Stephen Crittenden: How has evangelical Anglicanism in Victoria, in Melbourne, taken to the idea of women priests and women bishops? Has that been more difficult perhaps than some other strands that make up Australian Anglicanism, or down in Melbourne is it pretty much par for the course?
Barbara Darling: It differs. There are different people who have different understandings. Again Dr Leon Morris was pivotal in my understanding and acceptance that women could be in positions of authority in the church. When he first asked me to preach I was really working through the whole of what the Bible was saying about the understanding of women. He had written a little booklet, together with two other people on a woman’s place, looking at the Biblical understanding, and that helped me very much to look at this and to work this through. So too did Bishop John Wilson who was at that stage an Old Testament lecturer at Ridley College. So too, Dr Charles Sherlock. So there were a group of very, very supportive academics, theologians, people who were very much going by the Bible and their understanding of the Bible was that women could be in leadership.
Stephen Crittenden: Do you think that the set of protocols that have been worked out, and unanimously agreed to, which is interesting in itself, do they still perhaps leave women bishops as second-class bishops? Until you’re able to be a bishop without conditions, are you going to be a first-class bishop?
Barbara Darling: There were some conditions. I believe we are called to be bishops and we are going to be consecrated as bishops. There are certain protocols put there because there are some people who are not happy to have women in authority, and that’s sad, but it is a reality in the church today, and we need to be able to move forward and to accept each other, and this is a way we can move forward. I’ve received letters of support from people who are opposed to women in the episcopacy and yet can see there is a genuine call and that God is calling women to this. They will be praying for us, even though they may not be able to accept the authority that is there at the moment. They may change, they may not.
Stephen Crittenden: And what about the work you’re going to take up as a bishop, because you’re not going to be working as a kind of an assistant bishop in the parishes, are you? You’re going to be working in a very particular area of diocesan ministry to family and women and children and young people.
Barbara Darling: That’s part of the area. There’s four main areas, to my understanding, and this still needs to be worked through in detail. But one of them is looking with health and welfare chaplains in schools, school chaplaincy. Another one is with youth and children’s ministry, and the fourth area is multicultural ministry. These are all areas that are not directly parish but it will involve parishes. So I don’t have a geographical territory, but I will be able and welcome to go into the different regions of our diocese.
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