Australia's most senior Anglican will step down from the top job two months early, ahead of a meeting where he was expected to win another three-year term.
Anglican Primate of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, announced on Monday that he will leave the role on March 31 next year and won't seek re-election.
He will remain as Archbishop of Melbourne, a role he's held since 2006.
Archbishop Freier, who has served a six-year term as head of the church in Australia, had been expected to continue his role as Anglican Primate.
The usual custom for outgoing Anglican primates is to end their term after chairing the national synod, which is next being held in Queensland from May 31 to June 5 in 2020.
But Archbishop Freier will step down two months before the synod, where he was expected to win another three-year term.
He wrote to all Australian Anglican bishops to say he would not put his hand up for another term and wanted to give time for his successor to prepare for the synod.
"I am hopeful that my early advice to you will enable a smooth transition to be made," Archbishop Freier wrote.
A telephone conference with the board of electors is scheduled for December 23, before a meeting on March 14.
It is not yet known who will replace the archbishop as primate.
Australian Associated Press