Category: News

The Feast of St Simon and St Jude 2020

The Feast of St Simon & St Jude 2020

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.

Synod delegates and guests after the opening Eucharist service

Diocese of Ysabel Synod

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.

Bishop James Mason, Diocesan Bishop Ellison Quity and Bishop's Chaplain
Bishop James Mason, Diocesan Bishop Ellison Quity and Bishop’s Chaplain

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.

Procession at the opening Holy Eucharist service

“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 Quiti making his address

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.

ACoM Communications

Melanesian Chapel

Your Faith And You – Part 1

Fr Nigel Kelaepa

‘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.

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.

Melanesian Prayer Book

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.

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.

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.

Read; Your Faith And You – Part 2.

Fr. Nigel Kelaepa, ACoM Mission Secretary

Melanesian Brotherhood

The Arrival of Anglican Religious Orders in Melanesia

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.

Religious Life Sunday in The Solomon Islands
Religious Life – Sunday in The Solomon Islands
Melanesian Religious Orders
Melanesian Religious Orders

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 – 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.

UK Companions on their Yearly Pilgrimage to Holy Island
UK Companions on their yearly pilgrimage to Holy Island
Mary Sumner Day

Mary Sumner Day

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.

Mary Sumner Day

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.

Oldest MU Member, Mirriam Kuakuani
Our Oldest Mothers’ Union Member, Mirriam Kuakuani – front row centre
Admitting Four New Associates
Admitting Four New Associates

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.

Mothers’ Union Provincial Office, Honiara

Bishop Tome and Bishop Karibongi

Council of Bishops – Farewell Brother Bishops

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.

Cutting The Cake

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.

ACoM Communications

Sam Rylands and Friends

Now The Adventure Begins

Many enjoyed Sam’s talk at our AGM in September about his time in the Solomon Islands in March of this year. Although this article appeared in our summer 2020 magazine, here it is again with more pictures from Sam’s trip.

Sam Rylands Ordination at St Paul's
Sam Rylands Ordination at St Paul’s

On Holy Saturday I arrived back to a much changed and much quieter London than the one I had left a month before. Having confirmed my safe arrival in the Solomon Islands in an email exchange with Katie Drew (MMUK Executive Officer), who had been kindly helping me to organise the trip, she replied, “Now the adventure begins!” Neither of us knew at that stage how accurate her response would prove to be!

As an ordinand in the Church of England, I was eager to experience the life of the Anglican Church and the shape of formation in a very different context before being ordained deacon and beginning my curacy this summer. I am also currently researching for a PhD thesis exploring how the church engages faithfully in politics and so found myself particularly drawn to the Melanesian Brotherhood’s recent history in their pivotal role as peacemakers during the ethnic tensions at the turn of the millennium. Particularly striking is the Brothers’ distinctive and committed pattern of prayer and worship, which is not a retreat from the world, but the structure and life source that enables them to live fully for the world, serving their local communities and wider society so faithfully.

The View From Tabalia
The View From Tabalia

I was initially intending to visit for a couple of months, throughout Lent, Holy Week and over Easter, with the purpose of participating in and learning from the communal life and worship of the Brothers. Immersing myself in the community at Tabalia as much as possible gave me a chance to experience their beautifully simple but varied life together. And I loved all of it– from daily attending the very early First Office, (walking to the chapel in the dark, dodging frogs along the way!), to eating kasava and kakake (affectionately known as “swamp taro”), attempting to fix the waterpipe after heavy rain fall but spending most of the time swimming in the river, as well as several logging trips with the Brothers to collect firewood. It was a real privilege to be welcomed in by the Brothers, Novices and Aspirants and to be allowed to join them in their everyday lives. I was also given the privilege of preaching on Mothering Sunday, where Novice Patteson very kindly helped me to write and deliver sections of the sermon in Pijin, as well as narrating the Passion play on Palm Sunday, which thankfully was in English!

Sam Rylands and The Brotherhood at Tabalia
Sam Rylands and The Brotherhood at Tabalia

However, during this time with the Brothers, I was also becoming increasingly aware of the spreading pandemic of COVID-19. Thankfully because of internet access at Kohimarama Theological College I was able to stay relatively up to date as things changed across the world. Yet, because of the rapid speed at which things changed, I was not able to move my flights forward quickly enough to avoid being stuck in Solomons indefinitely, as Australia, and then the Solomon Islands too, closed their borders!

