Despite its early reputation as Australia’s foremost evangelical diocese, Melbourne in the later decades of the twentieth century was viewed by most observers within it and beyond as the most comprehensive in the Australian church. It accepted and encouraged diverse theologies, spiritualities and pastoral models and strategies, and it was open and innovative in its ecumenical and community relations. - James Grant, Melbourne Anglicans, p1. (Melbourne Anglicans : the Diocese of Melbourne, 1847-1997, edited by Brian Porter Melbourne Mitre Books 1997)
18 October 1835 – A Prayer Book service is recorded as having been read for the first time on the settlement of Melbourne.
30 April 1837 - First service by an ordained clergyman of the Church of England, the Revd J B Naylor or Hobart.
Easter 1837 - William Grant Broughton, first and only Bishop of Australia, visits the new community of Melbourne.
September 1838 - First resident minister, Revd J C Grylls, appointed.
November 9 1838 - Foundation stone laid for St James, Melbourne’s first church.
1843 - Bishop Broughton visits Melbourne and Geelong and recognises a need for their own bishop.
1846 - First Bishop of Melbourne, Charles Perry, appointed.
1847 - Charles Perry consecrated Bishop in Westminster Abbey, and Royal Letters Patent of 25 June create the See of Melbourne.
From his arrival, Perry was unhappy with his situation… he fell foul, for different reasons, of both Anglican laity and Geelong and non-conformists in Melbourne. The lesson was well learnt and in all his later efforts to devise a workable legal basis for the Church of England… Perry always consulted widely with both clergy and laity. (page 3)
1850 - Bishop Perry convenes a conference of clergy and lay people from parishes to consider the future organisation of the diocese.
1851 - The discovery of gold brings enormous disruption and then growth to the colony and diocese. Melbourne’s population grows from 23,000 to 141,000 by 1861. State aid enables basic pastoral ministrations due to clergy and building shortages.
In the absence of any supply of local candidates for ordination, Perry had to look to the Church of England and Ireland… Many of his clergy proved too cultured for bush appointments, but many were not cultured enough for town parishes.
1860 – Lay support for church schools diminishes over the next decade.
1870 – State aid to religion finally withdrawn, with two major concessions: a five year phasing out period, and the right to dispose of the original Crown grants.
1873 - The Church Assembly authorises the establishment of the diocese of Ballarat.
1869 – Plans prepared for a cathedral and a chapter.
1870 - Foundation stone laid for Trinity College.
13 April 1880 - Foundation stone laid for St Paul’s Cathedral, after site is chosen by Bishop James Moorhouse.
22 January 1891 – Cathedral completed and consecrated.
1901 - Archdeaconries of Sandhurst, Beechworth, and dioceses of Wangaratta, Bendigo and Gippsland created.
Circa 1892 - Formation of Church Missionary Association, and Mission to the Streets and Lanes.
1904 – St John’s College opened.
1910 - Ridley College opened.
Bishop Henry Lowther Clarke has been much involved in educational matters in Yorkshire and worked to evolve a diocesan policy for Melbourne… the enrolment in Anglican schools increased fivefold during his episcopate.
1920 – Bishop Harrington Clare Lees is the first Bishop to use the medium of radio effectively. His episcopate coincides with a decade of post-war community optimism.
1925 – Tower and spires are added to St Paul’s Cathedral, and successful church planting continues in Melbourne and Geelong.
1931 – Brotherhood of St Laurence founded.
Circa 1930s - Bishop Frederick Waldegrave Head supports moves to secure a constitution for the Australian Church.
1930 and 1938 - Bishop Head joins other Protestant leaders in campaigning unsuccessfully for a
yes vote in prohibition referenda.
It took until 1950 before the transition from war-time arrangements was completed, just in time to face the phenomenal expansion of Melbourne and Geelong that followed the Korean War and the resumption of immigration. Page 15
1950s – A survey of the Diocese indicates potential growth areas and under Archdeacon Geffrey Sambell a diocesan ‘Forward Move’ is launched, leading to increases in expenditure on clergy training, new parishes and hospital and institutional chaplaincies.
1955 - General Synod adopts final draft of the Constitution of the Church of England in Australia, and is subsequently accepted by the Diocese of Melbourne.
1969 – United Faculty of Theology established.
1971 – Synod approves the establishment of three Regions of Episcopal Care.
1970s – Massive decline in Sunday school enrolments, youth work and nominal adherents.
1977 – The first Australian-born Archbishop of Melbourne Robert Dann appointed.
1992 - First women priests in Australia ordained in St Paul’s Cathedral.
April 2008 – Melbourne appoints its first woman Bishop, Barbara Darling.