Saturday, August 10, 2013

Comparing the Phillip Jensen...and removed from the Phillip Jensen website and The Briefing

In my previous two articles, I looked at the process of election and at what an Archbishop is. In those articles I was writing of principles without intention of praising or criticising either candidate nominated for election.
 On the subject of “What is an Archbishop?” I concluded that:
…the Archbishop must be first and foremost a man of God, a minister of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. A man who, in undertaking the varied tasks of the Archbishop, does more than fulfil due process – for he has the bigger picture in mind …a theological one that explains the practical implications of the gospel…a man who takes every opportunity to minister the gospel, both personally and publicly – initiating, sponsoring and engaging in it as he sees fit.
Furthermore, I argued that:
Our choice is not so much between which man will best fill the role of Archbishop but what kind of Archbishop will either man be? The question is not so much “what does the Archbishop do?” as “what would this man do if he were Archbishop?” … How does he express the gospel in the complexities of life?
However, in this article we come to comparing the candidates. And when there are only two, any praise of one carries a certain criticism of the other – at least that is what the reader will infer whether or not the writer implies it. So I will try to be explicit in my comparisons and relatively objective. And though the comparison will show some reasoning, I will leave it to my next and last article to detail the rationale for why I have chosen to nominate Rick and not Glenn.
With the forthcoming election we have to make a choice between two wonderful Christian brothers. This puts a bias on my essay, as I am looking for contrast more than comparison. Glenn and Rick have much in common to compare – much that is good and right and true – but I am looking for what would separate them. So I am looking for differences more than an objective comparison should. What is there to separate them? What kind of Archbishop would each be? What do they bring to the role that will most help advance the cause of Christ?
A simple CV of achievements will not do. It limits a person’s qualities to a few obvious achievements, and omits many of the absolutely critical factors; while it tells you little about the person. Furthermore, it is hard to compare CVs when the two are working in different fields. Additionally, as I argued in the last essay, the role has no set pre-requisite experiences other than the godliness of the minister. So from a simple CV, if you wanted an academic you may be tempted to vote for Glenn, but if you wanted a parish man you would vote for Rick.
How then, do you compare these two men? What are the differences they would bring to the table? Several aspects have been widely canvassed – age, length of service, academic training, experience – but there are also differing skills, personality, gifts and abilities that may be observable. The most obvious point of comparison, which affects several others, is the difference of age between the two candidates. It directly affects the past experience and the expected tenure of the two men.
1          The Age Difference
Age is the biggest single difference between the candidates. This difference has been clouded by comments about the age of retirement by supporters of both men as they try to win people to their side. So let’s get the facts right first of all.
1.1       Getting the Facts straight
So putting the facts first:
  • Glenn was born in September 1950 and would turn 63 shortly after becoming Archbishop;
  • Rick was born in April 1964 and would be 49 at the age of becoming Archbishop.
1.2       The Age of Retirement
I don’t want to enter into the debate about whether there should ever be retirement ages – the fact is that we have them and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be having an election at this stage, for it was Peter Jensen’s 70th birthday that led to his retirement and this election.
Let’s now get the facts about retirement straight.
  • The compulsory retirement age for Archbishop established in the 2010 synod is 68.
  • There is a possibility of extension for 2 years to 70, which can be applied for only after the Archbishop turns 65 provided 75% of both the house of laity and the house of clergy in Standing Committee agree.[1]
Slightly less factual and more interpretive is to point out the history of this age of retirement.
The legislation of retirement at 70 was first introduced at the time of Marcus Loane. This was continued for the episcopacies of Donald Robinson and Harry Goodhew. However, in 1993 the age for the following Archbishop was reduced to 65 in line with other clergy, with the possibility of extension to 70 by a simple majority of Standing Committee.
Early in Peter Jensen’s time (April, 2003) this extension was sought and given by Standing Committee on the basis of a motion: “recognising the historical significance of the recently adopted Diocesan Mission and also recognising the critical importance of Archbishop Peter Jensen’s leadership to it…”. This motion was hotly contested with several significant amendments and even a procedural motion to not debate the issue at all. When put to a secret ballot, it passed 32 votes to 10, and so Peter continued till the end of the decade-long mission.