Sam Rylands and The British High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Dr Brian Jones
Sam Rylands and The British High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Dr Brian Jones

Being stranded in Solomons felt very surreal. On the one hand, I was in paradise with beautiful idyllic surroundings, as life continued pretty much as normal at Tabalia and across the Islands. Yet every time I would walk up to “Kohi” to speak with friends and family back home, I would be updated on the worsening spread of this deadly virus. This led to a time of uncertainty, for me, but perhaps primarily for my family back home, as I had three flights cancelled in my attempt to return to the UK. With things changing not just daily but hourly, and no clear indication of how long the lockdown would last, it was unclear just how long I would be stranded in Tabalia. But I was reassured by the Brothers that I was welcome to stay with them for as long as necessary, even if that meant being there at Christmas, and being ordained whilst I was out there! Though they also knew my need to get back to my wife Lily, and so continued to pray for me.

Having been back to Honiara a couple of times to speak with the British High Commissioner, however, it became clear that there was little that could be done in terms of arranging travel home other than praying and waiting for things to open up again. Ultimately though, it was hard to become overly anxious about my situation partly because of where I was stranded. I remember one Sunday afternoon messing around in the canoe in the sea with some of the younger boys and one of the Brothers, and just thinking how fortunate I was to be doing this whilst everyone back in the UK was stuck inside! But also during this time, the rhythm of prayer and worship at Tabalia really gave me a sense of peace, as well as learning from and being held by the Brothers’ own deep trust and reliance in God that all would be well.

The View From Chester Rest House
The View From Chester Rest House

Of course, we were also aware of the potential threat and impact of COVID-19 arriving in the Solomon Islands, not just on the limited health resources but also the social and economic implications. We began to discuss some of the ways the Brothers needed to prepare practically, in modelling good hygiene both for their own sake, but also for all the communities across the islands. But most importantly, the Brothers continue to prepare spiritually, to be there for the people of Melanesia, shining the light of Christ in the darkness, knowing that whatever comes their way God is with them. Or as the Pijin version of John’s Gospel beautifully puts it; “nao matta stay dark… erytime get light.”

Eventually I was able to be squeezed onto a US repatriation flight as the 200th and final passenger on the plane. The circumstances of the last-minute flight meant I sadly missed Easter weekend at Tabalia and had to say very rushed goodbyes, but perhaps not having long drawn out goodbyes was more appropriate as I very much hope to return. The flight itself left Honiara, the first time there had ever been a plane of that size on the runway, to head to San Francisco via Hawaii, before I caught my onward flight to London. By the time I arrived back in the UK I had completed a round the world trip, just not in the circumstances I had quite imagined!

Empty Honiara Airport
Empty Honiara Airport
The Plane Home Via USA
The Plane Home Via USA

It is very hard to thank the Brotherhood, and all those I met, enough for their hospitality, generosity, and kindness throughout my time with them, particularly under such uncertain circumstances. During my stay I was struck by their warmth but also their sense of fun. Their commitment to God and to one another is dedicated and sincere, yet at the same time full of life and laughter! I have left with much to be thankful for, but also much to learn from them, and I am certain that this experience will continue to shape my own life of faith and ministry for the rest of my life.

Sam Rylands

We pray for Sam and his family as he begins his curacy in the Diocese of London.

Bishop Nathan Tome Retires

Bishop Nathan Tome’s Last Diocesan Synod


“The way forward for us the leaders and people of Guadalcanal especially in the Diocese of Guadalcanal is to change from negative attitude and accommodate positive attitude and mindset”. The Right Reverend Nathan Tome, Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal uttered this to the members of the 4th Diocesan synod which was officially opened in August at Bwauna village, West Longu District, east Guadalcanal.

“I make this in the light of my experience gained during my episcopate over seeing two dioceses for the past 19 years”, he added.

He further stated, “We need new mindset for doing Mission and Ministry. An outreach from everywhere to everywhere is what we need as well as improvement in inter-denomination and inter faith mission”.

On that same note, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia The Most Reverend Leonard Dawea who delivered the keynote address said; Having reflected on the theme, I cannot help withhold my focus on the gospel story of a woman’s faith in Matthew 15: 21-28. As a Canaanite woman, she held strong faith in Christ for the healing of her daughter. The series of statements she boldly uttered to Jesus, indicated a changed mindset towards Jesus as the healer of her daughter. This story well summed up the theme of this Synod.

“We need to insist on what leads to greater good for our Church and society. We must insist on unity and working together. We must insist on growing and developing the diocese towards maturity as the Body of Christ, the agent of salvation”. Archbishop Dawea added.

“I applaud you for choosing a bold theme to guide the Synod proceedings. A theme is not just a statement to meet the protocols of the Synod, but a guideline or task manifesto for now until the next Synod. The task of the theme is mission work now and beyond, but to do that proactively and effectively, first of all our mindset needs to change and our faith renewed towards that common end,” Archbishop Leonard added.

