Author: Ian Drew

Patteson's Cross, Nukapu Island

Remembering Patteson

This year in September we will be celebrating the life and ministry of John Coleridge Patteson, first Bishop of Melanesia, on the 150th anniversary of his martyrdom.

In a new series we will be reflecting on Patteson’s ministry and his legacy for Melanesians and Christians around the world today. Bishop Willie writes our first article, on how he grew up knowing and being inspired by Patteson.

Patteson Portrait, Lambeth Palace
Patteson Portrait, Lambeth Palace

I first heard of the name Bishop John Coleridge Patteson in 1960, when I attended a junior primary school named after him on South Malaita, where I come from and as two teachers there were also named Patteson. There we celebrated the feast of Bishop and martyr every year, as we still do in Melanesia, with feasting, drama and traditional dancing in our custom dress and attire.

The story of Patteson’s martyrdom was retold, preached and acted out in drama the years I was at school from 1960 until 1974, the year I left college for my training for the priesthood.

The most lasting memory of our beloved bishop and martyr for me, is our present Bishop Patteson Theological Centre, Kohimarama, where we have trained all our priests, catechists and lay church workers in evangelism, mission and ministry since 1969.

In the year 1971, my first year at BPTC, we celebrated the centenary of our Bishop’s martyrdom. First was the laying of the foundation stone of our College Chapel by Sir John Gutch. Sir John was the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific and was based in Honiara from1955 to 1960. He wrote a book to mark the Centenary of the martyrdom: “Martyr of the Islands – The life and death of John Coleridge Patteson”.

The College staff and students also did a presentation at St. Barnabas Cathedral, with a drama enacting the story of the life of Bishop Patteson, leading worship with hymns under the direction of Mrs. Muriel Jones, our Warden’s wife, who was excellent in drama.

We had various church dignitaries from New Zealand and Australia visiting us during the Centenary year at college, preaching historical sermons on the evolution of the Church in the Pacific. It was very moving when the Archbishop of Melbourne apologised for the black birding done by Australians that led to the martyrdom of Patteson and his companions on the Island of Nukapu.

The Text he preached on was John Chapter 4 verse 38: “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.”

It is a fitting text every time we celebrate the feast day of our Bishop and martyr including other founding fathers and mothers of the mission.

From 1977 to 1978 I served my curacy in Mission Bay Parish, Auckland Diocese. The parish church at Kohimarama, Mission Bay was dedicated to the Martyrs of Melanesia, and one of the main roads in the parish is known as Patteson Avenue, I walked along that avenue every morning and evening to church.

Another memory of our beloved Bishop Patteson is here in the UK at Exeter cathedral, his home diocese, where the pulpit in his memory depicting his martyrdom is so powerful.  Standing in the parish church at Alfington where he served as a curate before he left for Melanesia and visiting his family’s home in Feniton, is like walking on holy ground.

The Martyrs' Pulpit, Exeter Cathedral
The Martyrs’ Pulpit, Exeter Cathedral

The same thing could be said when visiting Merton College, where he was a Fellow. Touching his prayer desk gave me that connection with this holy man whose faith in God and his sacrificial love has touched us in Melanesia in a way that is so powerful even 150 years later. The inscription on his memorial on the Island of Nukapu reads “His life was taken by men, for whose sake he would willingly have given it.”

There is a feeling of guilt on our part in Melanesia every time we celebrate the feast of Bishop Patteson and yet there is much celebration and rejoicing at the same time, as if evil has been conquered and defeated by the death of Bishop Patteson.

Bishop Patteson is a saint according to Melanesia. He is honoured by many village churches that are dedicated in his memory. Also, schools and names of people bear the name in every generation.

We have great admiration for Bishop Patteson’s solid faith and witness for the gospel, a living legacy that we inherited by his death. I believe that has rubbed off on us to be missionary minded and outgoing. We have seen this most recently in the martyrdom of seven Melanesian Brothers and the growth of our four religious orders: SSF. CSC, MBH and CSM.

Bishop Patteson was truly a servant and disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his whole life for the Gospel and for Melanesia. He was a shining star from God, who touched the lives of many in Melanesia in the past, today and in years to come.

And in his honour we say with the whole Church in heaven and on earth:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.
World without end.
Amen.

The Rt Revd Willie A Pwaisiho

Selwyn College, Guadalcanal

A Tribute In Honour Of Tom Tyler

In honour of Tom Tyler who died in December 2020, by Bishop Willie A. Pwaisiho.

