Dear Friends in Christ,

Our Covid situation changes tonight at midnight, after the Government announcement today that we will be in the Orange Light mode with no limitations on numbers and no expectations re social distancing. See this Govt page for more details.

It remains my episcopal expectation that we continue to wear masks when gathering for worship and other meetings. Omicron is an airborne infectious disease and it is common sense to continue to mask. It is also strongly recommended that we ventilate our buildings (open windows and open doors) as far as possible. I will change this expectation when we are in the Green Light mode.

Last week it looked like we would not be in Orange before Easter but since we now are I am able to advise the following about Communion and the offering of Communion wine as well as Communion bread.

  1. Each ministry unit is invited to make its own local decision via its Vestry or church council whether or not, and when, to resume offering the chalice as well as the paten to communicants. It may not be possible for such decision-making to occur in time for Easter. I ask all readers to continue to be patient while appropriate and careful decision-making takes place.
  2. That is the chalice for administering communion wine may be shared with communicants: I have received health advice that the chalice (duly wiped properly, with high alcohol content (i.e. good quality port wine), administered by a person properly masked) may be shared. The risk with Omicron in congregations concerns singing and thus my expectation re continued masking for our services.
  3. The chalice must only be offered on an opt-in basis. No communicant should be required to refuse the chalice. This means that we should be administering communion via lines of people moving forward to a distributor with the bread and then with a choice to present or not to a distributor with the wine. Any ministry unit offering communion in two kinds should not ask people to come forward to stand or kneel at the communion rail as this involves opting out of the chalice.
  4. Please see 1 and note that no ministry unit is required to make a decision on this matter with any urgency. Anxiety levels in each ministry unit vary and should be taken into account in the decision-making. It is completely satisfactory to continue to offer Communion in one kind only for as long as we remain in Orange Light mode.
  5. If any ministry unit leadership has any doubts on this matter, they should remain offering Communion in one kind only.

Last Sunday it was a delight to celebrate Palm Sunday in St. Andrew’s, Diamond Harbour. Yesterday it was a wonderful experience to be with clergy, spouses and supporters at our two Chrism Eucharists, in St. Christopher’s,  Avonhead in the morning and at St. Stephen’s Ashburton in the late afternoon. The text of my sermon yesterday is available on our website here.

One item of news from some parishes is not such happy news: we are experiencing a run of church bells being stolen. I have also had a report of a Christchurch state primary school having its bell stolen. I hope the police can track the culprits down soon and organise the return of these bells.

Under Government legislation we are required as a Diocese to have a Privacy Officer. I am pleased to be able to announce, following a Standing Committee decision, that Edwin Boyce (our Diocesan Manager) will be our Diocesan Privacy Officer and Veronica Cross (my Executive Assistant) will be our Diocesan Deputy Privacy Officer.

I have received news that Bishop Bruce Moore, retired Assistant Bishop of Auckland died peacefully in Taupō Monday 11th April 2022. On his return from England in 1961, Bishop Bruce served in the Auckland Diocese first as curate in the parish of Manurewa, then as Vicar of Panmure, Ponsonby, and Howick. He became Assistant Bishop of the Southern region of Auckland in 1992, retiring in 1997. Bishop Bruce’s funeral service will be held at St Andrew’s, Taupo on Wednesday 20th April at 11am and may be viewed on the Parish of Taupo’s YouTube Channel.

Irrespective of the progress of Omicron, the flu season is nearly on us. I encourage all readers to get the flu jab! I am told that if you are a member of Southern Cross then the flu jab is free.

This Sunday, 17 April, Pascha or Easter, we are naturally focused on the resurrection of our Lord, likely using either Luke 24:1-12 or John 20:1-18 as the Gospel reading. There are many reasons to celebrate the resurrection. I will only mention one here: if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, we would not understand that his death on the cross was an act of redemption for our sakes, enabling us to be put right with God.

With special blessings for the remainder of Holy Week and the Paschal Season,