What a pleasure to be able to visit schools again to talk about the care of creation and climate change in Melanesia. On 1st November I was able to visit Christ Church Chelsea & Holy Trinity Church of England Primary Schools in the Diocese of London with Revd Sam Rylands. You may remember that Revd Sam was on a placement with the Melanesian Brothers in 2019 at the beginning of the COVID pandemic and had a bit of a challenge to get home – Now The Adventure Begins.
The children at both schools listened intently as Revd Sam talked about his time in the Solomons with the Brothers and I talked about what is happening to the islands due to climate change. The children asked some very thoughtful questions, including – why is God letting this happen?
During COP26 the children will be writing their prayers and reflections for a Creation Care Compline at St Luke’s on Friday 12th November at 6pm. This will be a short and interactive service of prayer with contributions from the Melanesian Brothers, music by St Luke’s choir, and led by our youth group (many of whom went to CC). Bishop Graham will also be attending. After the service the children’s prayers will be sent to the Brothers and Bishops in Melanesia.
If you would like some resources and the PowerPoint presentation to give a similar talk to your local primary schools or children’s groups, please contact MMUK.
More on the service at St Luke’s
Creation Compline (Friday 12 November, 6pm at St Luke’s):
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is being held between 31st October and 12th November. During this period, in our schools and in the parish, we will be focusing our prayers and reflections on the issue of climate change.
On Friday 12th November, 6pm at St Luke’s, to mark the end of COP26 we will be a holding a youth-led Creation Compline. This will be a simple, reflective, and interactive service of prayer and music, as we ask God to give us vision for how we might play our part in stewarding and caring for God’s good creation. This will also have contributions from the Melanesian Brothers, whose Islands are being depleted by ever rising sea-levels.
So, please do join us for this! All are very welcome!
The ACoM’s premier secondary school, Selwyn College, held its prize giving ceremony on 23 October. Hundreds of parents and school supporters turned up to witness and participate in the day’s program.
The dignitaries attending the ceremony included the ACoM Archbishop Most Rt Revd Leonard Dawea; the ACoM General Secretary, Dr Abraham Hauriasi; the ACoM Education Secretary, Dr James Memua; Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, Mr James Manebona and many more Government and Church dignitaries.
In his speech the Archbishop, who is also the chairman of Selwyn College school board, congratulated the school principal, the school administration and teachers for the excellent work they are doing as teachers of the college. He said the result of the teachers’ dedication to their teaching responsibility had shown in the excellent academic performances of most students from Forms 1 to 7.
It is the first time ever since Form 7 was introduced in the college that most of the Form 7 students have achieved the highest scores of A+ both in Science and Arts subjects. This can lead to the award of scholarships to regional and overseas universities to continue their academic journey.
The total number of Form 7 students is 48, 25 of whom were Arts students and were awarded A+ results and 14 were awarded A+ in four different fields of Science subjects.
The School Principal, Rev Davidson Ngwairamo, in his speech also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to teachers for their good work and encouraged them to maintain it.
The program ended with feasting after the presentation of prizes.
School children in Devon have been working on a special project to commemorate the life of the first Bishop of Melanesia, who died 150 years ago this month and also to voice their concerns about climate change in the pacific.
Pupils at Feniton and Tipton St John Church of England Primary Schools in Devon, have a very special bond with school children in Melanesia in the pacific. For the past ten years the schools have welcomed guests from Melanesia and sent teachers to volunteer at Melanesian schools. During this time the pupils have learnt about the first Bishop of Melanesia, John Coleridge Patteson, who came from Devon, and have also heard about the devastation of climate change in the Melanesian islands today.
Executive Head, Colin Butler, said: “The children at Feniton and Tipton care deeply about what is happening to children in Melanesia because of climate change. They also wanted to commemorate that a young man from Devon went to Melanesia and died as a missionary out there 150 years ago.
