Friday, July 15, 2011

Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke

From Bishop Richard Ellena, Bishop of Nelson, NZ

Greetings everyone,

Overnight the Archbishop of Adelaide, Archbishop Jeffrey Driver, sent this message out to his Diocese:

"I am pleased to be able to advise you that I have invited Archdeacon Tim Harris to return to Adelaide as Bishop for Mission and Evangelism. Tim is presently the Dean of Bishopdale Theological College in Nelson and Archdeacon for Theological Education and Ministry Formation in that Diocese. Tim has done a wonderful job helping to re-establish Bishopdale College. He has become a respected figure throughout the New Zealand Church and it will be a joy to welcome him, along with Fiona and John, back to Australia.

While having some involvement with general episcopal responsibilities including confirmations and ordinations, the Bishop for Mission and Evangelism will focus on the development of “fresh expressions” of church, congregational planting and parish renewal. He will have a place in the academic life of St Barnabas College, lecturing in New Testament and will have an involvement in ministry formation, particularly around mission and “fresh expressions”.

We are planning for an episcopal ordination in St Peter’s Cathedral on Sunday November 20 (Christ the King) at 4.00pm. Please pray for Tim, Fiona and John as they prepare for farewells and look towards returning to Adelaide."

I am thrilled for Tim and will be travelling to Adelaide to present Tim, and preach at his ordination.

Tim has been ‘chewing through’ this possibility with me since early in the year and I know that he has struggled over the decision to accept it because of his love for this Diocese and his commitment to the dream of Bishopdale College.

However he has done what he came to do; establish this College as a real alternative in the life of the Anglican Church in New Zealand, Aotearoa and Polynesia – a College that is very highly regarded nationally. This is a consequence of the staff that Tim has drawn around him, but also at his own personal ability as an academic, a vision caster and a leader.

Tim has played a key role in my formation as your Bishop during his time here and I will always be deeply grateful for that.

However, as much as I will miss Tim and Fiona and Jon, I know that this is the right decision and I rejoice with them. It will certainly cement our close relationship with the Diocese of Adelaide and Archbishop Jeffrey.

Tim is very highly respected provincially also and I acknowledge his work at the national level.

We will always be sincerely grateful that he responded to the call to come and be with us during these recent years of change and development.

Can I invite you to join with the Diocese of Adelaide in praying for Tim, Fiona and Jon and also pray for Bishopdale Theological College which is now very strong thanks to Tim’s leadership and commitment.

With every blessing

Definitely Nelson's loss and Adelaide's gain!


liturgy said...

Greetings Peter

I’m sure this is good for Tim and for Adelaide. And I certainly pray for all - including BTC.

You here have often commented on the process of episcopal appointments and how a bishop is representative, etc. I wonder if you would reflect on the process of appointment Australia uses in a case like this.

A previous bishop of Christchurch would not seek an assistant bishop because there was nothing in the canons that allowed him any say in the process of such an appointment and so he could have ended up with someone he couldn’t work with. Recently, although the canons haven't changed - the approach has. Each recent NZ episcopal electoral “process” has been different from each other and from our canons (only when it comes to questioning the validity of gays being ordained do the canons get taken really seriously). Now a bishop merely vets the nominations of an assistant.

Also, what do you think of the concept of a bishop “for Mission and Evangelism”?



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,

The appointments of assistant bishops in Australia seems to be governed by this canon ( ), which provides for the diocesan to appoint with the concurrence of his diocesan council. (I say "his" advisedly because I understand that currently diocesans cannot be female in Oz, "male" bishops being a requirement; whereas, in a quirk of history, the canon re assistants does not say anything about gender, and thus a way was found recently for female assistant bishops to be appointed without going to the potentially difficult debating floor of GS seeking to change the canons).

I think, respectfully, that you are wrong re one aspect of appointing assistant bishops in our church today: the current canon relevant to appointment of an assistant bishop specifically spells out that the electoral college consists of the diocesan (and coadjutor, if there be one), and thus has a veto vote over any other houses ... hence the diplomacy of the diocesan "vetting" submitted names prior to the electoral college: consistent with the canon, and not invoking the need for further regulation. (Canons should be permissive rather than prescriptive ...).

A Bishop for Mission and Evangelism: of course, that is what we expect of successors to the apostles! But I suspect your underlying point might be that all bishops are by theological definition 'bishops of mission and evangelism'!

liturgy said...

Greetings Peter

I think you may be right about your point about vetoing.

If we are on the same page: Title A, Canon I – then I cannot specifically see your word “coadjutor” (is this stuff online – that can’t be hard – so it can be searchable) but the concept appears to be there.

The canon appears to date from 1992 – which, hence, would not fit with what I wrote. But there appear to be 1998 and 2006 amendments. Clauses 2.2 and 2.5 appear to apply, but these appear to me to be unaltered by amendments.

Your suggestion that vetting can come prior to the constituting of the electoral college, with respect to you, is directly explicitly contradicted by 2.6. You are right – 2.7 allows the bishop(s) to veto. If there is a diocesan and a coadjutor do both have to agree for the “nomination” (overseas readers read “election”) to proceed?



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,

I am working from here,, which has a specific clause "2A" pertaining to coadjutor bishops.

