Category: News

Welcome at Chester Rest House

A chance to see : The Solomon Islands

A chance to see : The Solomon Islands
A chance to meet : Melanesians
A chance to learn : The life and faith, challenges and hopes of the people of these islands

Two weeks in Guadalcanal and Nggela Islands.

Visiting : Four Religious Communities in their households (Melanesian Brothers and Sisters; Franciscan Brothers, Sisters of the Church), villages, schools and local sites.

Tuesday September 15th to Thursday October 1st 2020.

For many this may be a ‘once in a lifetime’ visit to the far side of the world, so we are suggesting everyone makes their own way to and from Honiara (via Brisbane, Port Moresby or Nadi) – you may wish to visit India, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, China , Philippines, USA, New Zealand en route. The choice is yours! (We will certainly help search for flights if you wish!).

Accommodation : Chester Rest House in Honiara, Religious Communities’ and Mothers’ Union Guest Houses.

Travel : Public Transport in Honiara district is by mini-bus and ship.

  • The Religious Communities have their own ‘trucks’ which may not be very comfortable, but very memorable.
  • The Church of Melanesia owns the ‘Southern Cross’ ship, which it may be possible for us to use, depending on its September schedules.
  • 15-seater Mini-bus if and when needed.

Cost : Depending on your route, you should be able to get to Brisbane and back for around £750. The Air Fare from Brisbane to Honiara is about £400 return.

Travel costs around the Solomons are impossible to calculate. A Self-drive 15-seater would cost about £150 per day + fuel.

Tony and Alison Sparham spent two years in Melanesia in 1998/99 working at Kohimarama Theological College. They have agreed to lead this proposed group.

At present, we would like to know who is interested – we can arrange a meeting(s) to go over more details in the New Year.

Be warned!! Anyone who has visited the Solomons Islands has become very committed to developing relationships with them. The people and the places grow on you – life will never be the same again!

Please contact MMUK to receive more information. Numbers will be limited.

Tony Sparham

The City is my Monastery: A Contemporary Rule of Life - Richard Carter

The City is my Monastery: A Contemporary Rule of Life

New Book – The City is my Monastery: A Contemporary Rule of Life

Canterbury Press published October 2019

This book is based on my experiences of being a Melanesian Brother and then returning to the UK to become a priest at St Martin-in-the-Fields in the centre of London. It tells of my search to live more prayerfully and sustainably in the middle of the city and to live out the values I had learnt from the Melanesian Brotherhood. The book describes my search through silence, service, sacrament, scripture, sharing, Sabbath time, and stability to build community that is generous, spacious and welcoming and to live values which can sustain us in all the stresses of the modern world.

Rowan Williams writes in the afterword of this book:

“This wonderful book is both recognizable and startlingly new. What we have here is a workbook for living in and with meaning. Christian meaning. Jesus shaped meaning.”

Rev Richard Carter

Melanesian Brotherhood Great Conference 2019

Great Conference of the Melanesian Brotherhood – October 2019

What a huge joy it was to be in the Solomon Islands again and to spend two weeks at the Headquarters of the Melanesian Brotherhood at Tabalia. I was very privileged to be invited by the Melanesian Brotherhood to lead the Brotherhood Retreat and Workshop for Brothers and Companions for their Great Conference 2019. It was wonderful that two of our Companions from the UK Barbara Molyneux and Ruth Chesworth also took part and presented the report from our UK Companions.

The new Archbishop and Father of the Brotherhood The Most Revd Leonard Dawea attended the retreat, and chaired the election of new leaders and the conference presiding at the feast day of St Simon and Jude and the admission of 26 new Brothers. The Melanesian Brotherhood (MBH) elected Br. Jairus Honiseu as their new Head Brother and Br. Augustine Paikeni as Assistant Head brother. Br. Jairus is from Lenga village in Ulawa Island, Makira Ulawa Province and Br. Augustine is from Isabel. The brothers also elected Br. Alister Knights as the Regional Head Brother for Solomon Islands Region; Br. Enis David as Regional Head Brother for Southern Region, that includes Vanuatu, and Br. Joe Narui as the Regional Head Brother for Papua New Guinea.

