Tag: Visits

Green Apostle Training

The Anglican Church of Melanesia and Climate Change

Climate change and the future
The Anglican Church of Melanesia [ACoM] considers climate change one of the most significant environmental and social issues facing its community. With more than 100 years in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, ACoM understands that it can play a crucial role in solving future challenges. To do so, we need bold, innovative steps.

The remains of Fanalei Island
The remains of Fanalei Island

Sea level rise, increased severity of storms and flooding, droughts, saltwater intrusion into freshwater agriculture, and reef habitat loss, all threaten to destabilise local communities. Knock-on social consequences could result in ethnic conflicts, land disputes, and internally displaced peoples. Latent social tensions may be exacerbated if adequate preparations are not undertaken.

One challenge is a lack of accurate local data and environmental monitoring. The Solomon Islands Government does not have sufficient infrastructure or systems to monitor ongoing environmental change. International monitoring is focused on the wider Pacific region. Fisheries, forests, extreme weather events, and shoreline changes, are not sufficiently studied. The reality is stark: without monitoring we cannot know local conditions. We therefore cannot develop evidence-based mitigation plans.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia considers this an opportunity. We can contribute to sustaining local communities and supporting the people of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. We are undertaking the following initiatives.

The ACoM Environment Observatory
The creation of the Anglican Church of Melanesia Environment Observatory is forging new alliances between the environmental sciences and the Anglican Church of Melanesia. It aims to solve the dearth of local environmental monitoring. With a majority Anglican population, we are using churches throughout the archipelago as a network of scientific observatories. Installing monitoring equipment operated by clergy and lay people, churches are beginning to measure shoreline change, rain fall, storm intensity and duration. Daily readings are sent at regular intervals to ACoM headquarters, Honiara, where they will form the basis for scientific analysis.

In our first year of implementation we established three observatories on three islands. Students and faculty from the Solomon’s Island University are undertaking shoreline measurements on Guadalcanal north shore.

In the coming years, we will expand stations to all islands with ACoM churches and integrate observing with clerical duties. This will produce a close-range portrait of environmental change and the basis for accurate mitigation strategies. Data will be in the public domain and a valuable resource to local and international climate change scientists. Rather than import costly monitoring equipment and expertise from abroad, the observatory repurposes existing church infrastructure and expertise.

This innovative approach is appealing to churches in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. Anglican and other Christian communities in Australia, Vanuatu, Samoa, and the UK, are developing partnerships to extend the observatory network. Post-graduate architectural design courses on the observatory are being development with the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology, Sydney; and, the School of Design, Harvard University. The observatory is being studied as case study of the integration of science and religion in courses at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and Malua Theological College, Apia Samoa.

Green Apostles
To link environmental sciences with the Anglican Church of Melanesia community we have developed the Green Apostle award in collaboration with the Melanesian Mission (UK). Each award is given to monitors operating Observatory stations. Interested lay members and clergy have been trained in measuring shoreline change, operate rain gauges, and notating storm intensity and durations. It incentivises, recognizes and gives thanks for the efforts of our participants and contributes to skilling our community.

Green Apostle Training
Green Apostle Training

Education
We are undertaking initiatives to combine climate and environmental sciences with theological and religious education. With Bishop Patteson Theological College, international coastal scientists, theologians, and social scientists, are developing curriculum that integrates the study of climate change science with theological training. With faculty at the Solomon Islands National University, we are developing climate change curriculum. Our educational efforts endeavour to cross conventional boundaries between science and religion.

Coastal Erosion
To facilitate climate change research, we have formed a partnership with the University of Southampton, UK. We are supporting PhD research into coastal change impacts in the Solomon Islands. The research combines physical evidence of historical shoreline change from remote-sensing technology and a study of social implications based on participatory workshops and interviews in affected communities.

Measuring Coastal Erosion
Measuring Coastal Erosion

Relocation
Widespread coastal erosion threatens the well-being and development of communities in the Solomon Islands. The majority of the population live in highly vulnerable, low-lying coastal areas and relocation is already occurring across the country, most notably on the outer reef islands and small offshore artificial islands. At present, relocation efforts are rarely assisted by the government or NGOs. Unaided relocation of whole communities has led to the formation of illegal settlements and overcrowding, land disputes, and social conflict. ACoM, the Melanesian Mission UK, and the University of Southampton recognise the immediate need to develop adequate strategies to manage climate-induced relocation and intend to develop partnerships to support relocation efforts.

