Tag: ACoM

MBH 14th Great Conference

The Melanesia Brotherhood 14th Great Conference


The two week programme began with a welcome ceremony on Saturday 12th October. This was followed by an opening Eucharist Service on Sunday, which was led by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia and Father of the Brotherhood, the Most Reverend Leonard Dawea.

The Great Conference first week begins on Monday 14th and will have all the Brothers, Novices and MBH Companions coming together for retreat, workshops and Bible reflections. This will be followed by the election of new leaders for the community taking place on Saturday 19th.

Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd will the Brothers Conference followed by the Companions Conference on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th.

Sunday 27th is MBH feast day; Saint Simon and Saint Jude and all Companions, supporters, family members and friends in and around Tabalia (MBH Headquarters, West Guadalcanal) are welcome to join the brothers in this feast day.

Apart from other activities that would be staged throughout the two week programme are Bible reflections, praise and worship, dramas, Evangelism and Intentional Discipleship talks, Health and awareness talks to name a few.

The Melanesian Brotherhood has regional headquarters in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. They also have working households in the Philippines and Australia and Companions across Melanesia, the UK and Canada.

The Theme for this year’s great conference is: ‘Empowering the Values of the Melanesian Brotherhood and Companions’.

Let us keep our Brothers and Companions in prayer for this great event.









The election date will be on 19th October 2019 at St. Marks Chaple, Tabalia 10.00am to be conducted by the New Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, Leonard Dawea.


Alphonse Garimae

Article & Photos – Melanesian Brotherhood

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

Celebrating 100 Years of the Mothers' Union is Solomon Islands

100 Years of Mothers’ Union in Melanesia

The Mothers’ Union in the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) has celebrated its 100th anniversary (1919 – 2019) in Honiara. The programme was attended by around 1,600 members from all nine dioceses of the ACoM in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

The week-long programme was officially opened at Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral after the Holy Eucharist Service led by the Archbishop of Melanesia the Most Rev. Leonard Dawea. After a colourful parade at the Cathedral grounds, the Mothers’ Union members gathered at the Desmond Probets’ Hall at Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral to listen to Mrs Annie Saenamua, a former Mothers’ Union provincial president highlighting the work of Mothers’ Union in the context of Melanesia.

“The work out there is vast, and the Mothers’ Union cannot ignore the reality of the present time, the high rising problems and issues and the changing lifestyles in our communities. The Mothers’ Union is a mission that should bring about God’s word through action and to make changes to lives in families, communities and to others”, Mrs Saenamua said in her address.

“For example, the MU had embarked on the Literacy program to change the intellectual ability of women in order to contribute to the welfare of the family and society and to enhance their participation in community work more effectively”, Anne continued.

Anne also added that though the work of MU in Melanesia had changed many lives, and the opportunity that some women had been able to sit in leadership positions that can make decisions; there are still challenges that lie ahead that MU must make careful planning and strategies to tackle the new and rising issues that are breaking down families.

The theme for the centenary celebrations is – ‘Reflecting on Mary Sumner’s vision and its impact in Melanesia: the Past, the Present and the Future’.

The Mothers’ Union is the largest ministry within the Anglican Church of Melanesia attracting a membership of more than 15,000 in both countries of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Walande Island

Priests Become Scientists on “Disappearing Islands”

Press Release: 7 October 2019

Priests Become Scientists on “Disappearing Islands”

Priests in the Pacific Solomon Islands are being enlisted to help measure the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on the islands where they serve.

Rt Rev’d Mark Rylands, who has just returned from the islands and chairs the Melanesian Mission UK, said: “What we’re doing is using priests as scientists.

“We’ll use the strength of the Anglican Church in Melanesia to do the observations and get concrete measurements on how the islands are disappearing and the sea levels are rising.

“It’s the Anglican Church at the forefront, really pioneering what is of great concern to the whole world.”

It’s hoped the islands’ priests, who are being dubbed Green Apostles, will take daily readings of the tides and temperatures at the same time as they say their daily Morning Prayer.

They are geographically spread throughout the islands and will take measurements from posts in the ground going into the sea.

The plan is for this daily or weekly recording to continue for a decade.

“The nine bishops of Melanesia have signed-up to this project. They want it to happen,” Bishop Mark said.

“It’s the Anglican church at the forefront, really pioneering what is of great concern to the whole world.”

The Solomon Islands are in the Anglican Province of Melanesia, which has a historic link with the Diocese of Exeter in the UK.

Bishop Mark, who is based in Ashburton, Devon, was in the Solomon Islands to celebrate the enthronement of the new archbishop, the Very Reverend Leonard Dawea.

The data being collected by priests is one of a number of environmental research projects being undertaken by the Melanesian Mission with UK researchers and institutions, to enable to Anglican Church in Melanesia to support communities affected.

“The salt has got into the ground, they can’t grow crops anymore and the children have nowhere to play when they come home from school.”

Working with a team led by Dr Ivan Haigh, an associate professor at Southampton University, the project will document the changing patterns of coastal margins in the Solomon Islands.

Bishop Mark said: “This is one place where the Anglican Church can help the rest of the world. We have evidence of the islands disappearing, we’ve got videos from the 80s and 90s.

“We have Anglican church members who have lived on islands which have disappeared in their lifetime.

“When I was there in 2016, I saw the islanders of Fanalei, South Malaita. I spent some time with the elders and they were discussing how, for four months of the year, the island is under water.

“The salt has got into the ground, they can’t grow crops anymore and the children have nowhere to play when they come home from school.”

Marie Schlenker is currently in South Malaita as part of the University of Southampton team. She has been writing a blog about her experience.

The research results will be shared with local communities and presented to the Solomon Islands government. They will also be used internationally to lobby on behalf of those affected.

Former Blue Peter film maker Alex Leger, from Topsham, has been documenting the Solomon Islands on film for a number of decades, he and Dr Haigh will be showing his video evidence and discussing the plight facing the islands at Disappearing Islands a special event at Exeter Cathedral on Thursday 10 October.

For more information and interviews please contact Chloe Axford, Director of Communications, Diocese of Exeter: chloe.axford@exeter.anglican.org; 01392 294905, 07889 523776

Article updated 15 October 2019;

Since his return from the Solomon Islands, Bishop Mark Rylands, Chair of MMUK has been interviewed by the Diocese of Exeter and also United Christian Broadcasters about MMUK’s environmental projects with the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Archbishop Leonard Dawea and ACoM Bishops

Sermon for Archbishop’s Enthronement and Installation

Archbishop Leonard Dawea
Exodus 12: 37-42; 1 Cor. 12: 12-30; Matthew 8: 23-27

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Theme: A spiritually United Church.

May I extend a very warm welcome to all of you again; those of you are present at this service and those of you are praying with us via television or radio broadcast. I welcome you all as members of the Church or in the words of St. Paul, we are the Church; the living Saints.

