Dear Friends,
While it was not unexpected that the 15 March terrorist received the maximum sentence possible within our laws, it was clearly a huge relief for the Muslim community, indeed for all of us, that this sentence was imposed last Friday afternoon. Let us keep praying for and supporting the Muslim community in Christchurch. Their needs for healing and for confidence that we are a safe nation for refuge have not ended.

Since writing last week it has been a privilege to be present for the funeral of the Rev’d Lois Ranson in Ashburton on Thursday and for the Eucharist and Interment for the Rev’d Graeme Brady in Governor’s Bay on Friday. On Sunday morning it was good to be with the 8am and 10am congregations at the Transitional Cathedral and during the latter service to commission the National President, Judith Mackenzie from our Diocese, and the National Executive of the A.A.W.

Then Sunday afternoon Teresa and I were able to share in the Dedication Service for the new Chapel at St George’s Hospital. It was something of a relief to accomplish this as it was due to happen earlier in the year and got postponed because of the Lockdown.  

Bishop Peter Carrell dedicated the new Chapel at St George’s Hospital. With the Bishop were John Barr, President of the Society of St George’s Hospital (left) and Chaplain Philip Robinson (right).

Last week in e-Life we reported on “The Shabbey”, the alternative youth event organised at short notice by Sammy Mould following the cancellation of The Abbey as a physical gathering at Waikanae. “The Shabbey” means “The Shortened Abbey”. However I omitted to mention what I now mention: how much I appreciated this alternative event happening—thank you Sammy and team. It was good to be with you for the opening and closing sessions of the day.

This week the Rev’d Jan Brodie concludes her ministry as Interim Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of South Christchurch. Thank you Jan for your faithful and cheerful ministry in this parish. We wish you well as you take some well earned rest and begin a new chapter in retirement life! I am very pleased to announce that the Rev’d Mandy Neil will be the next Interim Priest-in-Charge of the parish.

This Friday 4 September is the 10th anniversary of the first Canterbury quakes which changed our lives in Canterbury. We continue to live with the consequences, perhaps most notably in the Parish of Hororata as the vestry and the community work on the future of St John’s Church.

Preparations continue for our first Zoom Synod, beginning with a live-streamed Synod service, 7pm Thursday evening 10 September, broadcast from the Transitional Cathedral, and continuing on Friday 11 September with business sessions via Zoom. Other dioceses are making similar preparations for their Synods. Next Wednesday in e-Life we will publish details re access to the live-streamed Synod service. Unfortunately we are not able to offer general public access to the Zoom Synod business sessions. To do so could be to overwhelm our administration of the sessions as the team, led by Edwin Boyce, scan laptop screens checking out which members wish to speak and count votes when motions and bills are voted on.

COVID-19 cases continue as we live from day to day uncertain when we will have confidence as a whole nation to return to Level 1. While there are some hiccups along the way, e.g. over communication, we do need a sense of proportion as we evaluate how we are doing. Compared to other nations we are scoring A+ most of the time. When we dip down to an A- score it seems to bring out reactions as though we have been told our latest assignment got a Fail!

What about our own life as churches in Level 2? I am not going to give the Diocese a grade here but I continue to observe that in places we are struggling to keep the basic requirements complied with (e.g. re physical distancing). If the next Government decision is that we remain in Level 2 after Sunday 6 September then I will revise and reissue our Level 2 Guidelines. In the meantime this is a helpful reminder from the NZ Methodist Church:

–  Stay home if you’re sick
–  Call the Healthline if you have cold or flu symptoms
–  Wear a face covering
–  Keep track of where you’ve been
–  Wash your hands
–  Cough or sneeze into your elbow
–  Clean surfaces that get touched frequently
–  Maintain physical distancing
–  Wash your hands again
–  And be kind, always be kind.

There is a lot going on in the news these days apart from COVID-19. So much so that this important announcement about progress on the reinstatement of the Cathedral has not made the pages of The Press!

In the ongoing battle between secularism and Christianity within these islands, I found the following article interesting and a little bit alarming. Pressure on Bible in Schools has been around for some years, but I was intrigued to see within this article a case being advanced by one secularist mover and shaker for all influences of Christianity in schools to be banned, including ministry such as 24/7 which many churches in Canterbury and Westland are involved in. CLICK here to read it.

A final thought for today: “For Christianity is not a philosophical school for speculating about abstract concepts, but is essentially a communion with the living God.” [The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky]