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Melbourne Anglicanism: A Distinctive Culture?

Colin Holden

The 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Anglican diocese of Melbourne in 1997 generated varying levels of reflection on the history of Anglicanism in that diocese. These ranged from picturesque re-enactments of the appearance of Bishop Perry, and on one or two occasions, Bishop Moorhouse, in some of its oldest parishes, to the presentation of papers at a seminar in the History Department at the University of Melbourne and the publishing of a volume of essays, Melbourne Anglicans, edited by Brian Porter. In these last two exercises, aspects of the history of Anglicanism in Melbourne were considered in order to reach an intelligent understanding of its present, with the hope that this might in turn offer insights for its future. This volume brings together the papers read on 27 June 1997 in a significantly expanded form. Its primary purpose is not to rival or correct, but to complement Melbourne Anglicans. Important contributions in the latter included David Hilliard's chapter on the diocese's intellectual history, and James Minchin's chapter of penetrating questions concerning future directions, which acknowledged some of Melbourne Anglicanism's less attractive features with great candour.[1] Each writer raised significant questions concerning the future: Hilliard's essay, of the likelihood of a neo-conservative evangelical renaissance; Minchin's, of the unlikeliness of any revolutionary change in direction, given its capacity at best for evolutionary growth, and at worst, for a degree of stagnation. This present volume offers different or new perspectives: Paul Nicholls offers a different view of the bishops; Peter Sherlock's rigorous examination of a particularly recent period in history of ordination of women, and Ellen Warne's treatment of the participation of Anglican women in earlier debates on sex education reach conclusions different from those of some significant writers in these areas to date. Others chapters touch on issues, social and political, not treated in the earlier volume, such as debate over homosexuality and gay rights, and administrative and theological issues such as the nature and role of assistant bishops.

Comprehensive diocesan histories already exist for several metropolitan Anglican sees: David Hilliard's for Adelaide, Cable and Judd's for Sydney and Geoffrey Stephens' for Hobart.[2] Pending what is presumed to be an exhaustive treatment of this diocese's institutional history by James Grant following his retirement as Dean of Melbourne, the present volume together, with Melbourne Anglicans, brings Melbourne abreast of the historical treatment of other dioceses in many respects, and, in some areas, even opens new perspectives.

In a paper on theosophy in Australia, Jill Roe suggested that the particular characteristics of Anglicanism in Sydney and Melbourne were important keys to the different religious cultures in each of these cities.[3] The place of the Anglican church during the convict period in Sydney's history was one of the factors that she considered to distinguish Sydney's Anglicanism from that of Melbourne; Melbourne's Anglicanism was imbued with some of the characteristics of its conservative and well-established business establishment. More broadly, she suggested that the major churches in Melbourne provided room for more liberal religious attitudes, whereas Sydney's churches were less open to any liberal tendencies. While she was unable to document this line of thought in any degree of detail, her observations remain fruitful ones for the historian, and others, to pursue, even though, when it comes to the distinguishing characteristics of Anglicanism in Melbourne, it is easier to describe the symptoms than to trace their causes with any degree of precision. In the introduction to Anglo-Catholicism in Melbourne, a companion volume to the present one in the History Department's Conference papers, I pointed out that Anglicanism in each of the state capitals had, and still has, its own ethos. I went on to point out that this does not always mean that there is necessarily strong local variation for each of the different streams within Anglicanism: among Anglo-Catholics, only those of Sydney possess a uniform liturgical feature that distinguishes them from others across the country, and that negatively, through that diocese's regulation forbidding the use of the chasuble. This in turn is an expression of the ascendancy of a particular cast of evangelical Anglicanism in the decision-making bodies of that city and diocese.[4] On the other hand, historians of both Sydney and Melbourne Anglicanism and of evangelical Christianity in Australia consider that the evangelical stream in Melbourne's Anglicanism has characteristics that distinguish it clearly from its Sydney counterpart.

At the hierarchical level, the eirenic character of Bishop Field Flowers Goe (1886-1902), who followed Moorhouse and had a distinctly evangelical profile, contrasted with the often unbending character and approach of Perry, and is commented on by James Grant and Stuart Piggin.[5] But in Piggin's view it is the degree to which evangelical laity in Melbourne directed the evangelical ship in that city that distinguishes its Anglicanism from its Sydney counterpart, which he regards as increasingly dominated by clergy. By the end of the nineteenth century, it was drawing particular strength from prominent members of the mercantile and business community such as the tea merchants, James and John Griffith, Horace John Hannah and Edwin Lee Neil.[6] Such individuals helped to stamp its Anglican evangelicalism with a non-theological pietism. Among such laity, an important influence was the spirituality of the Keswick revival movement, which was stronger among Anglican evangelicals in Melbourne than in Sydney, as Archbishop Mowll regretfully observed.[7] This lay piety backed by mercantile finance played an important role in the foundation of Ridley College, amid growing dissatisfaction over liberal biblical scholarship, theological modernism and what was perceived as a failure by the hierarchy to check the growth of high church practices and incipient ritualism.

What were the roots of this evangelical strength among the laity? At least three may be suggested. Firstly, it was the Anglican expression of a strong evangelical lay culture that transcended purely denominational lines. Piggin describes Melbourne in the first two decades of this century as the centre of 'the strongest, the best organised and the most determined network of evangelicals in Australia's history'.[8] This broader culture voiced itself through large lay organisations such as the Upwey Convention, founded by the Anglican evangelical H. P Smith with the support of his Melbourne Gospel Crusade Council, and the Melbourne Bible Institute, founded jointly by H. P. Smith and Dr. James J Kitchen, a prominent member of the Brethren, Though these were predominantly lay movements, a key figure in motivating many of their members was the prominent and controversial evangelical cleric the Revd C. H. Nash.[9] Secondly, as Piggin also suggests, a degree of determination among laity to maintain the evangelical identity was fostered by a perception that the Church of England in Melbourne diocese (and elsewhere) was being 'sold out' to high churchmen and others by more liberal clergy. An evangelical laity was a necessity in the face of the clergy's dereliction of unalterable truths and standards. Though Piggin offers little if any documentation for this interpretation, there are sufficient examples of texts from the end of nineteenth century, in which the clerical leadership is blamed for allowing the appointment of unsuitable clergy and the consequent departure from evangelical standards. 'Those in authority don't appear to have any authority to resist it. Then why don't we laymen take action?'[10] asked a correspondent in the Victorian Churchman, a journal established by conservative evangelicals dissatisfied with what they considered to be the liberal tone of the diocesan paper, The Church of England Messenger. Salvation was clearly identified as coming from the laity when it was suggested that a local layman should rise up and imitate the violent protest tactics of John Kensit, the contemporary London agitator against Anglo-Catholicism, who was killed after inciting mob violence in Birkenhead in 1902. Even the Age allowed the likelihood that such a figure might emerge, given the current mood among conservative Melbourne evangelicals.[11] Lastly, the lay leadership in Melbourne Anglicanism at the beginning of this century may also been seen as an inheritance from Bishop Perry's determination to create a strong, educated and independent laity. This he saw as a necessity for the healthy survival of Anglicanism in the face of the withdrawal of state aid following the gold rush, and in the absence of the established status enjoyed by Anglicanism in England.[12]