The synod began with a welcome ceremony on Friday afternoon followed by prayer retreat on Saturday led by Rev. Dr. Atkin Zaku from the Commission on Faith and Order office at the ACOM head office.

“As Christians the responsibility of furthering God’s mission depended very much on us so that it is also equally our responsibility to see necessary changes for its progress. The call to change is thus on us. And whilst we find new ways to allow changes, we are here this week not to condemn each other but to support each other in the things we did wrong and the things we failed to do. However, change must begin in us”. Rev. Dr. Zaku said in his retreat address.

The opening Eucharist service on Sunday morning was followed by the keynote address by the Most Reverend Leonard Dawea.

This was the final diocesan synod for Bishop Tome as he officially retired from office as the diocesan Bishop for Guadalcanal on the 20th of September.

The Diocese of Guadalcanal consists of 19 Parishes and districts with 126 local churches and 14 satellite churches.

Bishop Nathan Tome Retires


On 20th September The Right Revd Nathan Tome, Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal and the Senior Bishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) officially laid down the diocesan Pastoral stuff that was handed to him when he was made Bishop of the diocese in 2013.

The laying down of the pastoral stuff on the altar of the diocesan cathedral symbolizes that act of relinquishing the authority vested upon him as the Diocesan Bishop of Guadalcanal.

Bishop Tome is the first Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal when it was inaugurated in 2013 and served the diocese for seven years.

Bishop Tome served the church as lay church worker for around ten years, a Priest for another ten years and Bishop for twenty years. He spent thirteen years as Bishop in the Diocese of Banks and Torres in Vanuatu.

He is so far the longest serving Bishop in the ACOM.

Rev. Dr. Ben Wate, speaking on behalf of the ACOM Provincial Headquarters team who attended the ceremony acknowledged the many contributions Bishop Tome rendered to the ACOM as a Priest and Bishop.

Re. Dr. Wate said; “As a bishop in the Church, Bp. Nathan participated in various provincial decision-making bodies of the Church including the General Synod, Executive Council, Council of Bishops (CoB), diocesan and Provincial electoral boards.”

“Given his heavy involvement in these important decision-making bodies, it is not hard to see the extent of Bp. Nathan’s influence in the life of the ACoM over the last 20 years,” he said.

He added, “Twice he also supervised the office of Archbishop, the latest being last year following the retirement of Archbishop George Takeli. The Church has benefited from his advice on some of the decisions the Church had to make during those two periods. He also represented the Church in regional and international Anglican and other Ecumenical forums”.

  • Bishop Nathan Tome Retires
  • Bishop Nathan Tome Retires
  • Bishop Nathan Tome Retires
  • The Good Shepherd Choir From Foxwood

Retired Bishop Tome thanked the ACOM and all members of the church for the support rendered to him and his family during his term as an active Priest and Bishop of ACOM.

“We have shared, worshipped and celebrated together in the past seven years and I have given my best. Now my time is over. I must go down so that a new one must come with new strength to move us forward. Show the same love and support you have for me to my next successor in the coming months.” The Retired Bishop said in his final remarks to a packed Saint Paul’s cathedral. 

The farewell Liturgical service was held at St. Paul’s Pro Cathedral, Lengalau, North East Honiara on Sunday 20th September.

The Archbishop calls on the whole church to pray for Bishop Nathan Tome and his family as he takes on a well-deserved retirement.

The Diocese of Guadalcanal in the Province of Guadalcanal is the newest diocese in the Province of Melanesia and comprises the island of Guadalcanal excluding the city of Honiara.                 

ACoM Communications

Bishop Alfred Karibongi Retirement

Right Reverend Alfred Karibongi Retires As Bishop Of Hanuato’o

The Right Reverend Alfred Karibongi officially retired as the Bishop of the Diocese of Hanuato’o (DOH) at a Liturgical Farewell Service in August at the Saint Peter Diocesan Cathedral, Kirakira. Bishop Karibongi turned 65 on the 9th of June and had served the diocese for 13 years since his consecration on 30th September 2007 at the same Cathedral.

“The Liturgical Farewell service as such is an important occasion in which the Church celebrates the gift of leadership and service and today we gather here to give thanks to God for calling Bishop Alfred, and his good wife and children to take on the episcopal leadership of God’s sheepfold in this diocese in the last 13 years. We are here to celebrate a successful mission of leadership and service for God’s people in this great land of Hanuato’o,” the Rev. Dr. Ben Wate said in a farewell address at Saint Peter’s church.

Bishop Alfred Karibongi Retirement

“Prior to becoming the Bishop of the diocese, Bishop Karibongi has held various posts as a clergy including Dean of the Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral,” Chief Operating Officer of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) Mr. Peter Pitia said in his farewell address.

