Induction of the Revd Dr John Davis as Ninth Vicar of St Peter's Eastern Hill
Bishop Andrew Curnow, Bishop of the Northern Region, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Australia.
Well isn't it great to be here at St
Peter's this afternoon. After a long wait for a new Vicar we are all
gathered here to celebrate the induction of Fr John Davis as the 9th
Vicar of St Peter's Eastern Hill.
The process of calling John to this
parish I can say now was a long and challenging one, but I would like
to publicly acknowledge the commitment and dedication that Peter
Bryce, Robin Briggs, John Liversidge - from the parish; Fr Ken
Hewlett, Clerical Consultant; Veronica Clarke, Lay Consultant, and
Archdeacon Peter Swane brought to the task.
In the diocese of Melbourne no other
parish has created as much interest and speculation than I can recall
in a long time, but at all times the Incumbency Committee kept its
focus clearly on the outcome - to find the best person for this
I thank them for their service. I
would also like to thank the Locum Fr Albert McPherson for his
ministry and service over the past nine months, the assistant clergy
Fr Colin and Fr Philip, churchwardens, vestry, and all others
involved in keeping the parish alive and well.
The role of the bishop in the process
is somewhat akin to that of a matchmaker. It is my task to help the
parish identify what sort of priest they want, and then to help
priests approached to see whether this really is the place that they
are called to be the priest of.
My role of matchmaker (I don't want to
push the role too far) comes to a culmination in this service where
we liturgically introduce the congregation and new priest to each
other and pray for God's blessing upon them as this new relationship
in ministry is set on its way.
So let me say a little about priest
and parish and finish with a reflection on our readings. As I say, a
little, because I believe it is important for priest and people to
get to know each other. John Davis was a curate at St Peter's and
left 15 years ago. Since then he has had a parish in the suburban
south-eastern Melbourne, served as Stewart Lecturer in the Trinity
College Theological School as well as Chaplain to the Canterbury
Fellowship. For the past nine years John has been Rector of Albury
and Archdeacon of Albury. He is widely known in the Australian Church
as a distinguished historian, and his book on the Anglican Church of
Australia and its Constitution is a landmark publication.
the best people to tell you about John
Davis are the people here from St Matthew's in Albury. They have
experienced his leadership, his ministry, teaching and pastoral care.
They have seen first hand how out of the ashes of the disastrous fire
that afflicted the church there has arisen a new and magnificent St
Matthew's. Fr John Davis I believe comes at the right time in his
ministry for leadership of this parish.
So, what do I say about St Peter's? In
many ways the title of Fr Colin Holden's history says it all!
From Tories at Prayer to Socialists at High Mass
St Peter's is an amazing church, in a
wonderful location and with 152 years of ministry and tradition behind it.
As Fr Colin writes:
St Peter's has always been an Anglican Church with a difference - promoting a highly traditional liturgy while, at times encouraging its congregation to a serious study of socialism and other political ideologies
At the same time it is important not
to typecast any church too much into concrete and the wonderful
quality about St Peter's is that it has a wonderful sense of
tradition, but it welcomes all people. It is an inclusive church,
with a rich and diverse congregation. It has been a centre for the
Anglo-Catholic faith not only in this diocese but for the whole
Australian church, may it long continue!
From our readings today there are many
learnings for us all on this occasion - but to John and members of St
Peter's I give you three:
- The old testament reading - The
Prophet is sent to the poor - God looks for a just world. It's a
good reading and to priest and people of St Peter's is saying loud
and clearly make social justice part of your ministry. Your
worship must be centred upon God, but let it lead your people in
this place to fight injustice.
- The second reading from II Corinthians:
It is aimed in a much more personal way at those who have
responsibility for ministry. It recognises on the one hand our
vulnerability, and on the other that God can work through us. Paul
in a very realistic down to earth manner is telling us we can feel
forsaken, and even driven to despair, but we will not be
destroyed, just as Jesus was not finally overcome.
It's a very inspirational message for both priest and people and
attested to over the centuries by many saints and martyrs of the
church, such as St Francis whose feast day we mark today. He knew
full well what Paul was writing about as it is reflected in the
words of his famous prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
and where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St Francis of Assisi, 1181 - 1226
- And then we come to the Gospel:
From John 15: Famous words on the nature of service and the
relationship that should be between priest and people:
"I do not call you servants any
longer... but I call you friends"
Let me quote an example of this
from our own time: Kenneth Leech, writing in 'The Eye of the
It was the very ordinary life of
this obscure London street which brought home to me the
common-ness of grace, and the ordinariness of spirituality. It
think that I went there believing that I was bringing love,
bringing intellect, bringing care, possibly bringing Christ, to
the deprived Cable Street community. I came to see that it was
I who was deprived, that it was I who was in need of their love
and care, that Christ was to be found there and did not need to
be brought in from outside, and that until that fundamental
truth of God's presence and activity in the midst of the
oppressed and downtrodden is recognised, all pastoral ministry
and all religious life will be unreal.
I hope John, that you will have a
similar experience to Kenneth Leech. As you tread this precinct, and
the surrounding streets and get to know the people, that you will
know this is where truly Christ is to be found. That you will feel in
the most profound and deepest sense that this is where God wants you
May God bless St Peter's and all who gather here and John, may God richly bless your ministry in this church!
Views is a
St Peter's Eastern Hill, Melbourne Australia.