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Showing posts from July, 2012

Life and Death

St. Mary's Merivale youth group on a trip to Broken River, 1981. I am standing at left. Beside me is Catherine Fuller. Kneeling, in red striped jacket is Mark McIlroy, later to be her husband. Catherine McIlroy died on Monday. She was 49. When I was first ordained she was a member of the youth group that I ran at St. Mary's Merivale in Christchurch. Well, helped run. Selwyn and Penny Paynter (Penny has the Canterbury colours in the photo above. Selwyn is cuddling up behind her) were a seriously cool couple just a little younger than me and they were the main attraction. I did the Bible studies and drove the kids who wouldn't fit in Selwyn's Capri and kept things sweet with the vestry if something got broken; which wasn't often because they were spectacularly great kids; and none so spectacularly great as Catherine. She was smallish, with dark serious eyes. She played the flute and helped out with music at youth services. She was intelligent and very sensible

On The Road Again

I had a day or two at home, and am writing this from Te Anau. I drove down this morning under a cloudless mid winter sky with the caravan bucking and swaying in a fairly brisk Nor'Wester. By Lumsden the clouds had started to gather, and by Te Anau the rain had set in. I've seen a few people and had dinner with the vestry and a chat about how things are going and what it will all mean for the Fiordland parish. Tomorrow I'm heading for Tuatapere and possibly points further South, then home on Thursday. It's easy to be here, and the opportunity for unrushed talking is invaluable. I'm parked in a fairly prominent and public place, so I'm functioning as as sort of living billboard for the Anglican Church at work in the community; and because I am so visible, I have been able to use the caravan as interview space very successfully today.

Two Cheers for General Synod!

Several years ago I was elected as a clerical member of General Synod. I attended one session, then at our next Diocesan Synod made sure somebody else was nominated. At the time I was mystified at how a meeting of the Church's brightest and best could be so excruciatingly dull, and astounded at how little any of what was discussed had to do with my life and work as a parish priest. Perhaps I have matured; perhaps the church has changed; perhaps both; but on any account I found this General Synod to be vital and engaging.... for the most part. For me, the highlights were these: The discussion on marriage. This was the only opportunity to raise the matter of sexuality which is the elephant in the room of  many of our other discussions, for example the Anglican Covenant.On both sides of the issue people made informed contributions in a respectful and honest way. Some of the contributions were deeply, deeply moving, particularly those from two synod members (one on the "c

Some Photos from Fiji

The Last Day

The last day of our General synod was marked by two related debates, and one historic decision. The first, painful debate concerned Te Aute College . Te Aute is a boy's Anglican boarding school and it is in serious trouble. A series of unfortunate investment decisions, falling rolls, troubles with staff and governance have all contributed to an ongoing crisis. At our last General Synod in 2010 in Gisborne we granted assistance to the school which has now run to almost 3 million dollars. The school has made heroic efforts to change: there is now a board of governors of some of the most notable people in Maoridom. Huge energy has gone into the myriad and complex issues which  discourage so many Maori parents from sending their sons there. Plans are in place for upgrading some of the infrastructure and the board is optimistic that Te Aute can regain much of its former glory, but it will run at a loss for some time yet and Professor Whatarangi Winiata asked us to underwrite a sol

Another Day in General Synod

Traditionally, the host of General Synod takes all the members out to dinner, and last night was the night the Diocese of Polynesia did this for us. We piled into buses and journeyed about 20 minutes to the coast and then boarded a large boat, of the same type that takes people to Stewart Island, only bigger. There were two decks, well three if you count the bathrooms, and tables with comfy chairs. There was a meal of the usual Fijian proportions and a band. There was a smiling and gracious crew. There was excellent company and all this was enjoyed as we tootled slowly around the bay above which the expected Pacific sunset appeared on cue before fading into a warm still night. Dancing and me are not the best of mates but I will if I am forced to and last night I was, in the nicest possible way of course. Actually it was quite fun, but please don't tell anyone I said that. We were back in our buses soon after nine and were bounced back along the Nadi roads in time for a respectabl

Wednesday Morning

The seats we sit in from 8.30 am until 9pm are good for about 45 minutes. After that they encourage getting up and moving about. Thankfully, every hour an a half there is tea and fruit and cake and a chance to stand around, but what with the constant air conditioning and the oversupply of calories I have needed to be disciplined. So it's up at six and a long walk before shower, breakfast and silence, which hasn't left much time for blogging. In the couple of days since I was last here a lot has happened. Apart from all the usual stuff, the memorable debates have been: The Tikanga Toru Youth Commission made their presentation, which was remarkable for containing, for the first time I can remember in an address from a national church youth body, a practicable plan for increasing the profile and presence of young people in the church. The strategy is aimed at those who actually hold gate keeping positions in churches - eg me - and is based around mentoring and permission givi

Eucharist in the Sun

I am not sure how many people were at the Eucharist yesterday morning, but there were several hundred people in their teens and early twenties seated in the aisles and ranged around the back and sides of the congregation. We bishops sat on a pedestal at the front in our layers of red and white 17th century clothing while the Fijian sun beat down on us. The rest of the people, apart from the young people at the sides and back that is, were shaded under the several peaks of a marquee. About half an hour into the service a merciful breeze sprang up and I could see the thunderheads gathering in the sky behind us. I waited for the rain but apart from a few very unenthusiastic and half hearted grumbles of thunder it failed entirely to show. Bishop Gabriel Sharma told me later that he had prayed that the rain would stay off until after 1 pm, and it seems that, as in pretty much everything else in the planning and conduct of the service, The Lord was listening to him. It was one of the most p


The last two days have been spent in The Inter Diocesan Conference, a meeting of the seven Pakeha dioceses, teasing out our common ground before we meet with the Maori and Pasifika parts of our church in the General Synod. We have been meeting in a large windowless room with the air conditioning turned up way too high, so it's been a bit like meeting in a gymnasium in Dunedin, except that I think in Dunedin I would have been warmer. Yesterday morning we had a bit of a break from discussions to be welcomed by our hosts, the Diocese of Polynesia. We made a short bus trip through Nadi to St. Christopher's Church and were seated under a giant marquee and it wasn't a bit like meeting in a gymnasium in Dunedin, or anything else in Dunedin for that matter. We were formally welcomed in the Fijian way, with great dignity and energy, but with a very important difference. Usually, at such an important gathering, elders would have performed the welcoming ceremonies, but Archbishop W


Last week was busy. A week ago I was in Wellington for the ordination of Justin Duckworth as bishop of Wellington, an event which is beautifully covered on the Taonga website and about which I can't say more than the obvious: it was moving and humbling to be present with over 1200 people in Wellington Cathedral at an event which is a significant marker of a massive shift in our church's self understanding. I arrived home from Wellington about 8pm and at 5 the next morning drove to Arrowtown and Queenstown for Wakatipu parish's patronal festival. It was -7 at Arrowtown but the roads were free of Ice and the celebrations were, as usual, gracious and friendly and stylish. Wakatipu parish has more than its fair share of talented and imaginative people so the services and dinner went without a hitch- except of course for the fire alarm caused by the sprinkler system in the hall freezing up and blowing a plug, but noone seemed at all fazed by that. For the few days following