I am writing to you from Nelson where General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui is being held this week. Pray for our Diocesan team: myself, the Reverends Toby Behan and Lucy Flatt, our lay representatives Byron Behm, Vivienne Jackson, Ciru Mariuki, Sue Robb, and our Diocesan Manager, Edwin Boyce.
Yesterday we began with a powhiri, Presidential Address (collaboratively led by Archbishops Philip Richardson and Don Tamihere, with contributions from several others) and Opening Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, Nelson (with Archbishop Don Tamihere preaching). We are blessed to have as observers Archbishop Philip Freier (Melbourne) and the Reverend Andrew Doubleday (President of the Methodist Church of NZ, and minister of Opawa Community Church in Christchurch).
Today most of our meeting will be a wānanga (learning together) focused on teaching about mātauranga (knowledge/worldview). Our purpose is to explore “mātauranga Mihinare”, asking what knowledge, understanding and insights shared across our Three Tikanga, each with distinctive contributions to mātauranga, enables us to be the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia in 2022, and in the coming decades, as our world continually changes. Tonight, tomorrow and Friday we work our way through the usual reports, bills and motions of any synod. You can keep up to date with reports on proceedings via Anglican Taonga. (Our Twitter hashtag is #THWGS22).
The Leading Your Church into Growth (LYCiG) Conference at St Christopher’s Church, Avonhead last week was brilliant. Everyone present, from 33 of our own parishes, and from parishes in the Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin dioceses, has returned to their home mission with insights, wisdom and action points. One action point strongly recommended for consideration is that the knowledge and training in the seven-part LYCiG course is taught in every parish. Archdeacon Rhiannon King (Ipswich) and the Reverend Harry Steele (Sheffield) were lively, engaging presenters. Two parishes, Opawa-St. Martins and St Michael’s and All Angels were able to benefit from their preaching on Sunday morning. Thank you, Rhiannon and Harry, for ministering in our Diocese. And, a big thank you to Archdeacon Mark Chamberlain and all who enabled the conference to take place.
It was a delight this weekend past for me and Teresa to be present in the Co-operating Parish of Mackenzie, leading services at St. Stephen’s, Fairlie and the Church of the Good Shepherd, Tekapo. With the sun shining and snow still on the tops of nearby mountains, we were much blessed.
It was noticeable, incidentally, at the second service that tourists are beginning to return to this special part of our Diocese. We also learned in conversation (as many of us are learning as we travel around NZ) that there is a significant shortage of hospitality staff for cafes, restaurants, hotels and motels. Even here in Nelson, our General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui timetable is affected by staff shortages here at the Rutherford Hotel.
Last week I mentioned a visit to Christ Church, Oxford by a small group from our Cathedral Choir. This week I am delighted to report that the Cathedral Choir joined with six of our seven NZ cathedral choirs at a festival in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, held over Labour Weekend. Saturday evening’s concert included a massed choir (105 singers) at the beginning and end of the programme, with individual choirs singing two or three items each. Both Sunday services featured contributions sung by the massed choir.
This Sunday 30 October 2022 may be celebrated as All Saints Day (1 November: Luke 6:20-31) or Ordinary Sunday 31 (Luke 19:1-10). In some parishes there likely will be reference to All Souls Day (2 November). And, I note, our lectionary says that “Holy Women of the New Testament” (30 October) is set aside this year. Our focus may be on remembering those who have died and gone before us to share in the eternal life of God with all the saints. It may be on what it means to be a saint here and now. It may be on the extraordinary and life changing encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus. If we hold both gospel readings together, Jesus challenges us to be rich through the blessings of God and wary of supposing that a blessed life is achievable through the accumulation of wealth.