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
‘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.
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
This year at the Christian Care Centre we have Sister Ruth Hope, as the coordinator, Sisters Daisy, Sister Mary, and Sister Aneath are the new members of staff. There are also three Sisters from the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia, who are also part of the staff. Shortly the centre will be led by Sr Rosa Catherine from CSC.
Monthly the centre receives an average of 230 women and girls who are survivors of all forms of violence. Young babies and children accompany their mothers to the centre and grandmothers come to stay with their granddaughters during their stay at the centre. Clients and staff attend classes on life skills and work-related sessions with the Sisters.
The High Commissioner for Australia came to visit and to unveil a plaque for our Solar Lighting which has really helped us with the cost of purchasing diesel and having lights on all night. We acknowledge our pastoral visitors from the Catholic Seminary who come monthly to celebrate mass. Rev Sister Veronica who comes weekly to visit and to celebrate Holy Communion when she is available and provides counselling for our mothers and young girls and staff besides her monthly schedule as rostered.
Rev Sister Veronica always bring with her one or two Postulants and Novices from TNK to come out for a day to assist the staff at the centre when and if there is a need for extra hands and for this we are very thankful.
The Sisters at CCC also attend trainings at the Centre which are taught by an Associate who is a member of the staff at the Centre. Sisters and Novices from TNK or Patteson House are also invited to attend these trainings at the centre by our support networks. Recently there was a training session on kastom gardening and also on gender awareness. Another very important training session was held in August from a women’s organisation who came to talk about women’s health.
Students doing studies on Social Work and Gender at the local USP centre and an organisation in Fiji are doing attachments at the centre and the Sisters are very grateful for extra hands to help and also teach sisters and clients craft skills.
CCC has a preparedness plan where we have taken some strategic measures for keeping our clients at the centre updated with information weekly. We have an Emergency Plan and a possible lock down at the confirmation of a first positive case of COVID-19. We will not admit anyone unless they are of very high risk of being harmed, and have tested negative for COVID. To date Solomon Islands has 13 positive case of the virus, but they are in isolation and contained.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM
For 16 Days of Activism 2020 we are planning to do awareness sessions with communities around our centre and to raise awareness on how to report domestic violence to the police and to refer clients to us for counselling.
Sisters at the CCC thank the Sisters at Henderson and TNK for their garden produce for our clients at CCC.
Thank you to all our Sisters, Associates and friends, Mothers’ Union members worldwide and locally for your support and prayers.
The Diocese of Guadalcanal Electoral Board has elected the Reverend Benedict Loe as the second Bishop for the Diocese of Guadalcanal. He was elected at Tete Ni Kolivuti (TNK), Tenaru area East Guadalcanal on Saturday 14th November 2020.
Revd Benedict, 43, succeeds the Rt Revd Nathan Tome who officially retired on 20th September this year.
Revd Benedict is currently serving as the Dean of Studies and Lecturer at Bishop Patteson Theological College (BPTC), Kohimarama, west Guadalcanal, a post he has held since 2018. Before that, he was a lecturer and headed the department of Church Ministry at the college from 2015 to 2017.
Ordained Deacon on January 23rd 2005 and priested on 18th October 2005, Revd Benedict began his priesthood ministry in 2005 as Deacon at Saint Albans Parish, Honiara and Assistant Rector at Ghaobata Parish, Guadalcanal Plains in 2006. In 2010, he became the Assistant Rector and then Rector in 2011 at Transfiguration Church, Vura Parish, Honiara, in the Diocese of Central Melanesia (DOCM).
Revd Benedict holds a Masters degree in Church Ministry from Otago University, New Zealand in 2012 – 2013; Bachelor of Theology from 2007 – 2009 and Diploma in Theology from 2001 – 2004 at BPTC, Kohimarama.
Revd Benedict comes from Ngalimera village in Guadalcanal and Kmaga village in Ysabel and is married to Charity Loe from Makira and they have three children.
The Consecration and installation service for Revd Benedict into the office of the Bishop will take place on 28 February next year at Saint Paul’s Pro Cathedral, Lengalau, East Honiara.
The Archbishop calls on all members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia to uphold Revd Benedict Loe and his family in prayer as they prepare to take on this important responsibility in the church.
As UK Companions to the Melanesian Brotherhood were unable to gather for this year’s St Simon and St Jude services due to COVID-19, UK South West Companions organised an online service and meeting on 28th October. Seventeen Companions from across the UK were joined by Revd Br Nelson, MBH, who is currently studying in Fiji. During the service, led by Ven John Rawlings, the Lord is My Shepherd was sung by the congregation at Tabalia.
