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Showing posts from June, 2012

Walking Meditation

It was a day off today and I went for a walk to St. Clair and back, along an almost deserted St. Kilda Beach under a clear blue mid winter sky. In all, I walked about 15 km. This was a step (sorry) in my preparation for the Camino Santiago, which Clemency and I will return to complete in September. The preparation wasn't just about getting fit enough to walk the remaining 400 km. It was also about getting ready for a shift in my prayer life. My daily routine is Centering Prayer, which involves parking myself in a corner for periods, keeping still and not saying much. I use a special little wooden stool to sit on and wear an old woollen cloak because sit still for long enough and you will get a bit cold. I do, anyway. The Camino poses a few problems to the way I am accustomed to do things. I want to keep my pack well under 10 kg for one thing, and a stool, let alone a large woollen cloak will upset that a bit. For another, I will be sleeping most nights in alberges which are no

On The Road

Last week was an extraordinary one. It ended brilliantly, with an invigorating, inspiring, intelligent discussion with the Archdeaconry of Southland, before a slow trip up SHW1 with a ton of English fiberglass bouncing along behind me. Then, on Sunday, it was icing on the cake, with the slightly anarchic bonhomie of Port Chalmers in the morning and St. Matthews in the evening. I attended the 5:30 service in St. Matt's hall where some of the people not often see in Anglican churches gather for a meal, prayer and a gospel message. I was a stranger and probably a little too well dressed, so I was warily avoided until some of the folk from Friday Light recognized me, and by speaking to me let the others know I was safe. Afterwards it was into the church for the ordination of David Booth to the diaconate. The service was somewhat different than the last ordination, the 2 hours of glorious pageantry when James Harding was priested in the Cathedral a few weeks ago, but no less moving and

Return to Taranaki

It's funny how these things work out. We had planned a diocesan field trip to Taranaki back in November sometime, but had changed the date a couple of times. Then when we finally got on the plane it was three days after I had written to my diocese telling them that things were looking a bit shaky. With the prospect of unavoidable change before us, the timing couldn't have been better. Seven of us from the Diocese of Dunedin flew up on the Thursday before Queen's Birthday weekend, returning the following Tuesday. We were hosted with astonishing and humbling generosity by people within the bishopric. The local Ford dealer supplied very comfortable cars for us, and we visited several  parishes  and met most of the leaders of the Anglican church in that part of the world. People gave of their time and energy on what was supposed to be a holiday weekend and gave unstintingly of their hard won knowledge. The purpose for going North was to see at first hand the pattern of r

So Why a Caravan?

Caravan blessing in the carpark of Holy Trinity Invercargill. 3 deg C. Raining. Everyone is doing well to look so cheerful. Photo courtesy Keith Gover. It's -2 outside and foggy and I'm ensconced in the driveway of Holy Trinity Gore. I've just had breakfast and checked my email but more importantly I have earlier spent 40 min inside the church in silent prayer. And now, with the heater humming beside me and the kettle singing on the gas hob, The idea that came through intuition and feeling - getting a caravan - is making the journey into my cerebellum. I have had a wonderful few days. I've had god ( I meant to say "good" but my computer, in this instance knows better than I do) conversations with people in five parishes. I've sat in silence in three churches. I've slept In a car park and a driveway and been astonishingly warm and comfortable. Most importantly, I've been present, and been SEEN to be present. This is a bigger caravan than I i


Yesterday I bought a caravan. Bishop Alan Pyatt used to have one, a moveable home base for he and Molly as they journeyed around the Diocese of Christchurch back in the 70s, doing the work of Christendom. Now at the end of Christendom, I have had, for as long as I have been bishop, the sneaking suspicion that I should have one too. I wanted to be able to be anywhere in my very rural Diocese to stay, and to talk, but mostly to listen. So yesterday was the day. I have never had much to do with caravans; well apart from a heavy old trailer thing we used to own, with a floor that dropped down and suspension made from, and I am not making this up, used inner tubes. It was made of plywood and angle iron and weighed more than the Queen Mary, and yes that is an exaggeration but only a little one. So not knowing much, I googled and looked around. New Zealand caravans are old fashioned, heavy and expensive. Australian ones are funky, heavy and very expensive. Imported English ones are light

A Continuing Journey

On Saturday it was cold (again) but that didn't stop 32 of us making the next leg of our diocesan pilgrimage. This time it was a shortish trip from Dunedin up the coast to the places where it all started for us. We went to Waikouaiti where, in 1858, Johnny Jones - whaler, entrepreneur and benefactor of just about every Christian denomination he could think of - built the oldest extant church in our diocese. St. Johns is an extraordinarily peaceful and beautiful old building, set in it's churchyard by the lagoon shaded by its elderly trees. It is one of our great treasures, as are the other places we visited on this compact Otago Coastline. From Waikouaiti it was a ten minute backtrack to Karitane where we were welcomed onto the Puketeraki Marae, before walking up the hill to Hui te Rangiora church. The little wooden chapel is perhaps not as picturesque as St. John's but the view from the church porch is stunning. Below the church is the marae with its ingen

Ethics in the Presence of Christ

Chris Holmes is Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of Otago, and I have been privileged to read his latest book, Ethics in the Presence of Christ .It is a short book (164 pages including index and footnotes) but packs quite a punch. I have found it challenging, informative and not a little stretching. Before I proceed to tell you why it has been so C,I & nal S, let me get its one shortcoming out of the road. Chris is an academic. He has a quick mind, and thinks clearly and deeply. He is very, very well informed. These attributes, so welcome in his professional life and in conversation, do not always make for a writing style that flows easily; to read it requires attention, but  because its thesis is so profound, it is attention well worth giving. The book begins with an introductory chapter setting out the pattern and acknowledging the major sourcesof what is to follow. The basis of the book is a powerfully and clearly stated Trinitarianism. The author argues aga


Since I posted the letter below the reaction from my diocese has been calm, commited and even on occasion, enthusiastic. One of our more senior priests wrote to me, jubilant that at last someone had admitted that the emperor has no clothes. For my own part, I feel stangely energised. There is a huge task to be done and it is actually quite exciting. Since writing, things have moved on apace, and the way ahead seems to be emerging slowly but remarkably clearly, like a photograph in a developing tray. we're a long way from flipping the picture into the fixing dish, but there are some distinct lines and lights and shadows and the picture looks pretty good at this stage. Just this week several of us from the diocese made a long planned fact finding trip to the Bishopric of Taranaki. I will write in more detailo of that expedition later, but the timing and the things we observed in the North have been providential. On arriving home I was visited by Mike Hawke, with whom I have been

A Letter to my Diocese

The following is a letter I sent about two weeks ago: To All Ministry Units and Clergy. Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ; I am writing to inform you of the grave situation in which our Diocese finds itself. The Bad News At our Diocesan Council meeting on Friday May 25 it was my sad duty to appraise the council of a fact which many of us have known for a while; namely that the Diocese of Dunedin in its present form is unsustainable. For many years the Diocese has been in decline on any parameter that could be named: most significantly, attendances, numbers of families served and the real level of giving have all been steadily dropping over the years to the point where several of our parishes are on the very edge of ceasing to exist altogether. In recent years the worldwide economic downturn has meant a drop in the investment income which might otherwise have sustained us. The lack of parish income has been reflected in an increasing inability of many parishe