Dear Friends,

I give thanks for the response of ministry units to the Prayer Pilgrimage coming up from 1–3 March. Some have organised their own 40 hour vigils of prayer and others are having special times of prayer for our personal renewal and the regeneration of our Diocese. Everyone is urged to register here (doing so is helpful to our organisation of the weekend but it is not compulsory–all welcome to the advertised prayer service whether registered or not). Some resources for Sunday services on 3 March have been sent out to clergy already but further ideas for prayer are to come.

I am pleased to give advance notice of a one-day Diocesan Conference which is being planned for Saturday 26 October, in Christchurch. Please also mark this date in your diaries. Further details re our keynote speaker, venue and other contributors to the conference will be communicated soon. This is the Saturday of Labour Weekend. Our keynote speaker is only available to us this Saturday.

We had an excellent turn out in the Transitional Cathedral last night for the first leg of our Anglican Campaign launch, for fundraising for our Cathedral Reinstatement Project. Tonight, I and other leaders in the Cathedral Project Team will be in Timaru for the second leg. This Sunday brochures will be in every church in our Diocese explaining how you can contribute to the Project–please consider how you might support this amazing and important project, without diminishing your support for your local church.

Overnight there has been significant media interest in the Anglican Campaign (for just one example, see John MacDonald’s Newstalk ZB column). While grateful for the interest, our primary appeal to Anglicans is not through the media but through the Campaign launches, the brochures in each ministry unit, and my messages to the Diocese through e-Life.

It was lovely and much appreciated to have the opportunity to participate in four Ash Wednesday school services last week: The Cathedral Grammar School, Christ’s College, St Margaret’s College, and St Mark’s School, Opawa. The day was rounded off with an excellent ecumenical, Catholic-Anglican service in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.

On Sunday it was good to be in the Parish of Shirley, at All Saints, Burwood, for their two morning services. At one of the services, I presented the Reverend Carolyn Robertson with a renewal of her letter of authority as a Missional Coach for our Diocese. In her work as a missional coach, Carolyn is working with clergy on their approaches to leading ministry units in the mission of God.

Recently the Diocese of Wellington held an electoral synod to nominate a new Assistant Bishop for that diocese. Today it has been announced that confirmation of the nomination has been completed and thus the Bishop-elect is the Reverend Ana Fletcher, Co-Priest-in-Charge of St Peter’s, Gonville, Whanganui. Taonga carries a report here.

Bishop Muru Walters has died. +Muru was Bishop of Te Upoko o Te Ika (southern North Island) from 1992 to 2017. Prior to becoming bishop +Muru was a lecturer at St John’s College, Auckland 1982-1994 including being Ahorangi of Te Rau Kahitakea within the College, 1989-94. His work in theological education built on a career in education. He is famous in rugby circles for being a Māori All Black in the 1950s. I personally appreciated interactions with +Muru on a number of occasions, including sharing in a review of St John’s College in 2004. His funeral was on Monday 19 February, in Holy Sepulchre church, Auckland. Livestream/recorded service details are here.

Many people in our Diocese pray for and support Dr Nick and Ms Tessa Laing in their mission work in Uganda. I am very pleased to share the news that Tessa will become Dr Tessa Laing, having passed her University of Cambridge Ph.D. examination with no corrections. Tessa’s research was into land conflict in Apaa during a period in which the situation has changed with complex intertribal conflict worsening. Tessa’s involvement in working for peace in this difficult situation will continue.

Every Lent is a special opportunity for “alms giving” to those in need. This year the Anglican Missions Board Lenten Appeal is focused on two projects, one in Uganda and one in the Holy Land. Further details can be found at Taonga.
The situation in Gaza remains extremely challenging with many world leaders, including our own Prime Minister, calling on Israel not to invade Rafah. This week I want to highlight two local responses to the conflict in Gaza. This coming Tuesday evening 27 February, 7.30pm to 9pm, at Te Manawa Atawhai Catherine McAuley Centre, Villa Maria College, Peer Street, Upper Riccarton. Sr Kathleen Rushton RSM is facilitating a workshop, Exploring the Name and Boundaries of Palestine/Israel in the Christian Biblical Imagination. “Without disregarding the complexity and intricacy of the Israeli/Palestinian Israeli situation, we shall explore what we carry in our biblical imagination about the boundaries of the Land of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors. What are the implications if Christians are to engage with efforts to promote a just solution?”

Then, beginning at 8am, Saturday 9 March, there will be a Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage which offers Christians the opportunity to identify with and support brothers and sisters in Christ in Gaza by walking/cycling/rolling the 36km from Rangiora to Christchurch (mirroring the journey taken by families in Gaza escaping from Gaza City to Rafah). Along the way there will be opportunities to stop and to pray. For further details, to register or see how you can get involved, head to . It is my intention to be present for the first part of the pilgrimage (and possibly for the last part of the pilgrimage).

The Gospel for this Sunday 25 February 2024 is Mark 8:31-38 for Lent 2. When Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers” (34), he is laying it on the line. He might have said, “Do you really understand what it means to be my followers? Let me lay it on the line for you, unvarnished, raw and robust!”