Three living Archbishops of Sydney were in attendance but the spotlight was firmly on the oldest of them, Harry Goodhew, who had turned 90 just that week. 

The occasion was the launch of Harry Goodhew: Archbishop, Godly Radical, Dynamic Anglican – a biography of the man who served the Sydney Diocese as Archbishop from 1993 to 2001. Despite the city being in flood outside, St Andrew’s Cathedral saw wellwishers and special guests flock to the event.

Archbishop Davies, in his final week, chaired the launch, calling it “a wonderful tribute to a great Archbishop in our Diocese”. He also acknowledged Mrs Pam Goodhew, saying to them both: “Thank you for serving us so well and continuing to serve Christ in your latter years with great dignity, humility and love”. 

A series of speakers including Bishop Rob Forsyth, the head of Barker College Phillip Heath (who was mentored by Bishop Goodhew) and the chairwoman of the Bible Society Anne Robinson all testified to the godly qualities, piety and influence of Bishop Goodhew and his wife Pam –who sat, somewhat embarrassed, in the front row. 

Bishop Forsyth noted that the book covered a critical period for the Diocese, the Anglican Church in Australia, and the worldwide communion.

The book was decades in the making, according to its author, Dr Stuart Piggin. “The first chapter, which is an account of Harry’s election, I wrote immediately after Harry got elected, so that’s 28 years ago!” he said.

He also admitted to some hesitancy in writing the biography. “This was actually a very difficult book to write for two reasons,” he said. “One is that Harry is so good and godly that it’s actually difficult to understand... Some people may read the book and say I’ve overrated him, and I was too close to him, but in fact Harry is better than this book. He’s much better.” 

True to form, Bishop Goodhew spent much of his speech thanking a long list of colleagues and friends who had helped him and his wife throughout their ministry. 

As a final flourish, the former Bishop of Wollongong unfurled the Illawarra Steelers jersey he is wearing on the book’s front cover. He revealed the picture had been orchestrated by the editor of the Illawarra Mercury during rugby league season.

“He sent photographers up with a football and the jersey. After the photo, the fellow said, ‘Well, I’ll take those back to the boss’. I said, ‘You can have the ball, but you can’t have that jumper!’” So the jumper is now part of the history of Harry.

Harry Goodhew: Archbishop, Godly Radical, Dynamic Anglican by Stuart Piggin is published by the Bible Society.