Farewell Speeches

I have been asked by a number of people to share a couple of farewell speeches.

One was given by Anne Brown at Synod this year. This speech radiates God’s love so beautifully and powerfully thorough the words of His people.  Here it is: Thankyou_BpJohn.

Thankyou_John_cover photo

The other speech was given by Kathryn Anderson at our last Diocesan Council meeting. I was deeply moved by such heartfelt words:  Farewell speech DC

A Thank You Letter 23 Sept 2015


23 September 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thank you for your interest and prayerful support of our life and ministry in Tasmania over these past 15 years.

It has been a wonderful privilege to participate in God’s work in the islands of Tasmania.

With the Tasmanian Anglican Family, we have shared in joyful celebrations as well as worked through heartrending situations. And these have deepened our trust in God and our respect and affection for one another.

In all of this, we have co-laboured in the grace of God in Christ to build a healthy church … transforming life. So many have given generously of their time and talents to the mission of God in Tasmania. We are blessed to be a part of you.

We are thrilled that The Revd Meredith Campbell with her sister Mrs Alex Chittick are taking over the Anglican Church Donkey Ministry in Tasmania, and that Arthur and Jeanne Wherrett have offered to assist as required. Gayelene raised about $12,500 for mission with her British Giant Rabbit business and we praise God for these years of rural life. Our chooks found a family home, the ferrets are with us as are our two dogs. So we are now settling into life in Melbourne. In October I commence a half-time role as Bishop assisting the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia and we are connecting with our family and former parish of GWAC (St Barnabas Glen Waverley).

We have been greatly blessed to receive cards, letters and creative expressions of thanks. We have them in a beautiful folder prepared by the ever thoughtful and efficient EA Carolyn McGinn. Thank you one and all, and please accept our apology for not being able to reply to each of you personally.

The Farewell Services in Ulverstone, Launceston and St David’s Cathedral (7,9,12 September), will remain in our hearts and minds always. Special thanks go to our gracious brothers and sisters who gave generous speeches of appreciation and to all who attended, including Elvis! – Life is rarely dull in Tasmania! What joyful celebrations of God’s grace and goodness among us, and through us!

Thank you to all those who participated in the wonderfully generous Farewell Gift to us of $12,341.30 towards SparkLit’s mission* project to support the ministry of the Open theological Seminary in Lahore Pakistan. This is totally beyond anything we could ever have hoped or imagined. Your Farewell Gift has given us such joy as we know of the great encouragement this will be to our Pakistani brothers and sisters. Thank you!

Please be assured of Gayelene and my continuing prayers for the Anglican Family of Tasmania and for its mission to Tasmania and the world.

As Christ’s pilgrim people we are ever on the move as the Holy Spirit guides us into, and through, the seasons of life. We have every confidence because we trust in the God of Life. We join in the words of the Early Church’s great ‘Hymn of Christ’,

Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

We thank God and we thank you for your part in these 15 years of being at mission with our wonderful Tasmanian Anglican Family.

In deep gratitude, Gayelene and I pray this blessing upon the people of these beautiful islands:

God of all Life,
Bless in abundance the lives of the people of Tasmania.
Enrich our society with relationships that deepen our common life.
Grant seasonal weather to our State,
And enable us, by your grace, to create life-enriching work for our unemployed.
God of all Life, bless Tasmania.

God of all Light,
Bless this State with leadership that is honest and caring.
Send the light of your wisdom on our work and our play.
Shine the light of your justice on all our dealings,
So that these islands may reflect your light in all the world.
God of all Light, bless Tasmania.

God of all Love,
Bless Tasmania with your love, in all we say and do.
Help us to love one another, as neighbours and friends.
Care for families whose young have left these shores.
And by your good Spirit, ignite our love for Christ.
God of all Love, bless Tasmania

In the Name of God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

John and Gayelene :-)  :-) 

A Blessing for Tasmania’ written by Bishop John Harrower on the occasion of his Ordination as 11th Bishop of Tasmania St David’s Cathedral Hobart 25 July 2000
*Sparklit’s mission, http://sparklit.org/2015/06/02/for-such-a-time-as-this/
See also:

Farewell Service at St David’s Cathedral

+John_fingerless gloves 12092015At our Farewell Service on 12 September 2015 at St David’s Cathedral, I based my sermon on A Blessing for Tasmania’ which I wrote for my Ordination Service on 25 July 2000.
The purple scarf, beanie and 3 pairs of gloves do form part of the sermon! – Farewell Sermon

Farewell Speeches at St David’s Cathedral
Photo of Gayelene and I looking towards speakers – we are holding hands!!

