Media Release:The Late Governor Peter Underwood

The news of the death of His Excellency the Honourable Peter Underwood AC, Governor of Tasmania last night is received with sadness by the Anglican community in Tasmania.

On behalf of the Anglican Church, Bishop John Harrower extends his sympathy to Mrs Underwood and their family upon hearing of this news.

“Governor Peter Underwood was a gracious and thoughtful leader committed to the wellbeing of Tasmania,” Bishop John Harrower said.

“The Governor and Mrs Underwood will be fondly remembered for their untiring travel throughout the state to meet Tasmanians in all their many and varied communities and activities.  It did not matter how big or small the group activity was, the Governor was there to encourage them.

Because of the Governor’s dedication to Tasmania he had built strong relationships and was able to challenge us with his thoughtful addresses. A key theme of his addresses was peacemaking: a concern for addressing the causes of conflict, in order that conflict would be resolved by peaceful means”.

“A great statesperson for Tasmania”.

“A good sense of humour which lightened formal occasions – and made people feel at ease and welcomed.”

“I will miss him, we will miss him”.

(Media Release of 8th July, 2014)

What is our Vision?

With God all things are possible

What joy as we live in the wonder, awe and joy of the Resurrected Christ!

What worship, what marvel!

Who could have ever imagined Resurrection Life?  A corpse cooking a BBQ for his mates returning from a night’s fishing! The vision of the Resurrection was beyond all imagining, or dreaming, or wishing and hoping; and yet in Christ, it was true. Christ is Risen. Alleluia!

Following the Resurrection, who of the disciples could have imagined the ascension of Christ? The ascension to Heaven of this Resurrected back-from-the dead One! Yet God had a further reality in store for the disciples. The reality of an event which was as yet unimagined. The Glory of the Ascended Christ: Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Lamb on the throne.

And as if this was not sufficient to sharpen our vision of new possibilities, do you recall what event follows the Ascension of Christ? Yes, Pentecost: the coming of the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit. Who could have imagined such wonder as 3,000 people were baptised in Jerusalem that first Pentecost?

What of our dreams?
What of our visions?

Let me share my vision. I envision Christian communities living and growing as they should: in Christ’s life, light and love. Christian communities are not perfect, they have their share of problems but they are living and growing as they should because they are focused and captivated by the right vision.

What is this right vision that brings life and growth to the Body of Christ?

Surely, it is the character and likeness and image of Jesus Christ, the Son of God in all His Glory! My vision is of Christian communities for whom this is the primary vision and focus.

In my mind, I envision and describe a healthy and transformational church but I do not limit God to the capacities of my mind.

110 years ago in Wales, God used a young coalminer’s burden for revival, a burden he had carried since childhood, to transform an entire region. Owen Robert’s compassionate love for people led to his calling Christians to listen to God, to be changed by His power and to live a public faith.

As more and more Welsh believers lived the call, God seized upon the submissive spirit of the church in Wales, and Robert’s burden and love for those outside of the faith inspired an evangelistic and missional fervour unlike any they had ever seen. It has been described in this way:

As God answered this burden, even the newspapers published the results. In two months, 70,000 were converted, 85,000 in five months, and more than 100,000 in six months. Judges were presented with white gloves signifying no cases to be tried. Alcoholism was halved. At times hundreds would stand to declare their surrender of Christ as Lord. Restitution was made; gamblers and others normally untouched by the ministry of the church came to Christ.*

With God all things are possible. May the Holy Spirit give us the vision and empower us to make this vision real. May the Holy Spirit change us by His power to submit to God and practise a public faith. May the Holy Spirit burden us with a love for those outside the faith. Inspired by an evangelistic and missional fervour, let us be the vision’s hands and feet.

In the name of Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Other articles, including this one, can be found in the Tasmanian Anglican Magazine here

St John’s Franklin closure

There have been a few enquiries in regards to the closure of St John’s Church, Franklin.  In response to an article published in the Huon News recently, I have issued a Media Release which can be viewed below.


I write in reply to the front page article on 18 June about the closing of St John’s Church Franklin.

Local Anglican Churches, and their buildings, can only be sustained if there is a vital local congregation. The Church at Franklin has been maintained for over 150 years by active members of the Anglican Church, who have put countless hours and dollars into this building and to providing Ministers and mission for the community.

Yes, the local Parish of the Huon is currently discussing the future of this Church building.  The reason for this is that for many years the number of church-going Anglicans has declined, to the point where regular services have not been held there in recent years. There simply have not been enough people supporting the life and health of this Church, in spite of the wonderful efforts of the current small group of faithful members.

The St John’s Church building has a number of workplace, health and safety issues that need to be addressed to comply with government legislation. There would need to be considerable funds spent in order to maintain it as a public Church building. The Church does not have these funds, either locally or centrally. We have around 350 buildings across Tasmania, and their maintenance depends on having a healthy vibrant local church to do that.

As a result, the Parish of the Huon have made the sad and difficult decision to recommend the deconsecration and closure of this church building.

It is not true that prospective purchasers have already been shown over the building.  If the Church decides to dispose of this building, there will be the opportunity for a community group to put in an expression of interest to purchase and take over the running of the building.  Or, an individual might find another use (as has previously occurred with the adjoining hall).

Nor is it true that the graveyard might be dug up by excavators.  Any graveyard in Tasmania is governed by strict State Government Legislation regarding its use.  Whether the owner of the graveyard was the Anglican Church or someone else, the graveyard would be maintained under the same government laws.

As I have said, we are sad that this season of Anglican ministry in St John’s Franklin is finishing.  We know that current and future church members will be able to create new and vibrant church ministries in this region, such as: St James Village, Huonville that provides affordable housing; a free pick up service of donations and supplying wood during winter to those in need; the connection with youth from the Huonville High School; and the provision of affordable meals for the disadvantaged.

All these services deliver in a practical way, hope and support for those currently in need and those that have been disadvantaged.

Our hope and prayer is for a healthy church transforming life in the Parish of the Huon.

John Harrower,
Anglican Bishop of Tasmania

Contact: The Rev’d Stephen Carnaby, Bishop’s Media Officer, 0417 343 710

Media Release: 2014 Refugee Launch

2014 Refugee week launch – Tasmania solution is alternative to offshore processing

Tasmania’s Anglican Bishop John Harrower, Alderman Damon Thomas, and the CEO of the Multicultural Council of Tasmania, Ms Anna Reynolds, launched 2014 Refugee Week today, by calling for Tasmania to be seriously considered by Canberra as an alternative to offshore processing.

Their call follows an event on Thursday, where Anglican Bishop Harrower and CEO of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, Ms Misha Coleman, were overwhelmed with interest from local, state and Federal MPs to the proposition that Tasmania could process asylum seekers in the community, instead of the billions of dollars being wasted on offshore detention facilities.

The Anglican Cathedral in Hobart was packed on Thursday evening with people who wanted to know more – including enlightened Tasmanian MPs.

The Anglican Bishop of Tasmania John Harrower, Patron of the Taskforce, said that “Tasmania can be the solution, and the bi-artisanship displayed tonight is reminiscent of the leadership displayed by Fraser and Whitlam when confronted with the prospect of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese asylum seekers. In contrast we have a tiny number of people feeling persecution – Tasmania can deal with this and wants to deal with this”

Bishop Harrower said: “The Taskforce estimates it’s costing Australian taxpayers $3,744 per day for each man, woman and child held in offshore detention centres.”

He said the billions spent on offshore detention could not be justified when the Federal Government is cutting funding on health and education to the states.

“The Tasmanian Government estimates it will be $2.1 billion worse off over the next decade as a direct result of the Federal Budget. When contrasted with the $4.2 billion Canberra is planning to spend on offshore detention over the next four years, Tasmanians are entitled to question the Federal Government’s priorities.

Damon Thomas said that speaking personally “whilst clearly there are issues to be resolved and courage needed to take the issue further, clearly such a step would lead to the employment of Tasmanians in the thousands of jobs that could be created by processing asylum seekers in Tasmania”

“I believe that the City of Hobart could play an important role in this plan – we are already a Refugee Welcome Zone, but I need to engage with the Council to get support for it to broaden its current activity.

Other cities have refugee welcome ceremonies and community passports to assist people living on very limited resources. I am confident the people of Hobart would embrace increasing our initiatives in this area.” He said.

Multicultural Council CEO, Anna Reynolds said, there were estimated to be 10.4 million refugees under the care of the United Nations globally, with war and conflicts being the main reasons people are driven to leave their homelands.

“Of this vast number, just 2,000 refugees came to Tasmania during the five years from 2008 to 2013, as part of the national humanitarian program. Tasmania’s numbers are a tiny fraction of the 76,000 refugees that settled in Australia – which is in itself a small number compared to the global refugee challenge.”

“In Tasmania we are a world away from the chaos of war. While we may not understand a journey driven by fear, we can celebrate our ability to be a haven for asylum seekers.”

“Tasmania’s economy would benefit from an injection of new residents. Refugees, like migrants generally, bring labour, skills and they increase the overall demand for goods and services. “

The attached diagram (please click here) shows some of the key differences between the islands of Tasmania, Nauru and Manus.

