Wednesday, 7 August 2013

New Archbishop of Sydney elected

Updated again Saturday

The diocesan website has this announcement: Sydney Anglicans have a new Archbishop.

A synod of more than 800 members has overwhelmingly elected Bishop Glenn Davies as the 12th Archbishop of Sydney.

Dr Davies replaced Dr Peter Jensen who held the post for 12 years. For much of Archbishop Jensen’s tenure, Dr Davies served with him as the Bishop of North Sydney.

The other nominee for the post was Canon Rick Smith, the rector of Naremburn/Cammeray, a large church on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.

The final vote came after a complicated process of elimination ballots involving both houses of Synod - clergy and laity (lay people).

During an earlier elimination stage, a mix-up in vote counting made it seem as though Canon Smith had progressed through to the second round of voting. Between the sessions, there was an exhaustive recount which showed he had failed to gain the required majority in both houses.

The election then moved to the final stage and Dr Davies was elected…

A biography of Dr Davies is here.

The Primate of Australia congratulated Bishop Davies, and the Archbishop of Melbourne commented here.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the election this way: New Anglican Archbishop of Sydney chosen

Bishop Glenn Davies has been elected as the new Archbishop of Sydney.

Dr Davies was elected on Tuesday afternoon by the church’s synod, the governing body comprised of 800 members from 280 churches around Sydney.

The church described Dr Davies’ election victory as “overwhelming”. But it was only reached after problems with vote tallying forced a recount…

Muriel Porter writes for ABC Religion and Ethics The end of the Jensen ascendancy? What the election of Sydney’s new Archbishop means

…It would be fair to say that more moderate Sydney Anglicans approached the Synod on Monday with trepidation, if not foreboding. Particularly those from the dwindling number of traditional Anglican and Anglo-Catholic Sydney parishes feared the worst. They believed they could trust Davies to treat them with respect, but they had no idea how they might fare under Smith.

But when it came to it, the unthinkable happened. Smith did not get enough votes even to become a formal candidate in the first round of Synod voting. Both clergy and laity supported Davies’s candidature, but neither group gave Smith a majority. So last night, it was all over very quickly, with Davies, the only candidate, elected Archbishop with overwhelming support in the 800-strong Synod.

Davies has a maximum term as Archbishop of seven years. By then, Phillip Jensen and many of Smith’s key backers will no longer be Synod members, having reached retirement age. So suggestions that Rick Smith will now be groomed in readiness for another tilt at the top job seem fanciful. This was his backers’ last chance.

Commentators have been suggesting for a while that the ascendancy of the two Jensen brothers and their cohort had passed its peak, which might explain why they banked so much on such a young and relatively inexperienced candidate. A win for Smith would have tied the diocese to a Jensen-style leadership for a couple of decades, giving time for the next wave of hardliners to cement their influence. That will not now happen.

Make no mistake - Davies will not suddenly support the ordination of women priests or the acceptance of same-sex marriage. He will keep allowing deacons to preside at Holy Communion, even though it flies in the face of the rest of the Anglican Church and a decision of the Church’s highest court. The Sydney Diocese will remain deeply conservative.

But hopefully, the diocese’s relationships with the rest of the Anglican Church of Australia - increasingly strained in recent times - will mirror once more the same level of friendship and respect Davies has built across the country. That is perhaps the most important and far-reaching result from this extraordinary election.

Muriel Porter also writes for the Church Times Sydney elects new Archbishop which contains more detail of the election process.

Julia Baird writes for the Sydney Morning Herald The spirit of unity brings peace to a fractured flock

…Three astonishing things happened.

First, kindness and decency punctured old-style bullying and politicking.
Second, openness and transparency trumped harmful innuendo.
Third, young men pushed powerful old men off their perch; and they did so with forcefully gentle arguments. The old way of doing politics in Sydney - at least that which has ruled for the past 20 years - of number crunching, backroom deals and character assassination - was stomped on by rhetoric and reason.

Those who have long defined the diocese as hardline, insular and in opposition to the world, suddenly found they no longer controlled a majority of the synod; not even their old, reliable clergy voting bloc. The long-dominant factional leader Phillip Jensen had made two unfounded attempts late last week to deride Davies as mediocre and theologically suspect on his blog, but this backfired. He is now widely perceived to have lost his influence.

