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Selwyn Symposium to be held next April

For immediate release December 20, 2008

Selwyn Symposium to be held next April

A giant in the Anglican Church – both here and abroad – will be commemorated next year.

It’s the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Augustus Selwyn, first Bishop of New Zealand (from 1841-69).

And St John’s College in Auckland is marking the occasion with a two-day symposium, beginning on Friday, 3 April.

The Rev Dr Allan Davidson, one of New Zealand’s leading church historians, says Selwyn was a towering figure in church and society, and helped the Anglican Church to become a truly world-spanning denomination.

He also helped paved the way for lay people to have a say in governing the church – through the development of synodical government.

“Selwyn was,” says Dr Davidson, “one of the most outstanding colonial-missionary Anglican bishops of the nineteenth century.”

He was also, of course, a man from the colonial era, and his relationships with both the Church Missionary Society and with Maori, for example, were “sometimes fraught.”

“In many ways,” says Dr Davidson, “he was a giant of man who had feet of clay.”

Next year also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of George’s wife Sarah, and her contribution will also be recognised at the Symposium.

Scholars with interests in the Selwyns, and 19th century history generally will give presentations based on original research, and the papers will eventually be published.

“The symposium will allow a thorough examination of various aspects of the Selwyns’ contributions,” says Dr Davidson.

“Some of the events in which Bishop Selwyn took part were controversial. We hope that a critical, yet sympathetic engagement with the past will help shine a light on the Selwyns’ successes and achievements – as well as their mistakes and failings.”

A service of evensong, using the 1662 order, will be held in the College Chapel on the opening night of the symposium. This will be followed by a “Selwyn Bicentenary Dinner” in the College dining hall, with Bishop Sir Paul Reeves as speaker.

The symposium programme has been posted on the St John’s College website, along with registration details.

Go to:, and scroll down the list on the left side to ‘Selwyn Symposium’. #

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