Category: News

Solomon Island Flag

Solomon Islands’ Independence Day

The 41st Solomon Islands’ Independence Day was remembered on Sunday July 7th, not only in Solomon Islands, but across the UK. At Ottery St Mary Parish Church, in Exeter Diocese, the Ven John Rawlings, Leader of the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood in the South West, preached this sermon;

Trinity 3 – Ottery St Mary

I wonder how many people in the town or in Feniton or Alfington would know why there are street names and even a junction on the A30 which bears the name Patteson? Yet for a long time men and women from Melanesia have been making pilgrimage to these places and Exeter Cathedral to honour the memory and see places associated with Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, the first Bishop of Melanesia.

You, I am sure, are familiar with his story; being born in London in 1827 ; schooling at Kings in Ottery St Mary, Eton and studying at Baliol College Oxford; then ordination in Exeter and the cure of souls at Alfington. He had been influenced by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn in his school days and Selwyn wanted him to go to the Melanesian Islands and extend the Church Selwyn oversaw in New Zealand. Patteson’s ministry was exceptional and as a result the Church of Melanesia was founded and flourished. He learned many of the languages of the islands he visited and wanted the new Christians to express their faith in worship which used their indigenous music and dance and not be a transplant of the Gothic church buildings and Hymns Ancient and Modern. He also set up educational institutions. As many of you will know, he was martyred on the Island of Nukapu, either being mistaken for a slave trader or in revenge for the white men who had taken slaves from the islands to work in plantations in the Colonies. His martyrdom is depicted on the nave pulpit in Exeter Cathedral and when I have taken Melanesians there to see it they have always been profoundly moved.

The Melanesian Mission was set up in 1849 and still facilitates a very special link with Melanesia and is growing in its organization of visitors to and from Melanesia. The current Executive Officer of the Mission, Katie Drew, lives and worships in this Mission Community and the chairman is Bishop Mark Rylands who is now the parish priest at Ashburton.

The Diocese of Chester has had a special link with the Church there for a long time and when Bishop Michael came to be our diocesan bishop, having been a Suffragan Bishop in that diocese, he encouraged a similar link to be formed here. He had been out to Melanesia and was also a Companion of the Melanesian Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was founded in 1925 by Ini Kopuria, a former policeman in the Solomon Islands. It is still the largest Religious Order in the Anglican Communion and takes young men as novices who after their time of training become Brothers making vows for five years which are renewable. Unlike many orders the vows are not for life and Brothers can and often do return to their homes after five years and marry or assist their families.

Bishop Michael had been asked by the then Archbishop of Melanesia if he could find a placement for one of the Melanesian Brothers to have some time in an English parish to broaden his experience after being ordained and studying for a degree. Bishop Michael asked if I would take Brother George as I was in between curates in Tavistock at the time. Brothers always live and work in pairs or more when out on mission and so another brother would join Brother George and we would set up a House of the Melanesian Brotherhood in Tavistock. The brother who joined George was Leonard who has also been back to UK to study for a degree then be ordained. In 2017 he returned having been elected Bishop of Temotu diocese in the Solomon Islands and only a few weeks ago he was elected to be the next Archbishop of Melanesia. Sadly, Brother George died a couple of years ago but had exercised a remarkable ministry. In Tavistock both brothers were very much loved and admired for their simplicity of life, deep and prayerful spirituality and an ability to enable people to see what the Christian faith is all about. Some of you will have seen the brothers at work, as it were, when a large number of them came to the diocese in 2004 for the great mission or pilgrimage where they travelled round a number of places performing their dramas which depict elements of the Gospel together with their infectious dancing, singing and music on bamboo pipes. As a result of that and the time Brothers George and Leonard had in Tavistock, a number of people became Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood based here and in Tavistock mostly. They support the work of the Brothers in prayer and financial aid especially when disaster strikes as it so often does.

They were joined by a number of Sisters as there are other religious orders in the Islands – The Sisters of Melanesia, The Sisters of the Church and the Franciscans. Again, some brothers and sisters came back to this diocese for what was called ‘Simply Living’ – a time of prayer, discussion and mission to encourage the Church here in its own mission. It is no longer a case of the Church in UK sending missionaries to the Islands of the South Pacific as in the 19th century but a two-way traffic of people from the islands coming here to encourage and support us. It is very special to be able to meet Sister Kristy here this morning.

