Tag: Mothers’ Union

Mothers’ Union

MU Members and Freshly Boiled Ferns

Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Families in the Solomon Islands

The COVID-19 Pandemic, needless to say, is having a huge impact on the lives of people, families, communities and the nation, as it is globally. At the outset, the State of Emergency placed on the country, as declared by His Excellency the Governor General Sir David Vunagi and the Prime Minister Honourable Manasseh Sogavare, at very short notice awakened all citizens of the danger ahead. On the one hand it prompts people to take immediate action to safeguard lives, but at the same time the hasty decisions made by many town dwellers to be repatriated to their home islands, has caused death and many other challenges that will affect them in the long run.Crops

This involved scaling down of services by the Government, Diplomats, Private Sectors, Churches, Non-Government and many Civil Societies. The prime issue here is the reduction of employees that involves either termination of employment or reduction of wages/salaries until the nation is declared safe in July 2020. Families of those concerned are badly affected and it will take a long time for them to settle down again.

There was the call by the Prime Minister at the outset when the State of Emergency was declared for citizens to be repatriated to their home islands in order to reduce the number of people living in the capital city, Honiara. Our Culture of one-talk is embedded with the praxis of overcrowding of homes in the city and in the event where the virus arrives in the country, it will spread very fast because of such situations in many homes. It was for this reason that repatriation was called for. However, when the mass exodus of citizens back to the islands took place, there is also over-crowding brought to homes in the islands and shortage of food might become an issue very soon. Many have raised their concerns on this because they have not planned to produce enough food for such unexpected crowds.

Secondly, in cases where hasty decisions were made, we lost 27 lives at sea when a passenger boat repatriated people to Malaita during Cyclone Harold in April. Those who died were washed into the ocean and were drowned when a huge wave hit the boat. Only seven bodies were found, and the rest are still missing today. Most of them were students who unfortunately were excited to go home, only then to lose their lives. The Government and the Church are still dealing with the survivors’ parents, guardians and relatives, helping them with their trauma and grieving.

Since the closure of the schools across the country on March 23rd, all children have been staying at home, while those who only study in the capital return to their homeland. The Solomon Island Government (SIG) announced all classes to resume on May 25th. In Honiara, though no COVID-19 cases are confirm, all schools still apply social distancing, so classes are split and pupils come to school on different days. So, I would say children and students attending schools in Honiara have had their learning affected, while those schoolings in the islands, classes have resume.

In terGarden Potatoesms of food security, families living in the capital are encouraged to engage in Food Management Programmes. It is understood that in the long run the economy of the country will be affected badly, and so growing our own edible crops is highly encouraged as a way to address the post-COVID era.

The government has distributed vegetable seeds and nurseries to town dwellers and stakeholders, including ACoM. The clergy in all the dioceses were made aware of their roles, should the deadly virus be confirmed in the country. In the meantime, all are expected to be alert and listen carefully on the radio and different media outlets for updates from the government regarding COVID-19.

The Mothers’ Union members, their programmes and activities at the grassroots level are continuing as usual, except for the Provincial Office (PMU), Honiara Parishes and the diocesan offices. However, other MU members in Honiara lately have reached out to satellite members and run cooking lessons on preparing simple breakfast and meals. The result was excellent as it brings women together by sharing their cooking skills with one another in such a time. Truly it promotes Christ’s love and care in his mission.

Overall, families and the church as a whole are embracing the situation of COVID-19 with nothing but continuous prayer for guidance. For whatever may happen we will put it all in God’s hands. It is also a time to reflect on our daily lives that nothing is permanent, but always to seek the mind of God as we continue to share this life with Christ Jesus.

