September 16, 2004 | Jeff Wall

The new Archbishop of Perth – an inspired choice

AT a time when the Anglican Church is in desperate need of strong and inspirational leadership, the Archdiocese of Perth has made an inspired choice in choosing Bishop Roger Herft as its next Archbishop.
Roger Herft is a unique churchman. Born in Sri Lanka, educated in the UK, he has served with distinction as a Bishop in New Zealand before his somewhat surprise choice as Bishop of Newcastle in 1993.
But he has provided one of the Anglican Church’s larger regional diocese with good leadership, and, even more significantly, he has been active in the life of the community.
His establishment of the “Two Bishops Trust” with the Catholic Bishop of Newcastle was not only an example of ecumenical goodwill, it was a practical demonstration that the Church, in an increasingly secular society, can contribute positively to building stronger communities.
What impressed me when I first met him was his deep understanding of Australia’s political and social history.
I recall taking him to lunch with Sir James Killen a few years ago. He quizzed Sir James about aspects of Australian political history, and surprised us both with the depth of his knowledge of post-war political events, and people. Not bad for someone who first came to Australia just over a decade ago.
I can recall Jim asking whether he ever went to the Newcastle races. It turned out that he most certainly had as the Two Bishops Trust has a fundraising race day over the Christmas period.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he attended as many of the Newcastle Knights home matches as time permitted, and was closely associated in a pastoral way with the Club.
But his great sporting love is cricket, and his knowledge of Australian test cricketers over the years would put most Aussies to shame.
I mention these points to highlight the fact that, somewhat uniquely among church leaders today, Roger Herft is remarkably worldly, and deeply involved in the life of the community as well as the life of the church.
Perth has chosen well. It may well be that he is now even better placed to be the next Primate of the Anglican Church in Australia. That would be an excellent choice at a time when the Anglican Church is in desperate need of strong, good leadership.
He has forthright views, on issues such as the ordination of women, and the role of women in the church.
Though some may argue he has enjoyed a good relationship with the current Prime Minister, in reality he has from time to time robustly expressed views John Howard would not agree with. That reflects a level of independence both the church and community in Perth will benefit from.
The Anglican Church’s General Synod will meet in Perth at the end of this month. One suspects, or fears, the divisions within the church will be on inglorious display once again.
The primacy of Dr Peter Carnley has hardly been a successful one. The Anglican Church seems more divided than ever, and less focussed than ever on the issues of real concern to its people.
Leaders like Roger Herft have the capacity to change that…and maybe to do so just in time.

Posted by Jeff Wall at 11:10 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Delighted at the appointment of Roger Herft to Perth. May fresh winds blow strongly from the west to the east and carry away some of the wretched driftwood. Long and fruitfully may he reign and spread his views. God Bless and Good Luck.

    Comment by John Hart — September 20, 2004 @ 9:55 pm

  2. Thank you very much for your article( About + Roger) I knew him personally and as far as I know he was not educated in the UK but in Sri Lanka. He did his Theological studies at the Theological College of Lanka, Pilimatalawa where I am a lecturer. Pl, see the website > I would be really grateful if you could correct this.

    Comment by Keerthi Fernando — November 23, 2004 @ 10:27 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.