At the meeting Companions shared news from their regions and from the Brotherhood, and watched the Address given by the Archbishop of Melanesia, the Most Revd Leonard Dawea.
Watch these films and revisit the slide content shared during the online service and meeting;
At Tabalia, the Headquarters of the Brotherhood, 41 Novices were admitted as Brothers, 12 Brothers renewed their vows, and 8 were released.
The Melanesian Brotherhood (MBH) was formed by Ini Kopuria, a policeman from Maravovo village, Guadalcanal in 1925. Brothers take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for three years, which can be renewed. They train for four years as Novices and normally make their vows to become Brothers at the Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.
Today, the work of the Brotherhood has reached out to other countries beyond Solomon Islands, including Vanuatu, the Philippines, Australia and Canada. Companions around the world support the Brotherhood through prayer and financial support. For more information on becoming a Companion, contact MMUK.
MORE than 150 synod participants, observers and guests gathered at Kia Parish, in the Diocese of Ysabel (DOY) for their 16th Diocesan synod. The tri-annual meeting was officially opened on Sunday 26th and ended on Thursday 30th July.
The 16th Diocesan synod brought together representatives of the Church, Government (both National and Provincial) and the House of Chiefs in Isabel (Tripod system). The meeting was officially opened by the Guest speaker, the Honourable Member of Parliament of the Host constituency Hograno, Katova, Kia and Havulei, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, the Honourable Jeremiah Manele.
Amongst other dignitaries were the Member of Parliament for Maringe Kokota Constituency and Minister for Environment Hon. Dr. Culwick Togamae, a team from the Anglican Church of Melanesia Provincial Headquarters led by Chief Operating Officer Mr. Peter Pitia, the Premier of Isabel Provincial Government Hon. Leslie Kikolo and his team, Paramount Chief of Isabel retired Bishop James Mason, and General Manager of Isabel Development Company, Mr. Welchman Rubaha.
The Diocesan Bishop of Ysabel, the Right Reverend Ellison Quity, in his inspiring sermon at the opening eucharistic service at Saint Luke’s Church, reminded and challenged the synod delegates and all who attended the service on the Theme: “Bloom the Mission and Ministry of God where you are planted”.
‘Every single person in this room is called to be a living witness for Jesus in Isabel, Russell Islands, Western Province and Choiseul Provinces in Melanesia, in your workplace, in the Solomon Islands and elsewhere,’ said Bishop Ellison.
“We are to bloom wherever we are planted, sent or posted. Be reminded, that if we remain faithful and connected to God in our everyday life, the truth is that we can bloom in the toughest of circumstances
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,” said Bishop Quity as he quote Col 3:23-24.
On that same note, Hon Manele in his address as a guest speaker said, “Church is a divine institute of God that needs a healthy and viable church with opportunities of working together in partnership and deliverance. We need each other to elude the challenges we face and will face in the future”.
ACoM General Secretary Dr. Abraham Hauriasi in his key note address read to the synod delegates by ACoM Chief Operating Officer Mr. Peter Pitia, urged synod delegates to agree on a pathway for greater collaboration in the leadership, resourcing and fulfilling the mission of God in the diocese that will produce a growing and living Church in the diocese of Ysabel.
“As each of us ponders on what ministry we can play in the mission of God in the diocese, let us always be optimistic about the difference our ministry can make in building God’s Kingdom in the DOY. Let us not underestimate the impact of our contribution however small we feel it may be. We indeed need collaborative efforts to advance the mission of the Church,” Dr. Hauriasi said in his address.
Amongst the many motions discussed, carried and accepted by the 16th Diocesan synod were; to amalgamate Laity Training and Clergy Training at Mano Wadrokal School of Theology and Ministry (Tasia) with support from the Diocesan staff and administration; the establishment of a new Community High school in the Western Province to cater for the growing Anglican Community in the Western and Choiseul Provinces in particular; the extension of the Diocesan Bishop’s tenure in the office for another term.
The transition of Bishop Naramana Vocational Training Centre into the Institute of Technology on Carpentry was also highlighted at the synod. A report presented by the Principal of Bishop Naramana Vocational Training Centre, Fr. Christine Advent revealed that, ‘Works are progressing really well and according to plan, it will begin next year as a Government fully funded Scholarship open to any RTC Carpentry graduates with a two years programme that is equivalent to Certificate IV standard of Australia’.
At the end of the synod business, Bishop Quity thank the Paramount Chief of Isabel, retired Bishop James Mason who had rendered his commitment and time taking part in the 16th diocesan synod with the wealth of knowledge and experience he shared with synod members.