“At the end of last term, the children painted pictures of Patteson growing up in Devon and then travelling to Melanesia. They have also written prayers about caring for the earth and asking for forgiveness for when we are wasteful and uncaring. The teachers at both schools are very proud of what the children have produced, and we hope the children in Melanesia like the work and see how much the children care for them and their first Bishop. Copies of the pictures and prayers will also be on display when the Archbishop of Canterbury visits St Andrew’s Church, Feniton on 18th September. “We have also just received prayers and drawings from the Melanesian school children, and we will be sharing these with the children as they return to school this week. It is wonderful to have this special relationship with children, teachers and schools over 10,000 miles way, all because a young man from Feniton, left Devon to become a missionary in Melanesia over 150 years ago,” said Mr Butler.
As a form six student from Selwyn College, Honiara and originally from the island of Nukapu, where the first bishop of Melanesia shed his blood, I would like to share some of the historical story of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, which my Grandmother has shared with me.
This short brief knowledge was passed to me, through my family from my great, great, great Grandmother whose name was Nivai from the island of Nukapu. On September 20th 1871 the Southern Cross (mission boat) sailed to Nukapu Island. During that time a village chief came down to the beach and welcomed Bishop John Coleridge Patteson into the village. He took him to a single house and let the Bishop rest while he went to the neighbouring villagers to explain to them who Bishop Patteson was.
In his absence the Chief told a young boy to take care of the Bishop while he rested. During the Chief’s absence some of the villagers were angry due to five of their young men from the Island being stolen or taken away by a blackbirding ship a few days before the Southern Cross arrived at Nukapu. The young men’s relatives were still angry so they decided to kill any white men that arrived on their shores. As soon as Bishop Patteson was resting in the house, a man named Teadule came creeping in and hit the Bishop’s head with a heavy stick. The Bishop died instantly. The other angry young men took their arrows and shot them at the ship. The arrows hit Stephen Taroniara as well and he died.
The Chief and his relatives were very sad. A woman named Nivai, my relative, dug a hole to bury Bishop Patteson. She took the body and wanted to bury it, but then they called from the ship that Bishop Patteson’s body must be taken back to them. So my relative put the body of Patteson on a wooden craft and pushed it out to the ship. The crew took the body and buried him at sea.
I am sad that the Bishop’s body was not buried safely on the island of Nukapu. Today if you go to Nukapu Island you will still see the hole which my relative had dug and the cross to remember the Bishop’s death. The Bishop’s death on Nukapu led many people on the island and across the region of Temotu to become Anglicans. Also, most Nukapu people and the diocese of Temotu have put Patteson saints into their local churches.
I have great pride that my tribe has passed down to us, the younger generations, this historical story and my relative’s part in caring for Patteson’s dead body.
I offer this short prayer;
Thank you for Bishop Patteson’s parents, for allowing their son to be the first Bishop of Melanesia. Without them there would be no Christianity on the islands of Melanesia.
Thank you Lord for Nukapu people and forgive their past sins.
Let us always remember Bishop Patteson. It was a sign of peace and love that he shed his blood on the island of Nukapu.
Let the Church of Melanesia continue to grow because of Bishop Patteson.
Let the people of Melanesia live an example of the first Bishop of Melanesia. Continue to band us together to carry out the work Bishop Patteson has set before us.
Give peace, love and hope in memory of Bishop Patteson.
Be with the Church of Melanesia Lord, so that the seed Bishop Patteson planted be a light to us, a light that never goes out
Head of School, Amanda Parsons writes about Feniton Primary School’s, special link to Patteson and Melanesia.
Feniton Church of England Primary School in East Devon serves 210 pupils from the village and surrounding area. Like many rural Devon villages, it has a great community, and there is lots going on. Until recently the main A30 Exeter to London road came past the village. Along that road many a driver or passenger may have noticed a tall brick memorial, and many assumed this was a village war memorial. However, it isn’t! It is a clue to a hidden, historical story.
Since 2010 the pupils from Feniton School have studied much about a special international connection between Melanesia and Feniton. Through their study the children learn about the life of Bishop Patteson. The first Bishop of Melanesia, Patteson was martyred in the course of his duties and while he was delivering the word of the Lord. He was dedicated to the abolition of slavery and was offering love and reconciliation to islanders after slave traders had visited the island of Nukapu, Solomon Islands. He tragically lost his life at the hands of angry islanders.
