Dear Friends,


Welcome to 2020. Clearly our nation is off to a disastrous start with the bushfires which have been raging for months across every state of the Commonwealth. The ABC Coverage is superb and has been keeping me up to date when I have been unable to contact friends and family down south. Clearly it will take a long time to rebuild shattered homes, and even longer to rebuild shattered lives, especially for the many families that are now mourning. But at this stage our country is still trying to fight the fires and deal with many people who need to be cared for.

Our immediate duty is to pray and to act. Many Christians are directly on the front line and others involved in support. Anglican parishes throughout the affected areas are opening up their churches and halls and taking part in community efforts to support those affected. Up here in North Queensland we have been spared and most of us can take no direct action. However you can make tax-deductible donations. Some have asked if there are agencies of the Anglican Church involved: please find below links to their pages for donations. There are also other agencies (such as BCA) which have general disaster relief funds which are likely to be applied to bushfires.

Anglican Aid (Diocese of Sydney) for relief for the Blue Mountains and South Coast:

Anglicare Victoria

It is also clear that we need to deal with the causes of the bushfires and engage in serious discussion. Unfortunately we live in a culture where fake news thrives. For example some sources overseas are spreading news that arsonists are the major cause of the bushfires: but this is simply not true. Others are stating that failure to carry out hazard reductions is to blame. Likewise, this is largely untrue. Hazard reductions are but part of a far bigger picture. I recommend:

What is needed is nuanced discussion which seeks to understand different positions: unfortunately this is drowned by controversialists of both hard left and right, and aided by twitter and the 21st Century intolerance for anything over 280 characters long. Truth is drowned out by loud voices and short tweets. Clearly Climate Change is having a huge impact: no one has seen fires of this intensity and duration in living memory. I can certainly remember intense bushfires with much loss of life and property – but nothing of this duration and with so many catastrophic events happening at once in every state. Bushfires going from August to January without respite is not normal. See:


The lesson from this is that our country needs to deal with Climate Change and emergency management intelligently. Once we have dealt with the immediate crisis we must start to assess all that has happened. There are good theological reasons for being involved in this both as individuals and as a community, which will be the subject of a future Bishop’s Bulletin.

A prayer:

Loving God, Creator of the Universe, we thank you for this beautiful country and sorrow for the death and destruction being visited upon us. We repent for those things we have done which have made these fires worse. We thank you for the courage and devotion of our fire fighters and ask you to protect them and be with those who flee. Give comfort to all those who mourn and to all those who have lost their homes or businesses. May we be the arms of Jesus outstretched in comfort working with all those who support the bereaved and the distressed. And please in your mercy send soaking rains. We ask all these things through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


It is coming up to the season for Ministry Unit Annual Meetings. Annual Meeting returns will be posted out next week with links available on our website shortly.


Please find attached Our Direction 2020-2024 which replaces the 2015 to 2019 Strategic Plan. You will notice that it is a much shorter document: it does not give a long list of actions and reporting to be taken by each Ministry Unit. Rather each Ministry Unit is asked to consider the five marks of mission of the Anglican Communion and consider at the Annual Meeting one activity for each mark of mission to put into action in 2020. For example the first mark of mission is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. There are a small number of suggestions: your Ministry Unit might decide that the time is ripe for a church plant and decide to put into action “Plant a church in an urban growth area.” Your Ministry Unit would then need to come up with a plan for such a church plant and commit to action. Or you might have something specific to your Ministry Unit not listed: in that case the Ministry Unit should feel free to adopt another action. The five action points – along with a brief plan as to how these might be put into place – should be included with the annual returns.

This is a new approach, considered at some length by the clergy conference in June 2019. It is designed to be simple and to encourage Ministry Units to look outward at how they might move ahead in living in Christ. Do not be concerned if the action point appears modest: but you are encouraged to do something new and useful. It is better to try five new things of which only one works, rather than do nothing. What we learn in 2020 will then be used to improve things in 2021. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.


Please email Shelley on to obtain a registration form, enabling us to determine numbers for catering.  All responses are due back by 17th January 2020.


The 2020 Lenten Study is available from ABM. Each study is on one of the five marks of mission of the Anglican Church. The study is available for download from the ABM website:


I commend this study to you, especially if you are seeking to reflect more on the five marks of mission.


Some specific dates are given below in the Calendar for 2020. However in order to preserve my sanity and health there are some principles to be ideally applied, given that in this large diocese it is not physically possible for me to visit every Ministry Unit or every church each year on a Sunday.

