Tag: ACoM

Vanuatu, Ambae Volcanic Ash

Request for prayers and assistance from the Bishop of Vanuatu

Following ongoing volcanic activity and falling ash from the volcano on the Vanuatu island of Ambae, the government has ordered a complete evacuation and the permanent closure of all institutions. This has made over 9,000 people homeless and also the loss of a Melanesian Brothers’ Household and the Church flagship school St Patricks.

The Rt Revd James Tama, Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia has made this appeal to UK friends.

Please pray for our situation here and the displaced families from Ambae, over 2,000 in Maewo, over 7,000 in Santo and over 2,000 scattered all over the islands in Vanuatu with immediate family members. I have

over 40 families, a total of 110 staying with me at the bishop’s residence. I do sympathize with them and had to organise fundraising for them, since the government is still to respond with immediate needs. We are looking for some plots of land, somewhere suitable for farming and the stronger men will then go there and begin clearing the bush ready for farming. The women will stay back with the children who are attending school. We have partitioned part of the Diocesan office into 3 rooms where the children of over 5 schools from Ambae attend daily from kindy, class 1 – class 6.

My wife and I have started the psychological first aid support with the mothers, gathering them, allowing them to express freely their feelings and the needs for their families, then we decided out of our own pockets provide wool for knitting, printing materials, crochet knitting, sewing materials, and other life-skills to occupy themselves and at least do something that they can sell and earn small money to help their families since the state of emergency is now extended until 26 November. My humble request is if you can share our stories of the difficult situation we are facing at the moment, and for anyone who may wish to support our mothers with little funds to resource their home life-skill training would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks with love and prayers +James Tama
Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia

Many thanks to those individuals, parishes, schools and Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood who have already sent in donations to support those affected by the volcano. If you would like to make a donation to help Bishop James provide for these displaced families, please send your donations to the charity with the reference Ambae relocation. The charity is planning to transfer another round of donations before Christmas.

In 2019 MMUK hopes to receive the plans for the rebuilding of St Patricks School, and will launch a fundraising campaign to support this large project. You will find details for this, at the time of launch, on our donations page.

Vanuatu, Ambae Volcanic Ash
Vanuatu, Ambae Volcanic Ash
World Mission

The World Shrinks – God Expands

‘The world shrinks, and perceptions of God expand’ was the main finding from research conducted into what happens when Christians experience positive cross-cultural encounter.

From 2014 to 2016 I was engaged on a fascinating piece of research asking questions about Diocesan Companion Links. These are the relationships, some as long as 40 years, which dioceses have with different parts of the Anglican Communion and wider ecumenical links. Questions about the nature of Companion Links relationships were paramount. What sort of relationships were they? What were the challenges and joys faced in these relationships? How were they developing into the future?

I took a case study approach to this research. Three Church of England dioceses agreed to be part of the project. They were the diocese of Bath and Wells in its relationship with the five dioceses of the Anglican Church of Zambia, the Diocese of Chelmsford and their relationship with the five dioceses of the Mount Kenya East region and the diocese of Liverpool and the diocese of Virginia in the Episcopal Church of the USA.World Mission

These three case studies provided a rich picture of following Christ in different contexts with access to vastly different resources but who were similar in worshipping and following Christ through the Anglican tradition.

I travelled to all the dioceses involved in England, Africa and the USA. I asked two simple questions – what is your experience of the link and where do you see it developing in the future? Meetings and interviews took place in churches, schools, under the mango tree and over many shared meals.

The conclusions fell into two categories – discipleship and friendship. It became clear that positive cross-cultural encounters were a source of growth and transformation for many involved in links.

Discipleship seems to be the theme of the moment. Everyone in the churches, it seems, is talking about discipleship. However, I haven’t heard a lot about the contribution of cross-cultural encounters to ongoing discipleship. What became clear early in the research was that positive cross-cultural encounter can encourage and inspire discipleship.

