Anglican Diocese of Tasmania

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For the Catholic church in Tasmania, see Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart.
Diocese of Tasmania
St David's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania - Wiki0120.jpg
Ecclesiastical province Extra-Provincial
Parishes 51
Churches 156
Members 4,800 [1]
Rite Anglican
Cathedral St David's Cathedral (Hobart)
Current leadership
Bishop John Harrower

The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania includes the entire Tasmanian archipelago and is an extraprovincial diocese of the Anglican Church of Australia.[2] The cathedral church of the diocese is St David's Cathedral in Hobart. The eleventh Bishop of Tasmania, ordained as bishop and also installed on 25 July 2000, was John Harrower, who retired at the end of September 2015. His successor, Richard Condie, was elected on 27 November 2015 and is due to be consecrated in 2016. There are three schools associated with the diocese; Hutchins School, Launceston Church Grammar School and St Michael's Collegiate School and various organisations such as the welfare provider Anglicare and the Mission to Seafarers.[3]


Robert Knopwood, a member of the original settlement in 1803, was responsible for the initial establishment of Anglicanism in the colony.[4] Also important for the development of Anglicanism in the colony was the arrival of the Bible Society in 1819.[5] Although most of the mainline denominations were well represented in Tasmania, Anglicanism was well established by the 1830s.[6]

Church control of the educational system was a contested issue of the 1840s, with a division between Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics.[7] On 21 August 1842, Tasmania became the first independent Anglican diocese in Australia by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Queen Victoria and Francis Nixon was appointed first Bishop of Tasmania.[8][9] Nixon initiated the creation of a synodical structure in 1858, combining clergy and laity governance of the diocese, mirroring similar measures in the dioceses of Adelaide and Melbourne.[10]


In contrast to the Diocese of Sydney's long heritage of evangelicalism or Brisbane or Ballarat's unwavering Anglo-Catholicism, the Diocese of Tasmania's churchmanship has varied over time. It has been, by turns, predominantly Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and Pentecostal throughout its history.[11]

In its earliest days, the diocese had a decidedly low church outlook, with priests such as Richard Deodatus Poulett Harris condemning "popery".[12]

During the 1940s, high churchmen had the "experience of being a ‘Lone Scout type Catholic’ in conservative Tasmania. One of those who attended the occasional meetings of the Tasmanian state branch of the Australian Church Union in the 1940s recalled the conspiratorial atmosphere: 'they were quite delicious really, because everyone was called Father, and we could say the Hail Mary without anyone getting into trouble’".[13]

Although General Synod passed legislation to authorise the ordination of women to the priesthood in 1992, Tasmania had already given a deaconess, Marie Kingston, individual responsibility for the parish of King Island during the 1960s.[14] In 1977, the diocese held a youth synod "to encourage informed discussion on religious and social issues", which eventually became the National Anglican Youth Gathering.[15]


One of the major issues of recent times has been the consolidation of the diocese by the closure of some historic parishes. St John the Baptist's West Hobart and Holy Trinity, North Hobart were sold, with the sale of the historic Holy Trinity church being particularly controversial and leading to protests (particularly as the church building, supposedly condemned as unsafe, was then used by the Greek Orthodox Church).[16][17][18]

From 1997 to 1998, a public inquiry was held which unearthed a number of cases of clerical child abuse, involving nine priests, which had occurred from 25 to 30 years previously.[19] As a result of these finding, the church provided compensation. More recently the diocese has focused on providing safe ministry, with the current bishop, John Harrower, saying that "the church is committed to stamping out child sexual abuse within its ranks."[20] He has also lobbied the federal government about this issue.[21]


A report from the General Synod, using National Church Life Survey and Australian Bureau of Statistics data, found that average weekly attendance across the state in 2001 was 4,800.[22] This is from the high-water mark in 1961, when 45.42% of the population declared themselves affiliated with the Anglican Church in Tasmania, the highest percentage of all the Australian states.[23] In the diocese there are 107 active clergy and 51 parishes.[24]

Assistant bishops[edit]

The current assistant bishops ("missioner bishops") in the diocese are:[25]

  • Chris Jones, Missioner Bishop for Stewardship (2008–present)
  • Ross Nicholson, Missioner Bishop for Projects and Training (2008–present)

Bishops of Tasmania[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wayne Brighton,Attendance Statistics For the Anglican Church of Australia(NCLS:2004): 18.
  2. ^ Angela Grutzner, The Australian Anglican Directory (Melbourne: Publishing Solutions, 2009): 7.
  3. ^ 'Anglican Organisations and Societies' Diocesan Directory 2008-2009 (Hobart: Anglican Church of Tasmania, 2008): 5-6.
  4. ^ Lloyd Robson, A History of Tasmania: Van Diemen's Land from the Earliest Times to 1855 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1983)
  5. ^ Bruce Kaye, Anglicanism in Australia (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002): 13
  6. ^ Ian Breward, A History of the Australian Churches (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1993): 223
  7. ^ Breward, A History of the Australian Churches., 40.
  8. ^ "History of St David's Cathedral". Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  9. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2007): 58.
  10. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia, 74.
  11. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia, 132.
  12. ^ Poulett Harris, Sermon for the Royal Engagement, 3.
  13. ^ The Anglo-Catholic Tradition in Australian Anglicanism
  14. ^ Kaye, Anglicanism in Australia, 133-135.
  15. ^ Kaye, Anglicanism in Australia, 131.
  16. ^ Heritage at Risk: Holy Trinity
  17. ^ Holy Trinity Hobart
  18. ^ Holy Trinity Flags New Owner
  19. ^ Stateline transcript
  20. ^ "Church welcomes sexual abuse report", ABC News (18 June 2009), [1], Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ Wayne Brighton, Attendance Statistics for the Anglican Church of Australia (NCLS:2004): 18.
  23. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia, 127.
  24. ^ Grutzner, The Australian Anglican Directory, 15 & 109-111.
  25. ^ Anglican Church in Tasmania – People directory

External links[edit]