In 2010 a long discussion was held in Synod over the retirement age. Some wanted a fixed term of a number of years in order to have younger archbishops in the future, others wanted it to remain at 65, still others wanted to raise it in line with increasing community retirement ages. The synod resolved by ordinance the retirement age of 68 with the possibility of extension, but with the very high hurdles to cross as outlined above.
1.3.      The Length of Tenure
The factual situation is that
  • Glenn would be elected for 5 years
  • Rick would be elected for 19 years
Neither side of supporters seems happy with these figures, as both present them differently.
The presentations of the supporters:
  • Those proposing Glenn assume an extension to 70, and so argue for a 7 year episcopacy. “Glenn Davies will be 62 at the time of the Archbishop’s election Synod. Assuming our current pattern of Archbishops serving until the age of 70, Glenn will be able to lead this diocese for 7 years.” The maths problem (of 62+7=70) indicates something of the fudge factor here. It is true but slightly misleading to say he will be 62 at the time of the election, when he turns 63 the next month. It is arguable that our current pattern is to serve till 70 as the last 4 archbishops have, but our legislation says 68, and it is a big assumption that 75% of both houses of Standing Committee are going to grant an extension that cannot even be requested till he is over 65.
  • Those proposing Rick report that, he has stated his intention to resign at 65. This would give him a 16 year episcopacy. However, he would be elected till 68 and could not be forced to retire before then, which would be in 19 years time.
In making comparisons, it seems to me, we either stick to the letter of the law and compare a 5 year episcopacy with a 19 year episcopacy, or we accept what the supporters are saying from both sides and compare a 7 year episcopacy with a 16 year episcopacy. Neither side can assure their outcome as a certainty, for Glenn’s extension requires a 75% of both clergy and laity in Standing Committee. Rick’s retirement requires him to be true to his word.
What is false is to compare the legalities of one side with the desires of the other, such as saying Glenn for 5 and Rick for 16 or Glenn for 7 and Rick for 19. Whenever somebody says Glenn for 5 years, the fair comparison will be Rick for 19, and whenever somebody says Rick for 16 years, the fair comparison is Glenn for 7 years.
When anybody says Rick for 21 years they are exaggerating, for that is a decision that could not even be applied for until 2029 and by then 75% of both houses of the Standing Committee would have to be persuaded that it would be good to extend the 65+ year old man for another 2 years beyond 68. Any fear factor of a 21 year episcopate has next to no reality behind it.
2          The Age and Tenure of Archbishops
To put the age difference into perspective it may be helpful to note the age and tenure of Sydney Archbishops in history, and currently elsewhere. In one sense this is irrelevant, as what is done in the past or now in other places does not commit us to following their patterns. However, it at least frees our mind to think of the possibilities, and to recognise if we would be taking an unusual step in electing either man.
2.1       Sydney Archbishops
Sydney has had 11 Archbishops. Their age at appointment and tenure can be seen in the following table.
To appoint Rick Smith would be to elect the fifth youngest, but to elect Glenn would be to elect the oldest Archbishop ever. This can be seen dramatically in the next graph.
While electing Glenn would be at the extreme end of the age spectrum of Sydney Archbishops, the bigger difference is that of length of tenure. To elect Rick for 19 years would be 4 years longer than the average, but to elect Glenn for 5 years would be 10 years shorter than the average. It would be the shortest tenure apart from Alfred Barry’s[2] short and unhappy time. Even if we grant Glenn the 7 year term, it would still only make him equal in tenure to the two archbishops to resign (Barry and Gough) – both unhappily. While if Rick resigned at 65, he would be in line with the average tenure of Archbishops.
