Dear Friends,
Today is the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the first settlers for the Church of England settlement in the province named Canterbury and the town which would become Christchurch city. It is also Beethoven’s birthday. To celebrate this special day, Teresa and I are attending a special Beethoven concert at Lansdowne in company with a number of Cantabrians drawn from the five pillars of Canterbury’s Anglican founding: the spiritual, the educational, the social, the political and the philanthropic. Attending alongside several Anglicans will be representatives of the Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Salvation Army and Pentecostal churches as well as a representative of the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation.

Last Friday afternoon, Teresa and I had the privilege of joining with leaders and staff from Anglican Care, the Christchurch Methodist Mission, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Wai Pounamu and various community groups for the opening by the Right Honourable Poto Williams of fifteen community houses on the site of the former Churchill Courts in Shirley. With Methodist organisation under the leadership of Executive Director Jill Hawkey, government funding and Anglican land, many hands have made a contribution to solving one of our country’s most urgent needs—to provide good houses for people to make into homes. [Please see images later in this newsletter.]

On Saturday afternoon we were in Akaroa for the Induction of the Reverend Edrick Corban-Banks as Vicar of the Combined Presbyterian and Anglican Parish of Akaroa Banks Peninsula. Welcome to the Diocese of Christchurch, Edrick! We look forward to the arrival—delayed due to Covid travel restrictions—of Clare your wife and Zoe your daughter. I am very glad that the joint nature of the parish was symbolised through our preacher at the Induction being the Reverend David Coster, who is responsible for Presbyterian liaison with the parish, and by the presence of the Reverend Martin Stewart, the new Executive Officer of the Alpine Presbytery. [See images later in this newsletter.]

It was good to be with God’s people in All Souls, Merivale-St Albans on Sunday morning. Something carefully and empathetically acknowledged that morning to worshippers present who formerly worshipped in St Matthew’s St Albans is that St Matthew’s Church and Hall is currently being demolished by its owners.

On Friday evening I was informed of the death of Eileen Whaitiri, a parishioner of the Parish of the Chatham Islands who gave many years of service to the parish in a variety of roles. I am very glad that at short notice Archdeacon Susan Baldwin has been able to fly to Wharekauri in order to lead the funeral service for Eileen.

Last week I spent three days in Auckland at hearings of The Royal Commission on Abuse in Care with the focus being on survivors telling their experiences of abuse with reference to the Anglican Church. There was much to take in, much to weep over and much to learn.

Over the past thirty years our Diocese and our national church has learned many lessons about abuse, harassment, boundary violations and other misconduct in ministry. We are still learning. Some of that learning was reflected in changes we made to Title D (our canon on ministry standards) in 2000. Further learning is represented in changes made to Title D at General Synod this year (2020). I fully support the work done in our Diocese since revelations of sexual abuse and harassment came to the fore in the late 1980s. As a consequence of those revelations, members of our Diocese in the early 1990s, commissioned by our Synod, set in motion the development of our Diocesan Monitoring Committee and the establishment of the position of Diocesan Monitor. The Monitor’s position has, for the last 25 years, provided a pathway for complaints where the Bishop of Christchurch hands over complaints to the Monitor for independent investigation and recommendations. This system has worked very well for us. Here I want to publicly thank those who worked so diligently to set this process up and to thank those who have continued via the Committee and the Monitor’s role itself to work carefully, sensitively and justly in these critical roles.

I can report that good progress is being made on the new 2020 Title D implementation. It is expected that the new national process for receiving complaints will be completed in Feb 2021 and we will be able to inform all parts of the Diocese of the new process then.

There have been many lovely “end of year” occasions for Teresa and I to attend, and there are a few more to come before Christmas Day itself. The most recent such occasion was last night when we shared in an end of year celebration with Christchurch and Rangiora Anglican Youth Workers. We enjoyed a swim at He Puna Taimoana (the hot-pools at New Brighton) and a burger meal afterwards at a nearby café—thank you Sammy Mould for your organisation of this.

I came across a lovely article-come-obituary by Archbishop Rowan Williams on Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. In the article Rowan Williams writes out of their shared experiences of leading religious communities, “You can love a community with all your heart, and yet desperately need somewhere to admit that it is driving you mad.” That may strike a chord with us as we reflect on our life together in Christ!

This will be the final e-Life for 2020—thank you for reading! A very big thank you to Jo Bean, Scott Walters and Veronica Cross who help put our weekly newsletter together. The next e-Life will be on Wednesday 20 January 2021.

With very best wishes to you all for a joyful Christmas and a peaceful New Year,