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Wellington bishop-elect Justin Duckworth

Justin Duckworh bishop-elect WellingtonJustin Duckworth, it has just been announced today, will be the next Anglican Bishop of Wellington.

Some, in reporting this news, are focusing the surprise on his looks: he sports dreadlocks and normally wears shorts and is bare-footed. The surprise, more deeply, is half a dozen years ago Justin was not ordained, not an Anglican.

Justin is a leader in what is normally termed the new monastic movement, a movement that I see as a sign of renewal in the church. And I mean the church ecumenically, not within denominational fences.

Justin’s tale of leading Urban Vision in Wellington is told well in the Taonga article here. [A precis by Anglican Church Media Officer, Lloyd Ashton, of that Taonga article is found here]. Urban Vision is “a contemporary Order following Jesus on the margins.” It has houses in Wellington neighbourhoods where life can be a struggle. In each of those homes, Christians live alongside folk from the margins. Urban Vision includes Ngatiwa, a “contemporary monastery”. Justin is currently working on his PhD on New Monasticism and its relevance to the church.

Justin’s story includes the recent placing of Urban Vision under the oversight of Wellington’s Anglican Diocese, and the ordination of Justin to the priesthood. Justin, then, has followed quite a different path to the episcopate.

I ask you to join me in praying for Justin, his family, Urban Vision, the Diocese of Wellington, and the wider church. [Light a candle in the online Chapel]

Photo source. [I remind those checking out the other photos there that, the captions there notwithstanding, Anglicans need to do more than sign paperwork to become a bishop – whatever else has changed, they still need to be ordained bishop. Currently 😉 ]

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25 thoughts on “Wellington bishop-elect Justin Duckworth”

  1. An exciting election indeed – the baton has passed to a new generation. I recommend Justin and Jenny’s recent book ‘Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom, about their ministry and the formation of Urban Vision.

  2. Awesome news – and great to see he had a shave for the video interviews. Hope he wasn’t wearing shoes though… ‘Justin of Wellington, the Barefoot Bishop’ has a nice ring to it. 😉

  3. Justin was one of the key thinkers at the Festival of Salt and Light earlier this year. He struck me as a man of incredible faith, deep wisdom, and great passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The workshops he led and the presentations he gave were intelligent and practical, and were delivered with humour. I’m very excited to see what Justin will bring to the new role.

    The announcement has spurred me to move his book from my “to be read” pile to the more urgent “read me now” pile on my bedside table. If the introduction is any indication I think it will be a wonderful read.

  4. Steve Benjamin

    Those with a sense of history might remember Paul Oestreicher who was a possible for +Wellington in the 1980’s. Paul is a Quaker and an Anglican which was a problem for many at the time.

    It looks like Wellington diocese has embraced a real ‘alternative’ in its selection this time. It will be interesting to see how the dreads and mitre go down in episcopal visitations to Karori!

    1. I think I am correct, Steve, that it was Wellington’s own Standing Committee who voted down its synod’s choice of Paul? Standing Committee being “synod out of synod”, that possibility was removed from our process for appointing a bishop since then. Blessings.

    2. You ask about “episcopal visitations to Karori”. I think that you need to visit Karori, which is not a old staid church. I was Vicar’s Warden until March 2012, and was a member of the Electoral College. I think that you will find that Karori is and will be a strong supporter of Justin, who spoke at a cafe church service there in late 2011.

  5. Great to hear these news and changes happening at the other side of the world in the church, it is encouraging to know that God is moving his people to change things around. This is a global impediment that we have in our churches today, not only for the young generation but in every stage of the lifespan. I join you in prayer for the life of this man and his family, that he may be an instrument to straight up the way and get the new generations on the Arc for God’s glory!
    Thank you for sharing.

    Blessings from Miami to your church!

  6. To correct a misunderstanding of the events surrounding a previous Wellington Episcopal Synod:

    It was one, or more, of the serving NZ bishops (not Wellington Standing Committee) who turned down Paul Oestreicher, because he was both a Quaker and an Anglican. Apparently, one or more bishops thought that was a conflict or contradiction.

    Prior to that, Francis Foulkes had been approached to run for Bishop of Wellington. Francis declined, saying he did not sense it was God’s will for him, he was called to teach Bible (Francis told me this). Nevertheless, Francis’ name was put up as a candidate (without his knowledge or approval) and Francis he was elected. True to form, Francis turned down the appointment, and a second election was held which Paul Oestreicher won.

    When Paul was turned down (as above), a third Episcopal Synod was convened and Brian Davis (who later became the Archbishop) was subsequently elected and installed.

    Two changes to the electoral process followed those events.

    1. Nomination forms now require the signature of any candidate, indicating their approval that their name be put forward.

    2. All candidates have to be vetted by a committee before the nomination process can proceed, to ensure that all candidates met the requirements of the office, as understood by the Anglican Church at that time.

      1. Dear Bosco

        As you are probably aware, not everything done, or forbidden, within the Church is backed by Canons. My account is developed from discussions with Francis Foulkes, with several leading people in Wellington and Auckland Diocese.

        Whether or not signatures are required by the Canons, they were not required when Frances was put up and now they are. This I am told was a direct result of Francis turning down the appointment.

        Whether or not vetting of candidates is now authorized, required or even allowed by the Canons, I cannot say. When Paul’s name was put forward, there was no such vetting, now there is, certainly in Auckland Diocese.

        I have read the account you linked to. That article states:

        “The standing committees of seven of the eight dioceses in the Church of the Province of New Zealand — including the Diocese of Wellington — have failed to ratify the episcopal election by the synod of that diocese of Quaker and Anglican clergyman the Rev. Canon Paul Oestreicher . . . While the nominating synod knew that Oestreicher was a Quaker, that seems to have been a stumbling block for some of the bishops and standing committees.”

        So, whether or not the changes which are now in force, re signatures and vetting, are enshrined in the Canons, I cannot say; they are, ipso facto, what now occurs.

        1. Ron, previously, as the article states, and as I mentioned, the Standing Committees were part of the electoral process. That is no longer the case since the Wellington Standing Committee voted against its own electoral college of which it was synod-out-of-synod! The photos on Taonga show Justin signing papers, after accepting the invitation to be the next Bishop of Wellington, at the end of the electoral process – as required by Canon. I have no idea what would constitute your “vetting committee” prior to the electoral college that you speak of. Individuals can and do get proposed on the floor of the electoral college, in fact canonically no one can be proposed until the electoral college has been constituted. Blessings.

          1. As before, not everything that happens within the Church is approved by Canons.

            I suggest you check out the process that preceded the last Auckland Episcopal Synod for the Diocesan, re vetting.

          2. What you call “vetting”, Ron, fits under Title A, Canon 1, 2.8: “An electoral college may otherwise determine its own procedures and processes of consultation, decision making and nomination”. Whatever process your electoral college in Auckland decided to follow is not a requirement on others to follow. Blessings.

  7. Something tells me this story belongs together with the story of US nuns, whose prophetic efforts to minister on the margins of society are now under Vatican attack.

    Yes, this is an ecumenical reason to celebrate!

    Prayers for all concerned and blessings upon you, Bosco.

  8. Bruce W. Cory

    Very exciting! He sounds like a true visionary with passion. I hope he isn’t co-opted by the institution!


  9. Virginia Hanning

    He sounds like a very mission minded person which the church ( at large) needs desperately. Think you would look interesting in dreads!
    Have a Blessed Easter season

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