The Clergy and people fromacross the Diocese mettogether in Synod on Friday18th and Saturday 19thOctober. Synod began with aEucharist in the Cathedralwith Bishop Donald presidingand assisted by DeaconsBrendan Webster (Griffith)and Jeni Bedding(Narrandera).

Rural Deans

At that celebration the newly appointed Rural Deans wereCommissioned.The Rev’d Paul Kumasaka—Anderson Deanery;The Rev’d Helen Ferguson—Halse Deanery;The Ven Robert Done—Murray Deanery.The Rev’d Neale Sommersbywas unable to be present but hasalso been commissioned for theLinton Deanery.

Cathedral Ordinance

As part of the business of Synod a new Cathedral Ordinance has been passed reestablishing the Cathedral Chapter in a new form to create better links between the Cathedral (mother Church of the Diocese) and the Churches and people of the Diocese. As a consequence of this new Ordinance there was an election of new Canons as members of the Cathedral Chapter. For the first time in our Diocese’ history there are ‘Lay Canons’ of the Cathedral.


The newly elected and appointed Canons are:


The Rev’d Canon Robert Murphy. (Leeton)
The Rev’d Canon Paul Kumasaka. (Lake Cargelligo)
The Rev’d Canon Wayne Sheean. (Deniliquin)


Canon Ken Martin (Coleambally/Darlington Pt)
Canon James Walsh (Assistant Chancellor)
Canon Marion Barker (Barham)

Bishop’s Residence

Synod resolved by Ordinance to sell the Bishop’s House in Narrandera and a house owned by the Diocese in Yenda and use the funds raised from these two sales to purchase a new Bishop’s Residence in Griffith. It is envisaged that the cost of the new residence will be less than the money generated from these sales and the surplus will be invested in the Diocesan Trusts. Ministry Structure Following the Bishop’s Charge to Synod, the Chancellor moved a motion to establish a Diocesan Committee to look at how we might approach ministry in the Diocese in the future. This Committee has begun meeting and is looking at new ways to provide ministry to the whole Diocese recognising the financial limitations we have. It is intended that this Committee will report to the next Session of Synod with some recommendations for the Synod to consider.
‘Spiritually speaking, water is the essence of life. We are people who not only know the practical need for water but also the spiritual need of the water of life feeding body and soul. It is up to us to do all we can to promote and support local efforts to provide safe and sustainable water supplies for all—it is a human and spiritual imperative!’
Amid the current catastrophic drought, raging bushfires, communities and towns running out of water and farmers and irrigators in the Southern Basin demanding urgent changes to the MurrayDarling Basin Plan, water – or the lack of it – is on everyone’s minds.
In his opening address or Charge to the 63rd Synod of the Diocese of Riverina, Bishop Donald said providing safe and sustainable water supplies for everyone ‘is a human and spiritual imperative’. The Diocese of Riverina covers approximately 37 percent of the state of NSW and includes the droughtaffected communities of Wilcannia, Broken Hill and Menindee as well as Wentworth and towns along the Murray River. Bishop Donald said the Riverina was built on the creative use of water but many people and communities are now struggling to survive with the extreme lack of water which is also affecting people’s mental health. As per insights from, the likelihood of addiction rises with escalating doses and prolonged treatment duration of sleeping pills. Additionally, individuals with a history of mental health issues, alcohol dependence, or substance abuse are at heightened risk. Such patients necessitate diligent medical oversight while using sleep aids. ‘Without the people on the land growing the orchards and crops and grazing stock those living in the rest of the nation would not have the necessary food supplies. We talk about the mental health of those on the land yet fail to give them the one thing that will help—water!’ Bishop Donald’s comments on the water crisis have generated wide media attention and support in the Riverina and interstate.

ABC Riverina interviewed Bishop Donald on Monday 11th November the same day the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) held a public forum in Griffith on water markets in the Murray-Darling Basin. In the video interview Bishop Donald stressed that water should not simply be available to the people with the deepest pockets. He spoke out specifically against the practise of water trading: the buying and selling of water by irrigators and speculators with no intention to use the water themselves. ‘We have a situation in the Riverina where there are many people who’ve relied on water for many years who now simply can’t afford to buy the water. We’ve lost sight of what water is; it’s not a commodity; it’s the very essence of life; we cannot survive without water –none of us can.’ Bishop Donald said while drought was a clear contributor to the water crisis, there has also been a misallocation of water and the current system does not care for people on the land.

‘Water is something we should see as a common resource in what is the driest continent on earth. And yet here we are happily selling it off and not seeing the need to ensure everybody has an adequate supply for their physical as well as spiritual wellbeing.’

