My brothers and sisters,
When I accepted appointment to the Diocese of Adelaide around this time 11 years ago Lindy and I had a sense that I probably would not continue beyond age 65 as a diocesan bishop and that we wanted to put some time aside to give to some wider involvements, including making a contribution to the Church in developing countries. That conviction has stayed with us, although not for a moment did it diminish our commitment to stay in Adelaide until we felt we had completed what we had been called to do here.
My belief is that the Diocese of Adelaide is now in a sound place and well positioned for the future. Historic abuse issues have largely been dealt with, along with the associated legacy of debt. Communicant numbers across the Diocese have begun to grow. There is a renewed appetite for mission and community engagement. Relationships between the Synod and a number of key agencies have much improved, as have relationships across the Province. Synod finances are strong. St Barnabas College has a foundation for the future.
None of this is to say that we have reached a space of comfort or self-congratulation. However, we are now well placed to move in the direction of greater flourishing. This next stage will require another five to ten years of focused and energetic leadership.
While I am very aware that there is still much I could do, my sense is that this is an appropriate time for me to step aside and make way for that next phase with a different leader. Accordingly, this week I advised Diocesan Council of my intention to retire from the See of Adelaide as of August 19 this year.
This is a decision I have reached with both grief and satisfaction. There is more than a little grief in that much of my episcopate here has been immersed in dealing with a sad historic legacy, continuing through to the recent hearings into CEBS by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Aspects of this historic legacy extended well beyond the diocesan response to critical incidents and greatly diminished our sense of mission and community. Responding well to those issues of history and culture have been critical to the diocese moving to a more wholesome place.
The satisfaction that I take from this very demanding time, is that over the past decade and more the Diocese of Adelaide has tried to address its issues honestly and well. Within that there have been wonderful stories of grace and healing, often coming as gifts from the most vulnerable. Such is the grace of God.
While for Lindy and me there have been times of considerable challenge in our ministry here, we will leave with a strong sense of rare privilege and grace: the privilege of belonging, serving and exercising leadership among a people we came to love and regard as our own; the grace that so often surprised us in the care, self-giving, and openness of people as we journeyed together.
As Administrator, Bishop Tim will be writing to the Diocese in the course of this month, outlining some of the processes that lie ahead. Please commit these processes to prayer.
My focus during the coming few months will be to spend time with you, the People of God, worshipping and sharing together.
Please be assured of my prayers always.