The Anglican Church gained its second woman diocesan bishop when the Rt Revd Kay Goldsworthy was installed as Bishop of Gippsland on 21 March. And the first woman diocesan, Bishop Sarah Macneil of Grafton – just a year after her own consecration and installation – was present to welcome Bishop Goldsworthy into the House of [diocesan] Bishops.
St Paul’s Cathedral, Sale was full to capacity for the installation, with a large overflow congregation joining the service via a video-link in the adjoining hall. A large phalanx of bishops from around the country had made the journey to Gippsland. Clergy and laity had come from all states of Australia, as well as from Scotland and England.
The Primate, Melbourne’s Archbishop Philip Freier, was joined by Archbishop Jeffrey Driver of Adelaide – himself a former Bishop of Gippsland – Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane and Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth. The other diocesan bishops of the province of Victoria attended, as well as 13 other bishops. They included former Primate, Bishop Peter Carnley, and Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo from Rwanda. No representatives came from the Diocese of Sydney, however.
Archbishop Freier told the congregation that the large episcopal attendance was testament to the high respect in which Bishop Goldsworthy was held by the bishops of Australia. Leading Gippsland layman Robert Fordham added that the numbers of clergy and lay people present from around the country reflected that she had long been recognised in the national church as an outstanding priest and bishop.
In her sermon, Bishop Goldsworthy spoke of her strong desire to get to know the people and places of Gippsland in depth. “For my part this beginning isn’t a sign of speed dating where people look each other over for about five minutes and then decide if they are worth time and effort,” she said. “I want to get to know you.” She said she was looking forward to “worshipping with you in the places and spaces in which God’s grace and love first took root in your heart and mind and life” – places in which “ambassadors for Christ have lived and served for many years, and live and serve still”.
She continued: “St Paul’s wonderful image of being ambassadors for Christ was an encouragement to [the church at Corinth] to remember to whom they belonged and what it meant to be ‘in Christ, the new creation’. His encouragement and teaching was to help them look beyond themselves to the world outside and to learn how best they could speak and serve as friends of Jesus. He wanted them to be ambassadors in word and action.”
It would not always be a straightforward journey for Gippsland any more than it was for the Corinthians, she added. “I am holding that as good news because it will call forth our best, it will ask us to be ambassadors for Christ as we walk alongside each other”. Sometimes it would mean making hard choices and “looking to the future with only our faith in Christ, our hope of the Holy Spirit and one another’s company”.
St Paul’s blueprint for the people at Corinth, she said, was Christ. She concluded that “God’s blueprint for us all today is Christ. God’s blueprint for the world is Christ.” Her hope and plan was “to learn how together we can follow faithfully”.
Bishop Goldsworthy became Australia’s first woman bishop when she was consecrated in Perth as an assistant bishop in May 2008. She began her formal ministry as a deaconess in Melbourne in 1984, and was among the first women deacons ordained in Australia in 1986. In 1988 she moved to Perth to become a school chaplain, and was in the first group of women priests ordained in Australia in March 1992. The mother of adult twin sons, Bishop Goldsworthy has also been a parish priest, a canon of Perth Cathedral, an archdeacon, a member of the General Synod and its Standing Committee, and Australia’s clerical representative on the international Anglican Consultative Council.