Here’s a story. A tragic and sudden death of a parish link co-ordinator in Bath and Wells Diocese shocked everyone. Catherine was loved in her parish and by the parish in Eastern Zambia where she had visited several times. The parishioners in Eastern Zambia were unable to attend the funeral but at the same time as the funeral was taking place in the UK the church in Zambia came together to give thanks for Catherine’s life and commit her to God. The effect of this in both places was a stronger personal link between very different places and an inspiration to follow and witness to Christ more faithfully.

A further example was found in the link between Liverpool and Virginia dioceses. A clergyman from Liverpool witnessed work with refugees in Virginia and was inspired to begin a similar work. Young people from Liverpool said that their Youth Pilgrimage helped them to talk about their faith at home. It was clear that whether experiences were between north to north contexts or north to south contexts the effects were similar.

Friendship was the major way in which links described their relationships across cultures. Friendship is an important way of expressing our common belonging in the Body of Christ through practical expressions such as visits and gift-giving. It became apparent that while the English partners were good at giving we were less happy about receiving from less materially affluent partners. There is learning to be done that recognises the wide variety of forms of gifts and that giving and receiving of gifts gives dignity to all.

The Melanesian Mission is an important expression of these principles. Encouraging discipleship and friendship is at the heart of being a mission agency.

A full copy of the research report can be accessed at; www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/world-mission

Janice Price, World Mission Adviser, The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England.

Chester School Links - Margaret and Salome

Chester School Links Go From Strength To Strength

Over the last two years, the programme of partnerships between schools in the Diocese of Chester and the Province of Melanesia has blossomed.

Chester School Links - Margaret and Salome
Chester School Links – Margaret and Salome

Links between two Church of England primary schools, in Warmingham and Frodsham, and St Francis School, Vaturanga (Guadalcanal) have been in existence for some time. A member of staff from St Francis, Salome Vuthia visited our two partner schools in 2015, and children in all three schools have been keen to exchange letters and presents, and to learn about life on the other side of the world.

The number of partner schools has now grown substantially. More primary schools are coming into the programme from across the diocese, pairing with schools in the Solomons and now also in Vanuatu. In all, there are now eight primary schools from across the diocese in such arrangements.

Chester School Links - Salome and Margaret at Frodsham
Chester School Links – Salome and Margaret at Frodsham

One of our church secondary schools has now joined the scheme as well. Woodchurch Church of England High School (Birkenhead) has entered with great enthusiasm into a partnership with St Nicholas Senior School, Honiara, signing a formal partnership agreement in 2017. A team from the chaplaincy at Woodchurch, led by Rachel Hsuan, visited the Solomon Islands this spring, making three excellent and innovative films about life in the islands and in St Nicholas’s School, for use in collective worship back at Woodchurch. These are proving invaluable in helping children here to gain vivid insights into life in Melanesia, covering topics as diverse as the practicalities of daily life, Christian worship, education and the challenge of climate change.

The Diocese of Chester sees these schools partnerships as a key element in the link as a whole, as we look to involve a whole new generation. Friends from the Anglican Church of Melanesia visit regularly, and each time, visits to our partner schools have been an important part of the programme. It has been a joy for our schools to receive visits from Archbishop George Takeli and Mrs June Takeli, Dr Abraham Hauriasi (Provincial Secretary), Fr Nigel Kalaepa (Mission Secretary), Father Nelson Bako (Head Brother, Melanesian Brotherhood), and Brother Michael (Section Elder Brother, Tabalia).

Venerable Mike Gilbertson, Archdeacon of Chester, Trustee MMUK

Steve Martin with Fr Richard Nokia

Boiled Eggs, Custard Creams and Coconut Juice

I am the assistant curate of Tavistock, where we are fortunate to have a faithful group of Melanesian Brotherhood Companions. In 2001 the late Fr George Elo and Bishop Leonard Dawea (then both Brothers) came to Tavistock to work and live in the parish under the guidance of the then Vicar, Fr John Rawlings. Since then we have maintained strong links and, earlier in 2017, Bishop Leonard came to visit Tavistock to see old friends. I was invited to become a Companion and was soon gently ‘encouraged’ by Katie Drew (let the reader understand, and be warned—her enthusiasm is infectious) to visit the Solomon Islands to see and experience the Church there for myself.

