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Inaugural Forum

Canberra, July 1994



Priorities and Issues

Executive Membership

You can view other documents from the Forum by clicking here.


The mantle was part of the inaugural service, held at St Christopher's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Canberra, when the NCCA was formed on 3 July 1994.  It was made to celebrate the laying down of the old Australian Council of Churches and the lifting up of the new and larger National Council of Churches in Australia. 

The Committee working on the liturgy for this service chose the reading from the 2nd chapter of 2 Kings where Elijah asks Elisha "Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken from you."  Elisha said "Let me inherit a double share of your spirit."  Elisha then picked up the cloak which had fallen from Elijah.

Jennie Stevens (Anglican) was approached by the liturgical committee to create a visual art work to be part of the service.  She selected five other textile artists from four different churches:  Joan James (Roman Catholic), Bonnie Begg (Anglican), Nancy Tingey (Religious Society of Friends), Marlene Greenwood and Margaret Roberts (Uniting).  The group met and designed and worked for four months and they felt it was a most enjoyable and exciting experience.  Each one of them had special areas of expertise and they felt it was great to work with such talented women of faith.

When designing the mantle they focused on the story of Elisha receiving Elijah’s mantle on his death and with it, his spirit.  They saw the cross of Christ as their centre and the basis of their unity, from which the Spirit goes into the world, flowing as the river of life.  It was to be a larger than life mantle (it measures 7x3½ metres) – symbolising the whole community of faith encompassed by this garment.  It was also to be double-sided, one side representing the old Australian Council of Churches and the other new National Council of Churches in Australia.  Then the thought came that they could open it out to form an even larger covering to encompass many.  Gillian Hunt, from the liturgical committee described it as “big bold, brilliant and definitely more than a garment – it was the artists’ expression of God’s Spirit moving through time, flowing as water, forming as wind, flaming as fire, centred around the shared symbol – the Cross.”

The first step once the design was approved was to transfer the design on to 21 metres of silk.  This silk was then waxed and painted with dyes.  Machine embroidered overlays of silk georgette were appliquéd onto it before and after the three 7 metre lengths were sewn together.

The biggest thrill for the artists was the impact the mantle had on the service.  It was very moving to witness the mantle being processed in, unfolded, passed from representative of the Australian Council of Churches to the representative of the National Council of Churches and then unfurled further and in the hands of the dancers to flow over the heads of all those in the cathedral.  This was accompanied by the wonderful music of the instrumentalists and the  ecumenical choir singing You are my inheritance, O God.

Tapes of this historic event are available in the NCCA office.

Since July 1994, the mantle has been used in many ecumenical services around Australia – it has travelled around New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Canberra and the Northern Territory.

If a group in your area is planning an ecumenical event where you would like to use the mantle, enquire about its availability at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


National Council of Churches                                           



B HugginsBishop Philip Huggins



 Anglican Church, 2016 - 

semmler-m-2006_2The Revd Dr Mike Semmler


 Lutheran Church, 2013 - 2016

bishopputneyBishop Michael Putney



Roman Catholic Church, 2009- 2013

Bhp_Appleby_2fThe Right Revd Richard Appleby


Anglican Church, 2006 - 2009

HaireThe Revd Professor James Haire


Uniting Church, July 2003 - 2006

SteickeThe Revd Dr Lance Steicke


Lutheran Church, 2000 - 2003

bathersbyArchbishop John Bathersby


Roman Catholic Church, 1997 - 2000

baliozianArchbishop Aghan Baliozian





Australian Council of Churches


Armenian Apostolic Church,1994-1997

The Revd Ian Allsop

Bishop Oliver S Heyward

Archbishop David Penman

The Revd Dr H D’Arcy Wood

Bishop Gabriel Gibran

Bishop G R Delbridge

The Revd N R Gilmore

Bishop D A Garnsey

The Rt Revd N Faichney

Commissioner Bramwell Cook

Archbishop Frank Woods

The Revd B R Wyllie

The Rt Revd A C Watson

Archbishop R C Halse

Archbishop Howard Mowll

The Revd C Denis Ryan

Archbishop Howard Mowll

The Revd Dr G Calvert Barber

The Rt Revd J R Blanchard

Archbishop Howard Mowll


Churches of Christ, 1992 – 1994

Anglican Church, 1989 – 1992

Anglican Church, 1988 – 1989

Uniting Church, 1984 – 1988

Antiochian OrthodoxChurch, 1980 – 1984

Church of England, 1976 – 1980

Churches of Christ, 1973 – 1976

Church of England, 1970 – 1973

Presbyterian Church, 1968 – 1970

Salvation Army, 1967

Church of England, 1965 – 1966

Methodist Church, 1963 – 1964

Presbyterian Church, 1961 – 1962

Church of England, 1959 – 1960

Church of England, 1957 – 1958

Congregational Union, 1955 – 1956

Church of England, 1954

Methodist Church, 1952 – 1953

Presbyterian Church, 1951

Church of England, 1946 – 1950


Liz Stone 17Liz Stone     [Interim General Secretary] 2018 - 2020

ElizabethDelaneySr Elizabeth Delaney SGS


Roman Catholic Church, 2015 - 2018

080312_CurlewisThe Revd Tara Curlewis   Uniting Church, 2009 - 2014

hendersonThe Revd John Henderson

  Lutheran Church, 2002 - 2008

GillThe Revd David Gill

  Uniting Church, ACC 1986 - 1994, NCCA 1994 - 2001

Ms Jean Skuse

The Revd Frank Engel

Mr Val Brown

The Revd Harvey Perkins

The Revd Dr Malcolm Mackay

The Revd John Garrett

The Revd C Dennis Ryan

The Revd T McDougall

The Revd Dr C Bernard Cockett


Methodist Church 1976 – 1988

Presbyterian Church 1969 – 1975

Church of England 1967 – 1969

Methodist Church 1956 – 1967

Presbyterian Church 1954 – 1956

Congregational Union 1950 – 1954

Congregational Union 1948 – 1950

Presbyterian Church 1946 – 1948


ncca logo 300The cross and the boat, symbols of faith and unity, have long served as symbols of the ecumenical movement. The version currently used by the NCCA, incorporating waves and the Southern Cross was designed for the formation of the new NCCA in 1994.

This symbol portrays the Church as a ship afloat on the sea of the world with the mast in the form of a cross, itself the symbol par excellence of the Christian Faith. It is not clear when the symbol was first adopted for the ecumenical movement but it was in use before the inauguration of the World Council of Churches in 1948. It is likely the symbol of a boat has its origin in the Gospel stories of the calling by Jesus of Galilean fishermen and the stilling of the storm by Jesus on the lake of Galilee. (See FAQ on the WCC Website)

The version used by the NCCA, by including the Southern Cross, often shown against a night blue sky, indicates our position in the southern hemisphere, and identity as many races under the cross dwelling in the great south land, Terra Australis. The arrival of suffering peoples to Australia by boat have given renewed poignancy to this symbol in recent times.