Unity of Spirit on show at Synod

by Bishop Chris McLeod

‘I therefore , the prisoner of the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4: 1 – 3)

It was my pleasure to preside at both the Election Synod Eucharist and at the Election Synod itself. The election of an Archbishop is a very significant event in the life of a diocese. The Archbishop, perhaps needless to say, is pivotal to the workings of a diocese. I describe them as ‘culture definers’. Alongside the usual duties of a bishop - proclaiming the Gospel, oversight of the church’s mission, ordaining, appointing, confirming, offering pastoral care - a bishop shapes the culture of a diocese. Pastor, and author on leadership, John Maxwell, makes the statement that ‘everything rises and falls with leadership.’ This is most certainly the case with church leadership, and with the ministry of an Archbishop, in particular.

The culture of the Diocese of Adelaide had been well set by the former Archbishop, the Most Rev'd Dr Jeffrey Driver, and continues on in the work of the Administrator (Sede Vacante), Bishop Tim Harris. It was within this culture that I found the Election Synod to be one of the most congenial that I have been a part of. This Election Synod was my fourth, and I think it will stand out as one that had a definite willingness to discern the Spirit of God in the election of the new Archbishop. Members of Synod spoke well and respectfully, and the workings of Synod itself proceeded smoothly.

Registrar and Secretary of Synod, Keith Stephens, is to be congratulated for the quality of the preparations, and the high standard of the informative Synod papers. All this was possible, of course, because he was supported by a formidable Church Office team. The Venerable David Bassett chaired the balloting process with clarity and aplomb. The Rev’d Peter Sandeman chaired the debates in committee with sensitivity and wisdom. The chancellor, Richard Dennis, a quiet presence of legal wisdom, helped us keep on track. The Rev’d Stuart Langshaw led us well in prayer. It was a pleasure for me to work with them.

However, much credit must be given to the Bishop Nomination Committee. They had fulfilled their task extremely well in bringing exceptional candidates to Synod. A pity, perhaps, that we couldn’t elect them all! However, the result was very pleasing. We now have elected the Right Rev’d Geoff Smith to shepherd us into the future.