Tag: Melanesian Mission

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.

REVD. WILLIE ALAHA PWAISIHO. O.B.E.
HON. ASS. BISHOP OF CHESTER AND FORMER RECTOR OF GAWSWORTH & NORTH RODE, CHESHIRE.

 

 

Archbishop Elect Leonard Dawea

Enthronement of new Archbishop of Melanesia

As Bishop Leonard prepares for his enthronement on 15th September, friends from the UK introduce us to the new Archbishop of Melanesia.

I first met Leonard Dawea at Tabalia, the Headquarters of the Melanesian Brotherhood, where he had come to train as a novice from Temotu Diocese, and I was Chaplain and Tutor of the Brotherhood. It was not long before I began to recognise his giftedness. Here was a novice who was diligent, thoughtful and reliable and whatever responsibility he was given you knew it would be faithfully carried out. I also began to discover a young man of deep faith; he was quite quiet but always mature and wise in his thinking. He loved his studies as a novice and was one of the best.

After becoming a Brother, he was wisely appointed secretary of the Brotherhood, a difficult role but one Brother Leonard carried out with tremendous patience, discipline and faithfulness. He has a rare ability to be both kind, but also firm. We all knew this was a Brother we could trust.

Chester Rest House was really beginning to get underway and becoming a major source of income for the Brotherhood. Brother Leonard helped establish efficient methods of operation. He was one of the first Brothers to become computer literate. He has a tremendous heart for the Brotherhood. In the Ethnic Tension in Solomon Islands, I know personally how courageous and brave Brother Leonard was. I have a letter from one Englishman who has told me how, during the tension, Leonard saved his life and helped him escape from Honiara. It does not surprise me. Brother Leonard was one of the most loyal and trustworthy Brothers I have ever met and that is saying a lot.

Leonard of course was sent by the Brotherhood to the UK ministering with Brother George Elo in Tavistock and then studying at Chester College for his Bachelor of Theology. Again, he showed his characteristic dedication and faithfulness. He is also always very welcoming and hospitable and kind, and I remember many of the great times we have had together supported so generously by Barbara Molyneux and the Companions both in Exeter and Chester and joining an incredibly exciting Melanesian Brotherhood and Sisterhood Mission in 2005. When he returned to Solomons, Leonard became Chaplain of the Brotherhood and later Diocesan Secretary of Temotu Diocese. I, with others, was overjoyed when he was elected Bishop of Temotu. It is a role he has once again carried out with wise judgment, dedication and wisdom. When I knew that the Church of Melanesia was looking for a new Archbishop I prayed it might be him, for he has the humility, faithfulness and dedication so much needed in high office. When I heard he had been elected I believe this was indeed the working of the Holy Spirit. Here is a man whose whole life has shown us the true way of service. I would like to ask all of you to hold him in your prayers. I believe that the Lord will indeed continue to do great things through this man, husband, father brother and friend. I count myself so fortunate to have seen him progress from novice to Archbishop, never losing his kind bold humility or the sense that here is a man of love and faithfulness and true friendship. May he and many others through his ministry be richly blessed.

Almighty God you have called many to leave their homes behind to serve you
We thank God that you have called Leonard Dawea to be your servant
Bless and uphold him in his ministry as Archbishop of the Church of Melanesia
Guide and direct him through all difficult times
Continue all the good work you have begun in him that he may lead your Church with wisdom and compassion
Fill him Lord, with bold humility that he and his beloved family may continue to grow in your true way of service
And may his ministry and leadership bring many more people to know and love our Lord Jesus Christ
This we pray in His Holy Name
Amen

Revd Richard Carter

The Diocese of Chester has had an active link with the Anglican Church of Melanesia for over 30 years, a link which has brought benefits to us all.

