Following on from last Friday’s announcement of Glenn Davies’ candidature, another candidate has been presented for the role of Archbishop of Sydney – Rick Smith.

The strategy of the Why Rick campaign is notably different from that of those supporting Glenn Davies. Whereas the Davies website seeks to set out a comprehensive argument as to why Davies ought to be Archbishop, Why Rick has opted for another approach – that of an ongoing conversation.

Rick Smith
Rick Smith

As senior minister of Naremburn Cammeray Anglican ChurchRev Canon Rick Smith has proved himself ready to be our Archbishop.

We’d like to send you a series of relevant video emails so you can get to know him better and understand why we are so keen for the synod to elect him. There will be interviews with Rick on a range of topics and commentary from senior church leaders, synod representatives and members of Rick’s staff and church.

Synod members are invited to sign up to receive regular emails containing information about Smith. The strategy is to slowly have a “conversation” with the electorate in this election (i.e. synod members) about Rick Smith and why he is the best choice for Archbishop.

letter sent to Synod members [pdf] has the personal endorsement of 22 of the members of the Sydney Synod Standing Committee. Standing Committee has  56 persons, of whom 5 are bishops (including Glenn Davies) and a further 3 are Sydney Diocesan Secretariat staff (the equivalent of “civil servants”) and, of course Rick Smith himself. Thus at the very start Rick Smith has the support of 22 out of 47 members who could express an opinion on the subject. I am sure there will be more to follow.

I want to do my best to report to my readers on this campaign so I think it’s also important that I be transparent.

I think Glenn Davies is a good candidate – a candidate that many dioceses in the world would be pleased to have. But I think Rick Smith is an even better candidate. Over the next few weeks I’m looking forward to telling you why that is. In the meantime you could always go and subscribe to the Why Rick updates.

I like this approach, it’s helpfully conversational and seeking to have that conversation with the right people; members of Synod, not simply everyone they can reach on facebook. And I also note a useful transparency on the website about who is running the campaign. Most of all, I like Rick. I’ve got to know him over the past few years and I’ve been impressed. I also know many of the people who work for him and what they say impresses me even more.

I should leave you, however, with the closing paragraph of the introduction letter:

May we suggest that this would be a good time to request our congregations to be  praying for our deliberations.

Indeed.

55 comments on “Why Rick. – Another Candidate for Archbishop of Sydney

  1. Is this campaigning style new in Sydney? I remember unofficial campaigns before, but nothing quite as obvious as this. In Melbourne and most other Australian dioceses, any sniff of campaigning would be enough to wreck your chances. And it would usually be totally inappropriate for standing committee members to publicly campaign for a particular candidate. Is there a nominations committee already at work? If so, is this kind of campaigning likely to influence their deliberations?
    I have to say, this style of campaigning worries me. It’s not that church politics is somehow inherently wrong. It’s just that this approach seems to maximise the personal popularity factor, and diminish the guidance of God factor. Moses wouldn’t have won a popular election. Neither would Paul. I’m beginning to think our Coptic Orthodox brothers and sisters have much to teach us in their process of selecting a Pope, in that they select 3 candidates through numerous rounds of voting, and then get a blindfolded child to pick a name from a container.

    • One other thing I forgot to say…I hope and pray none of the campaigns will go down the character assassination path like the last electoral synod. It’s fine to commend a particular candidate but to criticise your opponents publicly discredits the gospel and our witness fatally.

      • very good point, Andrew. It’s a tricky thing – if there is a pressing reason some see that needs to be aired because it impacts directly upon a nominee’s ability to do the job then surely we need to talk about it in Synod at some point? That’s not the same thing as character assassination, of course, nor is it an excuse to express that concern in an ungodly way.

        So let’s keep praying that we find a way to progress this whole process in a godly manner.

      • Dear Andrew, if I recall rightly you were not at the last election synod.

        So if I am right, at the least, your summary of what happened last time is based on hearsay evidence. It’s remarkable how many people who were not at the Synod use phrases like ‘character assassination’.