Archbishop Leonard Dawea and the New MBH Leaders
Archbishop Leonard Dawea and the New MBH Leaders

I found the Melanesian Brotherhood in very good heart. The Headquarters at Tabalia is looking more beautiful than ever and we and many others were welcomed with such overwhelming generosity and hospitality. Brother Nelson Bako who studied with us at Chester College had done a wonderful job as Head Brother for the last three years. Huge gardens had been prepared so that all the many guests could be fed and we were overwhelmed by the care and planning that had gone into making this conference such an inspiring event. It really was like living the Beatitudes. The retreat I led focused on the foundation stones of religious life- silence, service, sacrament, scripture, sharing and stability and in the workshop we explored these themes with Brothers and Companions really participating. In the evenings we had talks, dance and music and it was wonderful to see a great production of Ini Kopuria about the founder of the Brotherhood, a play I first wrote for the community more than 20 years ago. I was also so pleased to be there with our UK companions Barbara and Ruth who really have served as such faithful Companions: our Companions and support and prayer for the Brotherhood in UK is so deeply appreciated and the Melanesian Brotherhood particularly asked me to convey to all Companions, the Melanesian Mission UK and all their friends- their greetings, thanks and prayers.

Richard Cater and Most Reverend Leonard Dawea
Richard Cater and Most Reverend Leonard Dawea

The Brotherhood Conference focused on the work in all the Regions including Papua New Guinea Vanuatu and Philippines. Particularly moving were the stories of how the Brothers had soi bravely faced the volcano on Ambae in Vanuatu and relocation of their household. Other exciting developments were the training programme and library at Tabalia, the new mission household in Australia and the new household planned for the Torres Straits and the courage and perseverance of the the Brothers in Palawan in the Philippines. I was particularly impressed by the wise and careful strategic planning and financial management of the Melanesian Brotherhood through the wise oversight of Alphonse Garimae. His very important role and dedicated work was acknowledged by all at the conference. Our new Father of the Brotherhood and Archbishop presided over everything with such a wonderfully refreshing humility, wisdom and grace. It was so wonderful to be back with this inspiring community and to worship and pray with them again.

Revd Richard Carter

Community of the Sisters of Melanesia New Chapel Plans

Community of the Sisters of Melanesia – December 2019 Update

Community of the Sisters of Melanesia New Chapel Plans
Community of the Sisters of Melanesia New Chapel Plans

Dear Associates, Friends and supporters of the Community of the sisters of Melanesia Greetings from the sisters, Novices, Chaplain, staff and children living with the sisters. In this regard, we have some updates to inform you with regards to the mission and ministry, life and service of the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia. As stated in my June Report, the community current population is up to 48 Novices and 50 sisters. However one sister have released during the feast of St. Stephen Taroniara and the Martyrs of Melanesia so now we have 49 sisters. From June up until now there are girls coming to observe and now they have submitted their applications to join as aspirants next year. The Community is expecting more girls to arrive in the couple of months time.

Chapel Project
We acknowledge the support all of you have given which contributed to the amount of $295,298.50 in balance. Thank you UK Associates and supporters and supporters in Australia.

UK Associates are keen to help the community progress their plans for a new chapel, which they have needed for quite a while. Here is a film which was shot in 2016 showing the condition of the chapel at that time.

Solar Project
The Community would like to also acknowledge the support you all made to the Community in funding the solar lighting. We still to have solar lighting for the Class room and the Aspirants. Thank you UK associates and supporters.

Training
The Community have three classes with five staff and two sisters as additional staff. These two sisters have completed their certificate studies at the Bishop Patterson Theological Education in Distance mode and are waiting for their graduation this month.

Mission
As usual, each of the Households have their own programs which they held teachings on various topics on issues and other biblical stories with Christian people. Sisters do more visits with the olds, widows, youth groups and families. Apart from this we have three (3) sisters posted to the Christian care centre to assist women and children brought with many problems.

The Community also received one of our sisters who is in PNG. Sister Marian Shanko forwarded her Report which she presented it to the Provincial Council meeting of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea. She reports on two parts Firstly; Daily Christians Ministry in the Parish she served-Madang and secondly “The Walkerton Ministry within 5 Parishes in Simbai Dean with its Outstations and Tsendiap Parish in Jimi Dean. We shared her challenges faced by herself which we cannot possibly send other sisters to assist her due to financial implications the Community is facing. However it is our prayer that God will work in His ways to send more sisters to reach out to establish this Household abroad. She highlights “Full maintenance of the sisters’ convent, admitting new novices and ministries to reach in both rural and remote places” as purpose of the fundraising drive she did in 5th July to 10th August 2019.

