Bishop John Harrower was born in Melbourne, and graduated with honours in Chemical Engineering from Melbourne University in 1970 working as a petroleum engineer with Mobil Oil 1970-72. He pursued studies in economics and political science, completing a Bachelor of Arts.
This growing interest in economic policy was furthered through joining the Industries Assistance Commission, 1972-78. He became a Director leading research into the impact of technological and demographic change on Australia’s industrial structure.
An invitation to work as a university lay chaplain took him to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) training college, St Andrew’s Hall in Melbourne over 1977-79.
With his wife and their two sons, John lived in Argentina for nine years, 1979-88, working with university students, growing a church, and publishing and distributing Christian literature. Life in Argentina during the years of the so-called, ‘Dirty War’, 1976-83, was not always easy! Nor was the Falkland Islands War, 1982, a number of attempted coups or annual inflation of 5,000%! But in all of this God’s love, both through Argentine friends and colleagues, and CMS, led to a deeper understanding of community.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Argentina ordained John a deacon in 1984, and a priest in 1986. Returning to Melbourne, John became the Vicar of St Paul’s Glen Waverley, 1989-95, before being appointed Vicar of the new parish of St Barnabas. This latter appointment involved restructuring three parishes into one over 1995-2000. John was an archdeacon in the Melbourne Diocese, 1994-2000. Special interests included youth, ministry formation and relating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to different cultures. Over these years he formalised his studies in mission and in 1996 gained an MA (Theology).
On Australia Day, 2000, he was awarded a Medal of The Order of Australia ‘for service to the community through the Anglican Church and as a missionary’. On 25 July 2000 he was ordained a bishop and installed as the 11th Bishop of Tasmania. The Governor-General of Australia awarded John a Centenary Medal in December 2002 in recognition of his contribution to Australian Society.
John’s leadership style is relational – while Bishop of Tasmania, 2000-2015, he sought to build a missionary diocese engaging with society and seeking ‘a healthy church…transformingLIFE’. In 2015 he returned to Melbourne where, as Bishop Assisting the Primate, he supported the Archbishop of Melbourne in the exercise of his leadership responsibilities as Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishop John retired in 2020.
Interests include social well-being and justice, cross-cultural mission, interfaith and, especially, Christian-Muslim relations. Mission participation includes President of both BCA and SparkLit, World Vision Australia (director 2006-2016) and Vice President of CMS. John enjoys writing: he has books in Spanish and English, and articles in various publications and on his (occasional) blog.