I took this photo on my phone.Can't remember when or where. Just found it now, and I quite like it.
I spent all day Friday on planes and in airports. Saturday I slept in. Sunday I went to Balclutha to preside at the induction of Griff Moses as the new vicar, and I was grateful that the service was late in the day as I felt so tired. Today, my day off I went for a long walk and began to renovate our bathroom. Pulling wallpaper off walls is a good thing to do when there is inner stuff to process.
I took part in a couple of the synod debates, other than the one on the Ma Whea report, of course. I was, for instance, quite shocked when Carole Hughes presented a table showing the low number of women in leadership in our church at a national level. We have few women members of our key committees and almost no women chairs of those committees.I think there is more to this than just telling the boys to step aside and let the girls have a go; I think there are issues of structure and culture which are very difficult to identify and address, but of course they need to be i & a.
Late on the last day we had a debate which went nowhere and yet was perhaps the most important matter that came before us. Bishop Api Qilio spoke at length about the effect of global warming on his diocese, Polynesia. People's homes, and in fact the very land those homes are built on are under threat. And the threat isn't in 10 or 20 years time, it is happening now. The way we deal with important social issues in synods is to leave them all til the last day, have a hurried discussion and pass a meaningless resolution or two, which is pretty much what we did with this one. There has simply got to be a better way.
The personal effect on me of being with Ngapuhi for a week, and of visiting Oihi and Waitangi have been far more profound than I expected. Living in the South I sometimes forget the power and beauty of Maoritanga, but I couldn't do that in Tai Tokerau. Neither could I ignore the basis of our nation in partnership. I am glad that our pre General Synod IDC meeting is going to be replaced next time by a meeting between tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pakeha. Very glad indeed.
The Ma Whea discussion still sits with me. Few people, judging by the comments on here and other places, recognise the enormity of the task the church has set for itself or the potentially radical nature of the changes we have committed ourselves to. Having been part of the decision I feel committed to doing all in my power to bring them about, but it's not the decision which sits with me most. It is the way the decision was made. Sometimes in a very good liturgy there is a time when the church seems especially united; especially open to and flowing with the Spirit of God. In Church this happens for a period of minutes, or even maybe an hour or so. At General Synod /Te Hinot Whanui 2014 it happened for 8, 10 or 12 hours a day and for three days straight. General Synod was, and I can scarcely believe that I am saying this, one of the highlights of my Christian walk so far. In large part I think the special flow of the synod was about being at Waitangi. In part it was about being continually under-girded by prayer: the unselfconscious movement into karanga and himene, which was the particular gift of Ngapuhi to us all, formed a sort of basket which held us all. Mostly though it was because we stumbled into, or maybe were led into, a better way of dealing with difference. Instead of slugging it out to try and prove ourselves right we agreed on the imperative of a unity which doesn't require uniformity and we set about seeking a way to remain together while recognising the integrity of each others differences. We've mapped out a way in which this can happen. All we have to do now is make it happen.
I came home realising how deeply Anglican ways of doing things run in me, and how glad I am of that. There are other things happening for me right now, which I won't bore you with, but I am grateful to have been in Waitangi, I'm grateful to be in Dunedin and I'm happily anticipating all that lies ahead.