Bishop John Coleridge Patteson attended the King’s School in Ottery St Mary, near his family’s home, before going away to boarding school at Eton. In memory of Patteson, today one of the school’s four houses is named after him. Here Head of Patteson House, Mrs Becky Jacobs, explains why Patteson still inspires her and the King’s pupils today.
I became Head of Patteson House at the King’s School, Ottery St Mary in January 2010. I was instantly intrigued by the man who was our figurehead and as an historian wanted to know all about him. I have tried to read as much as possible about him and use this information to try to translate to my students some of Patteson’s values and aspirations. I love the fact that education was at the heart of Patteson’s life and he sought not only to educate others but at a time when it was very much a privilege. I am delighted too that he tried to include women as well as men in his quest. This was forward thinking for the 19th century.
I am fascinated with Patteson’s journey to the other side of the world and the remoteness he must have felt. I wonder if he missed East Devon. I have never been to the Solomon Islands, maybe one day I will go there. I have an image of this tall, bearded man wading ashore at Nakapu with gifts and then being tragically struck down. I am immensely proud that Patteson was an anti-slavery pioneer. Other houses at the King’s school cannot necessarily testify to the great character of their figureheads but we can…like the suffragettes Patteson’s colour (green) suggests growth and development. Again and again, education and personal belief is all important. I am proud to be able to talk about Patteson in assembly and show he is so incredibly relevant today. I can use him as a role model for students, someone who expressed a need to learn continually and someone willing to take risk, to travel and to learn about other cultures.
I have pinned my colours firmly to the mast as Head of Patteson at the King’s school. I ALWAYS wear something green every day, have some wonderful banners and I talk about Patteson’s memory often. I was really proud that my students raised over £100, four years ago to help towards cleaning up the memorial at Patteson’s Cross. I also remember several years ago abseiling down Feniton Church tower to raise money for causes in the Solomon Islands, a great experience!
I hope later in the year to inspire students to find a 21st century equivalent to Patteson, to partner his ideas and aspiration in the modern age. Having said that, Patteson belongs as much in the 21st century as he did in the 19th. I could not be prouder than to have this person as our House figurehead at The King’s School.
Becky Jacobs Head of Patteson House and Teacher of History and Politics The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, Devon
The King’s School is formally linked with the Bishop Norman Palmer School in the Solomon Islands. There have been teacher exchanges and visits, and pupils have exchanged letters and worked on joint environmental projects.
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia the Most Revd Leonard Dawea officiated at the Consecration and Installation service of the new Bishop of Guadalcanal, assisted by the Bishop of the Diocese of Central Solomons, the Rt. Rev Ben Seka and Bishop of the Diocese of Ysabel, the Rt Rev Ellison Quity and other retired Bishops.
Archbishop Christopher Cardone of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Honiara was the preacher at this historical ceremony.
Amongst many other points mentioned in his first address as the new Bishop of Guadalcanal; The Rt Rev. Benedict Loe highlighted the need for his clergy and lay people to come together and refloat or restrengthen the work of the ninth ship (diocese) within ACoM.
Around five thousand church goers both from the Diocese of Guadalcanal, Diocese of Central Melanesia and sister churches came to witness the ceremony despite heavy down pour a day before. Close to one hundred traditional gifts of foods (chupu) were prepared in this historical event.
Photos from the Consecration and Installation of the Right Reverend Benedict Loe as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal at Good Shephard Cathedral, Foxwood, East Guadalcanal, Sunday 28th February 2021.
‘Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it”.’ Mark 8: 34 – 36. This is the gospel reading chosen for Bishop John Coleridge Patteson’s Feast Day.
I firmly believe that these words of Jesus are ingrained and embedded in the life and ministry of Bishop Patteson. They show how he lived out his life for the sake of the people of Melanesia, and I am counted as one of those. In his diary, quoted by Margaret Cropper in Flame Touches Flame, are the words, ‘I feel the sense of responsibility deepening on me. I must go out to work without Selwyn, and very anxious I am sometimes, and almost oppressed by it. But strength will come and it is not one’s work, which is a comfort; and if I fail – which is very likely – God will place some other man in my position, and the work will go on, whether in my hands or not, and that is the real point’.