Melbourne has continued to maintain an evangelical tradition that is distinctive. This remains easily discernible in the field of theological education. The presentation of papers by a diverse group of evangelical scholars attending a conference organised by the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion in March 1988 underlined Melbourne's characteristics. Ridley College and its staff had more in common with Anglican evangelicals in England, their strongest connections being with St Johns College Nottingham, the London Bible College, and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadina, California, contrasting with Moore College's links with the Trinity Evangelical School at Deerfield, Illinois and Regent College in Vancouver. Whether, as Piggin suggests, Melbourne evangelicals have come to stress the atonement and the blood of Christ as central for both doctrine and piety, while Sydney stresses the primacy of the Word, is a debatable point. Melbourne evangelicalism has certainly tended to have a more devotional thrust, and less dogmatic and Calvinist in its mode of expression.[13] But the marked contrast between the two surfaced clearly at the 1988 conference, when disagreement between Sydney and Melbourne evangelicals over the ordination of women caused one Melbourne participant, the Revd Dr Charles Sherlock to respond: 'I seem to be living in a different Evangelical Christian world'.[14]

To return to an earlier observation, when it comes to the distinguishing characteristics of Anglicanism in Melbourne, it is easier to describe the symptoms than to trace their causes. At least on the surface, the Anglican diocese of Melbourne has enjoyed a reputation for tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Although it is clear from the periods in the diocesan history discussed below that there are some significant qualifications to this claim, support for such an attitude has a long and distinguished history. As well as the second bishop, James Moorhouse, of whom more below, it was expressed by clergy in the period before World War I such as E. S. Hughes, who wrote (somewhat ingenuously) to Field Flowers Goe, suggesting that a young evangelical cleric should come and work with him at St Peter's, in order to build the kind of trust and confidence that was already notably lacking between Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals in Sydney.[15] As in all other capital cities, there have been clergy and laity of markedly different churchmanship who have enjoyed warm friendships and mutual trust and respect. In the years immediately following World War II, the tone of the diocese in this regard was typified more by the friendship between Canon F. E. Maynard, Anglo-Catholic radical socialist and intellectual, and the Revd R. H. Pethybridge, despite their opposite stances in synod concerning the admission of women as vestry members, than by the actions of the aggressive evangelical Cyril Chambers, who removed his surplice and stamped on it, rather than take part in a procession led by a cross with a corpus on it![16] As Paul Nicholls points out in his paper in this volume, the impression of Melbourne gained by Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher of Canterbury, when he visited Australia in 1950 was that it mediated between what he saw as extremes, represented on the one hand by Sydney, and on the other by Brisbane and Adelaide. And to those theological students who, for various reasons, have come from Sydney to be trained and ordained in Melbourne, Melbourne seems still to offer a tolerance of diversity that they have not found in their home city.

The apparently less combatative character of Melbourne Anglicanism was not restricted to the differences of churchmanship. It has also been true of the interaction between Melbourne's Anglicanism and the intellectual life of the University of Melbourne. Little difference between Melbourne and Sydney is noticeable in this respect in the nineteenth century, with prominent Anglican laity holding significant teaching positions and occupying many of the positions on university boards. But something of Sydney's more adversarial style is typified by the public debates between Archdeacon T. C. Hammond, the principal of Moore College, and John Anderson, the realist-humanist philosopher and a strong critic of institutionalised religion. Though there is passing reference in Stuart Piggin's Evangelical Christianity in Australia, there has been no detailed analysis of these debates, their consequences, or the reporting of them in either Sydney's Anglican press, or in other media.[17] By contrast, in Melbourne in the inter-war years, the school of philosophy at the University contained a strong idealist stream. Especially significant in this area was Professor Boyce Gibson. Both he and his son Ralph, who became the president of the state's Communist Party, had considerable contact with Melbourne's leading Anglican radical, F. E. Maynard, the Anglo-Catholic incumbent of St Peter's Eastern Hill. Ralph Gibson and Maynard jointly delivered a series of public lectures to packed audiences in the chapter room of St Paul's Cathedral in 1944 at the invitation of the dean, the low churchman T. H. Langley, who, like Pethybridge, enjoyed a cordial relationship with his Anglo-Catholic contemporary. Through these lectures and their subsequent publication as A Fair Hearing for Socialism,[18] Maynard and Gibson succeeded in gathering Anglican clergy and laity around them in the study of socialism and communism on a scale that did not occur in Sydney, despite the presence there of a small Christian Socialist group among its Anglicans, which included clergy such as W. G. Coughlan and John Hope of Christ Church, St Laurence.