When one revisits the history of the Church from her beginning, the Church journeyed around the world, even to Melanesia in people or missionaries. But the Church also carries people on their spiritual journey in anticipation of the Kingdom of God. It is the role of all Christian Churches, to carry and safe guide people on their journey and relationship with Christ. But it is also a spiritual avenue where Christians meet, create relationships and even socialise for the sake of Christ.

What begins to surface here is that the Church is a body. It is a living organ, so like any living organ, the Church encounters challenges in her growth and development. The people of Israel as we heard in the Old Testament after their slavery and experiences of oppression, started out on a journey with God, but it was not a smooth ride. They complained, they became thirsty and hungry, they were bitten by poisonous snakes.

But they also experienced the power of God; he rained down manna from heaven, gave then water from the rock and divided the red sea for them to go through. In the end they archived nationhood; they became a nation of their own in the Promised Land.

In the Epistle reading we heard Paul describing Christ to the people of Corinth as one body with many parts. He helped them to value and respect each part as invaluable for the wellbeing of the one body. They are to correlate and not to dispute each other’s functions. He goes on to say that each one of them is part of the same body. He also described the different ministries we have in the Church in the same way.

Practically there may be rooms for disagreement with each other, but the call is to respect, value and appreciate each individual Christian and every ministry there are in the Church. Because there is no division in the body, the different parts should have the same concern for one another, v. 25. That gives us assurance that all of us are to be participants in the life of the Church, even the least ones. The different parts of the body reflects a picture of united individuals and ministries in the Church.

Archbishop Leonard DaweaThe gospel reading is a story of a united church. It is on a journey. Matthew reshapes the story to instruct the Church after the resurrection. In this story the Church carries the people as represented by the boat. And literally Jesus was in the boat; he got into the boat first before his disciples. We shall use this faith story to weave a message for our Church today?

The Church is Christ’s Church; before we became members of the Church, he himself was already in the Church, he owns the Church. We were not told in the passage who owns the boat; Jesus did not seek permission from anyone. It was wrong from the society’s point of view. But seeing the boat as representing the Church, Jesus had no need to seek permission because he owns the Church.

Like the disciples, most people don’t know why they became members of the Church and where they were heading. St. Mark’s gospel tells us that they were going to other side of the lake. He went on to say that the disciples took Jesus with them, Mark. 4: 31. This is an interesting picture of the Church; Jesus was in his Church, but the disciples took him with them. The Church belongs to Jesus, but only we can take him and his gospel forward.

As soon as the disciples got into the boat with Jesus, the journey began. Both Matthew and Mark used the word ‘suddenly’ to describe the prompt arrival of a fierce storm against the boat. It came against the boat so hard that it was in danger of sinking. It continues through the unity, commitment and hard work of the disciples.

The journey of the Christian Church suddenly shattered her early beginning. The Church travelled everywhere in inhuman circumstances of torture, persecution, martyrdom, even to our own Church of Melanesia. But we are assured that Jesus controls it and can never, ever sink.

The biblical tradition holds the sea as symbol of disorder and chaos. It was very rough on this particular scenario. All around the boat, the sea must have been white like a lake of snow. And together with the wind, the sea feared the disciples. Because the water that spilled into the boat can kill. If it is not bailed out, it will sink it and the disciples will be exposed to the ravages of the sea and the wild sea creatures.

But it is the very sea that the boat travels on. The sea is here portrayed as the society. The society persecuted and humiliated the Church as soon as she was started by Christ. And this has been the road the Church travelled around the world. The society forces different situations and issues on the Church which sometimes seems as it will sink her. Though the society rocks the Church; it is the same society that carries the Church. It is the Church’s situated context. But like the boat in the lake, the Church will never ever sink. Whatever people might think, feel or say about the Churches we belong, it is important that we remain in the Church for that’s where Jesus is; it is our spiritual sanctuary.

We are encouraged here to remain in the Church or be part of a Church no matter whatever we might say or think about our Churches. In the midst of the storms of society, the Church can carry us forward. It might be rocking, it might in danger of sinking, it might be full of unrighteousness, but it’s safe because Jesus is always present in it.

Let us look at how the Bible portrays the disciples in this passage; it presents them in plural or inclusive form. There was no use of personal pronoun in reference to any particular disciple except for Jesus. They were all in total danger, but there was never any shout of frustration; they most probably rowed, bailed out, control the sail and worked hard together in their time of crises. Peter, the leader of the disciples was never mentioned as giving orders; he most probably led the disciples through this crises with practical leadership. But certainly there was indication of ongoing talks between them; they were united through their ongoing dialogue in the middle of the storm; they continue to find a way forward out of the pressing situation.

Their unity in this time of crises helped them to realise something important; something that would change their whole life. They realised that Jesus was with them; they made the decision together to wake him and they woke him up. Peter did not go alone to wake Jesus; they all went. It is a picture of a truly united Church. Through our working together, we can realise every day that Jesus is with us in the Church, he is in control, even though sometimes he is asleep through our ignorance.

The disciples woke Jesus up saying,Lord, save us – we are about to die’. We said that the disciples did not know the reason for their travelling. But in the midst of their crises, one thing came out very clear through their words to Jesus. They crave for life. They need Jesus to give them life; the Church is where we seek life in Jesus Christ. The disciples prayed, asking Jesus to save and give them life. They realised that their source of life was in the boat, Jesus Christ himself.

The prayer ought to be our prayer in our Church. It is a confessional statement of craving for life eternal with God. The Church can be lukewarm, it can be buried in its human nature, it can be neglected, it can be tossed about by the changes and chances of this world, but it has within it life giving spirit which offers life eternal. We need not only work together for the physical welfare of our Church, but like the disciples, we must also pray together to Jesus to save us from our daily encounters with life, deliver us from our spiritual weakness and give us life eternal.

This works with faith and I like Jesus’ response to the disciples in Matthew because it is an assurance that we have faith, even though it is little. Little faith presupposes some faith, but faith that has grown weak, paralysed to act and lukewarm to make any real impact in our society. But at least there is faith, little as it may be, it has great opportunity to grow and impact hugely in our society and Church.

The disciples in this scenario learned faith. They witnessed their Lord giving orders to the wind and the waves. The disciples were seen together as one when Christ measured their faith and together they learned to practice their faith. Jesus sleeps through most situations facing our Church because we think we know it all. Peter and the other disciples were called from the lake; and understood it very well. It was like their play station, but in this encounter, their knowledge of the lake seems inadequate and fake. However, they were correct to wake Jesus, he may knew nothing about the characters of the lake, but he knows the created order. In our everyday struggles with the issues of our Church and society which we think we understand better, we ought to make Jesus part of us for he knows far more than us.