The Melanesian Mission has a very rich history in having missionary bishops, priests, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, printers, carpenters, farmers, men and women who brought us the Good News of Jesus Christ through many of these different ways of service. Local people became Christians through their contact with schools, and hospitals.  

I was very fortunate to meet some of those last missionaries and was taught by them before the Diocese of Melanesia became a separate Province from New Zealand in January 1975. When John Wallace Chisholm became Bishop of Melanesia on the 24th Sept. 1967, he saw that he should not just be responsible for the education of the country but rather should concentrate on the ministry of evangelism and training of catechists and priests.

As the British administration was preparing for the independence of the Solomon Islands, Bishop John Chisholm wanted to create a first-class church secondary school to help train the future leaders of an independent Solomons. The Bishop also wanted the new school to be close to Honiara, the capital, to introduce students, who mostly came from rural areas, to urban life. The Bishop also wanted to bring all the diocesan institutions closer to Honiara, so in 1969 Siota College moved from Gela to become Bishop Patteson Theological Centre, Kohimarama, for training catechists and priests and women lay workers. The printing press moved from Gela to Honiara. Two religious orders, the Franciscans and the Sisters of the Church arrived in Honiara, to have a joint household in the middle of the town for mission and ministry.

Selwyn College

At the beginning of 1970, Selwyn College was created, bringing together Pawa boys school and Pamua girls school, with their teachers, to Najilagu on Guadalcanal. Tom always spoke his mind to the Bishop about making wrong appointments without consultation with the persons concerned. At the last minute he found out that he was to go Selwyn College to be Headmaster, a job he never came for in the first place. He did not feel he was qualified to be the head, but he obediently accepted the bishop’s order. It was there I met for the first time my humble Headmaster and priest Tom, and Tricia his wife, our school nurse, their son Andrew and their dog. I was the Head Prefect chosen by the staff at Pawa School.

It was not easy to run this co-educational school for the first time. The women staff from Pamua were unhappy about the girls working together with us boys in the fields doing manual work. As Head Prefect I had a lot of discussions with my Headmaster over this subject since we had to grow our own sweet potatoes and cassava vegetables as we had done at Pawa, Alangaula and Maravovo boys Schools. Having got my Headmaster on my side, we won the argument that for the school to be self-supporting we needed to have both girls and boys working in the fields together, growing their crops and vegetables and no more separation.

Tom was a hard-working man at school and led by example. During the first three months there was continuous flooding caused by heavy rain. To solve this problem, Terry Ward, our Australian volunteer and qualified plumber and Tom decided we needed to dig a six feet deep drain with a four feet diameter concrete pipe across the school compound. Tom led by example with a pair of shorts and spade and covered with mud, encouraging us to dig that two-hundred-metre-long drain.

Before his appointment as Headmaster of the newly created co – education secondary school for the Church of Melanesia at Najilagu, Tom was the Principal at Kohimarama, training catechists. He enjoyed very much going around different parishes in the islands with his catechists in training, showing them how to do pastoral work.

I pay tribute and salute my Headmaster Tom on behalf of former students of his in the Solomons and Vanuatu as a pioneer in co – education in the Anglican Church of Melanesia. His students went on to become bishops, priests, teachers, doctors, lawyers, diplomats and judges, nurses, parliamentarians, Provincial premiers, senior police officers, businessmen and women in both countries. That is the legacy he left us in Melanesia.

Cross near Selwyn College

That reminds me of the words in St. John’s gospel 4.37 & 38, thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true.

“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for.
Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour”.

We in Melanesia are still reaping the harvest we have never worked for.

An Irish blessing.

Tom, may the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be ever at your back,
May the sunshine warm upon your face.
And may the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may God hold you ever in the palm of his hand.

Teachers do not die; they live on by those they taught.
Farewell Tom, from ocean peace.

Amen.

Bishop Willie A. Pwaisiho

Fr Nigel Kelaepa, Mission Secretary at the Anglican Church of Melanesia, in his series of bible lessons - Your Faith & You

Your Faith And You – Part 3

Fr Nigel Kelaepa

‘Your Faith and You’ is a series of teachings put together by the ACoM Board of Mission through the Evangelism office to help and strengthen church members in our spiritual journey, especially during these times of challenges and uncertainty.

Fr Nigel takes us through the third session.

Let us begin with a word of prayer.


Holy God, Faithful and unchanging
Expand and Enlighten our hearts and minds with the
knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your faith and love,
that we may truly worship and follow you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
Amen.