Events
The Community of the sisters of Melanesia have nominated the following candidates in reparation of the coming Election of new Leaders during the General Conference next year in September 2020.We hope to see some of you to attend this very important event. In your own time please remember the Election of the Community which will takes place next year.

This month the Sisters and Novices are preparing for the Christmas Mission in the Tasimboko Parishes in East Guadalcanal – Diocese of Guadalcanal. They will present teachings and dramatize the birth of our Lord. In your prayers remember them.

Visitors
This year we recorded few visits of our Associate Rev. Cate Edmonds, Ms Elizabeth and other guest attending the MBH great conference in Tabalia. The Community indeed so honoured to receive these well hearted friends and our supporters coming. It shows us the heart and respect you have towards this Community. We look forward for more visits in the future or maybe some of our Community members make some visit to associates and supporters abroad one day according to the time and will of God.

Community of the Sisters of Melanesia

Sister Veronica and Sister Kristy

Community of the Sisters of the Church – December 2019 Update

We have had a busy time since the beginning of September when we welcomed back our Sister Kristy who spent six months in the UK. We were invited to the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Melanesia and then had our Provincial Chapter beginning with the welcoming of our new Mother Superior, Sister Marguerite Mae, to the Province.

Tetete Ni Kolivuti [TNK] - Hill of Prayer
Tetete Ni Kolivuti [TNK] – Hill of Prayer
In October, Marguerite and Veronica were invited to lead a workshop on Empowering Women. Ironically Veronica was not permitted to celebrate the Eucharist or preach as the women had hoped. We had the blessing of Sister Emily into her third term as Assistant Provincial on All Saints’ Day. We have had the Men’s Fellowship for a weekend at TNK recently and will have the electoral board for the new diocesan bishop of Temotu later this month.

Our Sisters and Associates are fully engaged with preparations and fundraising for the celebrations next September.

We had hoped to complete the dining hall and kitchen of the Retreat House which was blessed in April this year. Unfortunately, we have had some unexpected expenses. Our novitiate dormitory has started to shift on its foundations and serious cracks have started to appear. We are afraid that if there is an earthquake before we can repair the building it may collapse. We are hoping to start work on it as soon as possible. We estimate that it may cost $200,000 SBD or more. The architect and builder are doing the final estimates for repairs now. Our old generator broke down completely during Chapter and we have been without power since then. With the electoral board coming, we needed to replace the generator which is $90,000 SBD. Fortunately, half the cost has been met by St Andrew’s, Ham. Our solar water pump has been out of commission because of oil contamination of the ground water. We have obtained estimates of $44, 400 SBD for the re-routing of the controls and cabling to enable us to use the solar power with the other bore hole.

Next year we will be having two life professions, 3 more Junior Sisters, 2 novices and 2 new women coming to join the Community.

On 6 June 2020 the Community of the Sisters of the Church will be celebrating 150 years since its foundation in April 1870. Then in September we will be having our General Chapter at TNK and celebrating 50 years of CSC in the Solomon Islands.

Mother Emily founded the Community of the Sisters of the Church in 1870. Read more about this international community.

Mother Emily - Founder of the CSC
Mother Emily – Founder of the CSC

Community of the Sisters of the Church
Picture Credit – Community of the Sisters of the Church

Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral receiving Prince Charles before the service

HRH The Prince of Wales – Honiara, Solomon Island Speeches

In November His Royal Highness Prince Charles made his first visit to the Solomon Islands, delighting crowds with a speech at the Lawson Tama Ground in Pidgin and an address to Parliament, which focused on democracy and protecting the natural environment.

Prince Charles Delivered His Speech In Pidgin To A Packed Lawson Tama Ground

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Solomon Islands Parliament, Honiara

In this shared endeavour, it is my dearest wish that The Solomon Islands might become a beacon – in this region and across the Commonwealth as a whole – showing how extraordinary natural capital can be harnessed sustainably to guarantee the prosperity and security of future generations.

Your Excellency;
Honourable Speaker;
Honourable Prime Minister and Ministers of the Crown;
Honourable Members;
Officers of Parliament;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I need hardly say how delighted I am to be able to join all of you here this morning and to bring with me the warmest greetings of Her Majesty The Queen, who has asked me to convey her heartfelt best wishes to this assembly.  For my part, I cannot tell you what pleasure it gives me to have this opportunity to visit the Solomon Islands and to be able to speak to you here, at the very heart of Solomon Islands democracy.

