New Bishop of Gippsland – Kay Goldsworthy

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[lightbox link=”” thumb=”” width=”234″ align=”right” title=”Bishop Kay Goldsworthy” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=”Bishop Kay Goldsworthy”]The Perth Anglican website is reporting that assistant bishop Kay Goldsworthy has been appointed the new Diocesan bishop of Gippsland, replacing John McIntyre who passed away suddenly earlier this year. (No announcement on the Gippsland website yet).

From Archbishop Roger Herft:

I write with the news that Bishop Kay has been elected by the Bishop Appointment Board to be the next Bishop of Gippsland.

Bishop Kay has served the Diocese of Perth with fortitude, perseverance and panache.  Since 1988 Bishop Kay has served as Chaplain to Perth College; Rector of Applecross; Canon of St George’s Cathedral; Archdeacon of the Southern Region; Chaplain to MU; Administrator of the Diocese of Perth; Archdeacon of Perth; and Diocesan Registrar prior to her consecration as Bishop in 2008.

We will certainly miss her.  This news is good for the Diocese of Gippsland and for the Australian Church as a whole.  Perth has again contributed to the leadership within the wider Australian context.

We assure Bishop Kay, Jeri, Tom and Ben of our prayers in this challenging time of transition.  We pray that God who has called her will enable her in ministry as a Diocesan Bishop.

The nominations committee in the diocese interviewed a wide range of candidates from many wings in the church, including at least one more clearly theologically liberal than Goldsworthy and also some conservatives. Their selection criteria was supplied to me:

General requirement: the marks of a Bishop as outlined in the Ordinal.

Key Selection Criteria:


A person who has a proven depth of experience in administration, governance, finance and parish ministry – ideally including rural ministry experience.


A person with the ability to collaboratively find a way forward for a rural diocese in the 21st century.

Leadership Skills

An effective communicator and team builder who can recognize and gather others with complimentary skills and gifts. A person with the ability to delegate and work with a diversity of views. Someone who can work across a wide range of expressions of Anglicanism.

Calling as a Shepherd

A Bishop who will shepherd their clergy and people as a unifying, inspiring and spiritual presence for all.  A Bishop with heart for mission and social justice and a particular care for Aboriginal Ministry.

Personal Qualities and Gifts

A person of integrity who –

demonstrates exceptional interpersonal skills

is prayerful, gracious and humble

has the scholarship to preach and teach a biblically-based and  relevant Christian message in modern Australia.

There will be mixed reactions to this appointment. Sources in Perth speak of a lady who approached the job of assistant bishop with sincerity and treated conservatives with respect. In Gippsland there will be a mostly positive reaction to her appointment. She was described to me as “a good fit within the culture of the diocese” and is, of course, a Victorian (having been raised in Melbourne and served in ministry there). While she has no direct experience of ministry in rural areas she has had some extended exposure to the Melbourne “wheatbelt”.

[lightbox link=”” thumb=”×316.jpg” width=”560″ align=”left” title=”goldsherft” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=””]Goldsworthy has also been a figure of some controversy. She was the first woman bishop appointed in Australia (amid the discussion over the manner in which that decision was made) and comes from the liberal wing of the church. Most notably she voted in favour of a motion on same-sex blessings that was presented to the 2013 Perth synod. She did so contrary to the position of her Metropolitan, Archbishop Roger Herft. At the time taking this position contrary to Herft was seen as a bold move. I understand that all candidates that were interviewed were asked “would you license and appoint someone who was in a same-sex relationship?” so the nomination panel clearly understood that this was an issue that needed to be addressed. It will also be clear to Goldsworthy that her new Metropolitan, the Primate Philip Freier of Melbourne, would not look kindly on any further controversy in this area.

Goldsworthy’s name has been regularly mentioned in discussion surrounding a successor for Herft when he retires in a few years. One senior figure in the church told me that her taking up a full diocesan position would be seen as an important legitimising step towards returning to Perth as Metropolitan. The synod there will be looking for someone far more sympathetic to their liberalising agenda than Herft has proven to be. Gippsland itself has experience of short terms for bishops leading to further elevation. Archbishop Driver was there only 4 years before he was appointed Archbishop of Adelaide.

There is also some comment raised that her husband is not a believing Christian.

So what will Gippsland look like under Goldsworthy? I’m told the Diocese can expect a bishop who will apply herself to the task diligently but there will no doubt be questions about her own position and decisions on human sexuality given the controversy surrounding the late John McIntyre and Goldsworthy’s public position on the issue. It is more than likely that she will pursue the same strategy as her compatriot Rev Dr Sarah McNeil in Grafton – publicly agreeing to be bound by the Bishops’ Protocol but privately (amongst her fellow bishops) feeling free to argue for a change in policy.

Will Goldsworthy be good for the Diocese and the Gospel? We shall have to wait and see. For now a diocese still in grieving has taken an important step forward in the healing process.

update 19 December 2014 Goldsworthy’s installation will be in on Saturday 21 March 2015, 10am at St Paul’s Cathedral in Sale.


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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Owen Wormald

    With this surname, I can’t help asking – any relation to Graeme?

  2. David Clarke

    Trying to think of any Sydney bishops we would describe as having served with 'panache'?

    1. Rodney Cosier

      David, would Robert Forsythe classify, thinking of his time at Broadway. I can’t go back any earlier.

  3. Geoff Broughton

    I don’t know Goldsworthy so have no comment about her or the appointment but having taught Anglican formation in the diocese of Gippsland for the last 3 years I really appreciate the irenic and hopeful tone in which you have addressed their situation. Thanks.

  4. David Ould

    he might! (although it’s Forsyth) 🙂

  5. Lance Lawton

    I have doubts on the last item under personal qualities. And certainly liberal on human sexuality. Can’t say more with any confidence.

  6. Gavin Parsons

    Small correction Perth diocese includes wheat belts. So Kay has cared for clergy in that situation.

  7. John Forsyth

    Us Forsyths are more renown for our “Élan” than our “Panache”

  8. MichaelA

    David, Kay cannot be good for the diocese or the gospel, because she isn’t called to this ministry. The scriptures make clear that only men are called to be elders (i.e. priests) and bishops.

    When we humans try to second-guess God’s way of doing things, we always end up in trouble: God says don’t eat of a certain fruit, but we see how good it looks so we help ourselves anyway; or, God’s prophet stays up on the mountain and the people get restless, so we think its a good idea to make a golden calf for them to worship in the meantime – these things never end well.

    Sure, her views on issues like homosexuality in the priesthood and other issues should be considered, but they are only secondary issues. The primary issue is why we as a church have been disobedient in the first place, by encouraging her to train for a role that cannot be hers.

    1. Nigel Poore

      I’m a bit late reading this but “absolutely!!” Michael.

    2. Greg Colby

      Good grief

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