As a bush brother Graham Walden learnt that one of the most important ways he could serve God’s people was to listen.
The now-retired Bishop of the Murray diocese never forgot his earlier experiences as part of the Bush Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd, centred at Dubbo.
Bishop Graham will celebrate two important milestones this weekend, his 80th birthday and the 30th anniversary of his consecration as a bishop.
The days could have been spent quietly in his Dubbo study but instead the Dubbo Anglican parish will make it a time to remember with special events planned.
Aged about 16, Bishop Graham felt “a definite call to do something for God”.
“There was a possibility of journalism . . . or politics - but I think God saved me from that,” he said.
He graduated from university, was ordained a deacon in Brisbane and then travelled to the United Kingdom on a scholarship.
Bishop Graham was ordained a priest at St Paul’s Cathedral and a post at Poplar on the Thames was sound preparation for later work in regional and remote parts of Australia.
“A lot of visiting, visiting was the key, listening to people, talking to people,” he said.
He returned to Australia and joined the Bush Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd and posted to Gilgandra, Gulargambone, Tooraweenah and Curban.
“Again the clue was visiting,” he said.
“‘Oh put another spud in the pot, the bush brother’s coming up the road’.
“I think it meant a great deal to the people, that they had somebody to - the keynote word was listen. “And as you listen, the clue as to how they themselves were seeing things and you may be able to help people in their understanding of their own lives and careers.”
Other posts including the Torres Strait, Mudgee and Ballarat led to his consecration as a bishop at Melbourne cathedral in 1989.
After more than 12 years as Bishop of the Murray, Bishop Graham felt it was time to retire and with wife Margaret hailing from Gulargambone and family in Dubbo, the choice was easy.
“Dubbo was the place to come to and I don’t regret it at all,” he said.
“I like the parish, I like the people.”
He used to do some “useful things” in the parish but poor health has modified that.
“Now my ministry is prayer, telephone calls and the odd letter,” he said.
His message to all those with Christian faith was to be
grateful for the ministry they had and the life of the parish and to take up opportunities to express their relationship with the
“And for those who haven’t, don’t give up inquiring,” he said.
Bishop Graham and many family and friends will be at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Sunday.
After the service there will be a potluck lunch, echoing his days more than 50 years ago as a bush brother.