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Anglican Diocese of Brisbane

St John's Cathedral, Brisbane

The Anglican Diocese of Brisbane is based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The diocesan bishop's seat is St John's Cathedral, Brisbane. The current Archbishop of Brisbane is Phillip Aspinall, who was formerly the elected Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia.

The diocese stretches from the south-eastern coastline of Queensland, south to the New South Wales border, and west to the Northern Territory and South Australian borders.



Queen Victoria created the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane and in 1859[1] appointed Edward Tufnell (1814–1896) as the first diocesan bishop.[2] Tufnell designated St John's Cathedral in Brisbane as the pro-cathedral. The central stained glass windows in the apse, the crucifixion, at St Mary's Church, was donated by Bishop Tufnell.

The second bishop was Matthew Hale, who was translated from Perth in 1876.[3] Hale was succeeded by William Webber,[4] who was the last man to be only Bishop of Brisbane (from 1885 to 1904) as the new ecclesiastical province of Brisbane would in future be headed by an archbishop as the incumbent.

A see house called Bishopsbourne (now Old Bishopsbourne) was built in Milton c. 1865 for Edward Tufnell. It was used by subsequent bishops and archbishops until Archbishop Philip Strong purchased the house Eldernell (formerly Farsley) at 39 Eldernell Street, Hamilton in 1964, renaming it Bishopsbourne.[5] In April 2007, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall sold the Hamilton residence for $11.2 million and moved to a residence in Ascot costing $2.6 million, which has also been renamed Bishopsbourne.[6][7]


The Diocese of Brisbane has a predominantly moderate Anglo-Catholic culture. Groups such as the Society of Saint Francis and the Oratory of the Good Shepherd have their Australian base in the City of Brisbane and the Society of the Sacred Advent first emerged in the city.[8] This latter group is responsible for running St Margaret's Anglican Girls' School.

Saint Francis' Theological College, at which most of the diocese's priests are trained, has historically "combined a Catholic interpretation of the Book of Common Prayer with an acceptance of ‘moderate’ biblical criticism. This... [is]... the liberal Catholicism of Bishop Gore and Lux Mundi".[8]

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall is, himself, a liberal Anglo-Catholic and gave the keynote address at the Australian Church Union's 2006 Keble Mass.[9] Consistent with this more liberal tendency, the Social Responsibilities Committee of the diocese has endorsed same-sex civil unions.[10]

For the most part the diocese's parishes exhibit the "rather self-conscious Anglo-Catholic congregationalism of the capital cities, often tinged with radical Socialism".[8] Parishes that reflect this outlook include Holy Trinity Fortitude Valley, with its emphasis on social justice, and Kilcoy-Woodford with its focus on Christian pacifism.

The Angligreen environmental group has also emerged as a significant voice in the diocese.

By contrast, All Saints' Brisbane is notable for having links to the conservative Forward in Faith organisation which maintains a small presence in the city.[11] Of All Saints' Masses, journalist Keith Dunstan noted "‘the whole sense of theatre’. Others, drawing on a religious vocabulary, compared the experience to ‘being in heaven’."[8] However, All Saints is an exception to the more moderate approach as "'extreme’ Anglo-Catholicism [never took hold in Brisbane and] has flourished only among clergy in the diocese of Ballarat."[8]

Despite this dominant Anglo-Catholic ethos, there is a low church Bible belt running through a few of the City of Brisbane's southern suburbs. However, the last time there was any major controversy about the diocese's Anglo-Catholic outlook was in 1956.[8]

Bishops of BrisbaneEdit

In 1858, the Brisbane diocese was separated from the Diocese of Newcastle based in New South Wales. Until then, the area had been under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Newcastle, William Tyrrell.

Bishops of Brisbane
From Until Incumbent Notes
1859 1874 Edward Tufnell
1875 1885 Matthew Hale Translated from Perth.
1885 1903 William Webber Died in office.
1904 1905 St Clair Donaldson Became Archbishop of Brisbane

Among the previous assistant bishops of the Diocese of Brisbane were Henry Le Fanu (bishop coadjutor), who became Archbishop of Perth and Primate of Australia, and John Parkes, who is now the Bishop of Wangaratta. The current assistant bishops are Cameron Venables (Western Region since 2014), Jeremy Greaves (Northern Region since 2017) and Alison Taylor (Southern Region since 2013).[12]

Archishops of BrisbaneEdit

With the creation of the Province of Queensland in 1905,[13] the Diocese of Brisbane became the permanent metropolitan see, and its bishop the metropolitan archbishop.

Archbishops of Brisbane
From Until Incumbent Notes
1905 1921 St Clair Donaldson Translated to Salisbury.
1921 1933 Gerald Sharp Died in office.
1934 1943 William Wand Translated to Bath and Wells and later to London.
1943 1962 Reginald Halse Translated from Riverina; knighted in 1962; died in office.
1963 1970 Philip Strong Translated from New Guinea; Primate of Australia, 1966–1970.
1970 1980 Felix Arnott Previously coadjutor bishop in Melbourne.
1980 1989 John Grindrod Previously Bishop of Riverina and then of Rockhampton; Primate of Australia, 1982–1989; knighted in 1983.
1990 2001 Peter Hollingworth Translated from the Inner City, Melbourne; Governor-General of Australia, 2001–2003.
2002 present Phillip Aspinall Previously assistant bishop in Adelaide; Primate of Australia, 2005-2014.


  1. ^ "Consecration Of The Bishops Of Bangor, Brisbane, And St Helena", The Times, 15 June 1859, p. 10.
  2. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory 1975-76 London: Oxford University Press, 1976 ISBN 0-19-200008-X
  3. ^ Diocese of Brisbane[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ ADB entry
  5. ^ "Old Bishopsbourne (entry 600254)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Bishopsbourne, Hamilton (formerly Eldernell)". Your Brisbane: Past and Present. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Cumming, Gillian (26 March 2007). "Great expectations for Farsley". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f The Anglo-Catholic Tradition in Australian Anglicanism
  9. ^ Australian Church Union
  10. ^ Vogler, Sarah (November 7, 2015). "Same-sex marriage: Arm of Anglican Church supports civil unions in Queensland". Courier Mail. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  11. ^ All Saints Brisbane
  12. ^ General Synod Information Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Anglican Diocese of North Queensland – History Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.

External linksEdit