Another contrast between Sydney and Melbourne, this time reinforcing the claims of those who interpret Melbourne as ultimately the heir of a liberal tradition, concerns the quite different styles of various religious groups among university students, both in the inter-war years and the following decades. In Melbourne, particularly in the interwar years, the Student Christian Movement (SCM), regarded by conservative Sydney evangelicals as doctrinally unsound, had one of the largest memberships of all the student unions. Its 'socially reformist and ecumenical ideas' influenced many Anglicans in Melbourne who took up leadership roles in the church and professions in the following decades.[19] By the 1960s, the SCM was already in decline in Melbourne. On the other hand in Sydney in the 1970s, even its conservative counterpart, the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES, formerly the IVF) was challenged, if not ousted, as the most influential such student group at the University of Sydney by another more conservative body, the Campus Bible Study, created by Phillip Jensen, chaplain at the University of New South Wales. While the Revd Robert Forsyth at St Barnabas' Broadway has maintained a strong influence among Sydney University's campus evangelicals, the rise of the alternative group under Phillip Jensen created stong division within the traditional AFES base.[20]

Given that a less adversarial style and a greater degree of tolerance ultimately prevailed in Melbourne by comparison with Sydney, such an atmosphere allowed the promotion of liberal attitudes to several issues, more particularly issues relating to gender and sexuality, by significant clergy and laity. Detailed treatment of Melbourne synod's generally positive attitudes to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, a stance supported by Archbishop Woods, and debates over the ordination of women, is offered in papers in this volume by Graham Willett and Peter Sherlock. As early as 1976, a motion was passed in Melbourne synod expressing approval for the ordination of women to the priesthood. Issues of gender became the key factor in the election of David Penman as archbishop in 1984. Identified as a strong promoter of the ordination of women, his election was a result of support from liberal evangelicals and the more liberal members of the Catholic wing of the diocese. The issue of the ordination of women thus cut across earlier internal divisions in church politics between high and low, evangelical and Catholic.[21] Melbourne became the first Australian diocese to ordain women in accordance with General Synod legislation in 1992, while Sydney had for some time been identified as the centre for opposition to any such move, despite the presence of a strong pressure group constituted by laity who favoured such action.[22] On the one hand, this is another symptom, rather than a cause, of difference between Melbourne and Sydney. But it was partly the absence of any wide conservative reaction in Melbourne that made Penman both a successful candidate for election and a popular public figure. Was his position as an adviser to the government on public health, multiculturalism and foreign affairs a reflection of a liberal stream in Melbourne's political culture? His links with political figures thus deserve further investigation. Graham Willett's paper suggests that Sydney's Anglicanism, by contrast, experienced a neo-conservative revival, as part of a broader reaction embracing other groups, and including connections with conservative politicians.

Emphasis on the formative influence of particular bishops in the history of their dioceses can read as though Melbourne's tolerance and liberalism or Sydney's conservatism were foregone conclusions, fixed with no possibility that another course might be taken after certain periods or personalities. In the case of Sydney, Cable and Judd emphasise Bishop Frederic Barker, Broughton's mid-19th century successor. They regard is episcopate, from 1854 to 1883, as a period in which he strongly encouraged the development of a conservative evangelical ascendancy. At the Melbourne end, James Moorhouse is identified by James Grant as laying the foundations for a liberalism in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and while there can be no question of Moorhouse's intellectual breadth and its impact on his contemporaries, there is nothing in Grant's survey that suggests that this liberalism was followed by a reaction in the time of Field Flowers Goe, nor that there were later periods in which a conservative evangelical resurgence took place.

Thus at this point an important qualification needs to be made. While ultimately an atmosphere more conducive to tolerance and the cultivation of liberal approaches prevailed in Melbourne, this was not the result of a continuous evolution. Conversely, to view the development of Sydney Anglicanism as one of the relentless march of conservative evangelicalism is to undervalue at least one significant period in which more liberal attitudes flourished. What, then, are the elements that call forth these qualifications?

Firstly, in the case of Sydney, Ruth Teale argued persuasively that Barker's legacy was not to leave evangelical conservatives with an undisputed monopoly in the Sydney diocese. During the episcopate of his successor, Barry (1884-90), at least twenty parishes, mainly in well-to-do inner suburbs, developed identities ranging, in terms of ecclesiastical politics, from broad to moderately high. It was the development of this well-articulated alternative that in turn provoked the creation of aggressive conservative pressure groups, anxious lest what they perceived as ritualists should take over the well-to-do middle class suburbs close to the city.[23] Though William Saumarez Smith, Barry's successor, attempted to act as a kind of ecclesiastical conciliator and arbitrator, the conservative evangelicals became the prevailing power group by the time of his successor, J. C. Wright (1909-32). It was Barry's period that saw the emergence of a feature that was to distinguish Sydney's conservative evangelical life from that of Melbourne, and ultimately lead to conservative evangelicalism's ascendancy: well-organised pressure groups with well-defined aims, and methods formulated and consistently acted on in achieving them. The predominance of the point of view they represented was signalled by the failure of what might well be described as the last stand of Sydney's liberal evangelicals, the Memorial of 1938. The significant role of conservative pressure groups has been carefully documented by Stephen Judd, and his conclusions contrast with the kind of interpretation offered by Marcus Loane in his Hewn from the Rock,[24] which instead attributed the diocese's particular kind of evangelicalism to its clerical hierarchy, abetted by an appropriately Calvinist hint of predestination.

What of Melbourne? The view that sees Moorhouse as the initiator of a liberal tradition must still take into account two subsequent points in Melbourne's history in which the diocese might have evolved differently with the emergence of a strong conservative evangelical body. The first period was in the 1890s, following Moorhouse's return to England, and was an expression of reaction against his theological and intellectual breadth, and, as mentioned above, was voiced in terms of a fear that high churchmen, who would take the diocese in undesirable directions, had been favoured in recent appointments.