It has long been my wish to visit these islands, having heard so much about them from The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh following their own visits, which they both recall so fondly.  I remember my father telling me about the warmth of the welcome he was given on his first visit here in 1959, when an extraordinary multitude of canoes was paddled out to greet the Royal Yacht Britannia and escort her as she approached Gizo Island. Much more recently, my son and daughter-in-law, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, greatly enjoyed their visit to the Solomon Islands in 2012, as part of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and were enormously touched by the welcome extended to them.

Over the years I have had the particular pleasure of meeting a large number of remarkable people from these islands, either in London or at Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings and other gatherings, and have followed closely the journey that this country, and her people, have taken.

Your journey has not always been an easy one, of course, as each of you will know far better than I do.  This building, and this city, are built on the very ground on which the Battle of Guadalcanal was fought. This was a crucial turning point of the Second World War, when so many Solomon Islanders endured such immense suffering, and served with such distinction, in order to defend their own freedom as well as that of their Allies. We must never forget their sacrifice, or the immeasurable difference it made to the course of the war, and to the preservation of the democratic freedoms we all hold dear.

Those freedoms thrive today, as demonstrated by the public support and enthusiasm for the election which took place here recently. The triumph of democracy is a fitting tribute to all those who laid down their lives in these Islands, not just in the Second World War, but also during the difficult period of the tensions in the Solomon Islands almost twenty years ago.

As all of you know, Ladies and Gentlemen, since 2017 and the end of the RAMSI stabilisation mission, the Solomon Islands Government has had sole responsibility for the security of this country.  To have so successfully and peacefully held elections this year without the presence of any external security is a mark of the Solomon Islands’ success in this regard, and a tribute to the Solomon Islanders’ remarkable resilience and commitment to democratic values.

A strong and vibrant democracy, it seems to me, offers the firmest foundation on which to build the future – ensuring that the Solomon Islands and her people are able to rise to the many challenges that lie ahead. How best to maintain peace and understanding. How to improve access to education and healthcare – including the eradication of malaria. And how to empower future generations to achieve their full potential.

With seventy percent of the population of the Solomon Islands aged thirty or under, it seems to me that there is such great opportunity to harness your human capital in support of your future economic growth and collective wellbeing. This means giving young people the skills and personal development training they need to lead productive, fulfilling lives.  It also means tackling the appalling scourge of gender-based violence, as I know so many of you are determined to do, and empowering women to play a full and equal role in your society. In the Solomon Islands, as elsewhere, as long as women face the despicable threat of physical and sexual violence, or discrimination on the basis of their gender, your economy and your society will simply never be able to achieve their full and extraordinary potential.

Alongside this country’s remarkable human capital, the precious natural environment and biodiversity of these islands, both on land and below the water, represent an immense reserve of natural capital.

For, Ladies and Gentlemen, as you appreciate far better than me, your islands are blessed with astonishingly high levels of biodiversity. Your forests are of global importance, as are your coral reefs which are the second most diverse in the world.  But such natural capital wealth – which, if sustainably managed, should be the bedrock of your economic growth is, at the same time, so very fragile.  And, as I am sure you are only too aware, its very fragility is increased immeasurably, and alarmingly, by the growing impact of global warming, climate change and natural capital depletion. As elsewhere in the world, the uniquely precious ecosystems on which we depend for our very existence, are perilously close to a tipping point – after which it will be impossible for them, and indeed for us, to recover.  This is surely a risk we cannot run, for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

However, despite the daunting challenges we face, there are nevertheless immediate remedies to hand which both conserve biodiversity and help to build climate change resilience and economic prosperity.

For example, I have been particularly struck by what I have heard about the great success of the Arnavon Community Marine Park. Such initiatives are absolutely vital for the survival of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles, and for the protection of significant areas of coral reef that support such high levels of biodiversity.

At the same time, the Marine Park is, of course, crucially important for the local communities who rely upon it for food.  And as has been proved in these Islands, and elsewhere in the world, Marine Protected Areas are an utterly essential mechanism to increase fisheries catch in the surrounding area. Indeed – and this point requires constant stressing – if the world achieved the target of protecting thirty percent of the Ocean by 2030, the global fishing catch would actually increase by thirty-seven percent. Now I hope you will forgive me saying so, but it seems to me that there is such immense potential for the Solomon Islands to take a leading role in this regard, by protecting, and thus enhancing, more of your marine environment. This would, above all, help to increase dramatically the productivity of your fisheries whilst also offering a major boost to your tourism sector. With this in mind, I have been greatly encouraged to learn of the Solomon Islands’ new Oceans Policy and can only urge you, if I may, to maintain the highest level of ambition in protecting the priceless asset that your oceans represent.