I spent my three-week trip on Guadacanal, first at Honiara, before travelling to the Brotherhood’s Headquarters at Tabalia, working my way westwards to the Franciscan community at Hautabu, visiting the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia at Verana’aso on the way. I also paid a call to see the Project Trust students working at St Nicholas’s School and Selwyn College. It was good to see the students so well received and integrated into the communities they serve.

I ended my trip back in Honiara, from there I visited Norman Palmer School and the Community of the Sisters of the Church at Tetere Ni Kolivati (TNK). I led a study day for priests in Honiara, gave lectures at Bishop Patteson Theological College and at the various communities I visited, and was honoured to be invited to preach and celebrate services for my various hosts.

Steve Martin with The Melanesian Brothers
Steve Martin with The Melanesian Brothers

The trip was full of rich and wonderful experiences. I was fortunate to be present at Tabalia for the Ss Simon and Jude festivities. The Chapel and surrounds were richly decorated with beautiful orchids and fragrant frangipani blossom. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the before the big day, and attended Choral Evensong. The singing was superb: the Psalms and Canticles are sung in blazing four, six and sometimes eight-part harmony. The music is based on Anglican chant, so it is easy to join in – familiar, but different, and certainly very exhilarating to be a part of.

At the Eucharist the following morning Bishop Sam Sahu presided at the installation ceremony where thirty-six novices became brothers, and three brothers (Brothers Thomas Suia, Mark Tafodi and John Alley) renewed their vows. The community said goodbye to seven Brothers: Nathanial Tagoa, Albert Iroga, Culbert Moana, Mostyn Tugu, Winston Heke, Lazarus Vavaha and Francis Mauru, the second-oldest member of the Solomon Island Brothers. Brother Francis entered the novitiate in 1984, became a brother in 1986, and served in Australia and Fiji as well as in the Solomons. It was clear that many novices and brothers will miss his wise support and guidance. Like many leaving brothers, he became a Companion later in the week, before he prepared to return to Makira.

The Chaplain, Fr Richard Nokia, kindly invited me to celebrate and preach at several Eucharists during my stay, and to officiate at Choral Evensong on my final Sunday, which was a huge honour. Fr Nokia has a great rapport with the novices and brothers, which is not surprising as his motto is: ‘give them everything!’. Mrs Veronica Nokia is also a much-loved member of the community and gives an incredible amount of time and energy to running a successful literacy course for the novices. During my stay, I was privileged to attend the Literacy Awards Ceremony, which was organised by Veronica and the Mothers’ Union, represented by their president, Pamela Abana and her colleagues Emily Pengalo and Adriana Estrada who are based at St Agnes Rest House in Honiara (an excellent hostel where I stayed towards the end of my trip).

The celebrations around Ss Simon and Jude’s Day lasted a week – lots of feasts, dancing and general socialising. It was wonderful to see thousands of supporters and Companions, many of whom stayed for the week, helping to prepare meals and tidy the site as they waited for boats to take them back to their islands.

My flying visit to the Sisters of Melanesia was a treat. After speaking to the novices and sisters, I was invited to sit down to a lavish tea, complete with boiled eggs, custard creams and coconut juice straight from the husk – an unusual teatime combination, but it worked for me!

I then travelled to see Noah and Ultan at Selwyn College. Like their colleagues Juliette and Flora at St Nicholas’ in Honiara, Noah and Ultan had settled in extremely well and had been welcomed wholeheartedly into the communities. It was wonderful to see all four of the Project Trust students at the various services and celebrations, in Honiara, at TNK and Tabalia – they had clearly become part of the Anglican family. There is also a bit of cultural exchange going on, as they had begun teaching the Solomon Islanders Scottish Country Dancing…

During my second week, I stayed with the excellent Brother Jonas and the community of Friars at their beautiful hillside home at Hautabu. Any nerves I felt about giving my theology talks here were soon forgotten as our friendly discussions continued in our outdoor classroom under the shade of palm and mango trees, looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

Steve Martin with Revd Sr Veronica
Steve Martin with Revd Sr Veronica

Once I got back to Honiara, I travelled out to see the inspirational Sister Veronica and the Community of the Sisters of the Church at TNK. Their work building up the kindergarten and women’s refuge is truly inspiring, and it was a huge privilege to attend Sister Kristy’s life profession there just before I flew back to Britain.

