Dear Friends,

Death of Rob McCullough: I am grateful for the support and permission of Margaret McCullough, Rob’s widow, to announce that Rob died on 27 July 2023. A public announcement of Rob’s death has not been part of the McCullough family’s plans, nevertheless I have been made aware that silence from me/the Diocese on this news – which has otherwise made its way by word of mouth to many people through the past few months, has been experienced as a further silencing of the women who have been abused and as a minimisation of their complaints, both against Rob and about the way in which the Diocese and wider Anglican church has responded to their complaints through the past decades. For readers here unfamiliar with the story of abuse in our Diocese associated with Rob McCullough, this link will assist.

Clergy News: On Sunday, the Reverend Brenda Bonnett announced that she will conclude her ministry as Vicar of Linwood-Aranui on Sunday, 28 January 2024. Also on Sunday, it was announced in the Parish of Hanmer Springs that the Reverend Jo Latham will be half-time Interim Priest in Charge of the parish for three to six months, beginning, 11 February 2024. At 10.30am, Saturday, 25 November 2023 in the Transitional Cathedral, Sammy Mould, Jo Cotton and Matt Maslin will be ordained deacons and the Reverend Dr Andrew Butcher will be ordained priest. All are welcome and clergy are asked to robe with red stoles. The preacher for this service will be the Reverend Chris Darnell, Vicar of Whitby in the Diocese of Wellington.

The Installation of our new Dean, the Reverend Ben Truman, will be at 7pm on Wednesday, 29 November 2023 in the Transitional Cathedral. All welcome. Clergy are invited to robe, red stoles.

Please pray for Brenda, Jo, Sammy, Jo, Matt, Andrew and Ben and their families as they prepare for change in their lives and ministries.

Death of Pip Baker: Pip, wife of the Reverend Mike Baker (Clinical Manager, Petersgate Counselling Centre), died a few weeks ago and her funeral was held at St. Peter’s, Upper Riccarton on Thursday, 19 October. Please pray for Mike and his family at this time. Pip is much missed as wife, mother, grandmother and friend to many readers of e-Life.

Gaza/Israel/West Bank: This situation continues to be, humanly speaking, impossibly difficult with immense suffering. Hamas will not surrender. Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas. But innocent Palestinians are dying in the military action in Gaza and around the world there are resounding calls for a humanitarian ceasefire. Not far away from Gaza, on the West Bank, there are reports of Israeli settlers’ menacing behaviour towards Palestinians. Further afield there are attacks or threats of attacks in numerous places against Jews, invoking painful memories of past pogroms and of the Holocaust itself. There is no peace on this matter. Let us pray for peace, both in the Middle East itself and in communities further afield.

It has often been said that the first casualty of war is truth. There is certainly much claim and counter-claim being made about what has or has not happened and the truth can be difficult to discern in respect of any given incident in the war. Nevertheless, on one matter, I acknowledge that two weeks ago, I wrote the following, believing it to be true:

“… Overnight we have learned the terrible news about an Anglican hospital in Gaza, the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital. This hospital has been in operation since the 19th century so has survived two world wars to date, including battles fought nearby by the ANZACs in 1917. Unfortunately, it was hit by a missile overnight, with 500 people taking refuge in the hospital killed, and the hospital itself 80% out of action.”

Since then, numerous analyses have confirmed that there was no missile attack, and that the hospital remains standing intact and untouched. The explosion, which apparently occurred in the hospital carpark, was caused by a malfunctioning rocket, not launched from Israel. It has further been suggested that the death toll from this explosion is much less than 500 persons. (For just one example of a revised report, see here.) The fact remains, that, no matter the accuracy of the numbers, not one person in that carpark deserved to die that day – each was sheltering there believing and hoping that a hospital and its surrounds was a safe place to shelter in.

I remind readers that the Anglican Missions Board has begun an appeal for funds for the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza – details are here.

With reference to Peace, today is All Saints Day and the Gospel reading set down is the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12, which includes “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Elsewhere in this e-Life are details of how we can participate in commemorations of Parihaka this Sunday, 5 November – a day in which we remember the terror of war in our own land and the possibilities of peace and reconciliation for ourselves and for others.

What an amazing result in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday: if we couldn’t win it ourselves, what better opponent to lose to than South Africa, and there is no shame in a one-point loss. Meanwhile, the Cricket World Cup continues, with tonight’s game, also against South Africa, being important to our chances of making the semi-finals.

It was a pleasure to share in a service of Confirmations and Baptisms on Sunday morning at St. Mark’s, Opawa-St. Martins. Please pray for Olivia and Daniel who were confirmed and for William and Janneke who were baptised.

Our Gospel reading this coming Sunday – if celebrated as Ordinary 31 – is Matthew 23:1-12 – a stirring challenge against hypocrisy and hubris and a call for humility and honest dealings.

Finally, please pray for a spiritual fruitful Deeper Camp for young people in the Diocese, this Friday evening to Saturday evening, being held at Woodend.