Archbishop Geoff Smith announced in April the appointment of the Venerable Denise Ferguson as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Adelaide.
Originally from New Zealand, Denise is an experienced church leader having served in the Dioceses of Waikato and Taranaki, and Wellington, and more recently in the Diocese of Brisbane, where she has served as the Rector of East Redland Anglican Parish and Archdeacon of Moreton
Denise is married to Mark and they have an adult daughter, and Guardian caught up with Denise recently via email to get to know her a little better ahead of her move to Adelaide.
G. What are you most looking forward to about life in Adelaide?
DF. Along with my husband, mark I have been privileged to have lived in many different places. One of the delights of a new location is discovering the stories, people and places that have shaped our new home. One particular aspect I am looking forward to, having been in Queensland for the past five years with endless summers, is a return to celebrating the seasons. I suspect one of my first tasks, once unpacked will be to plant spring bulbs.
G. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
DF. Usually the cat, but I suspect that isn’t the answer you are looking for. On a good day, the prospect of encountering some amazing people, on a bad day reminding myself that God’s story is too important not to be shared and I have a part to play in that.
G. What do you like to do in your down time?
DF. I’m quite a home body so curling up with a good book or watching a movie refreshes me. I love to entertain when I have time. The kitchen is the heart of my home and has been for many years. It’s the place where we gather family and friends and enjoy each other’s company.
When I have the opportunity, I enjoy the theatre and the arts, especially musical theatre so the Adelaide Festival is a definite bonus.
G.Will life change once you’ve been ordained a bishop?
DF. Every step of my journey with God and God’s people has changed, shaped, moulded and stretched me, so I anticipate a similar experience. But even in saying that, ‘ministry is ministry’ and we are all called to bring our gifts to the table, share them abundantly and graciously as we work together to grow God’s Kingdom. My first steps will be finding my place at the table in Adelaide.
G. What do you identify as the greatest challenges for the church in 2019 and beyond?
DF. We live in an incredibly challenging time for the church. We are constantly being pulled in different directions. One of the challenges is being willing to find our strengths in solidarity, rather than pushing each other away because of our differences. Doing this takes courage. I pray for courage for the journey – for all of us.
G. What should the church be celebrating in 2019?
DF. The amazing things that God has done through the life, death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. To quote the Archbishop of York ‘Prayer and parties are at the heart of our faith.’ These words may sound flippant, but when you think about it, prayer is our ultimate connection with God and parties are the hospitality God offers to us and we are called to share with others.
G. What three words would you use to describe Denise Ferguson?
DF. You do ask difficult questions! Passionate. Practical. Loyal.
G. Given the chance, who would you like to be for a day?
DF. The Ferguson cat, Thomas. As long as he is fed regularly and given lots of cuddles, he doesn’t have a care in the world. I’m allowed to dream…