We begin from where we left off last time in our study of the Nicene Creed, with looking into the next paragraph of the Creed as follows:

who for us men [people] and for our salvation came down from heaven,
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man [human];

This is the doctrine of the incarnation which is core to our faith and which is linked to the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ which we celebrate at Christmas. God the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, became a human being in Jesus Christ. Through a miraculous conception and birth, He walked the same earth as we do, carrying on His mission to save the whole of humanity from death. Jesus Christ, the uncreated Word through which all things were made, condescended (agreed/chose) to share in our humanity. The Almighty God emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave, to use St. Paul’s language in his letter to the Philippians 2:7.

Jesus Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scriptures tells us that Mary accepted God’s blessing and conceived the baby Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon her. Therefore, the man that we know as Jesus of Nazareth from the Gospel stories in the Holy Bible, is the incarnation or embodiment, of God the Son. In this act of taking upon Himself the nature of a human being, God identifies Himself fully with the human race by becoming one of us. The incarnation of God in Christ is the ultimate act of God’s love because God himself became human. He did not send an angel, or even a good human, to accomplish this redemption and restoration of creation and humanity to himself, but He himself, God himself, became human.

The next major part of the Creed covers the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension, and Second Coming of Christ; the Last Judgment; and, the final establishment of the Kingdom of God, and reads as follows:

and [He] was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again,
according to [in accordance with] the [prophesies in the Old Testament] Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again, with glory,
to judge [both] the living and the dead; whose [and His] kingdom shall have no end.

Our Christian faith proclaims the good news that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. In the incarnation he identified himself fully with human nature even though humanity is plagued with the conditions of sin and death. This was the sacrifice that God the Son was willing to take. This was the road that Jesus Christ was willing to traverse in his life and ministry for the sake of humanity’s salvation. St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians stated that Jesus, the Son, always had the nature of God, but he humbled himself and walked the path of obedience all the way to death, his death on the cross. So also it is that in dying, Jesus took his divine nature down into the grave; and when he resurrected from the dead, he brought human nature out of the clutches of death. Indeed, in ascending into heaven, he took what was formerly the accursed human nature, but which is now redeemed, right up to the throne of God the Father. This paragraph marks one of the most important moments in human history. Our God became one of us!!

In this regard, as Christians and believers, when we identify ourselves in faith with Jesus Christ, and accept him into our hearts and our lives as Saviour and Lord, we are delivered from the punishment of death and are hopeful of the reward of eternal life with God in his heavenly kingdom.

In this paragraph also, we have the doctrine of last things which proclaims the Second Coming of Christ at the end of times, and which will result in the final establishment of the Kingdom of God (and He shall come again, with glory, to judge [both] the living and the dead; whose [and his] kingdom shall have no end). Scriptures tells us that we all have to give an accounting of ourselves before the righteous judge when he shall come again to judge both the living and the dead. In the history of Christianity there are a good number of various – and conflicting – theories as to just when and how the final Kingdom will be established, but what is suffice for us to say here is that we should spend our lives living in readiness and preparation for the coming of our lord because Jesus himself tells us in the book of Matthew 24: 36 that (quote): “No one knows…when that day or hour will come – neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; the Father alone knows”, and in vs.44: “So…always be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him”.

A Melanesian English Prayer Book

Too much time, ink and resources have been spilt and spent over past centuries and in our own time, over attempts to predict the time, day, week, month or year when the Lord shall return. Friends, let us put more of our time and energy into prayer, fasting, good works and other spiritual exercises so that we may be able to discern God’s will and purpose for our lives. Be ready in vigil at all times for the master to return and claim what is his and take us to his eternal kingdom and everlasting joy, peace and love. This is what is more important for us to engage in, that is “preparation”, for preparation is a mark of Christian discipleship.

We now come to the last parts of the Creed which reads:

And [I believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son, Filioque];
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
who spoke by the Prophets?

This paragraph of the Creed affirms that The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity. His equality with the Father and the Son is emphasised in His designation as “Lord”, a name only attributed to God throughout the Scriptures, and as well as in the sentence of this paragraph that states that all Three Persons are to be “worshipped and glorified.” The fact that the Holy Spirit and Jesus the Son are just as much God, as God the Father, is a non-negotiable and core belief and doctrine of Christianity.

