By Sarah Crutch, 2 December 2017
Bishop Andrew Curnow’s remarkable tenure as Bishop of Bendigo concluded as he laid his pastoral staff, mitre and cope on the altar of St Paul’s Cathedral before processing out with his wife Jan to “Oh When the Saints” to cheerful applause in celebration of his extraordinary ministry.
Over 300 representatives from across the diocese and the wider Anglican Church, along with close family and friends, filled the cathedral to acknowledge Bishop Andrew’s life-long ministry both locally and abroad, which began with his ordination in the very same building of St Paul’s, Bendigo in 1973 at age 22.
“It’s in fact nearly 45 years ago on the second of February in 1973, so just two months short, indeed only three metres from where I stand that my journey began in the ordained life.”
The congregation couldn’t help but tap their feet and joyously move to a diversity of music played by the Cathedral choir, pianist Rev’d Neale Sommersby from the Diocese of Riverina and Greg and Karen Harris.
In delivering his final sermon as Bishop of Bendigo, Bishop Andrew reflected on his encounters in England when he was first learning to be a bishop.
“I have tried to be a generous bishop, a bishop of sacred flax, a bishop that does try to be inclusive, a bishop that does try to see that we enjoy being Church,” he said.
“We will miss the parishes, the visits, the people, the places, the communities and what, as most of you are aware, I regard as an absolutely God given piece of this universe,” he added.
Words of appreciation were given by Damien Wells, a former board member of St Luke’s Anglicare and Anglicare Victoria, who acknowledged Bishop Andrew’s contributions to the welfare sector.
“When I think of the man, the word that comes to mind is integrity,” he said. “He advocates for those that don’t have a voice.”
Ian Dallas, Chancellor of the Diocese since 2004, acknowledged the gifts Bishop Andrew has brought to the diocese, primarily his networking skills and his reading and learning of new ideas.
“Most importantly he knows and loves this diocese, its roads, rivers, farms and towns – and of course its people,” he added.
“When Google Maps update their data for this part of the world, word has it they ring Bishop Andrew first.”
Archdeacon Anne McKenna likened Bishop Andrew to three things; a Rottweiler, a Jack Russel Terrier and a Border Collie.
“A Rottweiler whose stance is strong, and in whom we recognise authority as he guards and protects his people; a Jack Russell Terrier, yapping unceasingly and relentlessly at our ankles; most of all you have been a Border Collie for the diocese – rounding us up, gathering us together, all the time looking lovingly over us.”
“You have led by example, feeding our minds with your learning and knowledge, feeding our souls with your insight and wisdom, and feeding our hearts with your care,” she continued.
“Above all, you have been a bishop in place, present in our diocese and present in our lives.”
More coverage of farewell celebrations for Bishop Andrew will appear in the December 2017 issue of The Spirit.