Dear Friends,

After some months of freedom and confidence that we were moving forward through the challenges of the global pandemic, everything has come to a shuddering halt. Possibly the South Island will move down a level or two this Friday, but if we do, it is unlikely to be back to Level 1.

Level 4: Diocesan life and guidance

This Sunday 29 August all physical services in our churches are cancelled, including the AAW Festival Service planned for Sunday afternoon.

Many ministry units, as they did on Sunday past, will be hosting online service or providing resources for worship in parishioners’ own home. On this Diocesan webpage we list the online or alternative services we have been provided information about. Other Covid-19 information can be found here.

Since we cannot hold Synod as a physical event unless we are in Level 1, Standing Committee last night resolved that we will plan Synod 2021 as follows: two 2 hour Zoom sessions of Synod, 7pm—9pm Thursday 2 and Friday 3 September 2021 and a full Saturday physical gathering of Synod on a Saturday yet to be determined, before the end of October (if possible). Details of the revised Synod are being communicated to all Synod members, lay and clerical, today and through the coming week.

Please note that Synod Elections will be held at the physical session of Synod so all members of boards and committees who were intending to stand down at Synod are requested to remain in post until we can conduct elections.

It is likely that our annual Synod service will be the Friday evening before the proposed Saturday session of Synod.

You will have noted from new reports that the Government is making Contact tracing—QR codes, recording of personal contact details—mandatory so that when our churches and halls are open again, we will need to be rigorous and attentive in respect of people entering our buildings, for services and other events.

We should also prepare ourselves as worshippers for the possibility that the Government may offer stronger guidance than previously on the matter of wearing masks in public at lower levels than Level 4; and if so, the question will be what impact this has on the way we worship vocally – Anglicans love to sing and to offer responses in prayers, psalms and greetings! As time goes by it is clear that the virus is being better understood as an airborne spreading virus than a surface transmitting virus.

Vaccinations: I had my first one yesterday. Have you had yours or at least made a booking? Please remember our Get One Give One campaign here so that others less fortunate than ourselves might also be vaccinated. Again, note that now we reckon with the Delta variant in our NZ community, we may need to consider moving forward into Level s 3, 2 or 1, whether there should be requirements about being vaccinated, e.g. if we are presiding at Communion or if we are pastorally visiting vulnerable persons.

Ordinary Life of the Diocese

I am pleased to announce an appointment of a new minister, Steven Dunne, to be the 0.8 FTE Ministry Team Leader for the Parish of Woodend-Pegasus. Steven has ministry experience in the Baptist and Assembly of God denominations and currently works for the Open Home Foundation in Nelson while also running a business. Steven and Emma and their family will hopefully be in residence in the parish and ready to begin this new role on 1 November 2021. The Reverend Graeme Pratley is the Interim Priest in Charge of Woodend-Pegasus until Steve begins.

It was good to “visit” the Transitional Cathedral on Sunday morning and St Barnabas’ Fendalton on Sunday evening and this Sunday, Teresa and I are looking forward to visiting a little further afield in the Diocese!

About this time last year we made an emergency appeal for support for the Mirpurkhas Hostel in Pakistan which Kiwi mission partners have had a long association with, including a present partner, who is well known in this Diocese. That appeal was very successful and much appreciated. Unfortunately, the impact of Covid remains a challenge to the funding of the Hostel. This year NZCMS is launching an appeal for $10,000 to assist with the costs of a new intake of boys whose lives will benefit immensely from life in the hostel. I invite and encourage you to support this appeal, the details of which are given elsewhere in this e-Life.

Yesterday I learned of the death of Marjorie Tovey, in Selwyn Village, Auckland, at the age of 104. Marjorie has been well-known to many readers, whether as a NZCMS mission partner to Pakistan, partner in parish ministry here in the Diocese of Christchurch to the late Reverend Peter Tovey, mother to Derek Tovey (who has taught many of our clergy when they studied at St John’s College) and otherwise through her other children, John and Jane and her grandchildren, some of whom have also been involved in NZCMS in recent years. A celebration of Marjorie’s life will be held at a later date.

The Abbey, a major Anglican youth and young adults conference, scheduled for last weekend at Waikanae, has been rescheduled for the first weekend in November. This likely means a rescheduling of our Diocesan Deeper Camp also planned for that weekend. Please pray for Sammy Mould, our Diocesan Youth and Young Adults Ministry Developer as she works on changes of plans. This, of course, is but one example among many in our Diocese and national church at this time.

This Sunday, Ordinary 22, our Gospel reading is Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. A minor but relevant message in the passage is about washing hands! The major message is about the character of the inner person. There is nothing like a time of testing, such as Level 4, to both test and refine our character.

Kia kaha,