We are delighted to be welcoming the Archbishop of Melanesia, and some of the Melanesian Bishops and their wives to the Lambeth Conference from 26th July to 8th August. Convened by The Archbishop of Canterbury, the 15th Lambeth Conference is a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion for prayer and reflection, fellowship and dialogue on church and world affairs.
With the theme of ‘God’s Church for God’s World – walking, listening and witnessing together,’ the conference will explore what it means for the Anglican Communion to be responsive to the needs of a 21st Century world.
The Archbishop of Canterbury writes –
“It’s my prayer that, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Lambeth Conference will reinvigorate the Communion with the vision and resources to bring the transforming love of Jesus Christ to every level of society across the world. It will be a time of addressing hurts and concerns; of deepening existing relationships and building new ones; of grappling with issues that face the Church and the world. We will listen to each other; we will seek God’s wisdom to find ways to walk together; we will build each other up as leaders.”
After the Conference, our guests will make visits to various dioceses, meeting supporters and friends. For some of the Bishops and wives, this will be their first visit to the UK. The programme of visits will be announced in June.
MMUK Festival Day
On Saturday 13th August Archbishop Leonard, his Bishops and their wives will be the guests of honour at MMUK’s Festival Day at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square London. The day will begin with a Eucharist at 11am in the church, followed by a bookable lunch and presentations in the afternoon from our guests. Please register your place with the charity.
Melanesian Spirituality part of the Lambeth Chaplaincy
Revd Sr Veronica CSC, Solomons Provincial Sister of the Community of the Sisters of the Church and Revd Br Nelson, Secretary to the Melanesian Brothers, will be part of the Lambeth Chaplaincy Team. Both Sr Veronica and Br Nelson have been part of the Lambeth preparations for the last few years and contributed to Listening Together – Global Anglican Perspectives on Renewal of Prayer & the Religious Life, one of the Conference’s preparatory books.
We are hoping that Sr Veronica and Br Nelson will also have time after the conference to make some visits before returning to Solomon Islands.
The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) with the Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC) officially opened the Malaita Christian Care Centre (MCCC) in Auki, in the Diocese of Malaita (DoM) on Saturday 15th May.
The Malaita Christian Care Centre or safehouse for women, young girls and children who are victims of Gender Based Violence and Abuse, is the second such centre to be established in Solomon Islands by the Sisters, the first at Tenaru area, east of Honiara in Guadalcanal.
This is another achievement in the mission and ministry of the Community of the Sisters of the Church, in responding to one of their objectives which is to provide pastoral care for women and teenage children and uphold the Christian principles of family life.
Coordinator of MCCC, Sister Doreen Awaiasi CSC who was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre said: “The sisters begun housing the victims of domestic violence in the then household here in Auki, Malaita in 2018. By December of the same year, the Sisters begun the work on the foundation of the MCCC because there were not enough rooms to house all the clients.
“Today, we are so thankful to ACoM, the Diocese, local police, Malaita Provincial Government, the lawyers and doctors in Auki, landowners, business partners, individuals, families and Associates of CSC, who have contributed in one way or the other to mark the opening of this safe home for the rising victims of GBV in Malaita.
“Fencing the area from perpetrators is our next priority and we need your help, but we cannot wait because victims are already coming in looking for a safe place to stay.” Sister Doreen added.
The guest of honour at the ceremony was 89-year-old retired catholic priest Revd Gerald Bruns, who was a major donor and supporter of this project. Revd Gerald said: “The greatest contribution you people can do and should make is this, stop and prevent violence of any kind in our families and communities. This is our Christian duty.”
He asked all those who attended the ceremony to work together in supporting the MCCC as a place of protection, a place for healing, a place for trauma counselling, a place leading to reconciliation and peace by restoring the broken relationships of trust and love.
The new centre has six bedrooms downstairs with a kitchen, dining room, toilets and showers, counselling room and an office space. The upstairs will be used by the four sisters who will be manning the centre.
Right in front of the building is a community hall, which will be used as a learning environment for children who come in with their mothers to the centre.
