​Bishop Genieve Blackwell, who was
commissioned as an Assistant Bishop on 19

Photo: Janine Eastgate


Bishop Genieve Blackwell was commissioned as an Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Melbourne at the opening Choral Eucharist for the special session of the diocesan Synod at St Paul’s Cathedral on 19 June.

The first woman to be consecrated a bishop in NSW formally took up her new role south of the border – “The truth is I hardly know Melbourne, or Victoria, for that matter. I can count on one hand how many times I have visited!” – but was accompanied by her family and friends from the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn and greeted with warm, extended applause when presented to the congregation.

Bishop Blackwell, referring to an iPad as she preached, said she had much to learn about the historical, cultural and social story of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne “in all its strength and in all its weakness; in its wisdom and in its foolishness” and how it had been a witness to God at work.

“I want to hear those stories – past and present. Please don’t hold back in telling them to me because it is in the story of God’s grace that we will find our treasure, that we will keep our eyes focused on God,” she said.

Bishop Blackwell – who was consecrated three years ago in Goulburn and arrives in Melbourne having served as a bishop and vicar in Wagga Wagga – succeeds Melbourne’s first female bishop, Barbara Darling, who died in February this year, just as she began life in retirement. Like her successor, Bishop Darling was originally from NSW but, unlike her, was consecrated in Melbourne.

But under the new “mission-shaped structures” of the Diocese, Bishop Blackwell will not be responsible for the Eastern Region as Bishop Darling was.

Archbishop Philip Freier, in his Synod Charge delivered after the service, said Bishop Blackwell would have responsibility for parishes in the city and inner suburbs.

Bishop Blackwell’s husband John Silversides, a criminal justice chaplain at Barwon Prison and the Melbourne Remand and Assessment Centre, and their daughter Baith sat in the front pew as the new bishop was welcomed to Melbourne. Her son Harry was unwell and could not attend the service.

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