We need to see the real nature of Christ and his saving power. In their realisation and amazement the disciples said, ‘who is this man, even the wind and waves obey him?’ It is Jesus the Son of God who has complete control over his Church. It is his Church, he knows it better than all of us, but leads the Church forward through us.

We need to pray together, ‘save us Lord, we are perishing’. Some areas of our Church are perishing lukewarm-ness, disunity, hatred, poor Church attendance, lawlessness etc…., but we need to remain united, to talk, plan, decide and think together. Our Lord is here with us; our saviour is right here, and our help is right here.

This is the model Church for our Province where Jesus is always behind the wheel and all her members are all co-participants. In most instances, Jesus is a sleep in our Church because we deceive ourselves by thinking that we are alright, but it is clear from this story that we need Jesus.

The state of the boat in calm waters is the state we crave for the Church in Melanesia, because Jesus is present with us and participates in our struggles for life. Let us all be united with each other in our Church, with other Churches, with our national governments and united with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. God bless the Church of Melanesia; God bless all Christian Churches in New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

The Lord be with you. Amen.

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Archbishop Leonard Dawea Enthronement Address

Archbishop Leonard Dawea’s Enthronement Address

St. Barnabas Provincial Cathedral
Honiara, Solomon Islands
5th September 2019

O God our help in ages past and our hope for years to come!

Your Excellency, the Governor General of Solomon Islands, the Rt Rev. David Vunagi and Madam Mary Vunagi, the Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Patteson Oti and Madam Oti, the Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare and Madam Sogavare, the Hon. Justice Sir Albert Palmer and Madam Palmer, Leader of Parliamentary Opposition, Hon. Matthew Wale and Mrs. Wale, Members of Parliament who are here this morning and your good wives. And in their absence, I would like to mention the President and the Prime Minister and the national leaders of the Republic of Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

The Senior Bishop, the Rt Rev. Nathan Tome, all diocesan bishops of ACoM, the Most Rev. Allen Migi, Archbishop of ACPNG, the Most Rev. Efereima Cama Archbishop of Polynesia, the Rt Rev. Mark Rylands, and Rev’d. Amanda Rylands and representatives of MMUK, the Rt Rev. Dr. Keith Joseph, Bishop of Northern Queensland representing the Anglican Church of Australia, the Rt Rev. Jeremy Greaves, Assistant Bishop of Brisbane, the Rt Rev. Ross Bay, Bishop of Auckland and representatives of the MMTB Trustee, the Rt Rev. William Pwaisiho, Barbara Molyneux and Ruth Gesworth, representatives of the Diocese of Chester, Retired Archbishops and Bishops who are here this morning, Church leaders of Sister Churches in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The Vicar General of DOCM, the Rt Rev. Alfred Hou, Dean of St. Barnabas Provincial Cathedral, the Very Rev. Philip Rongotha and members of the Cathedral Chapter, Vicar Generals of other Dioceses and all Clergies, Canon Gabriel Suri, Vice Chancellor of ACoM, Members of the National, Overseas and Private Sector dignitaries, the Provincial Premiers of our Provinces who are here this morning, Ariki Tafua and all Paramount Chiefs, chiefs and traditional leaders of our islands and communities

The General Secretary of ACoM Dr. Abraham Hauriasi and your Provincial staff, Assistant General Secretary Vanuatu, Mr. Joses Togase, All Diocesan Secretaries of our Dioceses, Members of the Provincial Electoral Board, Heads of Church Institutions and departments, Heads of Religious Orders and all their members, President of the Mothers Union and all MU members, Leaders of Church Lay ministries, young people, children, ladies and gentlemen. I greet you all with the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

By way of introduction, first of all I wish to humbly appeal to all of you to pray for me that God may grant me wisdom and strength to lead his Church.

Following that, I wish to thank the Senior Bishop, the Rt Rev. Nathan Tome for his leadership over the Church for the last seven months of leadership interregnum. Thank you Senior Bishop, your leadership is truly of high quality, integrity and dignity; through your sound wisdom you stirred the Church steadily throughout this period. I also thank the Diocesan Bishops and Assistant Bishop for supporting our Senior Bishop to care for our beloved Church.

Next, I wish to thank so many of you who sent messages of congratulations and best wishes and support of prayers to me and family on the occasion of my election. I greatly appreciate such support of prayers; hence, ‘I will be because of what you will be to me’.

Following some elections, I wish offer congratulations on behalf of ACoM to the following leaders who were elected this year;

  • Congratulations Your Excellency the Governor General, the Rt Rev. David Vunagi and Madam Mary Vunagi for your election as the Head State of Solomon Islands.
  • Congratulations Hon. Manasseh Sogavare for your successful election as Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.
  • Congratulations Hon. Speaker of National Parliament, Mr. Patteson Oti for your successful election as the Speaker to the National Parliament.
  • Congratulations the fifty members of the Solomon Islands Parliament for your successful election earlier this year.
  • Congratulations to all our Provincial Premiers of the Provinces who held their election this year and the members of your respective Provincial Assemblies.

May I offer and assure you of the prayers and support of the Anglican Church of Melanesia. ACoM, as a stakeholder to our national and provincial governments will always appreciate continual corporate efforts with you in your national and provincial developments.

May I also assure our Mission Partners in United Kingdom and New Zealand, Oceania Sister Churches, Christian Churches in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, Non-Government Organizations, Provincial Governments and Traditional Leaders that ACoM will continue to work together with you. I assure you of our prayers and support.

Gratitude and appreciation
Before going further, I wish to offer sincere gratitude to our previous Bishops, Clergies and laities for their huge contributions to the growth and development of our Church from being a missionary diocese to what is now, an autonomous Provincial Church. On this occasion, I particularly want to accord due respect and gratitude to our retired Archbishops; Late Archbishop John Wallace Chisholm, Late Archbishop Norman Palmer, Late Archbishop Amos Waiaru, Late Archbishop Ellison Pogo, Archbishop David Vunagi and Archbishop George Takeli; all of whom were champion leaders, by whose great contributions, wisdom and foresight, ACoM consistently grows and develops to this day. For those who served ACoM and have died, may they rest in peace and rise in heavenly glory.

It is indeed overwhelming to see for myself so many of you who have come to witness this occasion. I understand that a lot of Christians are also following this occasion on television and radio broadcast. I am so assured to see the great support you represent, so let me say this you all; because of your trust and confidence in me, I will do my very best to be your servant shepherd.

My Vision
My vision for the Anglican Church of Melanesia is “A spiritually united Church for equal and holistic growth”. Spiritually united speaks of the desired status for ACoM and equal and holistic growth is the character of growth we anticipate to see in ACoM. In saying this, I am fully aware of the autonomous status each diocese in our Province possess. Hence, spiritual unity is not new, it is strongly interwoven in our tradition; in our daily worship, our biblical connection to the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and our faith in one baptism for the remission of sins. These traditional foundational elements must spur our spiritual unity, our mission, our administration and our financial self-support.

