No, I’m not going to suggest names here. But because any archbishop has significant power and influence, we need to think very carefully about the kind of diocesan leader we need. Let me suggest a few qualities I think the next archbishop needs to have.
First, he needs to fulfil the qualifications of any overseer of a congregation as laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. We need a man who is convicted of the great truths of the gospel of our risen Lord, and who lives by them prayerfully in all godliness.
Second, he needs to be embrace the reformed, evangelical, protestant anglican tradition of the diocese. It helps no-one to elect a man who isn’t comfortable with this tradition, based firmly on the teaching of Scripture. I’d add that he ought to be happy to promote lay administration of holy communion and continue to argue for an increase of women being trained as womens’ ministry workers without endorsing ordination to the presbyterate. The doctrine of the church as taught in the diocese for some decades now has shaped us very profoundly; I want an archbishop who will continue to lead us based on this understanding of the church. When bishops and denominational authorities demand loyalty in ways that detract from or overwhelm the integrity of the local church we’re in trouble.
Third, he needs to unify clergy and laity. In recent synods in some debates clergy and laity have sometimes been pitted against each other. It is true that there need to be appropriate checks and balances on the way in which clergy lead; but a wise archbishop will not be naive. Some disputes are based on differences grounded in theology even though those complaining argue it’s all about the way the clergyman is behaving or leading. Others are determined to make a lot of noise about their discontent with their minister. What’s needed is not to judge either side too quickly but to help both sides understand what’s really going on and to urge both sides to work together for the great cause of the gospel. It’s easy to demonise clergy as a bishop; but it’s also a disaster and can result in clergy demonising laity, which is just as damaging.
Finally, he needs to make wise appointments. That will mean listening carefully, being willing to consider those he does not know so well personally, and being willing to take risks.
As for us, we need to pray for the synod and for the man elected; the office of archbishop of Sydney is enough to daunt anyone!