Message from the Bishop

Dear Friends,

As I write floodwaters are rising in Southland, following news of rainfall causing devastation in Fiordland and closing the Franz Josef to Haast Highway earlier this week. Thus we can be very thankful that the Blessing of the site at Jacobs River at the weekend was carried out on a warm, dry South Westland day. Later in the day those attending Viv Simkins’ ordination at St James’ Franz Josef enjoyed a fabulous afternoon tea outdoors. To participate in both events was a privilege. Under Vivien Harber’s leadership many people worked very hard to ensure that both events went without a hitch – thank you to you all. A very special dimension of the day was its ecumenical character with both events bringing together Anglicans and Catholics and Maori and Pakeha in South Westland. The hospitality at Te Tauraka Waka o Maui marae (the landing place of Maui/Bruce Bay) following the Blessing was outstanding.

Then on Sunday morning, it was lovely to be with a full congregation at Holy Innocents, Amberley for the induction of Stephanie Clay as Vicar of Amberley. Later that same day the Transitional Cathedral was filled with The Cathedral Grammar School community for their first cathedral service for 2020. As all our schools begin their new year, please pray for them, that God may be glorified through their contribution to the education of young people within our Diocese.

Tomorrow is Waitangi Day. This is a day to commemorate a distinctive event—180 years ago—in the development of our nation, as well as a day to challenge ourselves whether we are living up to the commitments made by our ancestors. Paul Moon, writing in today’s Press focuses attention on the challenge of moving beyond a stage of “settlement” of outstanding grievances over land, to a stage of “resolution” or “truth and reconciliation”.

A couple of extra events coming up I wish to highlight:

  • Exploring the Church’s pastoral response following the Canterbury earthquakes and looking forward to the ongoing needs of the community, 7:30pm, Thursday 20 February All Souls Church, Church Lane, Merivale.  Presentations by Tilly Flood and Lucy D’Aeth will include reflections on the trauma experienced, one community’s journey from rubble to rebuild and what the Church needs to understand going forward. See further in a notice below.
  • Brother Peter Bray, Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, a New Zealander, will be speaking at the WEA, 59 Gloucester St, at 7 pm on Sunday 16 February. Bethlehem University is a Catholic university and most of its students are Muslims, thus Peter Bray is at the epicentre of the continuing challenge to find peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.

Diocesan events coming up are:

  • Planning for the Archbishop of York’s visit later in February is still being worked on but I am pleased to announce that Archbishop John will be the preacher at the joint Anglican-Catholic Ash Wednesday Service, 5.30 pm, Wednesday 26 February, at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Manchester Street, Christchurch. All most welcome.
  • Following announcements last week about appointments to the Parishes of Methven and Rakaia and Glenmark-Waikari, I can now give dates for commissioning services for Michael and Mary-Jo Holdaways ministry in Methven and Rakaia, 7 pm, Thursday 27 February at St John’s Barrhill, and for Elspeth Wingham’s ministry at Glenmark-Waikari, 7 pm Friday 28 February at the Church of the Ascension, Waikari. All welcome; clergy, red stoles.
  • Our new Director of Theology House, Gareth Bezett, will be commissioned at Evensong 5pm Sunday 8 March at the Transitional Cathedral. All Welcome. Gareth will be our preacher that evening.

Last and certainly not least, a few words about Coronavirus and our response to it.

  • We have developed a webpage, which we will keep updated with recommendations, advice and guidance as it comes to hand. We ask that clergy and lay leaders refer to this page each week to check for updates.
  • As with previous situations involving concern if not fear of a global, viral pandemic, as a church, we are in a tension between pastoral practice (our care for each other’s well-being), Eucharistic custom (our intention to celebrate the Eucharist together according the rites and rubrics agreed to be our common worship), local practices within Eucharistic custom (e.g. to intinct or to share The Peace with lots of hugs), general medical advice about colds and influenzas and any specific advice about a particular virus such as Coronavirus.
  • We are also in a tension between responsible action in the light of objective information and the possibility of scaremongering (perhaps fuelled by something we read in mainstream media or social media which turns out to be false information).
  • I remind ourselves that we are a church with a theology of the eucharist which guides our practice of eucharist, and that that theology includes a commitment to the common cup, as well as to the use of wine along with bread as the elements we bring to the Lord’s Table for consecrating to be the body of blood of Christ for us who receive him by faith with thanksgiving. Thus I suggest we should take care not to let events drive a change in our practice, unless that change is clearly temporary. It may well be preferable that we suspend an aspect of practice rather than change it.
  • For instance, it would be responsible action if we have a cold (let alone a viral influenza) to receive communion in one kind only (the bread) and to refrain from sharing the common cup. It would be advisable if we are feverish to refrain from attending a church service or other church meeting.

I ask you to familiarise yourselves with the contents of our webpage