        There were certainly hard things said, in evaluating strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. But by and large my impression – and I was there – was that they were said as kindly as one can say difficult things. Not perfect, but I find the characterisation you chose to be something of a attack on (if not an assassination of) the character of the many decent people who spoke at the last Synod.

        More broadly, surely when seeking the best candidate for a vacancy you do not only ask referees to list good points but not mentioned weaknesses or potential drawbacks? As Andrew P says, there is no nominations committee.

        • Hi Sandy,
          No, I was not at the last election synod. I am not just going on press reports, but also a quoted statement by Rob Forsyth that his financial management credentials were being criticised unfairly at the synod.
          It’s healthy and good to discuss candidate’s strong and weak points, especially for such a pivotal role as archbishop. However, it’s not often done in front of 1000 people, so I would urge gentleness and respect in your discussions, especially when you have multiple good candidates.

  2. Andrew,

    In Sydney there is no nominations committee to look into candidates. Instead nominations go straight to the Synod for them to work out. It’s up to the nominators to make their case a best they can. Consequently, I don’t see it as inappropriate for members of the Standing Committee to publicly campaign because it’s all a public process and they’re not trying to influence a small internal group (I speak as a member of the Standing Committee who hasn’t publicly supported either candidate).

    There were campaigns last time, but there are differences now that I suspect are because of changes to the election timing. Last time everything happened after the previous Archbishop retired. This time, nominations open 4 months before the retirement and the election is only a few weeks afterwards. If I wanted to nominate someone, I’d probably want to get the name out now, so that Synod is aware of the nomination and can pray about it, and then sit quietly while a proper farewell is given to ++Jensen and before preparing the speeches for Synod.

  3. Hi Malcolm and David,
    Thanks for your clarification re the nominations committee. You must have a fun time the first day or so of the election synod, wittling down the nominations!
    Given Rick Smith has the backing of Phillip Jensen, Mark Thompson (Moore) and Gavin Poole (ACL) is it case of (to borrow another racing phrase) “Put down your glasses”?

  4. Hi David

    I’m curious about your comment “And I also note a useful transparency on the website about who is running the campaign.” It comes in a paragraph that contrasts Rick’s campaign with the other campaign (I note the word “they” …), Are you implying that Glenn’s website is less than transparent about who is running the campaign?

    I ask this, as one of the 4 signatories of the letter commending Glenn, which appears on the front page of the website . I’m not sure how we could have made is clearer that we are the key supporters for Glenn without the net equivalent of flashing neon lights. There is also a list of Glenn nominators and supporters here http://www.glenndavies.info/nominators-and-supporters.html

    Cheers
    Michael

    • Edit – my post above had *grin* and *big grin* in angular brackets… which I think were stripped out as if they were HTML code. While you read my comment above, please imagining the author writing it with a smile on his face and tongue-in-check.

      Without this, it might come across as narky!

      • no problem at all, Michael. Can I duplicate my answer that I made to John? I agree with you that it’s abundantly clear that there are 4 main drivers of the Glenn Davies “campaign” (I probably don’t like that term any more than you do – can you suggest something better?) but that’s not the same as asking who is running the site and driving it forward..

  5. David, I am genuinely surprised you would say Rick’s site make clear who’s running the campaign but Glenn’s does not. I ask lurkers to go to the home pages of each and double check. They will see it is precisely the reverse. Glenn’s has four names on the front page (http://www.glenndavies.info/index.html): Rev Dr Michael Stead, Rev Stephen Gibson, Dr Karin Sowada, Rev Justin Moffatt. Rick’s has no names (http://whyrick.info). I would never have raised the absence of names on the websites as a cause for concern but your suggestion of a lack of transparency on the Glenn side is simply misleading. What am I missing, brother?

    • not much. I already answered this question of yours on facebook. I’ll provide you with the same answer I gave then:

      yes, although I realise that can be read quite harshly. It’s simply this – the Rick site makes it explicitly clear who is running the site, not so for Glenn’s. That’s all.

      Sorry you missed that the first time. I know there’s a lot of comments coming your way.

