Author: Ian Drew

Church of the Ascension, Santo

“God has gone up with a triumphant shout!” – Ascension Day in Santo

Having worked as pharmacist and doctor for 10 years in the Solomon Islands and 3 years in Vanuatu, we were thrilled when the chance to return unexpectedly came in April and May this year. During 10 wonderful days in Honiara, we caught up with pharmacy, nursing and medical colleagues, while staying at Chester Rest House and St Agnes MU Rest House, both so comfortable and welcoming. An overwhelming welcome was also given by the Melanesian Brothers at Tabalia, where we spent two precious days in the quiet, sharing in Services in the beautiful St Mark’s Chapel, visiting the graves of the seven martyred Brothers and visiting Kohimarama Theological College next door (where Susan used to do a monthly clinic).

Flying on to Vanuatu, at Vila Central Hospital, we were able to participate with former colleagues, in a training session for the Tupaia Project. Through this project, tablet computers are to be supplied to all Rural Health Clinics, for their day-to-day requisitions, stock-taking and data collection and this will be piloted on Efate.

On the 9th May, we flew up to Santo, on the same plane as Revd John Bani and his wife, Alice. Revd John is priest at the Church of the Resurrection, Tagabe. We attended this church when we worked in Vila and the priest-in-charge then was his father, Father John Bani, who became President of Vanuatu.

Mr Joses L.Togas (Deputy General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, Vanuatu), very kindly picked us up from Hotel Santo the next morning to take us to the Ascension Day Service -at the Church of the Ascension! We arrived before there was any congregation in the church, and Keith was introduced to Joses’ son, who is an Apprentice Car Mechanic.

We met a Mothers’ Union member, who was the wife of a former Bishop, Walter Sipa. The Mothers’ Union members then prepared the church for the Service as schoolchildren began arriving and the male choir in front of us sang choruses. Soon the church was packed; the Service began at 8.30, local Melanesian Brothers among the congregation. Joses lent us his Melanesian English Prayer Book with Hymns – we had unwisely left ours in UK to minimise on luggage!

We had the Ascension Day Psalm 47, which says ‘God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet… For God is the king of all the earth.’ The excellent preacher had made a wonderful crown of silver paper to illustrate the kingship of Jesus. The congregational singing of the Ascension Day hymns and choruses was out of this world – a wonderful exuberant praising of God in four-part harmonies. “God has gone up in a Triumphant Shout !” [Gerald Finzi, op 27, no 2], certainly applied!

After the Service, we were able to greet some more of the Congregation, before leaving to meet Dr Tim Vocor, former Medical Superintendent of Northern District Hospital. Then, after much searching and walking in the mid-day sun, we were thrilled, to find Sister Fay Timothy, (with whom Susan had worked on the Children’s Ward) and her husband Ramo (Male Surgical Ward). Sister Fay had been quite ill and we really wanted to see her again.

It really was a special re-visit to Santo – a beautiful place overlooking the Segond Channel, kind and friendly people, an amazing Ascension Day Service and a wonderful re-union, all remain vividly in our memories with thanksgiving.

Keith and Susan Williams

Peace Building Workshop At SITAG

Peace Building Workshop Underway At SITAG

A WEEK LONG Workshop on Peace Building is currently underway at the Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group (SITAG) conference room in Honiara. The training workshop was officially opened on Monday morning by the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) Dr. Abraham Hauriasi. The workshop was organized by the Commission on Justice, Reconciliation and Peace and is facilitated by Reverend Raki Tigarea and Mrs. Leibling Toganivalu from the Institute of Mission and Research, at Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji.

Dr. Abraham Hauriasi in his opening address said the necessity of having such a training is underpinned by a number of factors: Solomon Islands is in a post conflict situation. Most, if not, all communities in the country would have experienced conflict, some in more serious form than others, during the period of the ethnic tension . Some people may have been emboldened by what they have witnessed and experienced during that period so that any hint of disagreement between any parties, whether blood related or not, could quickly escalate into open hostility and even physical confrontation. We hear of increasing cases of more violent behaviour perpetrated by people resulting from even very minor issues. Hence, we could be witnessing more and more communities who are torn apart from conflicts.

