Message from the Bishop

Dear Friends

The two services of deconsecration this past week, St John’s Bishopdale on Friday and St Anne’s St Martin’s on Sunday were very moving and well attended. A number of former parishioners and clergy travelled from afar to be present with local parishioners. I thank clergy and lay leaders who contributed to putting these services together.

On Sunday afternoon Teresa and I were present at the annual Te Waiora Service in the Hororata church, followed by afternoon tea in Te Waiora House. It was a pleasure to look through the newly extended and refurbished Wardens’ quarters.

We are blessed to have a number of retreat centres in our Diocesan region and we have a special connection to Te Waiora at Hororata and to Sister Eveleen Retreat House in Sumner. I commend the taking of retreats and the use of quiet days to enhance our spiritual growth, whether as individuals, groups, staff teams or vestries/committees.

At the meeting of The Kiln on Sunday evening, a group of youth leaders explored the question of pastoral care for those who identify with the Rainbow Community. A challenging question posed during our discussion has given me food for thought since: are our churches safe places for people to identify themselves as gay or lesbian or transgender?

The Royal Commission on Abuse is underway and you will have seen some reports in the media. Pretty much every day we are going to have one of our “Anglican” team present and because of that presence, bishops and other key personnel are receiving a detailed daily report of the presentations made to the Commission. The cumulative impression from the first week of the Commission is that it is taking great care in its work and allowing time for every aspect to be told of the tragically large narrative which it must hear if we are to face the past properly and embrace changes needed for the healthy future of institutions, including the churches of our land.

Please continue to pray for Cameron Pickering, Mary-Jo Holdaway and Stephen Murray as they prepare for their ordination as deacons on 30 November (1 pm in the Transitional Cathedral).

The next day, 1 December 2019, we are invited to celebrate in an appropriate way in the course of our services the 30th anniversary of our 1989 prayer book, A New Zealand Prayer Book. Below is a link to resources made available this past week to assist our celebrations. One note within the resources is that there is an intention to launch the most significant new edition of our prayer book at General Synod 2020. This edition will be expanded from the book we are familiar with, to include authorised prayers from the past 30 years, new translations into the several languages of our church, and new collects.

I love coincidences. Yesterday I had a fascinating conversation about the essence of our Christian faith. My conversation partner emphasised an understanding of Jesus’ teaching in which he challenged the rule-based faith of his day, with most rules being prohibitions rather than permissions and encouragements. Biblical scholars argue over these matters concerning the essence of the Abrahamic faiths, with special sensitivity to respect for Judaism and Islam in comparison to Christianity and I am not offering a settlement of these arguments here where space is limited. But I was struck this morning by the DEL epistle reading, Romans 13:8-10, which has something to say on these matters:

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”