2.6 is a formal contradiction of the process of vetting inasmuch as it provides for names to be proposed at the synod, and, no matter how many names are pre-discussed, pre-publicised, pre-whatevered, and pre-vetted, any unvetted name could be proposed. True. HOWEVER I see no problem with a diocese agreeing to a process in which vetting will take place prior to the Synod and thus any unexpected name introduced to the Synod would put the proposer "on the back foot" because they had not courteously checked with the diocesan as to whether he or she was agreeable to working with the person, and because they had not worked with the agreed diocesan process.

I think the diocesan and coadjutor would have to agree (2-0 majority, as opposed to 1-1 deadlock).

I now see, reading 2.2 more closely, that an electoral college to nominate an assistant bishop could be as small as the bishops of the diocese exercising jurisdiction and the standing committee; but could be larger.

I also note that 2.8 provides for the electoral college to go about its business more or less as it sees fit re consultation etc.

liturgy said...

Thanks, Peter, for pointing to that PDF. May I note that, although dates of amendments are provided down the right hand side, section 2A is a very recent addition and yet has not been provided with a date.

Your highlighting of 2.2 is very helpful – this seems, hence, to be similar to the process you describe in Australia.

Unlike you, I do see “problem[s] with a diocese agreeing to a process in which vetting will take place prior to the [Electoral College]” not least that there is no process for a diocese coming to such an “agreement”. Furthermore, I have observed the exercise of such and the way it has sown confusion and problems.

There is nothing, however, preventing the proposer “courteously check[ing] with the diocesan as to whether he or she was agreeable to working with the person” being proposed prior to doing so when the Electoral College is constituted.

If we do not like the canons, particularly important canons like our process of electing bishops, the correct process is to go through the procedure of altering the canons – not ignoring their explicit ruling as has been done in all recent episcopal elections.

I am a little surprised when you so regularly want to hold to a canonical line on one thing that you are so “flexible” when it comes to another.

[2.8 applies only after the Electoral College has been constituted, not as you appear to imply, prior to its having been constituted]



Peter Carrell said...

I agree, Bosco, that it would be good to tidy our canons re electoral synods up.

I do not think I am being so flexible on these canonical matters that I am imperilling the unity of the church.

As far as I can tell the recent electoral synods have proceeded to come to decisions which have not divided the dioceses concerned, let alone our whole church.

Zane Elliott said...

Hi Bosco,
re: 'is this stuff online – that can’t be hard – so it can be searchable' I hate to think how much the annual subscription to that piece of technollogy would cost us!


Si and Fran said...

Back to the appountment: Tim will be very much missed from the Nelson Dio as well as from the parish of All Saints. We have really enjoyed having the Harris family with us - especially Jon's warm & friendly greetings. I trust the All Black flag wikll be packed carefully in their belongings!

liturgy said...

I have not idea what Zane means, sorry. I am a strong advocate for placing as much as possible online and searchable - and doing this for free. My website is free. Peter Carrell's website is free. I promote and provide resourcing for ways that parishes and others can have excellent websites for free. I had not noticed that our canons are now online and am grateful for Peter pointing to them. Thanks. Zane, the link is and there is no annual subscription or special piece of technology required.



Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,

I confess to being very pleasantly surprised by this announcement. Both the diocese of Adelaide and Archbishop Driver are Anglo-Catholic by tradition, although I hasten to add that he has been personally supportive of gospel ministry wherever it is found. It might not be the last Australian diocese I would expect to find a Bishop for MIssion & Evangelism with responsibility for "fresh expressions", but it wouldn't have been the first.

In terms of assistant bishops, the diocese of Tasmania, under my former parish priest John Harrower, pioneered the approach of functional rather than geographic assistant bishops ( The diocese of Melbourne has appointed an archdeacon for Sudanese ministry. The appointment method here is that the (arch)bishop selects a candidate and the diocesan council needs to "concur".

Something that might warm your academic's heart is that I attended the graduation ceremony for the Alexandria School of Theology last night. A wonderful occasion, where the guest preacher was the patron of AST and former ABC, Lord Carey. May God use the 25 graduates for building his kingdom throughout Egypt.

Peter Carrell said...

My heart is indeed gladdened, Andrew, re the AST news. Also good to hear that Lord Carey is - by implication - fit and well!

Father Ron Smith said...

I, too, am somewhat surprised to hear of the obviously changing land-scape of the Adelaide Anglican Diocese. Adelaide at one time could have been counted upon to support the inclusive catholicity of the Anglican ethos.

I would think that there would scarcely have been an appointment of an admittedly protestant cleric from the N.Z. Nelson Diocese ever being considered seriously for any other Australian Diocese but Sydney. This must surely be a 'first' for Adelaide.

However, on balance, there are those amongst us who might say that, with the recent appointment of Jim White, ACANZP may have benefitted on two counts - one in Nelson and one in Auckland.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Your last paragraph is an insult to yourself as much as to anyone else. Please re-read what you wrote and ask yourself if it is a worthy comment from a man professing to be a priest in the service of the same Jesus Christ whom Tim and Jim serve.

In respect of Adelaide you may not know that Tim Harris served there as a highly regarded vicar for some twenty years prior to his coming to Nelson to take up his role with BTC. It is not at all surprising that he should be invited back to a diocese in which he is well known.

Father Ron Smith said...


I apologise unreservedly for my chutzpah in referring to the common good of both Adelaide and Auckland as a direct result of certain ecclesiastical movements.

It was cheap shot from a casual vacationer who was not privy to the facts you have described.
Mea Culpa!

Peter Carrell said...

All good, Ron. Thank you for responding so quickly and humbly :)