In August,  representatives of our Diocese’s churches and organisations will be preparing to choose the 12th Archbishop of Sydney. And while at previous elections there have been many candidates to choose from, for the 2013 election members have nominated only two: the Bishop of North Sydney, the Rt Rev Dr Glenn Davies, and the rector of the northern parish of Naremburn-Cammeray, the Rev Canon Rick Smith.

Unlike State or Federal elections, the candidates aren’t ambitious and focused on winning – and they’re certainly not out on the hustings spruiking for votes. Both Bishop Davies and Canon Smith have accepted nomination at others’ request, and are leaving the decision up to the will of God as expressed by Synod.

While information is available for Synod members, Southern Cross has spoken to both candidates and their leading nominators to give our readers a thumbnail sketch of their thoughts prior to the election.

Bishop Glenn Davies, 62

Nominated by the Rev Dr Michael Stead, rector of Turramurra.

GD: In elections some candidates are hungry for the job. Others are prepared to do the job if the Synod calls them to it, believing that God’s will is manifest through the decision of the Synod. Therefore Rick and I believe that, while not aspiring to this office, we are trusting God will supply the requisite wisdom and strength to fulfill the office should the Synod decide to elect us.

At our recent Northern Regional Conference there were two elephants in the room, if you like, so Rick and I thought we would interview each other about how we were going, how our wives are going and then thoughts on the process. And then we prayed for each other, because – especially with social media, which provides a great temptation for immoderate, unedifying discourse – we wanted to model godly and edifying discourse. One person came up to me afterwards and said, “I’m so glad you did that, because I’d be happy for either of you to be archbishop”.

I consider prayer to be a wonderful way in which God has blessed me, because I am completely at peace about the whole process. The number of people who say, “We’re praying for you and Di” is overwhelming and very encouraging. If you really do trust God’s sovereignty, it’s under control.

MS: Glenn has got all the qualities I think we need in an archbishop. He has the leadership ability to be able to direct our Diocese into the future, and all the characteristics of godliness and experience the Bible tells us we ought to look for in the overseer of God’s people. He has the theological acumen to not lead us astray, to combat error and to commend and defend the gospel. Glenn is a great pastor… he cares for people, engages with them and gently leads them and guides them in the ways of the Lord. I’ve benefited greatly from Glenn being our regional bishop – he has been a wise counsellor, a pastoral support and a good friend.

He has demonstrated that he can manage the machinery of the Diocese – the various committees and organisations, parishes and schools. And he’s a very capable public face... a good media spokesman and able to engage with the media in a winsome and compelling way. To add a personal edge to that I’ve seen Glenn at work outside the Diocese. He is a capable spokesman for the evangelical faith who is nonetheless well regarded outside the Sydney Diocese. And at General Synod Glenn has done a lot of the heavy lifting on issues such as lay and diaconal administration and human sexuality.

Rev Canon Rick Smith, 49

Nominated by the Rev Dr Mark Thompson, principal of Moore College

RS: Glenn has been a great friend and brother for many years. Michelle [my wife] and Di Davies also met up for coffee yesterday, which they have done many times over the years. I long for the election process to reflect our warm fellowship and for people to be aware we have an opportunity to adorn the gospel and endear the process to a watching world in our manner, the questions we pursue and the issues we raise.

Lots of people ask, “Why should we vote for you?” and I don’t think either of us wants to answer that question. Ask me questions about who I am, about my personal convictions, ministry priorities and experience, and then Synod members will need to be prayerfully discerning about who to vote for. Nobody’s campaigning because nobody’s really aspiring to the role, although that’s not diminishing the importance of the role in shaping the mission of the Diocese. Because it’s not about what we want – it’s about where we are called to serve with the strength God gives.

I serve because I love the Lord Jesus and I continue to think God’s grace is amazing, so I’m happy to share that grace, proclaiming Jesus Christ and him crucified, in whatever role I’m asked to perform.

MT: Rick has been doing at Naremburn-Cammeray what we as a Diocese want to do more widely. He has been planting churches, he has been reaching multi-ethnic people and he has been faithfully teaching the Bible and caring for his people. And he has been doing that successfully for a long time. He has extensive experience of parish ministry in this Diocese. He is theologically driven – from the gospel out – yet he thinks practically about what that means. He has a big picture vision of what we need in this Diocese at this time. That’s not to say these things are exclusive to Rick but I’ve been intrigued to watch friends and colleagues, as they get to know him, see why he is such a good candidate.

I’ve seen him in a number of different settings, at Standing Committee and at Synod. I’ve spoken at his church and seen him at work there, as well as in the General Synod context, and seen people there sit back and listen to what he says, because there’s a real seriousness to it but he’s always very courteous and generous.

That’s not to say he’s perfect. He’s a sinner… but he’s clearly a man God has used in an extraordinary way and I think that has set him up well to lead the Diocese.

(Canon Smith is not a member of General Synod, but was appointed by Sydney Standing Committee in 2009 to an advisory panel)

This article has been reproduced from the July Edition of Southern Cross, available in churches now.

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