My trip was a hugely encouraging experience. The hospitality I received from everyone I met was truly incredible; all the clergy and religious communities work as part of a big family and work hard to support each other. All were present for Sister Kristy’s profession, so I could say goodbye to almost all the people I had met over the past weeks. I owe so many people a debt of thanks for making my time in Melanesia so fruitful and enjoyable, but I must thank Fr Nigel Kelaepa especially for his organisation, kindness and hospitality.

Steve Martin

Novice Sister Mildred and Cathy

A Melanesian Pilgrimage

As a Companion and Associate, I’ve long wanted to spend time and experience Solomons life with the Brothers and Sisters of Melanesia. This summer I experienced both joyful pilgrimage and a great adventure of faith that continues to enrich my faith and Curacy.

My first night in the Solomons was spent at Chester Rest House which helped me to get my bearings in Honiara and appreciate how much the Brothers’ guest house is valued by all who stay there.

It was so good to be met by Sr Veronica the next day, who drove us to TNK for an overnight stay. The Sisters and Novices of the Church of Melanesia were very kind and sensitive to my jetlag! The beauty and peace of TNK is complemented so well by the worship, hospitality and ministry to the local community and wider church. It was delightful to meet Tina and David Arnold who kindly facilitated my trip back to Honiara, stopping at the Christian Care Centre en route to see their hugely important work.

The Sunday service at St Barnabas Cathedral became an unforgettable experience of worship – as swifts flew around the Chancel and a pair of Mynah birds showed off their nesting skills.

The following day I was met by Flory and her husband Charly who are such good advocates for the Sisters of Melanesia. We set off for Verana’aso where I experienced the most incredible welcome and hospitality from the Sisters and Novices during the following five days. Being invited to teach the Novices was a great privilege and joy as we shared experiences, worshipped together and got to know each other more. Visiting neighbouring Franciscans at beautiful La Verna was a precious time, hearing stories and seeing the lasting legacy of Br Giles.

After a moving farewell at Verana’aso, I set off for Tabalia, blessed with the joyful company of Franciscan Br Clifton – also a great truck driver, skillfully negotiating huge pot holes.

At Tabalia I continued to experience the precious worship and partnership in the Gospel that I’ve always found through the Melanesian Brothers ministry. It was wonderful to see Head Brother Nelson leading Evensong in his home setting. The beautiful peace of Tabalia, being near the graves of the Seven Martyred Brothers, the worship and hospitality of the Brothers and Novices was humbling and profoundly moving.

Returning to Honiara, I stayed at St Agnes Guest House, a lovely place, run by the Mothers Union. MU President Pam and team are doing such great work with the Anglican Church. We visited two satellite church communities and also spent time with the MU at All Saints Church in Honiara. The MU are incredibly inspiring, speaking out for justice through practically helping families to flourish through educational and life skills programmes.

I’ve learnt so much from the witness of all those I met, experiencing how much goodness and flourishing the religious orders and local churches bring to their surrounding communities. Melanesia is very beautiful and life incredibly fragile. The people value and do so much with so little, in comparison to what we have in Western Europe. It was a real lesson in life to value every drop of water and realise how many people throughout the world really do live without running water or electricity.

This Melanesian pilgrimage has shown me the true Agape love of God, which I’ve always experienced through times spent with Melanesian visitors to the UK. Agape love as joyfully knowing ourselves part of the global Christian community, drawn together through the depth of God’s love. I thank God for our Brothers and Sisters.

Revd Cathy Scoffield – Curate at St John the Baptist Churches, Bishops Tawton & Newport, Barnstaple, Diocese of Exeter.