Because the rewards of sustainable oceans management have never been higher, and the costs of inaction have never been more clear. Choosing a healthy ocean, and an inclusive and sustainable blue economy, will require investment and effort, but this will be repaid many times over –  not least through tourism.  And one compelling example of this can be found in the Galapagos islands, where the market price of a shark is about $300, but it has been estimated that the amount the same shark generates over its life through tourism is $5million.

In the same way, on these islands, I know just how crucial your native forests are to your economic prosperity, and how vitally important it is that you secure them as the natural capital from which to draw a continuing income for the future. As the world finally wakes up to the potential of a truly circular economy to decarbonize our world, and to set it on a genuinely sustainable course, it is becoming only too apparent that the bio-economy is going to be of enormous importance. And here again, if you do not mind me saying so, there is an opportunity for these Islands to lead by example and to secure and strengthen your own future prosperity at the same time. Your precious forests, smartly managed, offer a rich and durable source of income, as a uniquely sustainable supply of biodiversity for the new technologies that are now already emerging. At the same time, we have to remember that they play an indispensable role in improving our shared resilience to climate change, which threatens the prosperity and security of us all, by capturing carbon and maintaining essential rainfall.

Now responding to these challenges will require us all to work together across boundaries, and between Governments, the private sector, and populations. At last, the financial services sector and the capital markets have woken up to the huge potential now available from genuinely sustainable investment opportunities and the natural assets represented by your forests and the surrounding ocean could offer increasingly valuable structured investment opportunities.

In this shared endeavour, it is my dearest wish that The Solomon Islands might become a beacon – in this region and across the Commonwealth as a whole – showing how extraordinary natural capital can be harnessed sustainably to guarantee the prosperity and security of future generations. It is my dearest wish that the Commonwealth might become an ever-more important means by which its members, united as we are by historic ties and common values, work together to make full and sustainable use of the natural and human capital upon which, collectively, we can draw in order to secure the future for our grandchildren.

Honourable Members, I know how seriously you take this responsibility which rests with each of you. I know you are determined to do what is right, not just for today, but in the interest of the generations that will follow. For my part, I can only say how closely I will be following your progress, wishing you well, and praying for your success.

May God bless each of you and may God bless the Solomon Islands.

ACoM Communications
Photo Credits – Solomon Focus and Alex Waimora

Daphne Jordon, His Excellency Sir David Vunagi, Lady Mary Vunagi and Cate Edmonds

General Report of Melanesian Trip September 2019

After a long journey it was great to be greeted by Father Rayner in Port Villa. After settling into our hotel, we were visited by Karen Bell the new High Commissioner for Vanuatu. Karen explained her new role as there hasn’t been a HC in Vanuatu for fourteen years. It was interesting to note that with Brexit looming the British Government were setting up fourteen new High Commissions in the South Pacific, the West Indies and in Africa. Karen explained that she had three main roles; Working with the Government on issues of democracy, World relations and especially trade with Britain, and Climate Change. We introduced her to the work of MMUK and the schools and links programme as well as promoting the Article One project. Karen has a limited budget for projects but would be interested in a proposal from Article One. She was also interested in being introduced to Bishop James and I have forwarded his contact details. She saw that the three important and leading groups in the Vanuatu life were the Government, the Chiefs and the Church.

Cate Edmonds, Rt Rev James Tama Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and Daphne Jordon
Cate Edmonds, Rt Rev James Tama Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and Daphne Jordon

The next day we departed early for Espiritu Santo where we were met by old friends Joses, Diocesan Secretary, though recently retitled Operations Manager and Augustine, Director of Education. We later met with Bishop James and his staff at the Diocesan offices. We were able to explain a little about ourselves, they were shocked that as a Rural Dean I had responsibility for oversight of 32 parishes, and our project. The next few days were spent visiting school and a report has already been made.

We were invited to a special service at the Cathedral on the Sunday for a Mother’s Union Service where 10 new members were admitted by Bishop James. It was a wonderful, joyous service and an honour to be present.

Before leaving Santo, we visited a Rural Training Centre which had been relocated from Ambae, they were struggling in the limited facilities. They we pleased to receive visitors but looked forward to returning to Ambae.

