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Beloved,

Just over a month has passed since Jane and I returned from our three months of hill-walking throughout the United Kingdom. The picture featured is the towpath that follows the Thames River just outside Oxford (where we caught up with children and grandchildren). In the background (of this scene) is Godstow Abbey – built in 1133 for an order of Benedictine nuns. The roof needs work!

We also enjoyed the spectacular scenery in and around Oban, Scotland – especially the rugged beauty of the Island of Kerrera. In Oban, we worshipped with the kind and welcoming saints at St. John’s (Scottish Episcopal) Cathedral.

Another life-giving experience was trekking across the Dales Way in the Windermere/Lakes District. On average, we’d cover around 20 kilometres per day – generally in brilliant sunshine.

I am most grateful to Bishops Trevor, Matt and Stephen for keeping a weather-eye on the diocese in my absence. My colleagues have also represented me well at the most recent General Synod in Queensland.

Do keep our national church in your prayers. There have been/will be changes in episcopal leadership in the dioceses of Newcastle, Perth, Adelaide, Bendigo, Gippsland and Bunbury. And I do take this opportunity to congratulate Bishop Kay Goldsworthy on her election (and translation) to the See of Perth. Change will invariably (and rightly) flow from the processes and procedures of the Royal Commission. As a diocese we have given hundreds of hours in caring for victims of abuse and have expended millions of dollars in our pastoral care and restitution endeavours. Further, we must become more aligned as a national church in the way we approach these matters and there is much good will to this end.

Now that the proposed postal vote on same-sex marriage has survived a raft of legal challenges, I do urge our readers to assist lawmakers in forming a clear view on this matter, by voting. You will be aware that we’ve provided a wide range of balanced material to parishes over the past years and we’ve pondered this question over three sessions of Synod. For my part, I continue to endorse the historic Anglican view that marriage is between a man and woman; it is a life-long, Christ-honouring union. This view is contested in many contexts and I would urge ongoing and respectful listening and dialogue.

Last, I have appointed (with immediate effect) our dear friend, Mr Bob Arthur, as my Hon. Canon Liaison Officer between the Cathedral and Anglican Diocesan Services (ADS). Bob will work with the Dean, Chapter, Council and ADS on all aspects of planning for future ministry and mission as they relate to fabric, plant, finances and heritage issues. This is an omnibus role and Bob has been released from a raft of other diocesan responsibilities in order to give this activity the focus and time it warrants. I will present Bob with his new licence at the Synod service in the Cathedral.

For Jesus,
+Stuart