October 2017

Greetings - Last Friday I had the joy of attending Steve Benford’s ordination as the 10th Bishop of Dunedin. Hilary and I had met Steve and his wife Lorraine a couple of weeks earlier when they visited us on their way south and I felt very privileged when he asked if I would be the Bishop that presented him for ordination. Steve has been a doctor in the UK for 29 years specialising in anaesthetics since 1990. In the early 90’s he and Lorraine moved to a job in Otago – working as a GP in Oamaru. On their return to the UK Steve gave in to the call of God and entered the discernment process for ministry and was ordained in 2000 in the Diocese of York. He has a strong personal faith in Jesus that expresses itself in his love for the high church traditions and his respect for and experience of the charismatic presence of the Holy Spirit.Bishop Steve radiates joy and I am thrilled to have him as a colleague in the House of Bishops. 

The Monday following Steve’s ordination, we were both up in Auckland for the annual three-day meeting of all Bishops. It was great to meet another recently ordained Bishop Afa Vaka - Bishop in the new episcopal unit of Tonga within the Diocese of Polynesia. And to also meet for the first time Bishop Ellie Sanderson, assistant Bishop in the Wellington Diocese. The makeup of the House of Bishops is certainly changing. We spent some time considering the proposed new structure for the Church’s Social Justice Unit that has morphed into 7 strategic focus groups based on some of the pressing issues facing our communities today, from environmental issues to teenage suicide, poverty, housing etc. The evangelical Church has traditionally been at the forefront of social justice – particularly in the UK, but over the past 50 years or so (and I’m aware of the generalisation of this observation) we have seen a drift away from an outward focussed vision toward a more inward looking, personal holiness.  I am thrilled that our Synod expressed a strong desire to look at some sort of Social Justice forum being formed within the Diocese. 

Over the next three weeks I am completing the work that I started on my Sabbatical. While remaining in the Diocese I’ll be trying to focus more on the writing (and reporting back) on the key issues I set myself on the Sabbatical. Primary amongst these was the relationship between Diocese and Cathedrals, Deans and Bishops. I am sure that all clergy will be aware of the special meeting I have called on the 20th October (in the morning) to talk about the Small Working Group (SWG) report – generally known as Motion 29.

I hope that some members of the SWG will also be there to help present this report because I feel conflicted as both a member of that group and your Bishop. It was very helpful, at the recent Bishops’ meeting for me, to be able to sit back while other members of the SWG did the presentation.

That same day, following on in the afternoon, we have the Dean of Sydney Kanishka Raffel here with us and he will be speaking, very appropriately, on the theme of ‘Confidence in the Gospel.’ I strongly encourage as many of you as possible to stay on for that talk. Lunch will be provided between the two events.  

 By the way, talking about ordinations, on St Andrewstide (beginning of December) I will be ordaining Henk Lups (Mission to Seafarers Chaplain) as a Deacon and Luke Shaw as a Priest. This service will take place in the Cathedral on Friday 1 December.  More details in the next ad clerum. 

Please consider registering for the School of Theology at the end of next week. This event is specially put on by BTC to keep us theologically refreshed – so important to the effectiveness of our ministries. Details elsewhere in this Ad Clerum.

 Finally, I noticed the following quote in one of Bishop Steve Benford’s twitters under the heading ‘tips for Christian leadership’. ‘Be a Servant. Be a Learner. Be a Lover.’

 With every blessing

 +Richard

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