Finally, we met with members of the Mothers’ Union who explained their work. We were particularly interested in their work around gender-based violence. Much good work is being carried out by the MU.
Leaving Vanuatu, we departed for the next leg of the project to Honiara to start the school visits etc. a separate report is available.

We were honoured to be part of the Enthronement of Archbishop Leonard and took the greetings from Bishop Robert and the Diocese of Exeter as well as greetings from ASM associates and people of Feniton. Following the 4-hour service and speeches we were invited to lunch, presentations and entertainment.

Cate Edmonds at Archbishop Leonard Dawea’s Enthronement
The highlight of the afternoon was the Cathedral Sunday School’s presentation of a worship song by dance and drama. They were inspirational and certainly raised the roof.

Cathedral Sunday School worship song by dance

The next day Rev Cate travelled out to Verana’aso to visit the Sisters, see separate report and Daphne spent time in the Education Office. The Sisters are struggling to raise funds for a new chapel as theirs is unsafe. Sadly, it feels that the Sisters are the “poor relation” and receive little support and guidance.

During our stay in Honiara we also visited the Mother’s Union Headquarters and received updates on their work. They were preparing for a grand celebration of 100 years of Mother’s Union later that month.

We also visited the Christian Care Centre, at present there are 40 residents including children and many of these residents were teenage girls who had escaped their abusive homes. The Sisters of the Church and the Melanesian Sisters work together at the CCC to provide a safe and homely environment. We were very impressed by the facilities in a beautiful setting. On arrival we met Sister Veronica who was visiting as well. Most residents are only there for a couple of weeks before they return home if it is felt safe. Sadly, many return again later.

During our stay we made a courtesy visit to David Ward the British High Commissioner to explain our project. It was interesting to meet up with him before he departs for Samoa and to hear more about the political situation in the Islands.

After negotiation we were invited to tea at Government House to meet Sir David and Lady Mary Vunagi, the recently appointed Governor General of the Solomon Islands. It was lovely to meet up with old friends, who certainly were having to get used to a very different way of life.

Eventually it was time to return home. It had been an exhausting but interesting and enjoyable 3 weeks. We hoped that we have made some significant contributions in education and relationship building. We thank MMUK for all their support and look forward to further engagement.

Rev Canon Cate Edmonds 

Green Apostle Training

The Anglican Church of Melanesia and Climate Change

Climate change and the future
The Anglican Church of Melanesia [ACoM] considers climate change one of the most significant environmental and social issues facing its community. With more than 100 years in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, ACoM understands that it can play a crucial role in solving future challenges. To do so, we need bold, innovative steps.

The remains of Fanalei Island
The remains of Fanalei Island

Sea level rise, increased severity of storms and flooding, droughts, saltwater intrusion into freshwater agriculture, and reef habitat loss, all threaten to destabilise local communities. Knock-on social consequences could result in ethnic conflicts, land disputes, and internally displaced peoples. Latent social tensions may be exacerbated if adequate preparations are not undertaken.

One challenge is a lack of accurate local data and environmental monitoring. The Solomon Islands Government does not have sufficient infrastructure or systems to monitor ongoing environmental change. International monitoring is focused on the wider Pacific region. Fisheries, forests, extreme weather events, and shoreline changes, are not sufficiently studied. The reality is stark: without monitoring we cannot know local conditions. We therefore cannot develop evidence-based mitigation plans.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia considers this an opportunity. We can contribute to sustaining local communities and supporting the people of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. We are undertaking the following initiatives.

The ACoM Environment Observatory
The creation of the Anglican Church of Melanesia Environment Observatory is forging new alliances between the environmental sciences and the Anglican Church of Melanesia. It aims to solve the dearth of local environmental monitoring. With a majority Anglican population, we are using churches throughout the archipelago as a network of scientific observatories. Installing monitoring equipment operated by clergy and lay people, churches are beginning to measure shoreline change, rain fall, storm intensity and duration. Daily readings are sent at regular intervals to ACoM headquarters, Honiara, where they will form the basis for scientific analysis.

In our first year of implementation we established three observatories on three islands. Students and faculty from the Solomon’s Island University are undertaking shoreline measurements on Guadalcanal north shore.

In the coming years, we will expand stations to all islands with ACoM churches and integrate observing with clerical duties. This will produce a close-range portrait of environmental change and the basis for accurate mitigation strategies. Data will be in the public domain and a valuable resource to local and international climate change scientists. Rather than import costly monitoring equipment and expertise from abroad, the observatory repurposes existing church infrastructure and expertise.

