Tag: Melanesian Mission

Bishop Willie Tungale

Anglican Church of Melanesia Elects New Bishop For The Diocese of Temotu

The Diocese of Temotu Electoral Board has elected the Reverend Willie Tungale as the sixth bishop for the Diocese of Temotu.

Reverend Willie Tungale, 54, succeeds the Most Reverend Leonard Dawea who was enthroned and installed as the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia and Bishop of the Diocese of Central Melanesia in September this year.

Reverend Tungale is currently serving as Chaplain and New Testament Teacher at Mona Community High School in Santa Cruz, Temotu Province; a post he has held since 2012. He was also the Principal and deputy Principal at the said school in 2010 and 2011. He holds a Bachelor of Theology Degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand from 2002 – 2004 and Diploma in Theology from Bishop Patteson Theological College from 1995 – 1998. He also holds a Diploma in Education and Leadership from the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Honiara through DFL mood of study. Revd Tungale comes from Napir Village, Graciousa Bay, Santa Cruz, Temotu Province. He is married to Ruth Tungale and they have five children.

The Consecration and installation service for Revd Willie Tungale into the office of the Bishop will take place on 16th February next year in Lata.

The Archbishop calls on all members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia to uphold Revd Tungale and his family in prayer as they prepare to take on this important responsibility in the church.

ACoM Communications

Former staff and students of Selwyn College

Solomon Islands Governor General Reception In London

In October the new Governor General of Solomon Islands, the Right Reverend Sir David Vunagi, was in London to be knighted by the Queen. During the visit, MMUK trustee, the Reverend Catherine Duce, hosted a reception for Sir David and Lady Mary Vunagi at St. Martin in the Fields.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Vunagi
HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Vunagi (© Buckingham Palace)

It was a lovely opportunity for old friends to welcome the Governor General and his wife back to London. Sir David has been a servant of the Church of Melanesia for many years, serving as headmaster of Selwyn College, Dean of Honiara and Archbishop of Melanesia. In retirement David returned briefly to his home island of Santa Ysabel where he realised a long ambition to plant an arboretum, but was then called back to be headmaster of Selwyn College. Mary, meanwhile was back in Honiara as President of the Mothers’ Union. Earlier this year, David was elected Governor General.

At the reception, Canon John Pinder was able to hand over the Solomon Islands flag which was carried in procession and laid on the altar of Westminster Abbey at the independence service in 1978. He assumed that it would reside in the office of the Solomon Islands High Commission in London, but the head of protocol, Trevor Ramoni, claimed it for the Governor General’s residence in Honiara where it will have a place of honour.

Canon John Pinder handing over the Solomon Islands flag to Sir David
Canon John Pinder handing over the Solomon Islands flag to Sir David. Eliam Tangirongo is on the left.

There was a happy reunion between the Solomon Islands High Commissioner in London, Eliam Tangirongo and the Reverend David Wippell. Eliam was a prop forward in the Selwyn College rugby team that was brilliantly coached by David, beating all the other rugby teams in Honiara in 1971.

John Pinder was able to introduce the Governor General to Professor Nick Stanley who is writing a biography of Robert Codrington, apart from Patteson, the most famous and respected of the early missionaries. Nick was delighted when Sir David agreed to write a foreword for his book.

The afternoon ended with a short act of worship and an address by Sir David.

Past and present Melanesian Mission trustees
Past and present Melanesian Mission Trustees: Back L-R; Catherine Duce, Ian Drew, Katie Drew, Brian Macdonald-Milne: Front L-R; John Pinder, Lady Mary Vunagi, Sir David Vunagi, Jocelyn Squires

John Pinder – Melanesian Mission UK

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards - Emoatfer Swamp, Efate

Climate Change, Multiple Hazards and the Future of Vanuatu

The nation of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean is an archipelago of 83 islands, over 100 languages and a highly diverse and endemic flora and fauna. Paradoxically, Vanuatu has been described as being both the most naturally hazardous place on earth whilst also hosting the happiest people on the planet. It is also a nation facing changes; changing climate as the world warms, and changing social and economic futures driven by increased connectivity with the global community.

In August of this year, the University of Southampton funded a trip to Vanuatu with the help of the Melanesian Mission and Anglican Church of Melanesia. The aims of the visit were to build links with organisations in Vanuatu to learn more about the challenges and choices faced by the people, but also to better understand how natural hazards are transferred into changing risks to local communities. A third goal was to recover samples of lake and swamp sediments, that can be used to reconstruct changes in the natural environment and climate over timescales longer than monitored records. Some 23 hours of travelling and 11 time zones later we arrived in Vanuatu. For David this was the third trip to Efate and Port Vila, but for Chris and Sally it was their first time in Vanuatu and Melanesia.

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards - David, Sally, Chris, and Pastor Peter Kolmas
L-R: David, Sally, Chris, and Pastor Peter Kolmas. Background section cut through old (6000-7000 year) lakebed sediments. Oral history says the lake drained after an earthquake

Day 1 was all about recovery! This was made possible thanks to the very kind hosts Hugo, Fabienne and Marcel at Aquana Beach Resort. Day 2 and we were off to core swamps and lakes. We visited Emoatfer swamp in Eretap, an infilled lagoon containing over 4000 years of environmental and climate history, including evidence for the arrival of the first people on Efate. We were keen to get stuck in – which we did quite literally. After a walk up and over the former coral reef (now a low ridge) we descended through the Pandanus swamp forest and out into the sedge of the swamp. We recovered 4m of mud with a series of peat layers distributed down the core showing periods when the climate was drier. Thoroughly soaked, muddy but delighted, we moved on to Lake Emaotul. Getting to Emaotul involves a track that with increased use of 4WD has almost become impassable. We met up with Pastor Peter Kolmas – who is building a small church in the bush to serve his parishioners. Peter set about cutting us a trench through the road cutting so we could sample the lake muds that were exposed 22m above the current lake level. Local stories tell of an earthquake and the sudden draining of the lake about 2000 years ago. Peter and his family live up near the lake, care for the local community and grows some crops and tends his forest garden. His church is a simple breezeblock barn like structure with a tin roof, a few benches and a simple table festooned with flowers for the Altar.

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards - Joses Togase, David Sear and Father Nigel
L-R: Joses Togase, David Sear and Father Nigel outside the Vanuatu Christian Council Workshop building

During our time we met up with a range of wonderful and interesting people, including the UK’s new (1 month in post) High Commissioner Karen Bell and Deputy High Commissioner Paul Lawrence. They are part of a wider UK ‘Pacific Uplift’ policy that is seeing increased presence of the UK government in the Pacific with Samoa, Tonga and Solomon Islands receiving new High Commissioners this year. We were also able to give a presentation and meet up with the team in the Vanuatu Government’s Division of Meteorology and Geohazards. These are part of a wider Disaster risk management and climate change group whose job is to monitor and respond to natural hazards such as Cyclone Pam in 2015 and the recent eruptions in Ambae. We are hoping to develop more formal links with VMGD.

A key part of our trip was to deliver a workshop on multiple hazards with ACoM. Selwyn Leodoro, former speaker of the Vanuatu Parliament, and Joses Togase (Secretary to ACoM) helped organise the workshop under the leadership of Bishop Tama and hosted at the newly built Vanuatu Christian Council Centre. This centre is a fantastic resource as proven by its hosting two workshops – our one on Multihazards and across the grassy square another on the Theology of Disasters. At lunchtime we all met up where I met Father Nigel from the Solomon Islands who was due to host Marie Schlenker a PhD student co-funded by the University of Southampton and Melanesian Mission who is working with Rob Nichols, Ivan Haigh and David Sear on coastal erosion and community impacts of sea level rise in the Solomon Islands. A small world indeed but meeting him gave me great hope for Marie’s visit.