Having visited Bishop Patteson’s home and the church where he did his curacy, I was overcome by the fact of the Bishop leaving his comfortable dwelling to live as a homeless stranger in these islands. Spreading the Gospel was more vital to him than living in a comfortable home. Where would we be if Bishop Patteson had not made the sacrifice? Would we be still living in darkness without Christ? We owe a lot to the bishop for denying himself and taking risks for our sake. We are the very fruit of his sacrificial life and the shedding of his blood. This role model of Bishop Patteson challenges us Melanesians. Are we prepared to deny ourselves and to take up our cross for the sake of the gospel? Is the Gospel at the very heart of our lives and our ministry? If it is at the heart of our lives and our ministry, then we too will experience the joy of spreading the good news to our neighbours and living it out in our lives, families and parishes. God’s word is alive and active and we must feed on it daily. It is powerful in that it transforms and shapes our lives as believers in God.
An item in this week’s news was shocking. A man was accused of sorcery and his feet and hands were bound together and were chopped off. It happened on one of the islands near where Bishop Patteson’s life was laid down. This shows that there is still much to do here in Melanesia in ministry among our people and we need to work very hard.
Our Community is working with women and children who are the victims of domestic violence. It is very sad that we call ourselves a Christian country, but domestic violence is very high in our towns, villages and homes. Although terrible things may happen in our country, we must overcome evil with good, as the Bishop left us the model. As Christians, we need to revisit our mission among our people in our islands. We must deny ourselves for the sake of the gospel. ‘Patteson’s murder was brutal, but it proved to be the seed of the Melanesian Church which grew and continues to grow from strength to strength’. Bishop Patteson brought the Good News to us. May nothing overwhelm the light of Christ within us.
Marie Schlenker has recently joined MMUK as an intern and will support our team over the next three months. Marie is passionate about reducing inequalities in this world through sharing and caring for God’s creation. During her placement she will focus on creating new opportunities for environmental education and practical climate action.
In her role as an intern at MMUK, Marie will take the lead in developing a climate change course for the students at the theological colleges in Melanesia, which will equip the next generation of priests with the necessary skills to incorporate climate change into their teachings and set up environment observatories in their local communities. Furthermore, she will network to increase opportunities for wider audiences in Melanesia and the UK to get involved in practical climate action, which is essential to ensure that our friends in Melanesia today and our next generations in the UK can continue to hope for a bright future.
Marie has a background in science and is working towards her PhD at the University of Southampton, studying climate change impacts and community relocations in Solomon Islands. With the support of MMUK and ACoM, she conducted research in remote communities in Solomon Islands in 2019, visiting the Provinces of Guadalcanal and Malaita. Furthermore, she is involved in the design and implementation of citizen-based environmental monitoring within the ACoM Environment Observatory. Before starting her PhD, Marie completed a Masters degree in Environmental Physics and volunteered as a teacher in Chile.
The Diocese of Hanuato’o’s Electoral Board has elected the Revd Arthur Stanley Abui as the fourth Bishop for the Diocese of Hanuato’o (DOH) in Makira Ulawa Province. The consecration will be held at the diocesan Cathedral, Saint Peter Cathedral, Kira Kira on 21st March 2021.
Revd Arthur was elected on Friday 22nd January at Hautabu, the headquarters of the Society of Saint Franciscan Brothers, near Selwyn College, west Guadalcanal, and succeeds the Right Reverend Alfred Karibongi, who retired in June 2020.
Revd Arthur is currently serving as the Mission Secretary of the Diocese of Hanuato’o, a post he has held since 2019. Prior to that he was a Chaplain at Saint Stephen Community College, Pamua in the Diocese of Hanuato’o 2014 to 2016. He also held several other posts in the Diocesan office since 2009.
Revd Arthur was ordained Priest on 8th December 2002, and began his priesthood ministry for three years serving as Parish Priest in East Arosi. In 2006 he was appointed Evangelism Coordinator and later became the Diocesan Mission Secretary in 2010.
Revd Arthur holds a Masters of Theology in Church Ministry from the Pacific Theological College, Suva fiji and a Degree in Church Ministry from BPTC, Kohimarama.
Revd Arthur comes from Heraniau village in Arosi 1, west Makira and is married to Rebecca Abui from Heuru village also in Arosi 1, West Makira and they have four children.
