is not a political exercise, nor a contestation for power within our Communion. Instead, it will be an expression of mātauranga – of indigenous ways of knowing and being that will bring unique and much-needed solutions to highly complex problems including climate, racism, poverty and the ongoing challenges of colonisation”.

Some of you will have participated in Canon Glenn Loughrey’s presentations on the Voice Referendum. I appreciate his willingness to participate in the community discussion on the Voice Referendum and for the encouragement of St Oswald’s Parish, Glen Iris for this secondment to be made possible. I attended his presentation at the National Anglican Bishops’ Conference in Hobart in March and at the National Anglican Schools Conference that met in Canberra in August. It has been a costly and demanding time for First Nations people during the period of the referendum debate. Let us keep this in our hearts and prayers throughout these days. I suggest that we pray the prayer for reconciliation in our worship on the Sunday following the referendum. The need to find a reconciled unity in this country remains pressing.

Read more: ‘Review case for five-day week for clergy’: Synod motion

I think that it is remarkable that even though our world and our lives have changed as a result of the COVID pandemic we seem to have experienced a mind shift about it. The infections are still present amongst us, the virus continues to mutate and evolve, deaths are still occurring because of COVID but the focus on these things, the daily reporting of numbers and the sense of imminent doom seem to have disappeared from our public awareness. Our research community, including here in Melbourne, has made a great contribution through their work and the work of their international colleagues to our wellbeing.

In our diocese, we have accepted digital means of communication and meeting as fair enough equivalents of being present together in the one space. Parish clergy tell me how they are taking the regular online participants in worship into their pastoral planning along with those who gather in church as regular members of their parishes.

Archbishop Philip Freier. Picture: file

I expect that this societal change of attitude must be cold comfort for those who lost loved ones due to the COVID pandemic or still experience the lasting effects of a COVID infection.

During the period of the COVID pandemic I worked with the bishops and other members of our diocesan leadership team to simplify the focus of the Strategic Directions 2017-2025 document. This resulted in the Vision and Directions 2022-2025 work that is represented in graphical form on the back cover of our order of service for tonight’s Synod Eucharist. We took external advice about the pressures that the pandemic was likely to impose on us and recognised that there would be a long journey out of what became one of the longest periods of disruption that Australia and particularly Melbourne had experienced. This was all done with Paul’s assertion of the focus of his ministry in Colossians 1:25 about ‘Making the word of God fully known’ firmly in our sights. The four strategic directions parallel the wider structure of Colossians 1 and I would now like to reflect on some of the developments over this past year.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 1: To be a compelling and outward looking Christian presence in our communities. As I commented last year, we are generally a more anxious society with this anxiety having a corporate as well as individual dimension.

The continued conflict in Ukraine along with Russian threats that tactical nuclear weapons could be used in this war deeply challenges concepts of human progress and safety. The Hamas invasion of southern Israel, hostage taking and enormous numbers of people killed on each side of the conflict are confronting. In the past year the language about the path to irreversible climate change has become more strident and urgent. Anxiety has not come to the forefront without cause. Assumptions about continual improvement in living standards and the next generation having it easier than the one before are constantly challenged by the daily experience of many in Australia. Both conflict and structural inequality disrupt the sense of peace and fairness in the lives of those directly affected as governments and agencies struggle to meet the increasing demands and expectations of the communities they are called to serve. The diocese is not immune from these pressures and navigating a purposeful and fruitful pathway requires all of our best endeavours.

Attendees at the 2023 Melbourne Synod. Picture: Elspeth Kernebone

Under the Episcopal direction of Bishop Kate Prowd, Church Planting Canon Julie-anne Laird has provided capacity for Church Planting and Canon John Sanderson has been engaged with church revitalisation.

In the last three years there have been new Church Plants at varying stages of development including Merri Creek Fairfield, Proclaim in Clyde North, COAH Whittington and Surf Coast, Sent Collective Glen Waverley, Reach West in Tarneit (in English, Urdu and Hindi), a Chinese Church Plant in Point Cook, Sojourners in Werribee, Grasslands Cairnlea, a Persian home church in Deep Creek, an Arabic church plant in Geelong from Holy Trinity Coburg, the Immanuel Iranian Church has planted two new congregations, a Chinese Congregation at GWAC, Uni Congregation at the Cathedral and St Peter’s Jieeng Congregation at Wyndham. These initiatives represent commitment, vigour and energy to proclaim the gospel.