This innovative approach is appealing to churches in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. Anglican and other Christian communities in Australia, Vanuatu, Samoa, and the UK, are developing partnerships to extend the observatory network. Post-graduate architectural design courses on the observatory are being development with the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney; and, the School of Design, Harvard University. The observatory is being studied as case study of the integration of science and religion in courses at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and Malua Theological College, Apia Samoa.

Green Apostles
To link environmental sciences with the Anglican Church of Melanesia community we have developed the Green Apostle award in collaboration with the Melanesian Mission (UK). Each award is given to monitors operating Observatory stations. Interested lay members and clergy have been trained in measuring shoreline change, operate rain gauges, and notating storm intensity and durations. It incentivises, recognizes and gives thanks for the efforts of our participants and contributes to skilling our community.

Green Apostle Training
Green Apostle Training

Education
We are undertaking initiatives to combine climate and environmental sciences with theological and religious education. With Bishop Patteson Theological College, international coastal scientists, theologians, and social scientists, are developing curriculum that integrates the study of climate change science with theological training. With faculty at the Solomon Islands National University, we are developing climate change curriculum. Our educational efforts endeavour to cross conventional boundaries between science and religion.

Coastal Erosion
To facilitate climate change research, we have formed a partnership with the University of Southampton, UK. We are supporting PhD research into coastal change impacts in the Solomon Islands. The research combines physical evidence of historical shoreline change from remote-sensing technology and a study of social implications based on participatory workshops and interviews in affected communities.

Measuring Coastal Erosion
Measuring Coastal Erosion

Relocation
Widespread coastal erosion threatens the well-being and development of communities in the Solomon Islands. The majority of the population live in highly vulnerable, low-lying coastal areas and relocation is already occurring across the country, most notably on the outer reef islands and small offshore artificial islands. At present, relocation efforts are rarely assisted by the government or NGOs. Unaided relocation of whole communities has led to the formation of illegal settlements and overcrowding, land disputes, and social conflict. ACoM, the Melanesian Mission UK, and the University of Southampton recognise the immediate need to develop adequate strategies to manage climate-induced relocation and intend to develop partnerships to support relocation efforts.

Combined strategies
Through this work we hope to be good stewards of the Solomon Islands for future generations.

Marie Schlenker and Dr Adam Bobbette

Shoreline Erosion on Fanalei Island

Climate Change in a Melanesian Context

When I first started my PhD project about climate change impacts in the Solomon Islands, neither myself nor my supervisors expected that I would be telling a story about land disputes, traditional customs and the wantok system. I considered myself a natural scientist, with an academic background in Geosciences and Environmental Physics, keen to collect and analyse numerical data. However, as I started delving into my project, I had to rethink this initial perception. How can I study climate change impacts if I do not consider the people who are being impacted by it?

ACoM Environment Observatory: Measuring shoreline change on Fanalei Island
ACoM Environment Observatory: Measuring shoreline change on Fanalei Island

My research still focuses on the analysis of physical data to gain insights into climate change impacts in the Solomon Islands. I use satellite images, aerial photographs and beach surveys to understand how shorelines of small islands have changed in the past and how they might evolve in a changing climate. However, I also added a significant social science component to my work. During my two-months long fieldtrip to the Solomon Islands, I conducted interviews and participatory workshops with local people to learn more about their perceptions of climate change and its impacts on coastal areas in the country.

Both, government representatives and leaders of the Anglican Church, confirmed what I had already expected: many coastal communities in the Solomon Islands are already experiencing adverse impacts of environmental change, including severe shoreline erosion and increased flooding frequency. The good news is that the majority of these communities seem to be highly resilient to the new environmental conditions. Most Solomon Islanders live a simple lifestyle in rural areas. They reside in palm leaf or wooden huts and subsist on fishing and growing crops in small gardens. As shoreline erosion and flooding threaten their villages, people simply dismantle their houses and rebuild them further inland on higher ground. Due to the strong sense of solidarity and social cohesion within extended families, known as the wantok system, people who are forced to relocate will receive boundless support from their relatives.