This resurgence manifested itself through several different channels. The first was by influencing appointments to parishes. H. A. Langley, a conservative evangelical who was elected bishop of Bendigo in 1902, became prominent in blocking the appointment of Anglo-Catholic clergy through his place on the diocesan board of nominators; when he became archdeacon of Gippsland, W. G. Hindley took on his role as evangelical 'defender of the faith'. Edward Clarke Spicer, who had been an assistant curate at All Saints East St Kilda, then regarded as the most advanced high church in the diocese, left for England because a suitable appointment was not forthcoming. And in the case of the incumbency of All Saints, the retirement of John Herbert Gregory in 1893 was followed by the appointment of Robert Potter, and the rejection by the diocesan nominators of Samuel Green, an Adelaide Anglo-Catholic. Green had the unanimous support of the parochial nominators, while a sometimes rowdy meeting of parishioners supported them in disapproval of Potter, who, though a high churchman, lacked the overt Anglo-Catholic profile of Samuel Green. Controversy over the appointment even surfaced in the diocesan synod later that year.[25] Controversy equally dogged the appointments of another overt Anglo-Catholic, E. S. Hughes, one of Moorhouse's 'young Turks'. The assistant curate at St Mark's Fitzroy from 1888 to 1893, he was not appointed as successor to Stretch, his vicar, despite his creation of an innovative social work programme through the Holy Redeemer Mission; petitions by the mayor, the whole of Fitzroy council and the municipality's JPs, urging his appointment, were ignored by Goe. Instead, he was dismissed by the new incumbent, Barley Sharp, an older man, seemingly jealous of his youth and popularity, and Hughes left Melbourne to work in Tasmania under the broad church Henry Hutton Montgomery for a year.[26]

Conservative evangelicals not only reasserted their viewpoint through the diocesan board of nominators, but through the media. W. G. Hindley became the editor of the diocesan paper, the Church of England Messenger. In reporting the situation at St Mark's Fitzroy, he described it as one involving partisan resistance to the new incumbent on the part of an ambitious young assistant; when that parish's vestry published correspondence between Hughes, Sharp and others, its members pointed out that Hindley was claiming to present a disinterested account, while acting from a clearly biased position - he was one of the diocesan nominators who had vetoed Hughes' appointment as incumbent. Nor did Hindley identify in the diocesan press any of the real causes for his resistance to Hughes, such as the latter's encouragement of the use of confession by parishioners and those involved in the Holy Redeemer Mission.[27]

Thirdly and lastly, the evangelical resurgence was given another powerful voice through the organisation of pressure groups. Such groups played an important role in further controversy concerning E. S. Hughes, firstly in 1900 when he was appointed as vicar of to St Peter's, and then in 1906 in a controversy concerning ceremonial usage at St Peter's. The Evangelical Church Association, an organisation of conservative evangelicals, dissatisfied with what they regarded as a compromising tone in the diocesan paper, reasserted their position by establishing the independent journal, the Victorian Churchman. Through it, they pressed their claims that Hughes had promoted doctrines and devotional practices that contravened Anglican standards; they also sought to influence the diocesan board of nominators.[28] In the 1906 controversy, a leading role was first taken by Digby Berry, an evangelical cleric dubbed 'the Melbourne Kensit', whose extreme tendencies led Field Flowers Goe to pressure him into resigning significant appointments. A stream of correspondence numbering up to seven letters each day appeared in both the Argus and the Age for almost a fortnight; the most frequent contributors were by J. C. Langley, the secretary of the Church Association, Digby Berry and Hughes himself. It was brought to a climax with another pressure group's appearance, and the presentation to Archbishop Clarke of a cautiously-worded petition signed by 1500 laymen, and created by significant evangelical clergy including Canon Nash, then of St Columb's, Hawthorn, and Canon Sadlier of Christ Church, St Kilda. Archbishop Lowther Clarke responded impartially, satisfying neither party: he forbade Hughes to use incense, but allowed the continuing use of eucharistic vestments[29].

The second episode of conservative evangelical resurgence embraces the last two years of World War I and receded following the arrival of Clarke's successor, Harrington Clare Lees, in 1922. This time, it was the choices and personality of Clarke that were often the immediate cause of offence. Though Clarke was no sense an Anglo-Catholic, and was uninterested in being identified with a particular party, evangelicals often regarded him as a high churchman, calling forth as evidence his taking of the eastward position when celebrating the eucharist - the position taken by almost half the Anglican clergy in England by the beginning of the century, and thus no longer a party badge.[30] His attempt to appoint Anglicans of different traditions to a range of positions was perceived as another sign of favouritism, though he was merely following the practice of his English peers, who by now saw generally themselves as mediators and arbitrators, and not as advocates of one position to the exclusion of all others. His real weakness was the conviction of the rightness of his own judgements, coupled with a degree of bluffness and lack of charm and skill in handling people.[31] His apparently inept handling of a situation involving allegations of sexual impropriety against Canon C. H. Nash, by then incumbent of Christ Church Geelong, strengthened the conviction of evangelicals that he was biased against them.[32] In this situation, he studiedly ignored a petition presented by 830 laymen criticising the secrecy in which proceedings were conducted, and pleading for the use of more open processes. The creation of Ridley College was one symptom of dissatisfaction in the earlier part of his episcopate; Clarke remained aloof from the initial public meeting at which the need for the creation of a new college was discussed; on its opening in its own premises, followed unsuccessful discussions about the possibility of its functioning as a hostel of Trinity College, he promptly dismissed its acting principal, Canon Sadlier, from his lectureship at St John's College in St Kilda, an institution which prepared ordination candidates who had no previous degree.[33]

Evangelical anxieties, fuelled by a sense of alienation from the archbishop, were exacerbated by Mannix' anti-conscription stance; to those who already critical from a theological stance of anything that described itself as Catholic, it seemed to confirm a strain of political and imperial disloyalty. In such an atmosphere, those who claimed that Anglicanism itself was a Catholic, as much as, or more than, a Reformation entity, were even more vulnerable than before. A new evangelical renaissance began in 1917. One of its conspicuous features was the degree of careful organisation involved, and the degree of militancy; here events and techniques in Melbourne came their closest to the adversarial style of Sydney. The opening sallies were directed at the Revd Cyril Barclay, an Englishman and former Queensland bush brother, who had agreed to work at the long moribund St John's La Trobe Street, without first going through the due processes of nomination and institution, a course which eventually helped his undoing. He combined a romantic attractiveness with a tactlessness and political ineptitude that weakened his standing with Clarke; his style was redolent of an Anglo-Catholic priest in an inner London parish, and simultaneously won him a growing congregation while creating a sense of alarm from other directions. His promotion of confession and of overtly Catholic Marian and eucharistic doctrine and devotion were quickly followed by correspondence in the Age, the Argus, and in the ecclesiastical press, as well as by attempts to denounce the Anglo-Catholic position in synod. As if to anticipate the tone of controversy in the ensuing years, any high churchmen, no matter how moderate, were condemned as Romanizers, including Canon Hart, the principal of St John's College, who was no sharer in some of Barclay's pet enthusiasms.[34] Clarke's synod charge that year attempted to pour oil on troubled waters, allowing occasional but not frequent confession as being in accordance with Anglican standards. Barclay's undoing was to wait for the future.[35] Barclay was not the sole object of attack. Far less overt figures, such as J. C. Nankivell of St James, East St Kilda, were delated to the archbishop on account of devotional practices such as prayers for the departed.[36]