The Archbishop calls on all members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia to uphold Revd Arthur and his family in prayer as they prepare to take on this important responsibility in the church.
Greetings and blessings of 2021 to you all, friends of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM). Despites the persisting gloom of the global pandemic, may you continue to undertake your mandates under the protecting hands of our Almighty God.
May I render on behalf of ACoM immense gratitude and acknowledgement to you for all your support in 2020. Though our historical relationship underscores reciprocity in spiritual and physical support, it is obvious that ACoM, in notable degree, weighs heavier as recipient of practical support from you. That has been the trend over the many years the relationship has existed up until 2020; a year globally acknowledged as difficult. ACoM gives thanks and praise to God for the wisdom to give birth to such a relationship and those who have made it workable and beneficial on both ends over the years up to the present. You are true friends and mission partners for the glory of God and his word of saving grace.
During this dark spell over the global community, as true friends and partners, we offer and welcome that spiritual embrace through prayers for each other. Truly we have been denied that physical visitation and presence, but nothing surpasses the prayers and thoughts genuine friends and partners give each other even from distance. ACoM holds you and the communion family unceasingly in prayers.
Let me just provide you with some updates on the upcoming events of ACoM. This month, the Electoral Board will assemble at Hautabu to elect a new bishop for the Diocese of Hanuatoó. On 28th February, we will have the consecration and installation of the Rev. Benedict Loe as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Guadalcanal. The consecration and installation of the new Bishop of Hanuatoó takes place on 21st March at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Kirakira. It is important to have the new bishops installed early to allow progress in their respective dioceses. Ideally, the first three months of this year see these major events. We will then wrap up this year with the General Synod in November.
In brief, let me inform you of certain ACoM’s ongoing projects. The Southern Cross has been agreed by both the Council of Bishops and Management Board to go on tender. While some ACoM members have raised concerns of deep affection and connection to it, the need for a bigger boat is obvious considering the unpredictable weather patterns emanating from the climate change. The proposed new Provincial office complex in Honiara has not started yet. A small committee composed of staff members was appointed to oversee this project. They are putting together a concept design and site clearing plans before actual work can begin, hopefully this year. Another huge undertaking is the JCP University project which has been around in the Church for almost two decades. Currently there is obvious enthusiasm to push it forward with the involvement of some prominent laities and academics of our Church. Aside from these, there are ongoing projects in the Board of Mission and Education departments.
On COVID 19 situation, both Solomon Islands and Vanuatu lost their COVID-19-free statues late last year. Following the repatriation of our citizens abroad, Solomon Islands in a very relatively short space of time recorded seventeen cases. Vanuatu still record a smaller number in comparison to Solomon Islands. Both Countries are managing well to contain the cases within the quarantine centers. According to the Prime Minister’s nationwide address this week, out of the seventeen, only two still remain positive in Solomon Islands. The two are among the footballers who returned from England last year. While we all acknowledge that it still far from over, life in the two countries is fairly normal despites the lingering fear and cautiousness.
We will continue to uphold each other in prayers, knowing that when the world seemingly fails us, God remains truthful to his promises to be with us. He comes to us on Christmas in the thickness of not just the bleak winter, but also the darkness of the COVID -19. Against that backdrop, he came and lived among us; he is Emmanuel. He is with us, not just literally with us, but supporting us through all manner of situations. As always, please continue to uphold the events and projects of ACoM in your prayers.
God bless our friendship and partnership always.
The Most Rev Leonard Dawea, Archbishop of Melanesia
This year in September we will be celebrating the life and ministry of John Coleridge Patteson, first Bishop of Melanesia, on the 150th anniversary of his martyrdom.
In a new series we will be reflecting on Patteson’s ministry and his legacy for Melanesians and Christians around the world today. Bishop Willie writes our first article, on how he grew up knowing and being inspired by Patteson.
I first heard of the name Bishop John Coleridge Patteson in 1960, when I attended a junior primary school named after him on South Malaita, where I come from and as two teachers there were also named Patteson. There we celebrated the feast of Bishop and martyr every year, as we still do in Melanesia, with feasting, drama and traditional dancing in our custom dress and attire.
The story of Patteson’s martyrdom was retold, preached and acted out in drama the years I was at school from 1960 until 1974, the year I left college for my training for the priesthood.
