Dear Friends,

I am looking forward to our Diocesan Prayer Pilgrimage this weekend, beginning Friday evening in Timaru, 1–3 March. Across the Diocese, apart from events in Timaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, Rangiora and Hokitika, ministry units have been organising their own 40-hour vigils of prayer or other 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). Let us pray!

Thank you to everyone who came to either, or both of our Anglican Campaign opening events last week, in Christchurch and in Timaru respectively. Likely you will have seen in various media that launching the Anglican Campaign for raising funds towards the reinstatement of our Cathedral has created significant media interest and not a few comments. Either this past Sunday or this Sunday coming, letters from me, in a brochure, should be promoted in your ministry unit. We seek to explain 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.

For some weeks now I have been wanting to say something about the use of Te Reo – the Māori language – in our society. For reasons not very clear to me, our new government has taken a dim view of use of Te Reo – one of our official languages. Language is critical to the continuation of culture and custom. It has been an important development in recent decades that we have drawn Te Reo into the mainstream of our Kiwi, bicultural life. It seems so unnecessary that we go backwards rather than forwards on the matter. How will we respond? One way is to do things beyond the control of government – that we continue to use Te Reo as an exercise in free speech! One obvious use of Te Reo is to use Te Reo in our liturgies and in our songs. I applaud the use of Te Reo in our services and appreciate each ministry unit finding its own, locally appropriate way to do this. Let’s keep going and keep growing in our embrace of Te Reo. (At some point in coming weeks I want also to say a few words about Te Tiriti.)

I am very pleased to announce that the Reverend Felicity O’Brien will be the next Vicar of Oxford-Cust. Felicity is currently serving as Interim Priest-in-Charge of that parish so we will be able to induct Felicity very soon: at 7pm, Tuesday 12 March 2024 in St Andrew’s, Oxford. All welcome. Clergy please robe with red stoles.

On Saturday morning, it was lovely to Chair the AGM of the Diocesan Association of Anglican Women and then recommission Raewyn Dawson as their President and to commission or recommission members of the executive. On Sunday, it was good to be in the Parish of Avonhead to preach, preside and to confirm Emma Larkin. My weekend was rounded off with attending the opening chapel service for 2024 for College House, with the Reverend Dr John Fox, our Senior University of Canterbury Chaplain leading and preaching.

The Reverend Richard Roberton has died. The family are arranging a private funeral. Richard was ordained deacon in 1965, priest in 1966 and served all his ordained ministry in this Diocese. After curacies in Linwood-Aranui and Burwood, Richard was appointed Chaplain for Combined Churches in Twizel. He then served successively as Vicar, the Parishes of Lincoln, Avonhead, and Halswell-Prebbleton. A two-year post as Priest Assistant at the Cathedral led into active retirement from 1998. Chief ministry in the 26 years since have been in the Parish of Mt Herbert and in regular presidency at the eucharist in daily eucharists at the Cathedral. Please pray for Alison and their family as they prepare for his funeral.

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 36 km 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, 3 February 2024 is John 2:13-22 for Lent 3. If by Jesus “meek and mild” we mean a quiet, never disruptive, always well-mannered and gentle man, then this story is difficult. Jesus is noisy, disruptive, ill-mannered (with respect to respect for the traders going about their business) and not at all gentle. Why? The answer, in a very general sense, is that Jesus saw something deeply wrong in the heart of the chief holy place of Israel and sought not only to speak against this wrong but also to act against it.