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LEADERS of the Anglican faith will meet in Bendigo next month to discuss issues pertinent to the church’s future.
The diocese has been selected as the setting for this year’s Anglican Deans of Australia Conference.
Eighteen deans from throughout Australia are expected to attend from August 3.
They will be joined by special guest the Very Reverend Matthias Der, Dean of St John’s Cathedral Hong Kong Island.
Organisers said the six-day conference would explore the role of deans, the role of the church, and issues of concern in today’s world.
The Very Reverend John Roundhill, Dean of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Bendigo, said he was “both excited and I’ll confess to being a bit anxious” about hosting the attendees.
“It’s a big event for us to organise,” he said.
It was the first time, to his knowledge, the diocese would be hosting the event.
“One of the reasons why Bendigo was picked was that the cathedral re-opened last year,” the dean said.
More than $2 million was spent on restoring the 19th century church, which celebrated its official re-opening in June 2016.
Mr Roundhill anticipated a civic reception, to be hosted by the City of Greater Bendigo at the Bendigo Town Hall, would be one of the highlights of the conference.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke, Bendigo councillors and members of the Bendigo Interfaith Council are expected to meet with the deans.
The conference attendees will also have opportunities to visit Bendigo attractions, including the Golden Dragon Museum, the Bendigo Art Gallery, the Central Deborah Gold Mine, and the historic town of Maldon.
Mr Roundhill said many of the deans would be visiting Bendigo with their partners.
He invited the community to attend a special Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral in Myers Street to mark the occasion.
The service starts at 6pm on August 6, and will feature the Very Reverend Chris Brennan, Dean of Armidale.
Topics raised at the annual conference in years past included refugees, and ongoing issues common to the cathedrals such as finance.
“It will be interesting to see how Bendigo as a regional city frames those discussions,” Mr Roundhill said.
He suspected one of the issues to be raised at this year’s conference would be institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
“We are still trying to improve all the processes to make the church a much safer place,” the dean said.
“The church does not tolerate abuse of any kind.
“I think some people are deeply hurt and have walked away from the church, and I think we need to recognise that too.”