This paragraph of the Creed also says that the Holy Spirit gives life to and inspires the prophets who proclaim “in the name of the Lord”. The Holy Spirit “spoke by the prophets”. This in a sense also implies that it is to the Holy Spirit and to his activity, that the work of leading and giving ‘life’ to the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church belongs. The church’s teaching, confession and proclamation of faith, its sacraments, and its ultimate resurrection of everlasting life, belongs to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit then is the one who leads the church in its worship and confession of the triune God.

This paragraph of the Creed also states that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father [and the Son]”. This is a very important part of our church history because it the argument over the addition of the clause “…and the Son…” into the Creed (known as the Filioque clause), that was a cause of the schism or split of the previously one Christian church in the year 1054, into two factions known as the Western Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. We will look at this piece of historical background of the early church when we have time in future sessions but for now let us turn to the last bit of the creed which reads as follows:

[And I believe] in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
[and] I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Friends, the Church is one, holy, and “catholic.” In the last session, I pointed out that the word “catholic” here, drawn from the Greek word katholikos, means “full”, “complete”, or “universal” church. In this regard, the Church is meant to be one and universal.

However, there are now many denominations or expressions of Christianity in the world today. What about the oneness? I would like to emphasise that in the collective affirmation of faith in the words of the Creeds, both the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, this is where we are one in the faith, expressing our common belief in our One Holy God, and in His Son Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The church is meant to be one in faith and one in Spirit. St. Paul in Ephesians 4:4-6 emphasises this when he states and I quote: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

The Church is also meant to be apostolic. The leaders of the early church who were appointed by Jesus were known as the Apostles, meaning the “Sent Ones” – namely the twelve apostles. In the expression of the church as “Apostolic” in the Creed, our early church fathers were affirming that the true church is the one that maintains the faith and teachings of the Apostles. Many Christian churches today claim to be “Apostolic” but the controversial question remains: do they all, in fact, maintain the faith of the Apostles?

In terms of Baptism, there are two forms of baptism prevalent among Christian churches today. The Roman Catholics, Anglicans and other major protestant churches practice both infant and adult (or believers) baptism, accepting that both are effective and essential to membership into the fellowship of believers in the Body and Kingdom of Christ, the church universal. Some churches such as the Baptists and a few other evangelical churches practice only adult or believers baptism, believing that believers should come to repentance and acceptance of the faith before they are baptised into the church. Whatever the case may be, and however the argument is over what constitutes the “proper” way to baptise, all of the churches agree that there should only be one “proper” baptism and not more or several.

Finally, the Christian believer affirms the Church universal’s agreement to all that is said/stated throughout the words of the Creed by saying Amen.

To say “Amen”, which means “so be it”, is to affirm our heartfelt agreement to this faith of ours.

In our next edition of “Your Faith And You” we will continue to search for more truths in our Christian faith. Until then God bless us all, as we close with a word of prayer.


Holy God, without you in our lives,
we are not able to know you, nor please you.
Grant us the leading and guidance of Holy Spirit,
So that in all that we think, say and do,

we may glorify and honour your holy name,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen


Read;
Your Faith And You – Part 1
Your Faith And You – Part 2


Fr. Nigel Kelaepa, ACoM Mission Secretary

La Verna Friary, Hautambu

Society of St Francis – December 2020 Update

Brother Christopher John, SSF Minister General
Brother Christopher John, SSF Minister General

Reflecting on the past year for the Brothers in Melanesia

Although I haven’t been able to visit the Solomons since my return to Stroud NSW in March 2020, I’ve been in regular touch by Messenger, WhatsApp, phone and email. We currently have about 16 postulants, 21 novices, 27 first professed and 13 life professed brothers. Those in initial formation are at Hautambu in West Guadalcanal, Year 3 novices are posted to the other friaries for practical experience. We have nine friaries currently occupied with brothers. Although most friaries are thinly staffed, the brothers are always hoping to expand. Vanuatu is still on the cards.

The public events for the SSF 50th anniversary celebrations were postponed from September this year to September next in the hope that some SSF / CSF from overseas can be in the Solomons then. We’ll see! Although the celebrations have been postponed the brothers have been busy with some practical projects including building a retreat house at Hautambu.

Over the last few months a small group of 2-3 brothers, as well as a young lawyer boarding at Patteson House, have met regularly (electronically) with the Asia/Pacific representative for Franciscans International and myself. Our task has been research into the legislation concerning logging in the Solomons and the effects logging has on village life—not just environmental, but also social and religious. Brother Lent and Geoffrey (the lawyer) produced reports which went to Franciscans International. FI have now taken this information and converted it into the format and style for the United Nations. It will form a submission to the UN Human Rights Commission when Solomons is reviewed in next year’s periodic review of human rights.

