Sunday, November 4, 2012

News from New Zealand - 8

Sunday 4 November - Yesterday I observed a Sabbath from writing. Sunday was a day for ACC members to have ‘Mission Encounters’: through worship, conversation and hospitality at the invitation of churches in Auckland and the wider Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. So on Saturday evening I travelled from Auckland to Wellington on the southern tip of North Island, and stayed overnight with Tony and Susan Browne, delightful and hospitable hosts. They gave a great dinner, over which I enjoyed meeting some of their colleagues and friends.

On Sunday morning Canon Jenny Wilkens, the priest in charge, also gave me a warm welcome at St Paul’s Cathedral and showed me the ropes . The Cathedral is situated opposite the Houses of Parliament, rather like our St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. I enjoyed preaching at both the 8am and 10am services today and appreciated the parish lunch afterwards. I shared a thirty minutes PowerPoint presentation about the life and mission of ACSA – I hope it will soon be available on our ACSA website, for you to see and comment on. It was fulfilling to hear the views of senior laity, committed to our church and wanting it to be relevant in its vocation and teachings about Christ, and its prophetic ministry in situations where there is no fairness and justice. It was a great time, and I enjoyed discussions about church and state, including with diplomats and former diplomats. I was particularly glad to meet South Africa's High Commissioner and Deputy High Commissioner to New Zealand at the 8am service.

The people were very warm. We may be different in locality, race, and other particulars, but the way we are able to share in worship underscores that the Anglican Communion family is one, among the baptized people of God. We share far more profound similarities than superficial differences. In both worship and fellowship this was evident.

Wellington is a beautiful city, though windy like Port Elizabeth in South Africa. The air strip is surrounded by water on both sides – it reminded me of landing at Port-au-Prince airport, when I visited Haiti after their terrible earthquake. We were all asked to bring back a picture from our Mission Encounter, and write 100 words about our experience for sharing with the ACC plenary on Monday. I took a photograph of the picturesque scene where North and South Islands almost meet, from the hill that overlooks Cook Strait – it is rather like Signal Hill overlooking Table Bay in Cape Town! It was a beautiful sight, and I am grateful to my hosts who took me for a tour after the service and lunch.

This afternoon I travelled back to Auckland and I will now have an early night to bed in readiness for our final week of work. As a preparation for coming down from this ‘mountain top experience’, I am starting to reflect on the weeks ahead, back in Southern Africa. Soon after I return, Lungi and I will go to Swaziland to consecrate our first woman bishop in the Province, Revd Ellinah Wamukoya. Pray for us, and for Ellinah as she takes this enormous responsibility of serving Christ in this new role.