A peaceful election for Sydney's next archbishop

Electing an archbishop to lead Sydney’s Anglicans has been an anxiety-provoking time for the faithful. But this year, not so much. Choosing a new archbishop – which will take place from May 4-7 – looks like being very different this year with general agreement that each of the four candidates could do the job.

The last two elections have involved vigorous campaigning with claims that a particular candidate was almost existentially important. But this time it is a gentlemanly affair (we can say that because the candidates are all male.)

This time its noticeable that old combatants, who fought vigorously for different candidates in past elections, have lined up together to campaign for the frontrunner, Kanishka Raffel, the dean of Sydney (the pastor of St Andrew’s Cathedral).

Raffel is frontrunner in part because he has gathered so many significant endorsements. They include Stephen Judd (the former CEO of independent charity HammondCare) and Laurie Scandrett (chief operating officer of Moore College), who have been prominent opinion leaders on opposite sides. Phil Colgan (minister of St George North) and Michael Jensen (minister of St Mark’s Darling Point) have been leading figures on opposite sides too. But this year they are soliciting votes on the same side for Kanishka Raffel.

The other candidates are all bishops: Chris Edwards, Bishop of North Sydney; Peter Hayward, Bishop of Wollongong; and Michael Stead, Bishop of South Sydney.

All the candidates have strengths. One is described as the best administrator, and another as the best communicator. They all have good reputations. But unlike previous elections, no-one is saying any of them would change the diocese for the worse or have character flaws – things heard in the past in archbishop elections. There would be no great qualms if any of the four were elected –which makes for a peaceful election.