Christian Distinctiveness Training - Programme

Christian Distinctiveness Training – Return to Melanesia

Rev. Preb. Cate Edmonds (Exeter Diocese) and Canon Daphne Jordon (Blackburn Diocese) accompanied by technician Graham Jordon, returned to Melanesia in July for three weeks to undertake Christian Distinctiveness Training for ACoM Schools.

Daphne first went to Vanuatu in 2013 and 2014 and had visited schools, introduced the concept of a Christian Distinctiveness and Character and made recommendations to the ACoM Board of Education about further developments. Cate had been on a fact-finding Mission in 2016 and was concerned about the lack of real understanding of the distinctiveness of Anglican Schools.

Daphne’s recommendations were eventually acted upon and a volunteer from New Zealand, Joan Middlemiss, was commissioned to develop these recommendations into ACoM Education Authority Standards:

  1. Quality Education and Assessment
  2. Access and Student Services
  3. Integrate Christian Values and Holistic Development
  4. Management Systems

At a similar time funding was available from MMUK to continue the work Daphne and team had started in 2014.

Cate and Daphne were therefore commissioned to deliver two Conferences, in Honiara (S.I.) and Luganville (Santo, Vanuatu) for Principals, Teachers and Chaplains of Anglican Schools and members of the Diocesan Education Team, exploring and developing Christian Distinctiveness and Christian Character of Church Schools.

Christian Distinctiveness Training - AttendeesEach conference followed the same pattern, with a brief catch up in Luganville as a few of those present had been at the initial training in 2013/4. Some progress had been made, e.g. all Principals had mobile phones in order to keep in contact, but with changes in personnel progress had been limited.

The day began with themed Worship:

  • Who are we?
  • The Environment – God’s Creation
  • The Family of God

Attendees were asked to be children and young people and to participate in order to experience a range of ways of worshipping. They experienced different music, Bible reading and prayer and were encouraged to interact with the worship rather than observe, which was new to them, but they grew in confidence.

Following worship the hard work began and with four sessions per day over three days, there was much to cover. Each school was presented with a jigsaw puzzle which was completed over the days of the conference when each element had been introduced.

Wherever possible participants worked in their school groups and drew up new Vision and Mission Statements for their schools as well as developing Action Plans for the future.

Christian Distinctiveness Training - ParticipantsThroughout the training there was an emphasis on a Church School being a place where God was working already but where we needed to work with Him to be the best that we could in all areas of school / college life. On reflection and debate we felt that the ACoM Standards needed to be reordered and that the first should be about Christian Values and that everything else flows from this.

Participants were encouraged to look at their schools and colleges with new eyes, there was some hesitancy in doing this but gradually participants saw the value of this approach as well as finding it amusing. All our sessions were well received and participants appeared to enjoy the approaches as well as developing their skills, particularly in looking at more creative ways of delivering the curriculum and of prayer.

Christian Distinctiveness Training - Return To MelanesiaThere was much more we could have developed and although we managed to visit six schools in the Solomon’s and four in Vanuatu, it was felt that further training would be useful based in a school or college.

As well as preparing for and running the conferences we were able to make additional visits. Daphne and Graham visited TNK and the relocated, due to volcano ash in Ambae, St Patricks School. They we deeply saddened by the conditions that the school was enduring whilst awaiting a more permanent site. We also met with Melanesian Brothers who were suffering accommodation problems as well due to their Main House being destroyed in the same way on Ambae.

Cate visited Ysabel and met with Bishop Ellison and his team and also spent some time a Verana’aso working with the Novices of the Melanesian Sisters. More stories could be told by both; including Daphne and Graham experiencing two earthquakes in Vanuatu and Cate just one. A fulfilling and worthwhile trip which we would like to repeat to continue the work in the future.

