Thank iu tumas – 6 months ago, I dragged myself through Honiara international airport, to the plane that would take me home. A sea of crying faces lay behind me, and in front of me airport security guards, who I doubt could have looked more scared had they found a bomb in our bags. Jet and I were in an absolute state: weighed down by generously gifted presents, which we were ready to defend to the death from security; crying inconsolably after having just said goodbye to our Solomon family; and crying all the more as we laughed at our ridiculous situation. But while we undoubtedly looked like a mess from the outside, what we were feeling on the inside would have made my dump of a teenage bedroom look like a model showroom. We were painfully aware that we were about to do one of the most difficult things we have ever done: to leave the Solomon Islands. [Flora Hamilton]
Flora shared her Project Trust volunteering experiences with us in her own short film;
Marie Schlenker from the University of Southampton attended the January 2019 Melanesian Mission UK Trustee Meeting. She shared with the charity news of her PhD Project : The impact of sea-level rise and climate change on Solomon Islands.
During my studies, I developed a strong interest in the impact of climate change on coastal regions. Following my interests, I specialised in climate change and coastal hazards during my study abroad at Oregon State University within the framework of the American Fulbright programme. Furthermore, I obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Disaster Management and conducted research into coastal hazards as part of internships at the Lower Saxony Water Management, Coastal Defence and Nature Conservation Agency, Norderney, Germany, and the Institute of Coastal Research, Geesthacht, Germany. I have been involved in volunteering for disaster risk reduction and environmental protection and obtained teaching experience during a 5-month placement in a public school in Chile.
In my PhD project, I will investigate the impact of sea-level rise and other climate change impacts on the Solomon Islands. To address this overall aim, my research has three objectives:
To map and quantify the extent of shoreline and vegetation changes, erosion rates and human development changes along the coastline of the Solomon Islands over a range of timescales (100 years, decadal and annual), using aerial and satellite imagery;
To assess rates of sea level rise in the South Pacific, and identify specific storm events and conditions which have led to major inundation and coastal erosion events in the past using observational datasets and model hindcast of sea level and waves; and
To investigate how island communities are being impacted and might respond to climate change in the future.
At the moment, I am conducting a comprehensive literature review on coastal changes and associated impacts in the Solomon Islands and other island states in the South Pacific. After this initial phase, I will address the first and second objective of my PhD, using pre-existing datasets.
The first objective of my PhD will involve an analysis of aerial and satellite imagery to assess shoreline changes on a national scale. Historical aerial photographs will be sourced from the Solomon Islands Government Ministry of Housing, Lands and Survey archives for the period 1947 to 1962, and historic charts will be obtained from the UK Admiralty Office. In addition, high resolution satellite imagery will be sourced for each site for more recent periods, post 2000 (using Google Earth Engine). For the second objective, observational datasets including back barrier/lagoon storm overwash records, water level and wave model hindcast of sea level and waves will be analysed. Rates of sea-level rise and characteristics of larger storm surge and wave events across the Solomon Islands will be examined.
For the third objective of my PhD, fieldwork is essential. I plan to plan to visit local communities in the Solomon Islands and obtain insights on climate change from local knowledge through focus group discussions and interviews with community members. My fieldwork aims are to (a) document how climate change has impacted coastal communities in the Solomon Islands both in the past and presently using oral evidence, and (b) develop a better understanding of how coastal communities are adapting or might adapt to coastal change in the future, including the identification of potential barriers to adaptation. To achieve my fieldwork aims, I would like to collaborate with local contacts of MMUK in the Solomon Islands.
As part of my fieldwork, I plan to collect data on the following indicators of climate change and its impacts: Shoreline recession and growth, flooding frequency and extent, frequency/duration/intensity of storm, king tide and swell events, land subsidence, mangrove health, coral reef health (esp. coral bleaching events), occurrence of saltwater intrusion and water shortages, rise and fall of the groundwater table (e.g. in wells), impacts of storms/flooding on agriculture/infrastructure/health, adaptation strategies (e.g. human shoreline protection, rising houses/infrastructure, landward migration, resettlement of inhabitants to other islands and related issues) and particularly vulnerable/resilient population groups.
Insights from local knowledge will significantly increase our current understanding of climate change and its impacts in the Solomon Islands (and potentially other small island nations) and form a knowledge basis for comprehensive climate change policy and coastal management. Dissemination of the results to a wide audience will raise awareness about climate change impacts in vulnerable island settings and empower the local people to actively participate in the process of climate change adaptation. To actively increase the awareness about climate change in the Solomon Islands, I would be happy to engage in outreach activities in the Solomon Islands, including visits to local schools.