I am very grateful for the generosity of the Benefact Trust (Formally All Churches Trust) which has provided the funding to stimulate some of these the new ministry presences.

Other funding partners have also generously played their part.

Ten members of the diocese have engaged in church planting training provided by City to City in support of our church planting capacity building strategy.

The Reimagining the Future team have engaged with parishes since April this year and are commencing engagement with nine additional parishes as I speak. It is envisaged further parishes will be able to connect with this resource in 2024.

A second focus has been parish revitalisation and Leading your Church into Growth or LyCiG.

The diocese has engaged with this program out of the United Kingdom which is designed to help churches to grow. The Leading your Church into Growth Conference was held in March earlier this year, ran over three days, and was attended by over 100 clergy and lay people representing 54 parishes.

The program sets church leadership up with a simple, achievable methodology to achieve missional growth in their local parish context. The LyCiG Local program supports parishes to review their missional capacity, their planning and connection with the local community. Twenty-two parish groups have engaged with this program since the conference. There are a series of short videos available on the Synod portal where participating churches talk of their journey and what has been achieved. I encourage you to view these over Synod.

There will be another LyCiG conference in 2024 held from 27-29 February where parish leaders can undertake a refresher program or acquire the methodology for application in their own congregations.

I would like to acknowledge the support and work of the Reimagining the Future team and the engagement of the Bishops, the Archdeacons, parishes and their leadership groups in this important initiative that positively impacts our vision of Making the Word of God fully known.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 2: Reach across boundaries of human division to serve our communities and proclaim Christ.

The Working Group for Diocese and Parish Partnerships chaired by Bishop Genieve Blackwell has representatives from each of the episcopates along with Benetas, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Anglicare Victoria and the Melbourne Anglican Foundation. The Working Group provides a forum for information sharing and the identification of community service needs and social justice issues that specific Anglican agencies may engage with and provide support for through a parish partnership.

Attendees at the 2023 Melbourne Synod.

The creation of an MOU in 2022 with Anglicare Victoria has enabled parishes to engage in a range of programs and activities that seek to minister to people experiencing hardship as a result of homelessness, refugee status, educational disadvantage and financial hardship. Support for people in prisons is provided under the Prison Chaplaincy MOU with Anglicare with a significant focus on youth detention and post-detention programs.

Opportunity shops continue to provide valuable services and act as an important point of social connection with local communities.

I wish to acknowledge the dedication of Archdeacon Nick White who has provided excellent leadership in the development of the parish partnerships program and wish him well as he takes on his new responsibilities at St Stephen’s Richmond.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 3: Be open to the Holy Spirit in transforming lives to be mature in Christ One of the significant adjustments that parishes made during COVID was to enable people to engage in prayer, bible studies and worship online.

This transformation of practice and method has broadened people’s access to Christ and the Christian Community in ways that many in church leadership had previously not considered. Our return to gathered worship has also seen the ongoing practice of online engagement in many church settings. This has allowed participation by people who are challenged by mobility or illness or who find work commitments competing with service times.

Diocesan communication channels have been increased to include Facebook and Instagram to accommodate the growing engagement with social media and to ensure people can connect with the work of parishes, Anglican agencies and schools and theological colleges. I am informed that the ADoM TikTok account is proving very popular with the Gen Z demographic and is a welcome point of engagement for our younger members and their friends. The Bishops are also on board with mid-week bible verse reflection videos.

The team at “The Melbourne Anglican” or TMA has shifted focus to accommodate a growing online audience in contrast to its previous focus on only a print publication. The “Everyday Saints” podcast started in late 2022 and explored the Christian journeys of people connected to the church. To date eleven episodes have been produced with a strong following. The vision for The Melbourne Anglican includes the provision of a modern and attractive communications platform that can support the Church’s message through growing the online community, flexible distribution strategies for printed editions and comprehensive engagement with the mission and life of the Anglican Church in this diocese and beyond.

There is a commitment by the Diocesan Office to streamline parish communications functions and to reduce the reliance on manual handling and to minimise email messaging and requests for information through the ICT strategy. The EmailConnect program which provides for the @melbourneanglican.org.au address has been adopted by 95% of parishes as the foundation element of connectivity. This system greatly increases our email security and minimises the opportunity for cyber attacks and data theft. IdentityConnect is a second stage program where parishes are onboarded to Office 365 and the Cloud for file storage and effective office administration. To date, several parishes have made this transition and I encourage you to take advantage of this resource. Following Synod a new Anglican Diocese of Melbourne portal will be operational to make access to documents more efficient. Compliance expectations which require effective reporting to regulatory authorities are driving significant changes to the way we manage data and monitor our organisational activity as a church. I am sure the revised portal will be viewed positively by many in the diocese as we strive to uphold our social obligations and responsibilities.

