and they’re off…

Well, it was only a matter of time before the owners, trainers and punters began discussing the big race. 2013 sees the election of a new Archbishop for Sydney – possibly one of the most important and influential jobs in the Anglican Communion, given the relationships that Sydney has been building over the past 10 years, especially amonst the Global South and in GAFCON.

While there's been a fair amount of discussion in certain quarters for a few months now, the first public voice in the discussion is the Australian Church Record, whose latest edition [pdf – 1MB] has a number of relevant articles, both explicitly and also “happen to be in the same issue” wink .

The editorial, written by Peter Bolt, sets out 7 key criteria for the new ArchBishop:

  1. He must satisfy the basics (i.e. male, minister of the gospel with a character that matches the NT and BCP, etc.)
  2. He must be under 57
  3. He must be a local, already here with us in the Diocese
  4. He must be capable of theological leadership
  5. He must be psychologically robust, comfortable in his own skin
  6. Must be committed to mission
  7. He must be the people’s choice

There is also an additional editorial dealing with the question of what “Christian Leadership” is and is not and an additional article on the same subject by Moore College academic  Mark Thompson. Don't forgot the front-page profiling of newly-consecrated area Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Hayward, and you do get the sense that not only are they giving us a shopping list but they're also telling us which shelves to start looking on.

Good for them, I say. Let's start having the conversation about who our next Archbishop should be.

And the conversation has started. Over at Matt Moffit's excellent Hebel commentors are weighing in…

Matthew Moffitt said… Oh, this feels a lot like a public campaign launch. It will be very interesting to see what the ACR and ACL start churning out over the next three years.

indeed. We should certainly keep our eye out for who gets put up as a platform speaker at various events. I'm currently working my way through West Wing season 6 and its interesting to see Josh Lyman work hard to raise the profile of Presidential Candidate Matt Santos. Expect to see similar profile-raising here in Sydney.

Over at Andrew Katay's blog, similar questions are being asked around the question of “leadership”…


its pretty clear that in order to argue against ‘proven track record’ or counter a typical ‘leader’ criteria, the editor has to argue for a different kind of leader, particularly if wants to get his candidate over the line.

note the editorial.

1. don’t go for a ‘gifted’ leader he says. to do so would be to buy into neo pentecostalism or some other spirit of the age (sober warning no doubt).

2. those things that you may think are useful attributes – persuasion, personality, ability to make decisions, communication skills- apparently these should have no bearing on the kind of leader we are to look for. the new Arch won’t exhibit these signs?!

3. he says (rightly) look for the servant leader … I wholeheartedly agree! …. but since when is the ability to pursuade, make decisions, communicate well and teach antithetical to gosple shaped servant leadership? surely these need not be pitched against servant leadership.

4. he goes on ….
spotting the true leader is difficult (particularly true if you have been influenced neo pentecostal gifted leaderness) …the editor is here to help though, because in the next article he has named four potential candidates – who obviously meets his true leadership critieria – self effacing, other person centred, relationally connected, quietly godly, faithful in teaching. Again it begs the questions whether these things and the aforementioned attributes (persuasion, personality, ability to make decisions, communication skills) are mutually exclusive

which seems to lead to the conclusion that the Australian Church record is going to put forward a man of right character and conviction regardless of his capability lead a large and complex organisation such as the Diocese of Sydney?

is that good advice?

Con Campbell

I like the idea in principle, however, the requirement of having led something full-time would *I think* have disqualified some of our great ones, including Donald Robinson and Howard Mowll.

Quite apart from our Archbishop question, previously “unproven” great leaders include Abraham Lincoln, JFK, and Barack Obama. I think their job probably matches the complexity of the Archbishop’s role :)



sure. there are always exceptional leaders and circumstances. but they are are that – exceptional.
I am sure if the Synod looked around and saw a man of the right convictions, character AND capabilities – that was clearly, outstandingly evident in some context, then they’d be a runner.

Perhaps one of the dilemmas at the moment is that there's no such clear front runner.