The PhD project is embedded within the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, an internationally recognised centre of excellence focusing on interdisciplinary marine and maritime research, and will be jointly supervised by Prof. Robert Nicholls, Prof. David Sear and Dr. Ivan Haigh (all from the University of Southampton). Robert Nicholls is Professor of Coastal Engineering, focusing on coastal impacts and adaptation to climate change. He has significantly contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was awarded the Roger Revelle Medal for his contributions to ocean science. David Sear is Professor of Physical Geography, undertaking research into flood risk management, coastal erosion, and tropical cyclone and climate variability in small island states in the western tropical Pacific. Ivan Haigh is an Associate Professor in coastal oceanography at the prestigious National Oceanography Centre, investigating sea-level changes and their impacts on coasts. I will also collaborate with Dr. Adam Bobbette (University of New South Wales) in developing a climate change monitoring system for the Solomon Islands and Dr. Simon Albert (University of Queensland), who has undertaken research into climate change impacts in the Solomon Islands previously.
The MMUK office was saddened to learn on reopening in early January, that the Solomon Islands had suffered from heavy rain over Christmas and new year. An estimated 100,000 people across six of Solomon Islands’ eight provinces had been affected by two weeks of torrential rain and strong winds.
Secretary to the Melanesian Brothers’, Alphonse Garimae reported: “Rain and wind on New Year’s Eve has badly affected the Melanesian Brotherhood Head Quarters. Flooding has damaged again food gardens and other crops, according to reports received from Head Brother. Gardens were swept away by rivers and some bush garden houses were damaged due to fallen trees.”
The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) has received numerous requests for assistance with food from various communities throughout Guadalcanal. The ACoM Disaster Committee met last week to look at the situation and coordinate with other relief agencies and the National Disaster Council to respond accordingly. Donations to support this work, can be sent to MMUK, with the reference 2018 SI Flood Appeal.
Community of the Sisters of Melanesia Flooding Report
Date: December 2018 – January 2019
Damage report from the headquarters of The Community of the Sisters of Melanesia in Verana’aso. Sisters, Novices and Staff have been affected, especially their daily food sourced from the root crop gardens. This will probably last for another four to five months whilst they begin to plant their food crops again. A few of the community’s temporary buildings also had their roofs blown off.
The pictures below show the major damage to the CSM food crops, vegetable and staff gardens.
News story and pictures courtesy of Companion Charlton Thegu – 1st January 2019 at Verana’aso
Trustees are delighted to announce that Mr Steve Scoffield from Exeter Diocese has been co-opted as a Trustee and Hon Treasurer of the Melanesian Mission, filling the vacancy left by Ven Chris Liley.
Steve has been a qualified Chartered Accountant since 1984, and worked in general practice until 1999, when he and his family joined the Lee Abbey Community in Devon, becoming their Director of Finance for eleven years, then leaving to join the National Autistic Society in 2010. Steve is currently the Director of Finance of two small charities Amigos Worldwide and Alström Syndrome UK.
Steve has extensive experience as a charity trustee and treasurer including nine years as treasurer of North Devon Hospice. His experience of voluntary sector policy, marketing and fundraising, strategy, governance and voluntary sector financial management, was recognised with the award of the ICAEW’s Diploma in Charity Accounting.
He was introduced to the work of the Melanesian Mission through his wife the Revd Cathy Scoffield, who is a Companion of the Melanesian Brotherhood and an Associate of the Community of Sisters of Melanesia. Steve is looking forward to using his skills and knowledge working with MMUK, and the charity is very grateful to him for coming forward to fill this important voluntary role.
On Sunday 20th January 2019 a special service was held at St James, Gawsworth to celebrate Bishop William’s retirement from his parish in Chester Diocese. People came from all over the UK, with 180 people squeezed into church for this very special event. Speeches were made by Fr. Paul, Katie Drew from the Melanesian Mission UK, John Freeman from the Chester Diocese and a Companion of the Melanesian Brotherhood, the Parish’s Patron Rupert Richards and of course Bishop William himself. At the end of the service all the Pwaisiho family sang a farewell song to the congregation. A few handkerchiefs were seen in use around the Church.
Bishop Willie and his family are retiring in Chester Diocese, with Bishop Willie continuing his Assistant Bishop duties.
