Dear Members of the Diocesan Family

It is ten years today since I was consecrated a Bishop in the Church of God and installed as your bishop.
Over the past decade I have been very aware that, “the God who calls is the God who equips". I am very conscious of God's sustaining grace and strength in my ministry. Robin and I thank you very much for your prayers and support. I also thank the staff of the Registry for all their support and in particular my PA Julie. Thank you to the Archdeacon and the various Registrars and the Chancellor for their ministries and guidance over the past decade. I thank all clergy and lay ministers for their ministry along with all who oversee and support ministries in our parishes.

So today I will be a little reflective.

Some General Comments:
I am very conscious how life has changed over the last decade. My first act as a Bishop was to bless the Twin Cities here in Townsville, that is, the Cities of Thuringowa and Townsville. Since then other cities and shires have been amalgamated here in Queensland and there have also been de-amalgamations such as with Mareeba and Douglas Shires!

This Diocese is blessed with unbelievable natural beauty. From the rainforest to the reef, from the grazing land to the cropping areas and the mining regions. We are blessed with the service industries including our schools, nursing homes and hospitals to name a few. Life in the Diocese has its joys and challenges, with fluctuations in tourism - but the many people who visit us, bless us. Even though there is a down turn in the mining industry, mining has stimulated the economy. From grazing to farming in its various forms, with those on the land coping with commodity price fluctuations and the variations in the weather.

The timeless poem by Dorothea Mackellar is so true -
I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror - The wide brown land for me!

As an aside, I pray that everyone will take the cyclone warning seriously this weekend. Be careful and if it is wise to cancel worship for safety reasons please do so.

Some General Comments re the Diocese:
People often ask at certain milestones like this, what has been achieved.

By the grace of God, we have been deeply blessed here in the Diocese of North Queensland. It has been a joy in a number of parishes to see people growing in their faith. The number of adult baptisms and confirmations has greatly increased. One of he delights for me, is to hear how God has worked in the life of these folk. There are a number of study groups in the Diocese that deepen the faith of the faithful. Also, more parishes are reaching out to those in need and seeking to "love their neighbour as themselves". I never cease to be amazed at the commitment and dedication of many of our people. God bless you in your ministry.

Conferences and Hospitality:
When I first came to the Diocese, there was a view in the Australian Church that, “North Queensland is up there" and did not have the structures of a capital city and implied that our capacity was limited. However, we have hosted the national Registrars Conference, the National Bishops Conference and the national Deans' Conference. We have also hosted the Heads of Missionary and Development Agencies Conference for the Anglican Communion and a couple of ABM Conferences. All these conferences were well received and many people were responsible for welcoming visitors to our Diocese. A big thank you to everyone involved in the planning of these conferences and for the provision of gracious hospitality.

Diocesan Finance:
Over the decade the financial situation of the Diocese has greatly improved and I thank the ministry of the three Treasurers during this time; Peter Towers, Al Spinaze and David Rockley and the Finance Team under the leadership of Maya, for their hard work. To achieve this result there has been much faithful and dedicated work.

Sexual Abuse:
On my first day as Bishop I received an allegation of sexual abuse. Such matters have been before us for the decade. The current Royal Commission has highlighted the failure of the Church. In each case I have apologised to the victims and in each case I have been appalled at the behaviour of the clergy and lay leaders involved. It is my prayer that the Church will continue to seek to make our parishes safe and sacred places. Please continue to pray for the Church as we seek a uniform approach to Child Safety across the nation. One of the challenges is that each Diocese has its own Canons and there is a lack of uniformity across our nation. I am seeking a Provincial Canon in the first instance in the hope that we can move to a national approach to child safety.

Over the decade the various chaplaincy ministries have grown, including Street Chaplaincies in three of our cities. Thank you to all our chaplains for their ministry.

Some other matters:
We need to continue to address the issue of communication.

At Synod, there will be a new Canon Two - The Parish Canon - presented to the Synod. Our current Canon has a number of irregularities, and I thank the Canon Review Committee, under the leadership of the Archdeacon for their dedicated labours. Please study the draft Canon and attend the Regional Consultation in your region. One of the draft changes is, what we currently know as a "parish" has changed to being called a "ministry unit", highlighting our focus.

I am heartened by the way some parishes have taken up the ministry square.

As mentioned before, a ministry unit must have the above four areas of ministry to be a functioning
ministry unit.

As I give thanks to God for the blessings of the last ten years, I look forward to the future with joy
and excitement. Let us be open to God as we seek to discern his will.

Wishing you a holy and blessed Lent.

Yours in Christ

The Right Reverend William (Bill) Ray
Bishop of North Queensland

Sexual Abuse contact line: 1800 242 544 or 07 3835 2266

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