Bishop Quity also acknowledged the presence of the National Government and Provincial leaders, staff from the ACOM office in Honiara and other prominent members as well as the chiefs and people of Kia village, surrounding communities, Business houses and families and those who have supported and contributed to the for successfully hosting the 16th diocesan synod in one way or the other.
The Diocese of Ysabel comprises four regions namely; Lawe, Zamako, Tuvano and Gaoma regions and covers Isabel, Central Islands, Choiseul and Western Provinces.
Members of the ACOM religious orders also attended the diocesan synod. A recommendation for a new CSM household was put forward and approved by the synod. This proposed household had been requested by one of the pioneer sisters named Lily Tetehu who gave the site for the Church purposely for the mission and development of the CSM.
MMUK Archivist Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne writes: “I am delighted to read that Lily Tetehu, one of the first sisters of the CSM is giving land for the use of the new CSM Household on Ysabel. She and I worked together when I was chief chaplain of the MBH companions and she was the chief secretary, a role now filled by one of the brothers as ‘co-ordinator of the companions’.
“Lily was a wonderful person to work with, and she had the needs of the MBH in her heart. This led to co-operation with Nester Tiboe, who had the vision of founding the CSM, which Lily discussed with me. We then discussed the idea at the next MBH regional conference at Tabalia, and got the backing of the MBH Father, MBH and companions.”
‘Your Faith and You’ program 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.
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 first edition, we would like to introduce to you basic and foundational statements and teachings of our Christian faith, as revealed to us in Holy Scriptures and as taught by Jesus Christ to his Church. We want to help Christians better understand and know our faith as Christians and why we believe in those foundational truths of this faith of ours.
Fellow Christians, we live in challenging and difficult times in the modern world of today, which is not aligned with the Christian standards we follow and live by, and where detrimental influences of every kind abound and try to attack us and our faith from every side. These bad influences try to lead us away from living the Christian life and from following the standards that our Lord God wants us to live by. As St. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God — what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”
Yet the sad truth is that we are being attacked on every side by a kaleidoscope or explosion of options and choices that confront us daily and seek to lead us astray and away from our faith in the Lord and from living according to his standards, instead of those of the world. And because we do not understand our Christian faith that well, we become weak in our faith and are open to bad influences and are easily misled along the wrong path, into following the way of the world, and to the extent of listening to many wrong and heretical teachings that are coming out today and that detract from the foundational truths of our Christian faith.
So in this first session we would like to introduce to you the basics and foundations of our Christian faith as revealed to us in the Bible, and especially as they are stated in basic statements of faith known as the Creeds.
The word ‘Creed’ comes from the latin word ‘Credo’, which means ‘I believe and trust’. A creed therefore, in our context as Christians, is a summary of our Christian faith, handed down over many centuries up until today. From the earliest days of the Church which we read about in the Book of Acts, the Christian community that was formed around the Apostles of Jesus and especially after their passing on, developed short, simple summaries of the Christian faith, that became known as the ‘Creeds’.
Two creeds in particular were developed in the early centuries of the Church, which have remained important to the Church and are regularly used in our worship today. The first is known as the Apostles Creed, and the other is called the Nicene Creed.
Let us now look at these Creeds one by one. Later we will read the creeds prayerfully so that they continue to resonate and remain in our minds and hearts as we say them with holiness and reverence.
First, the Apostles Creed.
In the early centuries of the Christian church, People who were preparing for baptism, known as Catechumens, learnt a short summary of what Christians believe. One version became accepted as the Apostles’ Creed, because it was believed to include the essential teachings of the first and earliest followers of Jesus Christ, namely the 12 apostles. Into this faith of the apostles Christians were baptised into the body of Christ in those days and times, and as they still are, today.
The Apostles’ Creed, therefore, is a summary of what the Church teaches, and what Christians believe together as a community of faith, rather than it being just a detailed statement of individual and personal belief. When we say the Creed, from wherever we are praying and worshipping, at whatever day or hour we are worshipping, we are all bound together as Christians throughout the whole world, as the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. The word ‘Catholic’ here means ‘Universal’. In the prayerful utterance of the creeds, we are united together as the one holy, catholic or universal church, in the one faith and lordship of our one true God, revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Such unity cuts across whatever different boundaries, traditions, beliefs or practices that each Christian denomination may have; for every time we say the Creed, we join Christians past and present, and yet to come, from all over the world, and from whatever denomination, in proclaiming our one and common faith together.
