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Diocesan Vision

2017 BISHOPS' CHARGE

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DIOCESE OF WAIKATO AND TARANAKI

SECOND SESSION OF THE THIRTY EIGHTH SYNOD

2016

PRESIDENTS’ CHARGE

 

Kia Whakakororia ki Te Atua i Runga Rawa, Kia Mau Te Rongo ki Runga ki Te Whenua, Kia Pai Te Whakaaro ki Nga Tangata Katoa. 

 

Honore ki Te Arikinui Te Kingi Ko Tuheitia.  Ki Te Kahui Ariki Katoa, Ma Te Atua Ratou E Manaaki E Tiaki i Nga Wa Katoa.  Ki Te Waka Tainui Tena Koutou. Ki Te Iwi o Ngati Maniapoto, Tena Koutou. Ki Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa ki Te Hui Amorangi Ki Te Manawa O Te Wheke, Tena Koutou.

 

E Te Maungatapu e tu ra, ko Taranaki, Tena Koe:  Ki Te Waka Tokomaru, Te Waka Aotea, Te Waka Kurahaupo Tena Koutou.  Nga Mihi Nui Ki Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa Ki Hui Amorangi Ki Te Upoko O Te Ika.

 

We have glorified God with the first language of this country.

 

We have honoured the Maori King and his household, we have greeted the Tainui tribal confederation, including Ngati Maniapoto, as well as our partners in mission from the Maori Bishopric of Te Manawa O Te Wheke.

 

We have acknowledged the presence of the sacred mountain of Taranaki. We have acknowledged the Taranaki tribes as well as our partners in mission from the Maori Bishopric of Te Upoko O Te Ika.

 

Welcome to our special guests here tonight, especially our ecumenical partners.  In particular we are delighted to welcome back to the Diocese our brother in Christ the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the Most Reverend George Takeli. Archbishop it is a deep honour to have you with us tonight. Also welcome to the General Secretary of this Church, and a son of this Diocese, the Reverend Michael Hughes. Michael is an outstanding servant of this Church and it is lovely to have you with us tonight.

 

Thank you to all of you who gather for this synod.  We want particularly to acknowledge that many of you are here having been chosen by your communities to be their representatives, and while as members of Synod we gather together we wish to express our particular thanks to the senior leadership team of the Diocese who shoulder specific responsibilities: our Chancellor, our Vicar General, the Deans, Archdeacons and our Ministry Educator.

 

Thank you to our Diocesan Manager, to the members of Standing Committee, our Trust Boards, Management Resources Sub-committee and Ministry and Mission Resources Sub-committee and the other task groups in the life of the Diocese.

 

To our colleagues working at Charlotte Brown House and Tikituterangi house, and to colleagues at Trust Management Limited; thank you for your warmth, your humour, your vision and your commitment.

 

Thank you to the many volunteers who work so tirelessly and faithfully in different ways to support our life together.  Your diverse contributions are of immense value and we are so deeply grateful.

 

And finally to our families, especially to Myles and Belinda, we want to acknowledge the cost, and the unfailing love and support you offer us – thank you.

 

In Memorium

 

We remember those who have died since the last time we gathered to transact our business as the Diocesan Synod, some we will record in this Charge; some are written on our hearts. 

 

Brother Brian SSF, Geoff Hyde, Reverend Lesley Hyde, Tilly Campbell, The Venerable Bruce Dale, Reverend John Hoar, Brian Haskell, Reverend Mary Mould, Joan Harrison, Diana Smith.

 

Please stand with us in silent thanksgiving. 

 

Please stand

 

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

 

Episcopal Vision

 

2017 will see the third year of our episcopal vision: that grounded in prayer, we are equipped for discipleship and connected to community.  Throughout the process of the working out of the vision, we have been keen to stress that the three strands are interwoven.  They will each have a life beyond this three-year period, and will continue to inform and shape our engagement with God’s mission.

 

As we stand on the cusp of the launch of our vision for community, we wish to acknowledge the positive working relationships which as bishops we have enjoyed with two city mayors, each approaching the end of their terms of office.  Mayor Andrew Judd of New Plymouth, and Mayor Julie Hardaker of Hamilton, we are profoundly grateful for the positive working relationships we have enjoyed and for the high level of good will between our roles.  We thank you both, and wish to assure you of our prayers for this next season of your lives.  As bishops we consider the many connections that we have between church and wider communities to be essential, mutually challenging and life-giving.  Opportunities abound for community links to be forged and strengthened throughout the Diocese.  We applaud those connections already made, and we encourage each one of us to seek new ways to support and enable our ministry and mission units, chaplaincies and other ministries to serve the many lives they interlink with.

 

We are hard-wired for relationship, with God and one another.  The dynamic union that is represented in the life of the Trinity gives us a model of relationship to follow.  Drawn into community we celebrate what we hold in common whilst acknowledging that we are all different too.  This is the mystery of creation: each one of us is a unique child of God; each one of us shares the desire to know God more fully.  We cannot escape that profound sense of reach and longing.  God calls us to know God more, and we respond through becoming disciples.  The first disciples were called to follow Jesus, and to fashion their lives after him.  The coming of the Holy Spirit provided energy and inspiration for the increase of the community of faith that would become the early church, the first Christians, followers of The Way.  The Anglican Church honours the Apostolic Succession through our three-fold ministry of deacon, priest and bishop.  Yet all God's people are called, each has a vocation to be what God is purposing them to be.  Ministry is for each and every one of us, lay and ordained.  We are each given tasks and responsibilities for the purpose of increasing and strengthening the community of faith. 

