Dear Friends,
Last week it was both a pleasure and a privilege to attend a meeting of the Tikanga Pākehā Ministry Council at St Peter’s Cathedral, Hamilton (my first visit to the Cathedral!). Two of our three days were spent in a Rural Forum mode, with papers from rural specialists and reports from each Diocese—a big thank you to the Reverend Stephanie Robson and Archdeacon Dawn Daunauda for their presentation on our behalf.

In our Diocese our rural parishes experience many challenges not experienced by their city counterparts. Across our nation rural parishes face similar challenges and are meeting them through faithful service and resilient witness to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Speaking of rural ministry, it was a delight for Teresa and me to be at church in Rotherham, Parish of Amuri, on Sunday morning while its Vicar, Dawn Daunauda attended her son’s wedding. In the evening I enjoyed being at Antioch, St Barnabas’ Fendalton, preaching and presiding as a contribution to the parish while its Vicar, Mark Chamberlain is on Study Leave.

Unfortunately that meant I was not able to be at the 5pm Prince Philip Memorial Evensong at the Transitional Cathedral. I thank Deputy Vicar General Mark Barlow for deputising for me at the service and I am grateful that Teresa was able to be present—returning home with news of an excellent service and a full Cathedral.  [See an image further down in this newsletter.]

On Monday night I was able to participate for the first time in the Leaders’ Guild—a regular meeting for those involved in children’s ministry in our Diocese, facilitated by Emma Tovey our Diocesan Children’s Ministry Developer. We met at St Augustine’s Church, Cashmere and shared experiences in children’s ministry and learned some new skills. I am excited by the enthusiasm so many people across our Diocese demonstrate for sharing the Good News of Jesus with children.

On Sunday 2 May 2021, at a Special General Meeting, parishioners of the Parish of Christchurch St Luke’s voted unanimously that the Parish be dissolved on St Luke’s Day, 18 October this year. This is a very significant moment in the history of this parish and of the Diocese of Christchurch. St. Luke’s parishioners have shown courage in facing the reality of their situation and creativity in setting out a way for the mission of St Luke’s to continue in other ways: the full text of the resolution passed can be read here. The decision taken represents a significant rearrangement of our ministry to the inner city of Christchurch. As we move forward in the Regeneration of the Diocese through this decade, there will be changes and some of them will be painful as well as potentially very fruitful. But where possible, as in this case, I look forward to the initiative for change being taken from within our parishes rather than imposed by the Diocese.

This week our Calendar invites us to celebrate and reflect on Ruatara (11 May) and Samuel Marsden (12 May), who between them brought the gospel to our islands. Then, tomorrow is Ascension Day, the mark in time when the risen Jesus ascends to God the Father and the countdown (according to Acts 1) to when the Holy Spirit initiates the church in the power of God’s love.

This Sunday, Easter 7/Sunday after Ascension, we may choose as our Gospel reading Luke 24:44-53. In this account of the Ascension, the risen Jesus gives one final Bible Study (44-47), a charge (48), a promise (49) and a blessing (50) before ascending (51). Might we respond as the disciples did, worshipping Jesus joyfully and continually blessing God in our churches (53)?