Link to ABC interview: news/2019-11-14/anglicanbishop-donald-kirk-says-wateris-not-a-commodity/11695910

Beyond ‘bricks and mortar’:

Registrar urges Diocese to find new ways of being Church

In her address to Synod in October, the Registrar Louise Potter encouraged the Diocese to start the conversation on revisioning who we are as a Church and what we are doing as people of faith in our communities.

“We can so easily slip into the habit of seeing the Church as the physical buildings we have in our parishes. But the Church is first and foremost – ‘community’. Our coming together is fundamental to being Church but having a building is not,” Louise said. ‘We must find new ways of coming together and doing mission in our communities that doesn’t necessarily require bricks and mortar,” Louise added.

The Registrar’s comments followed her report on the sharp rise in insurance premiums for Church properties. The annual property insurance premium for the Diocese of Riverina is expected to increase by up to 300 percent in 2020. “We are paying Insurance premiums and maintenance for buildings dotted around the Diocese that we are not using. Or rarely using. This is not sustainable”, the Registrar said.

“We need to find better ways of doing Church. I am with the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams in that I believe that God ‘always has the capacity to do something fresh and different, to bring something new out of a situation’. And I believe that with our cooperation he can do that with us.”

During Synod a motion was passed to form a Ministry Structure Review committee to address the future structure of Ministry in the Diocese. The members are: The Very Rev’d Rob Harris, the Rev’d Canon Paul Kumasaka, the Rev’d SueEllen Chilvers, David Webb, Robert Crawford, Lyn Middleton & Louise Potter.

Meet Ashka

Ashka Galapitage—Diocesan Accountant

Anushka Galapitage is our newest staff member in the Diocesan Registry Office. A qualified accountant, Anushka (or Ashka as we call her) joined us in September.

Ashka holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka.

Ashka and her husband ,Sam an industrial chemist, migrated to Australia with their two children, daughter Sanuli 8 and son Nethum 5 in 2017.

Before moving to Griffith, Ashka worked for more than 10 years as a financial accountant at Sri Lanka’s largest apparel company, MAS Holdings.

Ashka also works part-time at Griffith City Library and enjoys volunteering with ‘Women on Fire’, a multicultural group which supports women who have newly arrived in Griffith.

Silver Jubilee Celebration

Fr Robert Murphy celebrated the silver jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood with a Solemn Mass at St Peter’s Church, Leeton on Monday 28 October 2019, the Feast of Ss Simon & Jude, Apostles & Martyrs.

Fr Robert was ordained at St Alban’s Cathedral, Griffith on 28 October 1994 by the then Bishop of Riverina, The Right Reverend Bruce Clark. Fr Robert’s ordination was also Bishop Bruce’s first priestly ordination.

Fr Robert has served all his ministry in the Diocese of Riverina including as assistant priest at Griffith and Corowa and Priest-in-Charge of Coleambally-Darlington Point parish. For the past 16 years Fr Robert has been the popular Rector of St Peter’s Parish, Leeton.

Some of the Clergy present for the Mass

More than 250 parishioners, friends, priestly colleagues including current and past clergy from the Diocese of Riverina, packed St Peter’s Church for the Solemn Mass which was concelebrated by Bishop Donald and Bishop Sonia Roulston from the Diocese of Newcastle.

Fr Robert with Fr Thomas Leslie (Deacon)
and Fr Peter McLeod-Miller (Sub-Deacon)

Guest preacher was Archdeacon John Gibson who at the time of Fr Robert’s ordination was the Dean of St Alban’s Cathedral, Griffith. The liturgy was enhanced by St Peter’s team of servers and pastoral assistants with music by parish organist, Frances Tsoukalidis along with the St Peter’s Choir and trumpeters, Ian Bull and Matthew Stuckings.

Fr John Gibson (guest preacher), Dean Rob, Bp Sonia Roulston (Asst. Bishop Newcastle),
Bp Donald (with chaplains Mandy Walsh and Daryl Weymouth ) and Fr Robert.

The liturgy was followed by more celebrations in the parish hall and a magnificent supper catered for by the Anglican Women’s Fellowship.

“I am sure that at the feeding of the four thousand there must have been an Anglican women’s group involved because their catering is truly miraculous,” Fr Robert noted with his trademark good humour.

Fr Robert was recently appointed a Canon of St Alban’s Cathedral following the adoption of the new Cathedral Ordinance at Synod. We congratulate him on this appointment as well.


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Farewell to two faithful Priest!

Riverina Diocese is losing two of its most beloved and longserving clergy. The Rev’d Val Elson, Priest in Charge of Mulwala, Berrigan with Oaklands, and Rev’d Nola Cox, Priest with Oversight of Lockhart, Boree Creek and Urana are both retiring. Rev’d Nola will conduct her final

service as Priest with Oversight at St Aidan’s Church, Lockhart on Sunday 29th December 2019. Rev’d Nola will still hold a PTO Licence and be available to do occasional services on request.