The General Secretary also said that with the increase in development in all its various forms, we are witnessing growing number of cases of conflicts arising from competing claims over the resources required from these developments and the sharing of benefits from these activities . All of us here would have experienced ourselves conflicts or disagreements within our families or communities resulting from the use of tribal or family owned resources. Many families have been separated as result of disagreements over the use of their land and the harvesting of forests or marine resources. Many communities and families have become dysfunctional due to conflicts amongst themselves.

Thirdly, with the growing population of our communities, there is bound to be conflicts caused deliberately or unintentionally by any members of the community. And with our kinship relationships, a minor disagreement between two people could quickly involve all members of the tribes or clans.

Given the propensity of these factors to cause conflicts, we need more peace builders in our communities. Having sustainable peace in our communities is paramount to achieving all we want to do, including our mission related programmes and activities.

Given the rapid increase of antisocial behaviours, tensions and conflicts in our local communities, ACOM and other churches must be equipped with trauma healing skills, conflict management and conflict resolutions and conflict transformation knowledge and skills; Reverend Mark Graham, Commission Justice, Reconciliation and Peace said. “Equipping every diocese in this field will enable them to respond effectively to all forms of conflict and violence,” he concluded. Fifteen participants representing the seven dioceses in Solomon Islands, Institution and representatives from other Church denominations are attending the training that will end this Friday.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Mrs Welby 01

Women on the Frontline Training – Mrs Welby and Team in Honiara

Mrs Caroline Welby and her small team from Lambeth Palace in the United Kingdom, England were in Honiara last week.

The purpose of their one-week visit was to conduct training called “Women on the Front Line” for ACoM Bishops’ wives and other women in the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) as well as joining with them in prayer, sharing and to encourage each other.

Mrs Welby was accompanied by Jane Namureye, Keren Lewis and Canon Rev. Sarah Snyder.

The Archbishop of ACOM the Most Reverend George Takeli, his wife and the President and members of the ACOM Provincial Mothers Union met the team at Henderson International Airport before they left for TNK, where the one-week program was held.Mrs Welby 02

Tete Ni Kolivuti or TNK for short, is the Headquarters of the Sisters of the Church and is located on the eastern side of Honiara, around Tenaru School and Foxwood.

“We have been waiting for this day, and here it is,” Rev Sr. Veronica, Sister Provincial of the Community of the Sisters of the Church said at a welcome ceremony held at TNK.

“We are happy to be your host and we are looking forward to providing you the best hospitality we can offer you this week,” she said to the visiting team including the Bishops’ wives.

As part of the programme Mrs. Welby led a retreat for Bishops’ wives for three days. The group was then joined by other women from the church to share reflections and discussions on the topics centred around conflict, violence, counselling, meditation and reconciliation.

Archbishop Takeli also delivered an address during the week, for participants to discuss and reflect on.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Adam Bobbette - Climate Change Observatories 03

Climate Change and the Church

Adam Bobbette - Climate Change Observatories 02Our latest film – ‘Climate Change and the Church’ premiered at the charity’s AGM and Festival Day earlier in the month. Outgoing Trustee Ven Chris Liley caught up with Selwyn College PhD student Adam Bobbette on his return to the UK after a month-long research trip to the Solomon Islands. Adam was inspired to travel to Melanesia, after hearing the Most Revd George Takeli speak at Selwyn College last year, about the devastating effects of climate change across the Pacific.

In the film Adam explains a potential new role for the church in recording climate change using the 2,000 parishes across the province.

Adam says: “We don’t need to send people to the region to tell Melanesians about the changes in their weather patterns and coastal erosion. They are there already noting these changes themselves.

“What the problem is, is that no one is recording and logging these changes. The church can play a role here, gather all this information from their congregations and send it to the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s headquarters. This information can then be used by governments and international bodies to get a better picture of what is going on in the region.”

It is hoped that this project will be adopted by the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s Council of Bishops in November, and booklets for recording this data, designed, printed and distributed early in 2019.

The Melanesian Mission UK is very grateful to Adam and also to Selwyn College, Cambridge for funding Adam’s research project and travel to the region.

If you would like to support this project (the printing and distribution of the booklets, and the collation of data in 2019), please reference your donation to the charity ‘Church Observatory’.

Please pray for this project.