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards Workshop
Our workshop in Port Vila discussing how geohazards affects communities, and how people feel Vanuatu will change in the coming decades

Back on Vanuatu, our workshop attracted a range of stakeholders from Government, Communities, different islands, educators and students and NGO’s with experience of disaster management. We worked them hard – asking them to identify pathways along different hazards propagated into communities. We then asked them to identify the different scenarios for the future of Vanuatu. This prompted lively debate, but we agreed in the end on two major axes of future choices for Vanuatu – one that saw a traditional future at one end, and a highly ‘westernised’ future at the other. The other axis had a sustainable future at one end and an intensive industrial/agrobusiness future at the other. This provided lively debates and groups clearly had different perspectives, based on their backgrounds and nature of work. We then asked the group to explore how different factors would change along each axis – for example how might agricultural practices change in a sustainable traditional future vs an intensive westernised future? We had already seen evidence of changes when we passed the new shrimp farming lagoons built on the floodplain of the Teouma River in Eratap. This floodplain is subject to intense flooding during Cyclones – construction of shrimp farming ponds may not be sustainable in the long term.

In the afternoon after a fantastic lunch of Melanesian and Solomon Island dishes we asked the group to identify where in the possible future scenarios for Vanuatu each main Island lay – Tanna for example was seen to be largely traditional and sustainable whereas Efate was seen to be moving towards an intensive/westernised future. In our final session we asked delegates to return to their multiple hazard pathway diagrams and to highlight the changes that would occur under the different futures they had identified. In this way we were able to show delegates how the decisions made on the future direction of Vanuatu could impact communities during natural hazards. We found differences between islands, and this understanding is important for development planning, and in response to disasters (which directly relates to Sustainability Development Goals). For all delegates this was a new way of thinking and helped them to see how important it is to develop joined up planning for disaster management. What we learned was how most people wanted to retain a traditional, Christian community ethos – valuing strong community and family bonds. However, clear areas of change were also identified as necessary, including preserving sustainable livelihoods, whilst increasing gender equality and opportunity.

In our final day we explored Port Vila. There has been quite rapid change since David’s last visit in 2017. Roads were newly repaired and surfaced, and new building works were evident, largely funded by Chinese investment. In the market we met a woman who was weaving. We struck up a conversation with her and it turned out she was one of the many people evacuated form Ambae in the recent eruption. Although recently removed from her home, she seemed at peace with the events. Her explanation was down to the welcome she had received from the community in Pentecost Island who welcomed her and her children into their homes when hers became uninhabitable. Subsequently, she had been able to make her way to Efate and was schooling her children whilst working in the market. That said she wanted to return to her home, where her husband is buried, and where her family is slowly returning. This conversation clarified for us the outcomes from the workshop, whilst answering the apparent paradox of Vanuatu. It is those family and traditional bonds with home, coupled with a life that despite its apparent simplicity is nevertheless fulfilling which together enables the Ni-Vanuatu to be both happy and resilient in the face of natural disasters.

Our thanks again to Bishop Tama, Joses Togase and Selwyn Ledoro of ACoM, Alan Rarai of VMGD and all those who attended the workshop. A huge thanks too to the Melanesian Mission and the Vanuatu Christian Council. We look forward to reporting back and working with you again.

Notes from a recent visit hosted by the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Melanesian Mission
David Sear, Sally Brown, Chris Hill – University of Southampton

2019 AGM & Festival Day

2019 AGM & Festival Day

On Saturday 21st September, MMUK held its Annual General Meeting and Festival Day at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. The AGM was attended by 32 supporters and members.

The Hon Treasurer reported that MMUK’s accounting records for 2018 – 2019 comply with Act & SORP, and that there were no matters to draw members attention, after being independently examined by Redwoods Accountants. Members accepted the accounts and agreed for Redwoods to examine the accounts for 2019 – 2020. Members also accepted the Review of the Year report and the minutes for the 2018 AGM. All of these documents can be found on the charity’s website; 2019 AGM & Festival Afternoon Programme & Speakers.

The Rt Revd Mark Rylands and Canon John Pinder were re-elected as Trustees for three years, and Mr Steven Scoffield was elected at Trustee and Honorary Treasurer for three years. Trustees were delighted to confirm that Revd Cath Duce will continue as a Trustee for another two years, having now secured a position following her curacy.

Mr Ian Drew stepped down as one of the Archbishop’s two appointed Trustees, after a term of eight years. Thankfully Ian has agreed to continue to maintain and look after the charity’s website and IT needs. Ian was sent a letter of thanks from Archbishop Leonard and also received thanks and praise from the Trustees and members.

The Most Revd Leonard Dawea has chosen Canon Daphne Jordan to replace Ian. Unfortunately, Daphne could not be at the meeting due to travelling back to the UK from the Solomon Islands, but sent this introduction;

I have spent all my working life teaching and then leading as a headteacher in Church of England schools. On leaving teaching I spent 10 years as the Deputy Director of Education for Blackburn Diocese and now work as a consultant for the schools and academies within the Diocese. I made my first visit to Vanuatu in 2013 to support ACOM in developing their Christian Distinctiveness programme making further visits in 2014 and 2018.  2018 was also the first opportunity I had to visit Honiara in the Solomon Islands again to support the schools in acknowledging their specialness as church schools.

I have been a lay canon of Blackburn Cathedral since 2001 in recognition of my career in church schools in taking the word of Jesus to children and young people.

I take great joy in sharing our seven grandchildren with their parents, watching Burnley Football team in the English Premier League, reading and gardening.

With an increased workload in 2020, the Trustees have also agreed to co-opt Canon Jane Brooke from Chester Cathedral as a Trustee for 2019-2020.

During the Eucharist in the Lady Chapel, Mr Steve Scoffield and Canon Jane Brooke became Associates to the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia.

In the afternoon there were presentations from Canon Jane Brooke on her first visit to the Solomon Islands with husband George in June. Jane gave praise to the work of the Mothers’ Union and their work on the Positive Parenting Programme. She also enjoyed the morning prayer services, going into the chapel in the dark of early morning and then coming out into the light. Read more about Jane’s visit; Learning From Each Other. Jane has also written some parables reset in the Solomon Islands, to help UK children understand the Solomon Islands through teaching the parables’ – download these from our Resources page.

Westcott House ordinand Lizzie Campbell was the next guest speaker, talking about her six week visit to the Solomon Islands this summer. Lizzie shared her experiences and what she would take into her own ministry under three headings;

  • Live slowly
  • Welcome openly
  • Worship loudly

Read more about Lizzie’s visit; Lizzie Campbell – Six Weeks In The Solomons.

Members next heard plans for a MMUK hosted visit to the Solomon Islands in September 2020 from Canon Tony and Alison Sparham. The idea is to take supporters to the Solomon Islands for about three weeks to visit the church’s headquarters, Honiara Cathedral and see the work of the four Anglican religious orders and the Mothers’ Union on Guadalcanal and also on other islands. Tony and Alison will lead the group and places will be limited to around 12 people. More details will be sent out shortly and supporters are encouraged to contact the charity to register their interest.