Almighty God, the light of the faithful and shepherd of souls, We give you thanks for the faithful ministry of your servant Willie (William) Alaha Pwaisiho: For his service and ministry in New Zealand For his guidance and leadership as Bishop of Malaita For his love and pastoral care of the people of Gawsworth For his inspiration as assistant bishop Of Chester. We pray for Willie and Kate and their family as they prepare for retirement and continue in your service and witness, Through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen
To my amazement, it was announced in the 2017 Solomon Islands Independence Day awards that I had been nominated to receive the Solomon Islands medal. I feel it was totally undeserved and I know of several other former missionaries who deserved the award far more than I.
By chance it was the 50th anniversary of my first contact with Solomon Islands, arriving at Pawa School in 1967. In 1970 we moved to Guadalcanal, combining with Pamua Girls’ School to form Selwyn College. One of the new teachers was Jenny who was later to become my wife.
After I returned to the U.K., I was asked in 1977 to be the English Secretary of the Melanesian Mission, and eventually combined that with being a parish priest in Oxfordshire. During my time as English Secretary, we gave hospitality to many visitors from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and looked after all the bishops and their wives during two Lambeth Conferences. Over all that time Jenny was a tremendous support and I certainly could not have managed without her.
It was a joy to receive the medal from the Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui, supported by Jenny, our daughter Eleanor and Richard Carter. Sir Frank was on a farewell visit to the U.K. before he steps down next year.
At the ceremony, the private secretary, Rawcliffe Ziku gave a brief C.V. ending with the official citation: ‘For distinguished service and commitment to the government and people of Solomon Islands in human resources and community development.’
Over refreshments that followed there was an opportunity for reminiscing and making further acquaintance with the new High Commissioner in the U.K. who turned out to be an old student of mine from Selwyn College days.
In This Light is a collection of messages for Christmas written by the Archbishop and 47 of his friends and colleagues. Including contributions from John Kerry, Afua Hirsch, Jonathan Bryan, Sally Phillips, Bear Grylls, Grace, Anthony Ray Hinton, Jo Malone, Benjamin, Dr Agnes Abuom, Julie Etchingham and more. Journalists, politicians, priests, musicians, peace activists, actors, comedians, authors – people of different faiths and none, writing from across the world from South Korea to South Sudan, Australia to the UK, America to the Vatican.
All royalties from the book will go to support the following wonderful organisations: Caring for Ex-Offenders, part of the ministry of Holy Trinity Brompton, Equal Justice Initiative, The Melanesian Missionand Charis Tiwala.
In This Light is available to buy through all good book sellers online and on the high street.
‘The world shrinks, and perceptions of God expand’ was the main finding from research conducted into what happens when Christians experience positive cross-cultural encounter.
From 2014 to 2016 I was engaged on a fascinating piece of research asking questions about Diocesan Companion Links. These are the relationships, some as long as 40 years, which dioceses have with different parts of the Anglican Communion and wider ecumenical links. Questions about the nature of Companion Links relationships were paramount. What sort of relationships were they? What were the challenges and joys faced in these relationships? How were they developing into the future?
I took a case study approach to this research. Three Church of England dioceses agreed to be part of the project. They were the diocese of Bath and Wells in its relationship with the five dioceses of the Anglican Church of Zambia, the Diocese of Chelmsford and their relationship with the five dioceses of the Mount Kenya East region and the diocese of Liverpool and the diocese of Virginia in the Episcopal Church of the USA.
These three case studies provided a rich picture of following Christ in different contexts with access to vastly different resources but who were similar in worshipping and following Christ through the Anglican tradition.
I travelled to all the dioceses involved in England, Africa and the USA. I asked two simple questions – what is your experience of the link and where do you see it developing in the future? Meetings and interviews took place in churches, schools, under the mango tree and over many shared meals.
The conclusions fell into two categories – discipleship and friendship. It became clear that positive cross-cultural encounters were a source of growth and transformation for many involved in links.
Discipleship seems to be the theme of the moment. Everyone in the churches, it seems, is talking about discipleship. However, I haven’t heard a lot about the contribution of cross-cultural encounters to ongoing discipleship. What became clear early in the research was that positive cross-cultural encounter can encourage and inspire discipleship.