Enabling future capacity in ministry is the key focus for the Monomeeth episcopate. This portfolio has responsibility for formation and training of candidates for ordination, newly ordained clergy and oversight of clergy wellbeing, professional supervision and coaching programs. Bishop Brad Billings has been leading this portfolio for the past 8 years and in May 2023 the decision was taken to exchange the roles of Bishop Kate Prowd and Bishop Brad. Bishop Brad now is the Bishop for the Oodthenong episcopate and Bishop Kate the Bishop for the Monomeeth episcopate.

I would like to recognise Bishop Brad for his book entitled “Truly Called? Vocation in the Anglican Church” which is an excellent resource for aspirants to ordained ministry.

There are 43 people enrolled in the Year of Discernment program and 21 candidates for ordination. There have been two ordinations since the last Synod. One in November 2022 where 19 people were ordained as priests and the second in February 2023 where 15 were ordained as deacons. There are currently 60 curates in the diocese. I would like to acknowledge and thank the fine work of both Ridley and Trinity Theological Colleges and the support they provide to students and ministry aspirants.

We have achieved a lot in the past couple of years with the strong take up of the Coaching and Supervision programs led by Carol Clarke. In 2023 the program has supported experienced priests, new priests, ASLM’s, ministers in cross-cultural settings, youth and children’s ministers and people with a Permission to Officiate. The program has 61 coaches, 35 coach supervisors, more than 6 coach supervisor trainees and 6 qualified professional supervisors. There are currently over 180 participants engaged and plans are in place to expand the levels of engagement for the coming 2023-24 year.

The Reverend Stephen Delbridge is responsible for the rollout of Professional Supervision, one of the recommendations from the Royal Commission and a commitment for Anglicans nationally made at the General Synod in 2022.

For our clergy to thrive and flourish, we must prioritise clergy wellbeing.

Tim Dyer from John Mark ministries, who will be known to many in this Diocese, has identified 10 tips to help church leaders move from surviving to thriving, including learning and developing practical leadership skills, implementing a whole person “self-care” plan, embracing a “sabbath practice”, building capacity for resilience and pursuing ongoing spiritual formation. These are essential disciplines for maintaining wellbeing and longevity in ministry.

Next year there are plans to offer a series of seminars on clergy wellbeing. Bishop Kate will be working on continuing to develop a diocesan culture of Wellbeing along with strategies to support this important area of focus.

Building a culture which prioritises care and reflective practice alongside strategic leadership development enables the diocese to nurture and nourish enduring and productive leadership capacity in our parish and other settings.

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 4: Use all the energy that God powerfully inspires to better manage our human and Capital resources.

The meeting of synod in 2022 recommended re-consideration of the 2023 budget with a view to bringing our expenditure in line with our income, whilst preserving ministry as much as possible. This was taken seriously by Archbishop in Council and a working group was formed comprising members of the Council and directors of the Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Corporation to assist the work of Mr Chris Arnold who was engaged to review the budget and operations of the diocese generally to achieve a stronger financial outcome. This work took place over the summer vacation and I appreciate the work of all concerned to bring it to a conclusion in a timely manner for consideration at the February meeting of Archbishop in Council. 72 recommendations were made that ranged across the areas of financial management, governance and Anglican Centre operations. All 72 recommendations were accepted by the Archbishop in Council in February with the implementation of the recommendations reported to each successive meeting throughout this year. We have some of the outcomes of that work evident in the budget for 2024 to 2026 that has been approved by the council and now reported to this Synod as well as the governance reform contained in the Diocesan Governance Legislation Amendment Bill 2023.

Attendees at the 2023 Melbourne Synod. Picture: Maria Tan

At the overview level, the two highest remunerated roles in the diocesan administration were removed from the organisation through redundancies, that of Chief Executive Officer of the Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Corporation and the role of Chief Operating Officer. I wish both Justin Lachal and Matthew Wilson well as they make their new careers since leaving the Diocese of Melbourne and appreciate their work with us.

There is no question that we have significantly reduced the resourcing, and thus capacity, of our diocesan administration and I am deeply grateful for Malcolm Tadgell agreeing to incorporate the duties of the MADC Chief Executive Officer into his existing responsibilities as Registrar. His efforts have been considerable on behalf of us all. There has been a re-organisation of the administrative structures and an outsourcing of strategic property advice to a consultant.

