21 July 2024

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Canon Glenn Loughrey hopes to make Indigenous Anglicans safer in Church in new role

The Reverend Canon Glenn Loughrey will start his new project lead role with The Anglican Province Of Victoria in April. Picture: Jenan Taylor

Jenan Taylor

26 March 2024

A senior Aboriginal cleric hopes to make the Church a safer space for Indigenous Anglicans through a new Victorian justice body he has been tasked to create.

The body will be made up of Indigenous Anglicans who will represent and promote the interests of First Nations church members.

The Reverend Canon Glenn Loughrey will take up the assignment as leader of a five-year Anglican Province of Victoria First Nations ministry, mission and justice project.

Canon Loughrey said the landmark body would ensure there were pathways for Indigenous people in the Church and that mission and ministry were conducted in culturally appropriate ways.

He said that was important because it was very much a gospel-related way of acting and giving people permission to be who they are.

“The Church doesn’t always feel safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be in. We want to be able to feel that wherever we go, and whatever part of the Church we’re in, that we are recognised and accepted for who we are, not who we might become,” Canon Loughrey said.

He said it would closely resemble the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council, and would comprise both Indigenous church leaders and lay ministers.

Read more: Indigenous Christian leaders ‘gutted’, but unwavering after Voice setback

Canon Loughrey said he would be working across all five dioceses in the province, but that his role was auspiced to Bendigo and to Melbourne.

Dean of Melbourne the Very Reverend Dr Andreas Loewe said Canon Loughrey’s role was aimed at building a greater sense of understanding between First Nations Australians and the Church.

Dr Loewe said it was also about creating opportunities to foster Indigenous ministries in Victoria.

He said Melbourne synod members had pushed for some time for such a recognition of Indigenous Anglicans in Victoria.

Dr Loewe said the province created it now because many people in the church, especially its reconciliation working group members, didn’t want to wait anymore.

The Statement from the Heart, and the opportunity many had in 2023 to engage deeply with what an Aboriginal voice in Victoria might look like, were also catalysts.

Read more: To decolonise, the church must first recognise Indigenous leaders’ capability

He said he saw Canon Loughrey’s role as expanding on his Voice campaign work in educating people about the effects of colonialism, racism and exclusion on Indigenous people.

Bendigo Bishop Matt Brain said the province believed the Church should heed what Indigenous people had asked of Australians if it was going to be part of a just and fair nation.

He said the province wanted the project to be a NATSIAC-endorsed, worked example of First Nations ownership and responsibility for ministry to the Anglican Church of Australia.

Bishop Brain said this was important because in time the national church would consider how First Peoples were recognised within its constitution.

Canon Loughrey said part of his role would include working alongside Victoria’s First Peoples’ Assembly to help further its processes.

He said he also wanted to connect strongly with its elders about what they hoped to see from the Church.

Canon Loughrey will finish his current position as vicar of St Oswald’s Glen Iris at the end of March, but will continue to work from the site.

He said the local Wurundjeri people viewed it with its Indigenous garden and nearby gathering place as culturally significant, and were keen for him to remain involved with it.

Canon Loughrey will start his new role in April, and a commissioning date will be announced shortly.

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