Stephen Judd , veteran synod member and author of Sydney Anglicans, described it as a “changing of the guard”. Others called it a turning point for the entire diocese…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 10:17pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Church of Australia

A solid Protestant and a very nice man of Welsh descent.The more moderate of the candidates.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 11:03pm BST

It seems that the Sydney Archdiocese has resisted the strident claims of Dean Phillip Jensen - that the new Archbishop had not the evangelical credentials needed to lead the archdiocese.

At least, under the new Archbishop, the association of the current Archbishop, Peter Jensen, with the GAFCON community, may be rendered less damaging to the reputation of the Australian Provincial Church, whose Archbishop, ++ Phillip Aspinal, has already welcomed the new Archbishop's capacity for listening to other people, in their advocacy of women and other minorities in the Church. May God bless Archbishop Glen's openness to change in the Sydney diocesan ethos of its closed-door attitude to outside influences.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 11:40pm BST

Same as the old boss?

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 1:32am BST

"advocacy of women and other minorities in the Church"?

Fr Ron, are women a minority in the church?

Posted by: Dan BD on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 8:48am BST

"Fr Ron, are women a minority in the church?"

- Dan BD -

Not really, Dan. But this seems to be the Sydney understanding of their place in the Church. The notion of male headship is prevalent therein.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 11:19am BST

Again we ask, since GAFCON & others call for discipline, who will discipline Sydney for permiting Deacons to celebrate the Eucharist? Answer - nobody.

Posted by: Commentator on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 12:29pm BST

Being neither Australian nor Anglican I am diffident in commenting. But reading subtexts is part of my day job, and I think the Primate of Australia's welcome is full of them. I think I hear the subtexts "we can do business with you ... but you will have to end your rebellion on deacons at Eucharist". Any Aussies able to comment?

Posted by: Iain McLean on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 5:23pm BST

Deacons do not celebrate the Eucharist in Sydney or anywhere else. Such liturgical acts are parodies of the real thing with no more validity than the well intentioned but misleading bread services of Presbyterians or Methodists. At least in those Christian communities there is no ambiguity about what is happening, or not happening; but Anglican laity are short changed by such practice.

Posted by: Disgraceful on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 8:05pm BST

Dan DB,
Talking about subtexts!
Maybe numerically, women aren't a minority in the Church, but in those places where they're asked to clean altar cloths, bake cookies for after-service social hours, and otherwise shut up and sit down, then, yes, they're a minority in the Church.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 8:22pm BST

Robert Ian, I'm willing to believe Bishop Davies was the "more moderate" candidate, especially in light of Archbishop Jensen's criticism. Still, since he was on the writing committee for the Jerusalem Declaration I'm wondering how that will be lived out.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Thursday, 8 August 2013 at 9:13pm BST

Marshall Scott rightly mentions Sydney's current association with the GAFCON - through the influence of the current Archbishop, Peter Jensen. One wonders whether, under Bishop Glenn Davies, the Sydney Diocese will continue to back GAFCON against the non-gafcon Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Perhaps we will have to wait until the upcoming next meeting of GAFCON - which could well split the Communion, between Conservatives and Moderates.

It would, indeed, be an oddity if Sydney were to separate itself out from the Australian Province.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 9 August 2013 at 1:55am BST

On Jensen's stepping done, one can't help but hearing strains of "ding, dong" from the Wizard on Oz.

And wasn't Albert Speers called "more moderate" because he forbid St Paul's from being bombed?

Sorry just adding perspective here historically.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Saturday, 10 August 2013 at 7:50am BST

The greatest mistake liberals make is to think of Sydney as an evil cabal. They are genuine earnest Christians who believe that the gay life style could jeopardise a persons soul and hence their determination to see through GAFCON.

