Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne is the metropolitan diocese of the Province of Victoria in the Anglican Church of Australia. The diocese was founded from the Diocese of Australia by letters patent of 25 June 1847[1] and includes the cities of Melbourne and Geelong and also some more rural areas. The cathedral church is St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. The ordinary of the diocese is the Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, who was translated from the Anglican Diocese of The Northern Territory, and who was the Anglican Primate of Australia from 2014 to 2020.

Diocese of Melbourne
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Ecclesiastical provinceVictoria
ArchdeaconriesBox Hill, Dandenong, Frankston, Geelong, Kew, La Trobe, Maroondah, Melbourne, Port Philip & Bayside & Kingston North, Stonnington & Glen Eira, and The Yarra
Coordinates37°49′1″S 144°58′3″E / 37.81694°S 144.96750°E / -37.81694; 144.96750Coordinates: 37°49′1″S 144°58′3″E / 37.81694°S 144.96750°E / -37.81694; 144.96750
CathedralSt Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne
Current leadership
ArchbishopPhilip Freier
SuffragansPaul Barker, Jumbunna Episcopate
Kate Prowd, Oodthenong Episcopate
Genieve Blackwell, Marmingatha Episcopate
Brad Billings, Theological Education & Wellbeing (Monomeeth Episcopate)


The Diocese of Melbourne is divided into areas of episcopal care in which assistant bishops exercise a pastoral role on behalf of the Archbishop.[2] These areas are divided into archdeaconries, with further subdivision into area deaneries.

Following consultation with the Wurundjeri people of Melbourne, local Indigenous names have been used for the areas of episcopal care. The areas are:

  • Marmingatha, covering the inner city, especially along major transport corridors;
  • Oodthenong, covering the northern and western growth areas in Greater Melbourne and Geelong;
  • Jumbunna, covering parishes south of the Yarra and to the east, including the South-East Growth Corridor; and
  • Monomeeth, of which the Bishop has responsibilities across the whole of the diocese with a particular focus on people, culture and wellbeing.

Marmingatha means “being with the divine or supreme being”; Oodthenong means “gathering”; and Jumbunna means “speaking out” or “proclamation”. Monomeeth means "rightness, wellness and goodness". Together, they comprise the Woi Wurrung equivalent of the diocesan vision of Making the Word of God fully known through “gathering in the divine presence to speak out and proclaim”.

Theological traditionsEdit

Churchmanship within the Melbourne diocese is diverse and the three principal Anglican traditions, Evangelical, Liberal and Anglo-Catholic, are all significantly represented.

The existence of such differing traditions within the diocese is sometimes a cause of tensions. The difficulty with which an archbishop was elected in 2006 provided a recent example.[3]

Theological collegesEdit

The diocese has two theological colleges, both in the suburb of Parkville, which prepare men and women for ordination and other forms of ministry. Trinity College Theological School, founded in 1878, is part of Trinity College, a residential college within the University of Melbourne and is more Liberal and Anglo-Catholic in tradition. Ridley Melbourne was founded in 1910 in the Evangelical tradition. A founding member of the Melbourne College of Divinity (now the University of Divinity) in 1910, Trinity was also a partner in the ecumenical United Faculty of Theology until its disbanding at the end of 2014. From 1 January 2015 it has been a college of the University of Divinity.[4] Ridley is affiliated with the Australian College of Theology.


The Diocese of Melbourne has been affected by issues that have been debated in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The theological diversity of the diocese means that there is sometimes disagreement over more contentious matters. In addition, it is frequently perceived that there is a significant tension between the theologically broad Melbourne diocese and the far more conservative Sydney diocese.[5]

Ordination of womenEdit

The diocese has ordained women to the diaconate since 1986 and to the priesthood since 1992.[6] The September 2007 decision of the Appellate Tribunal opening the way for the consecration of women to the episcopate was welcomed by the present archbishop, Philip Freier.[7] General Synod approved a motion in October 2007 which welcomed the "clarity" of the decision.[8] Melbourne's first woman to become a bishop, Barbara Darling, was consecrated at St Paul's Cathedral on 31 May 2008.[9][10] The ordination of women to be bishops is opposed by some within the diocese, particularly conservative Evangelicals and some Anglo-Catholics, necessitating the provision of alternative episcopal oversight.[11][12]


The diocese officially subscribes to the traditional Anglican stance on homosexuality. Most conservatives and Evangelicals remain opposed to the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy.[citation needed]

However, the diocese also contains a number of liberal parishes and prominent laypeople, such as Muriel Porter, who have been very vocal in their support for changes in the church's teaching on human sexuality.[5][13]