Revd Sr Veronica, Sister Provincial asks us to pray for the new Centre –
God of light and love, you draw us to your goodness and glory. We pray for the work and the ministry of the Sisters of the Church among those who are experiencing domestic violence. We pray particularly for the Malaita Christian Care Centre that is now officially opened. Pour your blessing upon the Sisters and the Associates who provide shelter, counselling, and a safe place to many whose lives are broken. That your name may be glorified at all times. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On Sunday 14th February, Religious Life Sunday, was celebrated by the Anglican religious orders in the Solomon Islands at the Society of St Francis (SFF) Friary, La Verna. Brother Francis has sent us a report, along with a report from SSF’s Christmas mission.
Revd Sr Veronica sends news from the Sisters – Greetings from the Sisters of the Church in the Solomons Islands. As we begin another year, may we be reminded of God’s leading and direction this year in 2021.
‘Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it”.’ Mark 8: 34 – 36. This is the gospel reading chosen for Bishop John Coleridge Patteson’s Feast Day.
I firmly believe that these words of Jesus are ingrained and embedded in the life and ministry of Bishop Patteson. They show how he lived out his life for the sake of the people of Melanesia, and I am counted as one of those. In his diary, quoted by Margaret Cropper in Flame Touches Flame, are the words, ‘I feel the sense of responsibility deepening on me. I must go out to work without Selwyn, and very anxious I am sometimes, and almost oppressed by it. But strength will come and it is not one’s work, which is a comfort; and if I fail – which is very likely – God will place some other man in my position, and the work will go on, whether in my hands or not, and that is the real point’.
Having visited Bishop Patteson’s home and the church where he did his curacy, I was overcome by the fact of the Bishop leaving his comfortable dwelling to live as a homeless stranger in these islands. Spreading the Gospel was more vital to him than living in a comfortable home. Where would we be if Bishop Patteson had not made the sacrifice? Would we be still living in darkness without Christ? We owe a lot to the bishop for denying himself and taking risks for our sake. We are the very fruit of his sacrificial life and the shedding of his blood. This role model of Bishop Patteson challenges us Melanesians. Are we prepared to deny ourselves and to take up our cross for the sake of the gospel? Is the Gospel at the very heart of our lives and our ministry? If it is at the heart of our lives and our ministry, then we too will experience the joy of spreading the good news to our neighbours and living it out in our lives, families and parishes. God’s word is alive and active and we must feed on it daily. It is powerful in that it transforms and shapes our lives as believers in God.
An item in this week’s news was shocking. A man was accused of sorcery and his feet and hands were bound together and were chopped off. It happened on one of the islands near where Bishop Patteson’s life was laid down. This shows that there is still much to do here in Melanesia in ministry among our people and we need to work very hard.
Our Community is working with women and children who are the victims of domestic violence. It is very sad that we call ourselves a Christian country, but domestic violence is very high in our towns, villages and homes. Although terrible things may happen in our country, we must overcome evil with good, as the Bishop left us the model. As Christians, we need to revisit our mission among our people in our islands. We must deny ourselves for the sake of the gospel. ‘Patteson’s murder was brutal, but it proved to be the seed of the Melanesian Church which grew and continues to grow from strength to strength’. Bishop Patteson brought the Good News to us. May nothing overwhelm the light of Christ within us.
Sr Helen CSC, writes the Eulogy for Sr Frances, who died in January. Sr Frances was the Sister-in-Charge of the first house of the Community of the Sisters of the Church in the Solomon Islands in 1970.
I met Frances Murphy, when we were both members of the choir at Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney around 1959. It was not long after our meeting that Frances entered the novitiate at Perth College, Perth on May 30, 1960. Perth College was a boarding and day school for girls run by the Sisters, as well as the Australian training place for women wishing to test their vocation to be a Sister in the Community of the Sisters of the Church.
After some months as a postulant, Frances was clothed as a novice on December 15, 1960, taking the name of Valerie because there had already been a Frances in the Community. Some years later she was allowed to return to her name ‘Frances’. I joined the same novitiate at Perth College in January 1961.
In August 1962 Frances travelled to the novitiate of the Community in England. To go to England to be professed was the usual procedure for novices in Australia at that time. I travelled to England in January 1964, in time to be present at Frances’ profession on February 8, 1964. This was when she made her life vows, received her black veil (replacing the white veil of a novice), silver cross and gold ring. She also moved to the Junior Sisters’ room in the large Convent and had different activities – no more ringing the rising bell early in the morning to wake everyone up! For Frances!