As a spiritually united Church we are called to remain faithful as the holy agent of salvation for the God’s people. It must be able to continually hold together across three political nations of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. She must also improve and strengthen her ecumenical relationship, both nationally, regionally and internationally. She must initiate dialogue and be receptive to our National governments and Non-government Organizations within our boundaries. The presence of our national leaders, Church leaders and our mission partners abroad is a manifestation of our unity; as different parts of the same Body of Christ.

This Church ought to see her adherents become active and participate equally in her life and mission. Through such united participation our Church can identify proactive mission approaches in the context of the rapid up rise of modernity, secularism, individualism and imperative ideologies facing our Church and society. In the face of all these, she must outwork through the lives of her members the physical testament of her spiritual essence.

In support of this vision, we must encourage the Religious Orders within ACoM to provide conducive venues for quiet times of mediation and retreats. But this Church must work towards establishing her own sanctuary or spiritual hub for the same course. A strong Church is one that is ever spiritually united and alive.

Today, I do not wish to raise your hopes for miracles, but with great humility wish to call upon ACoM Christians to arise, hold hands together and listen to each other as we seek ways forward for our Church. We must progressively build our Church on the foundation laid by our founding Fathers and those before us. There will be no miracle by any individual, but corporately, there will be further growth and development.

In the first few years of this leadership, we will continue to work on our ongoing development plans. If by God’s grace we archive them within their allocated period, we will then propose further plans through our administration and governing councils. Our Vision Statement will certainly guide our periodic strategic plans, but during the era of the incoming leadership, the overarching vision of ‘equal and holistic growth’ must guide our destiny.

Let me at this point raise some thoughts on the basic ministry of our Church;

Mission & Ministry
In terms of mission, ACoM, apart from the traditional mission approaches, always take some major mission programs in relation to Bishop George A. Selwyn mission philosophy of ‘true religion, sound learning and useful industry’. In the past, ACoM carried out her mission in threefold areas of Gospel propagation, social services and training. While we remain active in gospel proclamation, we subsided in social gospel and training.

On gospel proclamation, ACoM is currently in a decade of evangelism and renewal. It is a Provincial commitment, which our mission department must effectively lead us to roll out its programs using our established structures. Apart from the traditional methods of spreading the gospel, we need to be creative and innovative to identify other appropriate methods for mission at our respective levels. On the top level for example, ACoM must explore the possibility of utilising our media and communication department to alleviate and prompt the evangelism programs.

More importantly, our Religious Orders must be involved more fully in the evangelism and renewal programs. They must lead us through the decade because evangelism is their lifestyle, hoping that by the end of the decade we should have been rehearsed to do evangelism as our lifestyle.

Regarding our mission through social services, it is encouraging to see ACoM involving in various ‘cross cut issues’. The need is to strengthen and improve our Mission Board to become a strong and active department in our Church to alleviate the different cross cut issues we face. One of the strong mission area of the Church in the past was health services, but it drastically dropped to a very small percentage. Though, we might not see it as a cross cut issue, our national health level remains an issue, so it is an area that ACoM working together with our national governments can undertake feasibility studies on to see if it is possible to re-engage in health services.

Education and training is another area of mission which was very strong and active, but it also subsided along the way. However, upon realisation, we are now beginning to work towards a fully blown education and training ministry. We must do this at all prescribed levels of education and training by our national governments. As part of our mission work, we need to encourage dioceses to engage in education and training, both formal and non-formal. We must also raise the level of our existing schools and training centres.

In terms of theological education, there is great opportunity for ACoM to start planning towards introducing graduate programs in theological studies at Bishop Patteson Theological College. There is great confidence in our Church because we have our owned highly qualified human resources. In line with this, we are confident in the gradual, but steady progress John Coleridge Patteson University is making in terms of academic programs. JCPU project is a huge education and training development, but we remain optimistic about its ongoing progress with the support of our stakeholders in education, including our national governments.

In the area of administration, currently we have a strong administration in place at the provincial level under qualified personnel. There may be areas that needed improvement, but that can only be done by close scrutiny in relation to the changing experiences of our Church. But any notable change to our administration and financial structures and systems have to be done through our canon via relevant governing bodies. Again we must be guided by the vision for equal and holistic growth.

Self-reliance Investment
The call for dioceses and institutions to venture deep into self-reliance has been highlighted in our Church over the decades. The call intertwines with the call to be good stewards of our initiatives and their proceeds. Dioceses and institutions have indeed tried their best to take initiatives, but good stewardship has always been a setback.

Because of this, while I do not intend to discourage initiatives undertaken by dioceses and institutions, I wish to propose a new model to approach our self-reliance investment. It is my vision to work towards a ‘centralised self-reliance’ strategy. It means that our self-reliance activities and investments must be coordinated at the Provincial levels in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. We must identify appropriate and viable activities in our national capitals and other thriving development and economic centres in alignment with our countries’ national developments.

I believe the model correlates with that of Bp. Selwyn and Bp. Patteson when they invested for ACoM in Auckland. We will work with our national governments to formalise our Business Department to operate independently as a business entity to spearhead this concept. The wide spread of our Provincial Church over three political nations presents greater opportunities for such investments. It is high time that we ought to be trained to fish, then waiting on the shoreline to be given fish.

Diocese of Central Melanesia
I wish to assure my new Diocese of Central Melanesia that despites the heavy commitment with the affairs of the Province, I will ensure that I provide due pastoral visitation to our parishes and the satellite Churches. The Diocese of Central Melanesia is a growing diocese following the growth of our national capital of Honiara. A major task ahead of us is to ensure that these satellite Churches continue to grow and develop into parishes. I am not promising you any new and great visions because I know there are ongoing plans in place; my role will be to work with you to implement the plans. DOCM is the mother diocese of the Province of Melanesia, it is therefore, fitting that she must continue to develop ahead in her mission, administration and finance and become a role model for other dioceses.

In conclusion, may I once again appeal to all members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the Governments of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Mission Partners, Oceania Church Partners, Provincial Governments, NGOs, Chiefs and all faith confessing Christians of all denominations for your prayers and support.

ACoM is a living organism as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthian 12: 12 – end; hence a united participation at all levels and activity centres can definitely result in an equal and holistic growth. The mechanism for our united participation and working relationship is the promise of loyalty and support we offer each in this service. On my part, I will do all I can to work with you. Furthermore, I call on you to enjoy your participation in the life, mission, administration and socio economic development of our Church.

