Dear Friends,

We are now in Delta Level 2 (limit 100), which is going to be closer to “normal” than anything we have experienced for some weeks.

Diocesan life and guidance:
General information on Delta L2 can be found here.
Our revised and specific guidelines for Delta Level 2 (limit 100) are here. Some key features of the revised Guidelines are:

  • Government requirements re adhering to maximum numbers (now 100),
  • mandatory contact tracing;
  • my requirements for communion in one kind only, and presider and assistants at communion to be masked.
With no Government requirements for masking or physical distancing for religious gatherings, our Guidelines say that masking is recommended and talks about appropriate distancing. In some circumstances, providing Government guidelines are followed, serving of refreshments may be appropriate. Finally, I am asking that questions re the application of the Guidelines are raised in the first instance with the local Archdeacon.

Some ministry units have made a decision to remain “online” for this Sunday the last Sunday in September. I am expecting all ministry units from the first Sunday in October to again be offering physical services in our church buildings.

On a lighter note, I have learned that the Parish of Bombay-Pokeno is in a very complex situation this week: it covers areas which are Level 3 (Auckland), Level 2 (Waikato) and Level 4 (the special area declared a few days ago).

Vaccination Passports and Worship?
I forecast that in common with other countries, our management of Delta will include the issuing of vaccine passports and the requirement that passports are presented in order to enter public arenas. A significant question or set of questions will then be whether this requirement extends to churches, and what the response of NZ churches will be if a requirement is imposed. This morning I learned that our neighbouring country, Fiji, has said that churches will only be available for fully vaccinated people:

And finally, from 4 October, all workplaces, tertiary institutions, houses of worship, hotels, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, gyms, pools, and tattoo parlours will be able to open at 70% capacity, but only to fully-vaccinated persons.”
[You can read the full article here: Fiji announcement.]

There are more responses to vaccination from around the world in the media section which show the breadth of responses involved. In coming weeks I will discuss further the issues surrounding vaccine passports and worship, so watch this space.  

Ordinary Life of the Diocese
A refreshed website about Christ Church Cathedral in the Square is now up and running, and looking very impressive. The continuing progress on the Cathedral Project is a matter for thanksgiving and celebration.

Last Thursday it was a privilege to be present at our Anglican Care offices (temporarily in Fitzgerald Avenue) for a meeting with members of the Anglican Care Energy Poverty Project and the Hon. Eugenie Sage, MP. Eugenie is Green Party spokesperson for a number of portfolios relating to energy poverty and Chairs the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Environment. Our project makes efficient use of government funding through its programme of visiting homes and offering ways and means to assist households with cost saving and power efficiency improvements. Overall, our conversation was stimulating, informative and relevant to a matter touched on in the next paragraph.

On Sunday morning Teresa and I took the opportunity to join the online worship of Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa, then in the early evening we participated in Night Prayer at the Transitional Cathedral followed by an inter-church seminar about climate change, well-being and shalom, organised by A Rocha Aotearoa. If I may be so bold as to mention an observation about the seminar … very few Anglicans were there. A question for us, perhaps, as we move forward in a heating up world, is what might particularly motivate us to engage with ecumenical efforts in respect of climate change and activity to mitigate the change. [Images from this seminar are later in this newsletter.]

Our Gospel reading this Sunday, Ordinary 26, is Mark 9:38-50, one of the trickier gospel passages because of the way it brings together a miscellany of subjects and themes. Often such passages nevertheless yield a “golden thread” which the preacher can speak to. I am not able to see that thread myself in this passage. But I can see challenges, such as, ‘Where do we find the people in society today who are allies of Jesus because they’re not against Jesus?’ And, ‘how do I remain “salty”?’

Kia haumaru te noho—Stay safe,