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Speaker: Darren Mitchell
Respondent: Bishop Brad Billings
Our Anzac remembrance practices emerged from Christian thinking and liturgy. Early Anzac ceremonies were based on Anglican forms, and distinctive commemorative components such as laying wreaths at memorials and pausing in silence, as well as the unique Australian ‘dawn service’ tradition, have their antecedents in religious customs and civic rites of the time.
Belief in Australia in the 1910s and 1920s remained predominantly Christian, and in practice largely Anglican, and so it is not surprising that Anglican clergy played a significant role in developing this Anzac legacy, a contribution which has heretofore received scant acknowledgement in academic and popular commentary. Despite Australia’s citizenry today being multicultural and increasingly secular, Anzac liturgical forms have undergone little change in more than one hundred years. The First World War Centenary provides timely opportunity to reconsider the influence of Christianity on the development of Anzac Day.
Darren Mitchell is undertaking doctoral studies in the University of Sydney’s Department of History researching Anzac commemoration liturgy, and in particular, the Christian influence on early Anzac remembrance practice.
Darren worked for the New South Wales (NSW) State Government in various roles for over thirty years. From 2009-2014, Darren was the Director of the NSW Anzac Memorial, the State’s principal war memorial, and planned the State’s Great War Centenary Commemoration Program.
Since retiring from the NSW public service, Darren has developed a commemorations and war memorials advisory practice. He is a regular film reviewer for Zadok Perspectives and a member of St Barnabas Anglican Church Broadway.
Building on the legacy of Charles Perry, first Anglican Bishop of Melbourne, our biennial lecture named in his honour seeks to explore the origins and development of evangelicalism in Melbourne. Conversations concerning the explosion of Christianity in the majority world, Christian influence in American politics and the vitality of evangelical churches in our own country make research in evangelical history increasingly important. Our lecture contributes to the vision of the founders of our city who wanted to create in Melbourne a model of Christian civilisation.
The Charles Perry Lecture is sponsored by the Jonathan Edwards Center at Ridley Melbourne, St James’ Old Cathedral, West Melbourne, and the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion.
Previous lectures in this series include presentations by Hugh Chilton, David Bebbington, Stuart Piggin, Ken Cable, Patricia Grimshaw, Bob Evans, and Darrell Paproth.