Imagine this, Ron there are more Anglican communicants in Sydney than in the whole of New Zealand , Scotland and Wales combined.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Saturday, 10 August 2013 at 10:51pm BST

Thankfully in 2010 my move meant there is now 1 more Anglican communicant in New Zealand and one less in Sydney. While there were many reasons for my move, the treatment I received as a gay man in Sydney Evangelical Churches was a major factor. As I am now in my late 60's I could see a time when I could not make the 2 hour train journey each way to worship in the inclusive St James, King Street. I once had an elderly man in tears because his local church was no longer recognisably "Anglican" and he could not make the regular journey to the city.
I could write a book about the treatment I received when I came out to Rectors usually after a particularly virulent homophobic sermon. Generally I kept my head down.
I would advise any young GLBTI person to stay away from most Sydney churches. I cannot even understand why young women stay. It is not a case of denying women bishops when even the new moderate Archbishop believes that women should only be a co-leader of a Bible Study along with a man but if the man takes ill she may continue. He will continue to license women preachers in churches that request it but will not encourage them.
s Bishop Barabara Darling of Melbourne who grew up in Sydney stated, she boards a plane in Melbourne as a bishop and alights in Sydney as a deacon. At least in London she would be a priest. They may not be actually evil, Robert but like most communicants at St James I prayed that God would keep Peter Jensen "far away from us".

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Sunday, 11 August 2013 at 7:08am BST


Just because someone calls himself (or herself) "Anglican" doesn't mean they are living by the values of Anglicanism.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 11 August 2013 at 2:22pm BST

'They are genuine earnest Christians who believe that the gay life style could jeopardise a persons soul...'

And that's the problem in a nutshell. Maybe they do so believe, but that doesn't give them permission to behave in their particularly exclusionary manner and interfere in other people's lives. The state of my immortal soul is nothing to do with Gafcon or anybody else and I will be grateful for them to keep away and keep their nasty interfering doctrines to themselves.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 11 August 2013 at 2:25pm BST

"the values of Anglicanism" -- well, there it is. A benchmark defined by Godot.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 11 August 2013 at 2:58pm BST

I might add a reminder of the second reading from this morning:-

'Faith is the assurance of things hoped for...'

Not the certainty of things believed.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 11 August 2013 at 4:58pm BST

Please, enlighten me, what does "Anglican" mean? Specifically. What does or does not make a person an Anglican? What are "Anglican values" compared to other Christian's values? I've been wanting a real definition for years and have never gotten one.

Posted by: Chris H. on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 at 1:12am BST

Perhaps, since it is too difficult to understand the nuances of "christian" or "anglican," we should just lay the cards on the table.

There are two currents of thought current in what calls itself Christianity:

One is the modernist, or liberal, or progressive which believes that scripture and tradition are not inerrant, nor consider prejudice to be an entitled position. To that end, this viewpoint does not see revelation as closed, but rather, ongoing and is willing to take risks in good faith of God's Grace. It fails in mistaking kindness for compassion and capitulation for tolerance, emasculating its own message and purpose, from time to time.

The other is the traditionalist, conservative, or right-wing approach, which holds that a sincere conviction in one's own rectitude, one's inherited prejudices trumps the well-being, the personhood, and the dignity of others. It is a viewpoint which, while coming from true conviction, bolsters, supports and legitimizes murder, torture, falsehood and suicide. All claims of intent aside, this is what it *DOES*, and is the basis of murder and mutilation of gays and women in the third world, as well as the disgraceful embarrassment that is Russia defending its current pogrom. This type of Christianity is the basis and driving motive behind it.

Of the two, one produces mixed results (mostly harming itself), the other produces exclusively destructive results (mostly harming others).

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 at 4:45am BST

Wow, Mark! I suspect there are elements of truth to what you say, but of course, it is too broad to be the whole truth.

I think Christianity is more like a large, multi-faceted diamond. You can look at individual facets, but you can never view more than half of it at a time. We see in part, but not in whole. Our definitions are going to be shaped by our emphasis on particular facets. (Maybe I could have used a Body of Christ metaphor).

In the very word, Christ-ianity, we claim to follow Christ. This work may well be informed by the OT and the Acts and Letters, but the central focus is the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.

Anglicans have a long history and our focus is on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Our differences are generally focussed on the amount of emphasis we put on each element.

