Dear Friends,

We live in Level 2 and day-to-day 1pm MOH reports are again “must sees” in order to get a sense of whether we are heading forwards towards Level 1 or backwards towards Level 3, or maybe locked in Level 2 for a while longer. I am aware that there are different schools of thought in the Diocese on the implementation of Level 2 guidelines. Somewhat unexpectedly in Christian contexts these schools could be described as “liberal” and “conservative”!

I make the following observations: our Guidelines are driven by Government guidelines and directions, and shaped by our own conversations; those conversations may yet lead to some nuancing of the Guidelines I have published if we remain in Level 2 after this Sunday; the underlying principles are motivated by love: how to keep ourselves safe in a time of Pandemic and how to give others confidence that our gatherings are safe places to be in.

On the matter of wearing a mask to church services and other meetings: this is strongly recommended but not yet mandated for Level 2. If we remain in Level 2, we should be asking ourselves whether our love for others means we are willing to accept mandatory wearing of masks. Whether or not this is something we direct from my Office, it may yet be mandated by the Government (as Ashley Bloomfield has hinted).

I want to acknowledge two recent deaths:

  • Angela Brown’s mother Doreen Lewis died on August 8th aged 93. Her funeral was held at St Barnabas, Fendalton last Thursday. She was a St Barnabas parishioner for over 50 years. Angela is well known to many in the Diocese for her work with children and families including leadership in the Messy Church movement, and husband Greg is the Fendalton Parish Verger.
  • Lynda Alexander’s father Brian Jones died last week and his funeral was held at Beckenham Methodist Church last Friday.  Lynda is our Diocesan Financial Manager and in that role has engaged with many people in our Diocese through long service working in the Anglican Centre.

Angela and Lynda, our prayers are for you and your families at this time.

I really enjoyed the seminar at the Transitional Cathedral last Saturday on the End of Life Choice referendum. This event has been recorded and it may be a useful resource for you and your ministry unit. The first hour is presentations from the speakers and the final 45min is the panel Q&A session: This Saturday morning the seminar is on the referendum question concerning the legalization of marijuana.

Teresa and I were warmly welcomed over the weekend for events and a service associated with the 160th patronal festival for St Mary’s Heathcote in the Parish of Heathcote-Mt Pleasant. This coming weekend we were meant to be at The Abbey at El Rancho, Waikanae for a Tikanga Pakeha youth event. That event is now taking a different “livestream” form due to Covid-19 restrictions and locally Sammy Mould has moved quickly to organise an alternative youth event here in Christchurch on Saturday (see the ‘Shabbey’ notice later in this newsletter).

We are working on plans for Synod, 10-12 September, as a face-to-face event (if we are at Level 1) and for Synod as a (shorter) Zoom event (if we are at Level 2 or Level 3). In the latter case the agenda will be reduced, and only legislation urgently required will be presented for consideration. We will be making a final decision re the nature of the Synod once we have heard from the Government whether we are returning to Level 1 or not.

Something to read in a crisis: a lengthy, theologically-oriented review of Thomas Piketty’s Capitalism and Ideology, by Nick Spence at Spence makes a powerful case that Piketty’s secularist approach to reducing inequality in the world is not as good as Christianity’s influence on distribution of capital and desacralization of property. Inter alia, referring to another book, Spence notes an argument re reduction of inequality “that only mass-mobilisation warfare, revolution, state collapse, and pandemic have ever been powerful enough to steer a people decisively towards equality”. It is sobering to consider that dramatic change to human society occurs through disaster and not through good intention!

Our epistle reading this coming Sunday, Romans 12:1-8, is worth reading in a time which poses special challenges to the values we place on the flourishing of the economy and the well-being of human beings. Our gospel, Matthew 16:13-20, asks of present disciples as much as of the disciples who walked with Jesus, “Who is Jesus?” On that question’s answer hangs the meaning of life.

Kia kaha, kia atawhai, kia aroha,