Fresh from the enthronement of Archbishop Leonard, Bishop Mark Rylands shared news from the region. Read more about the enthronement and service, along with the Archbishop’s sermon and speech in the following articles; Archbishop Leonard Dawea’s Enthronement Address | Sermon for Archbishop’s Enthronement and Installation.

It was wonderful to see friends from across England and Scotland, and we look forward to seeing you at our very special AGM and Festival Day next year in July!

2019 AGM & Festival Day - Year Ahread

DoCM ACoM Provincial Youth Convention

Lizzie Campbell – Six Weeks In The Solomons

For six weeks this summer, I travelled to Solomon Islands to experience the Anglican Church and religious orders on the other side of the world. Having left Europe only once before in my life there was little that could prepare me for this life-changing experience.

Before leavingCSM Verana'aso home, I felt trepidation; would I be safe? Would I enjoy myself? How homesick was I going to get? I didn’t expect to see a whole new perspective on my faith and the church into which I will be ordained in 2 years.

Week One: I stayed in Verana’aso with the Melanesian Sisters. Living without running water or electricity was a shock at first, but the wonderful hospitality of the sisters eased the transition! I was delighted by the fresh fruit such as mangoes straight from the tree, and the wonderful sunrises, sunsets and starry skies.

The offices were the rhythm of each day for me, interspersed with attending the Youth Convention at Selwyn College. I’m currently a student at Selwyn College, Cambridge so it was a great experience to attend bible studies and worship at our sister institution!

DoCM ACoM Provincial Youth ConventionI sometimes struggled with the theology taught in the bible study classes, mainly because it was a lot more conservative than I am used to. This was a consistent paradigm shift for me over the course of my trip: namely, what does it mean to be ‘in communion’ with other Anglican churches, and how can the worldwide church live together with our differences in integrity? I believe I have a much better idea of what binds us together as an Anglican communion due to my time in Solomon Islands.

I spent week two in Tabalia with the Melanesian Brotherhood. This week was quieter than the week at Verana’aso, but the worship was louder! I loved to wake up for morning prayer and then to be truly woken up by the singing there.

I enjoyed chatting to the novices and walking along the beach with them. I visited Kohimarama and chatted to students, I edited Brother Christom’s thesis from which I learned a lot about the challenges facing those brothers who transition from life in the order to life in the laity.

Week Three was spent at TNK with the Sisters of the Church. Meeting Sr Veronica was wonderful and talking to her about the joys and challenges of being a woman who is ordained to the priesthood in Solomon Islands was very illuminating.

Week Four on Ysabel was a real highlight of my trip, from the beautiful location of the rest-house where I stayed in Jejevo, to the amazing hospitality I received from local people, inside and outside the church.

I went to an ordination in a town called Nareabu, followed by a feast. This amazing community event was a tremendously spiritual experience for me, reminding me of our call as Christians to serve and be served by one another.

Finally, I spent a week in Honiara, visiting the local schools, the cathedral, attending a celebration for Makira day, and saying goodbye to the friends from the religious communities that I had made during my stay. I also managed on a free day to go scuba diving which was incredible!

My time in Solomon Islands was life changing. I loved to see how others live their lives in such a different way to the one I am living, and yet we are joined together in the Anglican Communion, and the Christian Church. The friends I made will remain in my heart forever, and the experience will inform my ministry. I have learned the benefits of living slowly, welcoming openly and worshipping loudly!

Thank you MMUK for this opportunity, and for all your help and support throughout this once in a lifetime experience.

Lizzie Campbell

Celebrating 100 Years of the Mothers' Union is Solomon Islands

100 Years of Mothers’ Union in Melanesia

The Mothers’ Union in the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) has celebrated its 100th anniversary (1919 – 2019) in Honiara. The programme was attended by around 1,600 members from all nine dioceses of the ACoM in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

The week-long programme was officially opened at Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral after the Holy Eucharist Service led by the Archbishop of Melanesia the Most Rev. Leonard Dawea. After a colourful parade at the Cathedral grounds, the Mothers’ Union members gathered at the Desmond Probets’ Hall at Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral to listen to Mrs Annie Saenamua, a former Mothers’ Union provincial president highlighting the work of Mothers’ Union in the context of Melanesia.

“The work out there is vast, and the Mothers’ Union cannot ignore the reality of the present time, the high rising problems and issues and the changing lifestyles in our communities. The Mothers’ Union is a mission that should bring about God’s word through action and to make changes to lives in families, communities and to others”, Mrs Saenamua said in her address.

“For example, the MU had embarked on the Literacy program to change the intellectual ability of women in order to contribute to the welfare of the family and society and to enhance their participation in community work more effectively”, Anne continued.

Anne also added that though the work of MU in Melanesia had changed many lives, and the opportunity that some women had been able to sit in leadership positions that can make decisions; there are still challenges that lie ahead that MU must make careful planning and strategies to tackle the new and rising issues that are breaking down families.

The theme for the centenary celebrations is – ‘Reflecting on Mary Sumner’s vision and its impact in Melanesia: the Past, the Present and the Future’.

The Mothers’ Union is the largest ministry within the Anglican Church of Melanesia attracting a membership of more than 15,000 in both countries of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Walande Island

Priests Become Scientists on “Disappearing Islands”

Press Release: 7 October 2019

Priests Become Scientists on “Disappearing Islands”

Priests in the Pacific Solomon Islands are being enlisted to help measure the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on the islands where they serve.

Rt Rev’d Mark Rylands, who has just returned from the islands and chairs the Melanesian Mission UK, said: “What we’re doing is using priests as scientists.

“We’ll use the strength of the Anglican Church in Melanesia to do the observations and get concrete measurements on how the islands are disappearing and the sea levels are rising.

“It’s the Anglican Church at the forefront, really pioneering what is of great concern to the whole world.”

It’s hoped the islands’ priests, who are being dubbed Green Apostles, will take daily readings of the tides and temperatures at the same time as they say their daily Morning Prayer.

They are geographically spread throughout the islands and will take measurements from posts in the ground going into the sea.

The plan is for this daily or weekly recording to continue for a decade.

“The nine bishops of Melanesia have signed-up to this project. They want it to happen,” Bishop Mark said.

“It’s the Anglican church at the forefront, really pioneering what is of great concern to the whole world.”

The Solomon Islands are in the Anglican Province of Melanesia, which has a historic link with the Diocese of Exeter in the UK.

Bishop Mark, who is based in Ashburton, Devon, was in the Solomon Islands to celebrate the enthronement of the new archbishop, the Very Reverend Leonard Dawea.

The data being collected by priests is one of a number of environmental research projects being undertaken by the Melanesian Mission with UK researchers and institutions, to enable to Anglican Church in Melanesia to support communities affected.

“The salt has got into the ground, they can’t grow crops anymore and the children have nowhere to play when they come home from school.”

Working with a team led by Dr Ivan Haigh, an associate professor at Southampton University, the project will document the changing patterns of coastal margins in the Solomon Islands.

Bishop Mark said: “This is one place where the Anglican Church can help the rest of the world. We have evidence of the islands disappearing, we’ve got videos from the 80s and 90s.

“We have Anglican church members who have lived on islands which have disappeared in their lifetime.

“When I was there in 2016, I saw the islanders of Fanalei, South Malaita. I spent some time with the elders and they were discussing how, for four months of the year, the island is under water.

