The Rev’d Canon Barbara Darling to be Victoria’s first woman bishop

The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, has announced the appointment of Canon Barbara Darling as an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne. She is currently the vicar of the parish of St James’, Dandenong.

Canon Darling (60) is only the second woman to be made a bishop in Australia, following the recent appointment of Archdeacon Kay Goldsworthy as an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Perth. Canon Darling will be consecrated as a bishop on 31 May in St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne. 

The members of Archbishop in Council which met last night greeted the nomination of Canon Darling with great warmth and affirmation across the board, many members sharing their experiences of her as a pastor, mentor and colleague. She was described as a steady, wise and deeply caring individual with many gifts to offer as a bishop.

Canon Darling was among the first women in Australia to be ordained priest in 1992 in St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne. She was elected as a canon of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1995, and appointed as an Examining Chaplain in 1998. Before becoming the Vicar of St James’ Dandenong in 2005, she was the Vicar of All Souls’ Sandringham for almost 10 years, from 1995-2005, and before that she was the Minister in Charge and then Vicar of St Paul’s with All Saints, Ascot Vale, from 1989-1995.

She has many years experience as a teacher, including six years at secondary level, and 14 years as a lecturer at Ridley theological College, Melbourne. Her qualifications include an MA from the University of Melbourne, a BA and a Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney, and a Licentiate of Theology with First Class Honours from Ridley College, Melbourne.

In announcing the appointment, Dr Freier said that he believed Canon Darling is a woman of “deep faith, as well as outstanding pastoral, teaching and organisational ability,” and that he was greatly looking forward to working with her as a member of his Episcopal team.

Canon Darling said that she was “delighted, particularly for all women – both clergy and laity. We have been waiting many years for this opportunity, and now, at long last, the day has arrived.”

“I felt called by God to some form of Christian ministry from an early age, and gradually I felt called to ordination, first as a deacon and then as a priest. I am now surprised and somewhat humbled, yet excited, about responding to the call to be a bishop.”

She wants to be a bishop, she said, who “walks alongside people.” “Being aware of people’s concerns, fears and doubts and helping them to grow and develop, and to understand where God is in their lives, is very important to me.”

She is also passionate about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. “I love teaching and making the Gospel relevant to people’s lives and in the Australia of today.”


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