Contact: The Rev’d Stephen Carnaby, Bishop’s Media Officer, 0417 343 710,
Damon Thomas, 0419 355 115, Anna Reynolds, 0423 222 149
(Media Release of 15th June)

See also: Manus spend or Tassie spend?


Media Release: Manus spend or Tassie spend?

Billions spent on Manus & Nauru better spent in Tasmania

Anglican Bishop John Harrower and CEO of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, Ms Misha Coleman will bring attention to the billions of dollars wasted on the Abbott Government’s offshore detention facilities when they meet with state and federal politicians in Tasmania this week. Ms Coleman said:

“The Taskforce estimates it’s costing Australian taxpayers $3,744 per day for each man, woman and child held in offshore detention centres.”

She said the billions spent on offshore detention could not be justified when the Federal Government is cutting on funding on health and education to the states.

“The Tasmanian Government estimates it will be $2.1 billion worse off over the next decade as a direct result of the Federal Budget. When contrasted with the $4.2 billion Canberra is planning to spend on offshore detention over the next four years, Tasmanians are entitled to question the Federal Government’s priorities.

Ms Coleman said the Abbott Government’s own Commission of Audit acknowledged offshore detention was the fastest growing area of expenditure in the Federal Budget.

“We’re the only country in the world that wastes money in this way. While we’re sinking billions into two other islands – Nauru and Manus Island – we’re slashing the budget of our own island state, Tasmania”.

Ms Coleman said processing and accommodating asylum seekers in Tasmania would be significantly cheaper than the costs associated with Manus and Nauru.

“The money saved could be used to fund State health and education needs instead.”

Ms Coleman said the Taskforce was aware that people with fulltime jobs in Australia are working at the offshore centres during their holidays, because the wages on Manus and Nauru for expatriate detention staff is so high.

“We could be employing Tasmanians in Tasmania instead. The Taskforce has estimated that thousands of jobs could be created by processing asylum seekers in Tasmania – without the inhumane conditions that have led to suicide attempts and violence in the offshore centres.“

The Anglican Bishop of Tasmania John Harrower, Patron of the Taskforce, said;

“With a projected cut of $27million in state health spending over the next year as a result of the Federal Budget, Tasmania faces the loss of 59 hospital beds. The Churches are asking the Federal Government whether the blank cheque it’s written to deter asylum seekers can be justified?”.

“I believe we have a responsibility to demand the proper stewardship of taxpayers’ funds, especially at a time when Tasmanians are being further disadvantaged by the proposed cuts to our essential services. Spending money on the care of asylum seekers in Tasmania, instead of Nauru and Manus Island, would stimulate economic growth and provide jobs in Tasmania. And based on Tasmania’s record of caring for asylum seekers and refugees, we’d get a more ethical, humane and legal approach to the care of asylum seekers, as opposed to the cruelty that is being inflicted in the offshore camps”.

Bishop Harrower said Australia’s national spending priorities are

“a reflection of its values as a society”.

Bishop John Harrower will host the Premier, Lord Mayor of Hobart Damon Thomas, the Mayor of Glenorchy and other Senators, Members of Parliament and dignitaries, prior to a Forum to discuss alternatives to the current policy framework as part of the 2014 Refugee Week celebrations in Tasmania on Thursday 12 June, at St David’s Cathedral , 121 Macquarie Street, Hobart, from 5.30 to 6.30pm.

Press inquiries: Misha Coleman, Taskforce CEO, 0428 399 739 or The Rev’d Stephen Carnaby, Bishop’s Media Officer, 0417 343 710 (Media Release of 10th June 2014)

See also, At Easter: 1000 children in detention and Speaking asylum seekers with our children

Pentecost prayer: May the fire of the Spirit …


God of Comfort and Life,
you sent your Holy Spirit
in wind and fire at Pentecost,
empowering the disciples
to proclaim with boldness
your love in Christ,
giving birth to your church.

May the fire of the Spirit
purify our hearts and minds
to show forth the fruit of your Spirit.

May the fire of the Spirit
ignite our lives
with zeal for your kingdom.

May the fire of the Spirit
provoke in us a passion
to pray and proclaim your love in Christ.

May the fire of the Spirit
set our hearts on fire
with love and adoration for you, our God. Amen.

At Pentecost in Jerusalem the disciples were empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit to go and tell the world about Jesus Christ to bring reconciliation, hope, forgiveness, purpose and pleasure to men and women, and girls and boys.

The Holy Spirit opened the ‘closed doors’, yes of the room they had shut themselves up in (John 20:19-26), but even more so, the Holy Spirit opened the ‘closed doors’ of the disciples fear and sent them courageously into the world which God works to win back through His disciples.