Lastly but the least, may the martyrs and saints of Melanesia and the triune and everlasting God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless and lead the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Your Excellency the Governor General of Solomon Islands, the Most Rev. David Vunagi and Madam Mary Vunagi, the Honourable Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Patteson Oti, the Prime Minister, Honourable Manasseh Sogavare, all invited dignitaries, Mission partners, ACoM Church partners, and all of you who have come to honour and grace this occasion, I salute and thank you very much indeed.

Long live the Anglican Church of Melanesia; To God be the glory, great things He will do. Amen.

You can watch the full enthronement service here;

News story and pictures from ACoM Communications

Group of Melanesian Boys

From Coconut to Computer

The first time I saw a white man I was in my village, Kalona, in Small Malaita, Solomon Islands in the early fifties, when the Missionary Sister based at Fauabu Hospital, came around giving injections and treating the sick. The others were the Parish Priest based at Fiu village near Auki, Fr. Philip Baker was the Rural Dean of Malaita District in those days. I was very interested and fascinated by the respect and calmness which these white people commanded in my village, sleeping and eating our local food of roasted taro, yams, pana with local vegetables cooked in bamboos. The next white man to come to my village was Alfred Thomas Hill the Bishop of the Diocese of Melanesia in the sixties, he too left a very big impression on me as child. The other white men were the touring Doctors who came and stayed in my village, also treating patients from neighbouring villages. Then came the Agriculture Technicians who came to talk about coconut and coca planting. There was stream after stream of those people who served us so well, but for me it was the Church men that held my interest and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I went to school in order to learn how read and write. My other dream was to learn the English language in order to be able to converse with any white man who came to my village. My local schools were basic with Melanesian teachers who taught us maths, divinity, English and handwriting. We were given a slate with a slate pencil, then the next day before lessons we had to clean the slate from the previous day. It was very difficult to remember all that went before with no means of looking it up or re-reading it, but because of our burning ambition to better ourselves we managed. We were thirsty for knowledge.

1963 was a landmark year for me as it was the first time I became aware of electricity, cars, trucks and tractors at the Lever Brothers Head Quarters in Yandina Russel Islands. It was there I tasted white man’s food of bread, butter, tea with milk, rice with corned beef. It was supposed to be a holiday with my uncle, and I was meant to return to school. But the white man’s lifestyle and food was very tantalising, so I refused to return to school. I wanted to be a copra cutter just like my kinsfolks cutting copra for Lever Brothers and being paid for what they did.

In 1964 word came from my Parish Priest Revd. Willie Au of Walande, who said that I must return to school immediately on the next boat available. It was the word of wisdom and authority from a holy man, God had spoken to me through him and I obeyed. That was my turning point. I returned to school and completed my Junior Primary Education and at the end of the year I passed my entrance exam for senior education at St Barnabas Boys School Alangaula on Ukinimasi (Ugi) in Makira / Ulawa Province.

Mission Schools were very special and my three years at Alangaula from 1965 – 67, gave me a lot of privileges, being able to learn and to discern being called by God to the holy orders. The Mission Motto was, True Religion, Sound Learning, and Useful Industry, or simply – Pray hard, Learn hard and Work hard. I think we were indoctrinated into that application and the Christian Ethos never left either the teachers or their pupils.

Willie PwaisihoIt was at Alangaula School I met my friend Alex Leger. He came to teach as a (V.S.O) Volunteer Service Organisation. After we left Alangaula School I did not see him for 30 years until I came to England to serve in Chester Diocese. Alex and I took a production team to film two programmes for Blue Peter about the Solomon Islands. At a later date we wrote a book together about our life and time during the period when he was teaching, and I was a pupil at school. The title of the book is “Marooned in the Pacific” It is only available as a Kindle edition.

The Anglican Church was a pioneer in education in the Islands before the Government took an active role with formalising the education syllabus, and raising the standard to the level of Cambridge School Certificate, at All Hallows Pawa about a mile and a half from Alangaula on Ugi (Ukinimasi) or KG VI in Auki and Honiara later. I graduated with my first Certificate signed by Tony Childs, Chief Education Officer for the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. That piece of paper, which was bearing the signature with the Official Seal, made me a very proud young man indeed. I was somebody who could be recognised as having an achievement. I could show that piece of paper and could be accepted for employment. And not only that, I could now speak and write in English.

In 1968 I went to Pawa School, and there I was taught by Cambridge School Scholars; the likes of Revd. Desmond Probets Headmaster, John Pinder, John Rolfe, Jim Nolan, Doug Henry from Australia, Bob Hunt from New Zealand and other young white teachers who spoke to us using their first language. Also, during worship in the Chapel, we used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer or the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and our English Hymnal, which we used to sing from, were great instruments in our learning Oxford and Cambridge English.

The Bishop of Melanesia John Wallace Chisholm came to Melanesia in 1969, and he decided to transfer most of the education to the Government but kept a few schools under Church authority. It was his plan to amalgamate the two separate Secondary Schools for boys and girls into one, and so the birth of Selwyn College. Towards the end of 1969 Pawa Staff and the pupils of forms 1 to 3 went to Ngagilagu, Guadalcanal. I was chosen as Head Prefect for the School, having been a Prefect previously at St Barnabas Alangaula and All Hallows Pawa. The staff thought I would make a good Head Boy. This was to be the first time Pamua, Bungana, Tasia girls ever meet boys from Pawa, Alangaula, Maravovo. So special rules were required, the School Rule, “no special boy or girl friend at all to be maintained at all times.” The Head Boy and all my Prefects had to keep a watchful eye on the pupils, but at the same time human nature took over and our teachers both male and female became too close for the first time. It was a happy school and I was proud of my Headmaster Revd. Tom Tyler, John Pinder, John Rolfe, Jim Nolan, Doug Henry, Kathleen Holgate, Jennifer Pinder, Marjorie Hastings, Richard Roberts and all the staff from UK, Australia and New Zealand.Food Parcels On ground Oven

At Selwyn College towards the end of the year in 1970, those of us who wanted to leave school had to look for possible employment, either with the Government or the Church. I could not make up my mind, so I decided to sit for a place at the Theological School for Priests and to have an interview at a Police Training School. I was accepted to join the Police Training School as a recruit for the new intake in 1971. I think my reason for considering the Police Force, was mainly for the money as it was the highest paid work in the Country. However, God had His own plans for me. Waiting at the entrance of the Police Training School as we came out, who was there to meet us? It was our Pawa School Headmaster the Very Revd. Desmond Probets who had become the Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral in 1969. He enquired what we were doing, and I told him we had been to the Police Training School for an interview and we were all accepted for the next year. He immediately said, of course they will accept boys from Pawa, Selwyn College, Alangaula, Maravovo because we have the best characters in the Country.

God spoke to me again through Desmond, who said: “The others may go forward to the police next year, but you are going to the Theological College for the Priesthood training.” I replied, “But I do not want to go to Theological College as I passed the entrance exams for the Police, Father.” His reply was: “Go back to school and write a withdrawal letter to the Police Training School.” That was my turning point.