Rev’d Val will be officially farewelled by the parishes of St Andrew by the Lake, Mulwala and St Aidan’s, Berrigan on Sunday 19th January 2020. Even though they are officially ‘retiring’ from active parish ministry both Rev’d Val and Rev’d Nola say they will be listening for God’s direction for their next ministry. Both women have taken the time to share with Four Rivers readers their reflections and experiences of ministry which totals 44 years between them.

The Rev’d Val Elson

‘Before my amazing time in this Diocese, I was a clerk/typist with the Mount Morgan Shire Council in Queensland. Later, I worked in door to door sales and demonstrated products in supermarkets. To enable my husband to go to Theological College in Brisbane, I became an Enrolled Nurse. I am also a mum of three children and nanna to six grandchildren.

Berrigan is the town in which I have lived for the past 18 years. Way back in 1986 in Springsure, Central Queensland, my husband Peter who was the parish priest, said to me one day: “Love, I think you are being called to the ordained ministry and that you should talk with the Bishop.” He had noticed the ministry that I was doing almost every day. At the time I laughed at him. Only a few months after this Peter was invited to a church in South Brisbane where we stayed for six years. I saw the Bishop and started studying. Then we moved to North Brisbane for 10 years where I continued my studies and was made a Deacon in 1993. I served as a Deacon at St Andrew’s, Lutwyche and then at St Alban’s, Wilston for over two years and in 1999 I was ordained a Priest.

In 2002 we moved to the Parish of Berrigan, Jerilderie and Oaklands and I was inducted and made Rector on 20th February 2002. My husband Peter was half -time Ministry Development Officer and half-time Army Chaplain. Three months after arriving in this beautiful town and parish, my husband was killed in a car accident. The loving, heartfelt words written to me by a parishioner; the amazing Christian love, support and care that I received from my Warden and my Faith Deposits in our Lord, are what brought me through this devastating time. I stayed! The Bishop made me a Rural Dean of the Upper Murray in 2006. My time as Rector of Berrigan, Jerilderie and Oaklands was eight and a half years. The year 2010 brought another change as we became the Parish of Mulwala-Berrigan, Jerilderie and Oaklands. Jerilderie became part of the neighbouring parish of Tocumwal-Finley in late 2010. I held the position of Rector of Mulwala-Berrigan with Oaklands for three and a half years. I finish in the parish on Sunday 12th January 2020. In April/May I’m moving back to Brisbane where two of my children are living and I’m looking forward to sharing special family times and celebrations.

What I will take with me are my memories of the people; their wonderful characters; the truly fun times we’ve shared together; the hard work; the challenges met; the laughter and the tears shed at times. God will call me to a different ministry this I know. My time in Riverina Diocese and the Parish has been so uplifting. It has been a time of personal growth and most lovely. Thank you to my brother and sister clergy for your support and love over many years. I will miss you all very much as I will miss the people of this parish who will always have a place in my heart. I thank them for the love and care they’ve shown to me.

God Bless and Keep the Faith!’


The Rev’d Nola Cox

How long have you been Parish Priest at Lockhart? I was an Honorary Deacon in the then Trinity Ministry District which included three centres – Lockhart, Culcairn-Henty and The Rock. My ordination as a local priest was as part of a ministry team.

When were you ordained and have you had any other parishes?

I was made an Honorary Deacon for Lockhart parish in 2001 until 2006. I was then Assistant Deacon, Parish of Coolamon/ Ganmain from 2002-2005. My other appointments have included: Ministry Education Officer (2004- 2006); Diocesan Ministry Enabler (2007-2009); Ministry Team Priest Ministering Community of Lockhart with Boree Creek and Urana (2009- 2014). I retired with a Permission to Officiate (PTO) license from 2014-2017. I came out of retirement in 2018 to be Priest with Oversight for St Aidan’s Parish, Lockhart as well as Boree Creek and Urana.

What did you do in a former life before you became a priest and what inspired you to undertake the journey to ministry? I’ve worked in lots of jobs including as a shop assistant, librarian, teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and sister. I grew up in Sydney and moved to Lockhart with my husband Graham who was posted there as a teacher in 1989. Completing the Preliminary Certificate in Theology gave me a thirst to learn more. I commenced the Certificate in Theology and questioned why I was doing it. I’m sometimes a bit slow to hear God’s voice – in fact it took me years. My conditioning, where I grew up, told me that a woman couldn’t lead men so it took a lot of encouragement from wiser, more Godly people than myself to convince me that what I was hearing was a call from God to be ordained. I first heard this call when I was 15 years old! When do you finish your ministry in the parish and where are you moving to or are you staying in Lockhart?

Graham and I are initially staying in Lockhart. Sunday 29th December will be my last service as Priest with Oversight. I will still hold a licence and be available to do occasional services on request. What are you most looking forward to doing (or not doing!) in retirement?

