Letters from Australia

The down-under way of affirming young clergymen



The Venerable John F Collas
Vicar General, Diocese of Adelaide
26 King William Road

North Adelaide SA 5006

The Revd Nigel Mitchell

Anglican Parish of Mitcham
18, Church Road
Mitcham SA 5062

14 March 2005

Dear Nigel,

As you know I have declared strongly that as a consequence of the actions of the Forward in Faith Movement and of the Bishop of the Murray I need to exercise extreme caution in the management of any interaction between the diocese of the Murray and the Diocese of Adelaide particularly involving the bishop and the clergy of that diocese.

I was not in any way questioning your bona fides or your relationship with the Forward in Faith Movement, although I am aware that you are one of the two parishes in the Australian Church declared to be members of the Forward in Faith Movement. I understand that this is an aberration and will be actioned by you and your parish council to clear up that situation.

It is clear that the Revd Nigel Zimmermann is not a casual member of the Forward in Faith Movement but is considered by others in the Australian Church to be a prominent member of that body. His antecedents were in All Saints’, Langham Place [sic], Brisbane and he returned there shortly after his ordination and was involved in the liturgies and worship as a deacon in that place.

Although I note that you would ensure that no mention of the Forward in Faith Movement the content of a sermon preached does not necessarily need to identify the organisation which results from a theological base. I remain uncomfortable with a priest associated with the Forward in Faith preaching in the diocese in the interregnum therefore I must maintain my position that until such time as a new bishop arrives I cannot give authority for a member of Forward in Faith to have any form of ministry in the diocese.

I will be checking whenever an application is made for any priest from the Diocese of the Murray to take any part in the life of this diocese as to whether he is a member of Forward in Faith. If he is not then it is a different matter.

I know that this will not be welcome news to you and I regret that but I need to be consistent in my actions which I hope are all base on principle and reason.

With good wishes,

Yours sincerely,

The Venerable John P Collas
Administrator (sede vacante)



The National Secretary of Forward in Faith

2A The Cloisters
Gordon Square
London WC1 0AG

The Venerable John F Collas

Vicar General, Diocese of Adelaide
26 King William Road
North Adelaide SA 5006

18 March, 2005

Dear Archdeacon,

I write as National Secretary of Forward in Faith UK, and a member of the Council of Forward in Faith International to protest your blanket exclusion of members of Forward in Faith from any ministry in the Diocese of Adelaide, as contained in your letter of 14 March 2005 addressed to Fr Nigel Mitchell.

Perhaps you would care to cite (as you did not in your letter to Fr Mitchell) the Canons of the Anglican Church of Australia and the Diocese of Adelaide which permit such high-handed action on your part.

In the case of Fr Zimmermann you cite as your reasons for refusing him permission to preach in the Diocese of Adelaide the fact that he is ‘considered by others’ to be ‘prominent’ in Forward in Faith and that he has functioned as a deacon in the parish of All Saints’, Brisbane.

These are not accusations of misconduct, doctrinal error or of malfeasance of any kind. The fact that you ‘remain uncomfortable’ is no adequate reason for exclusion or prohibition. Whatever your personal misgivings about the ministry of Bishop David Chislett and the manner of his consecration, you have no reason to visit those anxieties on others by mere association.

This is a most serious matter, with (as you will have grasped) legal implications in both canon and civil law. I hope that you will find it possible to retreat from the untenable position which you have adopted without need to seek such redress.


Yours faithfully,


Geoffrey Kirk

National Secretary, Forward-in-Faith UK

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