Christmas 1970 when playing football, I suffered a compound fracture in South Malaita. Luckily there was a Government vessel doing her “round the islands trip”, delivering mail and paying the teachers and nurses. It took three days to reach the hospital. I was in great pain with no pain killers for three days and nights. I prayed for a miracle and God sent me Fr Samuel Suunorua from Maramasike he came on board and prayed and laid his hands on me, that night I slept like a log. My first experience of the power of God in my life.

After spending the first week in Kilu’ufi Hospital I was transferred to the Referral Hospital in the Capital Honiara for an operation to set my compound fractured leg. I am most grateful to Dr Cross who skilfully did the operation and cared for me until I was able to use my right leg again. While I was in Hospital, I was visited by the Diocesan Bishop John Wallace Chisholm, who knew me from my time as the Head Boy at Selwyn College, Archdeacon Harry Reynolds, who was my spiritual director and also the Franciscan Brothers and the Sisters of the Church. It was very comforting to have people of such high positions and true servants of God, visiting and praying for me whilst I was in hospital.

In 1971 Kohimarama Theological College, the first semester was just about to begin and I was still in hospital. Fr Eric Jones wanted me out of hospital to start my class, so he agreed with Dr Cross that he would bring me once a week to attend Dr Cross’s Clinic, so it was on those terms that Dr Cross agreed to let me go to College. In West Honiara at that time there were no good bridges to cross the big rivers at all. So, trucks had to wait and sit for hours, waiting for the water to recede in order to make a crossing possible. Some nights we had to sleep at Auriligo R.C. School. There were no mobile phones like we have today and no way of communicating with the people who were waiting for us, we could only wait in prayer and hope for the best.

I am most grateful to my Tutors Revd. Eric and Muriel Jones, George and Nonnie Connor, Paul Moore, Jim Draper, Jim and Elizabeth Blades, Robert Hagesi, Harry Tevi, Canon Brian McDonald-Milne, Philip Hoare, John and Yvonne Ayling, and Heather Edgar. These mighty men and women of God helped me find God and His plans for my life in His Kingdom. And I salute them all for their hard work in taming me to be what I am. If I have succeeded, I thank them, but if I have failed it is of my own doing.

College life was around prayer, study and work, everything had to be done in balance. We were taught to do things on our own as preparation for our life out there in the wider world with no one to supervise us. There were no written rules but all of us were expected to be present at Chapel three times every day as well as classes and Community duties around the college.

On the 10th November 1974 I was ordained Deacon in the Church of God and graduated with a Diploma in Biblical Studies. I returned to my home in the Parish of South Malaita from Sa’a to Walande as a Deacon assisting the Parish Priest Revd. Basil Kaloa, until I was ordained to the Priesthood in my village Church of St Martin’s of Tours Bishop and Martyr, on the Feast Day of St Andrew, on Sunday 2nd December 1975.

On the 4th January 1976 I married my wife Kate from Fanalei Port Adam, South Malaita. A week later we left for Honiara the capital where I was to be Chaplain to the new Archbishop, Norman Kitchen Palmer, who was the Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral after Desmond Probets and elected to take the place of Archbishop J.W.Chisholm. I did other things besides being Chaplain. I was Parish Priest to Rove White River Parish and Chaplain to the Central Prison in Rove as well as to the Police Headquarters in Rove along with their families. A very good training for a young Priest I thought.

Now it was during that time there was a movement of partnership between our founding mother Churches in the Northern Hemisphere and the Churches in the Southern Hemisphere including N.Z. and Australia. I thought the Mother Churches were very brave to start entering into this new dimension of relationship which had never happened before. Over a hundred years ago ‘the mission’ came from the West to the developing world countries, and we accepted that as the norm. Now people from developing countries were being asked to work in the mother churches.

In March 1977 my wife and I with our three-month-old daughter left home for the Auckland Diocese in an experiment to see how a Melanesian priest would fit in New Zealand parish ministry. Well I survived and it was a wonderful experience on my part. We returned after two lovely years of training, which I could not have had anywhere else. I was so lucky to work under a very caring loving priest John Brokenshire who showed me what to do and how work should be done in a New Zealand parish.

I returned to the Solomon Islands to be Chaplain and Tutor at my Old College Kohimarama and then appointed to become Dean of St Barnabas Cathedral, Honiara that was 1980 to 81. Then I was elected to be the second Bishop of Malaita Diocese.

I was Consecrated and Enthroned Bishop of Malaita Diocese on the 28th June 1981. I want to pay tribute to the First Bishop of Malaita, The Rt. Rev. Leonard Alufurai a pioneer of the Diocese for his tireless work for the people of Malaita, Sikaiana and Lord Howe. Things were hard and difficult with no money to run the Diocese. We did however, manage to build the administration of the Diocese, setting up Regional Headquarters headed by Senior priests for pastoral supervision throughout the whole Diocese.

There was need for the renewal, so Priests and Lay people were brought from New Zealand and Australia to help the Diocese by leading and teaching about the renewal of the whole Church, which was very successful. We also set up mission bases where heathens were, and those posts were manned by the Melanesian Brotherhood to take the Gospel to the people wherever they were. We supported them by providing outboard motors and canoes. We also brought into the Diocese the Society of the Franciscans for ministry in the Towns, and later the Community of the Sisters of the Church and Sisters of Melanesia.

We completed all we wanted to do, and the Diocese was running well with Senior Priests, clergy paid every month and we even trained Village Priests to take care of the parishes which were very remote in the hills. Those priests came from the Communities who chose them, and we trained them ourselves.

Queen Elizabeth II & +Willie Pwaisiho
+Willie Pwaisiho receiving his OBE in 2004

In 1989 I tendered my resignation, left the Diocese and went to be Tutor at the Melanesian Brotherhood Head Quarters, Tabalia. That was my best move, as I needed a Community with whom I could be spiritually renewed for my next journey with God. At Tabalia and with the Brothers, we were able to do things in our worship which are more Melanesian in style, like dancing the Liturgy, and also the last night of the Novices retreat being on the mountain above Tabaila. I want to thank my Brothers for their love and care. It was at Tabalia I met and worked more closely with Rev. Richard Carter while he was a Brother and Tutor. He is a brave missionary who remained with the Brotherhood during the ethnic tension on Guadalcanal. He led two successful Mission to U.K. leading the Brothers and Sisters to perform dramas in churches and cathedrals. Richard is now at St Martin in the Fields, London reaching out to the homeless in the city.

+Willie and Kate Pwaisiho
+Willie and Kate Pwaisiho

In 1990 the General Synod had passed a new Canon law for the Mission of the Church and they needed a Mission Secretary for the Melanesia Board of Mission. I was handpicked for the post by the Bishops, and went to head this very important arm of the Church linking and building bridges between our historical Mission Agencies, in UK, Australia, N.Z. Canada, U.S.A.