The Archbishops we look back to, as pivotal in the forming of our diocese were Barker and Mowll – the two youngest Archbishops, who served the longest. Both of them were younger than Rick Smith at the time of election and continued in office longer than Rick would be able to. Not that their age or length of service made them the most important. Rather it indicates there is nothing wrong or even unprecedented in appointing a man of 49 for 19 years. Indeed there may well be something advantageous in allowing for enough time and stability to bring about lasting developments. Furthermore, the extension granted to Peter Jensen was not a desire for him to minister till he was 70, but because his 7 year tenure was too short to see his mission programme through.
2.2       Current Australian Archbishops
When we look at the Archbishops of Australia serving at the moment, none were appointed when over 60, three in their 50s and one in his 40s. In fact appointing Glenn would make our Archbishop the second oldest in the nation.
  • Perth:          Roger Herft     appointed at age 56 (b1948, current age 65)
  • Adelaide:    Jeffrey Driver   appointed at age 54 (b1951, current age 62)
  • Melbourne: Philip Freier     appointed at age 51 (b 1955, current age 58)
  • Brisbane:    Philip Aspinall  appointed at age 43 (b1959, current age 54)
While we do not have to follow suit in appointing a man of 49, it is as well to realise that there is nothing abnormal or unusual today in having an archbishop of this age, while there is something quite strange and out of keeping with present practice to appoint an Archbishop who is already in his 60s.
2.3       Archbishops of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury does not have to retire till 70, and yet the last three were in their 50s when appointed. George Carey was 56, Rowan Williams 52, and Justin Welby 57. In the last election, it was widely reported that John Sentamu of York, at 63, and Richard Chartres of London, at 65, were considered too old for the appointment.
Again we do not want to follow the British line, but with a younger retirement age than they have, it can be seen that electing a man of 49 as an Archbishop is not radical, unusual or out of keeping with the present practice, But to elect a man of nearly 63 would be quite unusual.
3          The Difference Age Makes
When we think of what a man will bring to the job, age generally affects his contribution. In general as we get older we have more experience of life, and less energy and good health for work. We have greater knowledge of how things are done and corporate history of why things are the way they are, but less creativity in developing new ways of operating and certainly less time to bring our plans into effect.
We must be aware of stereotyping where we do not let a man be different from the general group in which he falls. Some old men are full of energy and some young men full of wisdom. However, the Bible does teach the general observation: The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendour of old men is their grey hair (Prov 20:29).
In this case we are not comparing a young man with an old man – grey hair can be seen in them both – but a man one year off fifty, with a man who is 2 years off retirement. They are both senior men, but with a considerable age gap. So how do we compare what they will bring to the office of Archbishop?
One way to compare two men of different age is to see what they were doing at the same age. We cannot know Rick at 62, but we can know Glenn at 49.
3.1       Comparing at 49
At 49 both were rectors of a parish: Glenn had been the rector of St Luke’s Miranda for about 5 years and Rick has been rector[3] of Naremburn/Cammeray for about 14 years. Both also at that time served the wider concerns of the diocese.
Here then, at 49, were two men actively involved in parish ministry, both taking responsibility as diocesan leaders. Neither was displaying more responsibility or leadership than the other, or receiving wider respect by their colleagues and peers. Naturally, given Glenn’s years in college he was serving more in education, liturgy and doctrine – while Rick’s greater parish experience led him to serve in evangelism, mentoring ministers and leading in the wider mission of his region. 
3.2       Prior to 49
However, prior to this they had different experience to bring to their ministry.
In life experience Glenn lived in the world of education and Christian ministry. He was raised in the Northern suburbs of Sydney and attended ‘Shore’ School and Sydney University. After university, his work experience was in a small Rudolf Steiner school in Middle Cove, prior to going to a Presbyterian Seminary in America. Returning to Australia he married and spent a year at Moore before serving 2 years as an assistant minister in Willoughby. Glenn then returned to Moore before studying in Sheffield University, before returning to Moore and then into the Shire at Miranda.
Rick is the boy from Towradgi (a multicultural suburb of Wollongong). He had a public school education before studying at Sydney University, employment in banking, sport, marriage and parenthood before entering Moore College. Like Glenn he had 2 years as an assistant minister on the North Shore, before taking charge of ‘re-potting’ the parish of Naremburn/Cammeray.