The most lasting memory of our beloved bishop and martyr for me, is our present Bishop Patteson Theological Centre, Kohimarama, where we have trained all our priests, catechists and lay church workers in evangelism, mission and ministry since 1969.
In the year 1971, my first year at BPTC, we celebrated the centenary of our Bishop’s martyrdom. First was the laying of the foundation stone of our College Chapel by Sir John Gutch. Sir John was the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific and was based in Honiara from1955 to 1960. He wrote a book to mark the Centenary of the martyrdom: “Martyr of the Islands – The life and death of John Coleridge Patteson”.
The College staff and students also did a presentation at St. Barnabas Cathedral, with a drama enacting the story of the life of Bishop Patteson, leading worship with hymns under the direction of Mrs. Muriel Jones, our Warden’s wife, who was excellent in drama.
We had various church dignitaries from New Zealand and Australia visiting us during the Centenary year at college, preaching historical sermons on the evolution of the Church in the Pacific. It was very moving when the Archbishop of Melbourne apologised for the black birding done by Australians that led to the martyrdom of Patteson and his companions on the Island of Nukapu.
The Text he preached on was John Chapter 4 verse 38: “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.”
It is a fitting text every time we celebrate the feast day of our Bishop and martyr including other founding fathers and mothers of the mission.
From 1977 to 1978 I served my curacy in Mission Bay Parish, Auckland Diocese. The parish church at Kohimarama, Mission Bay was dedicated to the Martyrs of Melanesia, and one of the main roads in the parish is known as Patteson Avenue, I walked along that avenue every morning and evening to church.
Another memory of our beloved Bishop Patteson is here in the UK at Exeter cathedral, his home diocese, where the pulpit in his memory depicting his martyrdom is so powerful. Standing in the parish church at Alfington where he served as a curate before he left for Melanesia and visiting his family’s home in Feniton, is like walking on holy ground.
The same thing could be said when visiting Merton College, where he was a Fellow. Touching his prayer desk gave me that connection with this holy man whose faith in God and his sacrificial love has touched us in Melanesia in a way that is so powerful even 150 years later. The inscription on his memorial on the Island of Nukapu reads “His life was taken by men, for whose sake he would willingly have given it.”
There is a feeling of guilt on our part in Melanesia every time we celebrate the feast of Bishop Patteson and yet there is much celebration and rejoicing at the same time, as if evil has been conquered and defeated by the death of Bishop Patteson.
Bishop Patteson is a saint according to Melanesia. He is honoured by many village churches that are dedicated in his memory. Also, schools and names of people bear the name in every generation.
We have great admiration for Bishop Patteson’s solid faith and witness for the gospel, a living legacy that we inherited by his death. I believe that has rubbed off on us to be missionary minded and outgoing. We have seen this most recently in the martyrdom of seven Melanesian Brothers and the growth of our four religious orders: SSF. CSC, MBH and CSM.
Bishop Patteson was truly a servant and disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his whole life for the Gospel and for Melanesia. He was a shining star from God, who touched the lives of many in Melanesia in the past, today and in years to come.
And in his honour we say with the whole Church in heaven and on earth:
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.
In honour of Tom Tyler who died in December 2020, by Bishop Willie A. Pwaisiho.
The Melanesian Mission has a very rich history in having missionary bishops, priests, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, printers, carpenters, farmers, men and women who brought us the Good News of Jesus Christ through many of these different ways of service. Local people became Christians through their contact with schools, and hospitals.
I was very fortunate to meet some of those last missionaries and was taught by them before the Diocese of Melanesia became a separate Province from New Zealand in January 1975. When John Wallace Chisholm became Bishop of Melanesia on the 24th Sept. 1967, he saw that he should not just be responsible for the education of the country but rather should concentrate on the ministry of evangelism and training of catechists and priests.
As the British administration was preparing for the independence of the Solomon Islands, Bishop John Chisholm wanted to create a first-class church secondary school to help train the future leaders of an independent Solomons. The Bishop also wanted the new school to be close to Honiara, the capital, to introduce students, who mostly came from rural areas, to urban life. The Bishop also wanted to bring all the diocesan institutions closer to Honiara, so in 1969 Siota College moved from Gela to become Bishop Patteson Theological Centre, Kohimarama, for training catechists and priests and women lay workers. The printing press moved from Gela to Honiara. Two religious orders, the Franciscans and the Sisters of the Church arrived in Honiara, to have a joint household in the middle of the town for mission and ministry.