“The salt has got into the ground, they can’t grow crops anymore and the children have nowhere to play when they come home from school.”

Marie Schlenker is currently in South Malaita as part of the University of Southampton team. She has been writing a blog about her experience.

The research results will be shared with local communities and presented to the Solomon Islands government. They will also be used internationally to lobby on behalf of those affected.

Former Blue Peter film maker Alex Leger, from Topsham, has been documenting the Solomon Islands on film for a number of decades, he and Dr Haigh will be showing his video evidence and discussing the plight facing the islands at Disappearing Islands a special event at Exeter Cathedral on Thursday 10 October.

For more information and interviews please contact Chloe Axford, Director of Communications, Diocese of Exeter: chloe.axford@exeter.anglican.org; 01392 294905, 07889 523776

Article updated 15 October 2019;

Since his return from the Solomon Islands, Bishop Mark Rylands, Chair of MMUK has been interviewed by the Diocese of Exeter and also United Christian Broadcasters about MMUK’s environmental projects with the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Archbishop Leonard Dawea and ACoM Bishops

Sermon for Archbishop’s Enthronement and Installation

Archbishop Leonard Dawea
Exodus 12: 37-42; 1 Cor. 12: 12-30; Matthew 8: 23-27

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Theme: A spiritually United Church.

May I extend a very warm welcome to all of you again; those of you are present at this service and those of you are praying with us via television or radio broadcast. I welcome you all as members of the Church or in the words of St. Paul, we are the Church; the living Saints.

When one revisits the history of the Church from her beginning, the Church journeyed around the world, even to Melanesia in people or missionaries. But the Church also carries people on their spiritual journey in anticipation of the Kingdom of God. It is the role of all Christian Churches, to carry and safe guide people on their journey and relationship with Christ. But it is also a spiritual avenue where Christians meet, create relationships and even socialise for the sake of Christ.

What begins to surface here is that the Church is a body. It is a living organ, so like any living organ, the Church encounters challenges in her growth and development. The people of Israel as we heard in the Old Testament after their slavery and experiences of oppression, started out on a journey with God, but it was not a smooth ride. They complained, they became thirsty and hungry, they were bitten by poisonous snakes.

But they also experienced the power of God; he rained down manna from heaven, gave then water from the rock and divided the red sea for them to go through. In the end they archived nationhood; they became a nation of their own in the Promised Land.

In the Epistle reading we heard Paul describing Christ to the people of Corinth as one body with many parts. He helped them to value and respect each part as invaluable for the wellbeing of the one body. They are to correlate and not to dispute each other’s functions. He goes on to say that each one of them is part of the same body. He also described the different ministries we have in the Church in the same way.

Practically there may be rooms for disagreement with each other, but the call is to respect, value and appreciate each individual Christian and every ministry there are in the Church. Because there is no division in the body, the different parts should have the same concern for one another, v. 25. That gives us assurance that all of us are to be participants in the life of the Church, even the least ones. The different parts of the body reflects a picture of united individuals and ministries in the Church.

Archbishop Leonard DaweaThe gospel reading is a story of a united church. It is on a journey. Matthew reshapes the story to instruct the Church after the resurrection. In this story the Church carries the people as represented by the boat. And literally Jesus was in the boat; he got into the boat first before his disciples. We shall use this faith story to weave a message for our Church today?

The Church is Christ’s Church; before we became members of the Church, he himself was already in the Church, he owns the Church. We were not told in the passage who owns the boat; Jesus did not seek permission from anyone. It was wrong from the society’s point of view. But seeing the boat as representing the Church, Jesus had no need to seek permission because he owns the Church.

Like the disciples, most people don’t know why they became members of the Church and where they were heading. St. Mark’s gospel tells us that they were going to other side of the lake. He went on to say that the disciples took Jesus with them, Mark. 4: 31. This is an interesting picture of the Church; Jesus was in his Church, but the disciples took him with them. The Church belongs to Jesus, but only we can take him and his gospel forward.

As soon as the disciples got into the boat with Jesus, the journey began. Both Matthew and Mark used the word ‘suddenly’ to describe the prompt arrival of a fierce storm against the boat. It came against the boat so hard that it was in danger of sinking. It continues through the unity, commitment and hard work of the disciples.

The journey of the Christian Church suddenly shattered her early beginning. The Church travelled everywhere in inhuman circumstances of torture, persecution, martyrdom, even to our own Church of Melanesia. But we are assured that Jesus controls it and can never, ever sink.

The biblical tradition holds the sea as symbol of disorder and chaos. It was very rough on this particular scenario. All around the boat, the sea must have been white like a lake of snow. And together with the wind, the sea feared the disciples. Because the water that spilled into the boat can kill. If it is not bailed out, it will sink it and the disciples will be exposed to the ravages of the sea and the wild sea creatures.

But it is the very sea that the boat travels on. The sea is here portrayed as the society. The society persecuted and humiliated the Church as soon as she was started by Christ. And this has been the road the Church travelled around the world. The society forces different situations and issues on the Church which sometimes seems as it will sink her. Though the society rocks the Church; it is the same society that carries the Church. It is the Church’s situated context. But like the boat in the lake, the Church will never ever sink. Whatever people might think, feel or say about the Churches we belong, it is important that we remain in the Church for that’s where Jesus is; it is our spiritual sanctuary.

We are encouraged here to remain in the Church or be part of a Church no matter whatever we might say or think about our Churches. In the midst of the storms of society, the Church can carry us forward. It might be rocking, it might in danger of sinking, it might be full of unrighteousness, but it’s safe because Jesus is always present in it.

Let us look at how the Bible portrays the disciples in this passage; it presents them in plural or inclusive form. There was no use of personal pronoun in reference to any particular disciple except for Jesus. They were all in total danger, but there was never any shout of frustration; they most probably rowed, bailed out, control the sail and worked hard together in their time of crises. Peter, the leader of the disciples was never mentioned as giving orders; he most probably led the disciples through this crises with practical leadership. But certainly there was indication of ongoing talks between them; they were united through their ongoing dialogue in the middle of the storm; they continue to find a way forward out of the pressing situation.

Their unity in this time of crises helped them to realise something important; something that would change their whole life. They realised that Jesus was with them; they made the decision together to wake him and they woke him up. Peter did not go alone to wake Jesus; they all went. It is a picture of a truly united Church. Through our working together, we can realise every day that Jesus is with us in the Church, he is in control, even though sometimes he is asleep through our ignorance.

The disciples woke Jesus up saying,Lord, save us – we are about to die’. We said that the disciples did not know the reason for their travelling. But in the midst of their crises, one thing came out very clear through their words to Jesus. They crave for life. They need Jesus to give them life; the Church is where we seek life in Jesus Christ. The disciples prayed, asking Jesus to save and give them life. They realised that their source of life was in the boat, Jesus Christ himself.

The prayer ought to be our prayer in our Church. It is a confessional statement of craving for life eternal with God. The Church can be lukewarm, it can be buried in its human nature, it can be neglected, it can be tossed about by the changes and chances of this world, but it has within it life giving spirit which offers life eternal. We need not only work together for the physical welfare of our Church, but like the disciples, we must also pray together to Jesus to save us from our daily encounters with life, deliver us from our spiritual weakness and give us life eternal.

