It was good on Saturday morning to share in a Cathedral Regulars’ consultation—led by Archdeacon Mark Chamberlain and Ms Kirsty May—as we work on developing a new Cathedral Profile prior to advertising soon for a new Dean. On Sunday morning, in common with ministry units across the Diocese, I was part of a celebration of Pentecost at the Church of the Epiphany, Hanmer Springs, replete with red balloons, tongues of fire fixed to the ends of the pews, and a cake afterwards for morning tea.
Later, on Sunday afternoon, at the St. Andrew’s College Chapel, it was a privilege to have a small role in the funeral for police dog handler, Bruce Lamb. This service, led by the Reverend Mike Hawke, was a wonderful tribute to a remarkable man—read more here. Please pray for Bruce’s widow, Jill and their family as they mourn his loss.
On Monday evening, I had a wonderful time with young adults at All Souls, Merivale-St Albans, studying the Thirty-Nine Articles and I am looking forward to a return visit later in the year for a session on the Book of Revelation. Last night at the Transitional Cathedral I heard an excellent talk by Nasser Mashni on Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people for full citizenship of their land. The political situation in Israel/Palestine is complex but there is a simple question at its heart: how can human beings made in the image of God live together in harmony in the land God promised to Abraham?
In our own land, we are struggling with some questions of how we live together as Māori and Pakeha. Te Reo Māori is an official language of our nation and increasingly spoken by more and more New Zealanders, Pakeha as well as Māori. It is both saddening and maddening that one of our two major political parties is seemingly unable to wholeheartedly support signage in our country being in both English and Te Reo. For Anglicans, with our constitutional commitment to Treaty-based partnership between Tikanga Māori and Tikanga Pakeha, use of Te Reo, whether in our liturgies, or road signs, should not give rise to questions as to “why” we use a bilingual approach in our life together in church and in society.
As we work on mission in our own diocesan area, integrating that work with the aim of the Regeneration of our Diocese through this decade, our focus should not be limited to our local challenges. The mission of God (Missio Dei) is always to the whole world. Coming up at the end of June, at 7.30 pm Thursday 29 June 2023, the next meeting of our ministry unit Mission Motivators takes place, on Zoom—details are elsewhere in this e-Life. One thing we will be motivated to work on together this year is making August our Diocesan “mission month.”
Congratulations to HRS Construction who won the Heritage/Restoration Project Category and the Commercial Project $1-$3 million at the 2023 Commercial Project Awards last Friday, for their excellent work restoring and strengthening St Faith’s Church, Parish of East Christchurch. They also took out a Platinum Award—a prestigious award that goes to a company that has won 5 or more national titles in the past. See further on Facebook.
Congratulations, also this week, to our volunteers in the Diocesan Archives. They have been successfully nominated for a 2023 Volunteer Recognition Award and will receive this award on Monday 19 June 2023.
Back in April 2023, the conference of Anglicans around the globe known as GAFCON, meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, made a public, damning criticism of the Church of England for its recent decision to permit prayers for same sex partnerships or marriages (a similar but not exactly the same decision as our church made in 2018). This condemnation was made with not one word said criticising an anti-LBGTQi bill before the parliament of Uganda which had received strong endorsement at Easter from Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu, the Archbishop of Uganda (and one of the leaders of GAFCON). Read Archbishop Stephen’s message here. A provision in the bill included the possible of execution as a punishment for certain offences by homosexuals. At the time of GAFCON there was a thought that the bill would never be signed into law by the President of Uganda. This week, however, we learn that the bill has become law—read more from Reuters here. We also learn that Archbishop Stephen enthusiastically supports its passing, although resiles from the death penalty being imposed—Read more here. The chances of GAFCON leaders condemning this decision by parliament, let alone its support by the Ugandan Anglican church appear to be zero. It is tragic that a significant global network of Anglicans can condemn one province of the Communion for openness to praying for same sex partnerships while tacitly, if not explicitly endorsing this inhuman legislation endorsed by another province.
This Sunday 4 June 2023, Trinity, we are invited to re-read the familiar passage of Matthew 28:16-20. This time focusing less on the Great Commission and more on the God who commissions us through baptism who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – God who is Three in One. Incidentally, underpinning all Christian focus on unity among diverse people (whether in Israel/Palestine, Aotearoa New Zealand or elsewhere) is our understanding of Trinity – that our God is Unity in Diversity and our calling is to imitate God.