Message from the Bishop

Dear Friends,
I am going to begin this week by reminding you of what we have said about Coronavirus—our briefing can be read here—and I ask especially clergy and lay Eucharistic ministers to read, mark and inwardly digest its contents.

The days are running down now for the visit to our Diocese of The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu and the Reverend Margaret Sentamu. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu will be the preacher at the joint Anglican-Catholic Ash Wednesday Service, 5.30 pm, Wednesday 26 February, at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Manchester Street, Christchurch. All most welcome. Earlier that day Archbishop John and the Reverend Margaret Sentamu will take part in Ash Wednesday services in three of our schools, and in the Transitional Cathedral’s midday Ash Wednesday Eucharist with Ashing (signing the cross on your forehead in ashes). Following that service, weather permitting, around 1.15 pm, we are planning to offer ashing in Cathedral Square to any member of the public who wishes it. 

Also that same week we have two commissioning services for leadership ministries in the Parishes of Methven and Rakaia and Glenmark-Waikari. All welcome; clergy, red stoles.

  • Michael and Mary-Jo Holdaway’s commissioning for Methven and Rakaia is 7 pm, Thursday 27 February at St John’s Barrhill.
  • Elspeth Wingham’s commissioning for Glenmark-Waikari is 7 pm Friday 28 February at the Church of the Ascension, Waikari.

Looking a little further ahead:

  • Our new Director of Theology House, Gareth Bezett, will be commissioned at Evensong 5pm Sunday 8 March at the Transitional Cathedral. All Welcome. Gareth will be our preacher that evening.
  • Ben Randall will be inducted as Vicar of St Mary’s, Timaru at 7 pm Friday 20 March. All welcome. Clergy red stoles.

Also of importance for the whole Diocese are the two Wardens’ and Treasurers’ Conferences being organised for 7 and 14 March in Christchurch and South Canterbury respectively. Thank you to all who have registered. Details are advertised elsewhere in this e-Life.

This past weekend it was good to chair the Diocesan AGM of the Association of Anglican Woman on Saturday morning, to be with Standing Committee that afternoon as we examined and reflected on my Presidential Address to Synod 2019, then to lead the opening chapel service for College House on Sunday morning. That afternoon in Holy Trinity, Lyttelton, Teresa and I gathered with Lyttelton residents, Christchurch citizens, church and civic leaders to share in the presentation of a set of Godley Gifts by Haydn Rawstron on behalf of the John Godley Memorial Trust to the Lyttelton Library and Museum.

I thought I might touch on some aspects of my Presidential Address 2019 in e-Life letters over coming weeks and months. Here is a first excerpt with a brief comment included in italics:

“One challenge is to think about what it is that is ‘good’ in today’s world about our ‘news’ about Jesus – a world in which many people are completely disinterested in our news, whether or not it is good news.

This challenge is the challenge which the church has always faced with the gospel. With what language will we proclaim it? With what emphases will we convey the message of God’s saving love for a world which has lost its way?

Another challenge is to think robustly about whether our message is:

  • Institutionally ethical—do people recognise the church as conveyor of the gospel message as a community with integrity, consistency and sincerity?
  • Socially viable—do people envisage belonging to the church (as a response to the gospel) means they will belong to a life-giving, friendly, engaging community?
  • Personally effective—does the gospel sound like a way of living which will change my life for the better?
  • Intellectually plausible—does the gospel stand up to scrutiny and questioning, does it make sense in an age of scepticism and cynicism?

In the 21st century we need all four aspects of our message about Jesus Christ. We cannot get only three of the four correct and expect to win people for Christ. Historically the Anglican church has a good track record of being a gospel church which is institutionally ethical, socially viable, personally effective and intellectually plausible.

But in the 21st century we cannot rest on our laurels.”

I conclude, with a deliberate intention of mirroring the first item above, with a note about another disease affecting life in NZ, Mycoplasma bovis. Some readers will be aware that on the floor below the Anglican Centre in Logistics Drive, the Ministry for Primary Industries has set up a unit which is working on both the eradication of Mycoplasma bovis and on support for farmers affected by the eradication process. This morning Anglican Centre staff received a briefing from MPI staff on their work. This was both informative and a request to us, which I pass on to you: there is strong support available for farming families. The key phone number is 0800787 254 (see also

Nga mihi nui,