 

In the first Charge of this episcopal partnership in 2014 we outlined our three-fold vision.

 

By beginning our focus on prayer, we acknowledged that prayer is essential for our relationship with God.  Without regular prayer, we cannot communicate with God; without regular prayer we lose connection with God’s will and purpose in our lives.  To wait patiently on God in prayer, in silence, in meditation, while out walking, with other people, alone, in worship, in celebration, in despair, all of these are held before the God who hears our cry and sustains us always.  When Jesus’ disciples asked him how they should pray, Jesus’ response as told in Luke’s Gospel was the command to pray The Lord’s Prayer.  This prayer is a mandate for discipleship, both in its being and in its doing.  As disciples, we give glory to God; we seek God’s Kingdom on earth as in heaven; we ask not solely for our provision but for that of others, sufficient for the day ahead; we forgive the sins of others as we ourselves are forgiven; we seek protection from all that prevails against us, whilst upholding the need for protection of our most weak and vulnerable members of our communities.  The journey of discipleship is characterised by a desire to deepen the understanding of our faith, in the company of others.  None of us can place God in a box, and all of us must seek continually to grow in humility and openness to God’s constant capacity to surprise and shock us out of prejudice and complacency.

 

This year our focus has been on discipleship, and the launch of the new Living Faith Today course and Bishops' Certificate next year will form the basis of all lay training in the Diocese, and represents a significant raising of the bar of our expectations and valuing of lay ministry.  We have been encouraged by the many signs of focus on discipleship over the course of this year, but equally we feel that there is always more that we can each do to intentionally celebrate and engage with God's mission as disciples of Jesus Christ.  We continue to seek for a culture in this Diocese that is joy-filled and hope-filled, and which rejects negativity and ill-feeling towards our neighbours. 

 

Next year, 2017, our focus will be on connecting to community. As Christians, followers of Christ, we are committed to vibrant, healthy, attractive servant communities and we are also committed to building the ‘Kingdom of God, here on earth – as it is in heaven’.

 

So as we gather here as the church to make decisions for and about the life of the church, but the basis of our decisions cannot be, “Is it what I want?” or “Is it good for the Church?” The criterion for our decisions must be, “Will this enhance or inhibit the spread of the Kingdom, the ‘new community’ of God?” or to put it another way, “Is what we are doing true to the nature of the Kingdom of God?” In a book of essays published in the 1950s, called “Soundings”, John A.T. Robinson wrote, You can have as high a view of ministry as you like as long as your view of the church is higher, you can have as a high a view of the Church as you like as long as your view of the Kingdom is higher.”

 

A good portion of the Gospel is taken up with Jesus’ teaching about the nature of the Kingdom of God. It is an upside down community - Jesus reversed the general value system by pronouncing blessing on the poor, the hungry and those who weep.

 

As the Church we are called to be this sort of community, a sign, a glimpse of what God is calling the whole creation into being; a community that lives for others. Seeing the needs around us; responding, healing, accepting, forgiving, reconciling.  A sign of the God who is in our midst.

 

Jesus was open to the world around him, in dialogue with it and yet standing in contrast to it - so the church must also be.  We need to be clear about the Gospel that we proclaim.  This Gospel argues the health of a community is measured not by the relative comfort of the majority but by the experience of its weakest member.  It is a Gospel that expresses power through servanthood.  It is a Gospel that proclaims a community in which loving is more important than winning, being vulnerable is more important than having power and where helping someone to find the best in themselves is better than managing peoples lives.

 

The manifesto of this community is seen clearly in the Sermon on the Mount and pre-eminently in the Beatitudes. This is a high vision of community, it is a demanding manifesto, it almost seems impossible – Jesus recognises this - you will notice that each beatitude begins in the present tense and moves to the future tense.

 

The present tense indicates that the beatitudes are expressions of what is already true about the Christian community. Of course, not every member of every part of the Christian community can claim to be meek, merciful and pure in heart, but the beatitudes are addressed, not initially to individuals but to the whole household of faith. Among every authentic Christian community can be found persons of meekness, ministers of mercy and workers for peace. Their presence and activity among us is a sign of God’s blessing and a call to conform our common life more and more to these kingdom values. But the move to the future tense challenges and reminds us of how far we have to go.

 

In the world, the way is power; in the Kingdom of God, the way is love. In the world, the focus is self; in the Kingdom of God, the focus is others. In the world, the rule is law; in the Kingdom of God, the rule is trust. In the world, the practice is get; in the Kingdom of God, it is give.

 

We are all citizens of both the Kingdom, the new community of God, and this world. This needs to characterize every interaction we have both within our faith communities, across the Diocese and in the way we relate to, and serve the communities in which we are set.

 

This understanding of community works on a number of levels:

 

                      

Parish or Ministry Unit, School, Hospitals, Prisons, Agency and Foundation; Bishopric; Diocesan; Provincial, and across the Communion.  Each of these foci are enabled by the connection we have with God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is God’s Holy Spirit that inspires us in action, and calls us to minister in God’s name.  We are greatly encouraged by positive developments in the field of vocations.  We are extremely grateful for the innovative and inspiring work being undertaken by our Diocesan Director of Vocations, to foster and encourage vocations among some outstanding young people. 

 

We pay tribute also to the outstanding work done by our school, tertiary and hospital chaplains, and those working in secular employment.  We all need to realise that all God’s people, lay and ordained live and work 'in community'. 