Here’s a story. A tragic and sudden death of a parish link co-ordinator in Bath and Wells Diocese shocked everyone. Catherine was loved in her parish and by the parish in Eastern Zambia where she had visited several times. The parishioners in Eastern Zambia were unable to attend the funeral but at the same time as the funeral was taking place in the UK the church in Zambia came together to give thanks for Catherine’s life and commit her to God. The effect of this in both places was a stronger personal link between very different places and an inspiration to follow and witness to Christ more faithfully.
A further example was found in the link between Liverpool and Virginia dioceses. A clergyman from Liverpool witnessed work with refugees in Virginia and was inspired to begin a similar work. Young people from Liverpool said that their Youth Pilgrimage helped them to talk about their faith at home. It was clear that whether experiences were between north to north contexts or north to south contexts the effects were similar.
Friendship was the major way in which links described their relationships across cultures. Friendship is an important way of expressing our common belonging in the Body of Christ through practical expressions such as visits and gift-giving. It became apparent that while the English partners were good at giving we were less happy about receiving from less materially affluent partners. There is learning to be done that recognises the wide variety of forms of gifts and that giving and receiving of gifts gives dignity to all.
The Melanesian Mission is an important expression of these principles. Encouraging discipleship and friendship is at the heart of being a mission agency.
By Reverend Richard Carter and Reverend Jacky Wise
RC: How many Brothers and Novices are there currently?
In Tabalia there are 138 Novices in training and there are 300 Novices and 200 Brothers across the seven dioceses, including Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
Five novices accompanied four brothers in one area, Nikoyu, in Malaita, and they are developing a brand new area of mission. We are building seven new houses and a chapel and actually making a new village. They baptised five families last month.
RC: Would you say that the brothers still playing a major role of evangelism across the Solomon Islands?
Yes, I think we are in the front line. This year ACOM has launched the Decade of Evangelism and the Brothers are in the front line of this work.
It’s the same mission strategy. The Brothers are the people who are prepared to stay, do practical and tough work, whereas some missionaries just visit and then go.
RC: Could you tell us a bit more about the new decade of evangelism?
Jeffrey, the former Chester student, is coordinating the strategy. We want people within the different Anglicans sectors or groups can relate to each other and to understand each other better. We want to empower them all, including the Mothers’ Union, the Companions and the parishes.
RC: Why are the Brothers such effective evangelists?
The Brothers go and live among the families and get involved. We then show them what to do. The former Archbishop, David Vunagi, said to us that the mission of the Brothers and their communities is successful partly due to the fact that the people will obey the Brothers but they won’t necessarily obey the parish priests.
RC: Does singing, music and drama still play a big part in your missions?
The dramas are so important. Always. The youth want drama. This year the Passion Play has been important in communicating to young people, and we appreciate being able to use the dramas that you prepared with us too.
RC: How does it feel to the leader of such a big community?
I have seven section elder Brothers and they take a lot of responsibility too. It’s not just me doing the work. If there is something really hard for them to handle then they call on me, especially in disciplinary cases.
RC: I remember when Chester Rest House was built. How important has this been? It’s generated quite an income over the last fifteen years hasn’t it?
It plays such an important role in what we have been able to do. The profit from the Rest House has allowed us to buy so many things. It funds 60% of all our missionary activity.
It’s not just the Rest House; the Brothers who have studied in Chester have been such a blessing to us all after their studies. One of them is a Bishop, Leonard, who is helping the whole church, and Jeffrey is now coordinating a major strategy and there is Jonathan too, who is now a chaplain again. They’re making a huge contribution. My own time in Chester exposed me to many different people and I have a better understanding of difference.
RC: What attracts young people to this tough way of life?
The Rule is tough but they want experience, and they know that tough things will be good. You do what others do and they like it. We always get many more applications than we can take.
I am the assistant curate of Tavistock, where we are fortunate to have a faithful group of Melanesian Brotherhood Companions. In 2001 the late Fr George Elo and Bishop Leonard Dawea (then both Brothers) came to Tavistock to work and live in the parish under the guidance of the then Vicar, Fr John Rawlings. Since then we have maintained strong links and, earlier in 2017, Bishop Leonard came to visit Tavistock to see old friends. I was invited to become a Companion and was soon gently ‘encouraged’ by Katie Drew (let the reader understand, and be warned—her enthusiasm is infectious) to visit the Solomon Islands to see and experience the Church there for myself.
I spent my three-week trip on Guadacanal, first at Honiara, before travelling to the Brotherhood’s Headquarters at Tabalia, working my way westwards to the Franciscan community at Hautabu, visiting the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia at Verana’aso on the way. I also paid a call to see the Project Trust students working at St Nicholas’s School and Selwyn College. It was good to see the students so well received and integrated into the communities they serve.
