Second* Woman Diocesan Anglican Bishop in Australia

“CHALLENGING, a bit terrifying, but also really exciting” that’s how Gippsland’s newly ordained Anglican Bishop Kay Goldsworthy describes the job in front of her.

Bishop Goldsworthy was officially installed into her new role as the head of the Gippsland diocese on Saturday, replacing John McIntyre who died unexpectedly last year.

Originally from Melbourne, Bishop Goldsworthy has been a part of a number of historical firsts for the Anglican Church in Australia.

She was among the first group of women to be ordained deacons in 1986, before also being one of the first installed to the role of priest in 1992.

However, by far her biggest accolade was being named as the first female Anglican Bishop in Australia.

“It was an absolute honour,” Bishop Goldsworthy said. “I was one of 10 women who were made a priest when I was ordained, but as a bishop usually you’re it, you’re the person. So I felt very aware that I was going to be standing alone and there was a sense of privilege, honour and responsibility.”

It is an honour that has taken Bishop Goldsworthy across the width of the country, arriving in Sale from her latest appointment as assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Perth.

Bishop Kay Goldsworthy at her installation.

Bishop Kay Goldsworthy at her installation.

Moving from one of the nation’s capital cities to a less populated regional diocese is something she believes is all a natural part of her vocation.

“For Christians vocation has always got to be part of our language,” she said.

“(You have) to be open to the idea that God might, as one prayer we have says, ‘disturb our settled lives’. My life is very settled really and this call and answering it, being open to the possibility that God was moving me towards this and moving the diocese of Gippsland towards this was very important.”

First introduced to the church as a child by her parents, she chose to dedicate her life to the church for a simple reason.

“I grew up in a family of believers, not big church goers, but believers, and I think that the story of Jesus made sense for me,” Bishop Goldsworthy said.

Over the nearly three decades she has been dedicated to the religion, Bishop Goldsworthy has seen many changes both inside and outside the walls of the church.

From the increase in leadership roles for women in the church, to the decline of rural communities and the environmental footprint being left for future generations. Bishop Goldsworthy hopes to be able to have an influence and make a difference in the many challenges facing the Gippsland region.

“We do have a responsibility about how we leave our footprint and what kind of footprint we do leave for the next generations,” she said.

“I think one of the challenges is the future of coal and the impact of that on local communities and the environmental issues around that. It’s such a kind of two edged thing, we know this, but we also know that we need to live and we need to provide for our families and we need jobs.”

However, the Bishop admits her most immediate challenge will be to find her way around the region and to get to know the area.

“I had been to parts of Gippsland before and I grew up in Melbourne, so I knew bits and pieces about different parts of Gippsland,” she said.

“My father can tell terrific stories about both fishing and rabbiting in this part of the world when he was a young man, and I’m looking forward to learning about things like this beautiful, beautiful lake system, the waters are just gorgeous.”

Bishop Goldsworthy hopes her affect on the diocese which stretches from Orbost in the east to Nar Nar Goon in the west will not be limited to just those within the church or school walls, but will positively impact all throughout the communities.

“I hope that I’ve got an attentive ear to listen to their hopes and their dreams and their anxieties and to be still enough to be able to pray with people and to sit with people in the very hardest of times, as well as cheer them on in the best of times.”

There will be more photos from the installation in Friday’s Gippsland Times.


This article, in the ACNA web-site from the Gippsland Times in Australia, bring the good news of the installation of the new Bishop of Gippsland.  Bishop Kay Goldsworthy is now the second* woman to be be given charge of a diocese in Australia.

As one of the first women deacons in the Australian Anglican Church in 1986, +Kay was ordained to the priesthood in 1992. She was the first woman to be ordained a bishop in the Church, serving as an assistant bishop in the Perth Diocese. In moving to Gippsland, she has now been installed as the second female diocesan bishop in the Australian Church.

This promotion of Bishop Kay further denotes the importance of women as co-leaders in the Church in Australia, bringing it into the ethos of other Anglican Church around the world who have entrusted women with the task of teaching and pastoring the Faithful of the body of Christ in the world. My prayers are for her nurture and blessing in this role.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

(n.b.I had originally said that +Kay Goldsworth had added another ‘first’  to her record of clerical advancements in the Australian Anglican Church. However, Brian Ralph has kindly informed me that +Kay was only the second* woman to be installed as a diocesan bishop in Australia. Sarah Macneil is the current Anglican Bishop of Grafton. She was consecrated and installed as bishop on 1 March 2014)

n.b (2) Brother Donald Andrew, SSF., now tells me that Gippsland is not actually a real ‘diocese’ but only a region in a diocese. So this makes +Kay, like Bishop Libby Lane, in the Church of England, still an ‘assistant’ – ‘suffragan’ – rather than a ‘diocesan’ bishop.

Stop Press: Bro Donald now tells me he was mistaken. Gippsland is a diocese. Oh dear!

Father Ron Smith.


About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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2 Responses to Second* Woman Diocesan Anglican Bishop in Australia

  1. Brian Ralph says:

    While a wonderful woman and first woman bishop, she was slightly pipped on the post for first woman Diocesan in Australia.
    Sarah Macneil is the current Anglican Bishop of Grafton. She was consecrated and installed as bishop on 1 March 2014, becoming the first woman in Australia to lead a diocese.
    I note with sadness that Barbara Darling, the 2nd woman bishop in Australia, an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne died on February 15, 2015. Like me, she grew up in Sydney but had to move elsewhere. I had the pleasure of meeting her and she told me she boarded the plane a bishop in Melbourne and alighted a deacon in Sydney.

  2. kiwianglo says:

    Hello, Brian. I’m now informed by Brother Donald, SSF., that Bishop Kay in not officially even a diocesan bishop, as Gippsland is only a region of another diocese. It seems that this situation is very much like the first woman bishop in the Church of England, +Libby Lane; who, as Bishop of Stockport, is not really a ‘diocesan’ but a ‘suffragan’ bishop in the Chester Diocese. Grafton, as I now understand it, is a free-standing diocese; making Sarah Macneil the sole Anglican diocesan bishop in Australia. At least, Australia does have one female diocesan bishop. England is still lagging behind!

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