All the religious orders in the Solomon Islands are engaged in work of reaching out to their communities and the islands, of which there are many. Some, especially the women’s orders are engaged in work with those who suffer domestic violence, other kinds of abuse, and have set up a women’s refuge. Education is also high on their agenda. The Mothers’ Union is very strong in the islands and has set up educational and parenting programmes. There is a huge need to combat the political instability and prevalent poverty and challenge the industry which has deforested so much of the islands and made them even more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In past ethnic and tribal tensions and recent riots in the Solomon Islands the Brothers were the people most trusted to seek reconciliation. In 1999-2000 the Brothers worked on the Townsville Peace Agreement to enable working towards a better understanding in their Islands. But there is always at a cost and many of you will remember the seven brothers who, at a time of conflict with warring factions in the islands, were captured and martyred. Harold Keke, a rebel leader, would not comply with the agreement. Brother Nathaniel tried to reason and negotiate with him but was killed. Other Brothers went to find him and were also murdered. The martyred brothers have been remembered throughout the Anglican Communion and particularly at the last Lambeth Conference where a large icon was blessed and is in Canterbury Cathedral.

In the last few years a number of people, both ordained and lay, have gone from this diocese to the Solomon Islands and people from there have come here. There are schools which have special links with schools in the Solomon Islands which are proving beneficial in both directions. A PhD researcher is looking into the effects of climate change and the rising sea levels around the area as this is affecting so many communities who are very vulnerable.

In the Gospel Jesus sends out the 70 disciples two by two to proclaim the Kingdom, restore human dignity to the suffering and possessed; to show the face of God to the world. But they go with every vulnerability like lambs amongst wolves but need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. That was not just the challenge to those early disciples it is a challenge to all of us now, whether in UK or Melanesia. One of the bishops from the Solomon Islands was asked what was the greatest priority for the Church in the Islands? His answer, given that at the time 95% of the population there was Christian, was mission and evangelization. He pointed out that God has no grandchildren. Every new generation needs to be confronted with the Gospel afresh.

The early disciples of Jesus were sent out in simple trust. They were not to be hampered with baggage. But they were to make a difference to the lives of those they encountered. They returned to the Lord rejoicing that their ministry and message had been effective.

Today we have been reflecting on the life of the Church in Melanesia on what is Solomon Islands’ Independence Day and we thank God for what the Church there is doing. It was recently announced that a previous Archbishop, The Most Reverend David Vunagi, has been appointed by the Queen to be the next Governor General of the Solomon Islands. The Church there and especially the religious orders are making a difference to the lives of people living in a very different kind of society from ours. But we, too, are called to make a difference in our society. As Jesus says, ‘the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few’. We need to ask ourselves this week, will my life, my witness to Christ through what I do and what I am, make a difference to the life of someone else?

Ven John Rawlings

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

Archbishop Elect Leonard Dawea

Anglican Church of Melanesia elects new Archbishop

The Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) has a new Archbishop. He is the Rt Revd Leonard Dawea, who is currently the Bishop of the Diocese of Temotu (DOT) in Solomon Islands.

Bishop Dawea 47, was elected to the highest Episcopal position within the Anglican Church by the ACoM Provincial Electoral Board this afternoon, the 25th of June at Tabalia; headquarters of the Melanesian Brotherhood, west of Honiara. The Provincial Electoral Board that elected the Rt Revd Dawea has been in retreat since Sunday 23rd June.

He is the sixth Archbishop in succession since the Anglican Church of Melanesia was inaugurated in January 1975 as an independent ecclesiastical province from New Zealand. He succeeds the Most Revd George Angus Takeli who retired on the 24th March this year.

The Rt Revd Leonard Dawea holds a Bachelor of Theology with Honours (BTh/Hons.), in the field of Theology and Ethics from the University College Chester (now Chester University). Prior to being elected as the next Archbishop of the church, he served the ACoM as a full member of the Melanesian Brotherhood from 1995 to 2007. He was ordained into the Priesthood in 2007. After his ordination he served within the Melanesian Brotherhood as tutor and chaplain. In 2013 he was appointed the Mission Secretary of DOT from 2013 to 2014 and later as Diocesan Secretary from 2015 to 2016.

Archbishop elect, the Rt Revd Dawea is from the Reef Islands in Temotu and is married to Dorah Dawea from Guadalcanal and they have two children.

His enthronement and installation to become an Archbishop is scheduled for 15th September at Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral this year.