First my intention is to visit regions (such as the Mackay District or the Torres Straits) over a period of a few days, rather than fly in / fly out overnight. This means less travel and also a better chance to meet people. Therefore please help Shelley by working together as a region to enable better coordination of dates. I also need a couple of weeks a month in Townsville to keep on top of administration: generally time in Townsville will be coordinated with Diocesan Executive and Council Meetings and other meetings along with other appointments.


  • 3-6 February – Clergy Retreat. Saints Catholic College, JCU Townsville.
  • 26 February – Ash Wednesday
  • 10-14 March – Bishops’ Meeting. Sydney NSW.
  • 10 April – Good Friday
  • 31 May to 05 June – General Synod. Maroochydore Qld.
  • 15-18 June – Clergy Conference.
  • 14 July to 2 August – Lambeth Conference. Kent, England.
  • 14-16 August – Diocesan Synod. St James Cathedral and The Cathedral School, Townsville
  • 26-27 October – Visit by Archbishop of Canterbury. Afternoon of Monday 26 October, visit to Wontulp-bi-Buya, Cairns. Tuesday 27 October, visit to Yarrabah.


At the end of January the Rev’d Annette Woods will move into a new role. At present Annette is Rector of Yarrabah as a 0.5 position (that is, half of a full time position), and Chaplain at Cairns Hospital 0.5. She will hand on her role at Cairns Hospital to the Rev’d Deborah Kachel and take on a new 0.5 role as Ministry Development Officer (MDO) for the Aboriginal Communities on the Cape York Peninsula, including Yarrabah. Annette will continue to be based at Yarrabah and look after St Albans, but will now also be responsible for developing ministry in the Aboriginal communities on Palm Island, and at Yarrabah, Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Lockhart River, and elsewhere in Cape York Peninsula except for Weipa and Bamaga. Annette will also be the Area Dean for the Cape York Peninsula Region.

In February the Rev’d Dalton Cowley will leave his current position as Priest-in-Charge of Thursday Island, and take up full-time ministry as Rector of Kowanyama. I am delighted that we again have a full-time priest at Kowanyama and I look forward to the Ministry Unit moving ahead under Fr Dalton’s leadership.

Congratulations to both Annette and Dalton on their new positions of leadership inside the Church, and to Deborah as she takes up the important role of Chaplaincy at Cairns Hospital. Please pray for them as they take up their new roles and responsibilities.

Please also note that the Rev’d Helen Houghton will complete her ministry as Chaplain at Mission to Seafarers in Townsville on the 31st January 2020. Her role as Chaplain at The Good Shepherd Home in Townsville has been significantly expanded and it is a delight to see her engaging with and supporting the residents and staff. Please continue to pray for Helen and all who live and work at The Good Shepherd Home.


On 22 February there are at least two consecrations of Bishops in the Australian Church: the Venerable Carol Wagner as Assistant Bishop at Goulburn and the Venerable Clarence Bester to be Bishop of Wangaratta. There is also the retirement of Bishop David Robinson of the Diocese of Rockhampton. I have already accepted the invitation to attend the retirement service for Bishop David whom I have come to know and respect in my time in the Province of Queensland, both when I was Dean of Darwin and now here. Please pray for David and Jan as they enter a new phase of their lives, and also pray for Clarence and for Carol as they take up a new ministry as Bishops.


As many of you are aware, last year the Diocese of Wangaratta passed legislation for the blessing of civil marriages that would also allow for the blessing of same-sex marriages.

This matter has been referred to the Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia. Further information (including all submissions) can be found at:

Anglican Governance

There are a number of complex and contested legal and theological issues and it is unlikely that this matter will be determined until the second half of 2020.


Mrs Joan Duffy, of Tully whose funeral was on 17th December.

The Reverend Gilbert John Linden, Priest (1939 to 2019). He was ordained Deacon and then Priest in 1963; and was Rector of Ingham and then of North Mackay before retiring to Brisbane. A private funeral was held in Brisbane.

The Most Reverend Bevan Meredith, Bishop (1927-2019). Archbishop Meredith had a long and distinguished career both in Queensland and as Archbishop of Papua New Guinea (1989-1996) and was brother-in-law to our own Bishop George Tung Yep. I assisted at his funeral at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, on 30th December.

The Reverend Norton Challenor, Priest (1929 to 2019). A teacher until his retirement, then ordained in 1990. He served as Honorary Precentor at the Cathedral and was Chaplain to many organisations including the Returned & Services League and the Mission to Seafarers. A Requiem Eucharist was held at St James’ Cathedral Townsville on 6th January 2020. He is survived by his wife Diana but she is unable to respond to cards or messages.

The Right Reverend Dr Keith Joseph
Bishop of North Queensland


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