Love in God’s Service

Pamela Abana, Provincial President, Mothers’ Union Office, Honiara, Solomon Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daphne Jordan, His Excellency Sir David Vunagi, Lady Mary Vunagi and Cate Edmonds

General Report of Melanesian Trip September 2019

After a long journey it was great to be greeted by Father Rayner in Port Villa. After settling into our hotel, we were visited by Karen Bell the new High Commissioner for Vanuatu. Karen explained her new role as there hasn’t been a HC in Vanuatu for fourteen years. It was interesting to note that with Brexit looming the British Government were setting up fourteen new High Commissions in the South Pacific, the West Indies and in Africa. Karen explained that she had three main roles; Working with the Government on issues of democracy, World relations and especially trade with Britain, and Climate Change. We introduced her to the work of MMUK and the schools and links programme as well as promoting the Article One project. Karen has a limited budget for projects but would be interested in a proposal from Article One. She was also interested in being introduced to Bishop James and I have forwarded his contact details. She saw that the three important and leading groups in the Vanuatu life were the Government, the Chiefs and the Church.

Cate Edmonds, Rt Rev James Tama Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and Daphne Jordon
Cate Edmonds, Rt Rev James Tama Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and Daphne Jordan

The next day we departed early for Espiritu Santo where we were met by old friends Joses, Diocesan Secretary, though recently retitled Operations Manager and Augustine, Director of Education. We later met with Bishop James and his staff at the Diocesan offices. We were able to explain a little about ourselves, they were shocked that as a Rural Dean I had responsibility for oversight of 32 parishes, and our project. The next few days were spent visiting school and a report has already been made.

We were invited to a special service at the Cathedral on the Sunday for a Mother’s Union Service where 10 new members were admitted by Bishop James. It was a wonderful, joyous service and an honour to be present.

Before leaving Santo, we visited a Rural Training Centre which had been relocated from Ambae, they were struggling in the limited facilities. They we pleased to receive visitors but looked forward to returning to Ambae.

Finally, we met with members of the Mothers’ Union who explained their work. We were particularly interested in their work around gender-based violence. Much good work is being carried out by the MU.
Leaving Vanuatu, we departed for the next leg of the project to Honiara to start the school visits etc. a separate report is available.

We were honoured to be part of the Enthronement of Archbishop Leonard and took the greetings from Bishop Robert and the Diocese of Exeter as well as greetings from ASM associates and people of Feniton. Following the 4-hour service and speeches we were invited to lunch, presentations and entertainment.

Cate Edmonds at Archbishop Leonard Dawea’s Enthronement
The highlight of the afternoon was the Cathedral Sunday School’s presentation of a worship song by dance and drama. They were inspirational and certainly raised the roof.

Cathedral Sunday School worship song by dance

The next day Rev Cate travelled out to Verana’aso to visit the Sisters, see separate report and Daphne spent time in the Education Office. The Sisters are struggling to raise funds for a new chapel as theirs is unsafe. Sadly, it feels that the Sisters are the “poor relation” and receive little support and guidance.

During our stay in Honiara we also visited the Mother’s Union Headquarters and received updates on their work. They were preparing for a grand celebration of 100 years of Mother’s Union later that month.

We also visited the Christian Care Centre, at present there are 40 residents including children and many of these residents were teenage girls who had escaped their abusive homes. The Sisters of the Church and the Melanesian Sisters work together at the CCC to provide a safe and homely environment. We were very impressed by the facilities in a beautiful setting. On arrival we met Sister Veronica who was visiting as well. Most residents are only there for a couple of weeks before they return home if it is felt safe. Sadly, many return again later.

During our stay we made a courtesy visit to David Ward the British High Commissioner to explain our project. It was interesting to meet up with him before he departs for Samoa and to hear more about the political situation in the Islands.

After negotiation we were invited to tea at Government House to meet Sir David and Lady Mary Vunagi, the recently appointed Governor General of the Solomon Islands. It was lovely to meet up with old friends, who certainly were having to get used to a very different way of life.

Eventually it was time to return home. It had been an exhausting but interesting and enjoyable 3 weeks. We hoped that we have made some significant contributions in education and relationship building. We thank MMUK for all their support and look forward to further engagement.

Rev Canon Cate Edmonds 

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

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

Women On The Frontline Training

Women On The Frontline For Reconciliation And Restoration – Retreat And Training Report

The theme of the retreat & training was “Women on the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration”.

The aim was to empower women leaders in ACoM, especially Bishops’ and Clergy wives and women lay leaders to be equipped to become peacemakers, and to have courage to make steps to be at the frontline to become ambassadors of peace.