Society of St Francis Brothers
Society of St Francis Brothers greeting newly admitted postulants
September 2020, La Verna Friary, Hautambu

The submission to the UN, to which the Solomons is required to respond, puts the matter into the public arena. The next stage will be to work with a variety of other organisations such as environmental and human rights NGOs and also faith-based organisations, each able to put pressure at different levels: internationally, nationally in the SI and provincially. And also there will be village level programmes for education about logging and its effects. I can see that the religious communities (and their associates, tertiaries, companions, etc) , along with groups such as Mothers’ Union and clergy can have a very useful role here since they can operate very effectively at village level and are well trusted. This relies on good communications and I’ve been working with ACoM and SSF at Patteson House to try to get SSF’s internet access improved to the point where we can have video conferencing. This is a work in progress.

  • Solomon Islands, Logging
  • Solomon Islands, Logging
  • Solomon Islands, Logging

I’m frustrated with this virus and not being able to travel and help things at a local level in the Solomons. The planned conference for formators (novice guardians, etc) in the four religious orders in ACoM, and also Visitation Sisters in PNG, is on hold. I’d made the suggestion in my visit in March of Patteson Theological College hosting a conference commemorating Bishop Patteson and looking at issues of mission, etc. today. I don’t know where this has got to, but the virus has disrupted many plans I suspect. And this virus stalks around—still hopefully only among those in isolation. I’m thankful that a number of church leaders have been promoting good practice about physical distancing. I know we’re all concerned about the potential for a major spread and the result of that.

On behalf of SSF in Solomons I wish you well. May MMUK and its supporters continue to flourish and lead to ever deepening partnership and sharing between our parts of the Anglican Communion.

Br Christopher John, SSF Minister General

Christian Care Centre - Auki

Community of the Sisters of the Church – December 2020 Update

Sr Doreen CSC reports from the new Christian Care Centre in Auki, which will be officially blessed in May 2021, delayed due to COVID-19.

The Malaita Christian Care Centre exists for the glory of God and to express the healing love of Jesus Christ to victims of domestic violence – women, girls and abused children. The Centre is staffed by Sisters of the Church and supported by the Associates of the Sisters of the Church. It has four core functions and responsibilities:

  1. To provide pastoral counselling, a safe home and care for abused women, girls and children, from all churches and faiths, who have been victims of violence, physical and sexual abused by perpetrators.
  2. To provide educational, life skills activities and programs for those it cares for, preparing them for future sustainability in their livelihood.
  3. To provide male advocacy awareness programs, counselling, care, educational, awareness, life skills activities for the community general public including the perpetrators, to uphold respect for women, girls and children, so that love, peace, harmony and trauma healing prevail again in their families and the Communities.
  4. To promote a clean and shine environment, uphold professional competence and quality services to its clients.

The Centre provides accommodation for the victims and we also raise awareness and do advocacy.  The violence against women and children is very high in this Province, as well as sexual violence against children.

This year in 2020, we have undertaken advocacy activities in seven villages in and around Auki, and these activities will continue next year reaching out to more rural villages, where most perpetrators reside.  The Bride Price in this Province is a huge challenge and linked to domestic violence, because the husband thinks he completely owns the wife and he can do anything he wishes.  The advocacy team consist of Police Officers, Chiefs, Pastors, Lawyers, Associates and Sisters, who joined together to run these programs this Province.  It has been very successful with different professionals in the team. Here are some of the questions we have been able to address:

  1. What does the law say about Domestic Violence?
  2. What does the culture say about Domestic Violence?
  3. What does the Bible or the Church say about Domestic Violence?
Srs Lilyan Mary & Doreen CSC
Srs Lilyan Mary & Doreen CSC

Sr Doreen, Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC)


Other News From The Community

Sr Noelyn Vuta of the Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC) graduated with a Diploma in Theology with Distinction at Mano Wandrokal STM, Tasia, Ysabel on Thursday 19th November 2020. She scooped all the departmental prices and was also awarded the Dux prize for 2020. Sr Noelyn will now continue her studies at BPTC.

Sr Noelyn comes from the Island of Ambae in the Diocese of Vanuatu & New Caledonia. Congratulations Sister Vuta!