Combined strategies
Through this work we hope to be good stewards of the Solomon Islands for future generations.

Marie Schlenker and Dr Adam Bobbette

Shoreline Erosion on Fanalei Island

Climate Change in a Melanesian Context

When I first started my PhD project about climate change impacts in the Solomon Islands, neither myself nor my supervisors expected that I would be telling a story about land disputes, traditional customs and the wantok system. I considered myself a natural scientist, with an academic background in Geosciences and Environmental Physics, keen to collect and analyse numerical data. However, as I started delving into my project, I had to rethink this initial perception. How can I study climate change impacts if I do not consider the people who are being impacted by it?

ACoM Environment Observatory: Measuring shoreline change on Fanalei Island
ACoM Environment Observatory: Measuring shoreline change on Fanalei Island

My research still focuses on the analysis of physical data to gain insights into climate change impacts in the Solomon Islands. I use satellite images, aerial photographs and beach surveys to understand how shorelines of small islands have changed in the past and how they might evolve in a changing climate. However, I also added a significant social science component to my work. During my two-months long fieldtrip to the Solomon Islands, I conducted interviews and participatory workshops with local people to learn more about their perceptions of climate change and its impacts on coastal areas in the country.

Both, government representatives and leaders of the Anglican Church, confirmed what I had already expected: many coastal communities in the Solomon Islands are already experiencing adverse impacts of environmental change, including severe shoreline erosion and increased flooding frequency. The good news is that the majority of these communities seem to be highly resilient to the new environmental conditions. Most Solomon Islanders live a simple lifestyle in rural areas. They reside in palm leaf or wooden huts and subsist on fishing and growing crops in small gardens. As shoreline erosion and flooding threaten their villages, people simply dismantle their houses and rebuild them further inland on higher ground. Due to the strong sense of solidarity and social cohesion within extended families, known as the wantok system, people who are forced to relocate will receive boundless support from their relatives.

Flooding at Fanalei Island during high tide
Flooding at Fanalei Island during high tide

While this system of assisted relocation within villages currently seems to work well in many places across the Solomon Islands, it is simply not an option in some other places. Why? Some communities do not own any land to fall back onto. As part of my trip, I visited two communities in South Malaita, Fanalei and Walande, which have been dealing with this problem. Both communities are seafarers from Lau Lagoon in North Malaita who migrated to the small islands off the South Malaitan coast generations ago and have been growing ever since. Their status as migrants means that they do not have any original ancestral lands in the region. Land ownership in the Solomon Islands is tribal and passed down from generation to generation. As rural communities depend on the land for their survival, they guard it like nothing else.

Shoreline Erosion on Fanalei Island
Shoreline Erosion on Fanalei Island

Fanalei and Walande have experienced severe shoreline erosion and flooding in recent years. Fanalei community lost the majority of its former settlement area to the waves and is regularly flooded at high tide. Walande transformed from an island that hosted a population of over 1,000 people in 2002 to a deserted sandbank. As a result, the majority of the villagers migrated to the nearby mainland of South Malaita. Unfortunately, not without complications. Fanalei people are illegal settlers on the mainland and the traditional landowners will not let the issue slide, leaving Fanalei Islanders with an uncertain, possibly bleak future. Land ownership and land use are common sources of conflict in the Solomon Islands and even led to violent ethnic tensions in the past. Unfortunately, climate change and population growth are very likely to significantly exacerbate the issue over the next decades and, currently, the Solomon Islands government neither has the capacity to handle the increasing number of land disputes, nor to effectively support resettlement or to slow down the alarmingly high rate of population growth.

Walande Island - 2002
Walande Island – 2002
Remains of Walande Island - 2019
Remains of Walande Island – 2019

However, just a few kilometres further north, Walande people have found their own strategy to secure their livelihoods. In the 1940s and 50s, Walande’s leaders had the wise foresight to acquire land from tribes on the mainland by negotiating a payment consisting of traditional shell money, dolphin teeth and modern currency and maintaining close friendships with their neighbours. After Cyclone Namu hit the island in 1986, the villagers decided to take their fate in their own hands. Educated community members created a settlement plan and obtained the support of Australian Aid to bulldoze the land for relocation. When storms were becoming more frequent in the 2000s, leading to increased erosion and flooding of Walande Island, villagers had the opportunity to build a safe new home on the mainland.

