Message from the Bishop
While out and about on household chores on Saturday morning I flicked the radio on, to find myself in the middle of a fascinating interview by Kim Hill with Australian author Christos Tsiolkas about his fictionalised story of Paul in his novel Damascus (recording here): “The subject matter for his sixth and latest novel Damascus couldn’t have got much more ambitious; it’s an excursion into historical fiction tracing the formation of the Christian church using the writings of St Paul as its source text.”
The intriguing gist of the interview was that Tsiolkas, having been something of a fundamentalist Christian as a teenager (and then a fundamentalist socialist) now sees the importance of the Christian ethic and subscribes to it, but does not describe himself as a Christian.
The disturbing thing is that, having returned from the hardware store to my car, my resumption of the radio was in time to hear Kim Hill read out some comments sent in by listeners, most of which were aggressively anti-Christian. There was a fierce antagonism against Christianity in these comments which anticipated the aggression of a certain rugby team against the AB’s on Saturday night. I take this snapshot as a sign of the rapidly changing environment here in NZ in which the gospel is to be proclaimed.
There are ways in which the church has brought some of this problem on ourselves: vulnerable people have been abused by persons in positions of authority and care in the life of the church, including in our life as the Anglican church in these islands.
You will be aware that the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care (www.abuseincare.org.nz) is up and running (its first hearings were yesterday, 29 October 2019). The purpose of the Commission, as found on its website is this: “The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care is looking into what happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults in care between 1950 and 1999.” The focus of the Commission is on ‘Abuse in Care’ with reference to:
- state-run institutions
- faith-based institutions.
The extent of (2) includes our care of children, young people and vulnerable adults in our churches, schools, orphanages, elder care homes, and other ministries governed and managed by Anglican Social Services/Anglican Care.
The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, including the Diocese of Christchurch, is committed to engaging with the Commission and its work, and will do all in its power to assist the Commission fulfilling its purposes. Accordingly, the Diocese of Christchurch encourages submissions to be made to the Commission by survivors of abuse in its care and advertises the following contact details for communicating with the Commission:
|Phone: 0800 222 727 Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm (NZT)
[Calling from Australia? 1800 875 745]
Mail: Royal Commission of Inquiry
PO Box 10071
The above Inquiry notice will be on our website, and in parish newsletters over the next three weeks.
Other notices for this week are:
At 10.30 am this Friday 1 November 2019 I will deconsecrate St John’s Church, Bishopdale. The final service at St Anne’s, St Martin’s is at 10 am Sunday 3 November 2019 and I will de-consecrate the church at the conclusion of the service. All are welcome to these services, especially those with past associations with these churches.
Please pray for three new deacons who will be ordained at 1 pm Saturday 30 November 2019 in the Transitional Cathedral: Mary-Jo Holdaway (St John’s College), Stephen Murray (Parish of Ashburton) and Cameron Pickering (St John’s College).
Finally, this week, in good news to celebrate in the Diocese, I congratulate Bridie Boyd (Merivale-St Albans) who will represent young women in our church as one of the Anglican Communion’s delegation of eight at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She will travel to New York for two weeks of meetings in March 2020. Bridie was nominated by the Anglican Women’s Study Centre of our church.