Jeanne Wherrett gives thanks to God for Gayelene Harrower’s ministry.
Gayelene responds
Audrey Mills and Paul Cavanough giving thanks to God for Bishop John’s ministry.
Bishop John responds.
Bishop Chris Jones presents a gift and prays for John and Gayelene Harrower.


laying up of staff 12092015The Bishop’s Pastoral Staff symbolizes the bishop’s care/ shepherding of the Christian Family. Here, under the watchful eye of Archdeacon Helen Phillips, I am laying down the staff on the Lord’s Table as a symbol of the conclusion of my ‘shepherding’ of the Anglican Family in Tasmania. The pastoral staff will be presented to the 12th Bishop of Tasmania at their Installation Service. In the background is the banner which captures from ‘A Blessing for Tasmania’, the ideas of God of Life, Light and Love.


Elvis 12092015And to my delight Elvis made a surprise appearance at the conclusion of the Service!!! :-) Elvis had us all join in singing ‘Amazing Grace’! Fantastic finale to a fantastic celebration of God’s grace to us in Christ Jesus. PTL!
Note: I listened to Elvis singing Gospel songs as I drove around Tasmania. My often times travel companion, Paul Cavanough, took the opportunity in conjunction with Bruce Geeves, to gift us this amazing send-off. Thank you to all who arranged for this surprise. I have it on good authority that the Governor of Tasmania, Professor The Honourable Kate Warner, also enjoyed this surprise.


God of all Life,
Bless in abundance the lives of the people of Tasmania.
Enrich our society with relationships that deepen our common life.
Grant seasonal weather to our State,
And enable us, by your grace, to create life-enriching work for our unemployed.
God of all Life, bless Tasmania.

God of all Light,
Bless this State with leadership that is honest and caring.
Send the light of your wisdom on our work and our play.
Shine the light of your justice on all our dealings,
So that these islands may reflect your light in all the world.
God of all Light, bless Tasmania.

God of all Love,
Bless Tasmania with your love, in all we say and do.
Help us to love one another, as neighbours and friends.
Care for families whose young have left these shores.
And by your good Spirit, ignite our love for Christ.
God of all Love, bless Tasmania

In the Name of God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

‘A Blessing for Tasmania’ written by Bishop John Harrower
Ordination as 11th Bishop of Tasmania
St David’s Cathedral Hobart 25 July 2000

Centenary: Mission to Seafarers Hobart

Governor and Jack Tomes_Mission to SeafarersIt is always good to celebrate 100 years! And we all love a party!

The Mission to Seafarers Hobart decided to party for their weekend of Centenary celebrations over 28 – 30 August. There were three main functions:

The first was the celebration of Jack Tomes’ 78 years of volunteer service to the Mission. Yes, you read that correctly. Jack is not 78 years of age, he has given 78 years of his life to volunteering to assist Seafarers in  the challenges of their life at sea far removed from family for long periods. Jack was presented a certificate by the Governor on behalf of The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at Government House, Hobart.

We were then treated to a Centenary Volunteers’ Thank You dinner held in the Harbour View room of the Grand Chancellor Hotel. The view from this room was a Seafarer’s delight. The food was great too!

Thirdly, we celebrated with a Centenary Service at St George’s Church, Battery Point with a visit from the Governor and sermon from the Mission to Seafarers International Secretary General, The Reverend Andrew Wright. See if you can decipher the message on the cake.  I can’t offer you some cake as a prize for the correct answer as there isn’t any left – it was too good! 😀
If you are looking for a celebration cake, I can recommend Cakes by Grannie

mission to seafarers 100 years cake

See also Mission to Seafarers

Tasmanian Anglican articles – August 2015

I encourage you to read the latest edition of the Tasmanian Anglican Magazine.  The articles include:

A Prayer of Thanks

I was interviewed by the Dean of the Cathedral, The Very Reverend Richard Humphrey, on the day after I formally announced my resignation as Bishop of Tasmania (26th July 2015).  At the conclusion of the interview which occurred during the 10am Sunday Worship Service, The Dean prayed the following prayer which he adapted from the Service for the Ordination of Bishops, APBA:

A Prayer giving thanks to God for Bishop John’s 15 years of ministry as Bishop of Tasmania