The loss of Patteson’s life created ripples from Melanesia back to Devon, and in order to celebrate his life, the Patteson Memorial was built at the place Patteson last stepped from the parish.
In May 2010 the Archbishop of Melanesia, the Most Revd David Vunagi, visited Feniton School and returned to the Solomon’s with a folder of information which he gave to our partner school in Honiara, Solomon Islands, The Bishop Norman Palmer School. The main purpose of the trip was to reinforce the links between each school and their communities.
When the Otter Valley Federation started in 2012, Tipton St. John C of E Primary School became part of this unique partnership.
The relationship with Norman Palmer School in Honiara has developed through reciprocal visits between school staff and members of the church congregations.
These visits provided opportunities to share good practice and resources. Over several visits, staff from Feniton school delivered training and support to colleagues at Normal Palmer, with a focus on English teaching and exploring school leadership. The staff and pupils of the Solomons shared their culture and experiences of living with the effects of climate change.
On a visit to Feniton School, Brother Jack talked to the children about the effect of climate change on his island. The children were shocked to hear about this firsthand and to discover that Brother Jake’s home island was disappearing beneath the ocean.
A Melanesian Gospel Canoe also features in regular collective worship at school. The children read the Bible from the canoe, a powerful reminder of our shared history and Christian faith.
As an International Cross of Nails School, Feniton promotes peace and reconciliation through Christian collective worship and our curriculum. The story of Bishop Patteson unites our two countries through a shared sense of forgiveness and strong friendship.
20th September 2021 marks 150 years since Bishop Patteson was killed and the school community is looking forward to marking this significant anniversary.
Head of Feniton School, East Devon, Amanda Parsons
The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) marked the beginning of another milestone in her provision of education services through the Dedication and Blessing of a Foundation Monument Stone and unveiling of JCPU sign board for the establishment of John Coleridge Patteson University (JCPU) at the Kosu land, Central Guadalcanal on Saturday 12th June.
“The Church is seriously taking bold steps in faith to implement her vision and make firm commitment towards establishing a tertiary education institution for the education and social needs of our nations, especially Solomon Islands and Vanuatu,” the Archbishop of ACoM the Most Rev. Leonard Dawea speaking on behalf of ACoM said in the presence of the representatives of the people of Gaobata tribe, Minister for Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Hon. Samuel Manetoali, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development Dr. Franco Rodie, Honorable Premier of Guadalcanal Province Hon. Francis Sade and representatives from the Solomon Islands National University to name a few.
“The vision to establish a Church University has long been with the Church for almost two decades after it was first discussed in the 12th General Synod held in Honiara 2008 to explore the idea. At the 13th General synod in 2011 the idea was accepted and it was decided to make the commitment to translate the foundational philosophy of the Melanesian Mission that would draw on the holistic approach to socioeconomic, educational, religious and technical development. Not only that, but to maintain her historical legacy in providing quality education opportunities to islanders since the Melanesian Mission was began in the early 1849,” Archbishop Dawea continued to explain.
“This is also to complement the continuing learning academic excellence that our major tertiary education providers, Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and University of the South Pacific (USP) currently provides,” he added.
Archbishop Dawea calls on the National Government of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, overseas traditional partners, Guadalcanal Provincial Government, Churches, business houses and local communities to come onboard with ACoM to establish this important cause for the future of our children.
As a symbol of respect and acknowledgment to the people of Gaobata tribe, Archbishop Leonard handed over a gift of local foods (chupu) on behalf of the ACoM.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development Dr. Franco Rodie and Honorable Premier of Guadalcanal Province Hon. Francis Sade also pledged their support to the establishment of the JCPU.
“This is a pride to the people of Guadalcanal and so we will always be ready to support in whatever we can to this very important project,” Premier Sade said in his short speech.
As a symbol to allow ACoM to fully control the land and begin her work, Chief John Seketala of Gaobata tribe took the honor on behalf of his people to cut the ribbon at the entrance of the road going into the JCPU area where the sign board and the foundation Monument stone are erected.
