Over 60 of us gathered on an early autumn Saturday in the Cheshire market town of Nantwich for this year’s AGM and Festival. Hospitality was extended to us by the good folk of St Mary’s, who enabled us to share in worship in the parish church and to conduct our business in an upper room in their parish centre.
We were privileged to welcome Archbishop George Takeli and his wife, June to our gathering along with Fr Nigel Kelaepa, ACOM’s acting Mission Secretary and Dr Abraham Hauriasi ACoM General Secretary who were visiting the UK. Proceedings began with the Chairman of Trustees, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, Bishop of Shrewsbury welcoming all to the event wearing a pair of sunglasses which he deemed was necessary given the glare from the shirt worn by one of those present. It was quite bright, Bishop Willie!!
After the presentation of the accounts for the 2016/17 financial year, gifts were presented to the retiring treasurer, Mrs Sue Clayton who was generously thanked for her work. The Ven Mike Gilbertson, Archdeacon of Chester was duly appointed as a trustee. Mr Andrew Cartwright was reappointed as a trustee, both for a period of three years. However, by assent a trustee vacancy remains unfilled at the moment to enable the trustees to discuss further the most appropriate way to manage financial reporting both to the AGM and to trustees’ meetings.
Following the formal AGM, Archbishop George presided at the Festival Eucharist in the parish church and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster preached. In his sermon Bishop Peter drew us to the ‘beauty of the cross, which has always inspired Christian mission’, as Christians endeavour to proclaim Christ crucified whilst living within the mystery of the cross.
After a lovely soup lunch, we reconvened again in the upper room in the parish centre for the Festival. This year we had an opportunity to hear from the archbishop, acting mission secretary and general secretary as well as Andrew Cartwright following his visit to the region earlier in the year. Andrew spoke of needing to be ‘calm in the storm’ as he experienced Cyclone Donna first hand.
Two points stand out from what was shared with us. The first is the impact of climate change on weather patterns and the consequent effect on the ability of those who live in the region to cultivate the land. This will be the case for others around the world. The second was the importance of capacity building and the need to develop clergy who serve in ACoM to enable the church to be self-sufficient, self-reliant and self-propagating going forward.
It was a well-organised and informative occasion. It was good to meet and share with friends old and new and to have an opportunity to hear from the Archbishop of Melanesia and some of his senior staff first hand. My thanks and the thanks of all who attended are extended to our hosts, our guests and those who worked so hard to make the day so fruitful.
Revd Martin Cox