At the beginning of 1970, Selwyn College was created, bringing together Pawa boys school and Pamua girls school, with their teachers, to Najilagu on Guadalcanal. Tom always spoke his mind to the Bishop about making wrong appointments without consultation with the persons concerned. At the last minute he found out that he was to go Selwyn College to be Headmaster, a job he never came for in the first place. He did not feel he was qualified to be the head, but he obediently accepted the bishop’s order. It was there I met for the first time my humble Headmaster and priest Tom, and Tricia his wife, our school nurse, their son Andrew and their dog. I was the Head Prefect chosen by the staff at Pawa School.
It was not easy to run this co-educational school for the first time. The women staff from Pamua were unhappy about the girls working together with us boys in the fields doing manual work. As Head Prefect I had a lot of discussions with my Headmaster over this subject since we had to grow our own sweet potatoes and cassava vegetables as we had done at Pawa, Alangaula and Maravovo boys Schools. Having got my Headmaster on my side, we won the argument that for the school to be self-supporting we needed to have both girls and boys working in the fields together, growing their crops and vegetables and no more separation.
Tom was a hard-working man at school and led by example. During the first three months there was continuous flooding caused by heavy rain. To solve this problem, Terry Ward, our Australian volunteer and qualified plumber and Tom decided we needed to dig a six feet deep drain with a four feet diameter concrete pipe across the school compound. Tom led by example with a pair of shorts and spade and covered with mud, encouraging us to dig that two-hundred-metre-long drain.
Before his appointment as Headmaster of the newly created co – education secondary school for the Church of Melanesia at Najilagu, Tom was the Principal at Kohimarama, training catechists. He enjoyed very much going around different parishes in the islands with his catechists in training, showing them how to do pastoral work.
I pay tribute and salute my Headmaster Tom on behalf of former students of his in the Solomons and Vanuatu as a pioneer in co – education in the Anglican Church of Melanesia. His students went on to become bishops, priests, teachers, doctors, lawyers, diplomats and judges, nurses, parliamentarians, Provincial premiers, senior police officers, businessmen and women in both countries. That is the legacy he left us in Melanesia.
That reminds me of the words in St. John’s gospel 4.37 & 38, thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true.
“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour”.
We in Melanesia are still reaping the harvest we have never worked for.
An Irish blessing.
Tom, may the road rise to meet you. May the wind be ever at your back, May the sunshine warm upon your face. And may the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you ever in the palm of his hand.
Teachers do not die; they live on by those they taught. Farewell Tom, from ocean peace.
‘Your Faith and You’ 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.
Fr Nigel takes us through the third session.
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. Amen.
We begin from where we left off last time in our study of the Nicene Creed, with looking into the next paragraph of the Creed as follows:
who for us men [people] and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man [human];
This is the doctrine of the incarnation which is core to our faith and which is linked to the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ which we celebrate at Christmas. God the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, became a human being in Jesus Christ. Through a miraculous conception and birth, He walked the same earth as we do, carrying on His mission to save the whole of humanity from death. Jesus Christ, the uncreated Word through which all things were made, condescended (agreed/chose) to share in our humanity. The Almighty God emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave, to use St. Paul’s language in his letter to the Philippians 2:7.
Jesus Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scriptures tells us that Mary accepted God’s blessing and conceived the baby Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon her. Therefore, the man that we know as Jesus of Nazareth from the Gospel stories in the Holy Bible, is the incarnation or embodiment, of God the Son. In this act of taking upon Himself the nature of a human being, God identifies Himself fully with the human race by becoming one of us. The incarnation of God in Christ is the ultimate act of God’s love because God himself became human. He did not send an angel, or even a good human, to accomplish this redemption and restoration of creation and humanity to himself, but He himself, God himself, became human.
The next major part of the Creed covers the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension, and Second Coming of Christ; the Last Judgment; and, the final establishment of the Kingdom of God, and reads as follows:
and [He] was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again, according to [in accordance with] the [prophesies in the Old Testament] Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge [both] the living and the dead; whose [and His] kingdom shall have no end.