 

Our vocational deacons minister so often on the edges of society, with those in the greatest need, in our cities and rural environments; our priests embody incarnational and sacramental living wherever they are located. 

 

Lay ministers and many others who volunteer tirelessly do so because they recognise the call of God to be Christ to all whom they meet, whether that is seen or unseen, we know how much goes on that is unheralded, and we wish to offer our profound appreciation and gratitude for all that hard work and commitment shown by so many.

 

At General Synod Te Hinota Whanui in May, the theme of Climate change was prominent, not least by motions and presentations by our Pacific sisters and brothers.  Care for creation must be a priority, for it affects so many other aspects of our daily lives.  We cannot afford to see it as someone else’s issue, it belongs to each of us too. 

 

A few months ago many of us in Taranaki and from beyond, joined with our Mayor Andrew Judd on a walk for Peace from his office in New Plymouth to the village of Parihaka it was a potent expression of the hope we have in us – believing that we can find a way of dialogue across great difference, pain and suffering and that we can heal the past and forge a positive future. As we walked, men and women, old and young, maori and pakeha, the affluent and the afflicted, we talked and we listened and we were changed by the experience.

 

There are many, many examples of excellent community engagement initiatives already across our Diocese, and here we want to highlight just a small number in the hope that this may inspire others to realise that it is possible, but that you have got to heed God’s call to start small and aim big, and you need to think deeply about the culture you inhabit currently – how welcoming are you?

 

From Putaruru – vicar Jan Tarrant reports: Messy Church is not simply an opportunity to engage in craft activities and have a ‘free meal’, but a time when families can come together to enjoy being together and making things together, eating together and celebrating God together through his word, through music and through prayer.  It is different from a children’s activity programme because it is an event for children and their carers or parents together, and an element of worship underpins it all.  Leader Mary Addison has found it to be an opportunity to invite people into an experience of Christian community that is friendly, hospitable and fun.  It provides us with an occasion to engage with our wider community, where people are invited along not only to participate in the ‘messy activities’ but where their often ‘messy life’ is not a barrier to them or to us.

We begin the afternoon gathering in the church by setting the theme, and then move on to about an hour of craft activities; thematic to the story we are engaging with.  We then celebrate in the church, retelling or acting out the story, and enjoy music, singing and/or participation with simple musical instruments.

 

Next, we share a hot meal together.  This is a proper ‘sit down meal’ where the dining space has been prepared  creatively, and the children and their carers sit at the table, learning table manners and the pleasure to be gained by sharing a meal with others.  This is the Eucharistic part of the session.  Relationship building (as in any church service) is an important part of the gathering.  It has not only enabled gathering with new people at St Paul’s, but with old people in new ways.’  

 

Selwyn Centres have been established in several parishes in the north of the Diocese. Andrew Brock from the Bishop’s Action Foundation captures something of this vision for building community among older people in our suburbs, towns and villages.

 

video

 

From Huntly, vicar Peter Sampson reflects on his initiative to hold photographic exhibitions in the community: ‘The occasional photography exhibitions in town began out of my desire to meet people and to contribute to the life and well-being of the town.  And as the clergy, to model the mission focus I was talking about to the members of the church.  I wondered how my growing interest in photography and my desire to connect with people related?  I put posters around town to gauge interest in an exhibition and developed an adhoc collective called 'elevate'.  A few emerging photographers contacted me to participate.  In the spirit of Luke 10, I knocked on doors until I found that 'person of peace' who was sympathetic to my idea and provided exhibition space in the main street.  At the opening, I spoke of celebrating creativity, participation and being local. Each time we've had an exhibition we've met and included new people.

 

The simple idea of seeing if others wanted to participate in a photography exhibition has had numerous positive outcomes.  Seeing the pride on the faces of those who never imagined they would have their work displayed in public is wonderful.  Creating a little buzz around town is fun. And developing relationships with others prepared to take a risk for the sake of bringing a little light into the town has been a joy.

 

A couple of people connected with during the exhibitions started coming to church.  Unfortunately, welcoming these newcomers into our existing congregation has been more difficult than I expected.’

 

Judy Wood the Coordinator of the Seasons for Growth speaks about a programme that has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children who have been traumatized by grief, loss and abuse.

 

video

 

Later on during Synod we will listen to and engage with students from St Paul’s Collegiate who have started an inspiring ministry with local low-decile schools, called ‘Over the Fence.’  We look forward to that presentation, and commend these young women and men as role models to us all.  Our invitation for 2017 is for each ministry unity, however constituted and expressed to create a new initiative or share an established programme with neighbouring parishes to engage directly with their immediate surrounding community.  We would do well to stop and think for a moment, if as churches and other related bodies we weren’t here, would we be missed?  We want to build a different culture throughout every part of our Diocese to engage in God’s mission at a local level.

 

By the time we reach 2020, which will see the tenth anniversary of this Diocese as it was renamed, we want to see visible growth and strengthening in all areas of prayer, discipleship and commitment to community service.  This then is our 2020 vision.  Our vision and commitment as Bishops is to lead this Diocese towards sustained growth, for the flourishing of all God’s people, known and loved by God without question or discrimination. 

 

Grounded in prayer – we are equipped for discipleship – and connected to community.

 

 

DIOCESE OF WAIKATO AND TARANAKI

FIRST SESSION OF THE THIRTY EIGHTH SYNOD (2015)

 

PRESIDENTS’ CHARGE

 

Kia Whakakororia ki Te Atua i Runga Rawa, Kia Mau Te Rongo ki Runga ki Te Whenua, Kia Pai Te Whakaaro ki Nga Tangata Katoa. 