This works with faith and I like Jesus’ response to the disciples in Matthew because it is an assurance that we have faith, even though it is little. Little faith presupposes some faith, but faith that has grown weak, paralysed to act and lukewarm to make any real impact in our society. But at least there is faith, little as it may be, it has great opportunity to grow and impact hugely in our society and Church.

The disciples in this scenario learned faith. They witnessed their Lord giving orders to the wind and the waves. The disciples were seen together as one when Christ measured their faith and together they learned to practice their faith. Jesus sleeps through most situations facing our Church because we think we know it all. Peter and the other disciples were called from the lake; and understood it very well. It was like their play station, but in this encounter, their knowledge of the lake seems inadequate and fake. However, they were correct to wake Jesus, he may knew nothing about the characters of the lake, but he knows the created order. In our everyday struggles with the issues of our Church and society which we think we understand better, we ought to make Jesus part of us for he knows far more than us.

We need to see the real nature of Christ and his saving power. In their realisation and amazement the disciples said, ‘who is this man, even the wind and waves obey him?’ It is Jesus the Son of God who has complete control over his Church. It is his Church, he knows it better than all of us, but leads the Church forward through us.

We need to pray together, ‘save us Lord, we are perishing’. Some areas of our Church are perishing lukewarm-ness, disunity, hatred, poor Church attendance, lawlessness etc…., but we need to remain united, to talk, plan, decide and think together. Our Lord is here with us; our saviour is right here, and our help is right here.

This is the model Church for our Province where Jesus is always behind the wheel and all her members are all co-participants. In most instances, Jesus is a sleep in our Church because we deceive ourselves by thinking that we are alright, but it is clear from this story that we need Jesus.

The state of the boat in calm waters is the state we crave for the Church in Melanesia, because Jesus is present with us and participates in our struggles for life. Let us all be united with each other in our Church, with other Churches, with our national governments and united with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. God bless the Church of Melanesia; God bless all Christian Churches in New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

The Lord be with you. Amen.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Archbishop Leonard Dawea Enthronement Address

Archbishop Leonard Dawea’s Enthronement Address

St. Barnabas Provincial Cathedral
Honiara, Solomon Islands
5th September 2019

O God our help in ages past and our hope for years to come!

Your Excellency, the Governor General of Solomon Islands, the Rt Rev. David Vunagi and Madam Mary Vunagi, the Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Patteson Oti and Madam Oti, the Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare and Madam Sogavare, the Hon. Justice Sir Albert Palmer and Madam Palmer, Leader of Parliamentary Opposition, Hon. Matthew Wale and Mrs. Wale, Members of Parliament who are here this morning and your good wives. And in their absence, I would like to mention the President and the Prime Minister and the national leaders of the Republic of Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

The Senior Bishop, the Rt Rev. Nathan Tome, all diocesan bishops of ACoM, the Most Rev. Allen Migi, Archbishop of ACPNG, the Most Rev. Efereima Cama Archbishop of Polynesia, the Rt Rev. Mark Rylands, and Rev’d. Amanda Rylands and representatives of MMUK, the Rt Rev. Dr. Keith Joseph, Bishop of Northern Queensland representing the Anglican Church of Australia, the Rt Rev. Jeremy Greaves, Assistant Bishop of Brisbane, the Rt Rev. Ross Bay, Bishop of Auckland and representatives of the MMTB Trustee, the Rt Rev. William Pwaisiho, Barbara Molyneux and Ruth Gesworth, representatives of the Diocese of Chester, Retired Archbishops and Bishops who are here this morning, Church leaders of Sister Churches in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The Vicar General of DOCM, the Rt Rev. Alfred Hou, Dean of St. Barnabas Provincial Cathedral, the Very Rev. Philip Rongotha and members of the Cathedral Chapter, Vicar Generals of other Dioceses and all Clergies, Canon Gabriel Suri, Vice Chancellor of ACoM, Members of the National, Overseas and Private Sector dignitaries, the Provincial Premiers of our Provinces who are here this morning, Ariki Tafua and all Paramount Chiefs, chiefs and traditional leaders of our islands and communities

The General Secretary of ACoM Dr. Abraham Hauriasi and your Provincial staff, Assistant General Secretary Vanuatu, Mr. Joses Togase, All Diocesan Secretaries of our Dioceses, Members of the Provincial Electoral Board, Heads of Church Institutions and departments, Heads of Religious Orders and all their members, President of the Mothers Union and all MU members, Leaders of Church Lay ministries, young people, children, ladies and gentlemen. I greet you all with the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

By way of introduction, first of all I wish to humbly appeal to all of you to pray for me that God may grant me wisdom and strength to lead his Church.

Following that, I wish to thank the Senior Bishop, the Rt Rev. Nathan Tome for his leadership over the Church for the last seven months of leadership interregnum. Thank you Senior Bishop, your leadership is truly of high quality, integrity and dignity; through your sound wisdom you stirred the Church steadily throughout this period. I also thank the Diocesan Bishops and Assistant Bishop for supporting our Senior Bishop to care for our beloved Church.

Next, I wish to thank so many of you who sent messages of congratulations and best wishes and support of prayers to me and family on the occasion of my election. I greatly appreciate such support of prayers; hence, ‘I will be because of what you will be to me’.

Following some elections, I wish offer congratulations on behalf of ACoM to the following leaders who were elected this year;

  • Congratulations Your Excellency the Governor General, the Rt Rev. David Vunagi and Madam Mary Vunagi for your election as the Head State of Solomon Islands.
  • Congratulations Hon. Manasseh Sogavare for your successful election as Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.
  • Congratulations Hon. Speaker of National Parliament, Mr. Patteson Oti for your successful election as the Speaker to the National Parliament.
  • Congratulations the fifty members of the Solomon Islands Parliament for your successful election earlier this year.
  • Congratulations to all our Provincial Premiers of the Provinces who held their election this year and the members of your respective Provincial Assemblies.

May I offer and assure you of the prayers and support of the Anglican Church of Melanesia. ACoM, as a stakeholder to our national and provincial governments will always appreciate continual corporate efforts with you in your national and provincial developments.

May I also assure our Mission Partners in United Kingdom and New Zealand, Oceania Sister Churches, Christian Churches in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, Non-Government Organizations, Provincial Governments and Traditional Leaders that ACoM will continue to work together with you. I assure you of our prayers and support.

Gratitude and appreciation
Before going further, I wish to offer sincere gratitude to our previous Bishops, Clergies and laities for their huge contributions to the growth and development of our Church from being a missionary diocese to what is now, an autonomous Provincial Church. On this occasion, I particularly want to accord due respect and gratitude to our retired Archbishops; Late Archbishop John Wallace Chisholm, Late Archbishop Norman Palmer, Late Archbishop Amos Waiaru, Late Archbishop Ellison Pogo, Archbishop David Vunagi and Archbishop George Takeli; all of whom were champion leaders, by whose great contributions, wisdom and foresight, ACoM consistently grows and develops to this day. For those who served ACoM and have died, may they rest in peace and rise in heavenly glory.

It is indeed overwhelming to see for myself so many of you who have come to witness this occasion. I understand that a lot of Christians are also following this occasion on television and radio broadcast. I am so assured to see the great support you represent, so let me say this you all; because of your trust and confidence in me, I will do my very best to be your servant shepherd.