Our Christian faith proclaims the good news that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. In the incarnation he identified himself fully with human nature even though humanity is plagued with the conditions of sin and death. This was the sacrifice that God the Son was willing to take. This was the road that Jesus Christ was willing to traverse in his life and ministry for the sake of humanity’s salvation. St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians stated that Jesus, the Son, always had the nature of God, but he humbled himself and walked the path of obedience all the way to death, his death on the cross. So also it is that in dying, Jesus took his divine nature down into the grave; and when he resurrected from the dead, he brought human nature out of the clutches of death. Indeed, in ascending into heaven, he took what was formerly the accursed human nature, but which is now redeemed, right up to the throne of God the Father. This paragraph marks one of the most important moments in human history. Our God became one of us!!
In this regard, as Christians and believers, when we identify ourselves in faith with Jesus Christ, and accept him into our hearts and our lives as Saviour and Lord, we are delivered from the punishment of death and are hopeful of the reward of eternal life with God in his heavenly kingdom.
In this paragraph also, we have the doctrine of last things which proclaims the Second Coming of Christ at the end of times, and which will result in the final establishment of the Kingdom of God (and He shall come again, with glory, to judge [both] the living and the dead; whose [and his] kingdom shall have no end). Scriptures tells us that we all have to give an accounting of ourselves before the righteous judge when he shall come again to judge both the living and the dead. In the history of Christianity there are a good number of various – and conflicting – theories as to just when and how the final Kingdom will be established, but what is suffice for us to say here is that we should spend our lives living in readiness and preparation for the coming of our lord because Jesus himself tells us in the book of Matthew 24: 36 that (quote): “No one knows…when that day or hour will come – neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; the Father alone knows”, and in vs.44: “So…always be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him”.
Too much time, ink and resources have been spilt and spent over past centuries and in our own time, over attempts to predict the time, day, week, month or year when the Lord shall return. Friends, let us put more of our time and energy into prayer, fasting, good works and other spiritual exercises so that we may be able to discern God’s will and purpose for our lives. Be ready in vigil at all times for the master to return and claim what is his and take us to his eternal kingdom and everlasting joy, peace and love. This is what is more important for us to engage in, that is “preparation”, for preparation is a mark of Christian discipleship.
We now come to the last parts of the Creed which reads:
And [I believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son, Filioque]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets?
This paragraph of the Creed affirms that The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity. His equality with the Father and the Son is emphasised in His designation as “Lord”, a name only attributed to God throughout the Scriptures, and as well as in the sentence of this paragraph that states that all Three Persons are to be “worshipped and glorified.” The fact that the Holy Spirit and Jesus the Son are just as much God, as God the Father, is a non-negotiable and core belief and doctrine of Christianity.
This paragraph of the Creed also says that the Holy Spirit gives life to and inspires the prophets who proclaim “in the name of the Lord”. The Holy Spirit “spoke by the prophets”. This in a sense also implies that it is to the Holy Spirit and to his activity, that the work of leading and giving ‘life’ to the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church belongs. The church’s teaching, confession and proclamation of faith, its sacraments, and its ultimate resurrection of everlasting life, belongs to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit then is the one who leads the church in its worship and confession of the triune God.
This paragraph of the Creed also states that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father [and the Son]”. This is a very important part of our church history because it the argument over the addition of the clause “…and the Son…” into the Creed (known as the Filioque clause), that was a cause of the schism or split of the previously one Christian church in the year 1054, into two factions known as the Western Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. We will look at this piece of historical background of the early church when we have time in future sessions but for now let us turn to the last bit of the creed which reads as follows:
[And I believe] in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; [and] I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Friends, the Church is one, holy, and “catholic.” In the last session, I pointed out that the word “catholic” here, drawn from the Greek word katholikos, means “full”, “complete”, or “universal” church. In this regard, the Church is meant to be one and universal.