In 1995 to 1997 I was in charge of six Churches in the outskirts of Honiara organising services every Sunday and assigning Priests to conduct services. At that time, I was also an Industrial Manager of a Japanese Construction Company Kumagai Gumi. The money was good, but as a missionary I didn’t enjoy the money. It was too dirty, too political and full of false hope. God was calling me to go out even further abroad, and now he wanted me to go to the UK. I approached Chester Diocese to see if they would have me as an assistant priest in the Diocese. The Bishops Council gave me their approval with letters of commendation from the Melanesia Bishops and the Board of Mission.

Towards the end of 1997 my wife and I, with three of our children left for the UK, arriving in Sale, Manchester in the Parish of St Anne and St Francis Sale Moor. I was Licensed as Honorary Assistant Bishop of Chester and Curate of Sale, with Permission to officiate in the Diocese of Chester and the Province of York by the Bishop of the Diocese, and the Archbishop of York. I served my title in Sale and Sale Moor for two years until 1999.

On the 15th June 1999 I was Inducted and Licensed as Rector of Gawsworth and Assistant Bishop of Chester, the position I held until 2014 when Gawsworth became a united Benefice with North Rode, hence my rectorship covered both Parishes until my retirement at the end of January 2019.

During my time as Rector of Gawsworth, I was Chaplain to the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Chaplain to Crime Beat, the High Sheriff’s Charity, Chaplain to the Bailiff of the Weavers and Chaplain to the Worshipful Lord Mayor of Cheshire East.

In recent times I have attended conferences in Brussels, Geneva and a roundtable convention at Lambeth Palace on climate change.

The world has become so small. You could now be holding a coconut in one hand and a computer in the other.

God Bless.

Epiphany 2019.




Archbishop Elect Leonard Dawea

Enthronement of new Archbishop of Melanesia

As Bishop Leonard prepares for his enthronement on 15th September, friends from the UK introduce us to the new Archbishop of Melanesia.

I first met Leonard Dawea at Tabalia, the Headquarters of the Melanesian Brotherhood, where he had come to train as a novice from Temotu Diocese, and I was Chaplain and Tutor of the Brotherhood. It was not long before I began to recognise his giftedness. Here was a novice who was diligent, thoughtful and reliable and whatever responsibility he was given you knew it would be faithfully carried out. I also began to discover a young man of deep faith; he was quite quiet but always mature and wise in his thinking. He loved his studies as a novice and was one of the best.

After becoming a Brother, he was wisely appointed secretary of the Brotherhood, a difficult role but one Brother Leonard carried out with tremendous patience, discipline and faithfulness. He has a rare ability to be both kind, but also firm. We all knew this was a Brother we could trust.

Chester Rest House was really beginning to get underway and becoming a major source of income for the Brotherhood. Brother Leonard helped establish efficient methods of operation. He was one of the first Brothers to become computer literate. He has a tremendous heart for the Brotherhood. In the Ethnic Tension in Solomon Islands, I know personally how courageous and brave Brother Leonard was. I have a letter from one Englishman who has told me how, during the tension, Leonard saved his life and helped him escape from Honiara. It does not surprise me. Brother Leonard was one of the most loyal and trustworthy Brothers I have ever met and that is saying a lot.

Leonard of course was sent by the Brotherhood to the UK ministering with Brother George Elo in Tavistock and then studying at Chester College for his Bachelor of Theology. Again, he showed his characteristic dedication and faithfulness. He is also always very welcoming and hospitable and kind, and I remember many of the great times we have had together supported so generously by Barbara Molyneux and the Companions both in Exeter and Chester and joining an incredibly exciting Melanesian Brotherhood and Sisterhood Mission in 2005. When he returned to Solomons, Leonard became Chaplain of the Brotherhood and later Diocesan Secretary of Temotu Diocese. I, with others, was overjoyed when he was elected Bishop of Temotu. It is a role he has once again carried out with wise judgment, dedication and wisdom. When I knew that the Church of Melanesia was looking for a new Archbishop I prayed it might be him, for he has the humility, faithfulness and dedication so much needed in high office. When I heard he had been elected I believe this was indeed the working of the Holy Spirit. Here is a man whose whole life has shown us the true way of service. I would like to ask all of you to hold him in your prayers. I believe that the Lord will indeed continue to do great things through this man, husband, father brother and friend. I count myself so fortunate to have seen him progress from novice to Archbishop, never losing his kind bold humility or the sense that here is a man of love and faithfulness and true friendship. May he and many others through his ministry be richly blessed.

Almighty God you have called many to leave their homes behind to serve you
We thank God that you have called Leonard Dawea to be your servant
Bless and uphold him in his ministry as Archbishop of the Church of Melanesia
Guide and direct him through all difficult times
Continue all the good work you have begun in him that he may lead your Church with wisdom and compassion
Fill him Lord, with bold humility that he and his beloved family may continue to grow in your true way of service
And may his ministry and leadership bring many more people to know and love our Lord Jesus Christ
This we pray in His Holy Name

Revd Richard Carter

The Diocese of Chester has had an active link with the Anglican Church of Melanesia for over 30 years, a link which has brought benefits to us all.

In 2001 and 2002 the Diocese of Chester, the University of Chester and the Chester Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood worked together to bring two Brothers to study for BA Honours degrees in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester. In the Autumn of 2002, Brother Leonard Dawea and Brother Jonathan SioTiaro joined the First Year Undergraduates. They worked at their studies and made friends and survived the weather. Bishop Willie and his dear wife, the late Kate, and the Family gave wonderful support, as did their former Chaplain, Revd Richard Carter. Bishop Peter Forster kept a fatherly eye on them, and the Chester Companions appreciated their presence and contributions at meetings.

These two Brothers shared much about life in the Solomon Islands and the values and vital work of the Brotherhood and were in the middle of their studies when the sad news of the seven martyred Brothers came through. Before coming to the UK, they had played active roles in trying to bring about peace during the internal strife in the Solomon Islands.

In November 2005 Graduation Day in Chester Cathedral dawned and this was a wonderful day of thanksgiving and joy for the two Brothers and their lecturers, fellow students and friends – a celebration meal followed.

Brother Leonard, who could only use his Solomon Island driving licence for one year in the UK made time to take his driving test and passed first time; an achievement as there are many more rules of the road in the UK! He has touched many lives in Chester, and all are very happy to hear he will be the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Melanesia and send best wishes and prayers for him, his wife Dorah and their two children.