Rev. Preb. Cate Edmonds (Exeter Diocese) and Canon Daphne Jordon (Blackburn Diocese)

John & Rachel from the UK with Saint Nicholas students (Head Boy & Girl)

Woodchurch Church of England High School visit the Solomon Islands

John & Rachel from the UK with Saint Nicholas students (Head Boy & Girl)

John & Rachel from the UK
with Saint Nicholas students (Head Boy & Girl)

My name’s Rachel and I work for St Mary’s Church Upton as a Youth Worker. As part of our ministry we provide the Chaplaincy Team at Woodchurch High School, an exciting opportunity and privilege which we love. Woodchurch High School, a CofE Academy, was lucky enough to develop a partnership with St Nicholas High School in Honiara, Solomon Islands earlier this year. To enrich the link and develop the relationship between the schools, we dreamt of being able to make a personal connection with teachers and students and find a way of bringing the link alive. Our dreams became a reality as we organised a trip for myself and an old Woodchurch student John, who also used to attend St Mary’s (now a freelance film maker and photographer) to travel out to Honaira. We spent two weeks in Honaira meeting staff and students and doing as much filming as we could so, now that we’re back, we can show the pupils at Woodchurch what their partner school looks like, introduce them to life in Honiara and Solomon Island culture.Pupils At St Nicholas

Neither of us had been to the Pacific before so the whole trip was novel and exciting and we had the most fantastic experience. We were met at the airport by a group of students from St Nicholas School who had prepared frangipani garlands for us and on the drive back into town we chatted and got to know them, whilst trying to take in the environment outside as we drove through Honiara for the first time.

We had a brilliant welcome from the school. In addition to being met at the airport we were also invited for an Opening Ceremony where we were adorned with more garlands and took our seats on the stage of St Nicholas’ open-sided assembly hall. We were introduced to the school and welcomed by the Principle and introduced ourselves, bringing greetings from Woodchurch High School. We were amazed and awed by three groups of students who came and performed cultural dances in traditional dress. The dances were absolutely brilliant and there was a great atmosphere in the Hall; the whole school was enthusiastically cheering and clapping their support of their fellow pupils.

A timetable was organised for us by two teachers at St Nicholas which allowed us to travel around Honiara and Guadalcanal and capture lots of different aspects of life on the Solomon Islands. We also wanted to be able to embed some of the things we filmed into the curriculum for our students here at Woodchurch. So, we visited a Museum and interviewed a local artist so that when Woodchurch students study Art, they will be able to see and think about the kind of art produced in the Solomon Islands. We interviewed a Geography teacher at St Nicholas and several individuals so that when Woodchurch students study Climate Change in Geography, they will be able to see and hear the stories of real people whose lives and homes have been drastically affected by rising sea levels. For History, we visited the American and Japanese War Memorials, Bloody Ridge (the site of an intense battle during the Second World War) and Vilu Museum where many of the artefacts found on Guadalcanal have been taken, including old guns and parts of planes. And we visited and attended many churches and services, so RS students can see the differences and similarities between Christian worship in the Solomons and here in the UK.

We visited Konguli Water Source (which supplies 95% of the capital city with their water) and Point Cruz, Honiara’s busy dock. We wandered round the Central Market and city centre and enjoyed visiting local hotels and watching more performances of traditional dancing (although none was as good as the performance from St Nicholas students!).

Woodchurch Exploring SavoIn our own time we stayed on Savo Island for a night which was an incredible experience. The volcanic island, about 2 hours boat journey away, is a must-see for visitors to Honiara; it’s a beautiful island on which locals bring up hot water from many of the wells which has been heated by the volcanic activity.

We trekked up to Mataniko Waterfall with a wonderful guide. It was great to get away from the sounds and dust of the city and spend some time in the rainforest and enjoy the natural beauty of Guadalcanal.