However, there are now many denominations or expressions of Christianity in the world today. What about the oneness? I would like to emphasise that in the collective affirmation of faith in the words of the Creeds, both the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, this is where we are one in the faith, expressing our common belief in our One Holy God, and in His Son Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The church is meant to be one in faith and one in Spirit. St. Paul in Ephesians 4:4-6 emphasises this when he states and I quote: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
The Church is also meant to be apostolic. The leaders of the early church who were appointed by Jesus were known as the Apostles, meaning the “Sent Ones” – namely the twelve apostles. In the expression of the church as “Apostolic” in the Creed, our early church fathers were affirming that the true church is the one that maintains the faith and teachings of the Apostles. Many Christian churches today claim to be “Apostolic” but the controversial question remains: do they all, in fact, maintain the faith of the Apostles?
In terms of Baptism, there are two forms of baptism prevalent among Christian churches today. The Roman Catholics, Anglicans and other major protestant churches practice both infant and adult (or believers) baptism, accepting that both are effective and essential to membership into the fellowship of believers in the Body and Kingdom of Christ, the church universal. Some churches such as the Baptists and a few other evangelical churches practice only adult or believers baptism, believing that believers should come to repentance and acceptance of the faith before they are baptised into the church. Whatever the case may be, and however the argument is over what constitutes the “proper” way to baptise, all of the churches agree that there should only be one “proper” baptism and not more or several.
Finally, the Christian believer affirms the Church universal’s agreement to all that is said/stated throughout the words of the Creed by saying Amen.
To say “Amen”, which means “so be it”, is to affirm our heartfelt agreement to this faith of ours.
In our next edition of “Your Faith And You” we will continue to search for more truths in our Christian faith. Until then God bless us all, as 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 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. Amen
Reflecting on the past year for the Brothers in Melanesia
Although I haven’t been able to visit the Solomons since my return to Stroud NSW in March 2020, I’ve been in regular touch by Messenger, WhatsApp, phone and email. We currently have about 16 postulants, 21 novices, 27 first professed and 13 life professed brothers. Those in initial formation are at Hautambu in West Guadalcanal, Year 3 novices are posted to the other friaries for practical experience. We have nine friaries currently occupied with brothers. Although most friaries are thinly staffed, the brothers are always hoping to expand. Vanuatu is still on the cards.
The public events for the SSF 50th anniversary celebrations were postponed from September this year to September next in the hope that some SSF / CSF from overseas can be in the Solomons then. We’ll see! Although the celebrations have been postponed the brothers have been busy with some practical projects including building a retreat house at Hautambu.
Over the last few months a small group of 2-3 brothers, as well as a young lawyer boarding at Patteson House, have met regularly (electronically) with the Asia/Pacific representative for Franciscans International and myself. Our task has been research into the legislation concerning logging in the Solomons and the effects logging has on village life—not just environmental, but also social and religious. Brother Lent and Geoffrey (the lawyer) produced reports which went to Franciscans International. FI have now taken this information and converted it into the format and style for the United Nations. It will form a submission to the UN Human Rights Commission when Solomons is reviewed in next year’s periodic review of human rights.
The submission to the UN, to which the Solomons is required to respond, puts the matter into the public arena. The next stage will be to work with a variety of other organisations such as environmental and human rights NGOs and also faith-based organisations, each able to put pressure at different levels: internationally, nationally in the SI and provincially. And also there will be village level programmes for education about logging and its effects. I can see that the religious communities (and their associates, tertiaries, companions, etc) , along with groups such as Mothers’ Union and clergy can have a very useful role here since they can operate very effectively at village level and are well trusted. This relies on good communications and I’ve been working with ACoM and SSF at Patteson House to try to get SSF’s internet access improved to the point where we can have video conferencing. This is a work in progress.
I’m frustrated with this virus and not being able to travel and help things at a local level in the Solomons. The planned conference for formators (novice guardians, etc) in the four religious orders in ACoM, and also Visitation Sisters in PNG, is on hold. I’d made the suggestion in my visit in March of Patteson Theological College hosting a conference commemorating Bishop Patteson and looking at issues of mission, etc. today. I don’t know where this has got to, but the virus has disrupted many plans I suspect. And this virus stalks around—still hopefully only among those in isolation. I’m thankful that a number of church leaders have been promoting good practice about physical distancing. I know we’re all concerned about the potential for a major spread and the result of that.
On behalf of SSF in Solomons I wish you well. May MMUK and its supporters continue to flourish and lead to ever deepening partnership and sharing between our parts of the Anglican Communion.