I think that Anglicanism is all about the balance of these three elements. The ancient liturgies and music have been finely honed to produce a compact, powerful, symbol rich, transformative experience, creating a "thin place" where we can connect with God. That would be the Tradition that interests me, not the Tradition of support for pogroms, slavery, and burning witches, let alone the Traditions of misogyny and homophobia.

Scripture is surely going to be about discernment, emphasis, and balance. I hear the anti-woman crowd as emphasizing Paul over Jesus, for example.

Reason to me implies a continuing revelation, as well as the effort to discern, and keep things in balance.

When we talk about the Anglican via media, the middle way, I don't think we're talking about compromising our integrity or appeasing whomever, I believe these are generally ernest efforts to keep some sort of balance. The balance changes with new understandings, new revelations, new listenings.

That's a summary based on my EFM training, prayer, and life experience. One facet of many.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 5:15pm BST

It's meant to be broad, Cynthia, because - whether we like it or not - they are two different religions. While volumes could be written on the miniscule, surface similarities between Islam and Christianity, the two are essentially different.

The truth is, we've buried the essential split between our religion and that of the right-wing in committee-talk, parsing and attempts to "stay together for the kids." Well, the kids are tired of being beaten by one parent and told by the other to be kind and nice, and the kids are leaving home - they feel the street is preferable.

For the love of what is Good, Holy and True, we have to stop all this piddling around in minutiae, looking for what's the same and stand back and realize that the similarities are trivial.

It may not be the whole truth, but it is the Fundamental Truth which shapes the whole truth - the schism has occurred. Now, what the right-wingers do is their business, but I'm not going to simply sit around and say that it's well and good for us on the progressive side to put our fingers in our ears and pretend. Stop it. There are now two different religions - not two expressions of the same religion - as different as Islam and Christianity. One looks to a Living God, the other to a rigid, solipsistic legal code. The whole truth is non-existent until you accept that fundamental truth.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 16 August 2013 at 5:32am BST

Mark, can I ask what the essentials of your "real progressive Christianity" are? Are there any tenets of the Biblical code that are important? If nothing in the Bible is inerrant or completely necessary what is the faith in? I see so many progressive bishops and priests saying that Jesus' death, resurrection, etc. either didn't happen, or don't matter, I can't see the difference between social justice liberal "Christianity" and Compassionate humanism with some parables(that can be translated however one likes) from an outdated text thrown on top.

I've seen studies that suggest that there's a curve for people of faith. They start out in conservative, rigid faith and slowly loosen up, moving to other churches and continuing to lose the rigid doctrines until they get to progressive mainline churches, where they then say,"why bother"? According to them, TEC, ELCA, etc. are often the last stop out the door to becoming agnostics or atheists. So what parts are important to keep in progressive Christianity to stop people sliding out the door?

Posted by: Chris H. on Friday, 16 August 2013 at 2:50pm BST

My very own answer to Chris. H's poser is this:
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners - Biblical, reasonable, and very,very basic to any protestation of Christian philosophy. Sinners, of course, means all of us - not just those who believe they have all the answers.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 19 August 2013 at 12:50am BST

What a relief for all the good, kind, middle of the road Anglicans after so many years of Jensen put-downs.

Posted by: SwissMiss on Monday, 19 August 2013 at 6:43am BST

Chris H.,

God is the only focus of faith. God acts. God lives. The Bible is no more than the experience of others in relation to that living Presence. It may or may not apply, but God also gave us intelligence and the direct guidance of His Spirit to discern that. The "tradition" is made by men who are no holier nor less fallible than those that exist today. To look to those two as definitive to the exclusion of direct experience is as senseless as turning your back on a benefactor because the letter of introduction described them wearing a different outfit.

If they walk out the door, that's fine, as long as they don't walk out of faith. Often, that "walk out" is out of narrow community, to larger.

Since you and I are of different religions, I can't expect you to agree or understand.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 at 5:13am BST

In contrast to the prejudice of some on this blog Archbishop Davies has already rebuked Australian politicians over the treatment of asylum seekers.

Posted by: Robert ian Willaims on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 at 1:37pm BST
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