​Bishop Stephen Pickard.

 An assistant Anglican bishop of Canberra and Goulburn has been appointed Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

Bishop Stephen Pickard succeeds the Revd Professor James Haire, a former President of the Uniting Church and of the National Council of Churches in Australia, as leader of the national ecumenical body.  

Dr Pickard is interim Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare (NSW South, NSW West and ACT). He was Head of Charles Sturt University’s School of Theology from 1998 to 2006.

It is the third big move recently for bishops based in Canberra. Last month, Bishop Ian Lambert – formerly Regional Bishop for the South Coast, Southern Monaro and Snowy and rector of Bateman’s Bay – was commissioned as the new Anglican Bishop to the Australian Defence Force. And in June, Bishop Tom Frame announced that he would resign after seven years as Director of St Mark's Theological before the start of the 2014 academic year.

The Chair of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Professor Ross Chambers, said: “The Board of the Centre is very pleased to welcome Stephen Pickard as the new Director. His work on new directions for the churches in their dialogue with contemporary culture and society will add important dimensions to the Centre.

Dr Pickard said he was honoured and excited by his appointment. "I look forward to the challenges and opportunities for the Centre as we foster dialogue between the Christian faith and public life and the cultural and religious traditions of Australia," he said.

Bishop Pickard was consecrated an assistant bishop of Adelaide in 2007 and was Chair of Anglicare South Australia and acting Principal of St Barnabas Theological College there before returning to Canberra in 2011.

He has written several books, including Seeking the Church: An Introduction to Ecclesiology in 2013 (reviewed in August’s TMA) and In-Between God: Theology, Community and Discipleship in 2011.

Bishop Stuart Robinson of Canberra and Goulburn said he was very excited by Bishop Pickard's appointment and “the opportunity it will afford to further the development of public theology in partnership with the churches of the national capital”.

He said Dr Pickard would remain an assistant bishop, with special responsibility for assisting in leading the diocese’s work on social ethics and social justice issues. Dr Pickard also will remain Intentional Interim Priest at St George’s, in the Canberra suburb of Pearce, until December and will step down from his interim post at Anglicare at the diocesan synod in September.

The Chair of the Anglicare Board, Professor Ingrid Moses, expressed the board's deep appreciation of Dr Pickard's willingness to step into the role of CEO in a part-time and temporary capacity.

“His leadership during a time of internal re-orientation and the process which led to the decision to sell Anglicare's residential aged care facilities has been highly valued by board members and the Executive of Anglicare,” Professor Moses said. “We are delighted for Bishop Stephen to hear of his new appointment and wish him well."

Professor Moses said the board had begun the process to appoint a new chief executive to ensure continuity in Anglicare's strategic direction.

Established in Canberra 20 years ago, the Centre for Christianity and Culture is a part of the university, which has campuses in several cities, including Albury-Wodonga, as well as study centres in Melbourne and Wangaratta.

Its priorities are ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, reconciliation with Indigenous people, youth concerns, academic research and the relationship of theology to social issues.

Dr Pickard will take up his new role in September.

Professor Haire, a Professor of Theology, will continue his role with the university following his retirement as the centre’s Executive Director, a position he has held since 2003.

He will continue to lead Charles Sturt University's programs to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue in Australia and overseas and remains Director of the University’s Centre for Public and Contextual Theology (PaCT).