In academic qualifications, there is some difference. Both gained their first degrees from Sydney University, but then their paths separated.
Glenn chose to train at the Presbyterian Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Rick chose to train in Sydney as a diocesan ordination candidate at Moore College. Glenn’s 4 years full-time theological study led to two masters degrees MDiv ThM; Rick’s 4 years full-time theological study leading to the BD. Returning to Australia Glenn added a Diploma in Arts from Moore college; while in his time at Moore Rick received the Diploma in Ministry. Comparing those qualifications becomes difficult, because in theology, what Americans call Masters degrees, Australians would still call Bachelor degrees, and if we undertake the BD at Moore we do not add the BTh to it as well.
Post College, Glenn has been awarded a PhD from Sheffield University, while Rick has passed his MA in theology from Moore. In Academic qualifications Glenn at 49 was more qualified than Rick – a Doctorate compared to a Masters.
In academic training there are three significant differences.
  • We learn as we teach and Glenn had the privilege of 10 years teaching and writing at Moore College, while Rick’s teaching, evangelising and preaching was in the parish.
  • Glenn had 2 more years of full-time study for his doctorate, while Rick undertook his Masters by part time study.
  • Glenn’s initial training was in the context of the Presbyterian and Calvinist Covenantalism of Westminster, while Rick’s was in the Anglican and Evangelical Biblical theology of Moore.
3.3       After 49
Of course we cannot compare the two men after 49, as only Glenn has traversed that country. He finished 7 years at Miranda and has been the Regional Bishop of North Sydney for the last 11 years.
With these years has come the experience that flows from the appointment. He has proven himself to be a competent and efficient regional bishop and has undertaken a number of committees and works in the diocese, and beyond, as a result of his appointment.
4          Comparing Outcomes
God is sovereign and we know that one man waters, another plants, but it is God who gives the growth. However, we also know that the sluggard ruins his farm and the hard working farmer deserves the first share of the crop. So while, we hold the truth of God’s sovereign ordering of results, we cannot compare candidates without paying some attention to how God has blessed the labour and used the gifts he has given them to prepare them for more labour.
4.1       Parish Experience
One clear place to compare the two candidates is in the outcomes of their parish ministry.
The Diocese of Sydney is a parish-based missionary diocese – committed to proclaiming the gospel to our city and to the world. The goals of the diocese are to grow churches, plant churches, establish cross-cultural ministries to our ethnically diverse cities, and address the property needs of the parishes.
Parish ministry is not irrelevant to the role of Archbishop, as he leads a diocese based on parish ministry. Yet, as Peter Jensen demonstrated, experience in parish ministry is not an essential for the task. As I have already argued, there are no particular experiences a man must have to be Archbishop – it is what he is as a man and what he makes of the experiences.
Yet the parish ministry is a good place to compare the leadership of the two men. For it is the only time that Glenn has been accountable as the leader, rather than being a team member responsible for implementing another leader’s policies and programmes.
Furthermore, it is the stage of life when we can compare them as they both worked as parish rectors in their late 40s.
4.2       Parish Outcomes
When comparing the outcome of their efforts there is a striking difference.
It is hard to get reliable accounts of church growth. Members and attendees are not always counted in the same way and memories are very variable in their accuracy. One measure that is an audited and reliable index of church life is parish income. The counting is accurate, the figures are published, we can take account of variables such as changes in the cost of living, and differing wealth of parishioners.[4]
Using net receipts as an index, Glenn’s ministry at St Luke’s Miranda showed steady growth. St Luke’s has been for some time, and still is now, an effective parish church, well located beside the shopping Mall on the main road, with the largest income of any of the churches in the Sutherland Shire - one of the Bible-belt, middle class family areas of Sydney.