My Vision
My vision for the Anglican Church of Melanesia is “A spiritually united Church for equal and holistic growth”. Spiritually united speaks of the desired status for ACoM and equal and holistic growth is the character of growth we anticipate to see in ACoM. In saying this, I am fully aware of the autonomous status each diocese in our Province possess. Hence, spiritual unity is not new, it is strongly interwoven in our tradition; in our daily worship, our biblical connection to the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and our faith in one baptism for the remission of sins. These traditional foundational elements must spur our spiritual unity, our mission, our administration and our financial self-support.

As a spiritually united Church we are called to remain faithful as the holy agent of salvation for the God’s people. It must be able to continually hold together across three political nations of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. She must also improve and strengthen her ecumenical relationship, both nationally, regionally and internationally. She must initiate dialogue and be receptive to our National governments and Non-government Organizations within our boundaries. The presence of our national leaders, Church leaders and our mission partners abroad is a manifestation of our unity; as different parts of the same Body of Christ.

This Church ought to see her adherents become active and participate equally in her life and mission. Through such united participation our Church can identify proactive mission approaches in the context of the rapid up rise of modernity, secularism, individualism and imperative ideologies facing our Church and society. In the face of all these, she must outwork through the lives of her members the physical testament of her spiritual essence.

In support of this vision, we must encourage the Religious Orders within ACoM to provide conducive venues for quiet times of mediation and retreats. But this Church must work towards establishing her own sanctuary or spiritual hub for the same course. A strong Church is one that is ever spiritually united and alive.

Today, I do not wish to raise your hopes for miracles, but with great humility wish to call upon ACoM Christians to arise, hold hands together and listen to each other as we seek ways forward for our Church. We must progressively build our Church on the foundation laid by our founding Fathers and those before us. There will be no miracle by any individual, but corporately, there will be further growth and development.

In the first few years of this leadership, we will continue to work on our ongoing development plans. If by God’s grace we archive them within their allocated period, we will then propose further plans through our administration and governing councils. Our Vision Statement will certainly guide our periodic strategic plans, but during the era of the incoming leadership, the overarching vision of ‘equal and holistic growth’ must guide our destiny.

Let me at this point raise some thoughts on the basic ministry of our Church;

Mission & Ministry
In terms of mission, ACoM, apart from the traditional mission approaches, always take some major mission programs in relation to Bishop George A. Selwyn mission philosophy of ‘true religion, sound learning and useful industry’. In the past, ACoM carried out her mission in threefold areas of Gospel propagation, social services and training. While we remain active in gospel proclamation, we subsided in social gospel and training.

On gospel proclamation, ACoM is currently in a decade of evangelism and renewal. It is a Provincial commitment, which our mission department must effectively lead us to roll out its programs using our established structures. Apart from the traditional methods of spreading the gospel, we need to be creative and innovative to identify other appropriate methods for mission at our respective levels. On the top level for example, ACoM must explore the possibility of utilising our media and communication department to alleviate and prompt the evangelism programs.

More importantly, our Religious Orders must be involved more fully in the evangelism and renewal programs. They must lead us through the decade because evangelism is their lifestyle, hoping that by the end of the decade we should have been rehearsed to do evangelism as our lifestyle.

Regarding our mission through social services, it is encouraging to see ACoM involving in various ‘cross cut issues’. The need is to strengthen and improve our Mission Board to become a strong and active department in our Church to alleviate the different cross cut issues we face. One of the strong mission area of the Church in the past was health services, but it drastically dropped to a very small percentage. Though, we might not see it as a cross cut issue, our national health level remains an issue, so it is an area that ACoM working together with our national governments can undertake feasibility studies on to see if it is possible to re-engage in health services.

Education and training is another area of mission which was very strong and active, but it also subsided along the way. However, upon realisation, we are now beginning to work towards a fully blown education and training ministry. We must do this at all prescribed levels of education and training by our national governments. As part of our mission work, we need to encourage dioceses to engage in education and training, both formal and non-formal. We must also raise the level of our existing schools and training centres.

In terms of theological education, there is great opportunity for ACoM to start planning towards introducing graduate programs in theological studies at Bishop Patteson Theological College. There is great confidence in our Church because we have our owned highly qualified human resources. In line with this, we are confident in the gradual, but steady progress John Coleridge Patteson University is making in terms of academic programs. JCPU project is a huge education and training development, but we remain optimistic about its ongoing progress with the support of our stakeholders in education, including our national governments.

In the area of administration, currently we have a strong administration in place at the provincial level under qualified personnel. There may be areas that needed improvement, but that can only be done by close scrutiny in relation to the changing experiences of our Church. But any notable change to our administration and financial structures and systems have to be done through our canon via relevant governing bodies. Again we must be guided by the vision for equal and holistic growth.

Self-reliance Investment
The call for dioceses and institutions to venture deep into self-reliance has been highlighted in our Church over the decades. The call intertwines with the call to be good stewards of our initiatives and their proceeds. Dioceses and institutions have indeed tried their best to take initiatives, but good stewardship has always been a setback.

Because of this, while I do not intend to discourage initiatives undertaken by dioceses and institutions, I wish to propose a new model to approach our self-reliance investment. It is my vision to work towards a ‘centralised self-reliance’ strategy. It means that our self-reliance activities and investments must be coordinated at the Provincial levels in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. We must identify appropriate and viable activities in our national capitals and other thriving development and economic centres in alignment with our countries’ national developments.

I believe the model correlates with that of Bp. Selwyn and Bp. Patteson when they invested for ACoM in Auckland. We will work with our national governments to formalise our Business Department to operate independently as a business entity to spearhead this concept. The wide spread of our Provincial Church over three political nations presents greater opportunities for such investments. It is high time that we ought to be trained to fish, then waiting on the shoreline to be given fish.

Diocese of Central Melanesia
I wish to assure my new Diocese of Central Melanesia that despites the heavy commitment with the affairs of the Province, I will ensure that I provide due pastoral visitation to our parishes and the satellite Churches. The Diocese of Central Melanesia is a growing diocese following the growth of our national capital of Honiara. A major task ahead of us is to ensure that these satellite Churches continue to grow and develop into parishes. I am not promising you any new and great visions because I know there are ongoing plans in place; my role will be to work with you to implement the plans. DOCM is the mother diocese of the Province of Melanesia, it is therefore, fitting that she must continue to develop ahead in her mission, administration and finance and become a role model for other dioceses.

In conclusion, may I once again appeal to all members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the Governments of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Mission Partners, Oceania Church Partners, Provincial Governments, NGOs, Chiefs and all faith confessing Christians of all denominations for your prayers and support.

ACoM is a living organism as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthian 12: 12 – end; hence a united participation at all levels and activity centres can definitely result in an equal and holistic growth. The mechanism for our united participation and working relationship is the promise of loyalty and support we offer each in this service. On my part, I will do all I can to work with you. Furthermore, I call on you to enjoy your participation in the life, mission, administration and socio economic development of our Church.

Lastly but the least, may the martyrs and saints of Melanesia and the triune and everlasting God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless and lead the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Your Excellency the Governor General of Solomon Islands, the Most Rev. David Vunagi and Madam Mary Vunagi, the Honourable Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Patteson Oti, the Prime Minister, Honourable Manasseh Sogavare, all invited dignitaries, Mission partners, ACoM Church partners, and all of you who have come to honour and grace this occasion, I salute and thank you very much indeed.

Long live the Anglican Church of Melanesia; To God be the glory, great things He will do. Amen.

