Passionate in desire to renew Church

The Anglican Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth laughs with his audience during his public talk at the University of Otago yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The Anglican Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth laughs with his audience during his public talk at the University of Otago yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Christians are prepared to ''pay the price'' for their beliefs, including in social justice, recently-appointed Anglican Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth says.

In his mid-40s, the Bishop looks quite a bit different from most Anglican senior clergy.

He has tied-back dreadlocks, often wears shorts and goes barefoot.

But his passionate desire to renew the Church, to help change its direction and to attract more young people to it, was clear from a public talk about his life and faith, which he gave on the University of Otago campus yesterday. He was in Dunedin to attend a two-day bishops' leadership forum, involving Anglican and Catholic bishops, which began at St Margaret's College yesterday.

At 5pm more than 120 people packed into a large room at the college to hear him participate in a ''public conversation'' series, organised by the university's Centre for Theology and Public Issues.

And he answered sometimes ''provocative'' questions from centre staff member Dr Andrew Shepherd.

Later, during a question-and-answer session, a member of the public said many people wanted a better society but were ultimately reluctant to make any sacrifices to achieve it.

Bishop Duckworth agreed with the concern.

He had earlier said many people, including some parishioners, were too focused on personal wealth, entertainment and security. But Christians were ultimately people who made sacrifices for their beliefs.

Some church-owned land could be used to build affordable housing for those in need, and churches also had some money which could contribute to the work, he suggested.

Bishop Duckworth and his wife Jenny run a ''community monastery'' at Ngatiawa, north of Wellington, which they founded about 10 years ago.

They earlier spent more than two decades fostering teenage girls and working with the street community in Wellington.john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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