The Central Church League, founded in 1919 with the principal of Trinity College, Alexander Leeper, as its chairman, replaced the Evangelical Church Association as the key evangelical pressure group, taking in the membership of the earlier organisation and expanding beyond it. Its antecedent was a meeting at St Stephen's Richmond of evangelical clergy and lay representatives on synod called by the Revd H. T. Langley. It created a voting ticket for synod, and succeeded that year in sweeping all that were identified as high churchmen, including the most restrained and moderate, from significant positions on diocesan committees.[37] According to a letter of the Revd F. E. C. Crotty, all of 'the enemy' were to be dismissed as 'Romanizers'.[38]

The next episode involved the election of John Stephen Hart, the principal of St John's College, as dean of Melbourne, in succession to C. J. Godby, a restrained high churchman. Though considered an influential position, at that time its holder received no financial remuneration, save twenty pounds for out of pocket expenses, and the rent from letting the old deanery. In other words, it was assumed that the dean would have another source of income, such as the one Hart received from his college position on his election. While in 1916 the council of Trinity College had urged that the lease of St John's should not be renewed and that theological education be centralised at Trinity, Clarke did not agree, and the diocesan council recommended a renewal of the lease for two years. But at a meeting in December 1919, the council moved that the college be closed because it imposed an unnecessary burden on diocesan funds. It was easy for high churchmen to interpret this as an attack on Hart and an attempt to make his position as dean as difficult as possible, if not impossible; the chief mover behind the closure of St John's College was identified by them as W. G. Hindley.[39] Other clergy petitioned that Hart should receive a salary and the following year, the situation was alleviated when he was appointed a lecturer at Trinity. Otherwise, he survived on his wife's private income, fees from lecturing at the Pharmacy College, and the rental from the old deanery.

Meanwhile, a climax was being reached. Clarke's resignation and departure to England saw Hindley appointed as administrator of the diocese, pending the election and arrival of a new archbishop. Hindley made the most of his position to redress the balance in favour of conservative evangelicals and to place restrictions on Anglo-Catholics. He was motivated by a genuine conviction that the well-being of the diocese and the continued support of its most important long-term patrons in the middle classes, depended on the preservation of a definitely evangelical identity.[40] He combined conviction and the opportunities offered by the sequence of events with a ruthless determination – or a determined ruthlessness.

The most controversial of his manouverings concerned St John's and Cyril Barclay. As a sequel to earlier moves to create a new mission district to form a base for charitable work in the inner city, the 1919 synod created a mission district of St James and St John, with Hindley as executive head, holding the title of missioner. Work in the area would be funded through property belonging to both St James' old cathedral, and St John's La Trobe Street. Given the irregularity in his appointment, and that Hindley was his immediate superior, Barclay was now in a perilous position. He destroyed any slim chance of survival by further tactless statements and threats. St John's church was sold by the mission board for thirty-five thousand pounds, and closed after a highly emotional final service. Though such an inner-city mission area had first been visualised several years before Barclay even came to St John's, the actual process had come to be as much, if not more, a matter of closing a church because of its Anglo-Catholic profile, in order to end the career of its priest.[41] If the result was the closure of St John's, it did not lead to Barclay's departure from the diocese. Instead, it left a long legacy of bitterness and suspicion; if evangelicals spoke of 'the enemy' as 'Romanizers', the closure of St John's encouraged distrustful Anglo-Catholics to dismiss others as 'Prots', and instead of contributing to diocesan life, to shelter behind a defensive barrier of exclusiveness. Hughes invited Barclay to accept a position as an assistant priest at St Peter's; Barclay accepted, bringing with him that part of the St John's congregation who identified him as the aggrieved party in a discriminatory act. Within two years they had raised enough money to commence a new church, St Mary's Mission in Fitzroy Street, a few minute's walk from St Peter's. Reflecting the style of the most advanced contemporary Anglo-Catholic churches, its fittings were mainly in the continental baroque revival style; prominent statues and monstrance-style reliquaries were exposed on a chapel altar. Devotions to the Blessed Sacrament in the form of a holy hour on Saturday evenings, and processions through Fitzroy streets featuring a flower-decked Marian statue not only affirmed an Anglo-Catholic profile in the most aggressive way, but functioned as a repudiation of most of Melbourne's Anglicanism – not only of the Anglicanism of the conservative evangelical pressure groups, but of much that was moderate. Distrust had bred distrust.[42]

Hindley's restricting hand extended beyond St. John's La Trobe Street and its priest, though this was the cause celebre of the period. At Hastings, then a rural parish, an exercise in pastoral care by a priest of a very different character from Barclay's was prematurely ended. In the first quarter of 1918, the Revd F. E. Watts formed what was the state's first and only attempt at a bush brotherhood, the Brotherhood of St Paul, modelled broadly on the bush brotherhoods that had been founded in the previous two decades in New South Wales and Queensland.[43] But by 1921, Hindley had refused to continue to license the organisation, claiming that his power as administrator did not extend to assenting to the presentation of a bill in synod that would lead to an amendment in the Trustees and Vestries Act so that the Brotherhood could be given legal status. Its founder soon moved interstate.[44]