The previous Archbishops serving the church were, – The Most Reverend Norman Palmer 1975 – 1987, The Most Rev. Amos Waiaru 1988 – 1993, The Most Rev. Sir Ellison Pogo 1994 – 2008, The Most Rev. David Vunagi 2009 – 2015 and the Most Rev. George Takeli 2016 – 2019.

The Anglican Province of Melanesia covers three independent nations of Solomon Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu and the French Trust Territory of New Caledonia. Its Provincial Headquarters is in Honiara with a sub – Provincial Administration Office at Luganville on Santo in Vanuatu. It has seven dioceses in Solomon Islands and two in Vanuatu.

The Senior Bishop of the Church, the Rt Revd Nathan Tome is calling on all members of the church to pray for Bishop Leonard and family as he prepares to take on this highest position within the Church of Melanesia.

Released on the Authority of: The Senior Bishop of ACoM – The Rt Revd Nathan Tome and the ACoM Provincial Electoral Board
News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Chester Companions

Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood – Report from Chester and the North Section to Companions and Associates Meeting at St Martin-in-the-Fields – 4th May 2019

In 2018 our Diocese remembered the 30th Anniversary of our Diocesan Link with the Anglican Church of Melanesia. Head Brother Nelson Bako and his Section Elder Brother at Tabalia, Brother Michael Bosawai visited the UK to meet and inspire Companions and friends and were present at our celebration day at Foxhill, our Diocesan Retreat Centre. Our Chaplain Father Richard was also present, along with members of the Pwaisiho Family and two Sisters of the Church. All these Solomon Islanders, I include Father Richard as a Solomon Islander, brought their love and joy of living with them. Father Richard celebrated the Eucharist and Head Brother spoke to us. The Brothers brought a gift of a large cross, constructed by a Brother, for this anniversary at Foxhill. Father Richard interviewed our guests and we has some lovely Melanesian singing, a special day for all at Foxhill. Our two Brothers spent a week in Chester and were able to visit Bishop Peter and Head Brother Nelson visited the University of Chester, from where he graduated in 2011. Section Elder Brother Michael, who has studied agriculture in the Western Province was very happy when Revd Canon Ian Davenport arranged a visit to a farm and a primary school in Malpas, Cheshire. They worshipped at the Cathedral and fitted in visits to St Bridget’s Primary School, West Kirby and Woodchurch High School, with a urban farm situated on a housing estate, both schools being linked with schools in the Solomon Islands. In addition, they visited the Sisters of Jesus Way who are supporting the Sisters of Melanesia. Our Sisters have recently sent books to the Sisters and tools to the Brotherhood which have been much appreciated. The Brothers were able to come to Holy Island on our annual pilgrimage to remember Ini Korpuria, their founder. The Brothers and 20 Companions were led across the sands by our Chaplain.

Chester Companions are able to send funds to provide lunches for Novices at Tabalia every quarter. We aim to meet close to those Feast Days that the Brothers remember. Our best attended meeting has always been on the Feast Day of SS Simon and Jude because for many years this has been hosted by Bishop Willie and Mummie Kate at Gawsworth. Bishop Willie retired at the beginning of this year and they have moved a mile or two down the road to the village of Henbury. The Pwaisihos have been so generous in their friendship, advice and feasting and we wish them a happy retirement and are glad they are still nearby.

We are grateful to Bishop Peter and our Diocese who have been able to help when crises arise as in Vanuatu when the regional HQ has to evacuate their beautiful island of Ambae and relocate at Beau on the island of Malo, where they started with nothing.

The Companions were pleased to welcome Bishop James Tema of Vanuatu and New Caledonia and Bishop Rickson Maomaoru of Malaita and Bishop Peter hosted a supper party for his senior staff and Companions. The two Bishops met with former Dean Stephen Smalley who opened Chester Rest House in1994 and has corresponded with Bishop Rickson since then.

Plans are in hand to have a Martyrs Chapel in Chester Cathedral; this is for modern martyrs and Companions and Brothers are working with the Cathedral.

Three Companions have passed away in the last 12 months, namely Revd Margaret Jones, Jane Bartlett and Sally Spencer, our Chester Companions Secretary. Sally died suddenly and was well known by Brothers who came to UK and all our Companions. A very keen MU member, sang in her church choir, helped at Messy Church, gave lifts, and hosted Bishops and Brothers. She was never late and never too busy to lend a hand, helping to pack and transport boxes for shipments, a perfect friend, sharing joys and sorrows. She is much missed. In addition, we have mourned the sudden passing of Sister Marie, one of the founder members of the Sisters of Jesus Way. She was very happy to give me books to send to the CSM sisters only last December.

