Dear Friends,

The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle has been huge, with loss of life, devastation of homes, farms, orchards, roads, bridges, and many associated buildings—all well documented by the media. With an Anglican lens on the devastation, I note significant impact on Hukarere Girls College, an Anglican Māori boarding school in Esk Valley, Hawkes Bay, as well as damage to the Eskdale War Memorial Church (an interdenominational church). Click here to see a video of the damage (with grace, please excuse the swearing). Along with many initiatives from government, iwi, and other groups and associations, an impressive Anglican church response has swung into action through the past week. In the next paragraphs I give some details, including where we can contribute as individuals or as ministry units to an Anglican appeal for funds.

Hāpaitia | The Anglican Cyclone Gabrielle Response Group—The Anglican Church has launched a Cyclone Gabrielle Emergency Appeal, hosted by Anglican Missions to support communities most affected by this week’s disaster. Visit Anglican Missions to donate to the Cyclone Gabrielle Appeal. (Note that these donations will be receipted and are eligible for tax rebates).

A Cyclone Response Hub is now in operation at Anglican Missions and is ready to receive all offers or suggestions that you are fielding for material or practical support for our most affected communities. This coordination effort has been set up at the request of people working in two of our worst affected areas and is resourced by a full-time role. Parishes and schools are asked firstly to support the Cyclone Gabrielle Appeal and, secondarily, to direct any offers of material or skills-based help to The staff at the Cyclone hub will receive, log and offers of support and match them with requests from people on the ground.

Andrew Shepherd, an Otago University theologian makes some salient reflections on the apocalyptic character of the cyclone with respect to our possible response to it: Read it here.

After the 2010/2011 earthquakes, the Diocese of Christchurch received substantial help from other parts of our church. I urge readers to give generously to the Cyclone Gabrielle Appeal.

On Sunday morning, in St Nicholas’ Barrington St, it was wonderful to be able to confirm Ivoni, a young woman who is a member of the Parish of South Christchurch. There was a lovely morning tea to follow and I thank the Reverend Jeff Cotton, Vicar, and his team for their organisation of the service and hospitality which followed. [See a photo later in this e-Life.] On Sunday evening it was a privilege to preach at Evensong in the Christ’s College Chapel, the particular occasion for which were a series of Old Boys Reunions which occurred during the weekend—thank you to Chaplain Cameron Pickering for the invitation.

Today is Ash Wednesday. It has been good to see on Facebook many of our parishes advertising services to be held in the course of today. This morning I was delighted to participate in services at three Anglican schools, The Cathedral Grammar School, Christ’s College and St Margaret’s College. This evening I will be at our annual Ecumenical Liturgy with Imposition of Ashes at 5:30pm at the Transitional Cathedral. The preacher will be Bishop Michael Gielen of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch.

Tomorrow, Thursday, 23 February, also in the Transitional Cathedral, all are welcome at 7pm for the ordination to the diaconate of Mr Steven Dunne (Ministry Team Leader, Parish of Woodend-Pegasus). The preacher will be the Reverend Graeme Pratley (who has been assisting the Parish of Woodend-Pegasus with priestly ministry, leadership and mentoring for several years). Clergy are encouraged to robe with alb and red stoles.

Next week, at 7pm, Tuesday 28 February, the Reverend Jordan Greatbatch will be inducted as the Vicar of Christchurch– St Michael and All Angels (in St Michael’s church, Oxford Terrace). All are welcome and clergy are encouraged to robe with red stoles.

You may have noticed some media reports of a sharp response from that part of the Anglican Communion known as the Global South to news from the Church of England that people in a same-sex partnership may be prayed for in English churches. The sharpest part of the response is this declaration: “The GSFA is no longer able to recognise the present Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Hon & Most Revd Justin Welby, as the “first among equals” Leader of the global Communion.” An important Anglican Communion response has been made by the Secretary-General, Bishop Anthony Poggo. Read it here. When we walk together as Anglicans with so many differences between us, it is a significant question why on this matter that ability to walk together with differences is faltering for some.

I have received notice of deaths of two clergy: The Reverend Leicester Roberts died in Ashburton in January, 2023. This month, the Reverend Mary Lloyd Shallcrass has died in Wellington. Her funeral was on Tuesday. I acknowledge with gratitude the service of both Leicester and Mary Lloyd in our Diocese.

In a few weeks’ time Aldersgate, Durham Street, Christchurch will host the Awaken Maranga Mai 2023 Conference (17-19 March). This conference is the only national gathering for rainbow people of faith, and their friends and allies in the church. More information and a link to conference registration is available here.

Something that has caught my eye recently has been the unfolding story of a movement of God—some are calling it “revival”—taking place at Asbury University in Kentucky, USA. What began as an hour of chapel worship has continued since then as students and others continue to gather for prayer, praise and proclamation. You can read more here.

With Ash Wednesday we begin our annual season of Lent—a season which resonates with themes of penitence, reflection, self-discipline including fasting, alms giving, focused Bible study, and pilgrimage with Jesus to the foot of the cross and then, in the silent expectation of Holy Saturday, to the triumph of resurrection. So, this Sunday 26 February 2023, Lent 1, the gospel is Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus is sorely tempted in a “time of trial”: to whom will he owe allegiance? God or the devil? His consistent choice, backed by the Word of God, is to resist temptation and to choose God. What trials are we going through? What temptations do we face? Whom will we choose to serve?

Finally, this morning I set before students in the schools the following possibility for fasting this Lent: turning off social media each Wednesday. I am going to do this. Will you join me? (I make one exception, for our e-Life staff, Scott and Jo to post e-Life on Facebook each Wednesday!)