Almighty God, by your Son Jesus Christ
you gave many excellent gifts to your apostles,
and commanded them to feed your flock.
We give thanks for your servant John, who was called to be our bishop.
We thank you that filled with your truth and clothed in holiness,
he has been a pastor of your Church
diligently preaching your word,
and rightly teaching your people
to the glory of your name, and the benefit of your Church.
We give thanks in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

You can listen to my interview with the Dean here

Tasmanian Anglican Article: The dawn will come

As I was praying recently a certain heaviness descended upon me, maybe because of continuing events: the persecuted Church around the world, the pain of women and children suffering domestic violence, my own country’s indifference to asylum seekers – it was all so sad.
I recalled the scene which concludes Allan Paton’s majestic novel, ‘Cry the Beloved Country’: the tragic figure of the stricken father awaiting the dawn which would herald the execution of his son.
The father’s heartbreaking lament over his son and country is yet fused with the comfort of the coming of another dawn, for he is the impoverished Anglican priest of a rural African village. The father’s lament led me to write the following, drawing my own lament into a shared yearning for the new dawn:

Cry the beloved country

The dawn will come
The Son of Man will come,
and we with Him
will bathe in a new dawn
the dawning of God’s rule on earth,
as it is in heaven.

Do you hear the cry: “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus”?

Do you hear the martyr’s
final, “Oh, my Lord Jesus”?

Do you wait in this faith?

Do you await the coming of the Son
in glorious splendour,
the dawning of a new heaven and a new earth?

Oh, we await, with yearning
while working
with deep assurance,
for the dawn does come,

the Sun does rise
the Son did rise
the Son is risen
the Son will come again!

God the Father, ever watching,
ever yearning for wayward children to come on home.

God the Son, ever interceding,
expectant to the dawn of His coming again.

God the Holy Spirit, ever working,
preparing the world for the new dawn of the Son’s coming reign.

God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
bless, guide and guard you,
this day, and every day. Amen.

Discomfort: Our current state. Comfort: New Dawn. The Comforter: The Holy Spirit who abides with us and indwells Christ’s people, comforting us, even in our discomfort.
(“Cry the Beloved Country: A story of comfort in desolation”. Allan Paton, (1944) Penquin Books, Ringwood Australia 1958, P236).

*See my earlier reflection on this same passage, Looking to our final emancipation

You can read my article here: Tasmanian Anglican

Hear our Cry: Address @ Service for Family Violence

Family is intimacy. Violence destroys.

That the two words: family and violence are joined in Australia today is violation.

Violation of love, trust, honour, dignity, compassion, vulnerability, togetherness, health – a violation of wholeness, integrity, of all that is family.

The idea that family violence and domestic abuse should happen is unthinkable.

That, in fact, it does happen is shattering.

Shattering of family.

  • Shattering of that hallowed trust: the family.
  • Shattering of intimacy, love, vulnerability and safety.
  • Shattering of body, minds and spirits.
  • Shattering of families, friendships and society.
  • Shattering of our stereotypes and stereotypical responses.

Australia, Tasmania, we are broken, our true humanity shattered: that is what violence in our families and abuse in our domestic life has brought upon us.

Where can we start? What can we do?

  • As we have done, we must grieve with victims.
  • We must break the silence about violence and coercive behaviours.
  • We must prioritize the safety and care of victims.
  • We must recognize and challenge abusive behaviours especially within our midst.
  • We must work effectively toward the healing of women, children and men.
  • We must recognize and confess our mistakes in our understanding and responding to victims of family violence and domestic abuse.
  • We must learn and receive training in pastoral care.
  • We must learn from others, and work in partnerships with them.
  • We must change our culture to value the innate dignity and value of every person: every woman and man, girl and boy – whoever they are and wherever they may be.
  • We must reflect the heart of Jesus.

But we Christians have made mistakes in responding to family violence and domestic abuse.

So let us be specific about how in the Church our theology can lack the wisdom of pastoral care, and how we have misapplied theology, adding to the harm suffered. The following examples will show that this problem of misapplying theology, is made worse if we try to deal with an issue as complex as domestic violence, without first taking the time to learn more about its common patterns and pitfalls.

Example 1: Hard work is required of offenders.
Sometimes the problem has been that we have been so convinced of the importance and liberating power of a particular doctrine, that we use our favourite packaging of that doctrine as the first step, or even worse, the only step or tool, to help deal with issues, even those issues as complex as domestic violence.

For example, some clergy have rushed to pronounce absolution (forgiveness) and reassurance to the perpetrator.

