Message from the Bishop

Dear Friends,

I am sure the weeks get shorter as we get closer to the end of the year! Certainly a lot is happening and is going to be happening until we get beyond Christmas and into the holiday season.

Last Saturday night Bishop Richard Ellena (President NZCMS) and I led the Commissioning Service at St Christopher’s Avonhead for the Reverend Rosie Fyfe in her role as National Director of NZCMS. Many local CMS supporters, a few from further afield (including a former mission field colleague from Melbourne, and Peter Rogers, CMS Australia Federal Secretary, from Sydney) along with the NZCMS Trust Board (meeting here in Christchurch over the weekend) gathered for this special occasion.

On Sunday Teresa and I participated in our first service with our Tongan congregation (see headline image) which meets at St Barnabas’ Church, Fendalton, led by the Reverend Leni Havea. On this occasion the Reverend Kofe Havea presided while I preached. It is a privilege to be bishop in such a diverse Diocese!

Later that evening I joined in a Christchurch city Anglican Youth Worship event at the Transitional Cathedral. (I think the Reverend Sampson Knight, also present, and myself were the only “boomers” there!) We had a fabulous time worshipping our wonderful God.

Later today we understand that our Parliament will vote on the End of Life Bill for the third and final time (but if passed, there will then be a referendum at the next election). Sir Bill English has a “plain English”, concise case against the Bill here.
Some clergy news to share with you.
  • The Reverend Susan Gill will be the next Vicar of Ellesmere, with her induction being at 7pm on Thursday evening 21 November 2019 at St James’ Southbridge. Readers may recall that Susan and her husband moved to Canterbury in 2018 to be near family, after she concluded her ministry as Vicar of Richmond, Nelson. Susan then was appointed Interim Priest in Charge of Avonhead, a role she held until recently when Michael Brantley became Vicar.
  • The Reverend Mary Minson has left Christchurch Women’s Hospital to become a chaplain at Wellington Hospital. Mary begins this new role on 18th November. In a transfer of roles, the Reverend Alexa Evenden is now chaplain at Christchurch Women’s Hospital, effective from 11th November. I congratulate both Mary and Alexa on their new appointments, and thank Mary for her service in the Diocese of Christchurch.
  • The Reverend John Ford died at the weekend. His funeral will be at All Souls, Merivale-St Albans, at 11 am, Tuesday 19 November. All welcome. With the exception of a small period as a Chaplain in Rarotonga, John served all his stipendiary ministry in the Diocese of Nelson, from 1950 to 1989. On retirement in 1989, John moved to Christchurch where he has been a stalwart of the St Albans Parish and more recently of the Merivale-St Albans Parish.

The “catastrophic” level of bush fire damage and threat of damage in New South Wales and Queensland is alarming. The Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, has begun an appeal for assistance for people in need as a result of the fires and is urging people to pray. Further details, including a prayer written for this week can be seen here.

Intense work continues on the reinstatement of the Cathedral. It is pleasing this week to be able to say publicly that we look forward to a supportive visit to the Cathedral in the Square by HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales, on Friday 22 November (details here). In view of the government’s support for the reinstatement I am also pleased that our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, will be present for the occasion.

This weekend is a holiday weekend—Show Weekend—for the people of Christchurch and Canterbury. I as much as anyone enjoy a holiday weekend, but it is easy to overlook why this weekend is a long weekend: The A&P Show reminds us that the land is at the heart of our local economy. In our prayers this Sunday, could we give thanks for the work of farmers, horticulturalists, viticulturalists, orchardists and market gardeners?

As a “boomer” I have been intrigued by the news and commentary generated by Chloe Swarbrick’s “Ok, boomer” riposte in parliament last week. On the one hand, if that is the worst imaginable dismissal of my generation, then we are somewhat blessed! On the other hand, every reflection on generational difference, whether in the political realm or in the life of the church, is an opportunity to assess how we live our lives. In the life of the church, as in the life of the world, an important question is “What are we passing onto the next generation?” That is, are we blessing the next generation or cursing it? Christ calls us to see even the bleakest situations as an opportunity to testify to him (see this Sunday’s gospel reading, Luke 21:5-19). The greatest blessing we can pass on to the next generation is the good news of Christ, the light of the world.