The first of our Pre-Synod meeting is this Friday evening (details elsewhere in e-Life). Over the next few weeks I will mention some of the key issues coming before our Synod. One matter concerns how we proceed with the funding of the Reinstatement of our Cathedral. A motion is being proposed to Synod which will enable greater flexibility than currently permitted by our 2017 resolution, as we proceed through the part-stages of the main building stage, the reinstatement of the Cathedral nave, transepts, crossing, chancel and vestries.
Various Diocesan voices are being heard in different ways through these weeks. The Reverend Jolyon White, Director of Anglican Advocacy, was recently interviewed on RNZ about a project he has led on research into differentials between CEO salary packages and the pay of ordinary workers. The Reverend John McLister’s work with Seafarers at Lyttelton features in the Star (p.19) The Reverend Doctors Carolyn Robertson and Thomas Brauer both spoke to the annual conference of the Religious Education Teachers and Chaplains, held here in Christchurch this week.
It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have the company of Bishop Justin Duckworth (Wellington) for three days this week as he visits with me, attends various meetings and appointments seeking to learn from us. I and others able to meet with him are also learning!
News from or related to the Royal Commission on Abuse continues and I want to ensure that eLife is a forum for transparency and honesty re the dark side of the church’s story. Two news items relating to two priests are noted to you here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/125942691/priest-accused-of-abusing-a-child-had-links-to-two-wellington-schools, https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/125721946/anglican-church-knew-of-abuse-by-carer-but-promoted-him-anyway . With respect to one of these two priests who served in the Diocese of Christchurch, Ray Oppenheim, I continue to encourage anyone who is aware of, or suffered abuse by him (or indeed by anyone else within our Anglican church contexts), to please contact the Royal Commission or our national Registrar.
It’s important that we deal with everything we can at this time, understanding that only light will overcome darkness—now is our opportunity. Bishop Justin spoke well a few days ago when he said, “The Anglican Diocese recognises we haven’t always got it right in the past and we are committed going forward to learning from our past, where possible working for restoration for mistakes, and creating a safer church.”
Through the past week it has been a privilege to preach and preside at St James’, Southbridge and to dedicate two magnificent banners for the church; later that Sunday, at the Transitional Cathedral, to confirm Nathan and Darmen, to pray for Francis as he reaffirmed his faith and to receive him into the Anglican church, and to install the Reverend Brenda Bonnett as a Canon of the Cathedral; and then on Monday to be at St John’s College, Auckland, for the installation of the Reverend Te Hira Paenga as the new Ahorangi (Dean) of Tikanga Maori within the College.
This Friday the consultation period on the proposed “Hate” Speech law closes. The Government’s consultation document is here https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/proposals-against-incitement/ . A helpful paper on the proposal has been authored and published by the NZ Christian Network here https://nzchristiannetwork.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/A-Christian-response-to-suggested-Hate-Speech-laws.pdf . No one wants hateful speech in the public arena or social media and everyone wants to be able to speak freely without fearing prosecution for something which offends but which is not hateful. My own personal view is that existing laws deal with the problem the proposed new law deals with and, with a number of Christian leaders and political leaders, I am concerned that new legislation will inhibit the ability of prophets in society to speak “truth to power.”
The Gospel reading this 19th Ordinary Sunday is John 6:35, 41-51. Somewhat oddly, in my view, there are biblical scholars who propose that this passage (and the next) having nothing to do with the eucharist. It has everything to do with the eucharist, the means by which through bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, believers feed on the living Christ who gives his life for the sake of the world.