There is nothing wrong with the theology of absolution, but had we taken the time to become more aware of the high re-offence rate, and the layers of minimizations and projections of blame that family violence offenders use to blind themselves and resist change, we would have proceeded much more slowly and carefully.

In fact, if we want to talk about the grace of God to these offenders, it is best to avoid absolutions or passages like Psalm 103 verse 12, ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us’. Otherwise, just as alcoholics do, offenders will just misuse these precious words to give them even more fuel to avoid facing up to what they keep doing, and thereby avoid responsibility for the hard choices ahead.

Instead, when the time is right, we can talk about the utter grace and welcome God offers when we are prepared to learn to live continuously all day long in the light, fully seen and not kidding ourselves, as the First Letter of John chapter 1 puts it. If we offer to help an offender learn to live 24/7 ‘in the light’ where his failures, beliefs and self-talk are continuously opened up to God, we have more of a chance to work with him on his blindfolds, and his projections of blame, minimizations, etc.

However, do not raise the hopes of the offender’s partner, as offenders have strong self-defence mechanisms. It is much safer for a woman suffering violence or abuse if the offender moves out while working on these or other issues with specialist agencies.

Oh Lord, teach us to be better shepherds.

Example 2: Forgiveness does not equate to restoration of relationship.

It is true that God’s grace is available for all, and that God calls us to extend that forgiveness to others. Our fault is that in the case of family violence, we have too often applied these in a simplistic fashion that has not helped either victims or offenders. Some have applied the forgiveness issue in ways that resulted in women feeling obliged to stay in very violent situations. Let’s look again.

We know that ‘forgive one another’ is God’s command, and also his gift because it assists both the ‘wounded person’ and the ‘wounding person‘, to gain freedom from the past. In time it permits the wounded one to move forward even though they have been badly hurt – so yes, our goal is certainly to forgive the past. Forgiveness is about the past. But you can’t forgive the future!

I believe some of us have misapplied this when we conveyed that the second part of the question about what happens in the future, must always have only one answer – we have conveyed that forgiveness of the past in every case has to lead to restoration and reinstatement in the future. I don’t believe this is true.

When the problem is that someone has repeatedly abused their position of ‘power and authority’ to severely damage those they had ‘power over,’ being forgiven does not bring with it an automatic right to be reinstated back into that same position of ‘power and authority’.

This is especially so where those ‘without power’ would be at risk of severe and lasting damage. One can forgive the past, but still make a separate choice that protects the vulnerable into the future.

For example, some women once married to very dangerous men have come to a place where they can forgive the past, but they live under assumed names, because to do otherwise is to risk their future. Were we to insist that a woman and her children risk their lives and sanity to go back to a very violent man, I suspect we would be in the category for which Jesus condemned the Pharisees ‘you load people down with a burden they can hardly carry, and you do not lift a finger to help them.’ (Luke 11:46)

Now that we are even more aware of the long term damage to children who live with family violence or domestic abuse, we need to be even more careful in the way we apply forgiveness of the past that it does not in every case lead to restoration and reinstatement in the future.

Oh Lord, teach us to be better shepherds.

Example 3: Violence violates the marriage covenant.

We can rightly be committed to preserving marriage, but we have sometimes laid the blame for a destroyed marriage on the wrong person. It is terrorizing and repetitive violence that has broken the covenant of the marriage, not the need for refuge and safety.

Oh Lord, teach us to be better shepherds.

Please hear the following apology. It comes from my heart.

  • To those who have been harmed by violence and abusive behaviours, we say sorry for any ways we have made your journey even harder.
  • We are sorry for those times when church leaders were slow to listen or slow to believe or understand your story.
  • We are sorry for those times we did not recognize how cruel and controlling a range of abusive behaviours can be.
  • We are sorry if you were not told emphatically or often enough that the violence is never your fault, and that abuse is not love.
  • We are sorry when our attempts to help have left you and your children exposed to more risk.
  • We are sorry for those times when our theology has lacked the wisdom of wise pastoral practice.
  • We are sorry when we have made you feel weighed down with a sense of failure and feeling responsible to make things right.
  • We are sorry for those times we thought we knew best, but you really needed to make your own decisions in your own time.

The audio of the sermon Hear our Cry can be found here

A copy of the Hear our Cry order of service is available here: Domestic Violence Service July 2015

You might like to listen to the sermon Domestic Ephesians 5 (Domestic Violence) preached on Sunday 12th July by the Dean of the Cathedral, The Very Reverend Richard Humphrey.