 

E Te Maungatapu e tu ra, ko Taranaki, Tena Koe:  Ki Te Waka Tokomaru, Te Waka Aotea, Te Waka Kurahaupo Tena Koutou.  Nga Mihi Nui Ki Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa Ki Hui Amorangi Ki Te Upoko O Te Ika.

 

Honore ki Te Arikinui Te Kingi Ko Tuheitia.  Ki Te Kahui Ariki Katoa, Ma Te Atua Ratou E Manaaki E Tiaki i Nga Wa Katoa.  Ki Te Waka Tainui Tena Koutou. Ki Te Iwi o Ngati Maniapoto, Tena Koutou. Ki Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa ki Te Hui Amorangi Ki Te Manawa O Te Wheke, Tena Koutou.

 

We have glorified God with the first language of this country.

 

We have acknowledged the presence of the sacred mountain of Taranaki. We have acknowledged the Taranaki tribes as well as our partners in mission from the Maori Bishopric of Te Upoko O Te Ika.

 

We have honoured the Maori King and his household, we have greeted the Tainui tribal confederation, including Ngati Maniapoto, as well as our partners in mission from the Maori Bishopric of Te Manawa O Te Wheke.

 

Welcome to our special guests here tonight, especially our ecumenical partners.

 

Thank you to all of you who gather for this synod.  We want particularly to acknowledge that many of you are here having been chosen by your communities to be their representatives, and while as members of Synod we gather together we wish to express our particular thanks to the senior leadership team of the Diocese who shoulder specific responsibilities: our Chancellor, our Vicar General, the Deans, Archdeacons and our Ministry Educator.

 

Thank you to our Diocesan Manager, to the members of Standing Committee, our Trust Boards, Management Resources Sub-committee and Ministry and Mission Resources Sub-committee and the other task groups in the life of the Diocese.

 

To our colleagues working at Charlotte Brown House and Tikituterangi house, and to colleagues at Trust Management Limited; thank you for your warmth, your humour, your vision and your commitment.

 

Thank you to the many volunteers who work so tirelessly and faithfully in different ways to support our life together.  Your diverse contributions are of immense value and we are so deeply grateful.

 

And finally to our families, especially to Myles and Belinda, we want to acknowledge the cost, and the unfailing love and support you offer us – thank you.

 

In Memorium

 

We remember those who have died since the last time we gathered to transact our business as the Diocesan Synod, some we will record in this Charge; some are written on our hearts.  Please stand with us in silent thanksgiving. 

 

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

 

Our Episcopal Vision

 

In our charge to Synod last year, we presented our three-fold vision for the Diocese: that grounded in prayer, we are equipped for discipleship, and connected to community.  This past year has seen a particular focus on prayer and liturgy, and on our Anglican identity, with training events held, and the week-long feast of Anglican prayer and spirituality.  This has enabled our whole Diocese to gain strength in our corporate life during a period of ongoing consolidation and change, looking to critical questions about our future sustainability as we engage in God’s mission.  As we move to our focus for 2016: discipleship, we do so conscious that this prayerful foundation is the basis for our life together as disciples.   This intentional link is nowhere better illustrated than in Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples, which we heard read to us in its version in Luke’s Gospel.  This is a prayer that forms the heartbeat of our lives as Christians.  The New Testament scholar Bishop Tom Wright describes it as ‘a prayer for people who are following Jesus on the kingdom-journey.’ 

 

We want to explore briefly, four key areas which form our vision for the outworking of the theme of discipleship over the coming year.

 

Firstly, the Lord’s Prayer says something important about the nature of discipleship.  The disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, as John taught his disciples.  You cannot be a disciple if you are not open to being taught something new; indeed that is the very meaning of the word ‘disciple’: one who is a pupil or an apprentice.  The relationship of teacher to pupil represented by Jesus and disciples tells us that disciples are those who learn by being in the company not just of one another, but of the one from whom they are learning: Jesus Christ.  This process of teaching and learning did not happen instantly, but rather for Jesus’ disciples, as indeed for us, it took time.  We know from the Gospels, that those who followed Jesus encountered many challenges and situations that looked to be utterly hopeless; but each challenge was turned into an opportunity, with imagination and a compelling commitment to the unshakeable eternal reality of the One who called the disciples into new life: the God of all grace who never lets us go.  We know that frequently the disciples got things wrong, but Jesus never gave up on them.  The life of discipleship is all about the company you keep, those from who you are willing to learn, and more often than not, it was and is about keeping the company of those whom we are most unlike, the most vulnerable and forgotten by society as a whole.  That is a challenge of the utmost importance, because it calls us to vulnerability in how we learn; it demands of us courage and tenacity; it requires of us great humility and patient wisdom.  Discipleship is not an intermittent activity, it requires intentional and constant seeking on God through making our whole lives the outworking of what we learn through saying the prayer that Jesus commanded us to pray.  We seek a Christian presence of discipleship in every aspect of our communities, so that each person may contribute to a Gospel that puts justice and compassion at its core.

 

Throughout next year, there will be many continuing opportunities to engage in learning and training.  We continue to be very intentional in seeking to green our leadership, and in thinking carefully about how we can best grow and resource our lay ministry.  We also ask that you be open to seeking out new ways of offering yourselves through service to others in your communities, and growing the many excellent things that are already happening, sharing those ideas with one another in your regions and archdeaconries.