Noelyn
Noelyn

Sisters have now gone on their Christmas mission to Ysabel. Revd Sr Veronica writes that in their program they will cover:

  • CSC History
  • Advent teaching and dramas
  • Stewardship of the Environment
  • Forgiveness and Reconciliation
  • Lighting of Candles
  • Christian Battle and Spirituality
  • And the drama will be the birth of Christ

Revd Sr Veronica, Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC)

Pamela Abana with MU Staff & Volunteers

The One Voice Project

The Mothers’ Union has been working with World Vision to expand the One Voice Project and we recently held consultation meetings in the Province of Makira.

In September I travelled with Pamela Isarongo and Nicholas Fiula, both from World Vision, to meet with the stakeholders. We held various meetings in Kira Kira on the 1st September, the first one being with the head of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, John Harara and other relevant staff and stakeholders. An update of the overview of the project was presented by Nicholas and Pamela Isarongo, especially the three KRA, which addresses Medicine supplies, staffing and facilities. We also presented the CVA process in which the project was going to be implemented in the identified communities.  

Later that morning we met with the Anglican Diocesan Mission Secretary Rev. Arthur Abui, the Vice President and four other MU staff members. We covered the same issues as earlier but also emphasised the MU involvement on the CVA activities at community level.

At lunchtime Nicholas and Pamela Isarong delivered the same updates to the Provincial Government representatives, which included the Deputy Premier, the Minister of Health and Medical Services, the Provincial Secretary and the Minister of Agriculture and Lands. This time there was an emphasis on the setting up of core groups where selection of members should align with the ward authority structure in the identified health centres.

On Wednesday 2nd September,a site visit was made to the nearby identified Rural Health Clinics of Maepua and Manasugu by Nicholas and Pamela Isarongo. I took the opportunity to meet with the MU Diocesan staff.

The impact of these three meetings, with all the interested stakeholders and implementers, was very powerful, as they had clearly grasped the nature of the project as well as the roles they are to play during its implementation. Some were very interested in the CVA concept, realising that it is new and is the first of its kind. Significantly they all acknowledged the partnerships (Government, NGOs, CSOs. Communities) established to address health delivery services at rural level.

As the Provincial Mothers Union leader of the CSO implementing this project, I am deeply encouraged by these meetings. I thanked everyone for their participation and for their contributions and I am pleased to say that I have the confidence of their support and am looking forward for the Malaita consultation outcomes.

Pamela Abana, Mother’s Union President

Children of Anuta

Provincial Mothers’ Union Tour of The Diocese of Temotu

Preparing for a mission to Temotu requires much planning as the Islands are scattered across this remote Diocese. One of the aims, as Provincial Mothers’ Union (PMU) President, is to visit as many Dioceses as possible and as Temotu had not been visited for three years we made it a priority to make a mission trip to the area.

We had two specific aims in our visit. Firstly, we needed to address the area of leadership (in the absence of both a Diocesan Mothers’ Union President and a Vice President) and secondly, we had been given the resources to help communities in their response to Covid 19, communities which due to their remoteness had been difficult to support.

Following his consecration as the Bishop of Temotu Diocese in February, the Right Reverend Willie Tungale, had made plans for a tour of the Outer Islands, and so the mission visit became a possibility.

On arrival we collected data on the various MU programmes, and also looked at MU membership in the islands, the existing women’s projects such as literacy and parenting and we also collected information on government services such as education and health, transport and communication to discover their main challenges and needs. We also wanted to find out what information had reached the area regarding Covid 19.

We were also able to provide encouragement by bringing news of the international work of the MU and of course encouragement in their work to hold firmly to the parenting values that promote stable Christian family life, to be strong in prayer life, to work together with church leaders and chiefs and elders. We also called for husbands to support the Mothers’ Union work and their programmes.

Various challenges became clear, the obvious one being the remoteness of the islands (Nukapu, Pileni, Duff Islands. Anuta, Tikopia, Vanikoro and Utupua) which makes it both expensive and risky to visit. Unfortunately, because of its poor economy, many shipping companies do not prioritise this area to bring services to the communities. They are vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters such as cyclones and strong winds, rough seas, sea rise, tsunami, etc. Communication is also challenging, with poor phone signals.

Medical service for very serious cases is always a big issue and sadly we still see the oppression for women and girls.

We also found various strengths to be thankful for, both economical as well as spiritual. The vast oceanic resources could be developed, as could internal tourism, and there is drinking water on Duff Islands, Anuta and Tikopia that can be exported to Honiara to bring income to the communities. Due to the remoteness there is a deep reliance on God.

As various issues came to light, we have been able to make some strong recommendations, including the introduction of training workshops for the women and a careful look at the communication of issues surrounding Covid 19.

