TRENTHAM’S Reverend Dr Charles Sherlock has been appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australia Day Honours for his significant service to the Anglican Church of Australia and to theological education.
Dr Sherlock said he felt “honoured, surprised and delighted” at the recognition of his work as a “backroom intellectual” contributing to Australian life.
Dr Sherlock began teaching theology at 29 years of age after the breakout of the Vietnam War.
He has had a long career in theological education that spans more than 40 years.
During that time, Dr Sherlock has held a number of major research and lecturer roles in the sector, including at Trinity College Theological School, Ridley College and the University of Divinity.
He has also been a major contributor to policy formation at the Australian College of Theology and the University of Divinity.
But one of his self-professed biggest achievements was being asked to join the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1991. He was a member of the commission for 26 years and for the last 10, was a senior member.
“The commission was made up of eight or nine scholars from each tradition, Anglican and Roman Catholic, to try and explore ways by which we could try to get beyond the long standing disagreements and offer fresh ways that would lower the barriers,” he said.
“During my time, we reached agreements on the authority of the Pope, the bible, and about Mary.”
During his work at the commission, Dr Sherlock met Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.
Another of his notable achievements was through his work as secretary of the Anglican Liturgical Commission of Australia, which produced the 1995 prayer book.
“This sort of work is very back room but I hope it helps in the long run,” he said. “What you are trying to do as a theologian is to change people’s imaginations. If you shift the imagination, you will get action.”
During the numerous decades he has worked as a theologian, Dr Sherlock has written twelve books as well as another six “lightweight” publications.
Dr Sherlock has held roles as the Minister in Charge and Assistant Curate at St Augustine’s Anglican Church in Moreland as well as a role as Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.
He is currently an Honorary Associate Priest at the Anglican Diocese of Bendigo.
“Theologians in the church generally don’t get involved in the structures that much - they tend to ask questions too often,” Dr Sherlock said.
In other achievements, Sherlock was editor at a number of publications, including Church Scene: The National Anglican Weekly and The Spirit.
He also managed the Uncovering Theology Project, which was the first survey of theological education in Australia. This was particularly significant as studying a degree in theology was illegal until 1975.
But being in active retirement for the last seven years hasn’t slowed him down.
Dr Sherlock has continued writing and has contributed to Trentham in his roles as secretary of the Trentham and District Community Bank and in being an instrumental force in pushing for a Men’s Shed.
His interest in establishing a Men’s Shed for the town came after the Trentham Hotel was converted into a restaurant.
“It meant there was nowhere for blokes who liked hanging around the bar to do so. That initial motive deepened as I became aware of Hepburn Health's interest,” he said.
He is one of 280 Australians who received the prestigious honour on January 26.
The four levels of the award recognise outstanding service or exceptional achievement.
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