Thursday 30th September at 10am – 11am (and 7pm – 8pm) BST
On Thursday 30th September at 10am – 11am and repeated again at 7pm – 8pm BST, I will be hosting an online event to share the latest news from the region and from our AGM and Festival Day in the presence of our President, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The event will run for about 45 minutes to 1 hour with a short briefing from me, a time to ask questions, and finish in prayer for our friends in Melanesia.
If you would like to attend and or know others who would like to join us, please let me know and I will send a link. Do also let me know if you have any particular questions / topics you would like me to cover.
Many thanks for your continuing support and I hope to see you online soon.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is to visit Devon in September to open a new pilgrimage route in honour of John Coleridge Patteson, the first Bishop of Melanesia.
The 8-mile Patteson’s Way is a joint initiative between the Melanesian Mission (MMUK) of which Archbishop Justin Welby is President, local school children and the Diocese of Exeter.
This year marks 150 years since Patteson, who grew up in Feniton in East Devon, was killed for his faith in 1871, after travelling from Devon to Melanesia as a Christian missionary in 1855.
The Diocese of Exeter is linked with the Anglican Province of Melanesia which covers the South Pacific nations of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
Today Christians in the islands revere Patteson as a martyr and many regard his family home and churches in Devon as places of pilgrimage.
The Right Reverend Mark Rylands, an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Exeter and Chair of MMUK, said “The Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to Devon is a wonderful tribute to the witness and ministry of a great missionary.
“150 years ago, Patteson’s endeavours helped to birth a Melanesian Church that is numerically and spiritually vibrant today. Now, they are ready, willing and able to help us in the UK to renew our Christian faith and tread more lightly upon the earth.”
The new circular pilgrimage route begins and ends at St Andrew’s Church in Feniton. It also includes St James and St Anne, Alfington, where Patteson was first a priest, St Mary’s, Ottery St Mary, which has a Melanesian Chapel, and Patteson’s Cross, a memorial sited where Patteson left Devon by stagecoach on his journey to Melanesia.
During his visit on 18 September, Archbishop Justin will do part of the walk with local families before preaching at a special service at Exeter Cathedral.
Katie Drew, MMUK’s Executive Officer, said “The legacy of Patteson lives on, not only in Melanesia, but in Devon. So many of his values and concerns speak to us today – hidden slavery, black lives matter and care of the environment.
“We hope this new pilgrimage route will enable people to reflect on Patteson’s life, mission and courage, and bring a little bit of Melanesia to walkers in the beautiful East Devon Countryside.”
The Reverend David Carrington, vicar of St Andrew’s, Feniton, said “I am sure Bishop Patteson could not have imagined what would grow from his missionary work. He simply followed his calling and sowed in faith and love.”
MMUK, which is based in Devon, also works to highlight the effects of climate change in Melanesia, where some islands are already succumbing to rising sea levels. Mark Rylands said the Melanesia link was an opportunity for Christians in the UK to make a difference in the fight against climate change “We, in MMUK, do all we can to help the people of Melanesia with disaster relief funding, resourcing vital research and facing the impact of global warming. We are a family 10,000 miles apart – brothers and sisters in Christ supporting one another.”
The Cathedral will be open from 10.00am for viewings of the Patteson exhibition and the Eucharist will be at 12noon. At 2.00pm our guest speakers will include Bishop Willie Pwaisiho and Revd Richard Carter speaking on the legacy of Patteson, and Marie Schlenker and Kate Pwaisiho talking about faith and science in the care of creation. This will be followed by the AGM, finishing at 4.30pm.
Talk by Dr Robert Guyver. Chapter House, Exeter Cathedral Drinks will be served from 6.45pm, followed by the talk at 7.00pm
Robert’s talk will present a more nuanced truth about John Coleridge Patteson which involves steering a middle way between the enthusiastic biographies that followed his death and more critical accounts contemporary with our own times. This is a missionary but also a maritime story, with fascinating records to be found in the log-books of the ‘Southern Cross’. Patteson’s martyr’s death on Nukapu (in the Reef Islands Group, Solomon Islands) with those of two others who died with him on 20 September 1871 – or soon after – was Christ-like in many ways, but it was a sacrifice that bore fruit. First it led to changes in legislation to stop ‘blackbirding’, but also, and more significantly, it led to the wholehearted and voluntary adoption of the Christian faith in many, many communities across the Pacific.
The work of the Melanesian Mission continues this legacy and offers opportunities for constructive and prayerful connection between the Diocese of Exeter and the Diocese of Melanesia. Chapels or niches in Alfington, Feniton and Ottery St Mary churches commemorate Patteson, as does Patteson’s Cross and the Martyrs’ Pulpit in Exeter Cathedral.
Robert worked in primary education from 1969 to 2011, first as a teacher, then as an advisory teacher, and lastly as a lecturer at the College of St Mark and St John. Since 2010 he has been Secretary of the Exeter Branch of the Historical Association. When he was on a short secondment to New Zealand in 2007 he visited some of the places associated with Patteson.
Tickets cost £13 for Friends and £17 for non-members. Please ring the Friends Office on 01392 423931 for booking details.