To what extent did more Catholic Anglicans use the same tactics, and contribute to creating the divisiveness for which they blamed their critics? While only an assistant priest at St Peter's in 1897, E. S. Hughes had created a fortnightly paper, the Mitre, which reported Anglo-Catholics sympathetically and presented Anglican news from a high church perspective; it amalgamated with other interstate organs, to become the Church Commonwealth, which in turn became the Church Standard. In England, the Church Union had become a highly effective pressure group on behalf of Anglo-Catholics and high churchmen, having both numbers and influence; the first local branch of the Church Union in Australia took place at St George's Goodwood in Adelaide in 1920, when its parish priest, Father Percy Wise, was involved in litigation with his archbishop, Nutter Thomas.The same year, a branch commenced in Melbourne, centred around Cyril Barclay at St Mary's Mission. These two branches represented the general weakness of the organisation in Australia: by comparison with its English counterpart, it lacked numbers and had no scope for wide influence because of its narrow base in a handful of parishes. But the answer to the question of whether election tickets were created by high churchmen in this period appears clear enough. Alexander Leeper claimed to have attended 'high' caucuses organised by Herbert Turner and the Rt Revd Reginald Stephen,[45] at a time when Anglo-Catholics claimed that the creation of voting tickets contradicted their principles. Leeper's statement is consistent with the presence of politically aware high churchmen in Melbourne, but stops short of claiming the existence of an Anglo-Catholic voting ticket. Not only is there an absence of evidence of an Anglo-Catholic voting ticket for synod in the inter-war years; the Church Union had what one significantly active former member has described as a 'mind' concerning voting tickets that extended into the 1970s, namely that it would not be involved in their creation; and the leading Anglo-Catholic priest in Melbourne from the time of his appointment to St Peter's in 1926, F. E. Maynard, was firmly opposed to any suggestion of their use.[46] The emergence of a 'liberal Catholic' voting ticket by the early 1970s, a ticket which has continued to the present, represented not only a new development, but involved a different group of individuals, whose links with the Australian Church Union, if any, were minimal. To them, the refusal to acquiesce in such a modus operandi on the part of an earlier generation of high churchmen whose theology was more conservative was an indication of naievete. All of this is consistent with the statement of at least one senior retired priest, strongly influenced by Maynard, who described the high churchmen of his formative years in Melbourne as political babes-in-arms.[47]

It seems likely that the process of electing Clarke's successor was a lengthy one partly due to the need to find a candidate who would both maintain the trust of the low church and evangelical majority in the diocese, while at the same having the ability to mediate and arbitrate in a way that would satisfy different parties, and bring healing to what had grown into pronounced rifts. Soon after his arrival, Lees denounced the Central Church League for creating a ticket for elections to the Diocesan Council, and quickly earnt the respect of Anglo-Catholics: 'I really do think that the AB does try to be fair though his natural bias is in the opposite direction'.[48] Significantly, one of the leading figures in this conservative evangelical renaissance and at the same time a member of the selection committee, Alexander Leeper, initially felt that it was important that a pronouncedly evangelical figure should be elected – in Poynter's view, as a counter to the influence of Archbishop Mannix. However, his response to the irenic Lees was to identify him as the most appropriate choice because of his determination to heal the wounds. He compared Melbourne suffering its recent churchmanship divisions with troubled Ireland, and wished the peace that Lees had created could come to his home country.[49]

There had been a strong possibility at this point that Melbourne could have ended up with a conservative evangelical ascendancy, similar to that in Sydney. At this same time, strong infighting was going on in the Sydney diocese between conservative evangelicals and their opponents. Wherein lay the difference? It was hardly in the strength or organisation of pressure groups. While the Church Association did not persuade Goe to reject Hughes' nomination to St Peter's, both he and Clarke imposed conditions on Hughes that reflected the requests of the Church Association and the petitioners of 1906. The 1918 synod voting ticket again showed how effective an organised pressure group could be. Pressure groups succeeded up to that point: but the key difference between Melbourne and Sydney remained in their failure to capture the bishopric selection committee; as a consequence, the most conservative kind of evangelical would not be elected to Melbourne, and the diocese never had an equivalent of Wright or Mowll. Though Lees, then Head and Booth certainly felt at home with the low church majority in the diocese, they still co-operated with and defended a degree of freedom for those of other shades in the Anglican spectrum. In this respect, Head's promotion of a celebration of the centenary of Keble's Assize sermon in 1933, commonly regarded as the catalyst for the Oxford Movement, was typical, and at the same time, the kind of initiative that his Sydney counterpart would never have countenanced; and Booth's willingness to take part in cope and mitre in Anglo-Catholic ceremonies at St Peter's, while at the same time hoping that no photographer would be present, lest the more conservative evangelical brethren be given offence, is equally typical. This in turn highlights the importance of the moderating line (sometimes described by critics as 'mediocrity') maintained by Melbourne's bishops in the first half of the century. T. B. McCall, presumably reiterating what he had heard from one of those directly affected by the second evangelical renaissance, the Rt Revd John Stephen Hart, regarded Lees as the creator of a tolerance in Melbourne on which head and Booth built.[50] Rather than Melbourne's liberal pattern being fixed in concrete in 1886, the year of Moorhouse's departure, the keys to the evolution of Melbourne's later liberalism must instead be sought at a time following the second evangelical resurgence, that is, in and after the 1920s.

Lastly, as a postscript, it is necessary to observe that if the kind of venom generated in churchmanship conflicts at the end of Clarke's episcopate generally abated, the ensuing more tolerant atmosphere does not mean that a degree of intensity over churchmanship issues is entirely absent. In the 1960s and 1970s, years when Anglican parish churches in Melbourne and the many religious and social organisations groups recorded the highest levels of membership, it appeared to Geoffrey Taylor, vicar of St Peter's Eastern Hill that 'Anglican Catholics... have never exercised such widespread influence as they do now in the whole of the Australian Church'. This over-optimistic estimate was partly based on the fact that liturgical and devotional practices characteristic of the Oxford Movement and once regarded as the distinctive hallmarks of Catholic churchmanship could be found in many different quarters. But if the Catholic stream had won some battles, it had also in part lost a war. Its identity was less clear: in many cases, members had persevered in turning to Tridentine liturgical and devotional ways: but where were they when Roman Catholic liturgical reform abandoned these very features? Though Catholic theology was being strengthened by a renewal of biblical scholarship, in which Anglicans could take part and rejoice, the Catholic stream in Anglicanism experienced new challenges from within, particularly a growing polarisation between those who rejected the ordination of women, and those who regarded its acceptance as compatible with a liberal Catholic position. As already noted, this latter group created a voting ticket for synod, a process that has continued.