Significant decisions were made to reduce the support for media advice and chaplaincy. I am grateful for the assistance provided by Barney Zwartz as media advisor and wish him well for the future. The stipended role for the Anglican Centre Chaplain was concluded and notice was given that the diocese’s funding of hospital chaplaincy would also unfortunately conclude at the end of this year.

Anglican Chaplaincy ministry has been operating at Royal Melbourne Hospital since 1864. Both lay chaplains and clergy have ministered there and other hospitals. Thousands of people have been ministered to in their time of need over these many years. Frances Perry, wife of our first bishop, Charles Perry, was one of the founders of what is now the Royal Womens’ Hospital. This humanitarian work and Christian ministry has been a strong pillar of the work of the Diocese of Melbourne for a long time. In the 2022-2023 year, Anglican volunteers visited in our government hospitals 460 patients to offer prayer and pastoral support. Our stipended hospital chaplains (equivalent of 4.8 chaplains working full time) recorded a little under 9,000 pastoral encounters, a remarkable impact that will not be possible in the same way after the end of this year. Government co-funding has always been small compared with our diocesan funding and is, itself, not certain to continue beyond the end of this year as well.

This is all to say that I hope that the decision to cease diocesan funding is not the last word on this important ministry. I am grateful for the continuing funding partnership with the Melbourne Anglican Foundation for hospital chaplaincy. Our chaplains are vocationally called to this work and I know feel a strong sense of grief at this time in the light of this budget decision.

I hope that some co-ordination of chaplaincy efforts can continue as it will be sorely needed to support the increasing demands that will inevitably fall to the parish clergy.

I hope too that Christians will continue to find common cause in the important work of changing our culture to eliminate violence against women and other people who are over-represented in experiencing harm. The efforts of our own Diocese in developing the Prevention of Violence Against Women program is a good example of finding this common cause at a grassroots level to make an impact within our Church community. My visits to Anglican Schools this year, including a two student voice forums, were inspirational. Many young people and their families find their faith and participate in Christian community and worship through our schools. They are a vital place for interaction for each new generation. I am grateful for the ministry of school chaplains in this work and acknowledge the chaplains who are present here tonight.

Our Safe Ministry work is important to our Church culture and is a whole of Church responsibility as we seek to ensure that the Church is a safe place for all. Victoria has adopted new Child Safe standards which align strongly with a consensus on Child Safety principles across the nation.

It has been emphasised on many occasions that a culture of child safety is one of the most protective aspects that any organisation can develop. There is no part of our work where concerns for child safety can be absent.

The harm to people who have survived child sexual abuse is very great, we need to be strenuous in our continuing efforts to ensure that harm is avoided. This year has seen much activity in this area of Safe Ministry with the Safe Ministry Reference Group or SMRG continuing to provide expert advice from across the Diocese to the Archbishop in Council. The reference group’s main focus has been safe ministry in relation to children and youth. In the past twelve months, the Safe Ministry Reference Group has been:

  • Preparing and rolling out the Diocesan Action Plan to respond to the 11 new Child Safe Standards
  • Updating the Diocesan safe ministry documents
  • Continue to develop the Diocesan risk management plan, and
  • Updating the safe ministry training and developing junior safe ministry training videos.

With the support of Anne Fairweather, the diocese’s Safe Ministry and Inclusion Officer, people have engaged in Safe Ministry training programs in accordance with their role requirements. The Safe Ministry training resources launched in 2021 have been used by over 5,000 clergy, lay staff members and volunteers who have each completed this training. Four diocesan presenters have been trained and are running sessions organised by the Safe Ministry team online as well as when requested by individual parishes.

Recently the Commission for Children and Young People or CCYP instigated a review of our systems for managing the protection of children and young people and I expect to receive their report later this year.

I cannot stress too much the importance of parish leadership ensuring their local ministry has the appropriate systems and child safe information and that people engaged in youth and children’s ministry have the required clearances and training credentials.

CCYP has asked the Diocese for an action plan for meeting these new Child Safe Standards along with a risk management plan. The templates for tracking parish progress can be found on the Safe Ministry Toolbox on the diocesan website. The risk management tool is still being worked on by the Safe Ministry Reference Group and will be available soon.

