The Anglican Church needs to be ”dusted off” and it believes a dreadlocked, barefooted priest is the man to do it.
Justin Duckworth has been announced as the next Anglican Bishop of Wellington, replacing Bishop Tom Brown who recently retired.
The 44 year-old has been involved in christian work in Wellington since leaving school, although somewhat removed from the mainstream churches.
In his early 20s he began running a home for teenage women in Berhampore with his wife Jenny.
The couple then formed the group Urban Vision with other young christian activists and fifteen years later the group is made up of about 60 members running refuge houses in Wellington neighbourhoods.
Mr Duckworth and his wife also pioneered Ngatiawa, a contemporary monastery in the Reikorangi Valley that provides for strugglers, those seeking retreat, and those looking for a more meaningful lifestyle. Last year, 1100 visitors stayed.
The decision to appoint Mr Duckworth was somewhat unexpected but has been welcomed by Archbishop David Moxon who said he was confident his election would challenge and invigorate the church.
Mr Duckworth said the Anglican Church was struggling with change and transformation but had a fine legacy and huge potential.
”I think the Anglican Church is doing amazing stuff, and is a total treasure. But it’s a treasure that needs to be dusted off.
”At this point in our history we’re aging and I think we’re struggling to find our way. If I can help us find our way and help us engage with another generation, then I’ll be happy.”
A formal announcement is here.