On Easter Saturday, in the final moment of his episcopacy, Bishop Stuart laid up his pastoral staff at St Saviour’s Cathedral, Goulburn.
It was a magnificent autumn day and a service glowing with warmth and thankfulness to Bishop Stuart and Jane for their ministry amongst us.
In his last homily, Bishop Stuart shared memories of his father playing and singing his favourite hymn ‘Standing on the Promises of God’, explaining that he stills sings this hymn, with its theology informed by the Gospel reading in Matthew 28:1-10, as it serves as a powerful reminder that God is trustworthy and true, even when ‘the howling storms of doubt and fear assail’. He encouraged those present, from the readings for the day, to look to God with confidence: as the one who slakes this world’s spiritual thirst, whose word is life-giving and efficacious (Isaiah 55:1, 11); as our Refuge and our Deliverer, our Strong Fortress, the one who hears our cries for mercy and salvation (Psalm 31); as the source of renewal and release from the rule of sin and death; as the One in whom we have the hope of resurrection and eternal life (Romans 6).
Bishop Stuart then stood on the Chancel steps and handed over responsibility to Bishop Trevor Edwards to be Administrator of
the Diocese, until his successor is elected.
Speeches of farewell were made by The Most Reverend Dr Glenn Davies, Metropolitan of NSW, representing the Anglican Church of NSW, The Venerable Carol Wagner and The Venerable Dr Brian Douglas representing the Clergy and Justice Richard Refshauge and Mrs Lynette Glendinning representing the Laity of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn and The Honourable Pru Goward, Member for Goulburn, representing the Community of Goulburn. Archbishop Glenn Davies, shared how he was with Bishop Stuart when he was informed of his election to the role, and told those gathered ‘your bishop is a man of action and of prayer’.
Those who spoke from the Diocese paid special tribute to Bishop Stuart for the burden he had taken up and carried in response to the Royal Commission and his humble efforts to put the needs of victims first, with Archdeacon Brian Douglas reminding us that everything Bishop Stuart did was ‘for Jesus’.
The Honourable Pru Goward, spoke of Stuart’s lovability and his love for others as the characteristic that had enabled such effective leadership and of how much of what he did in Goulburn was ‘unexpected’, but appreciated all the more, concluding that ‘our lives will be a little dimmer for his leaving’.
The gifts from the Diocese were presented to Bishop Stuart by the Registrar, Trevor Ament, including a wooden box from Bungendore Wood Works containing the letters and cards from parishes, a rural scene painted by Bungendore artist Jenny Becker, and an artwork of Canberra landmarks by Jim Kaucz.
In his response Bishop Stuart thanked all those who have aided him in his role – the Episcopal team, the Registrar Trevor Ament, his Executive Officer Bev Forbes, the ADS, the Clergy, and in particular his wife, for her unfailing support, which raised a standing ovation for Jane.
Finally he thanked all the people of the Diocese, saying ‘you are our greatest asset … through you the love of Jesus is manifested, the community is being transformed’.
Bishop Trevor and Archbishop Glenn Davies prayed for Stuart and Jane, who then left the Cathedral to rousing applause.
by Alison Payne