I ended my trip back in Honiara, from there I visited Norman Palmer School and the Community of the Sisters of the Church at Tetere Ni Kolivati (TNK). I led a study day for priests in Honiara, gave lectures at Bishop Patteson Theological College and at the various communities I visited, and was honoured to be invited to preach and celebrate services for my various hosts.
The trip was full of rich and wonderful experiences. I was fortunate to be present at Tabalia for the Ss Simon and Jude festivities. The Chapel and surrounds were richly decorated with beautiful orchids and fragrant frangipani blossom. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the before the big day, and attended Choral Evensong. The singing was superb: the Psalms and Canticles are sung in blazing four, six and sometimes eight-part harmony. The music is based on Anglican chant, so it is easy to join in – familiar, but different, and certainly very exhilarating to be a part of.
At the Eucharist the following morning Bishop Sam Sahu presided at the installation ceremony where thirty-six novices became brothers, and three brothers (Brothers Thomas Suia, Mark Tafodi and John Alley) renewed their vows. The community said goodbye to seven Brothers: Nathanial Tagoa, Albert Iroga, Culbert Moana, Mostyn Tugu, Winston Heke, Lazarus Vavaha and Francis Mauru, the second-oldest member of the Solomon Island Brothers. Brother Francis entered the novitiate in 1984, became a brother in 1986, and served in Australia and Fiji as well as in the Solomons. It was clear that many novices and brothers will miss his wise support and guidance. Like many leaving brothers, he became a Companion later in the week, before he prepared to return to Makira.
The Chaplain, Fr Richard Nokia, kindly invited me to celebrate and preach at several Eucharists during my stay, and to officiate at Choral Evensong on my final Sunday, which was a huge honour. Fr Nokia has a great rapport with the novices and brothers, which is not surprising as his motto is: ‘give them everything!’. Mrs Veronica Nokia is also a much-loved member of the community and gives an incredible amount of time and energy to running a successful literacy course for the novices. During my stay, I was privileged to attend the Literacy Awards Ceremony, which was organised by Veronica and the Mothers’ Union, represented by their president, Pamela Abana and her colleagues Emily Pengalo and Adriana Estrada who are based at St Agnes Rest House in Honiara (an excellent hostel where I stayed towards the end of my trip).
The celebrations around Ss Simon and Jude’s Day lasted a week – lots of feasts, dancing and general socialising. It was wonderful to see thousands of supporters and Companions, many of whom stayed for the week, helping to prepare meals and tidy the site as they waited for boats to take them back to their islands.
My flying visit to the Sisters of Melanesia was a treat. After speaking to the novices and sisters, I was invited to sit down to a lavish tea, complete with boiled eggs, custard creams and coconut juice straight from the husk – an unusual teatime combination, but it worked for me!
I then travelled to see Noah and Ultan at Selwyn College. Like their colleagues Juliette and Flora at St Nicholas’ in Honiara, Noah and Ultan had settled in extremely well and had been welcomed wholeheartedly into the communities. It was wonderful to see all four of the Project Trust students at the various services and celebrations, in Honiara, at TNK and Tabalia – they had clearly become part of the Anglican family. There is also a bit of cultural exchange going on, as they had begun teaching the Solomon Islanders Scottish Country Dancing…
During my second week, I stayed with the excellent Brother Jonas and the community of Friars at their beautiful hillside home at Hautabu. Any nerves I felt about giving my theology talks here were soon forgotten as our friendly discussions continued in our outdoor classroom under the shade of palm and mango trees, looking out over the Pacific Ocean.
Once I got back to Honiara, I travelled out to see the inspirational Sister Veronica and the Community of the Sisters of the Church at TNK. Their work building up the kindergarten and women’s refuge is truly inspiring, and it was a huge privilege to attend Sister Kristy’s life profession there just before I flew back to Britain.
My trip was a hugely encouraging experience. The hospitality I received from everyone I met was truly incredible; all the clergy and religious communities work as part of a big family and work hard to support each other. All were present for Sister Kristy’s profession, so I could say goodbye to almost all the people I had met over the past weeks. I owe so many people a debt of thanks for making my time in Melanesia so fruitful and enjoyable, but I must thank Fr Nigel Kelaepa especially for his organisation, kindness and hospitality.