New Anglican archbishop ‘gladly trusts in Jesus’

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Dean of Sydney and Archbishop-elect Kanishka Raffel. PHOTO: Anglican Diocese of Sydney

Convert from Buddhism will take up role leading Sydney

The Dean of the St Andrew’s Cathedral, Kanishka Raffel, was unanimously chosen to lead the Anglican archdiocese of Sydney in a final vote by local church representatives and clergy on 6 May.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP welcomed his new Anglican counterpart, saying that as cathedral dean Mr Raffel has provided important outreach to the homeless and new migrants to the city over the past six years.

“I formed a good friendship with the outgoing Archbishop Glenn Davies as we worked together to promote a culture of life in our state, especially in the lead up to the passage of abortion legislation in 2019,” the archbishop said on social media.

“I look forward to continuing this important work with Archbishop-elect Raffel. May God bless him and his family as he takes up this new ministry, providing spiritual leadership to the Anglicans of Sydney.”

“I’m humbled and somewhat daunted…We believe that the Lord works through his people, both in making this decision and in enabling the Archbishop to fulfil his role.” – Anglican archbishop-elect Raffel

A convert to Christianity from Buddhism, Archbishop-elect Raffel is the first person from a non-European background to hold the position. He’s the 13th leader of the Anglican Church in Sydney since Bishop Broughton was first appointed in 1836.

“I’m humbled and somewhat daunted by the responsibility given me by the Synod,” he  said in a statement. “We believe that the Lord works through his people — both in making this decision and in enabling the Archbishop to fulfil his role. Like every Christian, I gladly trust in Jesus.”

Aged 56, and born to Sri-Lankan parents in London, Mr Raffel and his family emigrated to Australia from Canada in 1972. He and his wife Cailey have been married for 32 years and have two adult daughters.

He has been the Dean of Sydney for six years, previously leading a large Anglican church in Shenton Park in Perth for 16 years. He has been described as a gifted preacher and communicator who at the age of 21 underwent a conversion to Christianity after reading the lines from St John’s Gospel:  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day”.

Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies (left) and Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP take questions. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli
Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies (left) and Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP take questions at a forum last year in Sydney. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“Globally, Anglican Christianity is ethnically diverse and our multiculturalism in Sydney mirrors that,” he said. “I’m glad that our diocese reflects the changing ethnic make-up of our cities and values the participation of Australians of all backgrounds in our church life together. Our team of bishops is almost equal part Asian-background and Anglo. That is contemporary Australia.”

Kanishka Raffel’s work as the Dean of Sydney has brought him in touch with ministry to the homeless and vulnerable, recent arrivals to Australia, as well as government leaders. He recently led the service attended by the Governor-General, Prime Minister and Premier after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Archbishop-elect has a special passion for explaining the Gospel and teaching Scripture.

“COVID-19 has shaken our self-confidence and fractured our everyday world in a way that makes us long for something more than the material,” he said. We’ve rediscovered the priority of relationships and community.

“Local Anglican churches in communities and suburbs across Sydney and Wollongong are places of welcome open to all. We gather to hear God’s life-giving words, seek to serve our neighbours and are glad to introduce them to the hope we have in Jesus.”

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