We were very blessed to be able to make this visit and we give thanks to God for opportunity. During the tour we received warm hospitality on all the islands and we saw the safe birth of three babies aboard the Southern Cross.

Pamela Abana, Mothers’ Union President

Women Catechists; Diocese of Malaita

Women’s Empowerment in Malaita Diocese

It is a joy to share with you my story about women’s empowerment in the diocese of Malaita.

For the last three years we have focused on the training on the ministry of Catechists in the church of God. The diocese of Malaita agreed on the formation of Catechists Association to equip and support the Catechist ministry as the foundation for discipleship and evangelism. Furthermore, what is so amazing about the Catechist ministry in Malaita diocese, is that it includes and recognises the importance of Catechist ministry in the Church of God. 

Interestingly, the Catechist ministry is increasingly involving women as well. This year eight women graduated from the diocese of Malaita, including two from the north where the inclusiveness and participation of women in the ministry of Catechist is a challenge. Now these women have graduated with certification and licensed to teach, to preach healing and assist with the chalice during Holy Communion service and also help those who are in need.

This is a way forward in the growth and development of the church in diocese of Malaita in this 21st century, where we recognise women as Catechists in the church of God. I am so pleased to see that women are taking the active roles and responsibilities. I believe the formation of Catechist Association is needed most as a way forward to unite and keep the ministry of Catechist strong and continually sustainable despite the challenges and difficulties faced in the life of the church today. Finally, the acceptance of women to become catechists in the church of God brings about more blessings and changes that create opportunities to encourage more women to come along with men in the mission of the church. We want to see a church that holds together until the end. 

Our prayers will continue to go with you now and forever. Shalom and God bless.

+Rickson Maomaoru, Assistant Bishop
Diocese of Malaita

Boy In A Boat

Your Faith And You – Part 2

Fr Nigel Kelaepa

‘Your Faith and You’ is a series of teachings put together by the ACoM Board of Mission through the Evangelism office to help and strengthen church members in our spiritual journey, especially during these times of challenges and uncertainty.

Fr Nigel takes us through the second session.

Let us begin with a word of prayer.


Holy God, Faithful and unchanging;
Expand and Enlighten our hearts and minds with the knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your faith and love,
that we may truly worship and follow you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
Amen.


In this session we will look further at the Nicene Creed and seek to unwrap the foundations of our faith as contained in the creed. From last time, we learnt that the Nicene Creed was first adopted at the Council of Nicaea, a place in what is now known as the town of Iznik in modern Turkey, in the year of our Lord 325, by a gathering of church leaders and bishops, when the church was then still only one church, and especially as it begins to try to address wrong teachings or heresies that were being spread around by some people and even leaders of the church at that time.

The full name of the creed is the “Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed”, so called because in addition to being adopted at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, it was also expanded with a few additions at the Council of Constantinople in the Year 381 AD. Three quarters of a century later, it was again revised with additions at another council called the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451 AD, resulting in the proclamation of the final version of the Nicene Creed as we now know and use in our church worship today.


Here is the Creed in English:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten [Son of God],
begotten of the Father before all ages,
[God of God,] Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; [being] of one essence [substance, being] with the Father;
by [through] whom all things were made;
who for us [men] and for our salvation came down from heaven,
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man;
and [He] was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again, according to [in accordance with] the [prophesies in the Old Testament] Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again, with glory,
to judge [both] the living and the dead;
whose [and His] kingdom shall have no end.
And [I believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son – Filioque];
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
who spoke by the Prophets.
[And I believe] in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
[and] I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Amen.


Let us begin with the first opening sentence and paragraph which reads:

[I] We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

This opening sentence asserts the following truths of our faith:

One, that our Christian faith affirms our belief and worship of only One God. There are no several gods as in the times of our forefathers and ancestors, who used to worship many traditional gods and spirits, but only the one true God for us Christians. That means our faith is monotheistic, that is the worship of only one God, and not polytheistic or worshipping many gods. The Jewish “Shema Yisrael” (prayer) utterance quoted by our Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 12:29-31 affirm this for us: “Hear O Yisrael, the Lord our God is One…”

Two, that God the Father is “almighty,” that is He is all-powerful (and also infinitely more so in all other positive respects). There is none mightier than Yahweh! There are people in the world and in our nation today who believe in and worship other gods or spirits, and engage in witchcraft and sorcery but to them we say, none of those spirits, idols or so-called gods you worship are comparable in power to our Almighty God, Yahweh. Not only do you waste your time worshipping these useless idols and spirits, when you have a more powerful and Almighty God whom you should be worshipping and listening to, and who will listen to those who call to him in the name of Jesus, as promised in John 14:13-14, but you also eventually get thrown into the eternal lake of fire as your punishment at the day of judgement (as we read of in the book of Revelations)!

