Cathedral bells pealed out across Brisbane as a mother of four was consecrated bishop in a packed St John’s Anglican Cathedral, becoming the second woman bishop for the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

Over 700 people gathered from around the country to witness Sarah Plowman’s consecration and welcome her as the new Bishop for the Northern Region, an area stretching from St John’s Cathedral on Ann St to Bundaberg and out west to Gayndah.

Raised on the Sunshine Coast, The Right Reverend Sarah Plowman said that she is particularly looking forward to connecting with Anglicans and wider community members in Nambour, where she grew up on an avocado farm.

“There are faithful people with inspiring stories and generous hearts all over this part of our Anglican family and I can’t wait to hear their stories and do what I can to enable them to flourish,” Bishop Sarah said.

“A personal highlight will be doing a confirmation service in the Parish of Nambour, at some point in the future, where I was confirmed in 1985 — it will be a thrill returning to Nambour to confirm others in the church where my own faith was nurtured and encouraged.

“I have already noticed a real hunger in the region to explore new ways of being ‘church’ — models that don’t stick to the rigid expectations of the past, instead drawing upon rich traditions while springing forward in hope and with imagination.

“With the support of a faithful, talented and Spirit-led team of clergy and lay leaders, I hope to serve the Northern Region of our Diocese, including the Church’s parishes and agencies and wider community members.

“As I looked around the Cathedral last night, I saw dozens of faces that have been involved in Anglican Church life with me since we were all teenagers — some are now lawyers, accountants, social workers, ICT professionals, teachers and administrators.

“I realised in that moment that I will always be supported as a bishop.

“Like any leadership role, there will be complex problems to work through; however, I will have so many talented people I trust to lean on.”

The sermon was given by The Rev’d Kaye Pitman, who, in 1992, was among the six women first ordained priests in the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

“Today we are participating in the consecration of Sarah to be a bishop in the Anglican Church — this is the fulfillment of the dreams of many women and men, especially in our home Diocese,” The Rev’d Kaye said.

“Not only has God called a woman to be one of our bishops, but God has called one who went to school and GFS [Girls Friendly Society] in Nambour, attended our St Margaret’s School, and has devoted her life to serving in God’s name right here within the Diocese.”

Family members, friends and mentors assisted with presenting the symbols of episcopal office, including a pectoral cross, symbolising Jesus’ suffering and death; an episcopal ring, symbolising the bond of love and episcopal authority; a cope and mitre; and, a pastoral staff, symbolising the good shepherd.

Archbishop Jeremy Greaves, who announced Sarah Plowman’s appointment in April and was chief consecrator, said that Sarah’s experience, skills and knowledge will equip her well.

“Bishops need to have a pastoral heart and a judicious mind and these are two things for which Sarah is well known, as well as for her fresh eyes and fresh ideas,” Archbishop Jeremy said.

“Sarah also knows the Diocese incredibly well because she grew up being part of Sunday school and youth groups, graduated from St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, served in our young adult ministry and parishes and has worked as a teacher or chaplain in many of our schools.

“As well, in this season in our life as a Diocese, bishops need to think creatively and with imagination about the shape of the Church — Sarah has demonstrated her capacity for this during her time as the Director of Discernment and Formation at St Francis Theological College.

“She works well with our people across the breadth of the Anglican tradition and understands what ‘comprehensive Anglican identity and purpose’ looks like in this Diocese.”

Eighteen archbishops and bishops from around the country participated in the “laying on of hands” as Archbishop Jeremy said, “Send down the Holy Spirit upon your servant, Sarah, whom we set apart by the laying on of our hands, for the office and work of a bishop in your Church.”

Bishop Sarah is married to Darius, with whom she is raising four teenage daughters, one of whom read from the New Testament during the consecration service.

Bishop Sarah studied at St Francis Theological College in Milton and was ordained a deacon in 2004 and a priest in 2005.

Bishop Sarah has a Bachelor of Applied Science from QUT, a Graduate Diploma of Education from QUT, and a Bachelor of Theology from Charles Sturt University.

Bishop Sarah’s consecration service preceded the first session of the eighty-first Synod, or governing body, of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland, which met at Anglican Church Grammar School (“Churchie”) over the weekend.