In 2001 and 2002 the Diocese of Chester, the University of Chester and the Chester Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood worked together to bring two Brothers to study for BA Honours degrees in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester. In the Autumn of 2002, Brother Leonard Dawea and Brother Jonathan SioTiaro joined the First Year Undergraduates. They worked at their studies and made friends and survived the weather. Bishop Willie and his dear wife, the late Kate, and the Family gave wonderful support, as did their former Chaplain, Revd Richard Carter. Bishop Peter Forster kept a fatherly eye on them, and the Chester Companions appreciated their presence and contributions at meetings.

These two Brothers shared much about life in the Solomon Islands and the values and vital work of the Brotherhood and were in the middle of their studies when the sad news of the seven martyred Brothers came through. Before coming to the UK, they had played active roles in trying to bring about peace during the internal strife in the Solomon Islands.

In November 2005 Graduation Day in Chester Cathedral dawned and this was a wonderful day of thanksgiving and joy for the two Brothers and their lecturers, fellow students and friends – a celebration meal followed.

Brother Leonard, who could only use his Solomon Island driving licence for one year in the UK made time to take his driving test and passed first time; an achievement as there are many more rules of the road in the UK! He has touched many lives in Chester, and all are very happy to hear he will be the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia and send best wishes and prayers for him, his wife Dorah and their two children.

Barbara Molyneux

On 11 October 2001 I was driven into Plymouth by our parish secretary to meet two Melanesian Brothers at the station. Archbishop Ellison Pogo had asked the Bishop of Exeter if there was a parish in this diocese where a Brother, who had just completed a degree in theology and time at Mirfield with the Community of the Resurrection, could gain some experience of an English parish. Bishop Michael asked if I could do this and enable the Brother to see the work we did and share in it. As members of the Melanesian Brotherhood work and minister in pairs another brother would also be coming, and the Curate’s House in Tavistock would become a House of the Melanesian Brotherhood for a while.

The Brother in question was Fr George Elo and he was joined by Brother Leonard Dawea. George had been in the UK some years, but Leonard had never been. We greeted them on the station platform and set off for Tavistock. During the journey Leonard remarked on how smooth the roads were – not like those of the Solomon Islands. We stopped at the supermarket on the outskirts of Tavistock to ensure the brothers had enough food etc. The people of the parishes had been very generous and provided much food and other things the brothers would need. Not least, was the family for whom I had conducted a funeral in the previous weeks, who wanted to pass on a lot of furniture and were very happy for me to use it to furnish the house for the brothers. The garden at the house was important to them as it is an essential part of the life of the Brothers in the Solomon Islands.

One of the first comments Leonard made in the supermarket was, ‘in the Solomon Islands we do not eat unless we sweat’. He could not believe the vast quantity and variety of food that lined every aisle.
Over the next few weeks Fr George and Brother Leonard settled into life in the parish joining me and others for the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer and Eucharist every day. Leonard found English a little hard at first but soon gained confidence in public prayers and conversations with people. Both brothers were welcomed by all in Tavistock and Gulworthy and over eight months many friendships were formed.
Brother Leonard assisted at many of the services and gradually found the confidence to preach at the Sunday Sung Eucharist. He and Fr George accompanied me many times to schools and they were always a hit with the children as they were with the members of the Church Youth Group which met on Sundays after Evensong. One of the joys of their life was on Fridays after we had said Evening Prayer when they would go to one of the Fish and Chip shops in the town to buy their supper. They loved fish and chips.

One of their other passions was football and on Boxing Day 2001 my son-in-law took them to watch Plymouth Argyle play as he was a great supporter of the team. Their delight was obvious when they returned to the vicarage for a meal with us and they both had Plymouth Argyle scarves.

One thing which made life easier for the brothers was the gift of a small, fairly old car, from someone in the congregation. Leonard had driven in the Solomon Islands and soon got used to doing so in Devon. It made a difference to their lives as walking from the curate’s house a few times each day was often exhausting as it entailed going up a steep hill.