  6. But, so far as I know, those guys mentioned (Moffatt, etc) are running the site. And, further, Rick’s site mentions no one. Over-reading? How? Where on Rick’s site is there any mention of who’s running it. I only know because (a) I subscribed via the site and (b) got an email asking me then to confirm my subscription (that email doesn’t tell us who runs it either) to which I responded, after which (c) I received a follow up email telling me that Chris Braga and Dominic Steele are editors of WhyRick?. So, again, I don’t understand how you can possibly say what you say. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I wouldn’t have thought the absence of names amounted to lack of transparency but I am now putting to you that your description, both in your blog and above in your comments, is misleading. Your response?

    • Well, it’s on the bottom of the website, as I explained to you already on facebook. It’s not misleading at all – it’s perfectly clear on the Rick Smith website who is running the website. It’s not clear at all on the Glenn Davies website who is running the website.
      On one site it’s transparent, that’s all.
      Again, I wasn’t seeking to be “weird” or anything else – I just value clarity. That’s why I didn’t want to write even one piece about the Rick website without being abundantly clear with my readers about my position.
      That’s all it is. I value clarity.

  7. Your blog says “running the campaign”, David, not “the website”. On only one website is it clear who is running the campaign. Cheers, and God bless.

    • John, I’ve already explained to you on a number of occasions and both here and on Facebook what I did and did not intend to communicate by that statement, yet you seem determined to continue to pursue the matter. I thought you said you were going to drop the bone?

  8. Hi David,

    As an unaffiliated Synod Rep (I don’t know either of the announced candidates) I have a discomfort about the “Why Rick” strategy that I suspect will be shared by some other Synod Reps. The Glenn Davies site allows for anonymity, whereas the Why Rick site requires you to give away your personal information. In the first, I control the information flow, in the second, they do.

  9. Discussion regarding websites promoting the nominees has to be put in the context of the synod election process itself. Unlike the 2001 election synod, for this election synod a person is only regarded as being nominated if nominations are received for that person from at least 20 members of synod. Thus it is necessary that a person has to have substantial support from synod members and be nominated by those synod members before nominations close on 24 June. This inevitably means that there will be blocks of supporters for particular nominees well before the election synod meets. Having been at the last two election synods, my experience has been that evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the various nominees is a necessary part of the synod election process to arrive at the final choice.

    The challenge for all of us is to be godly in the way we evaluate the nominees both before the synod and during the election synod itself.

  10. I do find Rick’s site helpful for those of us who don’t know him that well. There are many of us who are not Synod members but are interested in praying for the best candidate to be elected. I know both Glenn and Rick to some degree, but I also know many others don’t. Glenn’s credentials are impressive, but it’s terrific to be able to get to know Rick to see why he would be a great archbishop and for us to pray for the election.

    I have no problems working out who are the people behind both sites and both campaigns. If I can do that, then I’m sure most other people can also. To that end, David, I completely agree with you about the helpful transparency of Rick’s site. It’s all too easy to read more into it.

        • I am hoping he is the same James Chick that used to go to GBF which was started by Archie Poulos many eons ago.

          Hi David I have enjoyed reading your site.

          I attend Holy Trinity Panania.

          Melissa

          • Thanks Melissa. We may find out if he replies!

            Glad you’re here. Feel free to keep contributing. I know, as well, there’s also some overlap between our 2 church families!

          • Hi Melissa, it is indeed me! Mystery solved.

            Greek Bible Fellowship started with the aim of reaching Greeks on UNSW campus but before too long there was a mix of Italians, Lebanese, Yugoslavian, Chinese, Japanese, Anglos, Cypriots, etc. Within the St Matthias group of churches, we were always the loud ones.

            I’m now at St Andrew’s Cathedral.

          • Jimmy

            I managed to find and email address for you at the Catherdral. Sent you a catch up email. So wonderful after all these years to know you are still around.

            Thanks David for your blog.

            Have listened to your Job sermon this morning. Thanks for having sermons available online. I know it is a lot of work to provide all these internet services.

            I really, really appreciate it.