 

As we continue to grow in discipleship through careful stewardship of our gifts, resources and assets, we ask that every parish, school, and ministry unit follow the 2016 Lent course that is being produced by Theology House in Christchurch.  Entitled ‘Stewardship: Through Lent with Mark’; this series of 6 studies for small groups has been jointly written by Peter Carrell and the Bishop of Waikato.  We hope that by engaging with texts from Mark’s Gospel in fresh, practical and thoughtful ways, we will all grow together in what we learn from the insights we can share.

 

A second important message from the Lord’s Prayer is that there is an intimate connection between our prayer, our life in discipleship and the call on each one of us to be our sister and brother’s keeper, and to care for the world that is our home.

 

The prayer Jesus taught begins with the hallowing of the name of God, giving praise for the unmerited gift of life in creation, and immediately turns to pray that the kingdom of peace justice and righteousness might be a reality here and now. A community in which human beings flourish, the creation is treated with respect and the resources of the earth are sustained for those who are to follow us.

 

Here we have the extraordinary scope of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be Done on earth as it is in heaven”.  From the heights of heaven to the needs of earth and all who inhabit it, in one great step.  From the hallowing of God’s name and its holiness, to the doing of God’s will to the provision of food.  Take care of neighbours physical needs, give her water, food, clothes, healing and companionship.  “In as much as you have done it unto the least of these my brothers and sisters you have done it unto me”. (Matt 25:40)

 

We are called to be stewards of this great mission.

 

What a huge spiritual burden it is for us well-fed Christians to have to remember our starving brothers and sisters every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer.  What an enormous responsibility that rests on us to not only remember our brothers and sisters in Kiribass, the Tokelau or the Marshall Islands, or the people of the Irrawaddy delta or the great river deltas of Bangalore who are so impacted by the consequences of climate change.

 

In a world seemingly dominated by hatred and distrust, the Way of Christ is a way of living that has one major remedy for the undoubted evil in the world: the remedy of forgiveness.  The testimony of the ancient church is abundant on this point;  II Corinthians 5:19 ‘in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us’;  Ephesians 4:32 ‘Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you’. 

 

What is emphasised is the fact that the Christian has entered into a world not governed by fear or distrust but by love, a world from which the divisions and oppositions of secular society have vanished and there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free’.   The consequence is a new sense of community which finds expression in mutual service.  We have entered into that sense of community when we utter the first phrases of praise in the Lord’s Prayer.  We enter it when we pray with all our neighbours for our daily bread but we enter the deep inner court of Christian community when we utter the forgiveness petition. 

 

When we have experienced the Way of forgiveness and seen the transformative power of love we can do nothing other than respond to human suffering generously and unconditionally.

 

An area in our contemporary situation where this comes in to sharp focus is the response we as a Christian community and as a wider society are making to the current refugee crisis.

  • 4 million people across the borders in Lebanon, Jordan,  Iraq and Turkey
  • 1.5 million in Germany alone by the end of 2015.
  • The number of refugees from Syria has doubled from 2014 to 2015
  • You have seen the images and you have heard the numbers.
  • Simply the biggest movement of people since the second world war.

 

As we respond with our resources to assist with the resettlement of the additional intake of 600 refugees we have the opportunity to demonstrate to our government that as a society we have the capacity and the moral obligation to significantly increase our intake.  It also demands of us a significant recommitment to interfaith dialogue and understanding.  The role of this Diocese in assisting with the resettlement of refugees will be important over the coming months, with Hamilton already a refugee resettlement area.

 

The third important message from the Lord’s Prayer is that this is not a prayer simply for the individual.  It only achieves its fullest meaning when it is prayed together by the whole body of Christ, or with an awareness that even if we pray it on our own we are joining in a chorus of languages and cultures with Christian sisters and brothers the world over. 

 

 

Give us each our daily bread.

And forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.

And do not bring us to the time of trial.

 

This image that we displayed for the first time at Synod last year is made up of photographs from the life of our whole Diocese.  These photographs form an image of Christ, and remind us that all our lives are interwoven with each other because together we respond to God’s call of discipleship.  We rightly celebrate the many ways in which we currently share with one another through collaborative action.

 

We will as Bishops be giving special focus to seeking ways of encouraging and growing fresh opportunities for the sharing of ministry and resources in ways that both honour local engagement in mission, and seek new connections with those around us.  Our Anglican ecclesiology is very clear in its strengthening of the whole body: locally, across the Diocese, nationally, and as part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.  Both Bishops rejoice in many connections and links with other parts of our Communion, and we both speak with great confidence that our Communion is a vital part of who we are as Anglican Christians.

 

2016 will see the continuation of our rich and long-held partnership with our Tikanga Maori brothers and sisters of Te Manawa o Te Wheke through our joint Ministry School.  This partnership is an outstanding and unique example in the life of our whole Church of the outworking and honouring of our Treaty-based relationships.

 

It is clear to us also from experience in the north, that the work of Anglican Action, fast gaining increasing national recognition in its tireless work for justice through service, illustrates that partnership and collaboration for the sake of the most vulnerable in our midst, models for us possibilities for how we can engage with the corporate nature of the outworking of the Lord’s Prayer in our own communities.  This anticipates the third aspect of our vision in 2017: that we are connected to community.  We recognise that many parishes, schools and ministry units are already connecting to communities in creative, imaginative and life-changing ways; we celebrate this, and want to see and encourage more growth in this area.

 

The fourth important message we want to take from the Lord’s Prayer can be simply stated: while Christ’s prayer is very here and now focused, the present always stands under the scrutiny that is possible when the light of the Gospel, and the Kingdom it proclaims, is shining on what is happening.