You can watch the full enthronement service here;

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Group of Melanesian Boys

From Coconut to Computer

The first time I saw a white man I was in my village, Kalona, in Small Malaita, Solomon Islands in the early fifties, when the Missionary Sister based at Fauabu Hospital, came around giving injections and treating the sick. The others were the Parish Priest based at Fiu village near Auki, Fr. Philip Baker was the Rural Dean of Malaita District in those days. I was very interested and fascinated by the respect and calmness which these white people commanded in my village, sleeping and eating our local food of roasted taro, yams, pana with local vegetables cooked in bamboos. The next white man to come to my village was Alfred Thomas Hill the Bishop of the Diocese of Melanesia in the sixties, he too left a very big impression on me as child. The other white men were the touring Doctors who came and stayed in my village, also treating patients from neighbouring villages. Then came the Agriculture Technicians who came to talk about coconut and coca planting. There was stream after stream of those people who served us so well, but for me it was the Church men that held my interest and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I went to school in order to learn how read and write. My other dream was to learn the English language in order to be able to converse with any white man who came to my village. My local schools were basic with Melanesian teachers who taught us maths, divinity, English and handwriting. We were given a slate with a slate pencil, then the next day before lessons we had to clean the slate from the previous day. It was very difficult to remember all that went before with no means of looking it up or re-reading it, but because of our burning ambition to better ourselves we managed. We were thirsty for knowledge.

1963 was a landmark year for me as it was the first time I became aware of electricity, cars, trucks and tractors at the Lever Brothers Head Quarters in Yandina Russel Islands. It was there I tasted white man’s food of bread, butter, tea with milk, rice with corned beef. It was supposed to be a holiday with my uncle, and I was meant to return to school. But the white man’s lifestyle and food was very tantalising, so I refused to return to school. I wanted to be a copra cutter just like my kinsfolks cutting copra for Lever Brothers and being paid for what they did.

In 1964 word came from my Parish Priest Revd. Willie Au of Walande, who said that I must return to school immediately on the next boat available. It was the word of wisdom and authority from a holy man, God had spoken to me through him and I obeyed. That was my turning point. I returned to school and completed my Junior Primary Education and at the end of the year I passed my entrance exam for senior education at St Barnabas Boys School Alangaula on Ukinimasi (Ugi) in Makira / Ulawa Province.

Mission Schools were very special and my three years at Alangaula from 1965 – 67, gave me a lot of privileges, being able to learn and to discern being called by God to the holy orders. The Mission Motto was, True Religion, Sound Learning, and Useful Industry, or simply – Pray hard, Learn hard and Work hard. I think we were indoctrinated into that application and the Christian Ethos never left either the teachers or their pupils.

Willie PwaisihoIt was at Alangaula School I met my friend Alex Leger. He came to teach as a (V.S.O) Volunteer Service Organisation. After we left Alangaula School I did not see him for 30 years until I came to England to serve in Chester Diocese. Alex and I took a production team to film two programmes for Blue Peter about the Solomon Islands. At a later date we wrote a book together about our life and time during the period when he was teaching, and I was a pupil at school. The title of the book is “Marooned in the Pacific” It is only available as a Kindle edition.

The Anglican Church was a pioneer in education in the Islands before the Government took an active role with formalising the education syllabus, and raising the standard to the level of Cambridge School Certificate, at All Hallows Pawa about a mile and a half from Alangaula on Ugi (Ukinimasi) or KG VI in Auki and Honiara later. I graduated with my first Certificate signed by Tony Childs, Chief Education Officer for the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. That piece of paper, which was bearing the signature with the Official Seal, made me a very proud young man indeed. I was somebody who could be recognised as having an achievement. I could show that piece of paper and could be accepted for employment. And not only that, I could now speak and write in English.

In 1968 I went to Pawa School, and there I was taught by Cambridge School Scholars; the likes of Revd. Desmond Probets Headmaster, John Pinder, John Rolfe, Jim Nolan, Doug Henry from Australia, Bob Hunt from New Zealand and other young white teachers who spoke to us using their first language. Also, during worship in the Chapel, we used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and our English Hymnal, which we used to sing from, were great instruments in our learning Oxford and Cambridge English.

The Bishop of Melanesia John Wallace Chisholm came to Melanesia in 1969, and he decided to transfer most of the education to the Government but kept a few schools under Church authority. It was his plan to amalgamate the two separate Secondary Schools for boys and girls into one, and so the birth of Selwyn College. Towards the end of 1969 Pawa Staff and the pupils of forms 1 to 3 went to Ngagilagu, Guadalcanal. I was chosen as Head Prefect for the School, having been a Prefect previously at St Barnabas Alangaula and All Hallows Pawa. The staff thought I would make a good Head Boy. This was to be the first time Pamua, Bungana, Tasia girls ever meet boys from Pawa, Alangaula, Maravovo. So special rules were required, the School Rule, “no special boy or girl friend at all to be maintained at all times.” The Head Boy and all my Prefects had to keep a watchful eye on the pupils, but at the same time human nature took over and our teachers both male and female became too close for the first time. It was a happy school and I was proud of my Headmaster Revd. Tom Tyler, John Pinder, John Rolfe, Jim Nolan, Doug Henry, Kathleen Holgate, Jennifer Pinder, Marjorie Hastings, Richard Roberts and all the staff from UK, Australia and New Zealand.Food Parcels On ground Oven

At Selwyn College towards the end of the year in 1970, those of us who wanted to leave school had to look for possible employment, either with the Government or the Church. I could not make up my mind, so I decided to sit for a place at the Theological School for Priests and to have an interview at a Police Training School. I was accepted to join the Police Training School as a recruit for the new intake in 1971. I think my reason for considering the Police Force, was mainly for the money as it was the highest paid work in the Country. However, God had His own plans for me. Waiting at the entrance of the Police Training School as we came out, who was there to meet us? It was our Pawa School Headmaster the Very Revd. Desmond Probets who had become the Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral in 1969. He enquired what we were doing, and I told him we had been to the Police Training School for an interview and we were all accepted for the next year. He immediately said, of course they will accept boys from Pawa, Selwyn College, Alangaula, Maravovo because we have the best characters in the Country.

God spoke to me again through Desmond, who said: “The others may go forward to the police next year, but you are going to the Theological College for the Priesthood training.” I replied, “But I do not want to go to Theological College as I passed the entrance exams for the Police, Father.” His reply was: “Go back to school and write a withdrawal letter to the Police Training School.” That was my turning point.

Christmas 1970 when playing football, I suffered a compound fracture in South Malaita. Luckily there was a Government vessel doing her “round the islands trip”, delivering mail and paying the teachers and nurses. It took three days to reach the hospital. I was in great pain with no pain killers for three days and nights. I prayed for a miracle and God sent me Fr Samuel Suunorua from Maramasike he came on board and prayed and laid his hands on me, that night I slept like a log. My first experience of the power of God in my life.

After spending the first week in Kilu’ufi Hospital I was transferred to the Referral Hospital in the Capital Honiara for an operation to set my compound fractured leg. I am most grateful to Dr Cross who skilfully did the operation and cared for me until I was able to use my right leg again. While I was in Hospital, I was visited by the Diocesan Bishop John Wallace Chisholm, who knew me from my time as the Head Boy at Selwyn College, Archdeacon Harry Reynolds, who was my spiritual director and also the Franciscan Brothers and the Sisters of the Church. It was very comforting to have people of such high positions and true servants of God, visiting and praying for me whilst I was in hospital.

