The Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Rev. Philip Freier, has been elected Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia.
On 28 June 2014 the Panel of Electors – 12 lay and 12 clergy members elected by General Synod – and the House of Bishops met at St Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide before the start of the church’s general synod. After several rounds of voting, Dr. Freier achieved the requisite majority amongst the three orders and was declared the winner over the second closest vote-getter, the Archbishop of Sydney the Most Rev. Glenn Davies.
He succeeds the Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, the Archbishop of Brisbane, as primate. Dr. Aspinall stepped down from the post earlier this month after nine years in office.
“The Anglican Church of Australia is united by a common constitution and a common cause to proclaim Christ. I congratulate Archbishop Freier and look forward to working with him as we bring the good news of Jesus to the nation,” Dr. Davies told Anglican Media Sydney.
Born in 1955 in Brisbane, Dr. Freier was the son of a railway worker and was reared in the Catholic Church. Educated at the Queensland Institute of Technology, the University of Queensland and the University of Newcastle, he worked as a science teacher for seven years before training for the ministry at Melbourne College of Divinity. He received a PhD degree in History from James Cook University. After ordination he served as a curate in Kowanyama, Queensland followed by five years as the Rector of St Oswald’s, Banyo before being appointed the Rector of Christ Church, Bundaberg.
In 1999 Freier was elected as the Bishop of the Northern Territory and in 2006 was elected Archbishop of Melbourne. Dr. Freier also serves as a Royal Australian Air Force reserve chaplain. He and his wife Elizabeth have two children and three grandchildren.
A champion of social justice issues and frequent critic of the government, Dr. Freier is a supporter of women’s ordination, but holds traditional views on marriage and human sexuality.
Following his election Dr. Freier explained his role was largely ceremonial but he hoped to be able to use his position to strengthen the church’s work amongst rural communities. “I look forward to the opportunity of working with the church around the country. The church across its parishes, schools and service agencies makes a powerful contribution to Australian society,” Dr Freier told Anglican Media Sydney.