We also visited Tabalia, the central Headquarters of the Melanesian Brotherhood, and were there for Palm Sunday which was a great celebration. We attended Evensong on the evening we arrived and were greeted warmly and asked to introduce ourselves at the end of the service; they welcomed us by singing two brilliant songs – the brothers don’t hold back when they sing; the wall of sound that hit us as we stood at the front of the chapel was astonishing. We ate a delicious evening meal with the community of guests who were visiting for the weekend, food prepared by lots of different members of families and friends who often visit Tabalia together. We participated in the Palm Procession, the brothers, novices, priests, and all the guests; men, women and children, had a freshly cut palm branch and palm cross which they wove into the leaves of their branches. There was a great swell of song as the crowd sang in beautiful harmony “Lord we lift up your name, Lord we lift your name on high, Lord we lift up your name! To the king of kings, all glory! Glory, glory to the King of kings! Hosanna, hosanna in the highest!”  and clapped, whooped and cheered as we made our way to the chapel for the service.

We had a very comfortable stay in Chester Rest House, run by the Brothers and named after Chester Diocese) and were well looked after by both the school and the Brothers, who helped organise our trip to Tabalia. We had a fantastic two weeks learning about this part of the world, the rich culture and wonderful people. Two weeks wasn’t long enough!

At the end of May we launched the St Nicholas Link at Woodchurch with a number of introductory videos shown in form time and in the year group assemblies every morning for two weeks. We’re excited about what the future of the link holds for the two schools and to see all that can be learnt and shared through our global link.

 

John & Rachel from Woodchurch School, UK

Church of the Ascension, Santo

“God has gone up with a triumphant shout!” – Ascension Day in Santo

Having worked as pharmacist and doctor for 10 years in the Solomon Islands and 3 years in Vanuatu, we were thrilled when the chance to return unexpectedly came in April and May this year. During 10 wonderful days in Honiara, we caught up with pharmacy, nursing and medical colleagues, while staying at Chester Rest House and St Agnes MU Rest House, both so comfortable and welcoming. An overwhelming welcome was also given by the Melanesian Brothers at Tabalia, where we spent two precious days in the quiet, sharing in Services in the beautiful St Mark’s Chapel, visiting the graves of the seven martyred Brothers and visiting Kohimarama Theological College next door (where Susan used to do a monthly clinic).

Flying on to Vanuatu, at Vila Central Hospital, we were able to participate with former colleagues, in a training session for the Tupaia Project. Through this project, tablet computers are to be supplied to all Rural Health Clinics, for their day-to-day requisitions, stock-taking and data collection and this will be piloted on Efate.

On the 9th May, we flew up to Santo, on the same plane as Revd John Bani and his wife, Alice. Revd John is priest at the Church of the Resurrection, Tagabe. We attended this church when we worked in Vila and the priest-in-charge then was his father, Father John Bani, who became President of Vanuatu.

Mr Joses L.Togas (Deputy General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, Vanuatu), very kindly picked us up from Hotel Santo the next morning to take us to the Ascension Day Service -at the Church of the Ascension! We arrived before there was any congregation in the church, and Keith was introduced to Joses’ son, who is an Apprentice Car Mechanic.

We met a Mothers’ Union member, who was the wife of a former Bishop, Walter Sipa. The Mothers’ Union members then prepared the church for the Service as schoolchildren began arriving and the male choir in front of us sang choruses. Soon the church was packed; the Service began at 8.30, local Melanesian Brothers among the congregation. Joses lent us his Melanesian English Prayer Book with Hymns – we had unwisely left ours in UK to minimise on luggage!

We had the Ascension Day Psalm 47, which says ‘God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet… For God is the king of all the earth.’ The excellent preacher had made a wonderful crown of silver paper to illustrate the kingship of Jesus. The congregational singing of the Ascension Day hymns and choruses was out of this world – a wonderful exuberant praising of God in four-part harmonies. “God has gone up in a Triumphant Shout !” [Gerald Finzi, op 27, no 2], certainly applied!

After the Service, we were able to greet some more of the Congregation, before leaving to meet Dr Tim Vocor, former Medical Superintendent of Northern District Hospital. Then, after much searching and walking in the mid-day sun, we were thrilled, to find Sister Fay Timothy, (with whom Susan had worked on the Children’s Ward) and her husband Ramo (Male Surgical Ward). Sister Fay had been quite ill and we really wanted to see her again.

