This Christmas will be a unique one for Bishop Andrew Curnow AM.
The longest serving Anglican diocesan bishop in Australia concluded his time as the Bishop of Bendigo on Saturday and, for the first time, he will be able to sit with his wife on December 25.
“For the first time in 45 years I’m not doing any Christmas services – I’ll be sitting in the pew instead which will be an unusual experience,” he said.
Bishop Curnow was ordained in Bendigo in 1973 and consecrated a bishop in Melbourne in 1994. He returned home to the city he was born in June 2003, taking up the role of diocesan bishop.
Now that his time in the public role has finished, he says at this stage, he has no immediate plans for retirement.
“A lot of people keep saying to me, ‘Are you going to travel the world?’. Well I’ve done a lot of travel.”
Bishop Curnow estimates he’s been to England about 18 times for ongoing educational development, along with the United States and New Zealand.
“I’ve also driven with my wife – because she often shares the driving – about a million kilometres in the time I’ve been Bishop at Bendigo.”
And much of it has been spent visiting the 33 parishes in the diocese, which spans from Woodend to Mildura.
In his time at Bendigo, Bishop Curnow says he has been pleased to see the restoration of the St Paul’s Cathedral – of which he was instrumental in – and churches becoming more engaged with their communities.
“We’ve done quite a lot of little things in small communities, which I think often get neglected,” he said, including developing a men’s shed and community centre at Nyah West.
“I’m really pleased we can make a difference to people’s lives and communities.”
But even in retirement, he has no plans to stop doing just that.
“No, I’ll find other ways in which I can continue it, but they’ll be less formal,” he said.
“But I’ll never stop trying to make a difference to people’s lives.”