 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is no political manifesto. The prayer Jesus taught and the Gospel he proclaimed will always challenge the ways things are and any complacency we may be guilty of. We are constantly called to work for the new community of peace and justice and righteousness which the Lord’s Prayer assumes and which the Gospel sets out.

 

As Christians we respond to God’s call in the context of eternity. We know that we build on those who have gone before us and that there are others who will follow us in the faith.

 

Our challenge to each mission and ministry unit associated with this Diocese is to more authentically be a Christian presence and witness in your community and through your networks. As we think about being ‘presence’ and ‘witness’, as our forebears in mission were, we will have to wrestle with the relevance of our current structures and our current resources, including our buildings, in supporting this mission.

 

By the time we reach 2020, which will see the tenth anniversary of this Diocese as it was renamed, we want to see visible growth and strengthening in all areas of prayer, discipleship and commitment to community service.  This then is our 2020 vision.  Our vision and commitment as Bishops is to lead this Diocese towards sustained growth, for the flourishing of all God’s people, known and loved by God without question or discrimination. 

 

Grounded in prayer – we are equipped for discipleship – and connected to community.

Charge to Synod 2014

The Joy of the Gospel

One of the great gifts and challenges of our liturgical life as Anglicans is our determination to listen to, and be shaped by the whole of Scripture not just the bits that we like!  We, like millions of Christians world wide, follow the rhythm of the Revised Common Lectionary.  So last Sunday we heard again from the Gospel of Matthew the story of the landowner who paid all the workers one denarius irrespective of how long they worked during that day.  You know the one! It provocatively holds before us the generosity of God, a generosity that challenges all our presuppositions about what is fair and what is just.  It reminds us that we live not by the principles and rules of an economy of mere “fairness” but the principles and rules of the economy of Grace.  This takes us right back to the very basic understanding at the foundation of our faith.  We know ourselves to be captured by generosity, unconditional, inexhaustible generosity.  We are captured by Grace.

Theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich[1]  said he was launched on his philosophic and religious journey when somebody said to him in his teenage years, "Why something and not nothing?"  In other words, why did creation ever get called out of nothing into being?

The Bible gives a very specific answer to that question.  In Genesis, it is clear that in that ‘beginning that has no beginning’, back before there was anything except God, this Mystery who is life and has life, that One must have said within himself, "This wonder of aliveness that I am, it is simply too good to keep to myself.  I want others to know the ecstasy of being and of having and of doing."  ++Philip expressed this in another way in his charge to Synod last year; “it is a love that cannot contain itself; it is a love that has to reach out in a continuous movement of self-offering, self-giving, self-surrender. A love that in spite of rejection, in spite of distortion reaches out and reaches out and reaches out because in its very character it can do no other.”

So God began to create, and continues to create, not to get something for God's self but to give something of God's self  

In other words, inexhaustible, unconditional, generosity is the source out of which all creation comes, and because of generosity, the truth is none of us can claim that we have earned  this life of ours through our own efforts.  Each one of us is given life as a gift, it is sheer windfall, pure grace!

If we stay in touch with this primal grace that marks the beginning of all of our lives, then we have every reason to be grateful no matter what our particular circumstances.  We have reason to believe that the sheer wonder of being alive is an unending source of joy and of gratitude.

There is an old rabbinic parable about a farmer that had two sons.  As soon as they were old enough to walk, he took them to the fields and he taught them everything that he knew about growing crops and raising animals.  When he got too old to work, the two boys took over the chores of the farm and when the father died, they had found their working together so meaningful that they decided to keep their partnership.  So each brother contributed what he could and during every harvest season, they would divide equally what they had corporately produced.  Across the years the elder brother never married, stayed an old bachelor.  The younger brother did marry and had eight wonderful children.  Some years later when they were having a wonderful harvest, the old bachelor brother thought to himself one night, "My brother has ten mouths to feed. I only have one.  He really needs more of his harvest than I do, but I know he is much too fair to renegotiate.  I know what I'll do. In the dead of the night when he is already asleep, I'll take some of what I have put in my barn and I'll slip it over into his barn to help him feed his children.

At the very time he was thinking down that line, the younger brother was thinking to himself, "God has given me these wonderful children.  My brother hasn't been so fortunate.  He really needs more of this harvest for his old age than I do, but I know him.  He's much too fair.  He'll never renegotiate. I know what I'll do. In the dead of the night when he's asleep, I'll take some of what I've put in my barn and slip it over into his barn."  And so one night when the moon was full, as you may have already anticipated, those two brothers came face to face, each on a mission of generosity.  The old rabbi said that there wasn't a cloud in the sky, a gentle rain began to fall.  You know what it was? God weeping for joy because two children had got the point.  Two of God’s children had come to realize that generosity is the deepest characteristic of the holy and because we are made in God's image, our being generous is the secret to our joy as well.

Knowing ourselves to be the recipients of God’s generous love, brings great joy and is also the basis of evangelism.  For if we are the recipients of a love that has restored meaning into our lives how can we not but want to share that love with others.

Goodness always tends to spread, goodness grows and takes root and develops.  If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life we have to reach out to others and seek their good.

“Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.” (Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel, p. 7). 

Being Anglican

The overwhelming reality of God’s love in our lives connects us with our forebears in the faith, who also experienced the joy and transformation that built the early church.

