Bishops’ News: March 2019

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ [Matthew 22:37-39, NIV]

Dear whānau

This year we continue to explore what it means to lean in together as family. What a challenge this is as we live in the early days of response following the tragedy of March 15th. Who is our family? Who is our neighbour?

Thank you all for your amazing stories of neighbourliness, generosity, friendship and manaakitanga between Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters after the tragic events of Friday the 15th of March. Let’s all continue to form friendships which are deep and long-lasting. Rosie Fyfe, our Intercultural Communities Enabler, who worked for five years in the Diocese of Egypt and has extensive experience in facilitating Muslim-Christian relationships, has provided some thoughts on what might be our next steps, and perhaps to answer any questions you may have going forward about how best to support each other in the inter-faith sphere.  Click here for that resource.

As the nation speaks about forming an identity founded on love and compassion, both +Justin and I have also been profoundly affected by the needs of our global family, particularly the devastation in Southern Africa following Cyclone Idai, with a swiftly rising death toll, hundreds of thousands displaced, and homes and livelihoods ruined. Meteorologists have described the cyclone as the worst on record to affect the Southern Hemisphere.

+Justin and a team from our Mission and Ministry group have this weekend been at the Surrender Conference in Melbourne, learning about God’s compassionate heart for justice.  At missionary evangelist Heidi Baker’s talk, she also lamented of the impact and reality of the cyclone to those her mission group cares for in Mozambique and surrounding countries.

I personally have a deep friendship with +Vicente, Bishop of the Diocese of Niassa in Mozambique, formed when I attended the training for new bishops at Lambeth last year. Since then we have been in regular communication over WhatsApp, sharing the realities of our very different lives. His most recent photographs have been a brutal reminder of the reality of the life of our African church and the very limited resources available to cope with a disaster of this magnitude.

In the same spirit of local friendship witnessed over the last weeks, we are asking our diocesan family to reach out globally to those brothers and sisters in need in Southern Africa. Anglican Missions will be launching a fundraising campaign shortly which will focus on what these communities might need long-term to piece their lives back together again. In particular +Vicente has asked for help with fundraising for seeds to replace lost crops and work against ongoing food shortage. We encourage you to share widely and give generously. We will share details on Movement Online in due course.

So as we continue to explore building close friendships with our local neighbours, we remember that we are each and everyone of us a part of God’s global family, tasked to extend the wideness of His mercy beyond boundaries of street, belief, theology, or nation.

+Eleanor and +Justin