A sense of connectedness was created by meeting at Selwyn College Cambridge, founded by the Selwyn Memorial Committee following the death of George Augustus Selwyn in 1878. A large number of Companions, Trustees and loyal friends met at the invitation of the Selwyn College Chapel, and we were very grateful for this opportunity.
After essential business, special thanks was offered to Barbara Molyneux for her commitment and love for the people of the Solomon Islands, which has helped us in maintaining strong communication, particularly with the Brothers. Also a special mention of thanks was offered to Honorary Treasurer Chris Liley, who will shortly be stepping down from being a trustee of MMUK. As well as line-managing Katie, he has been at the forefront of many plans and has provided helpful leadership in several sub-committees.
That sense of connectedness to our history and development was perhaps especially felt through the midday Eucharist which was in the Victorian chapel. The service was led by Bishop Mark and the preacher was the Venerable Chris Liley. Chris reminded us, through the story of Jesus telling the fishermen to cast their nets into deep water (Luke 5:1-11), that when Jesus chose each one of us to do his work he used our gifts.
In the afternoon, Bishop Mark interviewed Sisters Priscilla and Mary Gladys and Brother Samson, during which Priscilla remarked that we should share more, smile more and that young people need to get more involved. Brother Samson appreciated that he had learnt to sew whilst being in the UK!
Katie led us through a short review of the year, which included celebrations of the Melanesian and Chester Diocesan Link and Bishop Willie campaigning against Climate Change, including a trip to Brussels. We were updated on other major events and projects, the main one being the earlier visit by Archbishop George and his party to the UK.
Katie told us of her first visit to Vanuatu and how she had several encouraging meetings across the dioceses. This fulfilled one of Katie’s major aims since becoming CEO, to deepen relationships in Vanuatu and to meet project partners face to face. We were shown pictures of the relocated St Patrick’s school, which is currently relying on marquees for class rooms, since the volcanic eruption in Ambae, which has created chaos across the northern part of the island. Photos from Katie’s recent trip also revealed how much of the land in Guadalcanal has been cleared for palm oil fields. Better news was given in that the Retreat House at TNK is nearly ready and all the accommodation will be ready for Caroline Welby’s visit.
Daphne Jordan reported on the successful training on Christian Distinctiveness in church schools. After her much appreciated first visit in 2013, further senior secondary school staff had asked for this specific training, which took them through Vision and Values; Healthy Relationships; Mission Statements; Assessment, Prayer and several other aspects of development and change.
We were all deeply impressed by the first volunteer teachers from Project Trust. Armed with “school resources, willingness and culturally appropriate flowery skirts” Flora and Juliet taught 300 secondary school pupils with the aim of making English classes more interesting and dynamic, with the intention of reducing school drop-out. Flora also reported that Project Trust intends to keep the momentum going and for any improvements to be built upon with the next four volunteers who arrived in the Solomon Islands in August.
Looking ahead, we are preparing to welcome Bishop James and Bishop Rickson to the UK in early 2019, and before we closed Bishop Mark shared his aim of broadening the base of support and his desire for us all to reach out to the younger generations.
Reverend Jacky Wise