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; in accordance with the Scriptures, he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the fellowship of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Secondly, let us look at the Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is a more detailed summary of what the whole Church believes about the great doctrines of the Christian faith. It begins with the statement: ‘We believe …’ The Nicene Creed uses the same threefold structure as the Apostles’ Creed but goes into more depth and detail. It was first adopted at the Council of Nicaea, a place in what is now 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 Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died and was buried. On the third day he rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven. and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
What a powerful statement of faith that is brothers and sisters! We know that within the church universal, divisions have taken place over the centuries up until today, but what is more amazing is that all the major Christian traditions continue to acknowledge and accept the words of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed as containing core truths of their faith, and affirming these in their worship and teaching.
Every time we come to say the creeds it is vital to reflect and remember how it is that we come to believe them. It is by the grace and mercy of God that we have come to faith and are able to say and explore these words. It is not through human cleverness or ingenuity. God has revealed himself through the Scriptures and in the wonders of Creation. God has revealed himself most clearly through the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. God makes himself known personally to each believer through the work of the Holy Spirit.
In our second edition, we will break down the truths in the Nicene Creed together and go through them more deeply to unwrap the foundations of our faith as contained in the creed. 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 the 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
This year SSF and CSC were due to hold services to celebrate 50 years working in Melanesia. Postponed due to COVID-19, it is hoped to have these events in 2021. In the meantime, MMUK’s Archivist Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne, looks at the history of the religious orders in the region.
The earliest Religious Order to arrive in the Solomon Islands was the Order of Friars Minor or Franciscan Brothers who came with the first Spanish exploratory expeditions in the 16th century. They however did not stay. Other Roman Catholic Orders came in the mid-19th century. The Pope had asked the newly founded Society or Mary or Marist Fathers, with its Headquarters in France, to undertake work in the central, southern and western Pacific islands, including New Zealand. They tried to establish themselves in the Solomon Islands, but their bishop was killed on Santa Isabel and others had a difficult time on the island of Makira (San Cristoval), so they withdraw for a while. However, they returned in the late 19th century and have been working there ever since. The Dominican Order later arrived to work in the Western Solomons. The Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM) arrived as well.
The first Anglican religious community was established by Mother Margaret and Sister Gwen in 1930, and they called it the Community of the Cross. They had previously worked with Indian Orthodox Sisters in India and had been invited by the Bishop of Melanesia to come and establish a Community, which Melanesian girls could join. They established their base at Siota on Gela, and then moved to Bungana island in the Gela group. After disagreements with two subsequent Bishops, Mother Margaret joined the Roman Catholic Church with most of the Sisters, and some of the Solomon Islander and New Hebridean Sisters joined the RC Daughters of Mary Immaculate, a Community of ‘native’ Sisters founded by the SMSM.
When Bishop John Chisholm became Bishop of Melanesia in 1967, he was determined to ask two Communities to come to the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the Friars and Sisters of First Order of the Society of St Francis. He had seen the work of the Friars in Papua New Guinea and wanted them to work in urban areas in his new diocese as well. The Franciscan Sisters said that they did not have enough Sisters to answer his call, so instead he turned to the Community of the Sisters of the Church, which had been established in London in the 19th century to do social work, but had later extended its work to Australia, where the Bishop came from. They were now looking for new work, having decided to give up their educational work among girls in Australia.
The Melanesian Brotherhood had been established by Brother Ini Kopuria of Guadalcanal island in 1925, and there was some speculation about how the white Brothers and Sisters of the two other Orders would be received when they arrived in 1970. However, these Orders now have many professed members and novices in their Solomon Island Provinces, all indigenous. Later, Nester Tiboe of Guadalcanal, a woman catechist, became convinced that there should be a Community of Sisters along the same lines as the Melanesian Brotherhood, whose members do not usually take life vows, which the members of those other two Communities do. There are therefore now four communities working in the Solomon Islands, and the Melanesian Brotherhood and the Sisters of Melanesia also have houses in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. The four Communities work together in many ways, and also co-operate when appropriate with the Roman Catholic Orders. Some members of the Brotherhood also work in the Philippines and Australia.
The Anglican Church of Melanesia has more members of Religious Orders compared with the overall membership of the Church than any other part of the Anglican Communion, and they do key work in evangelism, social and pastoral work, and community education. They need and desire our prayers and support.
Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne Melanesian Mission Archivist
If you want to find out more about the four orders and their work, watch our films on the religious orders here – www.mmuk.net/films. If you would like to support the Brothers and Sisters, do consider becoming an Associate or Companion. Groups across the UK meet to pray for the communities, consider how best to support them in prayer and giving, and gather for services and pilgrimages.
