TRIBUTE TO ARCHDEACON GENIEVE BLACKWELL
Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON
(Burrinjuck—Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Small Business) [7.18 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the House the achievements of an extraordinary and talented woman, Anglican Archdeacon Genieve Blackwell. On Saturday 31 March I shall be attending the consecration of bishop designates Genieve Blackwell and Ian Lambert at St Saviour's Cathedral in Goulburn. This will be an historic event as Genieve will be the first female bishop ever to be consecrated in New South Wales. She is also, I believe, only the third woman to be consecrated in Australia. Genieve has been the rector of St Clement's Anglican Church in Yass since 2005 and during this time she has made a name for herself through community outreach, ministry to schools and increasing cooperation within the several Christian denominations in Yass.
After her consecration as an assistant bishop, Genieve, her husband, John Silversides, and their children, Baith and Harry, will move to Wagga Wagga. What is our loss will be Wagga Wagga's gain. Genieve's ministry as an assistant bishop in Wagga Wagga will include responsibility for Wagga Wagga and the north-west and south-west parts of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Although the position of Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn is part time, Genieve will also be consecrated in the positions of Rector of the Anglican Parish of Turvey Park and Archdeacon of Wagga Wagga.
Genieve was born in Western Australia, the daughter of a Methodist minister. Her family subsequently moved to the Wagga Wagga district but it was not until she attended the University of Sydney that she moved into the Anglican Communion. Following her university studies, Genieve trained at Moore Theological College from 1989 to 1992 and ministered to the parishes of Gulgong and Grenfell before moving to Yass in 2005. She was made an archdeacon about three years ago and was given the additional responsibility of ministering to diocesan clergy during the drought. As part of this ministry Genieve has worked closely with various sections of the Department of Primary Industries, including the rural land protection boards, the livestock health and pest authorities and rural financial counsellors.
I was so pleased when Bishop Stuart Robinson of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn announced late last year that Genieve would be consecrated as a bishop. In my letter to Genieve congratulating her on this wonderful news, I said that this would be both a proud and a sad event for Yass—proud because Genieve's work, ministry and achievements mean that she is considered worthy of being consecrated as a bishop; and sad because her consecration will mean that Genieve, Stuart and the children will have to leave Yass, where she has been ministering to the community for seven years. Of her impending departure from Yass, Genieve said that the town had been a great community in which to live as a family and that:
It will always be a very special place for us … it has been a great opportunity to learn and grow both in Parish and regional ministry.
Apart from her parish ministry within the Anglican Communion, Genieve has also been a mover and shaker in a very quiet and unassuming way, being active on the roster in the school canteens and also as secretary of the Yass Progress Association. I want to highlight Genieve's efforts in bringing together the various Christian denominations in Yass through the Yass Ministers Group. This group, attended by all other clergy in Yass, meets once a month and coordinates outreach and ministry services to the whole community. Genieve delivered her last sermon in St Clement's Anglican Church, Yass, on Christmas Day. Of her achievements within Yass, she said:
I feel I can leave with these things established … I love the way as a church we have been able to connect with the community.
Being a woman, Genieve's impending consecration has raised comment in certain sections of the media. Some stories have harked back almost 20 years to when some members of the Anglican Communion in Sydney filed a court injunction to prevent the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn from ordaining Australia's first women Anglican priests. Genieve has handled this somewhat controversial media attention with her usual grace and good humour, saying:
I feel a little bit overwhelmed by the attention, but that is all right. The scriptures say that there is no male or female, we are all one in Christ. I think the wider question the New Testament writers are asking is that we should do whatever is best for the Gospel. That will look very different today than it looked in the time of the early Christians.
Genieve Blackwell is an Anglican priest of unique ability. It is her service and ministry in various parishes across this region and the spiritual gifts that she has demonstrated since her ordination that have brought her to the attention of the Anglican Church hierarchy. I am extremely pleased and excited that it has considered Genieve's ministry and spiritual gifts make her worthy of consecration as a bishop. I leave the last words to Genieve, who said:
It is exciting and pleasing to have my gifts affirmed in that way, and is great to be able to serve the Church in that way. For me it's an affirmation of my gifts, for many it is women in ministry, it's about women being able to use the gift God has given them in the ministry of the Church and in the service of Christ.
I ask all members to join me in wishing Archdeacon Genieve Blackwell every success and, for those who do, to pray for the success of the new ministry in the Wagga Wagga region.
Mr TROY GRANT
(Dubbo—Parliamentary Secretary) [7.23 p.m.]: I join the Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Small Business, the member for Burrinjuck, in congratulating Genieve Blackwell on her outstanding achievement. The Government thanks her for her long service to her community and her faith. Her consecration as an assistant bishop is just reward for a job well done.