            Melissa

  11. Apart from their referees, there is nothing about either of these gentlemen that commend them to me as they are just faces on pieces of paper and ‘motherhood’ statements to me. I have not heard them speak nor shook their hands. Why cannot they visit the regions and say g’day, or hold forums and answer questions. What is their stand on key issues that are vital to me? In this day and age, surely Facebook would be a good start.

    • Thanks for the comment Tom.
      A couple of things in response:
      1. I think it’s a little unfair to suggest “there is nothing about either of these gentlemen that commend them to me”. Glenn’s site, in particular, has a large amount of information on it by which his nominators seek to commend him to you. Rick’s site is seeking to do the same thing but in a different way.
      2. I imagine it is very unlikely either will be going to the hustings! I just don’t see us doing things that way.
      3. There is already some activity on facebook. I think both candidates are, quite wisely, keeping out of it themselves. This is not like a political office where candidates put themselves forward, rather we have (at least) 2 men who have others who want to propose them to us.

      If you have any questions both sites have a means by which you can contact them. I’d suggest in the first instance you do that if you have particular concerns.

      Let’s keep praying for the process, the candidates and our diocese.

  12. Hello David
    Thanks for getting back to me, providing information and clarifying matters somewhat.
    I guess the fact that we are voting for the candidate of our choice makes me feel want to know personally who I am voting for on behalf.of the parish.
    May I inquire what is it about ‘the hustings’ that is unsavory? It is after all the long-held tradition for all voluntary groups as well as governments at all levels.
    Unsavory political candidates abound I know, but that would not apply in this case.
    I would rather meet and hear them speak and answer questions first hand than wade through volumes of slick graphics on their websites or view hearsay on Facebook. I would prefer to watch election speeches by the candidates.
    May God’s will be done
    Tom

    • Hi Tom,

      I think those are valid things to ask for. I can’t speak for the Glenn Davies team but I do know that by signing up for the Rick Smith updates you will get a lot of the information that you’re asking for to get to know him better.

      In terms of “hustings”, I think the distinction is between politicians putting themselves forward and being publicly available in that way and our candidates who are being nominated but aren’t pursuing the office themselves. Does that make sense.

      And yes, I agree with you about the hearsay of Facebook. Lots of things being said there. If you want something close to “election speeches” then I think the videos being offered up by whyrick.info will go some way towards that. There’s some content there with Rick himself.

      Trust that’s helpful. Feel free to ask more or comment away.

  13. David

    A question has troubled me for about a decade; why are many ordained ministers leaving full-time ministry before retirement and why are many lay people vacating the pews, not only in the Anglican but in all mainstream denominations?
    Little if anything has been attempted to address this issue by the churches other than ostracising the defectors,
    Do the candidates have any policies on this issue?

    Tom

    • Hi Tom,

      Huge question and not sure I have many full answers but I can give a few brief responses.
      I know many pastors leave full-time ministry through burn-out. I get that, it can be totally exhausting if you don’t take proper care of yourself.
      As for people leaving the pews, there could be a variety of reasons. Some could be the offense of the gospel, for some the paucity of liberalism. And, of course, there is a steady general decline in religious belief across the wide spectrum of our population.

      I’m afraid I don’t much recognise your last statement. I see little ostracising of “defectors” although I don’t doubt it happens. What I do see is people seeking to address the above 2 issues. Of course the ultimate answer to both of them is the grace of the gospel of Jesus and power of the Spirit.

  14. Hi David

    As we delve more deeply perhaps some more light will shine on this subject that troubles me so much.

    But I hope I am not burdening you.

    My Minister has waded in and given me a lot to think about. Here is part of my initial response. I would welcome your input.

    Hi John

    Thanks for this and for youe pastor’s heart and for taking the time to write in your hectic week before your holidays.

    Your words are encouraging. I am glad to learn that things are better lately for men who leave the ministry in the diocese.

    I will have a considered response for you when you return from you holidays. That should give me enough time (smile)

    Because of ‘Recover Your Dream’ I seem to run into more ‘ostracised defectors’, ‘pushed-outs’, ‘drop-outs’, ‘burnt-outs’, et al, notwithstanding the many efforts by the church you mentioned.

    What can be done?