Early Christian identity was forged over a period of time that we have access to in the books of the New Testament.  The earliest documents: the letters of Paul, and the Gospels, provide insight into the person of Jesus Christ, and the impact that God’s revelation through Christ had on the lives of the first disciples.  Acts describes the coming of the Holy Spirit, and how the early followers of Jesus, who were known simply as ‘the way’ gathered together in mixed communities of all ages and social groupings, for prayer and worship, for the breaking of bread, and in compassionate care of one another.  In so doing, what we know to be ‘the church’ was formed, a word that in its Greek origin, means literally ‘called out.’  Christians are people grounded in place, yet always connected to the world around them.  Both these elements of place and community engagement are vital to understanding what it means to be Anglican. 

We have so much to be joyful and confident about in our Anglican identity, but sometimes the outcome of our reflecting on this identity can lack clarity.  Perhaps this is less of a problem, and more of an opportunity through this vision we present to you, to reconnect with what grounds us, and appreciate the many threads that are woven together: past, present and future?  Our grounding as a church lies in history that is beyond the sovereign bounds of our islands, but which, like our nation, has a connection with the history of the development of the church in England.  To explain that a little: the word ‘Anglican’ seems to have been first used in the mid-19th century to describe the Church of England in its independence from the Roman Catholic Church.  The term ‘Anglicanism ’ was used by John Henry Newman in 1838 to distinguish from ‘Protestantism’.  In that sense, sometimes the term was equivalent to Anglo-Catholicism.  So even with that, you begin to gain a sense of the breath of the Church’s constitution and practice; catholic yet reformed.

Consequently, we are a denomination with a lot of baggage!  Some of the load we carry is local, some of it global; all of it is richly part of who we are, and who God is calling us to be here in this Diocese.  At the heart of being Anglican lies a willingness to be patient and attentive, spacious and sensitive, and a desire to share the load together in a very intentional way, all of which requires persistence and mutual forbearance.  We need constantly to place Christ in the midst of who we are and what we do.  In that sense, it is hard not to think about the life of the early church, and to recognise that our present endeavours echo down the centuries with the faithful who have gone before us.  But all too often we view this as excess baggage, rather than tools to help us engage afresh with God’s mission, and deepen our discipleship.  Too often, what is in fact patient persistence in discernment of the movement of the Holy Spirit is perceived as unresolved conflict, and an inability to make a clear decision.  Bishop Stephen Pickard comments: ‘we might say, following John’s Gospel, that ‘God so loved the world that he sent his Son into the middle of things’…And it is precisely here that we can expect to find the abundance of God’s presence and activity.  It is in the middle of things in company with God that the seed of faith is planted, new things sprout and the kingdom grows’[2] .  To be ‘in the middle’ of things carries vulnerability, tension, and risk of failure.  Yet it is also a place of excitement and joy, with opportunity for innovation and creativity, all of which need courage and commitment.  It is also a more helpful image of direct and active engagement rather than constantly feeling we are on the edge or out on a limb.  Remember limbs are part of the Body of Christ!

To be ‘in the middle’ of our communities, as churches, schools, tertiary institutions, hospitals, prisons, in whatever places our lives are linked with, means we have many opportunities to work with this unique Anglican charism of place and engagement.  Often, revelation lies in an ability to observe and abide with the most ordinary things of life.  R. S. Thomas was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who lived from 1913 to 2000.  In his poem The Bright Field , he picks up on an image from our Gospel reading this evening:

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it.  But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it.  I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it.  Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past.  It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

It is significant that our charge is delivered in the middle of this Eucharistic celebration, where we encounter one another in the mystery of God’s eternal changelessness.  Our celebration of Holy Communion is about companionship, literally being alongside those ‘we break bread with.’  In sharing bread and wine, we pledge ourselves to one another and to God, making Jesus known in and through our actions.  We commit to the bonds of unity that depend on trust, and a search for peace.  This does not mean that we always agree, and it does not mean that there will never be sadness or division, but it does mean that we are never separated from God, the God who never lets us go.  With this ecclesiology, we should have no reason to let go of one another in the Body of Christ.

Grounded in prayer, we participate in a pattern that is both ancient and contemporary, both local and contextual as it is expressed in our Prayer Book, and global in sharing with our Anglican sisters and brothers across the world.  The so-called ‘Great Commission’ of Matthew 28, where Jesus commands his disciples to ‘go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ begins from the perspective of worship.  Lex orandi; Lex credendi : as we worship; so we believe.  This may be expanded with the addition of Lex Vivendi : so we live.  Our prayer and worship, expressed through our liturgy is the beginning point of mission.  In its Greek origin, the word ‘liturgy’ means ‘the work of the people’, but this does not mean services are planned and led by all the people, or that everyone is free to create whatever liturgy they like without any regard to tradition or doctrine!  In actual fact the word ‘liturgy’ has a far more radical meaning.  In its Greek usage ‘liturgy’ typically referred to a piece of work that was built or given for the purposes of the common good.  If a community needed a gathering place such as a town hall, a wealthy person would build it for the good of all the people.  It was public, so that the benefits were available for all.  Fast-forward a few thousand years to today: liturgy – a work of the people of God – is supposed to have public benefits.  All we say and do in our worshipping life is for the people of God, but for the up-building of all.  Now this doesn’t mean we ditch the prayer-book!  Rather we regain a sense of renewed confidence in its order, structure, rhythms and beauty.  If we are clear about the message we seek to communicate, then diligence in prayer and worship truly does become the starting point of our missional life.

The episcopal vision we share with you now invites each one of us to reconnect with our Anglican identity in a very intentional way.  Our vision is three-fold: grounded in prayer  we are equipped for discipleship , and connected to community .  It is a vision that renews our confidence in God’s mission, and which will be engaged with in particular ways over the next three years.  It is a vision that began last year with Bishop Philip’s charge to Synod, and has been developed through the life of our new episcopal partnership.  Each of you should have received a vision prayer-card which you are encouraged to take away as a reminder of our work going forward from this Synod. 

The three strands of the vision will interweave with one another in creative, playful and joyful ways over the next three years.  Each year will engage with a particular strand, which will set our educational priorities as a Diocese, inviting us to participate in events and initiatives, anchored in a deeper understanding of our Anglican identity, equipping our journeys as disciples, and in formation of new leadership. 

This evening we can announce that 2015 will be a year of focus on prayer and our worshipping life.  To help resource and encourage one another, there will be a number of regional gatherings for stipended, part- and non-stipended clergy, and laity holding licenses, with participation from the bishops and invited speakers.  Each regional gathering will focus on a topic related to prayer and liturgy which will aim to better resource our understanding and practice.  Alongside this, there will be a Diocesan-wide festival-week of prayer and spirituality, featuring the promotion of resources, and local-based initiatives.  Every parish, ministry unit and other sector ministry will be encouraged to participate. 

Our Ministry School for next year will be re-launched as ‘The Gathering’ and will have as its focus celebrating our Anglican Identity.  There will be a keynote speaker to engage and inspire us, and a number of associated workshops and opportunities to reflect together.

The latter part of 2015 will also see the launch of the ‘Bishops’ living faith course’, a programme of nurture and teaching in the faith enabling participants to grow in their understanding, and thereby enhance the faith and life of their home congregation or locality, and the Diocese as a whole.  This will form a major part of the outworking of the second strand of our vision in 2016: equipping for discipleship. 

Building on this foundational commitment to equip disciples we recognize that the development of a new cohort of leaders is key to growing the Church. There is considerable evidence, from both the New Zealand context and overseas, that good leadership is fundamental to growth.[3]  We need to identify, train and resource mission focused leaders, lay and ordained. We are particularly excited by a vision developing in one of our schools for an “Anglican Christian leadership development programme”. We are committed to nurturing this vision and can see how this initiative can flow into our parishes. Leadership development will be a high priority in our ministry as your bishops. We are also delighted with the initiative of the students of Southwell School that will see a copy of the Gospel of Mark, illustrated by the children, travel throughout the Diocese. We know that you too will delight in this and welcome the Gospel into your parish worship.

While this charge is necessarily focusing on the foundations we believe need to laid in order to grow the Church in its mission, we cannot ignore or skate over the suffering of so many in our community. The economy of generosity, the economy of Grace, the economy of the Kingdom of God is rooted in all having the means for fulfilling and joy-filled lives. A society in which fundamental inequalities have been “hard-wired” in excludes many from access to the basics they need for full and happy lives. We know that between the mid 1980’s and the mid 1990’s the income and wealth inequality figures in New Zealand underwent a step change. The rapid increase in the gap between rich and poor has not increased significantly since the mid 1990’s but neither has it decreased.  In New Zealand the top 10% of incomes receive around 25% of the total income, and 50% of total wealth is owned by the top 10%. The bottom 50% of the population owns only 5% of the wealth. In countries where the income and wealth equality statistics are much more favourable; for example health and well being statistics are markedly better than ours, the situation of their children is better, incarceration figures and recidivism figures are also lower. In short, a more equal society is a happier, safer and more fulfilling community for all its citizens.[4]

From the earliest days, Christians have been referred to as members of the Body of Christ.  Each of us participates in the life and witness of God’s mission through our lives as disciples.  Each of us has something to give, and all of us have much to take by way of encouragement from this rich image of collaboration.  With all of this lies immense opportunity, to see one another as bound up together, as accountable to one another, with immense potential for learning and growth.  The image of Christ that you see displayed is made up of photographs from around our Diocese.  If you take a closer look, you may well find yourself!  It is a living reminder that we are the Body of Christ, and that filled with the joy of the Gospel, and inspired by God’s unending grace, we are empowered for our life and vocation as children of God.  It is our delight to be called to be your bishops at this time in the life of our Diocese.  We commend this vision to you, and ask for your prayers and engagement as surely we pray for each of you daily.

And so, in keeping with our being grounded in prayer, let us now pray together the vision prayer that you will find on your vision-cards:

God of heaven and earth,
Through Jesus you have made known to us
Your Holy name,
The Word who was made flesh,
And the person of the Holy Spirit.
May you be blessed for opening to us
The vision of your Kingdom,
And for inviting us to enter it
In the glory where you reign
For ever and ever.
Amen.

++ Philip
+Helen-Ann


[1]  Paul Tillich, was a German-born philosopher and theologian who emigrated to the United States in 1933 after a serious conflict with Nazi authorities in his home country. His extraordinary intellectual accomplishments made him one of the most important theological influences in the twentieth century.

[2]  In-between God, ATF Press, 2011, p.1-2.

[3]  We commend the report from the Church of England entitled “From Anecdote to Evidence” which provides some compelling evidence about the characterisitcs of ministry situations that are growing. The conclusions of this research is backed up by similar research being undertaken here in New Zealand

[4]  Please see the full discussion in the paper “Inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand – 23rd 2014 – Briefing to Church Leaders”.  This paper was prepared for a meeting between the Prime Minister and Church Leaders.

 

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