Mothers’ Union Provincial President, Pamela Abana, looks back at how Mary Sumner Day was commemorated across Melanesia.
Mary Sumner Day was celebrated in a number of ways across the Solomon Islands, with some events under tighter COVID restrictions than others.
In the capital Honiara because of COVID, gatherings were restricted so the Diocese of Central Melanesia organised parish events. At St Barnabas Cathedral Mary Sumner Day was celebrated along with the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 15th August with participation from the Girls’ Friendly Society and Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood celebrating together. The day began with prayer and Holy Communion followed by a brief history of Mary Sumner, followed by lunch and entertainment.
In the Diocese of Central Solomons, Gaeta district admitted four men as associates. In Vatilau district MU members dramatized the challenges they faced in the early days of the MU and shared their passion in how being a Mothers’ Union member helps them in their spiritual growth. Some testified that without the Mothers’ Union they wouldn’t have such a strong faith as they have now. While others shared the challenges they had faced as their husbands did not want them to join the organisation. One women told the gathering that her husband hides her clothes or puts her uniform in a bucket of water so she cannot attend MU Meetings. After these stories were shared, some of the men at Vatilau district realised how important the MU ministry was for their wives and family as a whole, and are now looking forward to supporting them better in the future.
All in all, the Mothers’ Union in Melanesia keeps the mission going, including home visits, prayers and teachings. We really thank God for protecting us up until now as we are still relatively COVID free! We also continue to pray for all Christian families and MU members out there whose lives are in danger during this COVID era.
Ethel from Vanuatu reports
Due to COVID restrictions, Mary Sumner Day, on 9th August was celebrated only in Parishes. In Sola Parish members commemorated Mary Sumner Day with home visitations to pray and bless the sick and those in need. In Sarakata Parish in Luganville, a message on the legacy of Mary Sumner was read to the congregation and after the service there was the sharing of cake and tea. In the two Vanuatu dioceses there have not been any cases of COVID yet, but the MU has been part of the COVID awareness team that distribute handwashing materials and demonstrations to Pentecost Island. The group was also involved in the response and relief activities following Tropical Cyclone Harold, particularly on gender-based violence and discrimination.
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) the Most Reverend Leonard Dawea together with members of the Council of Bishop held a farewell Dinner for their retiring brother bishops; Bishop Alfred Karibongi and Bishop Nathan Tome and their wives at the at the Archbishop’s residence at Bishopdale, west Honiara in late August.
In his speech at the function, Archbishop Dawea explained; “The dinner was organised to thank the Retired Bishops for their many successes and achievements not only in their respective dioceses but for the whole Anglican community in the Province of Melanesia”.
“Bishop Nathan Tome and Alfred Karibongi had contributed a lot to the many important decisions in the highest decision-making bodies of the Church; and it was through their wisdom and experiences as senior Bishops of ACOM that we have had made fine and fair decisions,” Archbishop added.
Bishop Tome and Bishop Karibongi came into their respective episcopal offices when the late Sir Ellison Pogo was still the Archbishop of ACOM. Hence, Archbishop Leonard would be the fourth Archbishop they had served under.
“Though I am your Archbishop, I still see you two as my senior Bishops who I can run to for advice.” Archbishop Dawea said in his speech.
The retired Bishops thanked the ACOM for the privilege to become Bishops in ACOM. They encouraged the remaining Bishops to keep the unity of being brothers and Melanesians in their decision making either within ACOM or in the Anglican Communion.
“Remember, we are shepherds but servants of our people at all levels,” Bishop Tome said in his speech.
Former Archbishop of the Church, Governor General of Solomon Islands the Rt Rev Sir David Vunagi and Madam Vunagi whom the two retired bishops also served under were also invited to the farewell dinner.
Rt Rev Alfred Karibongi came into the office of the Bishop in the Diocese of Hanuato’o on the 30th September 2008 and retired on 9 June 2020. He served as Bishop for 13 years.
The Rt Rev Nathan Tome on the other hand came into the office of the Bishop on the 24th May 2001 in the Diocese of Banks and Torres in Vanuatu and later became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal when it was inaugurated on 23rd June 2013. He officially retired as Bishop of Guadalcanal on September 20th 2020. He served as Bishop for almost 20 years.
Twice in the last five years, Bishop Tome as the senior Bishop of ACOM also supervised the office of the Archbishop during transition periods. The Archbishop together with the council of Bishop and the ACOM family wishes Bishop Nathan Tome and wife Selina and Bishop Alfred Karibongi and wife Esther together with their family a happy and fruitful retirement.