ABM gives thanks to God for the life and ministry of Bishop William David Hair McCall (29 February 2040 to 7 May 2021). David gave distinctive and life-long service to ABM and exemplified the mission of Christ in his life.
David’s funeral liturgy was held in St Peter’s Cathedral Adelaide on 19 May 2021, and in lieu of flowers, gifts were made to ABM’s work with Newton Theological College in Papua New Guinea.
In his funeral address, Bishop George Browning spoke of David with great affection. The address referred to three distinctive heroes of faith who shaped David’s life: Desmond Tutu, Michael Ramsay and Cosmo Gordon Lang. Even to be partly aware of the distinctive witness of these three great twentieth century figures is to have an inkling of what drove and shaped David in his life and ministry. “Incarnational, relational and the genuinely human” sum up Bishop Browning’s generous and reflective remarks. I am reminded of John 1:18 where the Evangelist says that the Son is the exegesis of the otherwise unseen Father: and those disciples who have been called to follow the Son of God today participate in some core way in that mystery of what has been made known and what is being made known amongst and between all who follow him, and who in following him, find healing and life.
David McCall was the son of Theodore Bruce McCall (1911-1969) who was ordained in 1936. Theodore served as Home Secretary of the ABM from 1953-1959. He then became Bishop of Rockhampton, and then Wangarratta until his death in 1969.
David served as Bishop of Willochra and Bishop of Bunbury. His studies and formation for the priesthood were at St Michael’s House in Crafers, South Australia (1959-1963) and he was ordained in 1963. After curacies and serving as rector at St George’s Goodwood Adelaide, he was consecrated Bishop of Willochra in 1987. In 2000 he was translated to Bunbury in south-west Western Australia, where he served until 2010. I was at that time a subscriber to the Anglican Messenger, the printed newspaper of the Province of Western Australia, and Bishop and Mrs Marion McCall OAM would feature in its pages, often with a news angle based on Marion’s extraordinary and distinctive skills as a pilot, and their use of a Cessna to cover vast diocesan distances rapidly and efficiently.
Moya Holle, author of A Blooming Miracle: A History of the ABM Auxiliary 1980-2010, has noted that David (or William or Bill as he was known when young) grew up in an ABM-oriented Anglican church family. He was a member of the ABM Youth Group, the Comrades of St George, and attended their national conferences.
David and Marion retired to the Diocese of Adelaide and continued to minister in parishes and assist the Archbishop. David was a member and Chair of the South Australian ABM Provincial Committee. He was also a member of the Board of ABM, including in 1995 when the ABM Constitution was altered. He was prominent in the debate about the name change from Australian Board of Missions to Anglican Board of Mission – Australia
At the 2001 meeting of General Synod, the Constitutional Canon covering ABM was changed to allow ABM to become incorporated. The number of board directors was reduced from 25 to 12. Moya Holle notes that Bishop David continued as one of the six directors of the reconstituted board appointed by the Standing Committee of General Synod, representing Western Australia.
In 1995 the Bishop was elected seventh patron of the ABM Auxiliary. He was patron at the time of the 100th Anniversary of the Auxiliary in 2010.
As Patron, Bishop David wrote the foreword to A Bloomin’ Miracle. From 1969 to 2009, the ABM Auxiliary raised almost 1.2 million dollars for the work of ABM.
Bishop David attended the installation of Archbishop Allan Migi in Lae, Papua New Guinea in 2017, representing the Australian bishops. His presence exemplifies both his ongoing service to the church, and ABM’s ongoing relationship with the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea.
In conclusion, in reflecting on the occasions when David and Marion McCall would fly in their plane on the diocesan mission, these words from the wartime poet John Magee seem appropriate:
‘Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings . . . put out my hand, and touched the face of God.’
Rev’d Canon Dr Ivan Head
Gifts in Wills Officer
Anglican Board of Mission