IT was on a backpacking trip through Europe after “running away” from his medical degree that soon-to-be installed Bishop of Gippsland, the Reverend Dr Richard Treloar, “rekindled the faith” of his younger days.
“In the context of our trip, I wandered in and out of a few dusty English cathedrals,” he said.
“It was a learning curve, almost like a second conversion to my own Anglican tradition in a different context, in a more liberal and broad context than I had grown up in.”
Today, a long way from the cathedrals of Europe, the Rev Treloar, along with his wife and two young children, has left his last post as a priest of a parish in South Yarra and is spending his time getting to know Gippsland, to prepare for his new role as bishop of the region.
He succeeds Kay Goldsworthy (AO) who took up her new office as Archbishop of Perth in February.
“It is also a bit daunting, I am conscious of how much I don’t know, about being a bishop and about Gippsland,” the Rev Treloar said.
“But I’ve always tried to get alongside people and work with people and listen and learn, and look and observe — and work it out collaboratively.
“... the first months up until Christmas my intention is to really get out and about as much as I can and engage and not do too much talking, but do a lot of listening.”
With more than 10 years’ experience in parishes around Ballarat, the Rev Treloar hopes to apply the things he has learnt in the past to this new role in Gippsland.
“I think it is really important the church is accountable in the public space,” the bishop-elect said.
“I think we have a task in terms of regaining a credible and authentic voice in the marketplace on the back of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.
“We need to be really accountable around that, and we need to work hard to regain the trust that has been lost in that.
“So that is a really important thing that I’m going to have some responsibility for.”
Bishop Treloar said reconciliation would also be a focus for him.
“I think that goes to our soul as a nation, that issue of reconciliation, and I think the church has a part to play in that,” he said.
“I’m really keen to work with our indigenous brothers and sisters.
“I’m really pleased that some of their elders will be involved at the installation service on Saturday.
“There will be a Welcome to Country, which is really important.”
Despite fewer and fewer people identifying as Christians, the Rev Treloar said he wasn’t particularly worried about the “church’s relevance”.
“At the end of the day, the church is an instrument for proclaiming the kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of radical inclusion, radical welcome, where there is inclusion for all, where there is a place at the table for all,” he said.
“The church is entrusted with a series of stories, a set of symbols, a set of practices and traditions that have abiding relevance.
“It is that which we need to focus on.
“It is the value and the relevance of those stories and those practices and those symbols as they show us something about what it means to be human, to be fully human and fully alive.
“That is where the relevance is.”
The Rev Treloar will be installed as Bishop of Gippsland at a service at St Paul’s Cathedral in Sale on Saturday from 11am, followed by a reception.
All are welcome to the service.