NEWLY elected Anglican bishop Greg Thompson has vowed to use his appointment to strengthen trust between the church and the Hunter community, while encouraging more open discussion on hot-button issues including child sexual abuse, same sex partnerships and indigenous affairs.
Muswellbrook-raised Mr Thompson was elected the 13th bishop of the city at a September synod meeting, with his installation planned for February 2 next year.
‘‘I’ve travelled a lot, but I want to settle here and make my home here again,’’ he said.
‘‘This will be my final appointment.’’
Mr Thompson, 57, attended Muswellbrook High and studied at the University of Newcastle before leaving the region 35 years ago to help families, children and young people find a sense of purpose.
He relocated with wife Kerry to the Northern Territory, where he served as a youth worker for five years.
Mr Thompson trained to become a priest in Melbourne and over the past 27 years has worked in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and for another 12 years on and off in the Northern Territory, where his two adult children were born.
He was the state’s bishop since 2007 and remains chair of its business advisory council.
Mr Thompson has welcomed a planned Aboriginal Consultative Committee for the diocese, which will promote conversation with indigenous people.
‘‘We take these steps because we want to be intentional,’’ he said.
‘‘It doesn’t make community happen and it doesn’t make good conversations happen but it enables a space to begin listening to each other.’’
Mr Thompson said his first priority was to help to build healthier and stronger communities, which includes continuing to address previous child sexual abuse.
‘‘We need to rebuild trust and we do that by caring properly for families, dealing with the past but also recognising that children need spirituality to face the challenges of their own life, so...ensuring children have every opportunity to enjoy life but also to be protected from those who may be perpetrators,’’ he said.
‘‘Those who have been responsible must face consequences.’’
Mr Thompson said the church must continue the conversation about if and how to formally recognise the relationships of same sex couples within their community.
‘‘We’re not sure how to respond to it but we recognise that God loves every person whatever their orientation,’’ he said.
‘‘All relationships have the love of God in them where they’re loving, supportive and committed.’’