What a privilege! What joy to be Christ’s Body, His hands and feet, His Church! May the fire of the Spirit send us out in prayerful and empowered mission. Amen.

My Pentecost Prayer, above, comes from this fire of the Holy Spirit: Thank you Father, through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Another Pentecost Prayer from A prayer from St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430),

See also, My Pentecost Prayer and Pastoral Letter to the Anglican Church in Tasmania:

Eucumenical Reconciliation Service

Reconciliation Service & Symbols

Reconciliation Service & Symbols

I had the privilege of taking part in a Eucumenical Reconciliation Service held at Hobart North Uniting Church on Sunday, organised by UAICC Tasmania (Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress).  Reconciliation week commenced on the 27th May (which is the Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum that began counting the Aboriginal people in the Australian census and which authorised the Commonwealth Government to make laws about Aboriginal people) and concludes on the 3rd June (the anniversary of the High Court decision in the Mabo case in 1992). “Respect” was the key word that came to me.

Also, I was struck by the significance of Fire to the Indigenous community, also awakened through John Glover’s captivating painting of Mount Wellington and Hobart Town from Kangaroo Point which was shown above the Symbols of Land, Fire and Water, with the Cross and open Bible. Glover depicts the Indigenous community gathering joyfully around the fire:

FIRE is important to our people; our people could not do without it.

Fire means the calling of people together the gathering in a circle around the fire for cooking and eating and for warmth at night; the gathering for ceremonies; the gathering for story telling; the place for being together.

Fire is at the heart of our Indigenous culture.

See, Celebration of Reconciliation  and  also a moving explanation of our call to reconciliation, The Water Ceremony.

Diocesan Vision & Bishop’s Mission Action Plan

In Tasmania we are blessed on occasions to observe an amazing phenomenon of nature, the Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights.  An Aurora can be described as a “radiant emission from the upper atmosphere.”  I was blessed one evening travelling home late from Launceston by this radiance falling like a curtain from the heavens.

The Aurora over the landscape of Tasmania draws from within me a deep longing that the Light of the World, our Lord Jesus Christ, will break into our lives and ministry in powerful and transforming ways.  We yearn for His radiance to be fully known, that His rule and Kingdom will be on earth as it is in heaven.

Our State, Tasmania, needs the Church, our Anglican Church, and every Christian man, woman, boy and girl to fulfil our biblical mandate to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom and to declare the purpose of God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. With God we commit to build a healthy church transforming life.

I believe we must continue to re-imagine and clarify our purpose. Why does the church exist? Why does your parish exist? Why do people need Christ? Why do people need the church? Why do people need this particular church denomination? Who are we? What has God called us to be and do? Who is our neighbour?  Why don’t they trust us?  How can we rebuild trust? It is only as we consider these questions that we will understand the life that God is calling us to bring to our relationships.

I have pondered these deep questions in the context of priority setting.  As agents of the God of Life: What are the challenges facing the Diocese as we bring life? What strategies do you feel may be effective in addressing the challenges? What issues demand my priority and how might we tackle these issues?

Take time to reflect on how your local ministry might work toward a planned response.
Consider the key strategies mentioned.
To be a church that is creative, innovative and flexible
How would you rate your ministry in each of these areas?
How might those ratings be improved?
To be risk literate
How do you manage risk in your ministry context?
To build relational church communities
How might you determine how well you are doing in this area?
To emphasise missionary discipleship
How is discipleship emphasised in your ministry context?
To unlock leadership
How are you developing leadership in your ministry context?
To unlock resources
What resources do you believe are under- utilised?
Following Jesus
What evidence do you see of this priority in your ministry context?

The 2014 Diocesan Vision and Bishop’s Action Plan: a healthy church transforming life can be found here  and the Synod Presidential Address which launched it is here.

See 2004 Bishop’s Vision for the Missionary Diocese of Tasmania:a healthy church transforming life can be found here.

Engaging with Islam – Resource

Looking for help to understand Islam? I recommend Interfaith Chaplain Revd Samuel Green’s updated resource for building our understanding of Islam:

Welcome to Engaging With Islam

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Jude verse. 3, NIV Bible)

Islam has become an important worldview to understand and respond to. Even if you don’t know a Muslim you may be asked questions about Islam, or have questions yourself. Engaging with Islam equips Christians to understand Islam and to engage effectively with Muslims and those who make comments about Islam or have questions. Its goal is to help you to stand firm as a Christian, to defend the gospel and to address issues quickly and confidently. It not only considers Islam but examines and defends key Christian teaching.

The Engaging with Islam website is here to help you at every level. It provides training, tools for evangelism, answers to common questions, teaching from the Bible and Qur’an, plus other useful links. Click on “Training” in the menu column to get started now.

Samuel Green