In 1971 Kohimarama Theological College, the first semester was just about to begin and I was still in hospital. Fr Eric Jones wanted me out of hospital to start my class, so he agreed with Dr Cross that he would bring me once a week to attend Dr Cross’s Clinic, so it was on those terms that Dr Cross agreed to let me go to College. In West Honiara at that time there were no good bridges to cross the big rivers at all. So, trucks had to wait and sit for hours, waiting for the water to recede in order to make a crossing possible. Some nights we had to sleep at Auriligo R.C. School. There were no mobile phones like we have today and no way of communicating with the people who were waiting for us, we could only wait in prayer and hope for the best.

I am most grateful to my Tutors Revd. Eric and Muriel Jones, George and Nonnie Connor, Paul Moore, Jim Draper, Jim and Elizabeth Blades, Robert Hagesi, Harry Tevi, Canon Brian McDonald-Milne, Philip Hoare, John and Yvonne Ayling, and Heather Edgar. These mighty men and women of God helped me find God and His plans for my life in His Kingdom. And I salute them all for their hard work in taming me to be what I am. If I have succeeded, I thank them, but if I have failed it is of my own doing.

College life was around prayer, study and work, everything had to be done in balance. We were taught to do things on our own as preparation for our life out there in the wider world with no one to supervise us. There were no written rules but all of us were expected to be present at Chapel three times every day as well as classes and Community duties around the college.

On the 10th November 1974 I was ordained Deacon in the Church of God and graduated with a Diploma in Biblical Studies. I returned to my home in the Parish of South Malaita from Sa’a to Walande as a Deacon assisting the Parish Priest Revd. Basil Kaloa, until I was ordained to the Priesthood in my village Church of St Martin’s of Tours Bishop and Martyr, on the Feast Day of St Andrew, on Sunday 2nd December 1975.

On the 4th January 1976 I married my wife Kate from Fanalei Port Adam, South Malaita. A week later we left for Honiara the capital where I was to be Chaplain to the new Archbishop, Norman Kitchen Palmer, who was the Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral after Desmond Probets and elected to take the place of Archbishop J.W.Chisholm. I did other things besides being Chaplain. I was Parish Priest to Rove White River Parish and Chaplain to the Central Prison in Rove as well as to the Police Headquarters in Rove along with their families. A very good training for a young Priest I thought.

Now it was during that time there was a movement of partnership between our founding mother Churches in the Northern Hemisphere and the Churches in the Southern Hemisphere including N.Z. and Australia. I thought the Mother Churches were very brave to start entering into this new dimension of relationship which had never happened before. Over a hundred years ago ‘the mission’ came from the West to the developing world countries, and we accepted that as the norm. Now people from developing countries were being asked to work in the mother churches.

In March 1977 my wife and I with our three-month-old daughter left home for the Auckland Diocese in an experiment to see how a Melanesian priest would fit in New Zealand parish ministry. Well I survived and it was a wonderful experience on my part. We returned after two lovely years of training, which I could not have had anywhere else. I was so lucky to work under a very caring loving priest John Brokenshire who showed me what to do and how work should be done in a New Zealand parish.

I returned to the Solomon Islands to be Chaplain and Tutor at my Old College Kohimarama and then appointed to become Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral, Honiara that was 1980 to 81. Then I was elected to be the second Bishop of Malaita Diocese.

I was Consecrated and Enthroned Bishop of Malaita Diocese on the 28th June 1981. I want to pay tribute to the First Bishop of Malaita, The Rt. Rev. Leonard Alufurai a pioneer of the Diocese for his tireless work for the people of Malaita, Sikaiana and Lord Howe. Things were hard and difficult with no money to run the Diocese. We did however, manage to build the administration of the Diocese, setting up Regional Headquarters headed by Senior priests for pastoral supervision throughout the whole Diocese.

There was need for the renewal, so Priests and Lay people were brought from New Zealand and Australia to help the Diocese by leading and teaching about the renewal of the whole Church, which was very successful. We also set up mission bases where heathens were, and those posts were manned by the Melanesian Brotherhood to take the Gospel to the people wherever they were. We supported them by providing outboard motors and canoes. We also brought into the Diocese the Society of the Franciscans for ministry in the Towns, and later the Community of the Sisters of the Church and Sisters of Melanesia.

We completed all we wanted to do, and the Diocese was running well with Senior Priests, clergy paid every month and we even trained Village Priests to take care of the parishes which were very remote in the hills. Those priests came from the Communities who chose them, and we trained them ourselves.

Queen Elizabeth II & +Willie Pwaisiho
+Willie Pwaisiho receiving his OBE in 2004

In 1989 I tendered my resignation, left the Diocese and went to be Tutor at the Melanesian Brotherhood Head Quarters, Tabalia. That was my best move, as I needed a Community with whom I could be spiritually renewed for my next journey with God. At Tabalia and with the Brothers, we were able to do things in our worship which are more Melanesian in style, like dancing the Liturgy, and also the last night of the Novices retreat being on the mountain above Tabaila. I want to thank my Brothers for their love and care. It was at Tabalia I met and worked more closely with Rev. Richard Carter while he was a Brother and Tutor. He is a brave missionary who remained with the Brotherhood during the ethnic tension on Guadalcanal. He led two successful Mission to U.K. leading the Brothers and Sisters to perform dramas in churches and cathedrals. Richard is now at St Martin in the Fields, London reaching out to the homeless in the city.

+Willie and Kate Pwaisiho
+Willie and Kate Pwaisiho

In 1990 the General Synod had passed a new Canon law for the Mission of the Church and they needed a Mission Secretary for the Melanesia Board of Mission. I was handpicked for the post by the Bishops, and went to head this very important arm of the Church linking and building bridges between our historical Mission Agencies, in UK, Australia, N.Z. Canada, U.S.A.

In 1995 to 1997 I was in charge of six Churches in the outskirts of Honiara organising services every Sunday and assigning Priests to conduct services. At that time, I was also an Industrial Manager of a Japanese Construction Company Kumagai Gumi. The money was good, but as a missionary I didn’t enjoy the money. It was too dirty, too political and full of false hope. God was calling me to go out even further abroad, and now he wanted me to go to the UK. I approached Chester Diocese to see if they would have me as an assistant priest in the Diocese. The Bishops Council gave me their approval with letters of commendation from the Melanesia Bishops and the Board of Mission.

Towards the end of 1997 my wife and I, with three of our children left for the UK, arriving in Sale, Manchester in the Parish of St Anne and St Francis Sale Moor. I was Licensed as Honorary Assistant Bishop of Chester and Curate of Sale, with Permission to officiate in the Diocese of Chester and the Province of York by the Bishop of the Diocese, and the Archbishop of York. I served my title in Sale and Sale Moor for two years until 1999.

On the 15th June 1999 I was Inducted and Licensed as Rector of Gawsworth and Assistant Bishop of Chester, the position I held until 2014 when Gawsworth became a united Benefice with North Rode, hence my rectorship covered both Parishes until my retirement at the end of January 2019.

During my time as Rector of Gawsworth, I was Chaplain to the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Chaplain to Crime Beat, the High Sheriff’s Charity, Chaplain to the Bailiff of the Weavers and Chaplain to the Worshipful Lord Mayor of Cheshire East.

In recent times I have attended conferences in Brussels, Geneva and a roundtable convention at Lambeth Palace on climate change.

The world has become so small. You could now be holding a coconut in one hand and a computer in the other.

God Bless.

Epiphany 2019.