Barbara Molyneux

On 11 October 2001 I was driven into Plymouth by our parish secretary to meet two Melanesian Brothers at the station. Archbishop Ellison Pogo had asked the Bishop of Exeter if there was a parish in this diocese where a Brother, who had just completed a degree in theology and time at Mirfield with the Community of the Resurrection, could gain some experience of an English parish. Bishop Michael asked if I could do this and enable the Brother to see the work we did and share in it. As members of the Melanesian Brotherhood work and minister in pairs another brother would also be coming, and the Curate’s House in Tavistock would become a House of the Melanesian Brotherhood for a while.

The Brother in question was Fr George Elo and he was joined by Brother Leonard Dawea. George had been in the UK some years, but Leonard had never been. We greeted them on the station platform and set off for Tavistock. During the journey Leonard remarked on how smooth the roads were – not like those of the Solomon Islands. We stopped at the supermarket on the outskirts of Tavistock to ensure the brothers had enough food etc. The people of the parishes had been very generous and provided much food and other things the brothers would need. Not least, was the family for whom I had conducted a funeral in the previous weeks, who wanted to pass on a lot of furniture and were very happy for me to use it to furnish the house for the brothers. The garden at the house was important to them as it is an essential part of the life of the Brothers in the Solomon Islands.

One of the first comments Leonard made in the supermarket was, ‘in the Solomon Islands we do not eat unless we sweat’. He could not believe the vast quantity and variety of food that lined every aisle.
Over the next few weeks Fr George and Brother Leonard settled into life in the parish joining me and others for the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer and Eucharist every day. Leonard found English a little hard at first but soon gained confidence in public prayers and conversations with people. Both brothers were welcomed by all in Tavistock and Gulworthy and over eight months many friendships were formed.
Brother Leonard assisted at many of the services and gradually found the confidence to preach at the Sunday Sung Eucharist. He and Fr George accompanied me many times to schools and they were always a hit with the children as they were with the members of the Church Youth Group which met on Sundays after Evensong. One of the joys of their life was on Fridays after we had said Evening Prayer when they would go to one of the Fish and Chip shops in the town to buy their supper. They loved fish and chips.

One of their other passions was football and on Boxing Day 2001 my son-in-law took them to watch Plymouth Argyle play as he was a great supporter of the team. Their delight was obvious when they returned to the vicarage for a meal with us and they both had Plymouth Argyle scarves.

One thing which made life easier for the brothers was the gift of a small, fairly old car, from someone in the congregation. Leonard had driven in the Solomon Islands and soon got used to doing so in Devon. It made a difference to their lives as walking from the curate’s house a few times each day was often exhausting as it entailed going up a steep hill.

During the time Brother Leonard was with us, although initially rather shy, he blossomed a great deal and his warm smile and gentle manner endeared him to everyone. His quiet prayerfulness and spirituality was an unselfconscious example to all, both in the congregations and in the town. It was a great wrench to say goodbye at a party in the Parish Centre after a service of thanksgiving and farewell in church. Their time with us had been a mission in itself.

Both Fr George and Brother Leonard left a deep impression on many people and we were able to start a group of the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood. We were all desperately sad to hear of the death of Fr George Elo a few years ago but we were very glad to know Brother Leonard, as we had known him, was to be the Bishop of Temotu. He came to visit us while in UK for the new Bishops’ Course in 2017. Now everyone is delighted and full of congratulations that he has been elected Archbishop of Melanesia.

John Rawlings (Vicar of Tavistock and Gulworthy 1992-2006)
South West Section Leader of the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood

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

Southern Cross

Brian Ayers

Brian who was a great servant of the Church of Melanesia, died peacefully in Auckland in July.

Brian joined the mission in 1950 to take charge of the church’s ship building yard at Taroaniara on the Island of Gela. In those days it was an important mission station, with St. Clare’s hospital and the printing press on site, Bungana School nearby and Siota theological college at the other end of the Boli passage. During the war, Gela was literally on the front line, with the government HQ across the bay at Tulagi and with Bishop Baddeley in residence.

After Brian’s arrival, romance flourished and he married Margaret, the daughter of the Isoms who ran the printing press.

Under Brian’s leadership, the shipyard became an important centre for training young Melanesians as shipwrights, seafarers, engineers and carpenters. The next twenty years was a golden age for Taroaniara, with the formidable Charles Fox in residence and Christine Woods as matron of the hospital. Brian maintained the mission ships and many private trading ships. He kept the mission ships, including the Southern Cross going long after their retirement date and worked in close partnership with the government shipyard at Tulagi.

‘DK calling Pawa’ …Brian ran the twice daily radio sked which maintained contact with all the outstations and his familiar voice was always a great comfort in any crisis. I well remember following a severe cyclone which hit Pawa Secondary School in December 1969, Brian was our only contact with the outside world and he quickly marshalled emergency rations and building materials to help us recover.

Brian was a man of strong faith. I remember him telling me he wanted to introduce Monday morning prayers in the workshop, but was met initially with strong resistance, his workers saying that religion belonged in the chapel on a Sunday, not in the workshop during the week. He won his workers round by charm and persistence.

In the late 60s with replacement vessels necessary, Brian was convinced they could be built at Taroaniara. They built the MV Charles Fox, a lovely 30-foot launch that ran between the shipyard and Honiara and plans were well advanced for building a larger vessel. However, whilst he was on leave in 1970 the bishop cancelled the plans and Brian decided to remain in New Zealand. However, he was persuaded to return many years later, to supervise a major refit of the Southern Cross. The fact that the Southern Cross is still going strong after fifty years is a tribute to his skills.

John Pinder

When I arrived at St Peter’s College, Siota, on Gela in 1964, Brian and Margaret Ayers were based at Taroaniara at the other end of the Boli Passage, which separates Big and Small Gela, the two main islands of the Florida group in the central Solomon Islands. Gela therefore had two key Church institutions, the Marine Workshops at Taroaniara and the theological college at Siota. They relied on each other. At the college we had no radio and no shipping, just a canoe and a small aluminium dinghy with an outboard motor. Messages had to be sent down to Taroaniara for onward transmission by radio, or for mail to be dispatched from there. The station at Taroaniara also had St Clare’s Hospital, on which we depended for medical assistance and delivery of students’ babies. Dr Fox was also based there, preparing the Melanesian Prayer Book in Modern English and being chaplain, and so was the Diocese of Melanesia Press. Brian had to hold together a very diverse community and always did so with good humour and no panic, as well as using his practical engineering skill and wisdom to good effect. At the college, we were always grateful for his help and co-operation and the welcome which we were given by him and his wife when we visited Taroaniara for any reason.

The theological college moved in 1969 to Kohimarama on Guadalcanal, but the work at Taroaniara, servicing the ships of the Anglican Church and of others, continues in the fine tradition built up over the years by Brian Ayers, and for which he will be remembered with admiration and gratitude, especially by those Melanesians whom he trained and inspired.

Brian Macdonald-Milne