New Walande on St Michael’s Day
New Walande on St Michael’s Day

The story of Walande shows that rural communities in the Solomon Islands are capable to manage their own local climate change adaptation. However, any kind of support from outside is greatly appreciated by the communities and can go a long way. The Melanesian Mission UK currently supports the development of an environment observatory within the Anglican Church of Melanesia, which will empower local people to create their own scientific evidence of climate change and shoreline erosion, increase environmental knowledge within communities and facilitate the design of effective adaptation strategies.

More information about the communities of Fanalei and Walande and the ACoM Environment Observatory can be found in my travel blog: Save Islands.

Marie Schlenker

Marie Schlenker is a PhD student within the Energy and Climate Change Research Group at the University of Southampton, researching the impact of climate change and coastal hazards on the Solomon Islands. Her project is jointly supervised by Prof. Robert Nicholls, Prof. David Sear and Dr. Ivan Haigh and supported by the Melanesian Mission UK, the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute. She has just returned from a 2-months long fieldtrip to the Solomon Islands.

Former staff and students of Selwyn College

Solomon Islands Governor General Reception In London

In October the new Governor General of Solomon Islands, the Right Reverend Sir David Vunagi, was in London to be knighted by the Queen. During the visit, MMUK trustee, the Reverend Catherine Duce, hosted a reception for Sir David and Lady Mary Vunagi at St. Martin in the Fields.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Vunagi
HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Sir David Vunagi (© Buckingham Palace)

It was a lovely opportunity for old friends to welcome the Governor General and his wife back to London. Sir David has been a servant of the Church of Melanesia for many years, serving as headmaster of Selwyn College, Dean of Honiara and Archbishop of Melanesia. In retirement David returned briefly to his home island of Santa Ysabel where he realised a long ambition to plant an arboretum, but was then called back to be headmaster of Selwyn College. Mary, meanwhile was back in Honiara as President of the Mothers’ Union. Earlier this year, David was elected Governor General.

At the reception, Canon John Pinder was able to hand over the Solomon Islands flag which was carried in procession and laid on the altar of Westminster Abbey at the independence service in 1978. He assumed that it would reside in the office of the Solomon Islands High Commission in London, but the head of protocol, Trevor Ramoni, claimed it for the Governor General’s residence in Honiara where it will have a place of honour.

Canon John Pinder handing over the Solomon Islands flag to Sir David
Canon John Pinder handing over the Solomon Islands flag to Sir David. Eliam Tangirongo is on the left.

There was a happy reunion between the Solomon Islands High Commissioner in London, Eliam Tangirongo and the Reverend David Wippell. Eliam was a prop forward in the Selwyn College rugby team that was brilliantly coached by David, beating all the other rugby teams in Honiara in 1971.

John Pinder was able to introduce the Governor General to Professor Nick Stanley who is writing a biography of Robert Codrington, apart from Patteson, the most famous and respected of the early missionaries. Nick was delighted when Sir David agreed to write a foreword for his book.

The afternoon ended with a short act of worship and an address by Sir David.

Past and present Melanesian Mission trustees
Past and present Melanesian Mission Trustees: Back L-R; Catherine Duce, Ian Drew, Katie Drew, Brian Macdonald-Milne: Front L-R; John Pinder, Lady Mary Vunagi, Sir David Vunagi, Jocelyn Squires

John Pinder – Melanesian Mission UK

Canoes on a beach with island backdrop

Prince Charles to visit Solomon Islands

King Fish in a canoeHis Royal Highness Prince of Wales Prince Charles will undertake an official visit to Solomon Islands from Sunday 24th to Monday 25th November 2019 at the invitation of the Solomon Islands Government. This will be The Prince of Wales’ first visit to this country.

Prince Charles upon arrival on Sunday afternoon will receive an official welcome ceremony at the Government House and meet with the recently knighted Governor General Sir David Vunagi. As outlined in the short visit, His Royal Highness will attend a number of public engagements including a reception. His Royal Highness’ programme will focus on climate change and ocean governance where he will have the opportunity to launch “Solomon Islands National Ocean Policy” and the “Malaria Elimination Roadmap.” While in Honiara Prince Charles will visit Parliament where he will make a brief address and meet with the Speaker of Parliament Mr. Patteson Oti as well as the Honourable Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. After he will then attend a State Luncheon hosted by the Governor General. His Royal Highness will also attend a brief program to honour the service men and women including Solomon Island Scouts and Coastwatchers who had served during Pacific War campaign (World War II) in Solomon Islands. The Prince will also spend time learning about sustainable fisheries management in the Pacific Ocean with a visit to the Forum Fisheries Agency Surveillance Centre.

