Sunday, 17 November 2013

Grafton elects Sarah Macneil as diocesan bishop

Although there is as yet no announcement on the website of the Diocese of Grafton, in New South Wales, Australia, there are now several newspaper reports that The Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil has been chosen as the next diocesan bishop for Grafton. She will be the first woman to become a diocesan, as opposed to an assistant, bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia. The newspaper headlines below are misleading in this respect.

Canberra Times Canberra’s Sarah Macneil to become Australia’s first female Anglican bishop

9NewsNational Anglicans elect first woman bishop

Sydney Telegraph Anglicans elect Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil first woman bishop in Australia

Finally, an accurate headline from:
ABC Canberra priest Sarah Macneil to be Australia’s first woman to lead Anglican diocese

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 3:12pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Church of Australia

This is wonderful news, Dr Sarah Macneil will be the 4th woman bishop in Australia but, as you say, the first in charge of a diocese. I was under the impression that the bloc from Sydney and its friends in the Australian General Synod were preventing women from being placed in charge. Apparently this has been overcome which is wonderful.
It is normal for the Archbishop of Sydney to officiate at the consecration of any bishop in NSW but Jensen did not attend the consecration of Bishop Blackwell in Canberra-Goulburn although she had been one of his students. It will be interesting to see what his successor, Abp Glenn Davies does. Hopefully he will not be so churlish.

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 6:14pm GMT

Sarah Macneil will be the 5th female bishop in Australia - there are assistant bishops currently serving in the Dioceses of Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, and Canberra-Goulburn. She will be consecrated by the Bishop of Canberra-Goulburn.

Although it's taken a while to see a woman appointed as diocesan (21 years since women were first ordained as priests in Australia), the presence of five women in the episcopate amongst around forty men and women serving in episcopal roles is remarkable progress in just five years since women could be appointed as bishops.

Posted by: Peter Sherlock on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 8:52pm GMT

Brian, In the Anglican Church of Australia dioceses are free to elect their own Bishops without interference from another diocese or other bishops.

Posted by: John Sandeman on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 10:07pm GMT

this is good news indeed.
But I am a bit confused by: "Dr Macneil accepted the position after she and the Grafton nomination board came to the mutual decision that her skills and interests would suit the direction the diocese wanted to take."

Could Peter or some other Australian who knows how the canons work there please explain the process here? I had assumed that the Australian process was essentially the same as in New Zealand, with an Electoral Synod making the choice. What is an "nomination board", and how was it able to come to a "mutual decision" with one of the nominees?

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Monday, 18 November 2013 at 1:36am GMT

Just to put this into perspective. Sydney Anglicanism has half the nation's declared Anglicans (latest Federal census) and 62 per cent of those who practice. So half of Australian Anglicans have no direct experience of women priests or bishops.

Another fact, there are more Anglicans in Church in Sydney on a Sunday, than the whole of New Zealand/Aotearoa.

Posted by: Robert ain Williams on Monday, 18 November 2013 at 7:30am GMT

Edward, since the Queen stopped appointing bishops in 1863, every Australian diocese has invented its own process for finding a new bishop. Some do it directly by synod, where the synod can nominate from the floor, others do it by a nominating board sending names to a synod, still others do it by a committee, and I think technically one or two can delegate the election to the house of bishops or even to Canterbury. Grafton is really interesting - they adopted a new process a few years ago where, when there's a vacancy, the synod meets and spends a day talking about the challenges facing the diocese and the qualities they discern the next bishop will need, then the synod elects a committee of clergy and laity to elect a bishop, and every synod member gets the chance to put a name into the process. So this was election by a Board (of 12 I think). The term 'mutual decision' is apparently reporting that both the candidate and the board agreed that this was the right way forward.

Posted by: Peter Sherlock on Monday, 18 November 2013 at 10:12am GMT

"Sydney Anglicanism has half the nation's declared Anglicans (latest Federal census) and 62 per cent of those who practice" [RIW]

The key word being "declared" - the question is whether the definition of "Anglican" is elastic enough to bear that self-declaration!

Posted by: Geoff on Monday, 18 November 2013 at 4:18pm GMT

"So half of Australian Anglicans have no direct experience of women priests or bishops." What's your point, RIW?

Most of those Sydney Anglicans are attending a "meeting" on Sunday morning that is quite unlike an Anglican liturgy elsewhere in the world (or in Australia). So 90% of Sydney Anglicans are outside the liturgical norm for Anglicanism.

Posted by: Richard on Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 1:06am GMT
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