During the time Brother Leonard was with us, although initially rather shy, he blossomed a great deal and his warm smile and gentle manner endeared him to everyone. His quiet prayerfulness and spirituality was an unselfconscious example to all, both in the congregations and in the town. It was a great wrench to say goodbye at a party in the Parish Centre after a service of thanksgiving and farewell in church. Their time with us had been a mission in itself.

Both Fr George and Brother Leonard left a deep impression on many people and we were able to start a group of the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood. We were all desperately sad to hear of the death of Fr George Elo a few years ago but we were very glad to know Brother Leonard, as we had known him, was to be the Bishop of Temotu. He came to visit us while in UK for the new Bishops’ Course in 2017. Now everyone is delighted and full of congratulations that he has been elected Archbishop of Melanesia.

John Rawlings (Vicar of Tavistock and Gulworthy 1992-2006)
South West Section Leader of the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood

St Mary Redcliffe

2019 AGM & Festival Afternoon Programme & Speakers

Jane BrookeThe agenda and the papers for the charity’s AGM and Festival Day can be found in the Resources section of our website;

2019 AGM & Festival Day Agenda
2019 AGM & Festival Day Poster
20190331 MMUK End of Year Accounts
2018 2019 MMUK Review of the Year
2019 MMUK Festival Day Annual Eucharist
20180908 MMUK AGM Minutes

We are delighted that our afternoon guest speakers include Canon Jane Brooke from Chester Diocese, who visited the Solomon Islands this year; Learning From Each Other

We will be hearing from Lizzie Campbell a student from Westcott House, who spent five weeks with the religious orders this summer. We will also be making some exciting announcements about the Lambeth Conference 2020 preprogramme with our visiting bishops, and information about a special guided tour of the Solomon Islands for MMUK supporters planned for 2020.

If you are coming to the AGM, please let the charity know for catering arrangements. If you can’t make it this year, a full report will be in the next eNews and on our website.

Beth Glover

Reflections from the Solomon Islands

I was asked to return again to the Solomon Islands last year specifically to lead workshops, presentations and programmes on a variety of issues including deepening spirituality, creative prayer, experiencing new liturgies, creative worship, affirming women in leadership roles in their culture and Thy Kingdom Come. I worked mainly with women for the first time.

Another was to identify and explore the possibility of Spiritual Directors/mentors/soul friends who could listen and enable. The system of support in many areas is priest based (so male only) and Catechist based. This is an ongoing work for me. Australian impetus seems to have been side-lined, but people were initially at least, very open.

I went with my trusty Churchwarden and great traveling companion Sue and together we were away for 3½ weeks including travelling.

I took single copies of work to make up 40 packs for ‘delegates’ coming to TNK from the Melanesian Sisters, Sisters of the Church, Mothers Union and other island representatives.

We photocopied, collated, and produced packs for everyone to take back to their own communities, shopped and catered for ourselves (based at Chester Rest House) but travelling also to the Brothers at Tabalia.

I have left many books in many libraries.

Workshops at TNK included making Anglican Prayers beads, studies on Fearless known and unknown, Biblical women (!) and looked at similarities in Melanesian culture, studied and practised different ways of praying, worshipped using new, very unfamiliar liturgies based on climate change, an Agape and Celtic liturgy.

Of deep interest to them was a timeline of our Christian roots from a Celtic perspective.

The hope is that these ‘delegates’ will take all the prayers, liturgies and creativity back to their communities that were in their packs and then feed back to me by e mail.

This is already starting to happen in some islands.

I met old friends on the streets and villages and had a wonderful time with visitors who came especially from Isobel with one of their children (Kayla Susan Beth) for us to meet!

We went to ACoM, met Dr Abraham and other clergy and spoke to them to about Thy Kingdom Come.

He was hoping to instigate it especially at the Cathedral were we also went.

We brought goods for the women and children in the Christian Care Home after going and seeing for ourselves what was needed. Our parish helped with that.