It really was a special re-visit to Santo – a beautiful place overlooking the Segond Channel, kind and friendly people, an amazing Ascension Day Service and a wonderful re-union, all remain vividly in our memories with thanksgiving.

Keith and Susan Williams

Peace Building Workshop At SITAG

Peace Building Workshop Underway At SITAG

A WEEK LONG Workshop on Peace Building is currently underway at the Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group (SITAG) conference room in Honiara. The training workshop was officially opened on Monday morning by the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) Dr. Abraham Hauriasi. The workshop was organized by the Commission on Justice, Reconciliation and Peace and is facilitated by Reverend Raki Tigarea and Mrs. Leibling Toganivalu from the Institute of Mission and Research, at Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji.

Dr. Abraham Hauriasi in his opening address said the necessity of having such a training is underpinned by a number of factors: Solomon Islands is in a post conflict situation. Most, if not, all communities in the country would have experienced conflict, some in more serious form than others, during the period of the ethnic tension . Some people may have been emboldened by what they have witnessed and experienced during that period so that any hint of disagreement between any parties, whether blood related or not, could quickly escalate into open hostility and even physical confrontation. We hear of increasing cases of more violent behaviour perpetrated by people resulting from even very minor issues. Hence, we could be witnessing more and more communities who are torn apart from conflicts.

The General Secretary also said that with the increase in development in all its various forms, we are witnessing growing number of cases of conflicts arising from competing claims over the resources required from these developments and the sharing of benefits from these activities . All of us here would have experienced ourselves conflicts or disagreements within our families or communities resulting from the use of tribal or family owned resources. Many families have been separated as result of disagreements over the use of their land and the harvesting of forests or marine resources. Many communities and families have become dysfunctional due to conflicts amongst themselves.

Thirdly, with the growing population of our communities, there is bound to be conflicts caused deliberately or unintentionally by any members of the community. And with our kinship relationships, a minor disagreement between two people could quickly involve all members of the tribes or clans.

Given the propensity of these factors to cause conflicts, we need more peace builders in our communities. Having sustainable peace in our communities is paramount to achieving all we want to do, including our mission related programmes and activities.

Given the rapid increase of antisocial behaviours, tensions and conflicts in our local communities, ACOM and other churches must be equipped with trauma healing skills, conflict management and conflict resolutions and conflict transformation knowledge and skills; Reverend Mark Graham, Commission Justice, Reconciliation and Peace said. “Equipping every diocese in this field will enable them to respond effectively to all forms of conflict and violence,” he concluded. Fifteen participants representing the seven dioceses in Solomon Islands, Institution and representatives from other Church denominations are attending the training that will end this Friday.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

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Women on the Frontline Training – Mrs Welby and Team in Honiara

Mrs Caroline Welby and her small team from Lambeth Palace in the United Kingdom, England were in Honiara last week.

The purpose of their one-week visit was to conduct training called “Women on the Front Line” for ACoM Bishops’ wives and other women in the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) as well as joining with them in prayer, sharing and to encourage each other.

Mrs Welby was accompanied by Jane Namureye, Keren Lewis and Canon Rev. Sarah Snyder.

The Archbishop of ACOM the Most Reverend George Takeli, his wife and the President and members of the ACOM Provincial Mothers Union met the team at Henderson International Airport before they left for TNK, where the one-week program was held.Mrs Welby 02

Tete Ni Kolivuti or TNK for short, is the Headquarters of the Sisters of the Church and is located on the eastern side of Honiara, around Tenaru School and Foxwood.

“We have been waiting for this day, and here it is,” Rev Sr. Veronica, Sister Provincial of the Community of the Sisters of the Church said at a welcome ceremony held at TNK.

“We are happy to be your host and we are looking forward to providing you the best hospitality we can offer you this week,” she said to the visiting team including the Bishops’ wives.

As part of the programme Mrs. Welby led a retreat for Bishops’ wives for three days. The group was then joined by other women from the church to share reflections and discussions on the topics centred around conflict, violence, counselling, meditation and reconciliation.

Archbishop Takeli also delivered an address during the week, for participants to discuss and reflect on.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications