Our history and tradition

Tasmania is the oldest continuing diocese in Australia.

At the founding of the colony of Van Diemens Land (later Tasmania) the first Christian presence here was a priest of the Church of England (later the Anglican Church in Australia).

We rejoice that right from the early days Christian people were here, caring for the convicts, the poor and afflicted - and building up the growing colony.

We are ashamed that during that time, the church would have been involved implicitly in the destruction of the culture of the ancient Aboriginal people - the Palawa. We have said sorry - and during the episcopal ordination of our bishop in July 2000, Palawa elders presented him with a bowl of earth through which he ran his fingers, recognising God’s blessing on the land that has always been theirs.

Of course we go back more than 200 years.

The Church in England separated from Rome way back in the sixteenth century. In some ways this can be seen as a reassertion of the ancient Celtic and Anglo church that had already been in Britain for a thousand years.

Although it’s taken us a long time to become less patriarchal, many Anglicans now find comfort and strength in the life-affirming traditions of the original Celtic church.

But let’s be clear about this!

The Anglican Church sees itself as Apostolic. That doesn't necessarily mean we think the laying on of hands over the centuries continues unbroken right back to St Peter.

Rather, we see that it is God who charges us to serve in the special way in which we have been called - here and now.

For some of us this means continuing right where we are, working, loving and laughing our way into 'heaven'.

For others it means accepting a ministry where we become ordained women or men - deacons, priests or bishops - who are given special professional responsibilities of service.

But the boundaries are blurring. As we go forward in this new millennium the old structures we inherited gradually fade away. The church takes on new, dynamic forms, suited to the changed and changing times.

Images - details from stained glass window in St John's, Launceston