Currently, JCPU under Bishop Patteson Theological college Kohimarama has already started one year Diploma in Teaching program for in-service teachers, being conducted at Saint Nicholas Anglican College.
On a ledge in the Melanesian Chapel in Feniton parish church sits a bust of Bishop Patteson. As vicar there, I feel a little intimidated each time I go into the chapel with his stern head looking down on me. For here’s a man exalted as a martyr, whose name appears in the Church of England calendar every September. My ordinary vicar-ness feels hopelessly inadequate under his gaze. The foreboding Victorian style of the sculpture doesn’t help!
But I always recover from my intimidation, to being inspired and encouraged. For here’s a man who lived in this village yet chose to leave British comforts. A man who crossed oceans and took huge personal risks because of his love for God and for people. A man led by the Spirit whose heritage shines on 150 years later in the vibrancy of the Melanesian church.
And this, for me, is the amazing thing about the Church: the spiritual connection it gives to people across time and space. Bishop Patteson lived in a different era, and I find it difficult to associate with some of the values of his day. How Britain viewed its place in the world, even some aspects of Christian mission, can sit uncomfortably today. But this helps me appreciate all the more how Christ reveals himself uniquely in all languages and cultures. I have immense admiration for Patteson for crossing the bridge into a very different culture, and so enabling Christ to be met there through his life and words.
One of the fruits of Patteson’s ministry is then the privilege of having modern-day spiritual connections, to numerous Christian sisters and brothers in Melanesia. I’ve had the joy of meeting some when they’ve come to Feniton whilst visiting the UK, and I had an earlier special pleasure of knowing Revd Sister Veronica whilst at theological college. I would love to visit Melanesia myself. But whether I do so feels immaterial in a way, for the bonds of faith and fellowship transcend this.
These bonds overflow in tangible ways here. Every week (in non-pandemic times) I join the children of Feniton Primary School for Friday Collective Worship. There at the front sits the Melanesian Gospel Canoe. The walls are decorated with a Melanesian wall-hanging, a Melanesian flag, and pictures of the school’s special link with Melanesia’s Norman Palmer School. All of this was seeded all those years ago by Bishop Patteson.
Sowing seeds is what he did, and Christian ministry being like sowing seeds is close to my heart. Jesus famously compared the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed – tiny yet growing into a mighty plant. I am sure Bishop Patteson could not have imagined what would grow from his missionary work. He simply followed his calling and sowed in faith and love.
A very different thing that he and his generation couldn’t have imagined was present-day climate change. Nineteenth-century generations drove the industrial revolution, which is tragically beginning to have consequences in Melanesia via sea-level rise. Strangely this strengthens my sense of personal connection: before ordination I worked as a meteorological scientist, including for a while on climate modelling. I grieve the impact that climate change will have on the islands. I am sure Bishop Patteson would grieve too, were he alive today.
When I was ordained, I was given some beautiful words of advice for parish ministry: ‘Love the place, love the people’. Behind these words of wisdom lies the truth that this is what God does. And this is what Bishop Patteson did: journeying to Melanesia, he overflowed in loving the place and loving its people. Thank you, Bishop Patteson, for this inspiration. And as time passes, I’ll make better friends with your bust in Feniton church.
Bishop John Coleridge Patteson attended the King’s School in Ottery St Mary, near his family’s home, before going away to boarding school at Eton. In memory of Patteson, today one of the school’s four houses is named after him. Here Head of Patteson House, Mrs Becky Jacobs, explains why Patteson still inspires her and the King’s pupils today.
I became Head of Patteson House at the King’s School, Ottery St Mary in January 2010. I was instantly intrigued by the man who was our figurehead and as an historian wanted to know all about him. I have tried to read as much as possible about him and use this information to try to translate to my students some of Patteson’s values and aspirations. I love the fact that education was at the heart of Patteson’s life and he sought not only to educate others but at a time when it was very much a privilege. I am delighted too that he tried to include women as well as men in his quest. This was forward thinking for the 19th century.