Flooding at Fanalei Island during high tide
Flooding at Fanalei Island during high tide

While this system of assisted relocation within villages currently seems to work well in many places across the Solomon Islands, it is simply not an option in some other places. Why? Some communities do not own any land to fall back onto. As part of my trip, I visited two communities in South Malaita, Fanalei and Walande, which have been dealing with this problem. Both communities are seafarers from Lau Lagoon in North Malaita who migrated to the small islands off the South Malaitan coast generations ago and have been growing ever since. Their status as migrants means that they do not have any original ancestral lands in the region. Land ownership in the Solomon Islands is tribal and passed down from generation to generation. As rural communities depend on the land for their survival, they guard it like nothing else.

Shoreline Erosion on Fanalei Island
Shoreline Erosion on Fanalei Island

Fanalei and Walande have experienced severe shoreline erosion and flooding in recent years. Fanalei community lost the majority of its former settlement area to the waves and is regularly flooded at high tide. Walande transformed from an island that hosted a population of over 1,000 people in 2002 to a deserted sandbank. As a result, the majority of the villagers migrated to the nearby mainland of South Malaita. Unfortunately, not without complications. Fanalei people are illegal settlers on the mainland and the traditional landowners will not let the issue slide, leaving Fanalei Islanders with an uncertain, possibly bleak future. Land ownership and land use are common sources of conflict in the Solomon Islands and even led to violent ethnic tensions in the past. Unfortunately, climate change and population growth are very likely to significantly exacerbate the issue over the next decades and, currently, the Solomon Islands government neither has the capacity to handle the increasing number of land disputes, nor to effectively support resettlement or to slow down the alarmingly high rate of population growth.

Walande Island - 2002
Walande Island – 2002
Remains of Walande Island - 2019
Remains of Walande Island – 2019

However, just a few kilometres further north, Walande people have found their own strategy to secure their livelihoods. In the 1940s and 50s, Walande’s leaders had the wise foresight to acquire land from tribes on the mainland by negotiating a payment consisting of traditional shell money, dolphin teeth and modern currency and maintaining close friendships with their neighbours. After Cyclone Namu hit the island in 1986, the villagers decided to take their fate in their own hands. Educated community members created a settlement plan and obtained the support of Australian Aid to bulldoze the land for relocation. When storms were becoming more frequent in the 2000s, leading to increased erosion and flooding of Walande Island, villagers had the opportunity to build a safe new home on the mainland.

New Walande on St Michael’s Day
New Walande on St Michael’s Day

The story of Walande shows that rural communities in the Solomon Islands are capable to manage their own local climate change adaptation. However, any kind of support from outside is greatly appreciated by the communities and can go a long way. The Melanesian Mission UK currently supports the development of an environment observatory within the Anglican Church of Melanesia, which will empower local people to create their own scientific evidence of climate change and shoreline erosion, increase environmental knowledge within communities and facilitate the design of effective adaptation strategies.

More information about the communities of Fanalei and Walande and the ACoM Environment Observatory can be found in my travel blog: Save Islands.

Marie Schlenker

Marie Schlenker is a PhD student within the Energy and Climate Change Research Group at the University of Southampton, researching the impact of climate change and coastal hazards on the Solomon Islands. Her project is jointly supervised by Prof. Robert Nicholls, Prof. David Sear and Dr. Ivan Haigh and supported by the Melanesian Mission UK, the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute. She has just returned from a 2-months long fieldtrip to the Solomon Islands.

Bishop Willie Tungale

Anglican Church of Melanesia Elects New Bishop For The Diocese of Temotu

The Diocese of Temotu Electoral Board has elected the Reverend Willie Tungale as the sixth bishop for the Diocese of Temotu.

Reverend Willie Tungale, 54, succeeds the Most Reverend Leonard Dawea who was enthroned and installed as the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia and Bishop of the Diocese of Central Melanesia in September this year.

Reverend Tungale is currently serving as Chaplain and New Testament Teacher at Mona Community High School in Santa Cruz, Temotu Province; a post he has held since 2012. He was also the Principal and deputy Principal at the said school in 2010 and 2011. He holds a Bachelor of Theology Degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand from 2002 – 2004 and Diploma in Theology from Bishop Patteson Theological College from 1995 – 1998. He also holds a Diploma in Education and Leadership from the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Honiara through DFL mood of study. Revd Tungale comes from Napir Village, Graciousa Bay, Santa Cruz, Temotu Province. He is married to Ruth Tungale and they have five children.

The Consecration and installation service for Revd Willie Tungale into the office of the Bishop will take place on 16th February next year in Lata.

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

ACoM Communications