Message from the Bishop
I hope we have been able to have a good summer break. Unfortunately the Covid-19 virus observes no holidays and we are now in the Red Light mode. Our planning for services once again must adapt: to new number limits, to specific direction to implement 1m physical distancing (which will lower the maximum number of people able to gather in many of our buildings).
Yesterday, the Government made an announcement about stricter regulation of masking. I want to hold off for a few days before making any further direction re masking in the light of that announcement but I am pleased that this Government announcement underlines my direction made previously, that I expect masks to be worn in our services—and masks must cover mouth and nose simultaneously. Although it is a longish read, I commend this Newsroom article on how we can prepare for and respond to Omicron https://www.newsroom.co.nz/long-read-how-to-prepare-for-omicron. Our new Diocesan webpage, with a link to my latest memo to clergy about the Red Light mode is at https://anglicanlife.org.nz/about-us/traffic-light-system-for-covid-19-management/.
From today the Anglican Centre is a vaccinated site, that is, all staff, regular and irregular visitors to the site, including Cardale House itself, must be able to present a Vaccine Pass before entering. The policy and its rationale is set out in full detail here. Anglican Centre staff will make every reasonable effort to meet with people unable to produce a Vaccine Pass, whether that is via a virtual meeting, a phone call or an offsite meeting.
Let’s continue our support for Tonga, both in prayer and in donations (donations can be made via Anglican Missions here). I am pleased to report that CSN sisters in Tonga are safe and that St. Andrew’s High School is undamaged (but covered in ash).
The situation between Russia and Ukraine is most concerning. We do not need any more wars. We also do not need Russian aggression met with weak Western response as that may embolden China in the matter of Taiwan. While Ukraine is a long way from our country, Taiwan is not. As always, we are called by God to pray for peace and to work for peace.
Many readers are faithful in prayer for our Diocese—thank you. I have a specific, urgent and ongoing request for prayer. We have an extraordinary number of vacancies for priests in our Diocese. Known parish vacancies for Vicars/Priests in Charge are Highfield, Kensington and Otipua, Amberley, Ellesmere, Mt Herbert, Fendalton, St Michael’s and All Angels. Other vacancies to be announced are imminent. I am grateful to a few priests I am in conversation with re possible appointment, but there are fewer such conversations than there are vacancies. Let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest to supply the needed labourers.
This Sunday afternoon I will be in the South Canterbury Archdeaconry for its annual Archdeaconry service. (Up to the limit of 100), all who can present a Vaccine Pass are welcome to the service at 4 pm in St Mary’s Church, Timaru. Early next week Archdeacon Indrea Alexander goes on study leave. I am grateful that the Reverend Tony Kippax, Vicar of Geraldine, will be the Acting Archdeacon of South Canterbury during the three months of leave, and that the Reverends Sue Dickson and Ben Randall will be covering for Indrea in the Waimate and Marchwiel parishes respectively.
This Sunday, 30 January, can be celebrated as Epiphany 4 or as the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The two gospel readings are Luke 4:21-30 or Luke 2:22-40. Between the two passages we have the extremes of response to Jesus. In Luke 4, his fellow citizens wish to throw Jesus off a nearby cliff. In Luke 2, Anna and Simeon have patiently waited for a very long time for his coming, yearning for the moment when they can greet their Saviour. Still today, Jesus provokes differing responses – most recently, and locally seen in a contretemps by some residents of Sumner over the lighting of the mast/cross on the top of Cave Rock!
Back to Covid: this is our third year in our fight against the virus. It is gruelling to have to make adaptations to current practice, yet again—one more time. Let’s be kind to one another. Keep praying for our Prime Minister and her Government.