A message from Bishop John Parkes
The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’
Or in this case the time has come to talk about the retirement of the 10th Bishop of Wangaratta.
Last year saw the anniversary of my 10th year in office as your Bishop. I am in now my 69th year and under the law of the Diocese would have to retire in 2020.
I was blessed to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference shortly before I was elected to this office. The Lambeth Conference, convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a gathering of all the Bishops in our Church for a time of worship, prayer, study and conversation. The next Lambeth Conference is due to take place at the end of July 2020. Were I to remain in office I would not be in a position to share the outcomes of Lambeth with the Diocese. I am of the firm belief that the Lambeth Conference is a gift to the church, and not a junket for the Bishop. After much reflection and prayer I have decided to retire slightly early so that God willing the 11th Bishop will be in place to begin their episcopate with a visit to Canterbury.
What does this mean in terms of timing? I will continue in office until the 31 August and will therefore preside at my final Synod on 30 and 31/8. I will then take my accumulated leave and return on 21 December to lay up my pastoral staff. This will mark the end of my time as your Bishop.
I believe I hand on a Diocese in good condition. Through the mission partnership with the Anglican Schools Commission our three schools are going ahead in leaps and bounds. The Diocese has been de-risked from the fraught world of Aged Care. Financial reserves and considerably healthier than those I inherited. Most parishes have clergy. 150 attended the lay ministry conference in February, and the new sense of mission as the joint task of laity and clergy is becoming well established. My senior staff team and registry team are exceptional and serve the Diocese above and beyond the call of duty. With all the challenges of ministry in a post-modern post Christian world we are united, committed and joyful in the proclamation of the Gospel. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Please pray for Margaret and me as we enter this time of transition to new beginnings; pray for Fr Clarence who will be the Administrator of the Diocese from 22 December. Pray for those who will work and pray to discern the next Bishop of this wonderful Diocese. And pray for yourselves and each other in this time of change.