I am fascinated with Patteson’s journey to the other side of the world and the remoteness he must have felt. I wonder if he missed East Devon. I have never been to the Solomon Islands, maybe one day I will go there. I have an image of this tall, bearded man wading ashore at Nakapu with gifts and then being tragically struck down. I am immensely proud that Patteson was an anti-slavery pioneer. Other houses at the King’s school cannot necessarily testify to the great character of their figureheads but we can…like the suffragettes Patteson’s colour (green) suggests growth and development. Again and again, education and personal belief is all important. I am proud to be able to talk about Patteson in assembly and show he is so incredibly relevant today. I can use him as a role model for students, someone who expressed a need to learn continually and someone willing to take risk, to travel and to learn about other cultures.
I have pinned my colours firmly to the mast as Head of Patteson at the King’s school. I ALWAYS wear something green every day, have some wonderful banners and I talk about Patteson’s memory often. I was really proud that my students raised over £100, four years ago to help towards cleaning up the memorial at Patteson’s Cross. I also remember several years ago abseiling down Feniton Church tower to raise money for causes in the Solomon Islands, a great experience!
I hope later in the year to inspire students to find a 21st century equivalent to Patteson, to partner his ideas and aspiration in the modern age. Having said that, Patteson belongs as much in the 21st century as he did in the 19th. I could not be prouder than to have this person as our House figurehead at The King’s School.
Becky Jacobs Head of Patteson House and Teacher of History and Politics The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, Devon
The King’s School is formally linked with the Bishop Norman Palmer School in the Solomon Islands. There have been teacher exchanges and visits, and pupils have exchanged letters and worked on joint environmental projects.
In honour of Tom Tyler who died in December 2020, by Bishop Willie A. Pwaisiho.
The Melanesian Mission has a very rich history in having missionary bishops, priests, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, printers, carpenters, farmers, men and women who brought us the Good News of Jesus Christ through many of these different ways of service. Local people became Christians through their contact with schools, and hospitals.
I was very fortunate to meet some of those last missionaries and was taught by them before the Diocese of Melanesia became a separate Province from New Zealand in January 1975. When John Wallace Chisholm became Bishop of Melanesia on the 24th Sept. 1967, he saw that he should not just be responsible for the education of the country but rather should concentrate on the ministry of evangelism and training of catechists and priests.
As the British administration was preparing for the independence of the Solomon Islands, Bishop John Chisholm wanted to create a first-class church secondary school to help train the future leaders of an independent Solomons. The Bishop also wanted the new school to be close to Honiara, the capital, to introduce students, who mostly came from rural areas, to urban life. The Bishop also wanted to bring all the diocesan institutions closer to Honiara, so in 1969 Siota College moved from Gela to become Bishop Patteson Theological Centre, Kohimarama, for training catechists and priests and women lay workers. The printing press moved from Gela to Honiara. Two religious orders, the Franciscans and the Sisters of the Church arrived in Honiara, to have a joint household in the middle of the town for mission and ministry.
At the beginning of 1970, Selwyn College was created, bringing together Pawa boys school and Pamua girls school, with their teachers, to Najilagu on Guadalcanal. Tom always spoke his mind to the Bishop about making wrong appointments without consultation with the persons concerned. At the last minute he found out that he was to go Selwyn College to be Headmaster, a job he never came for in the first place. He did not feel he was qualified to be the head, but he obediently accepted the bishop’s order. It was there I met for the first time my humble Headmaster and priest Tom, and Tricia his wife, our school nurse, their son Andrew and their dog. I was the Head Prefect chosen by the staff at Pawa School.
It was not easy to run this co-educational school for the first time. The women staff from Pamua were unhappy about the girls working together with us boys in the fields doing manual work. As Head Prefect I had a lot of discussions with my Headmaster over this subject since we had to grow our own sweet potatoes and cassava vegetables as we had done at Pawa, Alangaula and Maravovo boys Schools. Having got my Headmaster on my side, we won the argument that for the school to be self-supporting we needed to have both girls and boys working in the fields together, growing their crops and vegetables and no more separation.
