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Showing posts from November, 2010

Holy Name

For a good bit of this week I have been attending a conference for bishops (Anglican and Roman Catholic) at St. Margaret's College in Dunedin. It was my first attendance at such an event, and it far exceeded all my expectations, which I suppose doesn't really say much as I didn't know what to expect. Peter Norris, the warden of St. Margarets made a spectacular job of organising and running things. The venue was very comfortable, the food superb and the speakers challenging and entertaining. The company was very congenial and I particularly enoyed meeting, and getting to know the Catholics. For several of the sessions, we were addressed by John Battle, cabinet minister in the Blair goverment who spoke largely about interfaith issues. He was enormously erudite, informed, innovative and rip roaringly funny. We had professor Harlene Hayne of Otago university, talking about the development of the adolescent brain, and the implications for things such as alcohol law reform. I

Brockville Community Church

The Joint Regional Committee is not my favourite institution. JRC is the body which administers co-operative ventures , which is the New Zealand term for interdemoninational churches. I have served in two such churches and have consequently attended many JRC meetings, which all seem to suffer from the same malaise: they take the most sluggish, bureaucratic bits of each of the participating denominations, mix 'em up and make a whole new brew whose complexity and turgidity is positively Byzantine. So you might imagine that I was not looking forward to last night which was my first attendance at a JRC as Bishop. I wasn't. But I was pleasantly surprised. Very pleasantly surprised in fact. The purpose of the meeting was to receive a review of the Brockville Community Church, which is the small ecumenical church set in a suburb high on a hill on the outskirts of Dunedin. The church building is unprepossessing, to say the least. The people work in the sorts of places where at the en

Wasting Time

In a previous life, when I was Vicar of Sumner in the Diocese of Christchurch, I went to an excellent ministry school at which somebody or other spoke about time management. At the time I was having problems fitting the required amount of activities into the requisite number of hours, so I paid close attention and did what the speaker suggested. I began keeping a log of how I spent my time, making notes every 15 minutes or so during the day recording as honestly as I could where the minutes went and I was horrified. At the end of a couple of weeks the number of hours I had spent doing nothing in particular, sitting, staring vacantly into space was truly astounding. No wonder I couldn't get everything done! Astonishing amounts of precious time were just being frittered away, which was alarming, but easily rectifiable using the useful second step provided by the ministry school. I began to schedule everything, including a 20 minute slot at the start of every day where I made up the s

Ron Mueck

In the half hour I had to wait for the Christchurch Art Gallery to open I went and had breakfast in the Art Centre. I had a bagel and coffee in the foyer leading to the room I used to go for psychology lectures when this set of old earthquake cracked buildings was the University of Canterbury and I was a lost and lonely student. I sat there remembering my time there: perhaps the unhappiest three years of my life, grateful for all the distance travelled since then and for all that had been given me since. Then I crossed the road and walked up the street to enter the exhibition of artworks which affected me more profoundly than any other I have  seen, and I have seen some very old ones with some very famous foreign names written on them. Ron Mueck makes hyper realist sculptures from fibreglass and resin. Almost all of them are of people, rendered in the most meticulous detail. The exhibition appealed to me on so many levels. The works themselves are all quite beautiful; wonderfully pro

The Living Church

It was cloudy and cool when we left Dunedin just before 8 am yesterday and nothing much had changed, weather wise, when we finished the service in Roxburgh about 5 hours later. Not that it mattered. The little church of St James had been full and buzzing with life, a testament to the new energy and purpose accruing to the parish since Petra Barber joined the team a few months ago. Then after the usual parish lunch we headed for Wanaka and a mile out of town the climate changed: not just the weather, the climate. Get over the first hill out of Roxburgh and you are into that clear, strong Central Otago light with the tussock and the schist and the inky blue skies and the lazy summer heat. We arrived in Wanaka with plenty of time to spare, checked with Denis Bartley, the vicar, on arrangements for the confirmation that was to follow at 5 pm and went to St. Columba's. It was dry and hot in the church, certainly not the weather for a cope and mitre but why drag all that drag all thi

Day Off

This weekend was like most of my weekends. Busy. Clemency and I were on the road before 8 am on Saturday, opened some new flats at the Parata home in Gore, spoke at a Dinner in Gladstone, took part in a service on Sunday morning and then drove back to a service and dinner at All Saints Dunedin. In between events, time was filled by pastoral visits and by driving. I got home a little after 10 pm on Sunday, fell into bed and didn't wake until nearly 9 am which was the first great thing about today. The second was Paul Dyer ringing soon after I woke up to see if I wanted to go sailing. The sky was blue, the breeze was steady and the sea was calm. Did I want to go sailing? Is the Pope a conservative German? There is something meditative about sailing. There is the whole ritual of preparing the boat and then launching it, and at the end of the day, the ritual of taking it from the water and washing and derigging it. In between is a journey that is, essentially, pointless: we sailed u