Though many in this same stream were influenced by the renewal movement that expressed itself for Roman Catholics in the Second Vatican Council, forces for renewal that affected many more Anglicans appeared in the 70s and 80s: the fast-growing pentecostal movement gave birth to a charismatic stream within Anglicanism. At the same time this, and other influences, led to the disappearance of many of the formalities in which evangelical worship had been encased. David Hilliard notes at the same time, an apparent renewal of conservatism and anti-intellectual approaches. In the eyes of critics, the Catholic stream now appeared to be a divided, weakened and shrinking group. In this context, the election of David Penman, an evangelical, but a liberal one, could appear most representative of forces that were currently those of renewal. The election of his successor, who might well be categorised as a liberal Catholic, was regarded from some quarters with intense dissatisfaction, as Paul Nicholls points out: specifically, from those who considered that the renewal of the evangelical stream and the apparent stalemate in the Catholic one made one kind of candidate alone a truly representative figure for the diocese, and rendered others out of the question. What might be described as the first significant round in the process that ended in Rayner's election indicated the renewed strength of Melbourne's evangelicals. The name of John Reid, assistant bishop in Sydney, emerged at the top of the list of potential candidates; a concerted effort led from the liberal Catholic wing finally saw his name withdrawn, a move that disappointed some evangelicals, and angered others. However, the response of evangelical Anglicans in Melbourne was nevertheless a more complex one. There were evangelicals who felt disappointment at the failure of Reid to be elected, but who voted for Rayner in the next round, convinced that he would affirm basic Trinitarian and credal orthodoxy, and reject the less orthodox statements that might come from the most advanced kind of liberal.[51] Some critics of the current evangelical renaissance would identify a growing influence from Moore College on Ridley College, an interpretation that has some validity, even if it can also be voiced in a way that raises Sydney-Melbourne tensions as a kind of tribal war-cry. The evangelical renaissance has certainly been reinforced by a concern over a number of parishes, traditionally regarded as evangelical centres, that embraced a more liberal and apparently Catholic identity in the post-World War II boom.[52] At the same time, conservative evangelicals have also recognised that the major dividing issue may be the difference between conservative and liberal theologies, rather than the issues stressed in earlier churchmanship debates. It is true that the earlier issues are not all dead: the New Cranmer Society wrote to Archbishop Rayner, questioning the appropriateness of the term 'requiem eucharist' to describe the diocesan liturgy following the death of Archbishop Woods. Just over a decade before, prayer and the departed, and the terminology used in this area of doctrine and devotion, had been a strongly debated issue in the discussions prior to the appearance in England of the Alternative Service Book, the Church of England's response to the contemporary liturgical movement. But concern over such terminology and its possible meaning has not prevented the New Cranmer Society from organising several seminars in which speakers, evangelical and Catholic, but none of an overtly liberal cast, have addressed the audience.

The election of a new archbishop to succeed Keith Rayner offers two real possibilities: a candidate whose election takes place as an expression of the ascendancy of a renewed evangelicalism, or the election of a candidate who is understood to be, regardless of the stream from which he comes, a conciliator and arbitrator in maintaining diversity within agreed limits. This in turn may well which will determine whether the diocese maintains something of the liberalism already referred to, or has the potential to disintegrate into a battleground between more recently created factions.