As a religious entity, we need to understand that CCYP possesses significant regulatory authority and powers and is able to intervene in a number of ways if we fail to comply. Evidence of how we bring safe ministry into our daily operations and discussion is proof of how seriously we care about it and I encourage parish leadership to include Safe Ministry and Inclusion as an agenda item for all parish council meetings.

Kooyoora continues to act as the professional standards office and progresses all clearance applications, investigates complaints of misconduct, works with parishes and Authorised Anglican Congregations or AAC’s to manage Persons of Concern as well as being available to give advice to parishes and AAC’s and the particular church authority in any matter.

Thank you to all who exercise these Safe Ministry responsibilities in parishes and AAC’s. Your diligent efforts and your commitment to ensuring Church is a safe place for children and vulnerable people to freely hear the message of Jesus is acknowledged and appreciated.

I can again confirm that we have been able to meet our redress obligations without reaching into the funds of individual parishes and Authorised Anglican Congregations. Our approach of meeting these responsibilities from central funds contributes in part to the deficit operational budget approved by Archbishop in Council. In the year under consideration, we have settled 11 matters through the National Redress Scheme as well as 12 matters arising from the Kooyoora Independent Redress Scheme and civil litigation. A total of $5.2m has been paid for redress in this period.

It is important that we continue to lament our past failures for victims of abuse as we implement the trauma-informed response to survivors that has been developed by Kooyoora.

As I noted earlier when referring to the new parish portal, information that may not have been required from parishes in the past is now necessary and is required in an accurate and timely manner. The information sought by our Diocesan administration from parishes and authorised congregations for our external compliance reporting needs to be accurate and timely. We are experiencing a cultural change. Matters that were once unreported to the diocesan administration now need to be reported. Evidence of compliance across a range of areas is now required as a result of these changed external regulatory requirements.

Excellence in compliance and reporting in one context is completely undone if there is neglect or a casual attitude in another. The design of our processes aims to respect the responsibilities that are best exercised at the local level. Once again, all of this has an important cultural dimension and can only ever operate in an environment of commitment to the principles, a willingness to apply them and accountability for the outcomes.

It is important that we pause at this Synod to appreciate the people who formed the councils, committees, and boards of the 53 Synod. They made a great contribution through a very challenging time. Some are subject to the sabbatical break in their service whilst others will continue to contribute, subject to your decisions in the ballot for membership of these bodies. I sincerely thank all for their very generous contribution to the work of our diocesan governance.

I take this opportunity to inform the Synod that recently the Chancellor, Professor the Hon Clyde Croft AM SC informed me of his conclusion from the role as Chancellor. This was effective from 30 September 2023. I am very thankful for his service as Deputy Chancellor from 2007, as Chancellor since 2020 and as the Primatial Chancellor between 2014 and 2019. He has given very distinguished service to the diocese in this role for which I am personally very grateful. An appointment of a Chancellor will be announced in due course and I remain thankful for the wisdom of the Deputy Chancellor, Michael Dowling over the course of this Synod.

Finally – Thank you all! I single out my Episcopal team, Bishops Genieve, Paul, Brad and Kate along with the support we each have from those who work closely with us particularly Executive Officer Ken Hutton, Registrar Malcolm Tadgell and General Manager Justin Lachal for his efforts while he was with us. You will see over these next few days something of the work of the many others who give so generously of their time and talents in various governance roles within the Diocese. I also appreciate and thank the Senior Staff team of Archdeacons along with the Advocate and other honorary officers of our Synod. I thank the Dean and the Cathedral team for the way they have so calmly responded with exceptional worship opportunities for the Diocese, Province and City over our 175th year.

The list of functions and ministries in the diocese is very great, just as it is in the most vital place where ministry happens – at the grassroots. Thanks to you all in your own distinctive place of ministry and worship for what you do in parishes, authorised congregations, chaplaincies and in many other contexts. This is the vital work of the church as we seek to ‘Make the Word of God fully known’.

May God’s blessing be on you and prosper you as you carry out this work and on us as we support and encourage it. I conclude with the prayer for Reconciliation from the APBA (page 203).

Lord God, bring us together as one, Reconciled with you and reconciled with each other. You have made us in your likeness, you gave us your Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us forgiveness from sin. Lord God, bring us together as one, different in culture, but given new life in Jesus Christ, together as your body, your Church, your people. Lord God, bring us together as one, reconciled, healed, forgiven, sharing you with others as you have called us to do. In Jesus Christ, let us be together as one. Amen.

Archbishop Philip Freier

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