The seven female bishops of the Provinces of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia and the Anglican Church of Australia gathered at The Abbey on Raymond Island, a place of hospitality, mission, spirituality and the environment in the Diocese of Gippsland, Australia.
The Bishops have served in the Anglican Episcopate for various lengths of time ranging from less than 2 years to more than 23 years but this is the first time they have met together.
They gathered on the evening of ANZAC Day, a day of vital importance in the memories of both Provinces. The meeting, which was held in the context of prayer, Bible study and the daily celebration of the Eucharist concluded on the morning of 28 April.
The Abbey on Raymond Island is part of the traditional land of the Gunai Kurnai people. In this beautiful part of God’s creation the native wildlife and flora helped create the space for the gathering. The Ven Edie Ashley, Abbey Priest, welcomed the bishops and spoke of the theology of place.
The Bible studies on the Gospel according to John were led by The Rev’d Canon Professor Dorothy Lee, Dean of Trinity College Theological School, Melbourne. Professor Lee focussed on two of the women in John’s Gospel, the Samaritan woman and Mary Magdalene, women identified as Missioner and Apostle respectively.
The bishops also engaged with Ms Therese Tierney, CEO of Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, speaking on leadership in the delivery of health and wholeness initiatives for communities.
The bishops addressed the history and experience of women in the episcopate and discussed aspects of the Provincial contexts which have shaped their ministry.
They reflected on the journey of women to ordination to all three orders of ministry in their respective Provinces. Concern was expressed for the well-being of girls and women across the Anglican Communion and the opportunities for them to live into the fullness of their humanity.
The bishops affirmed the statement from the Anglican delegation to UNCSW 61 to the Anglican Consultative Council.
The trans-Tasman bishops noted that the recent gathering of the Oceania Primates was also a single-gender gathering.
They look forward to the day when women again will be members of Primatial meetings across the Communion.
In anticipation of the 2020 Lambeth Conference it was noted with concern that there is no female episcopal member of the design group. Drawing on their own experience, the bishops identified commitment to the effective inclusion of female voices in decision-making at all levels as vital for the world and the church.
In this season of Resurrection the bishops rejoiced in their shared faith and call to serve God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Alleluia, Christ is risen!
The Rt Rev’d Genieve Blackwell, Bishop of the Marmingatha Episcopate, Diocese of Melbourne
The Rt Rev’d Kay Goldsworthy, Bishop of Gippsland
The Rt Rev’d Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Waikato
The Rt Rev’d Dr Sarah Macneil, Bishop of Grafton
The Rt Rev’d Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch
The Rt Rev’d Alison Taylor, Bishop for the Southern Region, Diocese of Brisbane
The Rt Rev’d Kate Wilmot, Administrator, Diocese of Perth