Notes & References

  1. David Hilliard, 'Intellectual Life in the Diocese of Melbourne', in Melbourne Anglicans, the Diocese of Melbourne 1847-1997, ed. Brian Porter, Mitre Books, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 27-48, and James Minchin, 'Yesterday and Today - What of Tomorrow?', in Melbourne Anglicans, pp. 197-216.
  2. David Hilliard, Godliness and Good Order: A History of the Anglican Church in South Australia, Adelaide, 1986; Stephen Judd and Ken Cable, Sydney Anglicans: A History of the Diocese, Anglican Information Office, Sydney, 1987; Geoffrey Stephens, The Anglican Church in Tasmania: A Diocesan History to mark the Sesquicentenary, 1992, Diocesan Trustees, Hobart, 1991.
  3. Jill Roe, 'A Tale of Religion in Two Cities', Meanjin, vol. 40, no. 1, p. 55; the article also appears in The Sydney-Melbourne Book, ed. Jim Davidson, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1986, pp. 208-217.
  4. Colin Holden, 'Sharing a Place in the Sun: the Position of Anglo-Catholics in Australia's Metropolitan Dioceses at the Beginning of the 20th Century', in Anglo-Catholicism in Melbourne: Papers to mark the 150th Anniversary of St Peter's Eastern Hill, 1846-1996, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 1-9, 16.
  5. James Grant, 'The Diocese of Melbourne (and Victoria)', in Colonial Tractarians, ed. Brian Porter, JBCE, 1989, pp. 71-2; Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity in Australia: Spirit, Word and World, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1996, p. 78.
  6. See the entry on Neil by Paul de Serville in The Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 10, ed. B. Nairn and G. Serle, Melbourne, 1986, pp. 671-2.
  7. Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity, pp. 98-9, 107. On the strong involvement of businessmen in Melbourne's evangelical see also Stuart Piggin, 'Not a Little Holy Club', Lay and Clerical Leadership in Australian Anglican Evangelicalism 1788-1988, in The Ministry, Clerical and Lay, ed. W. J. Sheils and D. Wood, Studies in Church History, no. 26, Blackwell, 1989, pp. 367-84; and Darrell Paproth, 'Revivalism in Melbourne from Federation to World War I: the Torrey-Alexander-Chapman Campaigns', in Reviving Australia: Essays on the History and Experience of Revival and Revivalism in Australian Christianity, ed. Mark Hutchinson and Stuart Piggin, Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, Sydney, 1994, pp. 143-69.
  8. Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity, p. 98.
  9. A detailed study of Nash, which also provides further evidence of the significant role played by members of the business community in Melbourne's evangelical culture, is Darrell Paproth, Failure is not Final: A Life of C. H. Nash, Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, Sydney, 1997, based on his 'C. H. Nash and His Influence', PhD thesis, School of Humanities, Deakin University, 1993.
  10. Victorian Churchman, 22 April 1898, p. 64.
  11. Age, 10 September 1900, p. 4. On Kensit as a model for Melbourne laity, see Colin Holden, 'Awful Happenings on the Hill': E. S. Hughes and Melbourne Anglo-Catholicism before the War, St Peter's, Melbourne, 1992, pp. 68-71.
  12. See A. de Q. Robin, Charles Perry, Bishop of Melbourne: The Challenges of a Colonial Episcopate, 1847-76, University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 1967, pp. 69-71, 75-6, 88-90, 93, 180-1.
  13. See David Hilliard, 'Intellectual Life in the Diocese of Melbourne', in Melbourne Anglicans, pp. 36, 43.
  14. S. Piggin, Evangelical Christianity, p. 204.
  15. E. S. Hughes to Field Flowers Goe, 6 October 1900, quoted in Colin Holden, From Tories at Prayer to Socialists at Mass, St Peter's Eastern Hill, 1846-1990, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1996, p. 78.
  16. Telephone interview with the Revd James Murray, Melbourne, May 1999.
  17. Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity in Australia, p. 131.
  18. F. E. Maynard and Kurt Merz with Ralph Gibson, A Fair Hearing for Socialism, Fraser and Morphett, Melbourne, 1944.
  19. David Hilliard, 'Intellectual Life', in Melbourne Anglicans, p. 39.
  20. Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity, p. 190.
  21. On Penman and his election, see the somewhat restrained account in James Grant, 'An Overview of the History of the Diocese of Melbourne', in Melbourne Anglicans, p. 24; a more incisive description of Penman is given in Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity, pp. 193-4; the slowness of the election process and the politics involved led to front-page articles in the Age in March, April and May 1984.
  22. On the ordination of women and the Melbourne diocese, see Muriel Porter, 'Two Steps Forward, One Step Back, an Ambiguous History', in Melbourne Anglicans, p. 152; more generally, Muriel Porter, Women in the Church: The Great Ordination Debate in Australia, Melbourne, 1989, and 'The End of the Great Debate - the 1992 General Synod Decision on Women Priests', in Long Patient Struggle: Studies in the Role of Women in Australian Christianity, ed. Mark Hutchinson and Edmund Campion, 1994, pp. 161-85; and Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity in Australia, ch. 9.
  23. Ruth Teale, 'Party or Principle? The Election to the Anglican See of Sydney in 1889-90', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 55, 1969, pp. 141-68. Another work which explores the liberal element in Sydney's Anglican history is William J (Bill) Lawton, The Better Time to Be: Utopian Attitudes to Society among Sydney Anglicans, 1885 to 1914, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1990.
  24. Marcus Loane, Hewn from the Rock, Anglican Information office, Sydney, 1976.
  25. Stuart Soley, 'The Highest of the High in Marvellous Melbourne': All Saints St Kilda as Melbourne's Original High Church, All Saints St Kilda, 1997, pp. 69-75.
  26. For more details, see Colin Holden, 'Awful Happenings on the Hill', pp. 35-41.
  27. Colin Holden, ibid., pp. 46-7.
  28. See Victorian Churchman, 28 September 1900, p. 20; Melbourne Punch, 16 August 1900, p. 170 and 13 September 1900 p. 289; Age, 10 September 1900, p. 4.
  29. See further Colin Holden, 'Awful Happenings on the Hill', pp. 57-8, 77-82, and From Tories at Prayer to Socialists at Mass, pp. 76-94.
  30. Nigel Yates, Buildings, Faith and Worship: The Liturgical Arrangement of Anglican Churches 1600-1900, Oxford, 1991, p. 144.
  31. See the excellent portrait of him in John Poynter, Doubts and Certainties: A Life of Alexander Leeper, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 305-
  32. I prefer the restrained assessment of this case given in Poynter, Doubts and Certainties, pp. 311-313, to that of Darrell Paproth in Failure is not Final.
  33. John Poynter, Doubts and Certainties, p. 311, 349.
  34. T. B. McCall, The Life and Letters of John Stephen Hart, Sydney, 1963, p. 53.
  35. See Colin Holden, From Tories at Prayer to Socialists at Mass, pp. 120-22.
  36. T. B. McCall, The Life and Letters of John Stephen Hart, p. 50.
  37. John Poynter, Doubts and Certainties, pp. 404-8, tells the story of the voting ticket from Leeper's point of view;
  38. Quoted in T. B. McCall, The Life and Letters of John Stephen Hart, p. 51.
  39. Ibid., pp. 54-5, 60.
  40. W. G. Hindley to H. Kettlewell, 1 September 1920, diocesan archives, St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne.
  41. I have documented the St John's La Trobe Street closure in detail in From Tories at Prayer to Socialists at Mass, pp. 121-6.
  42. An atmospheric description of the interior as it was in the 1930s appears in James Murray, The Paradise Tree: An Eccentric Childhood Remembered, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1988, p. 223.
  43. Church of England Messenger, 19 April 1918, p. 165.
  44. See R. A. F. Webb, Brothers in the Sun, A History of the Bush Brotherhood Movement in the Outback of Australia, Adelaide, 1978, pp. 110-16. Church Standard, 20 January 1922, p. 3, reported that Watts was working to found a Brotherhood based at Port Pirie in South Autralia.
  45. John Poynter, Doubts and Certainties, p. 408.
  46. Telephone interview, the Revd G. J. Taylor, August 1999.
  47. Telephone interview, the Revd Peter Bennie, Melbourne, May 1999.
  48. H. R. Potter to F. E. Maynard, archives, St Peter's, Eastern Hill, and T. B. McCall, Life and Letters of John Stephen Hart, p. 62.
  49. Quoted in John Poynter, Doubts and Certainties, p. 413.
  50. T. B. McCall, Life and Letters of John Stephen Hart, p. 62.
  51. Interview with the Revd Peter Adam, July 1999.
  52. Stuart Piggin, Evangelical Christianity, p.151, quotes the Revd Peter Adam as claiming that from 1950 onwards, fifty parishes made this kind of shift.

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