A voice that would not be sidelined

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

BISHOP John McIntyre, the Bishop of Gippsland, could have been sidelined by the most conservative voices in the church, but instead he became Bishop of Gippsland and a beacon shining across the nation, not just for the church but for the whole community.

He holds an unforgettable place in the lives of so many who would not normally enter a church building but have been attracted by a message that is inclusive, liberating and personally costly.

John McIntyre, like Colin Slee the late Dean of Southwark, has had a sudden premature exit from a position of leadership, but the effect of his engagement is inestimable and he actually embodied qualities of spiritual heroism that was sadly unique and at Pentecost a vivid reminder of the joyful and turbulent and liberating spirit of God very much at work in our own day.

He has spent his whole life opportunity dancing on the parapet, drawing fire away from vulnerable people when many of his peers have been in hiding, lent courage to many, and his life and example will continue to be that most dangerous of influences. He is a true inspiration.

And so to the people of Gippsland, to his family we express our real sorrow, but also real gratitude for a life overflowing with justice, mercy, kindness and compassion and a good deal of fun and he has given us a lot to live up to and we will, like John, give it our best shot without waiting for the applause.