By Reverend Richard Carter and Reverend Jacky Wise
RC: How many Brothers and Novices are there currently?
In Tabalia there are 138 Novices in training and there are 300 Novices and 200 Brothers across the seven dioceses, including Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
Five novices accompanied four brothers in one area, Nikoyu, in Malaita, and they are developing a brand new area of mission. We are building seven new houses and a chapel and actually making a new village. They baptised five families last month.
RC: Would you say that the brothers still playing a major role of evangelism across the Solomon Islands?
Yes, I think we are in the front line. This year ACOM has launched the Decade of Evangelism and the Brothers are in the front line of this work.
It’s the same mission strategy. The Brothers are the people who are prepared to stay, do practical and tough work, whereas some missionaries just visit and then go.
RC: Could you tell us a bit more about the new decade of evangelism?
Jeffrey, the former Chester student, is coordinating the strategy. We want people within the different Anglicans sectors or groups can relate to each other and to understand each other better. We want to empower them all, including the Mothers’ Union, the Companions and the parishes.
RC: Why are the Brothers such effective evangelists?
The Brothers go and live among the families and get involved. We then show them what to do. The former Archbishop, David Vunagi, said to us that the mission of the Brothers and their communities is successful partly due to the fact that the people will obey the Brothers but they won’t necessarily obey the parish priests.
RC: Does singing, music and drama still play a big part in your missions?
The dramas are so important. Always. The youth want drama. This year the Passion Play has been important in communicating to young people, and we appreciate being able to use the dramas that you prepared with us too.
RC: How does it feel to the leader of such a big community?
I have seven section elder Brothers and they take a lot of responsibility too. It’s not just me doing the work. If there is something really hard for them to handle then they call on me, especially in disciplinary cases.
RC: I remember when Chester Rest House was built. How important has this been? It’s generated quite an income over the last fifteen years hasn’t it?
It plays such an important role in what we have been able to do. The profit from the Rest House has allowed us to buy so many things. It funds 60% of all our missionary activity.
It’s not just the Rest House; the Brothers who have studied in Chester have been such a blessing to us all after their studies. One of them is a Bishop, Leonard, who is helping the whole church, and Jeffrey is now coordinating a major strategy and there is Jonathan too, who is now a chaplain again. They’re making a huge contribution. My own time in Chester exposed me to many different people and I have a better understanding of difference.
RC: What attracts young people to this tough way of life?
The Rule is tough but they want experience, and they know that tough things will be good. You do what others do and they like it. We always get many more applications than we can take.