The visit coincides with the Royal couple Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Pacific tour to New Zealand from 17th – 25th November 2019. Camilla will return to the United Kingdom after the New Zealand tour whilst Prince Charles will continue on first to Tuvalu before coming to Solomon Islands to celebrate the Monarchy’s relationship with these Commonwealth Realms.

His Royal Highness Prince Charles is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and is currently heir to the British throne. Review of the Royal Family visits here saw Queen Elizabeth II herself visit Solomon Islands twice – in 1974 and 1982. And the recent Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and wife, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton in 2012 as part of their Asia tour.

Source: SI Gov’t Communications Unit

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards - Emoatfer Swamp, Efate

Climate Change, Multiple Hazards and the Future of Vanuatu

The nation of Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean is an archipelago of 83 islands, over 100 languages and a highly diverse and endemic flora and fauna. Paradoxically, Vanuatu has been described as being both the most naturally hazardous place on earth whilst also hosting the happiest people on the planet. It is also a nation facing changes; changing climate as the world warms, and changing social and economic futures driven by increased connectivity with the global community.

In August of this year, the University of Southampton funded a trip to Vanuatu with the help of the Melanesian Mission and Anglican Church of Melanesia. The aims of the visit were to build links with organisations in Vanuatu to learn more about the challenges and choices faced by the people, but also to better understand how natural hazards are transferred into changing risks to local communities. A third goal was to recover samples of lake and swamp sediments, that can be used to reconstruct changes in the natural environment and climate over timescales longer than monitored records. Some 23 hours of travelling and 11 time zones later we arrived in Vanuatu. For David this was the third trip to Efate and Port Vila, but for Chris and Sally it was their first time in Vanuatu and Melanesia.

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards - David, Sally, Chris, and Pastor Peter Kolmas
L-R: David, Sally, Chris, and Pastor Peter Kolmas. Background section cut through old (6000-7000 year) lakebed sediments. Oral history says the lake drained after an earthquake

Day 1 was all about recovery! This was made possible thanks to the very kind hosts Hugo, Fabienne and Marcel at Aquana Beach Resort. Day 2 and we were off to core swamps and lakes. We visited Emoatfer swamp in Eretap, an infilled lagoon containing over 4000 years of environmental and climate history, including evidence for the arrival of the first people on Efate. We were keen to get stuck in – which we did quite literally. After a walk up and over the former coral reef (now a low ridge) we descended through the Pandanus swamp forest and out into the sedge of the swamp. We recovered 4m of mud with a series of peat layers distributed down the core showing periods when the climate was drier. Thoroughly soaked, muddy but delighted, we moved on to Lake Emaotul. Getting to Emaotul involves a track that with increased use of 4WD has almost become impassable. We met up with Pastor Peter Kolmas – who is building a small church in the bush to serve his parishioners. Peter set about cutting us a trench through the road cutting so we could sample the lake muds that were exposed 22m above the current lake level. Local stories tell of an earthquake and the sudden draining of the lake about 2000 years ago. Peter and his family live up near the lake, care for the local community and grows some crops and tends his forest garden. His church is a simple breezeblock barn like structure with a tin roof, a few benches and a simple table festooned with flowers for the Altar.

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards - Joses Togase, David Sear and Father Nigel
L-R: Joses Togase, David Sear and Father Nigel outside the Vanuatu Christian Council Workshop building

During our time we met up with a range of wonderful and interesting people, including the UK’s new (1 month in post) High Commissioner Karen Bell and Deputy High Commissioner Paul Lawrence. They are part of a wider UK ‘Pacific Uplift’ policy that is seeing increased presence of the UK government in the Pacific with Samoa, Tonga and Solomon Islands receiving new High Commissioners this year. We were also able to give a presentation and meet up with the team in the Vanuatu Government’s Division of Meteorology and Geohazards. These are part of a wider Disaster risk management and climate change group whose job is to monitor and respond to natural hazards such as Cyclone Pam in 2015 and the recent eruptions in Ambae. We are hoping to develop more formal links with VMGD.

