Dear Friends,

The Reverend Sione Ulu’ilakepa, Principal of St. John the Baptist Theological College, Suva, has been elected Bishop of Polynesia – he will therefore become one of the three Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. After a long period following the death of the late Archbishop Fereimi Cama, Bishop of Polynesia, not least because of the Covid impositions on international travel re gathering an electoral synod together, it was lovely to learn a few days ago of the outcome of the recent Diocese of Polynesia electoral synod. Further details about Bishop-elect Sione are on Anglican Taonga.

This week I am very pleased to make further announcements about ministry in our Diocese:

The Reverend Alan Webster, a Methodist minister living in Little River, will be Enabling Minister for the Parish of Mt Herbert for at least the next twelve months, from 1 December 2022. Alan has already been contributing ministry in this parish which has ecumenical arrangements for services in several of its centres. Anglican priests will continue to preside at Anglican eucharists.

At 7 pm on Tuesday 14 February 2023, the Reverend Bernard Walker, deacon in the Parish of Northwest Christchurch, will be ordained priest. The venue for this ordination will be confirmed in the new year. At 7 pm on Thursday 23 February, Steve Dunne (Ministry Team Leader in the Parish of Woodend-Pegasus) will be ordained deacon in the Transitional Cathedral.

It was a lovely and a new experience on Sunday afternoon for Teresa and me to participate in a service of the Victory Christian Church which meets every Sunday at 2 pm in the St Peter’s Church Hall, Upper Riccarton. This Chinese church, led by Pastors Albert Tang and Stephen Yong, are engaging in a shared journey of exploration about deeper partnership with the Parish of Upper Riccarton-Yaldhurst, led by Archdeacon Nick Mountfort. It was my privilege to preach in English with a Chinese interpreter. It is very exciting to imagine where God may be leading this particular ecumenical journey.

A very big thank you to all ministry units which have responded with details about Christmas services. The list can be found on the Diocesan web page. I hope this will be of use to readers here and to our family and friends if travelling in our Diocese, away from our usual place of worship.

Work on the 2023 Theology House Lenten Study book is well advanced. I have seen early drafts of the chapters of A Holy Church. Theology House has produced this study at the request of the Diocese to support our journey towards a meaningful response to the work of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission.  The subtitle Becoming the communities we are called to be neatly summarises the goal of this publication.  I encourage all ministry units to take up the challenge of this study for Lent.  Self-examination can be uncomfortable, but it is essential if we are to learn and grow. NB Ash Wednesday in 2023 is 22 February. Orders for A Holy Church can be made via the Theology House website.

Tomorrow, at 1.30 pm, the funeral for John Moyle will take place in St. Michael’s church. John was a well-known parishioner of the Parishes of St Michael’s and All Angels and of Akaroa-Banks Peninsula. If visiting the Anglican Centre around that time, parking may not be available in the usual way.

In ever changing contexts for the mission of God, the future (and past) of theological education and ministry formation is also always changing. I commend a thoughtful analysis by Andrew McGowan who writes in the Reflections journal of the Yale Divinity School.

For those who missed the conversation a few weeks ago about the Lambeth Conference, hosted by the Anglican Women’s Study Centre, and featuring Bishop Denise Ferguson, the Reverend Jacynthia Murphy and Mrs Teresa Kundycki-Carrell, the recording is still available from the Anglican Women’s Studies Centre. The next “Virtual Theology Chat”, at 7 pm tomorrow evening, 8 December, features another woman from our Diocese, Bridie Marsden-Boyd.  Details of the Zoom meeting can be found here.

This Sunday 11 December 2022, Advent 3, the gospel is Matthew 11:2-11. We are still with John the Baptist. John, in prison, having proclaimed the coming of the Messiah now wonders if Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus replies, in effect, “Yes, I am. Doubt no longer.” The Messiah who has come into the world, Jesus, is God’s anointed but the anointed work he is doing is just a little bit different to expectations that had developed in ancient Israel.