Starting from a base line well in advance of the average parish, the Miranda net receipts increased at a faster rate than the average parish before, during and after Glenn’s ministry there. You cannot tell from the following graph when Glenn was rector, apart from the normal slight downturn that occurs when parishes change rectors, in both the year before and after him[5]. On this measure Glenn’s ministry appears quite effective but in no way extraordinary. There is little difference in the growth of Miranda before or after Glenn. Comparing Miranda under Glenn with comparable neighbouring churches (Gymea, Engadine, Menai, Caringbah) also shows nothing unusual about Miranda’s growth.
However, when looking at the growth at Naremburn/Cammeray, something altogether different is observed. The parish was not in the Bible-belt of the Northern Suburbs at the time Rick took responsibility. Just the reverse! It had been in the doldrums facing closure for some decades. The two parishes Naremburn and Cammeray, had been joined together in the 1970s and by 1997 two of the branch churches and three of their halls had been demolished, while the two rectories were sold and a new one built on site. This was a parish in serious decline, unable to pay for itself and facing closure. The net receipts, as can be seen on the accompanying graph were well below the diocesan average.
The following graph shows the quite incredible change that came upon the church with the arrival of Rick Smith. The growth was almost immediate, as St Thomas’ North Sydney, helped to ‘re-pot’ the church, but that does not explain the continuing growth over the next 14 years. It was not just as a small, but also as a medium size and as a large ministry that Rick Smith has led a church through quite astonishing growth. In the process he has planted churches, renovated old buildings, and reached out to new ethnic minority groups.
The growth has continued at a rate unparalleled in the diocese. During the first decade of this century[6], the average growth of parish offertories was a healthy 10% per annum (the median 8%). A few churches grew the most in percentage simply because they started on the smallest base[7]. But leaving them aside and only including churches with offertories of over $100k in 2001, Naremburn (based at $150k) grew the fastest in the whole diocese[8]. Only 6 churches grew faster than 20% per annum. Only 2 churches grew faster than 30% per annum. And of them, Naremburn’s growth at 55% per annum stands out like a Don Bradman batting average.
This is not an average or above-average church and ministry – this is an out-of-the-box, extraordinary result that testifies to Rick Smith’s vision, leadership and ability.[9]
4.3       Parish Leadership Vision and Mission
It is in the context of this demonstrable growth that the parish leadership, vision and mission of each can be compared.

For those proposing Glenn for Archbishop speak of his great ministry within the Parish of Miranda, with significant growth in numbers and commencing youth service in the evening. This is what you would expect from a competent and able minister like Glenn.
However, the Naremburn/Cammeray story is of a different character, showing a leader who can cast a gospel vision beyond the normal and gather people, finances and resources to bringing the vision into effect. For in his time at Naremburn/Cammeray, Rick has planted 10 congregations. He has crossed cultural barriers, even linguistic barriers, to bring the gospel to the area, planting three Chinese churches and a Japanese ministry. He has recruited, trained and managed a large staff team, including cross-cultural evangelists. He has undertaken and finished one major building programme ($3.95 million), and is in the process of doing a second one ($3 million).
Rick has done what our diocesan leadership is asking of us. He has, by evangelism, planted and grown churches, reached across the cultural divide and addressed the property needs not only of the present but the future.
These are key reasons why the vast majority of elected leaders in the diocese in Mission Board, Standing Committee, Evangelism and New Churches, Mission Area Leaders, General Synod representatives etc. have nominated Rick, and not Glenn – for they see in Rick leadership in vision and mission.
4.4       Non-Parish Outcomes
Glenn only spent half the time in parish as Rick and so the parish comparison can be a little unfair. He spent time both lecturing in college and 11 years as a regional bishop.
However, what is observed in the parish comparisons is also apparent in his lecturing and episcopacy. He is a very competent man who works well in the structure doing what is required, but does not do the extraordinary; does not lead people in gospel mission beyond what is required and expected. He has not shown himself as the visionary or the mission leader but the effective implementer of other people’s leadership.
