On 21 July 2020, Bishop Rick sent the message found below to the clergy and parishes of the Armidale Diocese:
My dear brothers and sisters,
This morning at our Diocesan Council I informed the DC of my intention to resign the position of Bishop and return to a parish ministry. This information is now for public knowledge.
On Tuesday 14th July the Archbishop of Sydney offered me the cure of souls in the parish of Shoalhaven Heads. After due consideration and with Janene’s agreement we have accepted that position. It is a rural area (dairy), population about 3,000 with about 60 church attenders and the church is the only one in the town.
My resignation which will be provided to registrar on 30th July demands that I give six months’ notice. This means my episcopacy will end on the 30th January 2021. I intend to take leave from the 7th December.
My reasons as I expressed them to the DC are many but these are the significant ones:
This has not been an easy decision but nor was the call to be a Bishop, but what a privilege it has been to serve among you. In my time as Bishop I have watched the suffering of a drought affected rural diocese and stood beside and with you in such suffering. I have ordained and appointed many of you to positions. Like yourselves, I have lived with the frustrations of what can and can’t be done and been forced, like all of you, to fall back on our great God in faith. With your help and commitment I have seen our professional standards brought into the 21st century. Together we have lived with the royal commission and watched as Christian dollars have been siphoned off to pay redress for things most in our diocese are not responsible for but with the care of victims in mind we have addressed our past culpabilities. Thanks to the vision of some we have seen indigenous ministry and training advanced. In recent days the Covid19 crisis has seen an affected church respond with energetic courage that a Bishop can only thank God for. I rejoice that I have not been alone in the episcopal journey as both God and you, his people, have accompanied me. We are a great team of faithful servants. It has been my greatest privilege to write for the newspaper and see those articles bless many around the diocese. I have loved the opportunities to preach, to induct clergy into parishes, to give opportunity for training and equipping of the saints and to be a loved and welcomed part of all the church families across the Diocese.
It is in no way an easy thing for me to let go of such a significant local and national position of privilege to take on what some might consider to be much smaller and less significant. I have loved this diocese, its clergy and its people. I wish to thank all of you for the privilege and for your partnership in the Gospel.
There will be plenty of opportunities to catch up in the months ahead and I would ask you to pray for the appointment of the next Bishop. Pray that God does, in and through him, exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine to keep this Diocese faithful to the Scriptures and active in introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.
God bless you all