Another part of the debate is the question of having an “outsider”. So, for example, over on Craig Schafer's blog  quite a while ago there were some overseas suggestions :

  1. Richard Coekin – probably too reactionary even for Sydney, especially given a recent snafu with the Bishop of Southwark.
  2. William Taylor – Rector of St Helen's Bishopsgate in London and, interestingly, twice a major podium speaker at prominent Sydney evangelical events. Not considered him before, wonder if he's simply too “posh” for Australia. Having said that, he was incredibly well received here on both occassions.
  3. David Short, rector of St John's Vancouver, and another battler in the Anglican Wars. This name has been bandied about here for a while. David is more “acceptable”, being a Sydney boy himself. His dad used to be a bishop here.

So those are the discussions going on here. The only other name I've heard seriously touted is Bill Salier, vice-principal at Moore College. Bill is incredibly popular amongst the student body here which won't do him any harm.

And that's pretty much it for now. Quite a few names, no-one obviously standing out. Should be fun to watch…

and they're off...

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. daiskmeliadorn

    this is depressing.

    on the flip side, your blog is very pretty.

  2. andrew bruce


    There is more chance of England raising the cup (the important one in Sth Africa), than an Englishman sitting upon the seat……

    not going to happen

  3. Kate

    Oh I’m a huge fan of Bill S!

    Surely, he isn’t the only MTC faculty member who should be ‘seriously touted’ (note: new word for my ever increasing vocabulary)

  4. David Ould

    Brucey, I tend to agree. Isn’t going to happen.

    Kate, yes – there’s others. The ACR article names a few. None are standouts but Mark Thompson, I think, is the front-runner from that stable.

  5. Mark Earngey

    Nice roundup mate.

    I’ve been following all of these conversations and have found them quite interesting.  What is particularly interesting is that different strands of strong blogging thought began at almost the exact same time.  Coincidence? wink  Probably not.

  6. David Ould

    Mark, you seen any other conversations? I can’t find them.
    All starting at the same time? I think it was ACR kicking it off. Good for them sticking their necks out.

  7. andrew bruce

    so you also agree england has no chance in either!! amazing

  8. David Ould

    oh no, brucey. Some fair chance at the first. But an English ++Sydney – not going to happen.

    Australian chances are as equally skewed, just in the total opposite direction wink

  9. andrew bruce

    any team with John Terry in it, is by definition not going to keep both eyes on the ball!!!

    they’re gone England – even with a pretty soft draw…

    Even though I really don’t think we will get out of the group this time, I have to say the prospect of AusVEng would be OUTSTANDING!!

  10. David Ould

    without a doubt – it would be outstanding. Open house here if it happens.

  11. David Ould

    and by “here” i mean our church hall, game massive-projected on the wall.

  12. Richard Perkins


    Thanks for your blog. Godo work. Thanks for raising the issues about the next AoS. I was at Moore on exchange from Oak Hill when PFJ was elected. It was an interesting time for those of us from the UK, because we’d have taken any of the candidates in preference to the one we have at the moment!

    I hope that you get a good guy in place. But, as I suspect you know, Sydney doesn’t need Poms to do its’ own gospel ministry.

    Though I work for Co-Mission, I have no inside track on whether Richard, William or indeed any other UK evangelical ‘leader’ would fancy the job of AoS. But my point is; you don’t need them. We do. In comparison to the UK scene Sydney is pretty well off for gospel ministers. We’re not. We don’t need our good guys heading off to Australia when they could be here initiating, stimulating, directing and equipping the churches for ministry in our own context. We need more workers for the harvest field and it’s hard to see how losing one (whether that’s William, Vaughan, Ricxhard or whoeever) of our best Ministry Trainers would help the gospel in the UK!

    We’re hugely appreciative of all the great stuff that’s come out of Sydney. Our annual EMA has been poorer, in my opinion, without the Sydney input of the past. But the point of sending us your speakers and exporting all the great ministry matterials from your Australian Christian publishing houses was to get us up to speed over here. And we’re making progress. We’re heading in the right direction. We owe Australia, of that there’s no doubt. But I don’t think that stealing our best guys is the price we should pay!

    So hands off!


    PS By describing my boss as ‘reactionary’ am I to understand that you think he is intransigent, stubborn and inflexible? We prefer ‘principled’ or ‘a man of conviction’. William is undoubtedly ‘posh’, though very nice with it.