A key part of our trip was to deliver a workshop on multiple hazards with ACoM. Selwyn Leodoro, former speaker of the Vanuatu Parliament, and Joses Togase (Secretary to ACoM) helped organise the workshop under the leadership of Bishop Tama and hosted at the newly built Vanuatu Christian Council Centre. This centre is a fantastic resource as proven by its hosting two workshops – our one on Multihazards and across the grassy square another on the Theology of Disasters. At lunchtime we all met up where I met Father Nigel from the Solomon Islands who was due to host Marie Schlenker a PhD student co-funded by the University of Southampton and Melanesian Mission who is working with Rob Nichols, Ivan Haigh and David Sear on coastal erosion and community impacts of sea level rise in the Solomon Islands. A small world indeed but meeting him gave me great hope for Marie’s visit.

Climate Change & Multiple Hazards Workshop
Our workshop in Port Vila discussing how geohazards affects communities, and how people feel Vanuatu will change in the coming decades

Back on Vanuatu, our workshop attracted a range of stakeholders from Government, Communities, different islands, educators and students and NGO’s with experience of disaster management. We worked them hard – asking them to identify pathways along different hazards propagated into communities. We then asked them to identify the different scenarios for the future of Vanuatu. This prompted lively debate, but we agreed in the end on two major axes of future choices for Vanuatu – one that saw a traditional future at one end, and a highly ‘westernised’ future at the other. The other axis had a sustainable future at one end and an intensive industrial/agrobusiness future at the other. This provided lively debates and groups clearly had different perspectives, based on their backgrounds and nature of work. We then asked the group to explore how different factors would change along each axis – for example how might agricultural practices change in a sustainable traditional future vs an intensive westernised future? We had already seen evidence of changes when we passed the new shrimp farming lagoons built on the floodplain of the Teouma River in Eratap. This floodplain is subject to intense flooding during Cyclones – construction of shrimp farming ponds may not be sustainable in the long term.

In the afternoon after a fantastic lunch of Melanesian and Solomon Island dishes we asked the group to identify where in the possible future scenarios for Vanuatu each main Island lay – Tanna for example was seen to be largely traditional and sustainable whereas Efate was seen to be moving towards an intensive/westernised future. In our final session we asked delegates to return to their multiple hazard pathway diagrams and to highlight the changes that would occur under the different futures they had identified. In this way we were able to show delegates how the decisions made on the future direction of Vanuatu could impact communities during natural hazards. We found differences between islands, and this understanding is important for development planning, and in response to disasters (which directly relates to Sustainability Development Goals). For all delegates this was a new way of thinking and helped them to see how important it is to develop joined up planning for disaster management. What we learned was how most people wanted to retain a traditional, Christian community ethos – valuing strong community and family bonds. However, clear areas of change were also identified as necessary, including preserving sustainable livelihoods, whilst increasing gender equality and opportunity.

In our final day we explored Port Vila. There has been quite rapid change since David’s last visit in 2017. Roads were newly repaired and surfaced, and new building works were evident, largely funded by Chinese investment. In the market we met a woman who was weaving. We struck up a conversation with her and it turned out she was one of the many people evacuated form Ambae in the recent eruption. Although recently removed from her home, she seemed at peace with the events. Her explanation was down to the welcome she had received from the community in Pentecost Island who welcomed her and her children into their homes when hers became uninhabitable. Subsequently, she had been able to make her way to Efate and was schooling her children whilst working in the market. That said she wanted to return to her home, where her husband is buried, and where her family is slowly returning. This conversation clarified for us the outcomes from the workshop, whilst answering the apparent paradox of Vanuatu. It is those family and traditional bonds with home, coupled with a life that despite its apparent simplicity is nevertheless fulfilling which together enables the Ni-Vanuatu to be both happy and resilient in the face of natural disasters.

Our thanks again to Bishop Tama, Joses Togase and Selwyn Ledoro of ACoM, Alan Rarai of VMGD and all those who attended the workshop. A huge thanks too to the Melanesian Mission and the Vanuatu Christian Council. We look forward to reporting back and working with you again.

Notes from a recent visit hosted by the Anglican Church of Melanesia and the Melanesian Mission
David Sear, Sally Brown, Chris Hill – University of Southampton

DoCM ACoM Provincial Youth Convention

Lizzie Campbell – Six Weeks In The Solomons

For six weeks this summer, I travelled to Solomon Islands to experience the Anglican Church and religious orders on the other side of the world. Having left Europe only once before in my life there was little that could prepare me for this life-changing experience.