    Perhaps ‘Recover Your Dream’ is part of the answer – see http://www.recoveryourdram.org.au

    Tom

  15. Hi David

    Fair question… here is a brief 30 second answer.

    Apart from the references in the Bible to God knowing us before our birth, my own observations of my six kids and some of my 24 grandkids, from birth to maturity and my own personal insights and observations of people, especially my students and professional clients, gradually over many years I came to see there is ample evidence that we are all given a Life Dream – and, because of what the Bible says I believe that it is at conception – and from their earliest time children begin to act out their Dream in childish ways.

    And of course, Satan is ready to destroy the child’s Dream as soon as he can because it is a huge threat to his agenda.

    A referenced essay is on the drawing board.

    Thanks for viewing the Recover Your Dream website.

    Tom

    • Thanks Tom,

      As you might expect, I remain somewhat unconvinced. I’m not sure how you get from “God knows us before our birth” to “God gives everyone a special dream at conception along with their DNA”.

      I guess I’ll wait for your longer explanatory article.

  16. Okay David,

    I wouldn’t expect you to do otherwise.

    Most folk know in their hearts that they have a Big God-given Dream and just need to be encouraged to step out and do it. Some pastors don’t seem to want to encourage their folk to believe in their own Big Dreams and that they came from God.

    As fast as they can such pastors stamp out those Big Dreams their folk have, like ‘spot-fires’ about to burn down their churches… (Jer 12:10)

    Tom

  17. I like Glenn Davies a lot. He was one of my favorite lecturers at college. And I think he would be a good Archbishop. But I have to agree that Rick Smith is an excellent candidate.

  18. I pray constantly that The Lord will direct the people who choose the next Archbishop of Sydney. Remembering that Sydney for Anglicans is probably the most Bible based in the world or certainly in Australia.
    Formerly Moore .
    John , Melbourne.

  19. Having had friends speak to me about ‘my’ comments in this forum, perhaps I’d better enter the fray briefly to thank my friend–the other Andrew Reid–for his questions and comments.

    Intriguingly, there are now three people from our parish who have commented here, which shows just how interested we are in what is happening with our brothers and sisters to the north in these coming days. The appointment of an archbishop in Sydney is a very significant thing for evangelical Anglicans outside of Sydney and we have been and will be praying for God’s mercy and guidance as you seek under God to make this decision.

  20. Hi David ,
    Thanks for all you do to get thoughtful comments out there on issues important to our Christian faith. I have put a few thoughts together from systems thinking that I trust may be useful in the discourse on the selection of our next Archbishop:
    Firstly I have great affection for Rick Smith and Michelle, having fellow-shipped together at church and in bible study home group when Rick was an assistant minister at St Thomas North Sydney. I know Glenn Davies, not on a personal level, but as the Bishop of North Sydney where he has officiated at church events- including our two daughters’ confirmations. Personal connections aside, the thoughts I want to express have nothing to do with these men as individuals. In my professional life I teach and counsel using systems theory to address relationship patterns that are driven by anxiety. I see what appears to be evidence of such anxious processes leading up to the election of our next Archbishop in August. When a system is anxious in the face of perceived threats there is a predictable tendency to exaggerate a person’s qualities (positive or negative) and an increase in the herding instinct. In putting up Rick as a candidate I read on the web sites a case that is amplifying Rick’s good qualities and minimizing his objective inexperience. I also see a herding process at work where people are encouraged to come on board on the basis of who else is supporting Rick(of course this is at work on both sides to varying degrees). This may stir up a process where people make decisions based on the emotional desire to be in the same group as these influential people- potentially at the expense of prayerful independent decision making. When a system is less anxious there is more attention paid to objective facts and more openness to hearing different views. Opinions expressed will be more proportionate; and logic will carry more sway than emotions. I am concerned about what appears to me to be a loss of proportion in considering the specific CVs of our 2 candidates.(Indeed a lack of factual layout of both CVs) One candidate logically has significantly more preparation for the complex role of archbishop. This leaves me wondering about what are the anxiety forces that have led to such dissonance.
    In my own experience as a business manager I have, on occasion, made anxiety driven errors of judgement. When I have been driven by my wish to fill a gap on our team I have let my projection for the business distort my clarity about a person’s credentials. I have learned that this has many costs to the organisation, relationships and for the incumbent who feels the enormous weight of impossible expectations.
    As an observer on the sidelines of the Archbishop decision process I cannot appreciate the full picture of what is going on, nor can I know the actual procedure behind how each synod representative is coming to their decision. I do however see possible indicators of unhealthy anxious processes at work- that are usually outside of awareness. I offer these thoughts in the hope that they may give pause for thought for some. There is much encouragement to know that prayer is under-girding this decision making (I am prompted to ask myself whether I am praying for my dioceses more that I am thinking about these issues). Above all I trust in our great Gods sovereignty above all of our failings.
    Jenny Brown

