Message from the Bishop

Dear Friends,

It was wonderful being in a full St Mary’s Church, Geraldine on Sunday as people from across the Archdeaconry of South Canterbury gathered for worship and a picnic lunch in the sun afterwards. In the context of the Gospel, Jesus calling the disciples to be fishers of people, a lovely theme in the service was “Caught in the net of God’s love” with the challenge, who are we praying for that they also might be caught in the net of God’s love?

Floral fish mosaic – created by a Geraldine parishioner, inspired by the Camino walk and the theme of the sermon “ Caught in the net of God’s Love”


As the month of January draws to a close I want to thank two of our ministers for their work which finishes this Friday. The Reverend Elspeth Wingham completes two years in the Parish of Cheviot: thank you, Elspeth and best wishes for your new ministry in the Parish of Glenmark-Waikari. The Reverend Helen Wallis completes her interim ministry in the Parish of Rakaia: thank you, Helen, and best wishes for a well-earned rest. I know we will see you continuing to be available for ministry in Mid Canterbury.

Tomorrow evening, Thursday 30 January at 7 pm we induct the Reverend John Hearne as Vicar of Cheviot. This Saturday morning, 1 February, at 10 am all are welcome to the Blessing of the site at Jacobs River and at 2 pm to the ordination of Vivien Simkin as priest in St James’ Church, Franz Josef. Then Sunday morning at 10 am at Holy Innocents, Amberley, we induct the Reverend Stephanie Clay as Vicar of Amberley. All welcome, clergy red stoles please to inductions and ordination.

I am very pleased to announce the Reverends Michael and Mary-Jo Holdaway will jointly lead ministry in the Parishes of Methven and Rakaia for the next three years, effective from 1 February 2020. I am grateful for the willingness of these two parishes to collaborate together to make this appointment possible.

This week I am working on a visit to Christchurch for the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend John Sentamu and his wife, the Reverend Margaret Sentamu. Likely they will be in Christchurch from Monday 24 February to Thursday 27 February and I anticipate the Sentamus participating in Ash Wednesday services, including our annual joint Anglican-Catholic service which this year is at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Manchester Street, Christchurch.

Speaking of Ash Wednesday, that means we are getting ever closer to the beginning of Lent and I again commend to you the Lenten Studies published by Theology House (as advertised below).

Looking a little further ahead in the church calendar, from Ascension to Pentecost, it is not too early to consider as individuals and as ministry units committing to the increasingly popular, global “Thy Kingdom Come” which involves commitment to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. Please see details below in ELife.

Our news this week is dominated by the spread of Coronavirus and responses to this deadly disease. I hope that by next week, having absorbed the best-to-date wisdom and advice of authorities and other churches, we can distribute to you our Diocesan advice. In the meantime, we can and should be diligent in respect of hygiene, with specific reference to communion practice. Independent of the Coronavirus news, I received this request from one of our clergy:

“Can you do a big reminder to clergy regarding hand hygiene when distributing the sacrament. Especially those who, both lay and ordained who take Communion to rest  homes or visit parishioners in health care facilities or in hospital. Intincture also is such a health hazard, particularly amongst the old and infirm. Not many retirement facilities have a policy around these issues.”

I simply add to this reminder a request that when we undertake hand hygiene prior to the distribution of communion, this should be done when the Table is being prepared, prior to the Great Thanksgiving. Otherwise, if we leave it to just before distribution we effectively create a “rite of handwashing” which has no foundation in Scripture or in church tradition.

Finally I note that the election this year is Saturday 19 September and breathe a small sigh of relief that it does not clash with our Synod the weekend before!