We give thanks to our Chaplain Revd Richard Carter for his example and his encouragement.

We thank God for our Melanesian Brothers and Sisters, from whom we can learn so much.

For these and all his mercies may God’s holy name be praised.

Barbara Molyneux

Exeter and Tavistock Companions

Report of the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood (COMB) in the Diocese of Exeter 2018/2019

The Melanesian Links group, although not ostensibly a Companions Group but made up of Companions and Associates, has met five times during the year to discuss programmes and visits in which Companions are involved.

The visit of Sister Veronica in May was much appreciated by Companions and Associates who met her and gave her hospitality during her stay and enabled her to see the groups in both Ottery St Mary and Tavistock.

In June Companions met at Exeter Cathedral for their annual commemoration of Ini Kopuria with a Eucharist in the Lady Chapel followed by a picnic lunch in the gardens of the Old Deanery.

One of the highlights of the year was the visit of Head Brother Nelson and Elder Brother Michael. They were able to visit Church schools which have partnerships with schools in Melanesia. The staff and children at Feniton, Tipton St John and Payhembury made them very welcome and gave them time to speak to the young people and be shown around the schools with very proud enthusiasm from the pupils. An evening at Ottery began with a short service followed by supper with Companions and much discussion. A Quiet Day at Buckfast Abbey led by Brother Nelson was much appreciated by Companions and gave time for reflection and prayer stimulated by the addresses. Moving on to Tavistock Brother Nelson presided at the Eucharist which was followed by supper and the following day the brothers were able to see the Food Bank in the town before climbing the hill to see Brentor church. A Family Fest on the edge of Dartmoor with 150 people of all ages welcomed the brothers who were able to join in the worship and activities and camping out overnight. The following day they went to Lyme Regis where they were able to see the sea and eat fish and chips on the beach with Cate Edmonds and her husband. Brother Nelson preached at the Eucharist in the Cathedral on the Sunday after which there was a lunch for them in the Deanery where Dean Jonathan welcomed the brothers warmly.

The visit of two Sisters of Melanesia in September, Sister Priscilla and Sister Mary Gladys, enabled some Companions and Associates to meet them at a supper at the home of Katie Drew.

The Feast of SS Simon and Jude is very special in the life of the Brotherhood and we have tried to mark this over the years. There was Choral Evensong at Tavistock which was an ecumenical service, as it was Bible Sunday as well, and members of Tavistock Area Christians Together (TACT) joined the parish church congregation and Companions for a very special occasion at which Prebendary Cate preached.

In November a Charity Lunch at Escot raised money for the Brotherhood and the groups at Tavistock and Ottery also provided funds to assist with the dreadful situation in Ambae and the relocation of the Brothers. Fr Steve Martin (Tavistock Curate) walked the Abbots’ Way across Dartmoor and raised a considerable sum to add to other assistance given to the Brothers.

The visit of two Melanesian Bishops who were in UK for the New Bishops’ Course was not specifically a Companions’ event but many were involved in welcoming Bishop James Tama and Bishop Rickson Maomaoru who were very touched by being in the places around Ottery where Bishop John Patteson had lived and ministered and the cathedral where his martyrdom is depicted. They made a brief visit to Tavistock and were delighted to share in the Eucharist as well as having a meal with Companions in the local fish and chip shop. They were greeted, too, by Bishop Robert who welcomed them to his diocese and discussed with them the challenges facing their dioceses in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. After a tour of the cathedral and archive they were entertained to lunch by Canon Chris Palmer and Companions.

In early April Katie and I met the new Bishop of Crediton to explain to her the link, albeit informal but very dynamic, with the Church in Melanesia and our diocese. Bishop Jackie was very keen to know about the link and especially the contact we have with the religious orders, peace and reconciliation ministry, and the visits made in both directions. Not only were we able to speak about the visitors from the Solomon Islands in recent years but those who had gone from here; Fr Steve, Revd Cathy, Preb Cate and Katie with the hope that she might be able to go herself sometime.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Companions who have welcomed and accommodated visitors during the year.

Sadly, this last year has seen the death of some Companions; Lady Coleridge (Pam), Enid Williams and Ursula Bennett and we pray that they may know the fullness of life in God’s love on another shore and in a greater light.

