Archbishops and Bishops from around Australia and overseas gathered at St Peter’s Cathedral to recognise and celebrate the Episcopal Ordination of South Australia’s first Aboriginal Bishop on April 11th.
The consecration of The Rev’d Christopher McLeod, to Assistant Bishop with special responsibility for ministry alongside Aboriginal people in South Australia, is a landmark appointment for the Adelaide Anglican Diocese and the Anglican Church across Australia and the world.
Bishop McLeod’s appointment was made after consultation with each of the Archbishops of the Australian Church and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council.
Also present were representatives from the Aboriginal community including Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue.
The Rev’d Chris McLeod is of Gurindji descent and has been involved in ministry among and beside Aboriginal people in Anglican orders for more than 20 years.
In his new role The Rev’d McLeod will be responsible for developing and overseeing ministry among Aboriginal people which Archbishop Driver says is an important step by the Anglican Church on the walk to reconciliation.
“This appointment is in response to a need as well as a statement of commitment,” the Archbishop says.
“As a Bishop, Chris McLeod will have a role of listening, caring and advocacy. I know that he will be sensitive to the culture and story of the Aboriginal people.
“My hope is that this will open up a new time for Aboriginal people in their relationship with the Anglican Church and that together we will enrich the life of our State.”
The Right Rev’d Clyde Wood, who was appointed the second Bishop for the Northern Territory in 1983 and held the position until 1992, delivered a reflective sermon, describing the appointment of an Aboriginal Bishop for South Australia as a major step in reconciliation for the Anglican Church.
“The appointment of Chris McLeod is significant recognition of the place of Aboriginal Australians in Australian society and the Anglican Church,” Bishop Wood said.
“Our hope is for Chris’s ministry to provide advocacy on behalf of all Aboriginal people of this country.
Listening to and engaging people from all corners of the Anglican community is a priority for Bishop Chris McLeod.
“Walking alongside Aboriginal people, listening to their stories, listening to their dreams, their struggles, that’s the starting place,” Chris says.
“The aspiration I think we have for the future is to improve the connection of Aboriginal people with the Anglican Church in South Australia.
“Assist those who have been Anglican to reconnect with their Anglican roots, those who are already attending church, giving them some support and encouragement.
“I think it’s also about helping people who are Aboriginal, think about spirituality in their lives and their own stories, and where the Christian faith might fit into that as well.
“And one of our aspirations is that we would like to see an Indigenous expression of the Anglican Church flourish within the Diocese and South Australia, so given time, we’ll be able to identify some key leaders who will help grow the Aboriginal expression of the Anglican faith.”
Chris McLeod was vested according to the order of bishops and presented with, among other symbols, a red gum Staff.
The Staff was presented by representatives from AnglicareSA which is part-funding Bishop McLeod’s appointment.
“We are proud to support the consecration of The Reverend McLeod and are pleased to be a partner in his Chaplaincy of Anglicare SA’s Aboriginal staff and his ministry with Aboriginal families,” AnglicareSA CEO the Reverend Peter Sandeman says.
“We look forward to the increased understanding and reconciliation between the church and the Aboriginal community, with a particular focus on healing old wounds and fostering new and positive relationships.
“AnglicareSA commends the Anglican Church for it’s practical commitment to Aboriginal reconciliation.”