    • Thanks for taking the time to set that out Jenny. All interesting and useful stuff.
      In your (I know, extensive) experience, what can we be doing individually and together as a diocese or as groups proposing various candidates to mitigate against some of these dangers?

  21. I agree with you Jenny and applaud you for applying Systems thinking to this enormous issue. I have yet to discover a genuine and clear vision for the Diocese from either of these gentlemen.Their achievements are excellent, and they are all in the past. What of the future? What will the Diocese be in 5 years time under their leadership? We all know how Governor MacQuarie changed Sydney and beyond in 11 short years. How will Archbishop X or Y change Sydney Diocese? Are they unable to say or unwilling so they will not be held accountable? Or?
    Power has three distinct forms: Knowledge Power, Position Power, and Charismatic Power. Ideally the leader should possess all three forms.
    I want to add a third form, Visionary Power.
    Is our new Archbishop’s role one of maintaining the status quo or one of inspiring a great vision for Anglicans of Sydney and beyond?

    • Tom, you said:

      Are they unable to say or unwilling so they will not be held accountable?

      Tom, that’s just unhelpful and ungodly. You imply the worst of motives that you have no way of knowing are possibly true.

  22. I was just trying to learn, I made no implication other that what is implied in their sponsors’ output. Instead of accusing me, why can’t someone answer my question? What changes might be in store?

    • Tom, you implied very clearly that the silence you perceive from both candidates was possibly due to an unwillingness to be held accountable. Rather than protesting, I think it would be better for you to acknowledge what you did.

      As for having your questions answered, this is the wrong forum. People may “gather” here to discuss these things but you’ll have to approach the respective teams who are proposing the candidates if you have specific queries for them.

  23. Hi Tom, it might be helpful to understand that the archbishop’s election is not like (say) a government election, where the candidates are out to destroy the other in order to elevate themselves (or push the other one down as the case may be). That’s why we don’t see Glenn or Rick out on the hustings (kissing babies, etc.!). I’m not aware of Glenn having hosted any meetings. I know Rick has held a number of meetings where he answered questions about himself. None of it was to do with spruiking a vision as such, more like whatever you wanted to know about Rick, ask away.

    I’d be very worried about any candidate who “aspires” to the role, there implies a desire for power and all the good and bad that goes with power. I think both candidates are willing and wanting to serve, which is why you won’t hear them selling “vision”.

    Also, the only thing I would want a candidate to publicly state, not negotiable, is to serve God. I expect both will lead confidently and competently so I’d be glad to hear their vision (and work under it) once they are in office, but not before.

  24. Sorry folks. Seems I don’t get it. Why is it an election?
    I wholeheartedly support the vision of serving God. It goes without saying, isn’t that what all of us try to do?
    I don’t understand why espousing a vision is thought to be akin to seeking power. Anyway, with the life the two gentlemen have chosen isn’t it self-evident that that is not what they seek?
    Humbly, with apologies to those who might misconstrue my search for knowledge to something else, may I ask if there is a more specific vision than ‘prayer’ and ‘serving God’?
    I know that the two candidates are being ‘co-opted’ by others, and are not promoting themselves. Having accepted their nominations, I assumed that they have a God-specified vision – or do I incorrectly interpret ‘Proverbs 29:18

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