  13. David Ould

    Thanks for your contribution Perks,

    Yes, you are right to assume that “reactionary” is not necessarily a bad thing wink and I’m in agreement with all your other points!

    I can remember a number of EMA’s with great overseas speakers, but I can also remember a bunch of big conferences here with sme excellent British speakers too! Willy and Willie (Philip) were classic examples – there’s a lot more horizontal partnership now.

    Nevertheless I, like you, would be close to broken-hearted if UK evangelicalism were to be compromised or diluted. Plus, if they hardly accept me here, there’s not a chance of having one of us in charge wink

  14. andrew bruce

    “desire for a theological heavyweight”

    Exactly why is this such a big deal – it is all a little too plato’s republic isn’t it? (the philosopher’s tell us that only the philosopher’s see rightly!!!)

    The guy will need to be Godly and wise without a shadow of doubt, but since when did a PHD really prove a difference in these things (in fact how often is it an inhibitor of these things) – it’s all a bit homeschooling on steroids, keeping the gene pool ‘pure’….

    The AB is a public figure who has a leadership role for many people and then also speaks to the wider community on their behalf…..

    wouldn’t he actually at a ‘competency’ level need to show

    A. he has lead a big group of people before while being under the pump at some stage before without cracking – functionally, theologically or morally

    B. Is a winsome communicator to a wider audience than just the party faithful – after all we are a shrinking party at the moment!

    PS. just because a bloke is doing well where he is, doesn’t mean that he couldn’t be just as useful or of better use in a new position don’t you think?

  15. Shane Rogerson

    Hi David

    I rarely comment but love to read your rss.

    you are right in that the problem is that there is no clear front runner, and the most likely are existing Bishops.

    so you saw Peter Hayward on the cover story of ACR. though newly appointed,  he would have to be a potential in that regard, as would Ivan Lee and Glenn Davies. Rob Forsyth just turned 61,  will be good for the interim, ( and was smoked last time round!). 

    Of those three I imagine that your Bishop (Glenn) would be the front runner though it would only be a 5 year term (unless he was so well loved that he was extended in similar fashion to Peter Jensen). Surprisingly he doesn’t get a mention in the ACR!

    he is a theological heavy weight though one of the question marks about Glenn may be his age. don’t be fooled by that shock of jet black hair!
    For others it may be that some might find his published views on covenantal theology and his take on Romans 1-4 a little ‘too funky’. the wrong kind of theological heavy weight maybe?
    in that context the obvious alternative is Mark Thompson, who the ACR seems to be fond of, as I am, though I need more convincing to see him as Archbishop. (MTC principle sure!)

    Perks is a terribly misguided fellow usually – he is English after all – but in this instance he is dead right! The UK need their leaders desperately, and the men suggested are all top notch – whilst it may be good for us – a considerable loss for them- and there is more likelihood of England holding the cup (any cup)

    Look who is speaking at the Cathedral this year. Richard Coekin, Paul Harrington, Kanishka Raphael. Maybe a couple of long odd bets there ,  but again, do you really want to take them out of their important contexts?

    I reckon an older man on a shorter tenure (what can you do in 5 years?) … that might set up a more interesting and lasting legacy for race in 2018, what do you reckon?

    so put your man up now who is in his early forties, with a view to seeing him as a front runner in 8 years time!
    there may even be some Englishmen currently serving in the diocese who qualify for that wink


  16. David Ould

    Thanks for the kind words, Shane.

    I think I agree with much of your analysis. Of the three bishops, I don’t see Lee having much support and you bring to our attention various concerns (rightly or wrongly) raised about the other 2.
    So I think it does leave Mark Thompson as a front runner in a very tight field. We could do far worse, I guess.

    I hear around the traps that there is a desire for a theological heavyweight. While I’ve heard Kanishka’s name mentioned in the mix, I suspect he won’t be the man either – simply because there’s not that view of him as an academic and, as you rightly observe, he’s needed where he is.

    However, let me throw another hat in the ring. Don West, the principal out at Trinity Theological College in Perth is a Sydney man. He might be worth looking at if we’re going through the exercise of naming names with an “academic” bent.

  17. David Ould

    Good points Brucey.
    Come on people, who would fit THAT description? Proven capable leader & winsome communicator outside his core support group?

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