In a turnabout from the usual script, the Bishop of Newcastle will not attend the Province of Australia annual bishop’s conference because he believes the Diocese of Sydney plans a power play.
The Newcastle Herald reports,
In his letter to [Australian Primate] Archbishop Freier in December, Bishop [Greg] Thompson said while the fellowship of bishops was important, “the environment at the bishops conference is not conducive for furthering our shared sense of ministry together in the Anglican church”.
“I note the recent demand by the Diocese of Sydney to sign up to protocols or they will not attend any further national bishops’ gatherings,” Bishop Thompson said.
“This is a little inconsistent given the protocols of courtesy and recognition of jurisdictions by the Diocese of Sydney which have ceased many years ago.”
Bishop Thompson noted that Sydney Diocese had actively supported the development of conservative and evangelical churches on the Central Coast and in the Hunter without consulting Newcastle Diocese.
Bishop Thompson’s letter followed a Sydney Synod resolution in October against Australia’s first female Anglican Bishop, Kay Goldsworthy, for appointing an openly gay priest in a long-term relationship with a man to a parish in her diocese of Gippsland.
And, from Church Times,
Bishop Thompson said that the resolution meant that he could no longer “simply stand by”. The statement continued: “for over 20 years, we have experienced Anglicans from the Diocese of Sydney establishing church activities in the Diocese of Newcastle in direct competition with our ministries.
“We have learnt to accommodate ourselves to this, but look with great concern on movements such as the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans that are designed to elevate an alternate Anglican jurisdiction in Australia and New Zealand.
“I am looking to the bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia to affirm the importance of being able to express divergent views in common fellowship, as the Anglican Primates did in January. I am also looking to the bishops to affirm the leadership of each bishop within their own diocese.”
Peter Jensen, formerly of Sydney, serves as General Secretary of Gafcon. At the recent Primates gathering he pressed the Gafcon bishops to take a firmer stand against The Episcopal Church.
Photo credit: By Terry Goss, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1561215