O God of land, sea and sky hear the cry of your people,
for homes and livelihoods destroyed by rising seas and warming earth;
caused by ignorance, apathy and selfish greed.

Inspire all people of goodwill to work for change of hearts and minds,
so that loving respect and valuing all creation may increase awareness of the wonderful gift of the world and its life.

We pray that you will enable us to overcome all that destroys and pollutes and build a world where all life is sacred,
and the earth enriched for all its inhabitants and those yet to be born.

In the name of the one who promised life in all its fullness
through sacrificial love, Jesus Christ our Lord.


The 2018 MMUK Festival and AGM – Selwyn College, Cambridge

The 2018 MMUK Festival and AGM – Selwyn College, Cambridge

A sense of connectedness was created by meeting at Selwyn College Cambridge, founded by the Selwyn Memorial Committee following the death of George Augustus Selwyn in 1878. A large number of Companions, Trustees and loyal friends met at the invitation of the Selwyn College Chapel, and we were very grateful for this opportunity.

After essential business, special thanks was offered to Barbara Molyneux for her commitment and love for the people of the Solomon Islands, which has helped us in maintaining strong communication, particularly with the Brothers. Also a special mention of thanks was offered to Honorary Treasurer Chris Liley, who will shortly be stepping down from being a trustee of MMUK. As well as line-managing Katie, he has been at the forefront of many plans and has provided helpful leadership in several sub-committees.

That sense of connectedness to our history and development was perhaps especially felt through the midday Eucharist which was in the Victorian chapel. The service was led by Bishop Mark and the preacher was the Venerable Chris Liley. Chris reminded us, through the story of Jesus telling the fishermen to cast their nets into deep water (Luke 5:1-11), that when Jesus chose each one of us to do his work he used our gifts.

In the afternoon, Bishop Mark interviewed Sisters Priscilla and Mary Gladys and Brother Samson, during which Priscilla remarked that we should share more, smile more and that young people need to get more involved. Brother Samson appreciated that he had learnt to sew whilst being in the UK!

Katie led us through a short review of the year, which included celebrations of the Melanesian and Chester Diocesan Link and Bishop Willie campaigning against Climate Change, including a trip to Brussels. We were updated on other major events and projects, the main one being the earlier visit by Archbishop George and his party to the UK.

Katie told us of her first visit to Vanuatu and how she had several encouraging meetings across the dioceses. This fulfilled one of Katie’s major aims since becoming CEO, to deepen relationships in Vanuatu and to meet project partners face to face. We were shown pictures of the relocated St Patrick’s school, which is currently relying on marquees for class rooms, since the volcanic eruption in Ambae, which has created chaos across the northern part of the island. Photos from Katie’s recent trip also revealed how much of the land in Guadalcanal has been cleared for palm oil fields. Better news was given in that the Retreat House at TNK is nearly ready and all the accommodation will be ready for Caroline Welby’s visit.

Daphne Jordan reported on the successful training on Christian Distinctiveness in church schools. After her much appreciated first visit in 2013, further senior secondary school staff had asked for this specific training, which took them through Vision and Values; Healthy Relationships; Mission Statements; Assessment, Prayer and several other aspects of development and change.

We were all deeply impressed by the first volunteer teachers from Project Trust. Armed with “school resources, willingness and culturally appropriate flowery skirts” Flora and Juliet taught 300 secondary school pupils with the aim of making English classes more interesting and dynamic, with the intention of reducing school drop-out. Flora also reported that Project Trust intends to keep the momentum going and for any improvements to be built upon with the next four volunteers who arrived in the Solomon Islands in August.

Looking ahead, we are preparing to welcome Bishop James and Bishop Rickson to the UK in early 2019, and before we closed Bishop Mark shared his aim of broadening the base of support and his desire for us all to reach out to the younger generations.