Mrs Caroline Welby the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury and three staff from the Lambeth Palace, Mrs Sarah Snyder, Mrs Jane Namurye and Mrs Keren Lewis convened the retreat and training.

When Archbishop Justin Welby became the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mrs Welby had a vision to visit all Bishops’ wives within the Anglican Communion to encourage them in their role as they share the same calling and challenges.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia was the third province the team had visited to conduct the retreat and training.

The retreat was conducted for Bishops’ wives for two and half days and the second part of the programme was the training which included clergy wives and women leaders in ACoM. A total of twenty-eight women attended the training.

In his opening address, the Most Reverend George Takeli, Archbishop of the Province of Melanesia said this is the era of renewal and restoration in our society, and women must be in the frontline to lead. He views the training of women as a priority and is taking steps to make it happen. This includes:

  • Increasing the enrolment of girls in ACoM Schools
  • Increasing the number of women in the 2020 General Synod and Executive Council
  • Awarding of scholarships for women in theological training

The Importance of Retreat and Training:

The programme was unique, in that all participants were able to freely share and talk about their experiences and challenges. The method used at both the retreat and training was unique and of a high level with each session based on scripture, in which participants either used imaginary creative art or role-played characters from the chosen texts. These activities allowed participants to make connections to real life situations.

Participants who felt touched by what was being delivered and shared, were given opportunities to pray and share individually with Mrs Welby and her team. An opportunity was also given for anyone to have time with Sr. Veronica, the Sister Provincial and the only ordained woman in Melanesia. Seeing women queuing at the Sisters’ chapel to have their turn, speaks a lot on the Ordination of Women. Women share freely with women. Peace of Christ in our hearts was experienced by most of the women that attended this programme.

The programme was very effective like no other, because of the simplicity of Mrs Welby and her team and the process in the delivery method. Above all, the encouragement given in prayer life for the journeys we make in life.

What Next?

“How are we going to make steps forward in the implementation of what we have acquired?”, was the question at the last day.

Participants were divided into three groups to discuss what will happen next after this training. They resolved to take steps to be ambassadors of peace in their families, communities and country:

  • Bishops’ wives to meet once every year
  • Awareness to be carried out in each diocese
  • Diocese of Central Melanesia to be a pilot diocese to carry out training
  • Revise the position of Women’s Desk at the ACoM Headquarters by a six-member committee
  • A follow up visit by Mrs Welby and Team in the future

Acknowledgements:

  • First of all, we thank God for his grace given to women to be at the Frontline for Reconciliation and Restoration
  • We give thanks to God for calling Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs Welby to shepherd the Anglican Communion
  • The love and passion that has brought Mrs Welby and her team to share with us and the humility and simplicity to be able to adjust to the life style so different from theirs. Also, for their commitment to prayer and encouragement to pray as a tool really stood out
  • For Archbishop George and Mrs June Takeli making this possible through their invitation to Mrs Welby to visit Melanesia
  • For the General Secretary and ACoM Administration for the support rendered
  • The Committee through the Provincial Mothers’ Union Office, who facilitated the visit in consultation with Archbishop George and Mrs Takeli
  • Sr. Veronica for celebrating for us daily and the love and care the sisters at Tete-Nikoli-Vuti (TNK), we couldn’t have chosen a better place. Just the right place for the Retreat and Training

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Novice Sister Mildred and Cathy

A Melanesian Pilgrimage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church of the Ascension, Santo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keith and Susan Williams

MOTHERS UNION NIUS LETTER 2016

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INTRODUCTION: Greetings from the office of the Provincial Mothers’ Union President

This  year 2016 like any other year has been a year of hard work with not only achievements but challenges as well. Our theme during the 2015 Provincial Council was ‘Faith, Commitment and Mission’. I believe that this theme has been our beacon as we journeyed through our programmes and activities during 2015/2016. There have certainly been achievements; for that we can be thankful for those who have been inspirational in getting us to the required level. As Mothers Union members, we are able to know where we are in the different areas within our priorities that we have embarked on.  Above all, we thank God who is always with us through easy and difficult times. More… <MOTHERS UNION NIUS LETTER 2016>