In November 2007, an all-female committee from the Diocese of Melbourne made a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission outlining its position in relation to abortion. The submission stated that "the Anglican Church is for life" and acknowledged "diversity of ... views" within the diocese. However it also declared that the diocese "supports the provision of safe and affordable abortions with appropriate safeguards for women who, for whatever reasons, request them". The underlying ethical view concerning embryonic life is that "while the embryo/foetus is fully human from the time of conception, it accrues moral significance and value as it develops ... we believe the moral significance increases with the age and development of the foetus. The significance increases gradually over time, in parallel with its physical development. As a pregnancy advances, more powerful moral reasons are required to allow the destruction of the embryo/foetus."[14] The submission was announced in The Melbourne Anglican, in an article entitled "Decriminalise abortion, say Anglican women".[15] This is seen to be the first official approval of abortion by Australian Anglicans.[16]

List of Bishops and Archbishops of MelbourneEdit

Bishops of Melbourne
From Until Incumbent Notes
1847 1876 Charles Perry Declined to return after a visit to the United Kingdom.
1876 1886 James Moorhouse Translated to Manchester.
1887 1901 Field Flowers Goe
1902 1905 Lowther Clarke Became Archbishop of Melbourne in 1905.
Archbishops of Melbourne
1905 1920 Lowther Clarke Bishop of Melbourne until 1905.
1921 1929 Harrington Lees Died in office.
1929 1941 Frederick Head Died in office.
1942 1957 Joseph Booth Previously coadjutor bishop in Melbourne (Bishop of Geelong) since 1934.
1957 1977 Sir Frank Woods Translated from Middleton; also Primate of Australia from 1971; knighted in 1972.
1977 1983 Bob Dann Previously coadjutor bishop in Melbourne since 1969.
1984 1989 David Penman Previously coadjutor bishop in Melbourne since 1982; died in office.
1990 1999 Keith Rayner Previously Bishop of Wangaratta, then Archbishop of Adelaide; also Primate of Australia from 1989.
2000 2005 Peter Watson Previously Bishop in Parramatta and then of the Southern Region (both in Sydney diocese).
2006 present Philip Freier Translated from the Northern Territory; also Primate of Australia from 2014 to 2020.

List of assistant bishopsEdit

Bishops coadjutor
From Until Incumbent Notes
1934 1942 Joseph Booth Bishop of Geelong, translated to the diocesan see of Melbourne.
1946 1960 John McKie Bishop of Geelong and Archdeacon of Melbourne;[17] became Assistant Bishop of Coventry
1960 1963 Donald Redding Previously Bishop of Bunbury.
1962 1969 Geoffrey Sambell Translated to Perth
1963 1970 Felix Arnott translated to Brisbane
1969 1977 Bob Dann Translated to the diocesan see of Melbourne.
1970 1985 James Grant [18]
1971 1982 Ged Muston Translated to North West Australia.
1982 1984 David Penman Translated to the diocesan see of Melbourne.
Assistant bishops
1978 1988 David Shand Previously Bishop of St Arnaud; translated between regions.

Bishop of the Southern Region (1978 - 1985) then Bishop in Geelong (1985 - 1988)

1985 1989 Peter Hollingworth Bishop in the Inner City, then translated to Brisbane
1985 1993 Robert Butterss Robert Leopold Butterss, consecrated 24 February 1985[19]
1985 2007 John Wilson Bishop of the Southern Region[20]
1989 1995 John Bayton Bishop of the Western Region[21]
1994 2001 John Stewart Bishop of the Eastern Region
1994 2002 Andrew Curnow Bishop of the Northern Region, then translated to Bendigo.
1995 2001 Andrew St. John cons. 22 July 1995;[22] Bishop of the Western Region,[23] then Rector at the Church of the Transfiguration, New York [24]
2001 2009 Stephen Hale Bishop of the Eastern Region[25]
2002 2017[26] Paul White Bishop of the Western Region (2002 - 2007), Southern Region (2007 - 2015), Jumbunna Episcopate (2015 - 2016), Growth Areas Ministry (2016 - 2017) [27]
2003 2018 Philip Huggins Previously Bishop of Grafton (1998 – 2003)
Bishop of the Northern Region (2003 - 2007), North West Region (2003 - 2015), Oodthenong Episcopate (2015 - 2018)
2008 2015 Barbara Darling Bishop for Diocesan Ministries (2008 - 2009), Eastern Region (2009 - 2015)
2015 present Genieve Blackwell Previously Assistant Bishop, Canberra and Goulburn (2012 – 2015); translated between regions
Bishop of the Marmingatha Episcopate
2015 2020[28] John Harrower Previously Bishop of Tasmania (2000 – 2015)
Assistant to the Archbishop of Melbourne in the exercise of his leadership responsibilities as Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia[29]
2016 present Bradly Billings Bishop for Theological Education and Wellbeing (Bishop of the Monomeeth Episcopate)[27][30]
2016 present Paul Barker Bishop of the Jumbunna Episcopate[27]
2016 present Lindsay Urwin Previously Bishop of Horsham (1993 – 2009)
Bishop for Schools[31][32]
2018 present Kate Prowd Bishop of the Oodthenong Episcopate


