The Archbishop’s wife is a key person in our Diocese, providing her own leadership and gifts in the service of the Lord Jesus, church members, her family and her husband. In Sydney we have been blessed by a succession of godly and able women, whose contribution has been sometimes underappreciated but always invaluable.
SIMON MANCHESTER asked Pam Goodhew, Christine Jensen, Di Davies and Cailey Raffel to reflect on the role and these are their fine answers.
1. When the possibility of becoming “Archbishop and wife” arose, what thoughts did you both have as you approached it?
PG: We had already had 11 years of episcopal experience in Wollongong so we were not totally ignorant of some of the challenges, but there really is no handbook and we looked to see what we might do to advance the cause of Christ.
CJ: We loved being at Moore so when Peter was approached about putting his name forward, we felt apprehensive about the huge challenge. It drove us to pray for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance.
DD: The idea seemed remote in the early stages but when Glenn agreed to his name going forward, I think panic and anxiety started to set in for me! However, during the process we were both very aware of the prayer for the nominees and felt at peace knowing God would sustain us and direct our paths.
CR: I was reluctant because I could see that Kanishka was such a good fit as Dean and we had only been at the Cathedral for a few years. We both felt inadequate for the roles of “Archbishop and wife” but prayerfully we came to the conclusion that we needed to trust God with the process and for his equipping.
2. As you look back (or ahead), do you think the privileges outweigh the challenges? In what way?
PG: Certainly they do. The privileges are immense. Extending hospitality and friendship to leaders in the armed forces, church schools, universities, heads of government and Christian organisations were privileges. We didn’t have quite the same contact with individual parishes but did visit many – and other dioceses as well.
CJ: I think the privileges and challenges balance each other out. The greatest privilege is seeing people come to the Lord and meeting them in the churches. There are opportunities to meet Christian leaders here and overseas. And there are those times of making hard decisions and facing criticisms, which are incredibly painful.
DD: Yes absolutely, though when you are in the middle of some of the challenges you might not be thinking of the privileges! However, meeting people from all walks of life – here and overseas – was a great privilege, especially hearing their Christian journeys. A special joy was being alongside a dedicated group of ministry wives and bishops’ wives as we worked and prayed together.
CR: That’s a hard question to answer but I think perhaps the greatest privilege is having the prayers of so many faithful people wanting to uphold their Archbishop and be partners in the work.
But with that come opportunities in speaking with media, political leaders and both national and international leaders. Kanishka has also entered the role at a particularly challenging time with COVID-19 and critical church issues.
3. What doors opened (or open) for you personally and what gifts of your own are you glad to use in the Lord’s service?
PG: I oversaw the refurbishment of Bishopscourt, and Harry and I were able to entertain so many from the Diocese and beyond. It was a privilege to have bishops and archbishops (including the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, and his wife Eileen) and to learn more of the wider Anglican Church. We had ordinands and conferences and garden parties.
CJ: Our time at Moore meant that we knew many ministry families and this new role gave me the opportunity to reconnect with ministry wives. The Network groups began and bi-ennial conferences were great times of fellowship and encouragement. Being president of the Mothers’ Union also gave me the opportunity to minister among some remarkable women.
DD: I love having people to our home but we were only in Bishopscourt for 13 months (and actually lived in four homes during our term, which was challenging!) and this limited our hospitality. Yet we could still host small group gatherings, which we found to be very personal. Meeting up one-to-one with ministry wives was as much an encouragement to me as it was to them.
CR: I’m continuing serving as a cross-cultural advisor with Anglicare, helping churches reach and serve culturally and linguistically diverse people. It’s a privilege to serve as patron to Mothers’ Union and chairwoman of the Ministry Wives Committee. Helping others to persevere in sharing the love of Jesus wherever God has placed them is something I want to do.
4. How did (do) you support your (very unique) husband on difficult days and what kept you going?
PG: I prayed for him and looked to the Lord for myself. I knew there were some difficult times for Harry but when he came home, he would write up his day book, include a prayer in it and say “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” and sleep well. I was happy with that.
CJ: Peter and I have always ministered together and supported each other. We’ve always prayed together each night and brought our concerns to our Heavenly Father. The gift of good friends to share our burdens with was precious.
DD: It is difficult seeing your husband overwhelmed by certain issues but I was thankful that Glenn managed stressful times pretty well, and I was grateful to God for sustaining him. Glenn would often need his own time to think and process but we would always pray together each night and have been very grateful for supportive and prayerful friends.
CR: Thankfully, there haven’t been any really difficult days yet but I think the principle will be the same as before. I want to be available to Kanishka, to be his helper whether that’s relaxing or laughing together or being the one who prays with him or for him. Knowing others are praying is a great encouragement to persevere – and keeping my eyes on Jesus.
5. With so much change for your family and church and timetable and even circles of friends, what would you want people to know and remember in their prayer and support?
PG: We were blessed in that friends prayed and came to see us and shared time with us. Lots of fun times were shared as a family.
CJ: I was humbled by the many who prayed and encouraged us. The Lord sustained us in standing for Jesus. The assistant bishops and staff at St Andrew’s House are great supporters. But there are aspects of the role where decisions need to be taken alone.
DD: The responsibilities and duties do mean that often family and friends miss out on having you with them for special occasions. Do pray for good communication within the Archbishop’s family and times of refreshment for them when opportunities arise.
CR: Please pray for our own geographically distanced family and that we keep our eyes on Jesus. Lockdown has prevented us meeting with many people, so please pray for us building relationships with ministry partners. Pray for wisdom for the best use of our time and the many decisions an Archbishop makes every day.