I was professed in April 1964, so briefly we were together again, as Junior Sisters. One of the worst moments of that time was accompanying Frances while she was learning to drive. It was definitely frightening. One of the most enjoyable was when we were both sent to Walsingham to represent our Community at a celebration of the Sisters of the Priory of Our Lady of Walsingham. Our ability to sing proved valuable as we were asked to assist the Sisters’ choir at the Eucharist, because some Sisters had difficulty singing the right notes.
Frances left England in 1965 for Hobart, where she was the housekeeper and did some teaching in the school. In August 1966, Frances, Faith, Gillian and I began a new house at 36 Hereford St. Glebe. We were following the ideals of Charles de Foucauld and the life of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus of the Roman Catholic Church in Algeria and France. The ministry was to live and work alongside others, often doing manual work, and by sharing friendship. Frances worked for a while as an untrained nursing-aide at the small local hospital making beds etc., and did some housework for neighbours.
In 1969 Frances went to England for her Solemn Profession when she ratified her life vows and the Community accepted her for life. On the way she visited the Solomon Islands. This stop over was significant as our Community had been invited to start a new house in the Solomons, along with a men’s community, the Society of Saint Francis.
A decision was soon made by the Community to open a house in the Solomons. Frances was appointed Sister-in-Charge of the house and Sisters Beryl and Helen Jane were chosen to be with her. They all had a term together at the missionary College of the Ascension, Selly Oak, Birmingham, England that gave them some guidance on how to live in a country with a different culture, before they flew to Australia and caught a cargo ship to Honiara in December 1970.
In the Solomons the Sisters began Bible studies and Sunday Schools, and visited people in the hospital, prison, and their homes. Frances travelled to various islands in the Solomons telling people about the Sisters and what it would mean for those who wished to join the Community. In 1973 a suitable place was found in a coconut plantation about 14 km. from Honiara where buildings planned by Frances such as dormitory, dining room and chapel, were erected from bush material with corrugated iron roofing to house the women who wished to become Sisters in our Community. Frances was in charge of this place which was called Tetete ni Kolivuti, ‘Hill of Prayer’ in the local language.
An animal population also appeared under Frances’ direction, consisting of guard dogs (sort of), cats to catch the local rats, goats to provide milk, fowls to produce eggs and meat, and later a pig or two. To feed those coming to stay, vegetable gardens were begun as well as flower gardens to make the buildings look attractive. Frances managed to be the driving force behind the establishment of this house even while coping with health problems such as leg ulcers, boils and various bouts of colds and flu.
In 1977 Frances was elected the Mother Superior of our Community and moved to England to take up the role. She was blessed as Mother Superior on this day, 2nd February, in 1978. At the time Frances wrote, “I won’t be too sorry to leave (the Solomons), as I feel my work is done here – at least the spade-work has been done.” While Mother Superior, Frances travelled around visiting the Sisters where they were living in England, Canada, Australia and the Solomon Islands, and represented the Community at meetings with the heads of other Religious Communities in England. Frances brought new ideas and ministry to birth during her 10 years in this role, before returning to Australia in 1988.
On Frances’ journey back to Australia, she spent 6 weeks in Israel, and attended a course at St George’s College, Jerusalem. On arriving in Sydney she became part of the household at 96 Hereford St Glebe, where the Sisters from 36 Hereford St moved in 1986 as it had more room for guests. From 1990-1996 Frances was Sister-in-Charge at Glebe and the Australia-Pacific Provincial.
A quieter time for Frances followed when she spent short periods at a cottage in the Blue Mountains and let it out to clergy and church workers in need of a rest. The Glebe house was closed in 2001 and Frances moved to an apartment on Parramatta Road, Camperdown. She was involved in the life of several churches, chiefly St Stephens, Newtown where she was a parish reader. In 2014, because of failing health, Frances moved to The Sister Anne Court in Surry Hills. Her health continued to deteriorate until her death on January 26, 2021.
And I add words taken from The Rule of the Community (adapted). Frances has travelled through all the changing circumstances of her life, and now in her death is made fully one with God at last. Amen.
Sr Doreen CSC reports from the new Christian Care Centre in Auki, which will be officially blessed in May 2021, delayed due to COVID-19.
The Malaita Christian Care Centre exists for the glory of God and to express the healing love of Jesus Christ to victims of domestic violence – women, girls and abused children. The Centre is staffed by Sisters of the Church and supported by the Associates of the Sisters of the Church. It has four core functions and responsibilities:
To provide pastoral counselling, a safe home and care for abused women, girls and children, from all churches and faiths, who have been victims of violence, physical and sexual abused by perpetrators.
To provide educational, life skills activities and programs for those it cares for, preparing them for future sustainability in their livelihood.
To provide male advocacy awareness programs, counselling, care, educational, awareness, life skills activities for the community general public including the perpetrators, to uphold respect for women, girls and children, so that love, peace, harmony and trauma healing prevail again in their families and the Communities.
To promote a clean and shine environment, uphold professional competence and quality services to its clients.
The Centre provides accommodation for the victims and we also raise awareness and do advocacy. The violence against women and children is very high in this Province, as well as sexual violence against children.
This year in 2020, we have undertaken advocacy activities in seven villages in and around Auki, and these activities will continue next year reaching out to more rural villages, where most perpetrators reside. The Bride Price in this Province is a huge challenge and linked to domestic violence, because the husband thinks he completely owns the wife and he can do anything he wishes. The advocacy team consist of Police Officers, Chiefs, Pastors, Lawyers, Associates and Sisters, who joined together to run these programs this Province. It has been very successful with different professionals in the team. Here are some of the questions we have been able to address:
What does the law say about Domestic Violence?
What does the culture say about Domestic Violence?
What does the Bible or the Church say about Domestic Violence?
Sr Doreen, Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC)
Other News From The Community
Sr Noelyn Vuta of the Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC) graduated with a Diploma in Theology with Distinction at Mano Wandrokal STM, Tasia, Ysabel on Thursday 19th November 2020. She scooped all the departmental prices and was also awarded the Dux prize for 2020. Sr Noelyn will now continue her studies at BPTC.
Sr Noelyn comes from the Island of Ambae in the Diocese of Vanuatu & New Caledonia. Congratulations Sister Vuta!
Sisters have now gone on their Christmas mission to Ysabel. Revd Sr Veronica writes that in their program they will cover:
Advent teaching and dramas
Stewardship of the Environment
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Lighting of Candles
Christian Battle and Spirituality
And the drama will be the birth of Christ
Revd Sr Veronica, Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC)
This year at the Christian Care Centre we have Sister Ruth Hope, as the coordinator, Sisters Daisy, Sister Mary, and Sister Aneath are the new members of staff. There are also three Sisters from the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia, who are also part of the staff. Shortly the centre will be led by Sr Rosa Catherine from CSC.
Monthly the centre receives an average of 230 women and girls who are survivors of all forms of violence. Young babies and children accompany their mothers to the centre and grandmothers come to stay with their granddaughters during their stay at the centre. Clients and staff attend classes on life skills and work-related sessions with the Sisters.
The High Commissioner for Australia came to visit and to unveil a plaque for our Solar Lighting which has really helped us with the cost of purchasing diesel and having lights on all night. We acknowledge our pastoral visitors from the Catholic Seminary who come monthly to celebrate mass. Rev Sister Veronica who comes weekly to visit and to celebrate Holy Communion when she is available and provides counselling for our mothers and young girls and staff besides her monthly schedule as rostered.
Rev Sister Veronica always bring with her one or two Postulants and Novices from TNK to come out for a day to assist the staff at the centre when and if there is a need for extra hands and for this we are very thankful.
The Sisters at CCC also attend trainings at the Centre which are taught by an Associate who is a member of the staff at the Centre. Sisters and Novices from TNK or Patteson House are also invited to attend these trainings at the centre by our support networks. Recently there was a training session on kastom gardening and also on gender awareness. Another very important training session was held in August from a women’s organisation who came to talk about women’s health.
Students doing studies on Social Work and Gender at the local USP centre and an organisation in Fiji are doing attachments at the centre and the Sisters are very grateful for extra hands to help and also teach sisters and clients craft skills.
CCC has a preparedness plan where we have taken some strategic measures for keeping our clients at the centre updated with information weekly. We have an Emergency Plan and a possible lock down at the confirmation of a first positive case of COVID-19. We will not admit anyone unless they are of very high risk of being harmed, and have tested negative for COVID. To date Solomon Islands has 13 positive case of the virus, but they are in isolation and contained.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM
For 16 Days of Activism 2020 we are planning to do awareness sessions with communities around our centre and to raise awareness on how to report domestic violence to the police and to refer clients to us for counselling.
Sisters at the CCC thank the Sisters at Henderson and TNK for their garden produce for our clients at CCC.
Thank you to all our Sisters, Associates and friends, Mothers’ Union members worldwide and locally for your support and prayers.
This year SSF and CSC were due to hold services to celebrate 50 years working in Melanesia. Postponed due to COVID-19, it is hoped to have these events in 2021. In the meantime, MMUK’s Archivist Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne, looks at the history of the religious orders in the region.
The earliest Religious Order to arrive in the Solomon Islands was the Order of Friars Minor or Franciscan Brothers who came with the first Spanish exploratory expeditions in the 16th century. They however did not stay. Other Roman Catholic Orders came in the mid-19th century. The Pope had asked the newly founded Society or Mary or Marist Fathers, with its Headquarters in France, to undertake work in the central, southern and western Pacific islands, including New Zealand. They tried to establish themselves in the Solomon Islands, but their bishop was killed on Santa Isabel and others had a difficult time on the island of Makira (San Cristoval), so they withdraw for a while. However, they returned in the late 19th century and have been working there ever since. The Dominican Order later arrived to work in the Western Solomons. The Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM) arrived as well.
The first Anglican religious community was established by Mother Margaret and Sister Gwen in 1930, and they called it the Community of the Cross. They had previously worked with Indian Orthodox Sisters in India and had been invited by the Bishop of Melanesia to come and establish a Community, which Melanesian girls could join. They established their base at Siota on Gela, and then moved to Bungana island in the Gela group. After disagreements with two subsequent Bishops, Mother Margaret joined the Roman Catholic Church with most of the Sisters, and some of the Solomon Islander and New Hebridean Sisters joined the RC Daughters of Mary Immaculate, a Community of ‘native’ Sisters founded by the SMSM.
When Bishop John Chisholm became Bishop of Melanesia in 1967, he was determined to ask two Communities to come to the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the Friars and Sisters of First Order of the Society of St Francis. He had seen the work of the Friars in Papua New Guinea and wanted them to work in urban areas in his new diocese as well. The Franciscan Sisters said that they did not have enough Sisters to answer his call, so instead he turned to the Community of the Sisters of the Church, which had been established in London in the 19th century to do social work, but had later extended its work to Australia, where the Bishop came from. They were now looking for new work, having decided to give up their educational work among girls in Australia.
The Melanesian Brotherhood had been established by Brother Ini Kopuria of Guadalcanal island in 1925, and there was some speculation about how the white Brothers and Sisters of the two other Orders would be received when they arrived in 1970. However, these Orders now have many professed members and novices in their Solomon Island Provinces, all indigenous. Later, Nester Tiboe of Guadalcanal, a woman catechist, became convinced that there should be a Community of Sisters along the same lines as the Melanesian Brotherhood, whose members do not usually take life vows, which the members of those other two Communities do. There are therefore now four communities working in the Solomon Islands, and the Melanesian Brotherhood and the Sisters of Melanesia also have houses in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. The four Communities work together in many ways, and also co-operate when appropriate with the Roman Catholic Orders. Some members of the Brotherhood also work in the Philippines and Australia.
The Anglican Church of Melanesia has more members of Religious Orders compared with the overall membership of the Church than any other part of the Anglican Communion, and they do key work in evangelism, social and pastoral work, and community education. They need and desire our prayers and support.
Canon Brian Macdonald-Milne Melanesian Mission Archivist
If you want to find out more about the four orders and their work, watch our films on the religious orders here – www.mmuk.net/films. If you would like to support the Brothers and Sisters, do consider becoming an Associate or Companion. Groups across the UK meet to pray for the communities, consider how best to support them in prayer and giving, and gather for services and pilgrimages.
On Monday 21st September, the Melanesian Mission held its first online AGM and Festival, with over 70 attendees from across the UK, Australia and Melanesia.
The event was due to have taken place in London in July with all the Bishops from Melanesia, just before they were to attend the Lambeth Conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and postponed Lambeth Conference, plans were changed and the event went online.
The evening began with worship led by Trustees Canon Daphne Jordan from the Diocese of Blackburn and the Ven Mike Gilbertson, Archdeacon of Chester. A recording of the congregation at Tabalia singing the Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm 23) hymn was played, and the collect for Patteson Day read.
The Ven Mike Gilbertson was re-elected as a Trustee for three years, and Canon Jane Brooke from Chester Cathedral was elected as a Trustee for three years. Mr Andrew Cartwright stepped down as Trustee and was thanked for his many years of service.
At the Festival there were presentations from MMUK Trustee Kate Pwaisiho on ‘village life and climate change’ and from Sam Rylands who stayed with the Melanesian Brothers in March. There was also an opportunity to hear from Revd Sr Veronica CSC, joining the meeting from Honiara, and Revd Br Nelson MBH who is training in Fiji. In a pre-recorded address, the Archbishop of Melanesia thanked members for their ‘unwavering support to Melanesia’.
The Archbishop went on to speak about the current COVID-19 situation in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, the importance of climate research in the region and his church’s priorities for mission, including the reintroduction of ‘health ministry’.
Archbishop Leonard ended his address by saying: “I wish you all God’s blessing on your work and our partnership for the Kingdom of God. It is good to talk to you. Though we missed out a lot on the face-to-face communication, may I assure you that ACoM holds you and your families and the work you do to heart. And most especially during this time of extraordinary uncertainty and fear. May God bless all the Trustees, supporters, your families, and our partnership in mission. Thank you.”
The Rt Revd Mark Rylands, Chair of MMUK, finished the evening by sharing the charity’s priorities for the year ahead, recognising that events and visits in both directions will probably be impossible. The charity will continue to facilitate climate change research in the region, and review how it communicates with supporters, and create more online resources and events, including online coffee mornings.
Finally, the date and venue of the 2021 AGM and Festival was announced. It will be on Saturday 18th September at Exeter Cathedral, where the charity will celebrate the life and ministry of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, first Bishop of Melanesia, on the 150th anniversary of his martyrdom.
Hear more from Sam Rylands in our Summer 2020 Magazine on his time spent with the Melanesian Brothers;
Revd Sr Veronica reports on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in the region.
The most affected victims of COVID-19 in the Solomon Islands are the students in Honiara and on Guadalcanal. Their education has been disturbed, because schools are closed down and the government moved them to their respective islands. Most of them do not know what to do in their villages, as there is no access to any learning facilities. Now the schools are opened but the students from remote islands could not make it back in time. Boats travelling to remote islands like Temotu are rare, because of the great distance and the boats have to be seaworthy. Furthermore, parents of the students do not have the money to pay for their return fares. Most of the students have outstanding school fees and COVID-19 added another burden to the parents.
The Ministry of Education provide lessons for the Students through the Solomon Island Broadcasting (SIBC), but the network is very poor in the remote islands.
Parents with little income
Most parents depend very much on the sale of the crops they grow to meet the needs of their family, especially school fees. COVID-19 had a huge impact on such people as most markets in Honiara are closed down. Many people have asked the Prime Minister to re-open the small markets in Honiara. However, the government has to protect the people from the virus and stand firm against the market vendors.
The Economy of the country is badly affected
The Economy of this country is affected both locally and internationally, and the resources are no longer sustainable to keep up in the world market. These resources are badly affected; Agriculture, Fisheries, Mining, and Tourism. Last year, tourism was picking up in this country after been affected by the Ethnic Tension. However, COVID-19 puts tourism back on its knees. The hospitals and clinics are also affected, and rural clinics badly need new supplies, but nothing is being provided and this causes great risk to our peoples’ lives.
People working for the government had to be repatriated to their home islands, and so most offices are closed. These people too found it hard to sustain their families as they returned home without jobs. Some people lost their jobs, especially those who are working in hotels, due to lack of customers. People are encouraged to work from home, but this is a huge challenge, as most houses are crowded and have a lack of privacy.
Pastoral Ministries are affected
Social distancing is one of the challenges in the field of Pastoral Ministries and Church Services. Fortunately church services are not closed in the Solomons, because this is the very heart of the people. People are more committed to attend church services and more connected with their neighbours and are kind to them at this time. Although the government, through the Leaders of the Churches, discourage big gatherings and conferences, Christian people are really committed to their faith and belief.
Religious Communities’ pastoral ministries are scaling down and this is another challenge for the Sisters and Brothers. Although, we’ve minimised visiting villages and communities, we still attend to visitors coming to our doors. People are desperate to hear the good news and be encouraged to stand firm in their faith.