Reverend Jacky Wise
Trustee MMUK

ACoM Reconcilers And Peacemakers

ACoM Reconcilers and Peacemakers – Women on the Frontline

Caroline Welby and Sarah Snyder (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisor for Reconciliation) have been invited by Archbishop George Takeli to bring a small team to Melanesia from Lambeth Palace from the 9th to the 14th of September, to support women from the Anglican Church of Melanesia as reconcilers and peacemakers. This is part of a programme developed by the Archbishop’s Reconciliation Ministry, called Women on the Frontline. The first part of the trip will consist of a retreat for the bishops’ wives, led by Caroline Welby. The second half of the week will be reconciliation training led by Sarah Snyder, for both the bishops’ wives and a wider group of women from the Church. Prayer is the crucial backbone of Women on the Frontline, and the team would be especially grateful for prayers, specifically:

  • That all those who are part of the retreat and training deepen their relationship with God and one another.
  • That the experience of the retreat and training would inspire all those who take part to live out their calling to peace and reconciliation.
  • That the participants would be excited about sharing these experiences with those in their communities and dioceses when they return.
Being a Companion to Melanesia

Being a Companion to Melanesia

It is twelve years now since I returned from being a priest and brother in Melanesia. In many ways no two lives could seem on the surface more different. For the many years I lived at Tabalia I never had more than a few hours electricity from the generator each day. Even fresh water was at times sporadic with long walks to the spring by the river when the taps were dry and the rainwater tanks empty. My refrigerator with no electricity was used only for storage. The diet too was very different “Does this dish have a name? I remember an American who had just arrived asking me, “because it tastes very similar to the dish I had yesterday,” he commented. “Yes” I said also eating a plate of slippery cabbage, a trace of tinned tuna and a piece of cassava-“and it’s going to be very similar to the dish you are going to have tomorrow and the next day and the next!”

But living as a Melanesian Brother at Tabalia I felt so close to the natural world- you knew where everything came from and that if the gardens failed you would go hungry. I remember waiting for the rains to come and when I heard the first drops running over to the church gutter where the downpour cascaded off the roof: after the wait it was the most refreshing shower you could ever have. Night could be as dark as velvet and the stars- with the Southern Cross so astonishingly bright. When I first moved into my flat in Trafalgar Square I thought I would never sleep. London is nonstop- it is twenty four seven- and it’s hard to keep the neon out of your bedroom, and the sound of sirens, and cars, and emptying bottle banks and the shouts, laughter and cries of those returning from a night out. How could the lessons of Melanesia be of any value here? I felt like a tuna out of water. Most of all I missed Melanesian community- where you were always with people but not in a demanding way- just with people-sharing in a generous reciprocity and a lot of fun laughter. In Solomons whatever you do there are always people to share that doing with you be it washing clothes in a bucket, peeling sweet potatoes, riding on the back of a truck, or going in search of ripe pawpaw.

But if my first reaction was how different this life in London – I soon began to realise there were, deep down, such similar human needs. And the deepest perhaps of all those needs the need for companionship- relationship with others to make meaning of our lives. The church is a unique place to do that of course. While the corner shop may have disappeared, and the post office and even the person in the supermarket has been replaced by the self-service till whose only conversation is to tell us repeatedly that there is an unidentified object in the bagging area- there is still a church in most communities and if you are blessed like we are at St Martin’s- its not only here, it’s also open every day of the year- then you do have a place to belong- to God, to your own deepest self, and to your neighbour, whoever that neighbour may be. And I began to realise that the skills that the Melanesian Brotherhood had taught me were the greatest possible gifts for ministry not only in Solomon Islands but in the centre of London. First the need for the rhythm of prayer to provide the pattern and centre of my life- and those who come through our doors of St Martin-in-the-Fields to join me. Second the vital importance of face to face encounter- actually listening and talking to people- giving them the gift of time and relationship rather than believing our primary relationships are with Facebook or a mobile phone or ones business agenda or strategic plan. Third I learnt the importance of generous sharing- being with others and benefitting from each other’s gifts and skills. I learnt that community is so much richer and less stressful when we let go of our western obsession with competition and self-sufficiency. I might be good at cooking but others were good at planting, at growing, or climbing coconut trees or diving for fish and that together we were so much more than we would be as isolated individuals and how much the same is true in London when we begin to share the gifts. Fourthly I learnt that community is Eucharist- it’s about sharing food and just like Solomons if you begin sharing food in London you will soon create that community. You become companions- those who share bread. You see you share Christ and find Christ in one another. Here in London we have created an informal Eucharist called Bread for the World and it is a wonderful celebration of diversity and all that we have to gain from creating communities of compassion and hope and joy in this country just as we have seen in Melanesia. Fifthly I learnt from Melanesia that those who one at first thinks of as being poor are in fact God’s gift. They open our eyes to a new way of seeing and being. They open your eyes to our own poverty. Some of the most rewarding work I have the privilege of doing here in London is with those who are homeless, or with refugees who have no recourse to public funds, or with those who have mental health difficulties, or those who for whatever reason are on the edge of so called society. They are actually at the heart of our Christian faith and it is being with them that I know will renew not only me but also the church. For this is where we must look for Christ- on the edge where he was in his own life.

