Anglican Diocese of Tasmania

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Coordinates: 42°49′59″S 147°19′37″E / 42.833°S 147.327°E / -42.833; 147.327

Diocese of Tasmania
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Ecclesiastical provinceExtra-provincial
  • Level 1
  • 125 Macquarie Street
  • Hobart TAS 7000
- Total

Established21 August 1842 (1842-08-21)
CathedralSt David's Cathedral, Hobart
Current leadership
Parent churchAnglican Church of Australia
  • Richard Humphrey
  • (since 2009)
Diocese of Tasmania

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 twelfth Bishop of Tasmania, ordained as bishop and installed on 19 March 2016, is Richard Condie.


Tasmania is a low church/evangelical diocese. In contrast to the Diocese of Sydney's long heritage of evangelicalism or Brisbane or Ballarat's unwavering liberal Anglo-Catholicism, Tasmania's churchmanship has varied over time but it has now returned to its evangelical roots.[3]

In its earliest days, the diocese had a decidedly low church outlook, with priests such as Richard Deodatus Poulett Harris condemning "popery".[4]

During the 1940s, high churchmen had the "experience of being a ‘Lone Scout type Catholic’ in conservative evangelical 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’".[5]

Since the 1980s, the Diocese has reverted to a strongly evangelical orientation. The last two bishops, John Harrower and Richard Condie, have both supported this stance. Most of the current clergy in the Diocese are trained at the evangelical Ridley College.[6]

Bishop Condie is also the Chairman of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and a member of GAFCON.[7]


Robert Knopwood, a member of the original settlement in 1803, was responsible for the initial establishment of Anglicanism in the colony.[8] Also important for the development of Anglicanism in the colony was the arrival of the Bible Society in 1819.[9] Although most of the mainline denominations were well represented in Tasmania, Anglicanism was well established by the 1830s.[10]

Church control of the educational system was a contested issue of the 1840s, with a division between Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics.[11] 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.[12][13] 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.[14] In 1866, there were two archdeaconries: Rowland Robert Davies was Archdeacon of Hobart Town and Thomas Reibey of Launceston.[15]

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.[16]


There are three schools associated with the diocese: Hutchins School, Launceston Church Grammar School and St Michael's Collegiate School.[17]

Welfare and social justice[edit]

The Diocese has various charitable organisations such as the welfare provider Anglicare and the Mission to Seafarers.[18]

There is a strong Christian pacifist subculture in the Diocese. In 2012, a minister from the Diocese, Reverend Nathanael Reuss, was even elected global chairman of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship.[19][20]


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.[21]

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.[22]

As a result of these finding, the church provided compensation. More recently the diocese has focused on providing safe ministry with the bishop, John Harrower, saying during his episcopate that "the church is committed to stamping out child sexual abuse within its ranks."[23] He also lobbied the federal government about this issue.[24]

The Diocese was called before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in November 2014[25] and January 2016.[26]


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.[27] 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.[28]

In the diocese there are 107 active clergy and 51 parishes.[29]

Bishops of Tasmania[edit]

Vernon Cornish[edit]

John Vernon Kestell Cornish (13 October 1931 – 26 January 1982)[30] was consecrated 19 May 1979 at St George's Cathedral, Perth, to serve as Assistant Bishop of Perth. He was elected Bishop of Tasmania (to succeed Davies) in 1981, but died suddenly, after moving to Hobart but before his scheduled enthronement;[31] Newell was elected in his stead the same year.[32]

Assistant bishops[edit]

These men have served as assistant bishops (initially styled "missioner bishops"[33]) in the diocese:[34]

  • Mervyn Stanton, consecrated 21 December 1985[35]
  • Chris Jones, Assistant Bishop (Vicar-General)[36] (2008–present)
  • Ross Nicholson, Assistant Bishop (Mission)[37] (2008–2017)

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. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia, 132.
  4. ^ Poulett Harris, Intercession for Rulers, a Christian Duty: Being the Queen's Birthday, and the First Sunday After the Public Holiday Appointed in Honour of the Marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Princess Alexandra, 3, Examiner Steam Press, Hobart, 1863.
  5. ^ The Anglo-Catholic Tradition in Australian Anglicanism
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Lloyd Robson, A History of Tasmania: Van Diemen's Land from the Earliest Times to 1855 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1983)
  9. ^ Bruce Kaye, Anglicanism in Australia (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2002): 13
  10. ^ Ian Breward, A History of the Australian Churches (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1993): 223
  11. ^ Breward, A History of the Australian Churches., 40.
  12. ^ "History of St David's Cathedral". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  13. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2007): 58.
  14. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia, 74.
  15. ^ The Clergy List for 1866 (London: George Cox, 1866) p. 466
  16. ^ Kaye, Anglicanism in Australia, 131.
  17. ^ 'Anglican Organisations and Societies' Diocesan Directory 2008–2009 (Hobart: Anglican Church of Tasmania, 2008): 5–6.
  18. ^ 'Anglican Organisations and Societies' Diocesan Directory 2008–2009 (Hobart: Anglican Church of Tasmania, 2008): 5–6.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Kaye, Anglicanism in Australia, 133–135.
  22. ^ "Stateline transcript". Archived from the original on 12 November 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  23. ^ "Church welcomes sexual abuse report", ABC News (18 June 2009), [1]. Retrieved 27 June 2009.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Special notice from the Headmaster regarding the Royal Commission hearing | Latest news | The Hutchins School, Hobart Tasmania". Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  26. ^ "Sexual abuse inquiry to focus on Hobart's Church of England Boys' Society". 26 January 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  27. ^ Wayne Brighton, Attendance Statistics for the Anglican Church of Australia (NCLS:2004): 18.
  28. ^ Frame, Anglicans in Australia, 127.
  29. ^ Grutzner, The Australian Anglican Directory, 15 & 109–111.
  30. ^ "Cornish, John Vernon Kestell". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U163156. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  31. ^ Living Church
  32. ^ All Saints Anglican Network Tasmania — Biographies § Henry Jerrim
  33. ^ cavdom (19 December 2007), Missioner Bishops for Diocese of Tasmania, retrieved 27 September 2016
  34. ^ "Anglican Church in Tasmania – People directory". Archived from the original on 21 September 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  35. ^ [2]
  36. ^ "People directory | Anglican Church in Tasmania". Archived from the original on 26 September 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  37. ^ "People directory | Anglican Church in Tasmania". Archived from the original on 26 September 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.

External links[edit]