Message from the Bishop
It was sobering yesterday to learn of two new COVID-19 cases. If we move beyond the question “How could this botched exemption occur?” we should note to ourselves as church that our preparations and processes for Levels 4, 3 and 2 may all too quickly need to be reinstated as our borders slowly but surely open up over the next months and years.
Many things are being written and spoken in these days of global restlessness in respect of the pandemic, protests against racism, and revision of our histories. Here are two links sent to me.
First, a searching reflection by Richard Horton in The Lancet, on the global, “all of humanity” challenge we face:
Richard Horton writes, “We must say that it is our task to uncover the biographies of those who have lived and died with COVID-19. It is our task to resist the biologicalisation of this disease and instead to insist on a social and political critique of COVID-19. It is our task to understand what this disease means to the lives of those it has afflicted and to use that understanding not only to change our perspective on the world but also to change the world itself.” Click here to read the full article.
Then, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, in the Church of England, gives an address at a Black Lives Matter rally, outside the gates of Canterbury Cathedral. A link to the YouTube video of her speech can be seen here.
Perhaps after this introduction it is appropriate to look ahead to Social Services Sunday, 26 July 2020. The theme this year is “kindness/manaakitanga” . Liturgy materials are available for download here. If you would like a speaker from Anglican Care please contact Executive Officer, Patrick Murray 03-599-9091 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Previously I have written about the Royal Commission on Abuse of Vulnerable Persons. For Anglican, Catholic and Salvation Army churches a considerable amount of research is currently taking place in order to meet requests from the Commission for information we have in our files, not only in respect of complaints through the period 1950 to the present but also in respect of how we have dealt with those complaints, what ethical standards we have worked to through this period and what processes and policies have guided our ministry and discipline.
One request from the Royal Commission concerns questions of “redress.” On their behalf we are circulating advertising seeking people who wish to appear before the Commission. The details are on our AnglicanLife website under news and announcements and also visible from the home page: anglicanlife.org.nz. We have circulated details to parishes with a request for advertising to take place in weekly newsletters over the next three Sundays.
I enjoy being kept up to date by John McLister, Vicar of Lyttelton, Lyttelton Port Chaplain and Seafarers’ Missioner. As Lyttelton port offers more scope for connection to ships and their sailors and to trawlers and their fishers, John’s work is becoming busier. However I am glad to read in the latest newsletter of increased paid support for the Mission and also of provision through international funding for a new electric van to assist with meeting welfare needs of seafarers.
House groups in our Diocese are often looking for new material to study. I commend as one possibility a study by Silvia Purdie entitled “Life, the Universe, and God”. This is a 6-part study, designed for either personal or group use, in a simple b&w pdf format. It explores key ideas of eco theology and the importance of Creation in the Christian faith and is available here.
Last night Teresa and I attended a Solemn Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form for Bishop Basil Meeking who was Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, 1987-1996. Bishop Basil died last week at the age of 90, having been ordained for 67 years. The service last night was a fitting tribute to Bishop Basil’s faithful service in the church of God, including his ministry with the Latin Mass Chaplaincy within the Diocese.
Last weekend I was privileged to work with the Bishop’s Advisory Committee on Ordination as we met with candidates for discernment for ministry at our annual Discernment Weekend. In due course we will make public the names of those accepted for training for ordination so that we can pray for them. A very pleasant feature of the weekend was being at Sister Eveleen Retreat House on Scarborough Hill, Sumner. We were well looked after by Edward O’Connor the newly appointed Director of the House. Not only is Edward a welcoming host, he is also a first rate cook—thank you, Edward!
Whenever we discern for ministry we are looking ahead into the future life of the Diocese. Between formal discernment and a person becoming a Vicar, a period of five and a half years may elapse as theological study and training in a curacy take place. As I encourage us all to think “Regeneration” in respect of the life of our Diocese and of each of our ministry units we all could look ahead in respect of leadership across our Diocese. Who might be (e.g.) People’s Warden in 2025 is as important a question as who the Vicar might be. Consequential questions could start with prayer, “Lord, whom should I be praying for?” and lead on to questions about mentoring and training.
Finally, as we continue to dig into the Gospel of Matthew through the Ordinary Sundays in the remainder of the church calendar, this week’s gospel, 10:24-39 is a searching challenge to every disciple of Christ. May we lose our lives for Christ’s sake!