What did I learn from Melanesian? I learnt the joy of living together and sharing a common home- that God has entrusted to our mutual care. And the gift they gave me was that longing for community here in London and the realisation that it is when we remove our defences, our desire to control or dominate- and recapture the humility and hope of the Gospel, then the place where we are living can become a Tabalia or a Brotherhood and Sisterhood- can become the place of God’s flourishing.

With God’s help I have formed a community at St Martin’s: it’s called the Nazareth Community. It’s an experiment in being with- with God, with silence, with sacrament, with compassionate service, with sacred study, with generous sharing. Much to my delight and surprise 48 people decided to join me as we made promises to live the Gospel- promises of course inspired by the Melanesian Brotherhood. I have so much to be grateful to them for.

The Vicar of our Church Sam Wells wrote this about the Nazareth Community:

“Being with God and one another and ourselves is how we shall spend eternity. The Nazareth Community is a group of people who are saying, ‘Why not start eternity now? Why wait?’ In their living eternal life now we see hope and inspiration for ourselves, our church, our community and our city.”

I think that’s also a good description not only of the Nazareth Community but also of the Melanesian Brothers and Sisters and the Church in Melanesia. You will be pleased to know that my fellow priest in the Nazareth Community is Catherine Duce. She also learnt a lot from Melanesia!

Revd Richard Carter is Associate Vicar at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.

Reverend James Tama

ACoM Announces New Bishop for DOVNC

The Anglican Church of Melanesia Diocesan Electoral Board has elected the Reverend James Tama, as the sixth bishop for the Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Reverend James Tama succeeds the late Rt. Revd James Ligo who passed away in December 2017.

Since 2015 the Reverend Tama has held the position of Assistant Mission Secretary of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, based in Santo, Vanuatu. He has held various positions in the Church including Deputy Principal of the Bishop Patteson Theological College, Kohimarama, and the first Principal of the Fisher Young School of Theology and Ministry based in the Diocese of Banks and Torres, Vanuatu.

Revd Tama holds a Masters degree in Theology in the field of Church History from the Pacific Theological College, Fiji.

He comes from Saranamai Village, West Ambae, in Vanuatu. Revd Tama is married to Mrs Diana Tama and together they have six children.

His consecration and installation as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia will take place on 12 August 2018.

The Archbishop of Melanesia calls on all members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia to uphold Revd Tama and his family in prayer as they prepare to take on this important responsibility in the church.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

ACoM Conference

First Conference for Diocesan Secretaries and Senior Managers

The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) had its first conference for Diocesan Secretaries and Senior Managers at Tete Ni Kolivuti (TNK), earlier this month.

ACoM’s General Secretary, Dr. Abraham Hauriasi opened the conference saying:

“The conference is organised purposely to; acknowledge the important and critical roles diocesan secretaries and department heads play in the life of the Church. Secondly, it is part of building the capacity of Church leaders to raise the level of governance at different levels of the Church. Finally, the General Secretary is required in his or her role under canon to call regular meetings of diocesan secretaries to discuss matters that are of concern to dioceses and the province.
“Capacity building for these senior leaders through coming together to share knowledge and learn from each other so that we all move together to achieve our overall goal is also another reason why the conference is organised,” the General Secretary said.

The main objectives of this conference is to help the Diocesan Secretaries and Senior Managers foster closer coordination, networking and cooperation amongst dioceses and with the provincial offices. The conference will also offer a platform for the senior Administrators to share their challenges and opportunities and to propose strategies for addressing common issues faced in their lines of work.

Participants to the workshop come from Dioceses and Provincial Offices in both Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.

The next conference is expected to be held in 2019.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications