Dear Friends,

This week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. As Te Reo increases in influence and usage in our nation, I encourage increase in usage in our liturgical services including in the worship songs and hymns we sing.

Despite the claims of some that this year’s election is the most important in their lifetimes, I see that the Press frontpage headline this morning is very lowkey and evenhanded, “Leaders on the campaign trail”! We face issues, but overseas there are much greater issues being experienced. Two countries, Morocco (earthquake) and Libya (flooding), are experiencing appalling loss of life through natural disasters. The war in Ukraine continues, and Kim Jong Un and Putin have had a meeting. Presumably, they have not been talking about the Rugby World Cup. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, by contrast, we have issues, but we have a lot to be thankful for.

Thank you for praying for our Synod at the weekend. Following an uplifting Synod service on Thursday evening, we had good discussions, helpful presentations on a variety of topics, received accounts and approved budgets, and made some decisions. In our debate over some aspects of implementation of the DMAP, we faced the fact (and not a new fact) that our urban areas and country areas are significantly different. Synod wants some fresh thinking on how ministry in our country areas will move forward through this decade. Our Anglican Missions Board giving goal for the next year will be $200,000—a goal agreed to with full understanding that these are difficult economic times. A very big thank you to all who made our Synod possible—from staff in the Anglican Centre through to the Parish of Avonhead to every member of Synod!

The decision we made to dissolve the Parish of St John’s, Latimer Square has been widely reported on because that decision consequentially raises the question of the future of the land and buildings on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets, once the ministry and mission of the Cathedral is relocated to the Square in late 2027. Our discussion in Synod ranged through questions as broad as the future shape of our ministry and mission in the inner city of Christchurch and as specific as the future of the Transitional Cathedral building, once the Cathedral ministry departs from it. The key decision we made is for Standing Committee to set up a working group to look into these matters and to report back to next Synod.

Concerning the future of that site, the relevant part of the resolution is worth quoting in full so that readers understand the scope of the working group’s task:

“b. establish a working group consisting of representatives from across the diocese to consider possible future uses of the property and assets of the Parish of Christchurch: St John’s and to report back to Synod 2024 on its considerations; while permitting Standing Committee and Church Property Trustees to make decisions about the future of the vicarage; c. Recognise the distinctive, long-standing evangelical ministry of the Parish by advancing proposals to use part of the assets of the Parish of Christchurch: St John’s for strengthening or advancing such evangelical ministry, particularly in the inner city.”

Nothing changes through the next four years about the day to day and Sunday to Sunday life of the Cathedral in its present location. Through the next four years we will be working on a variety of challenges as we prepare to resume ministry and mission from the Square. The future of the current site is one of those challenges. Another challenge we are doing present day work on is the nature of “the visitor experience” when we re-open the Cathedral. This planning feeds into the design of the new Visitors Centre. Your prayerful support for all working on such challenges is appreciated.

Finally on Synod: my Presidential Address is available online.

It was much appreciated that my Sunday invitation, following Synod, was for an 11.15 am service! It was brilliant to be with Archdeacon Nick Mountfort and the Reverend Peg Riley for the Family Service at St. Peter’s, Upper Riccarton-Yaldhurst. This service was part of the 4th Birthday celebrations for the St. Peter’s Anglican Pre School and there was a fabulous lunch after the service in the pre School itself.

Anne Hopkins, Bishop’s Warden for the Parish of Marchwiel died at home on Monday earlier this week. Anne has faithfully served in this parish for many years and has been a long time member and office holder for the AAW. Her presence in our Diocese, especially in South Canterbury will be much missed. Please pray for Ian, her husband, and their family as they prepare for a service to celebrate Anne’s life, to be held at St Philip and All Saints Church, 124 Luxmoore Road, Timaru, on Friday, September 15, at 11.30am. Messages can be sent to the Hopkins family, c/- PO Box 261, Timaru 7940.

This Sunday, 17 September 2023, is Ordinary 24. The Gospel reading is Matthew 18:21-35 which includes the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant as a response to Peter’s question about how many times should he forgive “another member of the church” (NRSV). The epistle reading, Romans 14:1-12 and the Old Testament (related) reading, Genesis 50:15-21 combine with the passage from Matthew to press on us all: what depth of love do we have for one another—is it a depth which overcomes differences and faults?