It was wonderful for me to find out from the USP that the literacy diploma for Melanesian culture, that I created and delivered in 1998 is still being used… modified and updated and delivered in the islands still. I still have it on my computer!

Thank you to you all if you funded, prayed or supported me in any way at all… I am so grateful.

Revd Beth Glover

Southern Cross

Brian Ayers

Brian who was a great servant of the Church of Melanesia, died peacefully in Auckland in July.

Brian joined the mission in 1950 to take charge of the church’s ship building yard at Taroaniara on the Island of Gela. In those days it was an important mission station, with St. Clare’s hospital and the printing press on site, Bungana School nearby and Siota theological college at the other end of the Boli passage. During the war, Gela was literally on the front line, with the government HQ across the bay at Tulagi and with Bishop Baddeley in residence.

After Brian’s arrival, romance flourished and he married Margaret, the daughter of the Isoms who ran the printing press.

Under Brian’s leadership, the shipyard became an important centre for training young Melanesians as shipwrights, seafarers, engineers and carpenters. The next twenty years was a golden age for Taroaniara, with the formidable Charles Fox in residence and Christine Woods as matron of the hospital. Brian maintained the mission ships and many private trading ships. He kept the mission ships, including the Southern Cross going long after their retirement date and worked in close partnership with the government shipyard at Tulagi.

‘DK calling Pawa’ …Brian ran the twice daily radio sked which maintained contact with all the outstations and his familiar voice was always a great comfort in any crisis. I well remember following a severe cyclone which hit Pawa Secondary School in December 1969, Brian was our only contact with the outside world and he quickly marshalled emergency rations and building materials to help us recover.

Brian was a man of strong faith. I remember him telling me he wanted to introduce Monday morning prayers in the workshop, but was met initially with strong resistance, his workers saying that religion belonged in the chapel on a Sunday, not in the workshop during the week. He won his workers round by charm and persistence.

In the late 60s with replacement vessels necessary, Brian was convinced they could be built at Taroaniara. They built the MV Charles Fox, a lovely 30-foot launch that ran between the shipyard and Honiara and plans were well advanced for building a larger vessel. However, whilst he was on leave in 1970 the bishop cancelled the plans and Brian decided to remain in New Zealand. However, he was persuaded to return many years later, to supervise a major refit of the Southern Cross. The fact that the Southern Cross is still going strong after fifty years is a tribute to his skills.

John Pinder

When I arrived at St Peter’s College, Siota, on Gela in 1964, Brian and Margaret Ayers were based at Taroaniara at the other end of the Boli Passage, which separates Big and Small Gela, the two main islands of the Florida group in the central Solomon Islands. Gela therefore had two key Church institutions, the Marine Workshops at Taroaniara and the theological college at Siota. They relied on each other. At the college we had no radio and no shipping, just a canoe and a small aluminium dinghy with an outboard motor. Messages had to be sent down to Taroaniara for onward transmission by radio, or for mail to be dispatched from there. The station at Taroaniara also had St Clare’s Hospital, on which we depended for medical assistance and delivery of students’ babies. Dr Fox was also based there, preparing the Melanesian Prayer Book in Modern English and being chaplain, and so was the Diocese of Melanesia Press. Brian had to hold together a very diverse community and always did so with good humour and no panic, as well as using his practical engineering skill and wisdom to good effect. At the college, we were always grateful for his help and co-operation and the welcome which we were given by him and his wife when we visited Taroaniara for any reason.

The theological college moved in 1969 to Kohimarama on Guadalcanal, but the work at Taroaniara, servicing the ships of the Anglican Church and of others, continues in the fine tradition built up over the years by Brian Ayers, and for which he will be remembered with admiration and gratitude, especially by those Melanesians whom he trained and inspired.

Brian Macdonald-Milne

Solomon Island Flag

Solomon Islands’ Independence Day

The 41st Solomon Islands’ Independence Day was remembered on Sunday July 7th, not only in Solomon Islands, but across the UK. At Ottery St Mary Parish Church, in Exeter Diocese, the Ven John Rawlings, Leader of the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood in the South West, preached this sermon;

Trinity 3 – Ottery St Mary

I wonder how many people in the town or in Feniton or Alfington would know why there are street names and even a junction on the A30 which bears the name Patteson? Yet for a long time men and women from Melanesia have been making pilgrimage to these places and Exeter Cathedral to honour the memory and see places associated with Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, the first Bishop of Melanesia.

You, I am sure, are familiar with his story; being born in London in 1827 ; schooling at Kings in Ottery St Mary, Eton and studying at Baliol College Oxford; then ordination in Exeter and the cure of souls at Alfington. He had been influenced by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn in his school days and Selwyn wanted him to go to the Melanesian Islands and extend the Church Selwyn oversaw in New Zealand. Patteson’s ministry was exceptional and as a result the Church of Melanesia was founded and flourished. He learned many of the languages of the islands he visited and wanted the new Christians to express their faith in worship which used their indigenous music and dance and not be a transplant of the Gothic church buildings and Hymns Ancient and Modern. He also set up educational institutions. As many of you will know, he was martyred on the Island of Nukapu, either being mistaken for a slave trader or in revenge for the white men who had taken slaves from the islands to work in plantations in the Colonies. His martyrdom is depicted on the nave pulpit in Exeter Cathedral and when I have taken Melanesians there to see it they have always been profoundly moved.

The Melanesian Mission was set up in 1849 and still facilitates a very special link with Melanesia and is growing in its organization of visitors to and from Melanesia. The current Executive Officer of the Mission, Katie Drew, lives and worships in this Mission Community and the chairman is Bishop Mark Rylands who is now the parish priest at Ashburton.

The Diocese of Chester has had a special link with the Church there for a long time and when Bishop Michael came to be our diocesan bishop, having been a Suffragan Bishop in that diocese, he encouraged a similar link to be formed here. He had been out to Melanesia and was also a Companion of the Melanesian Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was founded in 1925 by Ini Kopuria, a former policeman in the Solomon Islands. It is still the largest Religious Order in the Anglican Communion and takes young men as novices who after their time of training become Brothers making vows for five years which are renewable. Unlike many orders the vows are not for life and Brothers can and often do return to their homes after five years and marry or assist their families.

Bishop Michael had been asked by the then Archbishop of Melanesia if he could find a placement for one of the Melanesian Brothers to have some time in an English parish to broaden his experience after being ordained and studying for a degree. Bishop Michael asked if I would take Brother George as I was in between curates in Tavistock at the time. Brothers always live and work in pairs or more when out on mission and so another brother would join Brother George and we would set up a House of the Melanesian Brotherhood in Tavistock. The brother who joined George was Leonard who has also been back to UK to study for a degree then be ordained. In 2017 he returned having been elected Bishop of Temotu diocese in the Solomon Islands and only a few weeks ago he was elected to be the next Archbishop of Melanesia. Sadly, Brother George died a couple of years ago but had exercised a remarkable ministry. In Tavistock both brothers were very much loved and admired for their simplicity of life, deep and prayerful spirituality and an ability to enable people to see what the Christian faith is all about. Some of you will have seen the brothers at work, as it were, when a large number of them came to the diocese in 2004 for the great mission or pilgrimage where they travelled round a number of places performing their dramas which depict elements of the Gospel together with their infectious dancing, singing and music on bamboo pipes. As a result of that and the time Brothers George and Leonard had in Tavistock, a number of people became Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood based here and in Tavistock mostly. They support the work of the Brothers in prayer and financial aid especially when disaster strikes as it so often does.

They were joined by a number of Sisters as there are other religious orders in the Islands – The Sisters of Melanesia, The Sisters of the Church and the Franciscans. Again, some brothers and sisters came back to this diocese for what was called ‘Simply Living’ – a time of prayer, discussion and mission to encourage the Church here in its own mission. It is no longer a case of the Church in UK sending missionaries to the Islands of the South Pacific as in the 19th century but a two-way traffic of people from the islands coming here to encourage and support us. It is very special to be able to meet Sister Kristy here this morning.

All the religious orders in the Solomon Islands are engaged in work of reaching out to their communities and the islands, of which there are many. Some, especially the women’s orders are engaged in work with those who suffer domestic violence, other kinds of abuse, and have set up a women’s refuge. Education is also high on their agenda. The Mothers’ Union is very strong in the islands and has set up educational and parenting programmes. There is a huge need to combat the political instability and prevalent poverty and challenge the industry which has deforested so much of the islands and made them even more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In past ethnic and tribal tensions and recent riots in the Solomon Islands the Brothers were the people most trusted to seek reconciliation. In 1999-2000 the Brothers worked on the Townsville Peace Agreement to enable working towards a better understanding in their Islands. But there is always at a cost and many of you will remember the seven brothers who, at a time of conflict with warring factions in the islands, were captured and martyred. Harold Keke, a rebel leader, would not comply with the agreement. Brother Nathaniel tried to reason and negotiate with him but was killed. Other Brothers went to find him and were also murdered. The martyred brothers have been remembered throughout the Anglican Communion and particularly at the last Lambeth Conference where a large icon was blessed and is in Canterbury Cathedral.

In the last few years a number of people, both ordained and lay, have gone from this diocese to the Solomon Islands and people from there have come here. There are schools which have special links with schools in the Solomon Islands which are proving beneficial in both directions. A PhD researcher is looking into the effects of climate change and the rising sea levels around the area as this is affecting so many communities who are very vulnerable.

In the Gospel Jesus sends out the 70 disciples two by two to proclaim the Kingdom, restore human dignity to the suffering and possessed; to show the face of God to the world. But they go with every vulnerability like lambs amongst wolves but need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. That was not just the challenge to those early disciples it is a challenge to all of us now, whether in UK or Melanesia. One of the bishops from the Solomon Islands was asked what was the greatest priority for the Church in the Islands? His answer, given that at the time 95% of the population there was Christian, was mission and evangelization. He pointed out that God has no grandchildren. Every new generation needs to be confronted with the Gospel afresh.

The early disciples of Jesus were sent out in simple trust. They were not to be hampered with baggage. But they were to make a difference to the lives of those they encountered. They returned to the Lord rejoicing that their ministry and message had been effective.

Today we have been reflecting on the life of the Church in Melanesia on what is Solomon Islands’ Independence Day and we thank God for what the Church there is doing. It was recently announced that a previous Archbishop, The Most Reverend David Vunagi, has been appointed by the Queen to be the next Governor General of the Solomon Islands. The Church there and especially the religious orders are making a difference to the lives of people living in a very different kind of society from ours. But we, too, are called to make a difference in our society. As Jesus says, ‘the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few’. We need to ask ourselves this week, will my life, my witness to Christ through what I do and what I am, make a difference to the life of someone else?

Ven John Rawlings

Jane Brooke

Learning From Each Other

Visiting four religious communities, four schools and St Barnabas Cathedral in Honiara, talking with clergy, Mothers’ Union and the brothers and sisters occupied nearly all of my time in the Solomon Islands very well! George enjoyed engaging with clergy undertaking their Bachelor of Theology degrees at Tabalia where the Melanesian Brothers offered us wonderful hospitality. Out of all my experiences, I thought you might like to hear about the visit to the cathedral.

St Barnabas CathedralOn June 16th we attended the cathedral in Honiara: it was a celebration of Trinity Sunday, St Barnabas and their 50th anniversary of the cathedral.

We arrived at 7.30am for the main service of the morning at 8.00am. There were 200 people attending the earlier 7.00am Eucharist and we waited until they left. They all left very quickly because there are many openings alongside the cathedral for them to use as an exit. The cathedral was decorated with vibrant flowers and the service was led by a choir of 70 with no organ. The Eucharist, celebrated by the Senior Bishop, was conducted with dignity and reverence and the Bishop of Ysabel preached on the theme of ‘love one another’. There were about 1000 people present with many young families: the overflow was catered for with extra chairs outside at the back of the cathedral. The Melanesian Brothers sang and danced traditional tribal dances bringing up the gospel in a small canoe which had, ‘Christ in culture’ written on the side. The Bishop read the gospel from the Bible which was open in the canoe.

The Dean of St Barnabas cuts the celebration cakeThe offertory of bread and wine was also carried up in a canoe accompanied by a vigorous and colourful dance by the Sunday School (selected from its 200 members). I thought you might be interested to know that the congregation bring their own hymn books to the service.

After the service there were speeches and then everyone went to the covered area next door for lunch. 800 were served lunch with a system of efficiency only to be admired. Meanwhile groups from the cathedral sang or danced on the stage enthusiastically and with joy. The groups included Sunday School (who sang the Lord’s Prayer), Mothers’ Union, Men’s Fellowship Group (who were mostly female!), the choir, the Melanesian Brothers and more. The Dean cut a cake for the 50 years of the cathedral – even though the cathedral intends to celebrate the 50 years properly in 2020. It was a wonderful day and I can’t see how they can improve on the celebrations next year. We finished at 3.00pm.

Thank you to you all for your prayers while we were there.

Canon Jane Brooke

Archbishop Elect Leonard Dawea

Anglican Church of Melanesia elects new Archbishop

The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) has a new Archbishop. He is the Rt Revd Leonard Dawea, who is currently the Bishop of the Diocese of Temotu (DOT) in Solomon Islands.

Bishop Dawea 47, was elected to the highest Episcopal position within the Anglican Church by the ACoM Provincial Electoral Board this afternoon, the 25th of June at Tabalia; headquarters of the Melanesian Brotherhood, west of Honiara. The Provincial Electoral Board that elected the Rt Revd Dawea has been in retreat since Sunday 23rd June.

He is the sixth Archbishop in succession since the Anglican Church of Melanesia was inaugurated in January 1975 as an independent ecclesiastical province from New Zealand. He succeeds the Most Revd George Angus Takeli who retired on the 24th March this year.

The Rt Revd Leonard Dawea holds a Bachelor of Theology with Honours (BTh/Hons.), in the field of Theology and Ethics from the University College Chester (now Chester University). Prior to being elected as the next Archbishop of the church, he served the ACoM as a full member of the Melanesian Brotherhood from 1995 to 2007. He was ordained into the Priesthood in 2007. After his ordination he served within the Melanesian Brotherhood as tutor and chaplain. In 2013 he was appointed the Mission Secretary of DOT from 2013 to 2014 and later as Diocesan Secretary from 2015 to 2016.

Archbishop elect, the Rt Revd Dawea is from the Reef Islands in Temotu and is married to Dorah Dawea from Guadalcanal and they have two children.

His enthronement and installation to become an Archbishop is scheduled for 15th September at Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral this year.

The previous Archbishops serving the church were, – The Most Reverend Norman Palmer 1975 – 1987, The Most Rev. Amos Waiaru 1988 – 1993, The Most Rev. Sir Ellison Pogo 1994 – 2008, The Most Rev. David Vunagi 2009 – 2015 and the Most Rev. George Takeli 2016 – 2019.

The Anglican Province of Melanesia covers three independent nations of Solomon Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu and the French Trust Territory of New Caledonia. Its Provincial Headquarters is in Honiara with a sub – Provincial Administration Office at Luganville on Santo in Vanuatu. It has seven dioceses in Solomon Islands and two in Vanuatu.