Tom was a hard-working man at school and led by example. During the first three months there was continuous flooding caused by heavy rain. To solve this problem, Terry Ward, our Australian volunteer and qualified plumber and Tom decided we needed to dig a six feet deep drain with a four feet diameter concrete pipe across the school compound. Tom led by example with a pair of shorts and spade and covered with mud, encouraging us to dig that two-hundred-metre-long drain.
Before his appointment as Headmaster of the newly created co – education secondary school for the Church of Melanesia at Najilagu, Tom was the Principal at Kohimarama, training catechists. He enjoyed very much going around different parishes in the islands with his catechists in training, showing them how to do pastoral work.
I pay tribute and salute my Headmaster Tom on behalf of former students of his in the Solomons and Vanuatu as a pioneer in co – education in the Anglican Church of Melanesia. His students went on to become bishops, priests, teachers, doctors, lawyers, diplomats and judges, nurses, parliamentarians, Provincial premiers, senior police officers, businessmen and women in both countries. That is the legacy he left us in Melanesia.
That reminds me of the words in St. John’s gospel 4.37 & 38, thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true.
“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour”.
We in Melanesia are still reaping the harvest we have never worked for.
An Irish blessing.
Tom, may the road rise to meet you. May the wind be ever at your back, May the sunshine warm upon your face. And may the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you ever in the palm of his hand.
Teachers do not die; they live on by those they taught. Farewell Tom, from ocean peace.
Before her evacuation from the Solomon Islands, Project Trust volunteer, Ellen wrote this for the Anglican Church of Melanesia
My time at St Stephen’s Community College, Pamua, has been better than I ever dreamed of. My friend Cerys and I arrived in Pamua at the end of August 2019 and have been working and living there since. We are from the United Kingdom and have come to the Solomons with the educational charity ‘Project Trust’. ‘Project Trust’ sends 17-19 year old volunteers around the world to 20 different countries, one being the Solomon Islands. Myself and 3 others were selected to come and teach in the Solomon Islands. Two boys are currently working at St Francis, Vaturanga and myself and Cerys are teaching at St Stephen’s, Pamua.
At Pamua, I teach both Form 1 and Form 4 Maths and Cerys teaches Form 2 Science and English. Aside from teaching at the secondary sector we help out at Pamua Primary in our free time. We also enjoy playing sports with both the students and teachers. For example, last year, we played friendly netball games against various local schools, such as Waimapuru and Campbell School, of course Pamua were victorious!
We also love being involved in traditional living and island customs. For example, we both danced custom dances with Bauro and Temotu ethnic groups for the school’s Saint’s Day in September, whilst wearing custom banana leaves. In October, we took part in the School’s Graduation Day, helping prepare local foods, and we both enjoyed celebrating the achievements of the school’s leaving students.
Whilst staying on Makira we have attended the island’s famous ‘Banana festival’. Here we were able to experience the many different types of Makira banana including the famous ‘torroka’. Additionally, we enjoy regular trips to Maworah Island, directly opposite Pamua. During these times we have learnt how to paddle banana boats and I have even attempted spear fishing!
Various Madams and students at the school have been teaching us the ‘Solomon way’ so we now know how to scratch coconuts, peel cassava and cook pumpkin. It has been good fun trying new foods that we do not have in the United Kingdom such as Makira’s famous 6 month pudding. Madam Lucy, the school’s home-economics teacher, has taught me how to make island kaleko, such as dying lavalava and making pacific dresses. I have also learnt how to plant kumara, cassava and pana, when I help my Solomon family in their garden. Many students have also taught me how to brush and chop firewood. We truly have been fully immersed into the ways of island living.
We have both loved our time in the Solomons, everyone has been so kind, welcoming and friendly to us. I would like to send out a special thankyou to everyone at Pamua for making our experience at the school so incredibly special and something we will never forget. I will take what I have learnt from the amazing people here in the Solomon Islands back to my friends and family in the United Kingdom, sharing my stories and adventures. As a result of these experiences, both Cerys and I now consider ourselves to be true ‘island girls’ and I feel as if I am half English, half Solomon! Pamco nao best!