John Rawlings – Southern Section Leader UK COMB

Companions and Associates Meeting

Companions and Associates Meeting at St Martin-in-the-Fields – 4th May 2019

Fifteen Companions and Associates gathered together in the Austen Williams Room of St Martin in the Fields, London with representation from North, South and East Sections of the UK. Revd Richard Carter gave us all a warm welcome and we made our way to the Dick Sheppard Chapel in Sr Martin in the Fields. Revd Catherine Duce presided at a very moving service of Holy Communion to remember the seven Brothers who were martyred 2003. Photographs of the Brothers were placed on the altar and Revd Richard gave very moving tributes to each Brother as Companions lit candles for each Brother.

After the Service we returned to the Austen Williams Room, where we enjoyed a delightful lunch cooked and by our Chaplain. In the absence through illness of the Venerable John Rawlings, Katie Drew read his report of the activities of the South Section and Barbara Molyneux read her report from the North Section. These reports are being circulated to all Companions.

News shared at the meeting and latest news:
We are asked to pray for candidates for the election of MBH leaders on 19th October at Tabalia HQ Solomon Islands: PNG Region – Br Martin Ogoba, Br David Igara, Br Rodney Gearua. South Region Vanuatu – Br Ennis David, Br Felix Raymond, Br Franklin Sale, Br Abraham Huri. Solomon Islands Region – Br George Bugoro, Br Augustin Paikeni, Br Jairus Houniseu, Br Alistair Knights. These candidates were nominated at Regional Conferences. A final list will be revealed at the Brotherhood Council in July. In addition, we are asked to pray for the Bishops and senior priests in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as they prepare to select a new Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Four Brothers, two from PNG and two from the Solomon Islands are setting up a new Household in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia, one of these Brothers being former Head Brother Matthias Tovotasi who was a member of the Simply Living Mission to England.

Head Brother Nelson Bako and MBH Secretary Alphonse Garimae were recently invited by the Rt Revd Keith Joseph, Bishop of North Queensland to accompany him on his first visit to small islands in his diocese. This has been an interesting experience as they met many of their countryman and people from PNG who have settled there.

Head Brother Nelson Bako is at present in Nairobi taking part in an intercontinental conference organised by the Anglican Communion in London, on the theme ‘Prayer and Renewal of Religious Life’. This is the third of three conferences based on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s three priorities, the first being on ‘Reconciliation’, held in Jerusalem and the second on ‘Evangelism and Witness’, held in Dallas. Head Brother Nelson wrote a paper on prayer and religious life in the Melanesian Brotherhood and is presenting it along with a power point presentation. Theologians from around the world are also giving presentations. This is all going to be put together for a book in readiness for the Lambeth Conference next year and I understand that Archbishop Justin is attending this conference. Head Brother Nelson studied at the University of Chester graduating in 2011.

Meantime, Alphonse Garimae is in Palawan in the Philippines visiting the Brotherhood Household which in a poor area and is giving much needed support and encouragement to Brother Jack and our Brothers and Novices.

Regional Head Brother Chilion Mongagi Of Vanuatu has sent reports of the major task of setting up a new HQ at Beau on the island of Malo after having to evacuate the island of Ambae.
Several Companions are visiting the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu this year and we wish them well.

Dates for our Diaries:
Saturday 15th June 11.00am Exeter Cathedral – Service for Ini’s Day. All Companions and Seekers and Associates are invited to join our Exeter Companions, who are offering accommodation on the Friday evening for those travelling a long distance. Saturday 21st September MMUK AGM and Festival St Mary Redcliffe Bristol.

Barbara Molyneux Secretary UK Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood May 2019.

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

Archbishop Retires

Archbishop Retires

Archbishop RetiresThe sixth Archbishop of the Anglican Church Melanesia and the Bishop of the Diocese of Central Melanesia (DoCM), the Most Reverend George Angus Takeli, was officially farewelled last month in a moving Liturgical service at Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral. Towards the end of the service, the Archbishop placed on the Altar the two symbols representing his pastoral oversight; the Primatial Cross of the Archbishop of Melanesia and the Pastoral Staff of the Bishop of Central Melanesia. These will be handed to the new Archbishop when he is installed later on this year.

A large congregation including the Bishops from the nine Dioceses, representative from the Melanesian Mission Trust Board in New Zealand, supporters from Melanesian Mission in UK and other government dignitaries came to witness the service.

In his Sermon, Archbishop George said the Liturgical Service marks the beginning of a time of prayer and reflection for the Church to uphold members of the Provincial Electoral Board, to seek the mind of God to reveal the next person to lead the Church.

