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Peter Tasker for Archbishop

by on August 1, 2013

It’s time for generation change. That’s what team Whyrick keeps saying. Catchy slogan. If you like that sort of thing.

But the trouble is, it cuts both ways. Other people are saying, isn’t it about time the retiring Dean stopped pulling the strings of the Diocese, and left it to the next generation? Why can’t he let go? It’s time for generational change.

Here’s how one pundit put it yesterday:

We need someone who can cast vision, set the agenda and lead change towards renewal of churches as our leader… We need change now. That’s … what Rick brings. Fresh perspective. Fresh vision. That’s Rick.

Apparently not everyone finds this sort of sloganeering to be sick-making, so let’s leave that issue aside.

The real issue here is this insistence on change, youth and newness.

Let’s assume that this push is genuine, and not just a cynical ploy by opportunistic power-players in the Diocese, out to exploit a perceived weak spot in Glenn Davies’ candidacy . Let’s take our friends at their word: they really believe in this generational change.

An obvious response to this spring-cleaning impulse would be: why were you so dissatisfied with Peter Jensen? Wasn’t he a good archbish? Don’t you want ‘More of the same?’ How’s that for a slogan?

But there’s a bigger issue raised here, isn’t there. It’s this: the denigration of age, and the rush to embrace youth and change, don’t sit well with Christian faith. An old-fashioned word comes to mind: unseemly. I think it’s unseemly to be talking about our senior leaders (men in their 60s, not exactly geriatrics!) as people who need to move aside and make room for fresh blood. Not because they’re doing a bad job – but because they’re old.

This is not what I have learned from the gospel of Jesus.

The gospel teaches me to welcome all God’s children and not do anything to undermine or diminish them. To welcome the people the Spirit gifts us with, and embrace those gifts for the good of the church. And especially to esteem elders.

There is no doubt a time when leaders should step back, when they are becoming too feeble to carry on in active duties. But this is a question of ability, not age.

The Diocese’s retirement age of 65, with possible extension to 70, has a logic to it, protecting congregations from leaders who cling on after it’s time to go. But as a blanket policy, it smacks of the cult of youth and the denigration of age which is endemic in our Western culture. It is a very blunt instrument which does harm as well as good.

I don’t think it sits well with the personal, relational emphasis of the gospel, to tell people, “sorry we know you’re capable, but you can’t exercise your ministry any more because the rule says you have to go.” Brotherly love is damaged by this treatment.

Especially now that people are living and working longer, this ‘curfew’ seems quite old-fashioned. The rule is itself in need of generational change, to reflect the changed reality of modern life.

All that needs revision, but when zealous Rick or Glenn supporters start talking about the need to leapfrog a generation and see off the old fogies, doesn’t this tend to discourage and undermine our brothers in ministry who are older? Your comments may be aimed at Glenn D or Phil J, but if you couch them in terms of age, you hit a whole generation with your critique.

If you don’t like the Dean pulling the strings, say so – but don’t make it about his age. Is 70 really the age at which it becomes inappropriate to influence diocesan affairs? Says who?

Also, we’re not exactly overflowing with gifts and talent in leadership, are we. Can we really afford to retire our best people just because they hit the age barrier?

Peter Tasker was forced to retire at 70. The Georges River region was robbed of an excellent bishop as a result. It got no replacement. And now who have they appointed as ‘honourary bishop’? You guessed it. A new guy called Peter Tasker. Aged 73, I’m guessing.

And at 73, Tasker is probably the ablest bishop in the country. He is full of energy and drive. He’s also full of the accumulated wisdom and experience of a lifetime of ministry. His mind is razor sharp. He travels constantly. How could we think of not having him in leadership?

Bringing back Peter Tasker, what does that say about how he was forced to retire 3 years back? It was a mistake – that’s what it says. A stuff-up. And Sydney’s most needy region suffered as a result. That’s been rectified now.

The denigration of age: it’s not a good look for Christians. It’s not loving. It’s not realistic. It’s not wise. We can’t afford to do it.

In fact, this makes me think – all this talk of generational change and someone who has the energy and know-how to drive mission – if you want an archbish who can do that, there’s one man in the diocese who stands head and shoulders above the rest in this area. A proven mission leader, a strategic thinker, a vision-caster with more runs on the board than anyone else. In a league of his own. A man uniquely gifted to motivate and lead men for mission. There’s one man who knows how to make it happen. Who is it?

Peter Tasker, aged 73.

What an awesome archbishop he would make.

Everyone knows this about Tasker. Why did no one nominate him?

The age rule.

Age-denigration – shot ourselves in the foot again.

From → General

  1. dan permalink

    Jono, why leave your run so late? Too late!? I would have loved to have heard this stuff 6 months ago.

    • Sorry mate. If you’d heard it six months ago, what would you have done different? 🙂

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