The Senior Bishop of the Church, the Rt Revd Nathan Tome is calling on all members of the church to pray for Bishop Leonard and family as he prepares to take on this highest position within the Church of Melanesia.

Released on the Authority of: The Senior Bishop of ACoM – The Rt Revd Nathan Tome and the ACoM Provincial Electoral Board
News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Mothers' Union 5th Objective - The Melanesian Canoe

Mothers’ Union 5th Objective – The Melanesian Canoe

In order for our Vision to be achieved, we need to remove some of the stumbling blocks different societies have formed since Creation time. This is our last Objective and may well be felt as the hardest for the individual member to participate in, where we Promote conditions in society favourable to stable family life and the protection of children.

Mary Sumner House is involved with life at Westminster including Praying with staff, Advising Committees and Research: forwarding Questionnaires, Petitions to Diocese and Individual Members. Other countries of this Worldwide Christian Organisation have different challenges.

The Solomon Islands consists of 992 islands. How do the Mothers’ Union members get about to fulfil the first 4 Objectives? By Canoe. Christianity was brought to the Solomon Islands by a contemporary of Mary Sumner, Bishop Patteson, (from just over the border in Exeter Diocese). Like our founder, he saw the need to meet the Islanders where they were – an unusual attitude in Victorian times. Just as in Bishop Patteson’s time, God’s Love is spread between the islands by canoe: Hence, why at special services a Gospel Canoe will be decorated and danced in by warriors. I haven’t been able to produce the warriors or decorate it but here, representing our 5th Objective, is a model of a Melanesian Canoe.

News story from the Mothers’ Union President for Bath and Wells Diocese, Mrs Madeline Hellier

CSM Novice Class

UK Associates of The Community of the Sisters of Melanesia – An Update

CSM Novice ClassIn November 2018, UK Associates met in London to discuss ongoing support of the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia. We had a very productive meeting and presentations from Revd Cathy Scoffield, and Martin Haigh, both of whom had been welcomed at Verana’aso over the summer.

CSM have provided a detailed annual report which has been circulated to all UK Associates. CSM numbers have increased, and at autumn 2018 there were 45 Sisters and 39 Novices, with an expected intake of 20 Aspirants in 2019. There are currently five households in Solomon Islands, plus a mobile household in PNG, and a small community house in Vanuatu. Most of the community live at the training headquarters in Verana’aso on Guadalcanal, where four part-time staff assist with teaching and administration.

The community have reported that they are experiencing water shortages due to deforestation. The existing water tanks which were installed in 2015 are working well, but there is now a need for additional tanks because of the increased number of novices.

The installation of solar lighting continues at Verana’aso. The Refectory and the Mother House now have solar lighting and work continues on the accommodation for the Aspirants. The Community are grateful to UK and Australian supporters, and the International Committee of St Martin-in-the Fields, who have made financial contributions towards this project, providing the community with much needed lighting.

The chapel, which was constructed around 60 years ago, had become increasingly dangerous during bad weather. The community arranged for the chapel to be deconsecrated by the former Archbishop David Vunagi in September 2018. Designs have been drawn up for a new chapel, and the community and local Associates are fundraising towards this construction project. UK Associates have agreed to send £1,000 to CSM towards the construction of the chapel. Additional money is to be raised. UK Associates continue to support the Community by providing donations for lunches for the Aspirants, Novices and Sisters who live at Verana’aso.

During summer 2018 the Community welcomed visitors from the UK including Revd Cate Edmonds, Revd Cathy Scoffield, and Martin Haigh. CSM are always glad to welcome visitors to Verana’aso.

First and second-year Novices and Sisters went on mission to Gela at Christmas. Whilst seven third-year Novices undertook their practical on Malaita in January. They visited the outer islands and villages in remote areas within the Anglican Communion. During the Mission they taught about the stewardship of money and time, social changes, evangelism, and dramatised Bible stories.

News story from Sarah Crompton, leader of the UK Associates