“As we choose our next Archbishop, it is important for us to see the mission field and the future of our Church with fresh eyes or with the eyes of God,” he added.

“God did not allow me to continue on with the plans I have for the Church; however, he has already anointed someone amongst his Church to continue this work into the future.” he said.

In his farewell address, the retired Archbishop thanked the chairman and team from the Melanesian Mission Trust Board in New Zealand, members of the Trust and supporters of the Melanesian Mission in the United Kingdom, oversea partners, Diplomatic Offices in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands through relevant Ministries, Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) and Solomon Islands Full Gospel Association (SIFGA,) for friendship and support during his term as Archbishop.

Archbishop Retires
In his three-year period, Archbishop George launched the Decade of Renewal and Evangelism, provided training for the Council of Bishops and their wives, clergy and lay administrators, in the areas of leadership and administration, mission work and pastoral care; raising the Clergy remuneration, and the building of a new office complex for ACoM Provincial Head Quarters; to name a few.

Garry Swift of MMTB New Zealand, Dr. Abraham Hauriasi, ACoM General Secretary and the Senior Bishop of the church, the Right Rev Nathan Tome, acknowledged the leadership of the retired Archbishop over the past three years. “You end your term of leadership with many and big achievements though within a short period of time.” Bishop Tome said.

The next Archbishop will be elected in June and installed in September.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

MBH Australia

Melanesian Brotherhood News

MBH Australia
Br. Augustine Paekeni and Br. Matthias Tovotasi

The Melanesian Brotherhood (MBH) opened a new household in Shepparton Parish, Wangaratta Diocese in Australia in April.

Br. Matthias Tovotasi from Guadalcanal and Br. Augustine Paekeni from Isabel, joined two Papua New Guinea Brothers to serve in the household.

The extension of the MBH mission to Shepparton Parish came following a request by the Diocesan Bishop of Wangaratta Diocese, the Right Rev. John Parkes for Melanesian Brothers to serve in his diocese.

The Rt Rev. John Parkes in his letter to the Melanesian Brotherhood in July last year stated a need to have the Brothers in his Diocese.

MBH Australia - Keith Joseph
Rt. Rev. Keith Joseph – Bishop of Northern Queensland

“We see the Brothers joining us as equal participants with the existing ministry team of the Shepparton Parish; to fulfil their apostolate of prime evangelism to the untouched multicultural population of Shepparton. This is a mission the current parish ministry finds it difficult to do because of some barriers; to give a wholeness to the ministerial team which is a gift those in religious life traditionally bring and to enhance holiness of the community by their participation in the daily round prayer within the Parish and to provide for training opportunities in both secular and religious fields”.

The MBH Council agreed upon the request in July last year and arrangements were made. A total of eight Brothers from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, including the Head Brother, Br. Nelson Bako and Regional Head Brother of Papua New Guinea region, Br. Joe Narui, witnessed the opening of the new household in Shepparton Parish, on 7th April.

Before the opening, the Brothers attended the consecration service of Fr. Keith Joseph as the 11th Diocesan Bishop of Northern Queensland on Sunday 31st March. Dr. Aram Oroi, Principal of Bishop Patterson Theological College preached in this consecration service.

On 4th May Companions to the Melanesian Brotherhood from across the UK, will meet in London to pray and give thanks for the Brotherhood and plan their activities for the next 12 months.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Solomon Islands Flooding

Solomon Islands Flood Update

ACoM DISASTER COMMITTEE RESPONDS TO AFFECTED COMMUNITIES

ACoM Disaster Committee continues to respond to communities and church institutions affected by the bad weather earlier this year in parts of Guadalcanal and Honiara. Relief supplies are mainly of bags of rice which will sustain these communities and institutions while their crops regrow over the coming months. Information gathered shows that the receiving communities and institutions are not just Anglican members, and ACoM is happy to give out what it can give to the victims of the recent bad weather.

The recipient communities include; Marasa Inland and coastal villages and Kolina in Weathercoast Areas, Selwyn College, BPTC Kohimarama, Religious Communities (MBH, CSC, CSM and SSF).

ACoM acknowledges its donor partners – Melanesian Mission Trust Board, Anglican Overseas Aid, Australia Board of Mission, The Melanesian Mission, dioceses, businesses, families and individuals who have made donations towards this appeal.

Disaster happens anywhere at any time, so let’s be on alert at all times.

News story from ACoM Communications. Picture by Kasper Supa