FORMER Bundaberg rector and Melbourne archbishop Philip Freier has been given the highest honour of the Anglican Church in the country after being sworn in as Anglican Primate of Australia.
The members of the Christ Church Bundaberg could not have been happier yesterday as the archbishop was sworn in, reminiscing on his six years at the church from 1993.
Later, moving to the Northern Territory in 1999, Dr Freier was elected a bishop and worked with the Aboriginal Anglican community before his move to Melbourne where he became an archbishop.
Christ Church Bundaberg member Hilda Clarke still remains in contact with Dr Freier as she continues her tradition of sending him a Christmas card each year.
"He always replies and tells us about the family," Mrs Clarke said.
"He was special, I liked him, he was very good." Vi Avenell has been part of the church since the '60s and recalls when Dr Freier married her son David and his wife Catherine in the Bundaberg Christ Church.
"It was 1995, it was a very happy day - their marriage is very solid," Mrs Avenell said. "Philip was just a lovely man. "We miss Philip, he became part of our family."
Gail Bauer said it was no surprise to her to hear of Dr Freier's new title and described him as a "people's man".
"He treated everyone equally," Mrs Bauer said of his time in Bundaberg.
"He got on as well with the fellow under the bridge as he did with the mayor.
"He was such a lovely man.", a very tall, very straight man," she said.
Father Patrick Doulin is now the locum rector of the Bundaberg Christ Church and lives in the house Dr Freier and his wife Gail built and lived in during their time in Bundaberg.
Fr Doulin said Dr Freier had a big influence on Bundaberg during his time at the church and said he played a large role in the start of the St Luke's Anglican School and Anglicare Meilene Residential Care.
"He really pushed for them to happen," Fr Doulin said.
Dr Freier was sworn into his new title as primate yesterday by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and has launched an appeal through Anglican Overseas Aid for those suffering in northern Iraq fleeing the ISIS fighters.
"Aid agencies cannot cope with the influx and the suffering is immense," Dr Freier said. "The refugees need food, water, clothes, medical supplies and much more. "I ask Anglicans and others to give sacrificially."