There are lots of unfinished tasks I want to complete ie tapestry, sewing projects, painting, reading, travelling.

I believe you’ve had a couple of attempted ‘retirements’ and been lured back? Is this one final? That’s up to God. I will continue ministry to children and aged for as long as I have the strength. I will be listening for God’s instruction as to what He wants me to do.

What have been some of your most sacred moments and memories of your time at Lockhart ?

Among my most sacred memories was baptising my seven-year-old great grandson on my 70th birthday – he had been asking me for a year. His father realised the significance of the Gospel on this occasion and began to seek answers to his questions. Two occasions when someone interrupted the sermon to ask what I meant – one an adult and more recently a child. Taking the time to answer the questions while everyone else waited made me realise that the interruptions were often the most significant moments.

  • Ministry to the sick and dying.
  • Marriages and funerals of people I’ve come to love.
  • Travelling throughout the Diocese; meeting and sharing with many people.




The parish of Lockhart and the community have organised a ‘farewell’ morning tea for Rev’d Nola 9.00am on Sunday 29th December. Everyone is invited!

A snapshot of life in Barham & Balranald

I’m always encouraged by the faithfulness of my Brothers and Sisters in the Parish of Barham / Balranald, they are in the words of the Apostle Paul, people who “never give up” whether they work silently behind the scenes or at the forefront on ministry in the church and in the community.

In early October we were delighted to have Bishop Donald with us on his inaugural visit to the Parish.

Bishop Donald blessed and commemorated a plaque dedicating the life and service to the Parish of Canon Julius (Jock) Stonehouse and Archdeacon David Bond. The plaque was unveiled by David’s wife Carol, who continues to be a loved member of the church family at St Johns.

The Bishop also blessed and dedicated on of our new Parish initiatives, the Anglican Parish Op Shop, which has now been running successfully for the past three months.

Our YOMOVE youth-group has now been running for one year, meeting once a month with between 15-20 kids coming along from the highschool supported by some Enthusiastic volunteers.

A recent council grant will enable us to transport, provide a meal and take 20 kids ten pin bowling for our YOMOVE breakup this year.

Since September, I’ve had the privilege to also meet once a month with the folk at Balranald joining them for their Combined Churches Carol Service recently.

We have much to be thankful for and I’m thankful for the continued vision the Parish has had in seeing the ministry continue here in this community and in the forwarding of God’s Kingdom in this place. On behalf of all of us here in the Parish of Barham / Balranald May I wish each of you and your families a blessed and safe Christmas and New Year.

Christmas Service 2019

Bishop Donald writes ...

Years ago when I was the Rector of Colac (Ballarat Diocese) I had a young altar server who used to love Christmas. Serving at the Midnight Mass she wore Christmas socks that were red and green with the words “Ho, Ho, Ho” and bells attached so that she jingled as she went about her tasks. It was a bit of fun that all enjoyed.

Christmas is about fun; about rejoicing in the good of humanity and the best of humanity. As we go about all the things we do this Christmas we will (hopefully) have fun with friends and family; with all who are part of our community.

When we sing our carols and listen to the story; when we remember that Christ was born in Bethlehem we are rejoicing in the good of humanity that God became for us — a helpless child who’s life revealed the love of God for everyone. We are rejoicing in the best of humanity that God became for us — a Redeemer whose life and death would bring us life. Christmas is about life: God’s life in humanity; God’s life in us: our life in God.

Therefore, we come to Christmas full of joy and hope, rejoicing in our humanity, our connectedness to each other and to God in Jesus the child of Bethlehem and redeemer of all humanity.

So, wear your Christmas socks! Sing your carols with joy! Rejoice in God’s love!

+ Donald Riverina

Bungowannah High Tea

On Saturday November 2nd the parishioners of St Mark’s Church, Bungowannah held High Tea at Wrenwood Gallery and Farm Shop, Riverina Highway, Bungowannah.

Lizabeth and Jayson Souness graciously rearranged their gallery and allowed us to take over for the day. Sixty-nine guests attended and enjoyed an array of savoury and sweet platters along with tea and plunger coffee served in the best of grandma’s china laid on beautiful hand-embroided table linen.

The small congregation of St Mark’s catered and served the many guests. Behind the scenes was a strong band of workers carting tables and chairs, digging out and borrowing china and silver tea services (that needed polishing!) from the back of cupboards. With the generous support of guests, parishioners and family we raised $1,785.00.

St Mark’s is the third church built on the present site and was completed in 1905 on land donated by John Dight (one of the first landholders to take up land west of Albury in 1839) and it is the only remaining church between Albury and Howlong on the Riverina Highway.

Please send any contributions including photos for the next issue
of Four Rivers to Virginia Gawler

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