Dear Friends,

Last Thursday it was a privilege to be at Craighead Diocesan School for their prize-giving in the morning and leavers’ ball in the evening—the last such events for their retiring Principal, Ms Lindy Graham. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Lindy through the past 10 years and I wish her and her husband John well for the next chapter of their lives.

On Friday evening, Teresa and I were present for the Laidlaw College graduation, supporting our daughter Alice who has completed her Bachelor of Theology degree. It was a delight, however, to also be there to share celebrations for members of our wider Diocesan family who also graduated. I congratulate the following on their achievements: the Reverend Carolyn Swift (Diploma of Christian Studies); Kathryn Fee, Samuel Fee (Bachelor of Counselling); Jay Brantley, Bethany Smith, Jamie Somerville (Bachelor of Theology); Anne Shave, and Rowena Stevenson (Postgraduate Certificate in Theology (Ministry Supervision).

On Sunday morning the Reverend Cameron Pickering was installed in the Transitional Cathedral as a new Canon of our Cathedral (replacing Ben Truman). Later that day, Teresa and I were at St Paul’s Church, Glenmark, with around 60 others, including the Reverend Dr Elspeth Wingham, Priest-in-Charge of Glenmark-Waikari and Archdeacon Dawn Baldwin (North Canterbury) for the re-dedication of St Paul’s Church, Glenmark. It was wonderful to be in this now safe, reinstated church. Much work remains to be done to fully restore the church (e.g. plastering its walls) but it is exciting that worship services and other community events will be able to be held in St Paul’s again.

Carol Services are a feature of this season. Tonight, all are welcome to the City Mission Carol Service, 7pm at the Transitional Cathedral. Also welcome to all for the annual Cathedral Christmas Carol service on Sunday, 17 December at 7pm—this service is always a highlight of the choral year at the Transitional Cathedral.

There is plenty of good reading in our latest Anglican Life e-magazine (e-format only for this Advent/Christmas publication. Please head to our website to read your copy!

Orders for the 2024 Theology House Lenten studies, A Future of Hope: Answering the Call to Love our Neighbour, are being received. Lent starts early in 2024: Ash Wednesday is 14 February. Details re costs and how to order are at Theology House.

Elsewhere in e-Life we are advertising two “save the dates” for the beginning of our Anglican Campaign—fundraising for the Cathedral Reinstatement Project—in February, 2024. To complete the rising again of our Cathedral in the Square we will need your help. I look forward to meeting with Anglicans from throughout the Diocese at either of the two events. Subsequent to that beginning, there will be communication with all worshipping Anglicans in our Diocese.

I am delighted and grateful that the Reverend John Sheaf will be interim Priest in Charge of the Parish of Opawa-St Martins from 1 February 2024 till late May 2024.

Our new government was voted into office by a collective majority which felt our previous government was out of touch with Kiwis on a number of matters. An obvious challenge for the new government is to keep in touch with Kiwis on many matters. In just a few weeks in office, signals about Te Reo, Te Tiriti and thus generally about the course of Pākehā-Māori relationships through the next three years, raise a question, in my mind at least, about whether this government is tuned into the concerns of Kiwis that participation of Māori in all the benefits of our society is truly an equal participation. Until statistical measures of that participation improve (e.g. that Pākehā and Māori have equal life expectancy), no government’s work on fulfilment of Te Tiriti’s hopes and promises is done. Signals from the Beehive which effectively diminish the importance of Te Reo in the life of our nation and in particular among Māori are not constructive contributions to achieving full equality between Māori and Pākehā. Conversely, protestors at Te Papa diminishing the importance of the English version of Te Tiriti in our continuing national conversation about the meaning of Te Tiriti do not offer a constructive contribution either.

I was going to avoid saying anything this week about the conflict in Gaza but early this morning I noticed a joint declaration has been made by the Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is a comprehensive statement which presses for peace while recognising certain realities of the immediate past and present of the situation, and it continues to press for the only realistic future: a two-state solution in which Hamas plays no part in governance.

Our Gospel reading this coming Sunday, Advent 3, is John 1:6-8, 19-28. As noted last week, John the Baptist appears and reappears during these Sundays of Advent and then, after Christmas, of Epiphany. This reading may seem a puzzling choice for our lectionary, since it seems to repeat aspects of last week’s gospel reading. But it also stretches last week’s reading, offering more insight into who Jesus Christ is, especially the universal scope of the light Christ brings into the world (v. 9).