Dear Friends,

A great crowd gathered in the Transitional Cathedral last Saturday for the ordinations of Matt Maslin (Assistant Curate, Cathedral), Jo Cotton (Deacon Assistant, Fendalton) and Sammy Mould (Diocesan Youth and Young Adults; Deacon Assistant, Woodend-Pegasus) as deacons, and the Reverend Dr Andrew Butcher as priest (Priest Assistant, Fendalton). The enthusiasm of the congregation and the collective love for those being ordained was palpable and the Holy Spirit was present. A very big thank you to everyone who made this service such a great occasion.

Another significant service in the Cathedral is tonight’s Installation of our new Dean, the Reverend Canon Ben Truman, at 7pm. All welcome. We are expecting a great crowd. Clergy are invited to robe, red stoles. (Clergy, please rsvp re robing/seating, to Chris Oldham). Our preacher will be Archdeacon Mark Barlow. Last Sunday our Acting Dean, Bosco Peters, along with Helen Peters was farewelled from his role, with appreciation and thanks for the contribution both have made to the life of our Cathedral through the past seven months.

Occasions such as these Diocesan services always encourage me that our journey as a Diocese towards Regeneration is making some progress through this decade. The NZ-wide context for faith, spirituality and religious commitment – the context in which we seek Regeneration, nevertheless, is challenging. Two weeks ago, the Wilberforce Foundation presented its findings from two very recent surveys, including the “Church Life Survey” that a number of our parishes took part in. Head to this link to see their Faith and Belief Report. For another “snapshot” of our situation, you might also look at this video presentation by Dr Geoff Troughton to a national conference two months ago.

Earlier this year, I shared the news that Lindy Graham, Principal of Craighead Diocesan School, was retiring from this role at the end of this year. I thank Lindy for her leadership of the school and wish her and John well for the next chapter in their lives. It has been a delight to work with Lindy through most of these years (first as Archdeacon of South Canterbury and more recently as Bishop). I am very pleased to share with you an announcement made last week that Lara Hearn-Rollo, the current Deputy Principal of the school will be Craighead’s next Principal.

It was wonderful to be with God’s people on Sunday morning at St John’s, Leeston in the Parish of Ellesmere and in the service to baptise and confirm Janice Smith.

Then, in the afternoon, at St Silas, Redwood, in the Parish of Northwest Christchurch, Teresa and I shared with many other people in a lovely and moving final service for the Reverend Jo Latham, to conclude her twenty-four years as Vicar of this parish (initially the Parish of Belfast-Redwood, then of Northwest Christchurch, after Bishopdale and Belfast-Redwood merged). In my understanding the only parish vicar in living memory in our Diocese with longer service than Jo’s tenure in the same parish is the Reverend Hugh Paterson who was Vicar of Malvern for thirty-five years. Jo retires from her parish much loved and appreciated. She is not retiring from parish ministry just yet – in February, as previously announced here, Jo will take up an Interim Priest role in the Parish of Hanmer Springs.

Readers of The Press may have seen a lovely initiative from this newspaper – an encouragement to follow an Advent Calendar with the purpose of providing a box of needed supplies to the City Mission to assist people in need in January 2024. The link at the end of this paragraph is behind their paywall so I have copied some key information: “Grab a box, grab a calendar and pop a donation in the box every day as you cross off the days until Christmas. The Press has published a calendar you can use with suggestions for daily donations into your advent box… [We are] encouraging readers to create reverse advent boxes for the Christchurch City Mission which has found many families are in need of extra support in January, dealing with the fall out of Christmas.” Boxes would need to be dropped off at the City Mission, 276 – 284 Hereford Street, Christchurch, between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

In the past few days, I have received a couple of petitionary initiatives concerning the conflict in the Middle East and its ramifications for life here in Aotearoa New Zealand. One is an initiative of the Wellington Abrahamic Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims which has published “a statement in the context of war in Israel and Gaza, calling for people in Aotearoa New Zealand to avoid hateful or threatening behaviour toward any person or faith community.” This is an important call when arguments rage for and against various aspects of this conflict. I have signed our Diocese to this statement and ask that all readers here honour the call to be utterly respectful of all people in conversations, discussions, in person and online. Further details are at the Anglican Taonga news webpage.

A second initiative comes from Archdeacon Katrina Hill, Vicar of East Christchurch, and is a petition which is available for signing at various activities/events in East Christchurch, and specifically at St. Faith’s, 46 Hawke St, New Brighton, Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm. Its substance is as follows:

“To Party Leaders: Christopher Luxon, Winston Peters, David Seymour, Christopher Hipkins, James Shaw, Marama Davidson, Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

We, residents of New Brighton and other parts of Christchurch, urge you and all Members of Parliament to:

  • work actively for a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians
  • inform the United States and Britain of New Zealand’s total opposition to a continuation of the Gaza War in any form
  • agree to contribute to a United Nations peace-keeping force and to United Nations humanitarian aid
  • support a two-state solution in which both Israel and a Palestinian state would exist within secure borders
  • commence the process for recognition of a Palestinian state.”

Brian Law
, former Director of Music at the Cathedral has died. Asked to “help out” with the Choir over Christmas 2003, Brian kept working with the Choir until retirement in 2014. Brian was well-known to music lovers in Christchurch and was an outstanding director of our Cathedral Choristers, By his own request there will not be a funeral for Brian, but in 2024 there will be a memorial service for him – likely and unsurprisingly, an Evensong at the Transitional Cathedral.

Our Gospel reading this coming Sunday, Advent 1, is Mark 13:24-37. It is an uncomfortable fact of our Scriptures that there is a lot of talk, in both testaments, about the future end of human history as we understand it, with a day or judgement or reckoning coming. Also uncomfortable is the fact that some of this talk, including this passage, overlays two chronological horizons: a near future which (from our perspective) has come to pass (that is, the sacking of Jerusalem by the Roman Army in 70 AD), and a future event which has not yet taken place. Whatever we make of attempts to interpret this (and similar passages) to connect with the past, present or future, the call of Jesus to us as disciples is clear: we are to be faithful in obedience to God’s will and thus ready at all times for the return of Jesus Christ.

Last week I wrote this, before the agreements forming the new Government were finalised: Hopefully we have a new and well stitched together Governmentby the end of tomorrow. Will the deal being worked on enable the people groups of this land, especially Māori and Pakeha, to draw together in harmony? What will offer hope to the vulnerable people of our society? Will love increase in our communities? What new policies will the deal offer towards Aotearoa New Zealand becoming a just society? This week I think my questions remain pertinent!

Finally, I note here that next Tuesday, 5 December is International Volunteer Day International Volunteer Day IV Day – Volunteering New Zealand.