Dear Friends,

Amidst all the challenging news of this week, our hearts likely go out in first place to our Muslim brothers and sisters whose grief, loss, anger and compassion is being voiced in the Christchurch courtroom as testimonies are heard by the judge who is carrying out the sentencing of the 2019 mosques killer. Let’s continue to pray for healing for those who bear the wounds, physical, emotional and spiritual, from the terrible events of 15 March last year.

As we continue to fail to see the numbers of people tested positively for the virus drop to the magic “0”, it is not unexpected that the Prime Minister announced on Monday that we will continue in Level 2 for at least two more Sundays (30 August, 6 September). I continue to reflect on whether currently issued Level 2 guidelines should be changed. I wonder, as you will also, whether we are going to find mask wearing mandated for participation in gatherings such as church services.

One consequence of the Prime Minister’s announcement is that, after consultation with our Senior Leadership Team and the Chancellor, I am re-issuing the invitation to Synod members so that we will meet via Zoom and not face to face. There is no guarantee that we will be at Level 1 after Sunday 6 September, and Synod members, especially those travelling from out of Christchurch, deserve some certainty about arrangements. A letter is being sent today to every member of Synod.

Thank you for everyone who has been contributing to the Pandemic Appeal (currently at $25,323.84) and the Mirphurkhas Boys Hostel Appeal (currently at $8,865 from 32 individuals and 2 parishes). Ideally we will reach a target of $20,000 for the Hostel to enable it to operate through the next year. Please note that to ensure money for this appeal is not mixed up with other Missions Board appeals, the word “Mirpurkhas” should be used in the Reference line.

On Saturday morning there was another excellent referenda seminar at the TC, jointly organized by the Transitional Cathedral and Theology House. I personally found the speakers to challenge my thinking on the matter of cannabis law reform. A recording of the whole seminar is available here. This would be a great resource for group discussion within parishes.  The first hour and 15 minutes, approximately, are the presentations followed by Q+A panel discussions of about 40 minutes.

Another face-to-face opportunity to consider the referenda matters is advertised below. As we head to the election, a guide put together by Rasik Ranchord, entitled Vote Smart, may be helpful. It can be downloaded here.

Also at the weekend, jointly organised between Theology House and the Transitional Cathedral, the final Theologians at the Cathedral event for 2020 was held on Sunday evening, with the Very Rev’d Tony Curtis, Dean of Dunedin, speaking. It was a pleasure to meet Tony and to hear him preach on outsiders in relation to the people of God and then speak in depth on the Book of Ruth.

I give thanks to God for the ministry of two clergy who died last week. The Rev’d Lois Ranson died in Ashburton and her funeral is tomorrow, Thursday, at 2 pm in Patersons Chapel. Lois ministered faithfully within the Parish of Tinwald and then in the combined Parish of Ashburton. She had a significant ministry in the community through her involvement in funeral services.

The Rev’d Graeme Brady died in Nelson, his funeral is today at 2 pm in Nelson Cathedral and then his burial after a eucharist is at 11 am this Friday at St Cuthbert’s Church, Governor’s Bay. Graeme ministered in several parishes, became a successful fundraiser for Cathedrals in the UK and here, and, with his wife Penny, was well known for ministry through Christian publications under the imprint Genesis Publications. Until recently, Genesis Publications was responsible for successive reprints of A New Zealand Prayer Book. Please pray for the Ranson and Brady families at this time of grief and loss.

The Minutes, Resolutions, and Statutes resulting from the recent Zoom session of General Synod are now all available online on the Anglican Church website.

Applications for St John’s College Trust Board scholarships for study and training, in which Christian education features, are being accepted, from clergy and laypersons, with next closing date 30 September 2020. For details of how to make application, please contact our Diocesan Ministry Educator, Stephanie Robson,

This Sunday our Gospel reading, Matthew 16:21-28, has several matters within it which challenge us. Taking up just one of them, when Jesus says, “If any want to be my followers let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (24), we are reminded that the Christian journey is never promised to be an easy one. May we find strength through Jesus Christ as we face present difficulties.