Dear Friends,

Today is Emma Tovey’s last day in her role as our Diocesan Children’s Ministry Developer. It has been lovely working with Emma for the past five and a half years, and I know her work has been much appreciated by many in the Diocese. A small part of her work, in respect of publications, will continue. Thank you, Emma, for your ministry among us and best wishes for your new chapter in life in which you will be focused on theological studies through the University of Otago.

This Sunday is the last Sunday for the Reverend Chris Ponniah as the Vicar of Burnside-Harewood. Thank you, Chris and Joy, for your shared ministry in the parish, including important missional initiatives, through the past four and a bit years. Chris is in discussion with me and others about some new ministry initiatives in the next stage of his life—watch this space—while also being available to supply Sunday ministry in parishes needing assistance.

The Reverend Victoria Askin, currently Assistant Priest in the Parish of Burnside-Harewood (0.5) and Chaplain, Lincoln University (0.5), will be the next Vicar of Northwest Christchurch, beginning 1 May 2024. The Reverend Andrew Hoggan will continue to be the Interim Priest in Charge of Northwest Christchurch until 30 April 2024.

Another change in our Diocese coming up is that Garth Wynne, Executive Principal of Christ’s College, will leave his role at the school at the end of Term 2, 2024. Please pray for parishes with vacancies such as Burnside-Harewood, Opawa-St Martins, Akaroa-Banks Peninsula, for the search for a senior priest for Mid Canterbury, and for a new principal for Christ’s College.

This past week, as I forecast in e-Life last Wednesday, it has been a privilege to participate in the Reverend Hugh McCafferty’s induction as the Vicar of Geraldine, to share in the farewell on Friday of the Reverend Kathryn Walters as Superintendent of the Central South Island Synod of the Methodist Church, then, on Saturday, to be present for the inauguration of an extension of that Synod, to include all the South Island, and of the new Superintendent, the Reverend Dale Peach, on Sunday morning to preach, preside and re-dedicate the Chancel stained glass window at St Paul’s, Papanui, and then, in perfect weather in Hinds, late on Sunday afternoon, to share in a eucharistic service and picnic tea for the Archdeaconry of Mid Canterbury.

In tune with the age-old calculations of Israel and then the church concerning Passover/Easter, but perhaps not in tune with emerging from holiday mode in a glorious summer, Ash Wednesday is very imminent—Wednesday 14 February—two weeks away. I encourage the holding of Ash Wednesday services in all our ministry units and also commend the annual ecumenical cathedral service between Anglicans and Catholics in Christchurch—this year the service, at 5.30 pm, Wednesday 14 February, is being hosted at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Manchester Street and, according to our custom, I will be the preacher.

Ash Wednesday begins the Season of Lent, and also commended by me is the formation of study groups in ministry units for this season. It is not too late to do this. Theology House’s annual Bible study booklet—in 2024 titled, A Future of Hope—is available to be ordered here and orders will be responded to promptly.

Back to Anglican-Catholic ecumenicity: through the past few weeks a significant colloquium of Anglican and Catholic bishops has been taking place, first in Rome and then in Canterbury (UK). From this country we have been represented by Bishop Ross Bay (Auckland Anglican) and Bishop Michael Gielen (Christchurch Catholic). Taonga reports on the meeting here.

2024 will be a Year of Prayer in our Diocese and for our Diocese as we seek the Regeneration of the Diocese. One specific event—or series of events coming up—is a Diocesan Prayer Pilgrimage over the weekend of 1-3 March, 2024. Please mark this weekend in your diary and plan to participate in it—at least in the part of the weekend which involves your region of the Diocesan. Further details may be found here.  We cannot overstress that we seek everyone in the Diocese to be a prayer warrior for the Diocese and whether turning out to one of the events over that weekend, or praying at home, or in your local church matters little. Just pray!

Another significant matter for our Diocese this year is the “Anglican Campaign” for fundraising for our Cathedral Reinstatement Project. Two events are coming up—20 and 21 February—with details elsewhere in this e-Life. 2024 will be a Year of Fundraising for the Cathedral—please consider how you might support this amazing and important project, without diminishing your support for your local church.

St John’s College, Auckland news: the opening events for the College for 2024 take place this Friday 2 February and I am grateful that Gareth Bezett, Director of Theology House, will be able to represent me and the Diocese at them. Please pray for our students at the College this year: Ciru Muriuki, Lukas Thielmann and the Reverend Joshua Taylor. The leadership of the College is changing in the course of this year. Dr Emily Colgan, current Manukura (Principal) will step down from this role in a few months’ time and she will be succeeded from 15 April by the Reverend Dr Hirini Kaa who is currently Archdeacon of Mātauranga for Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa—a national educational role for the Diocese of Aotearoa.

Next Tuesday is Waitangi Day. In respect of the partnership between Māori and Pākehā in our nation, this year has begun with a lot of korero about the Treaty of Waitangi and its implications and applications for Aotearoa New Zealand. At the recent hui at Tūrangawaewae, Archbishop Don Tamihere, Te Pīhopa o Aotearoa (Bishop of Aotearoa), spoke to the 10,000 assembled people. His address, which strikes a very important note in respect of the quality of our relationships with one another, is reported here.

Hymns composed by Marnie Barrell are often sung in the churches of our Diocese. I was delighted to read in the recent New Year’s honours list that Marnie has been awarded an MNZM for her services to church music, music education and hymn writing in NZ. Her story can be read here.

A giant figure in the world of music, particularly in recent decades in Christchurch has been Brian Law, whose musical roles included being Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral for 12 years from 2003. His obituary in The Press at the weekend is online. A celebration of Brian’s life and music will take place at the Transitional Cathedral at 5 pm, Sunday 17 March 2024.

This Monday, 5 February, a number of Anglican Centre staff will take leave (with Waitangi Day being the next day). Please note that the Anglican Centre will be open on Monday but Theology House Library will be closed for the day and will re-open on Wednesday 7 February.

The Gospel for this Sunday 4 February 2024 is Mark 1:29-39 for Epiphany 5. A lot happens in this reading, inviting us to reflect on the healing and deliverance ministry of Jesus, the importance of “deserted places” in our spiritual lives, the impulse of godly mission, the search for Jesus and, let’s be honest, the question of why the first thing Simon’s mother-in-law did after she was healed was to serve the men gathered in her house!