Dear Friends,

This week I am very pleased to make further announcements of appointments to ministry positions in our Diocese:

The Reverend Lisa McInnes will be Vicar of Avonside, commencing in late January 2023. Lisa is a Cantabrian who is returning home with her husband Iain and their family after living in England for some years, where she was ordained and most recently has been serving in parish ministry in the Diocese of Chester.

The Reverend Jordan Greatbatch will be Vicar of St Michael’s and All Angels, commencing at the beginning of March 2023. Jordan is currently Vicar of Birkenhead in the Diocese of Auckland.

The Reverend Gabriele Anderson, a Wesleyan Methodist minister currently serving as Chaplain to the Mason Clinic, Auckland, will join the ministry team in the Parish of Lincoln with a special focus on ministry in Rolleston. I will ordain Gabriele as a deacon shortly after her arrival in the parish in late March 2023.

Through the past few months interim ministries have been offered by the following clergy: the Reverend Hugh Bowron as Acting Dean during Dean Lawrence’s study leave; the Reverend Chris Donaldson during the Reverend Sampson Knight’s study leave, Parish of Riccarton-Spreydon. Thank you, Hugh, and Chris!

On Sunday, Archdeacon Nicky Lee announced that she is retiring in early March 2023 from her role as Manager of Volunteers at the Transitional Cathedral. Nicky will continue her Diocesan role as Archdeacon for the Household of Deacons, but she will be much missed at the Cathedral where she has worked for over twenty years.

It was a joy to be part of the Advent Carol Service in the Transitional Cathedral on Sunday evening. The Choir was in splendid form. I am looking forward to the Christmas Carol Service there at 7 pm on Sunday 18 December 2022—all are welcome to this musical feast!

I have mentioned here two recent book launches at the Transitional Cathedral in recent weeks. Both books—I am not being paid to write this—would be excellent Christmas presents. Edmund Bohan has written an excellent, readable history of the Cathedral in his book, The Heart of the City. John Bluck’s book Becoming Pakeha, which I am currently reading, is a thoughtful, gently provocative book about what it means to be a Pakeha—to be a member of a society which has yet to realise fully what the Treaty means for just relationships between Māori and Pakeha.

The City Mission has been in the news this week following the announcement that the City Mission Christmas Day lunch will not be offered anymore. Instead (as you can read in the article), food hampers will be made available to many households. There will also be a lunch for approximately 50 people who are staying in the Mission at that time. I support this decision. It was clear to me on visits to the lunches in the years 2018–2020 that some change was needed to the focus of the Mission’s work at Christmas.

Also on the City Mission’s agenda for Christmas is their annual Carol Service at the Transitional Cathedral, 7 pm on Wednesday 14 December 2022—all are welcome. Teresa and I will be attending the service which will be a particularly special occasion this year because it will feature a new choir which includes very brave and committed people who have been in the City Mission’s emergency shelters and who use its drop-in day programmes. They will be joined by City Mission volunteers and staff to sing the Christmas carols of love and hope. This is a choir with members who have experienced much hardship in life, and they want to give back to the community which has supported them. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there.

This Sunday 4 December 2022, Advent 2, the gospel is Matthew 3:1-12. The trick with this reading is to not focus much on John the Baptist (there are other days in the calendar to attend to him). Instead, we are invited in the season of the coming of Jesus Christ to focus on John’s message. The one who is coming—Jesus—is coming to challenge the world (through just judgment) and to change the world (through the power of the unleashed Holy Spirit).