In 1866, there were four archdeaconries: Hussey Burgh Macartney was Archdeacon of Melbourne and Dean of the Cathedral; Theodore Carlos Benoni Stretch of Sale; Thomas Henry Braim was Archdeacon of Portland; and Archibald Crawford of Castlemaine.[33]

Lloyd Crossley was Vicar of All Saint's, St Kilda and Archdeacon of Geelong from 18 September 1905 until 1911.[34]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Supplement to the New South Wales government gazette, 31 December 1847 (Accessed 21 December 2015)
  2. ^ "Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, website". Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  3. ^ Zwartz, Barney (18 February 2006). "One of three, or none, to be archbishop". The Age. Zwartz, Barney (22 August 2006). "City's Anglican bishop named". The Age.
  4. ^ University of Divinity Gazette, 29 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b Barney Zwartz (18 March 2006). "The New Puritans: The Rise of Fundamentalism in the Anglican Church: Review of book by Muriel Porter". The Age.
  6. ^ Jane Still (14 November 2006). "A watershed for women priests, 20 years on".[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Archbishop of Melbourne welcomes decision re women bishops". News release, The Anglican Church in Melbourne. 28 September 2007.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Roland Ashby (25 October 2007). "Women bishops' 'highway' open". Archived from the original on 30 July 2008.
  9. ^ Jane Still (25 April 2008). "First woman bishop appointed in Victoria". Archived from the original on 22 July 2008.
  10. ^ Roland Ashby (2 June 2008). "Joyful end to a long journey for the Diocese". Archived from the original on 26 July 2008.
  11. ^ "Readers' letters: 'Traditionalists' need care". The Melbourne Anglican. June 2008. Archived from the original on 26 July 2008.
  12. ^ "Australian Anglican Bishops' Protocol: Women In The Episcopate" (PDF). 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2008.
  13. ^ Barney Zwartz (27 October 2007). "On the brink of schism". The Age newspaper.
  14. ^ Submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission Inquiry on the Law of Abortion from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, 9 November 2007
  15. ^ Jane Still, "Decriminalise abortion, say Anglican women", TMA, December 2007
  16. ^ "Anglicans call for new stance on abortion" The Age
  17. ^ "Obituary: The Right Rev John McKie". The Independent. 14 April 1994.
  18. ^ "About Trinity College - The History of Trinity College".
  19. ^ "Anglican Archives". Archived from the original on 25 May 2010.
  20. ^ "Diocese of Melbourne – Bishop John Wilson retires".
  21. ^ "John Bayton – Biography". Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  22. ^ "SPSES257 - Special Services - The Anglican Records and Archives Centre Guide to Records". 10 April 2013. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013.
  23. ^ "Data" (PDF). Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Stephen Hale to move to St Hilary's Kew". 19 April 2009.
  26. ^ Cauchi, Stephen (2 July 2017). "Bishop Paul White retires after 30 years of service". The Melbourne Anglican. Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  27. ^ a b c "Media release: Two new bishops for Melbourne". Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  28. ^ Brolly, Mark (7 May 2020). "Bishop retires again but his helping hand knows no rest". The Melbourne Anglican (May 2020). Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Bishop John Harrower". Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  30. ^ Cauchi, Stephen (20 October 2017). "Church to target growth areas, Synod told". The Melbourne Anglican. Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  31. ^ "Prayers for Bishop Lindsay Urwin as he takes on new challenge in Oz". See of Beverley. 12 April 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  32. ^ "Ministry team - The Right Reverend Lindsay Urwin OGS, Vicar". Christ Church Brunswick. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  33. ^ The Clergy List for 1866 (London: George Cox, 1866) p. 462
  34. ^ Blain, Michael. Blain Biographical Directory of Anglican clergy in the South Pacific — ordained before 1932 (2019) pp. 362–4. (Accessed at Project Canterbury, 26 June 2019)


  • Porter, Brian, ed. Melbourne Anglicans: the Diocese of Melbourne, 1847-1997. Melbourne: Mitre Books, 1997.

External linksEdit