Consecration of new national Aboriginal bishop

From Colleen Hodge, ABM Australia

In a spectacular blending of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian Anglican cultures, James Randolph Leftwich was consecrated as Bishop in the Church of God by Clyde Wood, Bishop of North Queensland (and acting Metropolitan of the Province of Queensland), on Sunday 16 September 2001, at St Alban's Church, Yarrabah.

The congregation included members of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council and visitors from many parts of Australia, and overflowed into the surrounding grounds.

Aboriginal didgeridoo and clapstick music accompanied the long processions of bishops, clergy and indigenous elders. Overseas members of the Anglican Indigenous Network, led by Maori Bishop and Elder, Whakahuihui Vercoe, arranged their meetings in Cairns to coincide with the consecration service

The liturgy included loving prayers and joyful singing from Jim's wife, Lala, their family and friends, and members of the congregation of St Luke's Aboriginal and Islander parish in Cairns, where Jim has been priest-in-charge. Bishop Tung Yep, who had led the consecration retreat, preached a challenging sermon.

The Pastoral Staff was handed on from Bishop Arthur Malcolm to the new Bishop to sustained applause, and as the gifts of the people and the bread and wine were brought to the altar, Damon Leftwich, son of Jim and Lala, played the digeridoo and the deep and haunting sounds of traditional Aboriginal music filled the church.

Good wishes and prayers were extended to Bishop James and Lala, with many gifts, including a cassock from representatives of the Police Service. There was singing and dancing well into the night in the grounds of St Alban's, on spectacular Mission Bay.

Bishop Jim Leftwich hopes that his new ministry will continue the development of Aboriginal spirituality in the Anglican Church of Australia, and with international and ecumenical faith communities. He is looking forward to offering pastoral support, particularly to Aboriginal people, in the Diocese of North Queensland and to all the people of the Anglican Church of Australia.

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Bishop James Randolph Leftwich