In challenging times for our ministry units, as we shift out of the Covid season into a new season for gathering as the people of God in our churches, please pray for the ‘Leading your Church into Growth’ conference which takes place at St Christopher’s Avonhead next week, 18-20 October. Pray for Archdeacon Mark Chamberlain and his team as they attend to the final details of organising the conference. Pray for over 100 attendees, from 32 parishes in our Diocese and from several other dioceses. Finally, pray for our visiting speakers, Rhiannon King and Harry Steele, who travel to us from England at the end of this week.
The week after that, as noted last week, General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui takes place in Nelson. Please also pray for preparations for this first physical session of General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui since May 2018.
On 4-5 November, Deeper Camp is taking place, but a little differently to previous years. Intermediates and their groups (or any families who want to) can come out on Friday night and join us for camp activities including an awesome talk and music. Families can come out on Saturday for the day for lots of activities and fun. There will be music, talks, climbing, zip lines, a water slide, competitions, crafts, face painting and lots more. There will be a lot of flexi-time for you to choose your own activities so it will be a great opportunity to connect your families with some fun, community and faith. Families will go home with a faith resource that they can use at home. This is a great opportunity for church communities to bring their families along to create connections. All ages are welcome! If funding is a problem, let us know. Registration and other details are here.
Coming up later this week, I commend to all in South Canterbury a ministry training day in Timaru on Saturday 14 October and look forward to participating in it myself. Vicars/Priests in Charge will have details of the timing and contents of each session.
Last Saturday, I enjoyed being part of “That’s Life: An exploration of science and Christianity” organised by New Zealand Christian in Science and Theology House. Contributors Mere Wallace, Maja Whitaker. Nicola Hoggard-Creegan, Philip Pattemore and Graeme Finlay stretched our theological and scientific horizons as we explored aspects of the origins of life, what it means to have bodies now and, in the resurrection, and how we relate the Bible to scientific discoveries about the age of the universe and the evolutionary development prior to the emergence of homo sapiens.
On Sunday morning, Teresa and I enjoyed travelling to St. Luke’s, Hinds for a Holy Communion service and lunch following. In the late afternoon we joined with supporters of St. George’s Hospital for a service of Night Prayer led by Chaplain Jeff Cotton in the Hospital chapel—the first physical evening service for 14 months due to Covid restrictions.
The “greenhouse gas reduction plan” announced by the Government yesterday (https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/130126891/nz-farmers-set-to-pay-for-emissions-by-2025-in-worldfirst-climate-plan) is generating intense feedback and wide rural concern, for instance that it will lead to the “gutting” of small towns (https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/130135307/will-the-governments-farming-emissions-plan-rip-the-guts-out-of-small-town-new-zealand). As a Diocese we are placed in a challenging position by this proposal.
On the one hand, we have committed ourselves via Synod resolution to working to mitigate climate change. That commitment is consistent with the stated aim of our nation that we will reach a zero-carbon state by 2050. On the other hand, across our Diocese we have considerable farmland, from flat plains to rolling hills, and many small rural towns, as well as dependence of the economies of Christchurch, Timaru and Hokitika on rural prosperity. In the 1980s and early 1990s we experienced a very challenging time when farming and rural districts went through upheaval. For many, the memories of the pain experienced remain real and raw. We do not want to go through such pain again if it can be avoided. Can further pain be avoided? That is a question which is both immediate (submissions on the plan are sought by 18 November) and likely to be front and centre of the 2023 general election year. I cannot see that we will have gained much if the hills of (say) Banks Peninsula and Malvern are planted with pine forests while lost farming production in Canterbury, Westland and the Chatham Islands is simply taken up by overseas farms with no overall change to global emissions. Is there a better way which we can agree on as the way forward?
Last Friday we had our annual Eucharist and Lunch for Retired Clergy, Spouses, Widows and Widowers at St. Martin’s Spreydon-Riccarton. A very big thank you to the catering team at St. Martin’s for their splendid meal and warm hospitality. Thank you also to our Chaplain, the Reverend Lynnette Lightfoot. Each year on such an occasion we acknowledge major anniversaries in respect of ordination to the priesthood. This year our congratulations go to:
- 65 Years: Rt Rev’d Brian Carrell
- 60 Years: Very Rev’d Gavin Yates; Rev’d Chris Parry-Jennings; Rev’d Hugh Paterson
- 55 Years: Rev’d Michael Kerr; Rev’d David Morrell
- 50 Years: Rt Rev’d Tom Brown
Through the weekend we learned of results of our local body elections, though some results are still too close to call. Across ten city or local districts, two regions, and many community areas, our congratulations go to those who have succeeded in gaining seats on various councils and boards and our thanks go to those who have served us but now through choice or voters’ determinations are concluding their service. We now pray for collaboration rather than division on matters of importance to daily life!
This week’s gospel is Luke 18:1-18. This is a fascinating story because it is both a parable about the need to pray and to not lose heart when praying (verse 1) and a message about God being the God of justice.