Synod extends Bishop's term
Retirement age extended to 70
Meeting in Kelso on the weekend of September 9-11, the Synod of the Diocese of Bathurst has cleared the way for Bishop Ian Palmer to continue as Bishop of Bathurst for an extra two years, until he reaches the age of 70.
This will mean that Bishop Ian may now stay in office until January 2020.
The decision involved amending the Bishop Election Ordinance, which stipulates a retirement age of 68, to allow Synod to authorise a two-year extension.
Archdeacon Frank Hetherington, who moved the motion, had earlier told Synod in his report that he believed the extra two years should be added to the Bishop’s episcopate.
“It would provide space for the resolution of any unresolved matters arising from the CBA case, the development of future budgets so that the Episcopal stipend and emoluments are met from the Synod Management Fund and further, to initiate the type of change and restructuring that will enable the Anglican Church in the region to move into a different future,” the Archdeacon said.
Bishop Ian vacated the room for the debate, handing the chair to the Primate, Archbishop Philip Freier.
The motion produced some keen debate, with two speakers opposing on the grounds of concern for Bishop Ian’s health while others pointed out that the motion merely cleared the way for an extension – the Bishop was not obliged to stay on if he felt in necessary to stand down.
Many speakers took the opportunity to express strong support for Bishop Ian and the manner in which he has guided the diocese through the financial and legal minefield of the past three years.
The final vote was an overwhelming expression of confidence in the Bishop.
Synod also debated a motion brought by Dr Ken Phillis and The Rev’d Canon Brett Watterson (Dubbo Parish) to abolish the mandatory retirement age for Licensed Lay Ministers.
As with the motion on the Bishop’s retirement age, this motion also involved changing the relevant ordinance so that "age shall not, of itself, be a determinant in the consideration of a person to appointment as a Licensed Lay Minister in the Diocese."
A further amendment to the ordinance states that "the renewal of any Lay Minister's License upon expiry of its term be subject to a written review by the Parish Priest to the Bishop”.
In a further reflection on the ageing of the church, Synod also resolved on a motion by The Reverend Geoff McAuliffe (Forbes) and Sue West (Anglicare) that “this Synod commission BIC to consider the issue of age limits in Ordained Parish Ministry and report back to Synod in 2017”.
Acknowledging that a review of the administrative procedures of the Diocese over the next few weeks has meant a delay in preparing the Synod Management Budget for 2017, Synod has resolved to “task the Bishop in Council with receiving and approving the 2017 Synod Management Fund Budget and immediately circulates the budget to Synod members and parishes”.