Dear Friends,
At a 150th anniversary celebration event at the Christchurch Museum on Thursday night I enjoyed hearing Mayor Lianne Dalziel remind those present of the architectural aspiration for the Museum and the Cathedral in the Square for the two buildings “to speak to one another.” If you are in the Square these days, you will see that work on stabilization of the Cathedral progressing well. On Wednesday 21 October we are briefing members of Synod on the Concept Design and Costs. The next day, Thursday 22 October we will make a public announcement about the Concept Design and Costs to the community at large. We will circulate web details of the Design and Costs to the Diocese in a Special eLife the same day.

Jennifer Somervell, wife of Ken Fletcher, Synod member for the Parish of Oxford-Cust, has written A Baa-rilliant Adventure, illustrated by Zerika van Jaarsveld and published by Landing Lights Press. Teresa and I were able to be at a very well attended book launch in Oxford on Saturday. The book tells the story of the shepherds at the Nativity at Bethlehem from the perspective of the sheep (Rumbly, Tumbly and Woolly!).

The second half of the book (written by Ken himself) provides a very helpful compendium of information about life in the ancient Middle East.  Orders can be made via 

We were at St David’s, Belfast in the Parish of North-West Christchurch with a full congregation on Sunday morning for the re-dedication of this beautiful Hurst Seagar “board and batten” church. The re-dedication took place after extensive restorative work has been completed, replete with new lighting and heating, new communion rails and, a lovely story, a returned font which 75 years ago had been given by the Belfast Parish to the Fendalton Parish for use in St Thomas’ Church.

Following the service the Parish of North-West Christchurch agreed at an SGM to gift a tithe of the proceeds from the recent sale of St John’s Church and Hall, Bishopdale, designating $37,500 for the development of mission and ministry in Rolleston and $37,500 for their neighbouring Parish of Bryndwr—towards improvements including a new kitchen at St Aidan’s Church and Hall, which work will be undertaken alongside earthquake repairs. This is a matter for much thanksgiving—thank you Parish of North West Christchurch! It also charts a potential model for all ministry units in our Diocese when funds are found through sales or received through gifts and bequests: that we might share our blessings with others.

Bishop Jim White, formerly Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Auckland, died last week after a long and courageous fight with illness. A private family funeral service was held on Monday. A public Requiem Eucharist is being held in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland this Friday. Please pray for his wife Jane and their family as they grieve for his loss, and also for the Auckland Diocesan family where Jim was a well-known and much loved clerical leader for over 30 years. It was my personal privilege to have first met Jim when he and I were theological students at Knox Theological Hall in the mid 1980s.

This week I am attending a House of Bishops’ Meeting in Wellington—our first physical meeting together this year!

Next Wednesday 14 October at 6.30pm, the Transitional Cathedral in collaboration with Theology House will host a seminar, panel discussion and Q&A on the topic of climate change with an Antarctic focus: For the Beauty of the Earth: Learning from Antarctica to Protect our Natural World. The event is part of the Days of Ice celebration of Christchurch’s unique connection with Antarctica.

We are now able to cast our votes in the General Election and for the two referenda questions. While I have been unabashed about offering views on the referenda questions, I will never offer a steer on whom to vote for in a General Election. I have, however, always recommended that we do cast our votes—democracy is a privilege for voters (measured against all political systems through history) and a fragile bloom in danger of being shrivelled if not laid waste (see various developments in democracies elsewhere today). Please vote.

As for my own political allegiance, I was reminded, driving home from Oxford on Saturday via the Waimakariri Gorge bridge, that I would love to vote for the party that would commit to changing all one lane bridges on popular roads to two lanes (or more). Sadly, no such party yet exists!

The devastating fire at the weekend, destroying dozens of homes at Lake Ohau (within the area of our Diocese, in the Co-operating Parish of Pukaki), is a further reminder of always urgent and serious questions about how we envisage our future being both governed and managed in respect of social and economic life in a climatically changing world. To vote is both a privilege and a responsibility, not only for our generation but also for the generations to come.

The Epistle this Sunday is Philippians 4:1-9. There is a sermon in every verse of this passage, from being of the “same mind in the Lord” (1) through to continuing to do the things we have learned and received from Paul (9). But, perhaps, in this particular year of global and local trials and tribulations, we might both reflect on and act on Paul’s injunction in verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”