Three, that God is the creator of the universe (heaven and earth) and of all things “visible and invisible,” that is, material and spiritual. Nothing that exists in the whole universe, whether we can see it or not, exists without him or is not created by him. He is the maker and ruler of all things. Since God who is the creator of the material world (as well as the realm of “spirit”) is good, it follows therefore that what he creates, that is the material world, is – in itself – also good. Therefore, nothing God creates is initially bad. Any bad only comes after the negative and harmful actions of human beings is brought into the equation!

Such understanding helped to combat some of the philosophies of the third and fourth centuries of the early Church such Gnosticism, Manichaeism, and others, which have viewed matter, or the physical realm, as inherently evil. In the Bible, Genesis 1:1-30, notes the creator in observing his handiwork after each day of creation work, saw that what he created was ‘good’ and ‘very good’ and that he was really pleased with this perfect creation.

Bishop Willie Pwaisiho
Bishop Willie Pwaisiho

Now the second paragraph of the Nicene Creed which reads:

[II] And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten [Son of God],
begotten of the Father before all ages,
[God of God,] Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made;
[being] of one essence [substance, being] with the Father;
[Key word = homoousion = same essence]
by [through] whom all things were made

First this paragraph proclaims the deity hood or divinity of Jesus, who is identified as “Lord” (which is a name attributed for God only) and as “Christ” [or Christos, that is the Messiah of Israel, God’s “Anointed” One).

Secondly, the paragraph also goes on to assert that Christ was “begotten” of God the Father. This means that He was not created (“not made”) by God, but was part of God the Father eternally, “before all ages”, and hence Christ, like the Father, is eternal. There was never a time when the Son was not of the Father, and there was never a time when the Son was not with the Father.

Thirdly, the paragraph then states that Christ is fully divine (God from God, Light from Light, true God of true God) and is one being, or “of one essence/substance” [or has the same essence (homoousion) with/as God the Father.

In emphasizing the full essential deity (divinity) of Christ, the Creed is responding to an ancient heretical view known as Arianism, so named after Arius, a Presbyter of the Church in the ancient city of Alexandria in Egypt, in the years 250-336 AD. This Arius spread the teaching that the Second Person of the Trinity was not only “begotten of”, but was also “created by” God the Father. Such view – that the Second Person of the Trinity is a created being, and therefore by implication, is subordinate to the Father – was firmly rejected by the ancient church.

Such teaching is wrong and it was to refute such erratic and heretical teachings of those times, that the Council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed was formulated. The absolute truth is that Jesus is fully God, is of one being/substance with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the perfect unity of the Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a difficult theological concept to grasp and has been a subject of much study and debate throughout the centuries till today, but suffice it to say, because the Father and the Son are one substance, we can also be assured that we actually know God in Jesus Christ. After all, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3), and so when we look on Jesus, we look on God. Without confidence that Jesus is God, united in substance with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, we could not be sure that Jesus can speak for God, forgive sins for God, declare righteousness for God, or do anything to make us children of the Father.

The last line of this paragraph, by [through] whom all things were made affirms that the Father creates the Universe through the agency of the Son.

People often miss this point in the Creed, which is that by His Word, or by God the Son who is God’s Word, God created the Universe from nothing. The Christian Doctrine of Creation affirms God’s creative act in the beginning as “Creatio-ex-nihilo”, meaning “creation from nothing”, which we read of in the first creation account of the Book of Genesis 1ff. When God spoke, everything came to pass in each day of creation, as he said the words beginning with “Let there be light…” In John’s Gospel 1:1-3, the Apostle states that: “In the beginning the Word already existed, the word was with God, and the Word was God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. Through him God made all things, not one thing in all creation was made without him. The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people”. (GNT).

In our next session together, we will continue with where we left off in the second half of the Nicene Creed together, in our search for the foundational truths of our Christian Faith as enshrined in the Creed and go through them in further depth. God bless as we close with a word of prayer.


Holy God, without you in our lives, we are not able to know you, nor please you.
Grant us the leading and guidance of Holy Spirit,
So that in all that we think, say and do, we may glorify and honour your holy name,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen


Read; Your Faith And You – Part 1.

Fr. Nigel Kelaepa, ACoM Mission Secretary