Before leavingCSM Verana'aso home, I felt trepidation; would I be safe? Would I enjoy myself? How homesick was I going to get? I didn’t expect to see a whole new perspective on my faith and the church into which I will be ordained in 2 years.

Week One: I stayed in Verana’aso with the Melanesian Sisters. Living without running water or electricity was a shock at first, but the wonderful hospitality of the sisters eased the transition! I was delighted by the fresh fruit such as mangoes straight from the tree, and the wonderful sunrises, sunsets and starry skies.

The offices were the rhythm of each day for me, interspersed with attending the Youth Convention at Selwyn College. I’m currently a student at Selwyn College, Cambridge so it was a great experience to attend bible studies and worship at our sister institution!

DoCM ACoM Provincial Youth ConventionI sometimes struggled with the theology taught in the bible study classes, mainly because it was a lot more conservative than I am used to. This was a consistent paradigm shift for me over the course of my trip: namely, what does it mean to be ‘in communion’ with other Anglican churches, and how can the worldwide church live together with our differences in integrity? I believe I have a much better idea of what binds us together as an Anglican communion due to my time in Solomon Islands.

I spent week two in Tabalia with the Melanesian Brotherhood. This week was quieter than the week at Verana’aso, but the worship was louder! I loved to wake up for morning prayer and then to be truly woken up by the singing there.

I enjoyed chatting to the novices and walking along the beach with them. I visited Kohimarama and chatted to students, I edited Brother Christom’s thesis from which I learned a lot about the challenges facing those brothers who transition from life in the order to life in the laity.

Week Three was spent at TNK with the Sisters of the Church. Meeting Sr Veronica was wonderful and talking to her about the joys and challenges of being a woman who is ordained to the priesthood in Solomon Islands was very illuminating.

Week Four on Ysabel was a real highlight of my trip, from the beautiful location of the rest-house where I stayed in Jejevo, to the amazing hospitality I received from local people, inside and outside the church.

I went to an ordination in a town called Nareabu, followed by a feast. This amazing community event was a tremendously spiritual experience for me, reminding me of our call as Christians to serve and be served by one another.

Finally, I spent a week in Honiara, visiting the local schools, the cathedral, attending a celebration for Makira day, and saying goodbye to the friends from the religious communities that I had made during my stay. I also managed on a free day to go scuba diving which was incredible!

My time in Solomon Islands was life changing. I loved to see how others live their lives in such a different way to the one I am living, and yet we are joined together in the Anglican Communion, and the Christian Church. The friends I made will remain in my heart forever, and the experience will inform my ministry. I have learned the benefits of living slowly, welcoming openly and worshipping loudly!

Thank you MMUK for this opportunity, and for all your help and support throughout this once in a lifetime experience.

Lizzie Campbell

Beth Glover

Reflections from the Solomon Islands

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

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

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

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

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

I have left many books in many libraries.

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

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

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

This is already starting to happen in some islands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd Beth Glover

Jane Brooke

Learning From Each Other

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon Jane Brooke

Vanishing Worlds - Walande Island

Climate Change Threatens Pacific Islands

The small fragile islands of the Pacific are in the front line when it comes to climate change issues. Over the past year, MMUK has been actively working to promote research from this country which we hope will be of real benefit to the people of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Last June, Adam Bobette, a research student from Selwyn College, Cambridge, was in Solomon Islands setting up a research project, working alongside church people in the villages, to collect data on the impacts of climate change, including sea levels and coastal erosion. MMUK contributed to his funding and his work was warmly welcomed by the Church of Melanesia. The methodology is very simple and it is hoped that with accurate record keeping over many years, an accurate picture will emerge which will provide conclusive evidence of what is happening to the islands of the western Pacific as a result of climate change. Adam will re-visit the Solomons later this year to check on the progress of this project.

Katie Drew has also been working with members of Southampton University’s engineering, geography and oceanography departments who are involved in climate change research in the western Pacific under the direction of Professors Robert Nicholls, David Sear and Dr Ivan Haigh. One of their research students, Marie Schlenker, will be travelling to the Solomons later this year, to pursue research into the changing pattern of coastal margins, going back over thirty years. She will also be visiting schools to talk about climate change research. David Sear has been collecting core samples from the bottom of lakes, which provide the history of weather patterns and volcanic activity over the last 2000 years. Robert Nicholls and Ivan Haigh has been examining rates of sea level rise over the 20th and early part of the 21st century, and changes in the frequency and magnitude of coastal flooding.

