Anglican Church
of Papua New Guinea
Diocese of Port Moresby

Bishop's News (May / June 2000)

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The diocese is coming to the end of its Pentecost 2000 programme and it has proved to be an outstanding success. Groups and families have been meeting and working their way through the weekly sessions and are now prepared to come together on June 11th in a display of Diocesan unity.

One of the exciting things that has come out of the discussions is a very clear desire to have more of these study programmes. People do not want to leave it at Pentecost, but want to continue the reflections and study throughout the year. For all of us, it has been a time of re-discovery,going back to the Gospels and reminding ourselves of just what Jesus was demanding of us. It was also challenging to find out (once again) what it means to be a disciple, to follow Christ as a Christian. Hopefully, these discoveries will bring new life to the Church and help in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel to Port Moresby.

The Evangelism committee is now drawing up a programme of parish missions which will take the Diocese through to Lent next year. Groups of trained missioners will move into a parish for a six week period and through preaching, teaching and prayer, help parishes to draw up their pastoral visions and to put in place the steps necessary to achieve those visions and to make them real.

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With the help of a local business man, the Diocese is about to engage in a work project that will go a long way to helping with its financial stability. We will be going into the rag business. We have now set up half a dozen rag cutting machines at the diocesan office site. They will grade and cut rags that will be baled up and sold off to industries both here in PNG and overseas. It is an amazing lucrative business and I did not know that there was such a demand for good quality rags. The whole business is being given over to the Church (free of charge) and we will manage and operate it and eventually work out a way of dividing the work out among young people from the settlements. This will given them a small but regular income, and of course, help the Church in its mission work. The dream is that we will be able to put aside enough money so that eventually we will have an endowment that will provide some measure of financial security well into the future. It is one of a number of business ventures the Diocese will be pursuing over the next year.

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The Archbishop recently returned from a Roman Catholic - Anglican meeting in Toronto and his feelings are mixed. On one level it was encouraging to see that there was still an interest in the movement towards union, but at the same time some disappointment over the inability of the Churches to tackle some of the more pressing and difficult issues.

From his point of view, the main contribution of the Anglican Church in PNG, was towards the importance of community in the life of the Church. A Melanesian community values unity, respect and village leaders will go out of their way to ensure that unity is not only maintained but is also strengthened. What divides is quickly tackled and the root causes of the divisions overcome. This is so, even if the full resolution of the divisions takes a long time. The important thing is to have a working unity and a functioning community. This was the Archbishop's message to the ARCIC group. There was too much emphasis on sorting out the subtle theological niceties and not enough on a working, community based pastoral unity, which was by far the more important level and more easily obtained. This was the working reality here in PNG and there is no reason why it would not work in other nations as well.
The big question that had to be tackled was that of validity of Anglican Orders (at least that is the terminology from the Roman point of view). There is no way to avoid this sticking point and until it is resolved, the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea sees little chance of any real headway. To deny the validity of Orders denies the very heart of the Church's ecclesial structures and radically alters the nature of the Church. While Rome continues with this line, real movement towards unity will be held back. The Archbishop spelt this out clearly as being at the heart of Anglican concerns here in PNG. It was something that the village communities and their clergy could not understand and would never accept and would hold up ecumenical growth.

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The MU too has a new project going. We have arranged for the MU to be contracted to sew up towelling for sale to the local hotels. A local company imports the towelling from overseas and has invited the MU to turn the offcuts into towels. The first order is for 3000! At the moment the whole thing is being done at St John's Cathedral on machines purchased by the Bishop. We hope that once the group has a clear picture of what is required and are able to produce towels of the quality demanded, they will be able to operate out of their own homes. The arrangement is that the woman doing the sewing will receive 50 toea per towel and the MU will receive 50 toea. They should be able to produce about thirty towels per day which is an excellent income in Port Moresby terms. The money for the MU will go into mission work (AIDS, drugs and alcohol programmes and other outreach projects) in the Diocese.

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At a recent meeting Clare Vagi was elected as the Diocesan President. The Diocesan Executive is now made up of all of the branch presidents. This means that now each branch has a direct say in the planning and running of the MU in the diocese and that we avoid the problems of poor communication. We have come a long way over the last six months and are looking forward to taking up new projects and new directions.

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The Diocesan AIDS committee has started its work and has so far run two workshops for different groups. Later in the month it will be running a workshop for over forty MU members, hopefully training them to be able to go back to their parish groups and spread the message about the disease. There have been invitations to come and speak to numerous groups across the City and it seems that it meeting a huge need in the city. This is part of the reason why we need to establish a firm financial base, to help fund these types of projects.

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Bennita (Bishop's wife) has just come back from a week long literacy workshop in Kerema in the Gulf Province. The course was run to train teachers of literacy (in Pidgin). These teachers will then run their own courses in the community. One exciting part of the course was the involvement of the Melanesian Brothers from Pivo. They come from our newest parish where the first Anglicans were baptised at Christmas.

Literacy Group
Presentation of Certificates to a Literacy Group

There are no schools and health services there and the Church is working very hard to help with the development of the area. These brothers will be opening and running Pidgin schools in Pivo and we hope to find a group here in Moresby willing to fund the provision of books, blackboards and sporting equipment for the community.

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The clergy inservice training programme continues. All of the priests in the city area come together each Monday for a full day of sharing, prayer and for study. The morning session looks at the coming Sunday readings and works together on an exegesis of the text and shares some ideas on possible directions for the sermons. Then there is time to look at specific areas of ministry. For example, we are at the moment looking at liturgy, but in the past have studied topics like marriage, baptism, healing and ministering to the sick and various biblical subjects. Then there is time to look at practical problems that need addressing and a sharing of "what's on"". It has worked well in bringing us together as a group and moving the Diocese forward as a community of faith.
In the afternoon there is a more formal programme run by Fr Patrick Doulin. At the moment they are following a course on Anglicanism, trying to understand our history and our particular gifts to the universal church. Later this will develop out into wider theological and biblical questions. The hope is that from this course we will be able to offer something to the wider province enabling clergy across the Church to be involved in renewal and inservice courses. If we can manage to have our community centre built then we will be able to provide some facilities for short term "live in" inservice programmes for our brothers in other Dioceses.

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Previous Newsletter - May 2000

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Created 3 Jun, 2000
Updated 5 Jun, 2000
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