Glenn was greatly appreciated as a lecturer in college. He was loved for his humour and gregarious warmth. He was a competent member of the staff, lecturing first in the Old Testament and then after his doctorate, in the New. However, it was as the College Registrar that he made his distinctive contribution. His energy, industry and efficiency shone in the detailed administration of that task. There never was a part time Registrar after Glenn! When compared with his contemporaries he was not in the front line of scholarship with Peter O’Brien or Bill Dumbrell. As the bibliography provided by his supporters shows, his articles were not in high quality peer reviewed academic journals. Nor was he as productive a writer as his predecessor Paul Barnett, who published at least five books, including a major commentary on 2 Corinthians, while Bishop of North Sydney. But everybody agrees that Glenn did a great job as Registrar.
Similarly, his work as a regional bishop has been greatly appreciated, as he has served the parishes and clergy with grace, wisdom and faithfulness. He is a good regional bishop, especially helping parishes through the labyrinth of ordinances and administration. As is required of him, he manages the organisation. However, notwithstanding, individual churches like Naremburn/Cammeray, there is no indication that he has led his region into a greater spiritual health, evangelistic effectiveness or more ‘flourishing parishes’ than his predecessors or other regional bishops. The graph of the published diocesan attendance figures, shows no significant difference in growth between his region and the others.
Although his region enjoys a larger church going population with consequent greater resources, he has maintained it well but not led it to greater growth. To illustrate this, the following table shows greater income growth in the churches of Fairfield than in Kur-ing-gai.
5          Contrasting Two Men
So what will each man bring to the role of Archbishop?  This essay is mis-named as I have not been comparing so much as contrasting the two men. I have not dwelt upon the many great and small things that both men will bring, as I am looking to see the difference. Both men, for example, are competent preachers, articulate public speakers and highly presentable as the public face of Sydney Anglicanism, etc.
Glenn, because he is older and because he has worked in College and as a bishop will bring a wider and longer experience of Christian ministry than Rick, for an inadequately short period of time. However, the experience he brings is not vision setting, dynamic, evangelistic outreach and growth, but competent and faithful management of the responsibilities given to him.
Rick has consistently demonstrated that it is his deep passion as a sinner saved by grace that drives his distinctive urgency to preach the Saviour to others. He brings the experience of mission – casting a vision and gathering the resources to bring it to fruition; reaching beyond the boundaries to make the system work for others’ salvation. He brings the experience of pioneering the direction we wish to go – evangelistically growing and planting churches, especially across cultures.
The contrast in many ways is between the second and the first chair, between the administrator and the leader. Both are needed, and their partnership is vital, but it is a great mistake to have them sitting in the wrong chairs.
While you may think this comparison, especially my conclusion, may be sufficient to guess why I have chosen to nominate Rick and not to nominate Glenn, it is in my next article that I aim to set out the reasons for my choice.
[1] The details are in the “Retirements Ordinance 1993 as amended 2010”
[2] Bishop Barry was not titled Archbishop, his successor Saumarez Smith was the first Archbishop of Sydney.
[3] Previously incumbents of provisional parishes were called Curates-in-Charge but all are now called Rector. Rick was Curate-in-Charge 2000-2004 and Rector 2005-2013.
[4] Unfortunately, prior to 2000, offertories were not distinguished from Net Receipts in the published figures. This distorts favourably those churches, such as Miranda, that receive substantial amounts of money from property.
[5] The downturn prior to his appointment was more severe as there was a long gap between the previous rector Paul Perini leaving and Glenn’s appointment. There was no rector for the whole of 2004.
[6] When offertories as well as net receipts were published and the affect of property income could be accounted for
[7] e.g. one parish grew by 500% per year but it started with an offertory income of only $3453
[8] Miranda, without its property income, grew at just under 6% in offertories alone, though its growth rate in net receipts was higher than the diocesan average and in line with the 1990’s when Glenn was rector.
[9] Lest it be thought of as a sheep stealing, transfer growth ministry, the National Church Life Survey listed three of the Naremburn/Cammeray churches in the top ten evangelistic growth churches. Lest it is thought that it is just rich people giving lots of money – there are statistics of membership and attendance growth that match the offertory increases.
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