“As a priest and Bishop, he served on many important decision-making bodies of ACOM and his contribution has been immense given his wealth of experience and wisdom,” Mr. Pitia added.

“On taking office after his consecration on September 2007, the first situation he encountered in office was that the Diocese was at the brink of collapse financially,’ Diocesan Secretary, Mr. Silas Hulanga said in his farewell speech.

“With the financial difficulties experienced by the Diocese at that time; the main concern then during the 6th Diocesan Synod at Ngorangora, and also at the bishop’s first synod in 2008 was to re-afloat the diocese financially rather than making a lot of wishful promises. Later on, it was a Mission decentralization program passed and implemented with Mission Field officers stationed at each of the four (4) four zones setup around the diocese to carry out mission work and training in their respective zones.” He added.

‘With the implementation of the partnership network or Parish Strengthening Concept, the diocese successfully established 5 Parish Headquarters namely: West Wairaha Parish HQ, West Haununu, East Arosi, Ugi, Oa Riki,’ the Diocesan Secretary stated.

Mission work over the last 13 years then was on decentralisation of mission coordination, down to the parishes; self-reliance on parish and diocese, strengthening and empowerment of people to participate fully in mission through training.

The Premier of Makira Ulawa Province, Hon. Julian Maka’a in his address acknowledged the unity that brought together all who have come to witness the Liturgical farewell service of Bishop Karibongi.

“We cannot go on our separate way to look after our people. We must hold hands together to serve our people effectively. And I thank you Bishop Karibongi for that unity rendered to the Province through the successive Governments as well as to other stakeholders, churches, house of chiefs and others.” The Hon Premier said.

In his final speech, Bishop Karibongi acknowledged the Anglican Church of Melanesia, Makira Ulawa Provincial Government, Ecumenical Partners, Chiefs and elders, friends and family members for their support and working together over the 13 years when he was bishop.

  • Bishop Alfred Karibongi Retirement
  • Bishop Alfred Karibongi Retirement

He also reminded clergy about their mission and ministry in his farewell address.

“A priest is a person who offers intercession and sacrifice, and hence should be at the sanctuary at all times. Therefore, we must be committed to our work, set godly example to people around us, live a life of prayer and keep oneself spiritually and physically clean.” The retiring Bishop called on the clergymen.

The Vicar General of the Diocese, Rev. Canon Clayton Maha will look after the welfare of the Diocese during the transition period under the supervision of the Archbishop of ACOM, the Most Rev. Leonard Dawea until the election of a new Bishop which will take place before the end of this year after the diocesan synod.

The Archbishop calls on the whole church to pray for Bishop Karibongi and his family as he takes on a well-deserved retirement.

THE Diocese of Hanuato’o (DOH) was inaugurated at St. George Church now renamed St. Peters Cathedral, Kirakira on 29th day of June 1991, at the feast of St. Peter’s.

The first Diocesan Bishop was The Rt. Rev. James Philip Mason who came into office on 29th June 1991 followed by The Rt. Rev. Jonnie Kuper on 10th April 2005, and the retiring Bishop, Rt Rev. Alfred Karibongi from 30th September 2007 to 16th August 2020.

ACoM Communications

COVID-19 Awareness Training

Resilience course launched by Anglican Alliance & Episcopal Relief & Development

We were delighted to hear that five ACoM participants from the Solomon Islands and one from Vanuatu will be attending this new online course designed and facilitated by the Anglican Alliance and Episcopal Relief and Development. Please pray for the participants and their trainers as they journey together over the next year.

Relief and resilience are one of the Anglican Alliance’s key pillars, with an increasing emphasis on resilience as it becomes ever more apparent how critical resilience is in a world experiencing increasing numbers of disasters.

With Melanesia facing climate change, environmental and natural disasters, and the threat of COVID-19, this course will build a network of Anglican leaders with greater capacity for response and resilience and with better understanding of basic humanitarian concepts.

Dr Janice Proud, Anglican Alliance Disaster Response and Resilience Manager said of the course: “We cannot prevent disasters, nor can we remove all threats and hazards from our lives. But we can increase our resilience to them – our capacity to absorb, mitigate, adjust to and recover from adverse events and circumstances”

Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Programme Officer in Disaster Response and Risk Reduction at Episcopal Relief & Development, added: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and in other emergency situations, we have seen that the more resilient a community is and the better prepared it is for a disaster, the better able it is to respond, cope and survive when a crisis hits. We have also seen the power of accompaniers – people who have themselves come through a disaster and offer to walk alongside a community going through one” –.

Read more about the course here; Launching today: our new Resilience course – an invitation to take part.