The research so far shows oscillations in climate over many years and a much more complex pattern of change than was previously thought. The El Niňo effect causes rising and falling of water temperature in the Pacific Ocean. When the temperature rises, cyclone activity increases in frequency and intensity. While sea levels are undoubtedly rising, most of the damage is caused by storm surge events.

All agree that sea levels and cyclones will become critical over the next few years. Our researchers are also keen to study what can be done to mitigate the effects of climate change. Mangrove swamps and coral reefs are a vital part of the islands’ defences and must be preserved. Unrestricted logging activity unfortunately damages these defences.

So far this year, there has been severe flooding on Guadalcanal, causing devastating damage to food gardens and Cyclone Oma has caused severe damage to the outer eastern islands. MMUK has recently contributed over £1,000 to the church’s disaster fund.

The artificial islands of Malaita and the atolls of the Reef Islands and Ontong Java are most threatened. Walande Village, which once had a population of over 1,000, has been abandoned.

 

The maximum height of most atolls is six feet above sea level and when there is a storm surge the whole island can be swamped. The underground aquifers which are the only source of drinking water, are compromised and become brackish. This has happened to Ontong Java which has a unique Polynesian culture going back over 1,000 years. The inhabitants are being evacuated and face a very uncertain future.

We are fortunate in this country where the effects of climate change will not be seriously felt for many years. But in the Pacific the effects of global warming are already destroying cultures and communities. MMUK will continue to do all it can to help the people of Melanesia with disaster relief funding, supporting vital research and raising awareness of these issues.

Canon John PinderMMUK Trustee

ACoM Bishops Rt Revd James Tama and Rt Revd Rickson Maomaoru

Melanesian Bishops Visit The UK

New BishopsIn February, the Rt Revd James Tama, Bishop of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and the Rt Revd Rickson Maomaoru, Assistant Bishop of Malaita visited the UK. First they attended the ‘New Bishops’ course in Canterbury with visits to Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office.

The Bishops went on to visit Wycombe Abbey, one of MMUK’s oldest supporters, which is also linked with St Patrick’s College in Vanuatu. The Bishops were interviewed by pupils and were able to give an update on St Patricks College, which was evacuated from the island of Ambae last year.

Bishops Rickson Maomaoru, Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, and James Tama
Bishops Rickson Maomaoru, Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, and James Tama

In Exeter Diocese, the Bishops met Rt Revd Bishop Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter and the Dean of Exeter Cathedral, the Very Reverend Jonathan Greener. Walking in Patteson’s footsteps, the Bishops also visited the home of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson (first Bishop of Melanesia), his family’s church, the church where he was curate, and memorials to Patteson’s ministry and martyrdom.

The Bishops then went to the Diocese of Chester, which is officially linked to the Province of Melanesia. They met representatives of local schools which have partnerships with schools in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. They visited the retreat house at Foxhill, where they saw the new cross which has been made and presented by the Melanesian Brothers, and the Sisters of Jesus Way, who are now linked with the Sisters of Melanesia. They spent a day looking at mission projects across the diocese, ending with a dinner hosted by Bishop Peter at Bishop’s House, attended by many friends and supporters.

Both Bishops enjoyed a ‘quiet day’ on the Saturday, with Bishop James meeting up with family and Bishop Rickson spending the day with Reverend Jacky Wise, who had worked alongside him at Selwyn College, as part of the Chaplaincy Team. The two visited Liverpool Cathedral and Jacky was delighted to be able to return in some small way something of the generous hospitality that she had received in the Solomon Islands. The Bishops also took part in the Sunday morning Eucharist at Chester Cathedral, where Bishop James preached and Bishop Rickson gave the blessing.

Reflecting on his visit, Bishop Rickson said: “We learnt much about our historical links and connections. It was indeed a worthwhile visit in terms of the creative response towards climate change and holistic mission in our Anglican Network and how to address these issues globally with sustainable means for the future.

“God continue to sustain MMUK with his wisdom as it becomes a medium for transformation in our Anglican world today. God bless you all,” said Bishop Rickson.