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Beginnings and Endings

A reflection on the last three weeks

The last month has been most extraordinary. As a Diocese we have experienced everything from birth to death - from ordination to farewell. Each event deserves its own space, but together they capture the intensity of our life together as the body of Christ.

On November the 29th we rejoiced with Dan and Mai Lander as they welcomed their new son Jake Romero into the world. He is little brother to Bobby and Thom, and a proud addition to the wider St John’s College family. We give thanks to God for Jake’s safe arrival as well as for the love and care that he receives from his family. We wish the Landers all the very best as we pray for good health, long sleeps, and cool days.

Last Monday we gathered in the Diocesan Office to say goodbye to our Waikato Bishopric Youth Coordinator – Darcy Perry. Darcy has spent the last two years exploring, assessing and seeking to rebuild youth ministry in the Waikato. The task has been monumental. Nevertheless, Darcy has remained positive and Christ-centred as he has built relationships across Tikanga and in the community. We are deeply grateful for all that Darcy has done but will especially miss him for his pastoral care, humour, and wisdom. My enduring memory will be of him in a youth group huddle role-modelling prayer, encouraging the youth to pray, and demonstrating the love of Christ.

Even while we were saying goodbye to Darcy we were preparing to farewell Mike Schumacher (the much loved husband of our superb Diocesan Executive Administrator Jill). Archbishop Emeritus David Moxon conducted Mike’s funeral last Thursday in a full Cathedral. We are grateful that Jill and Mike have been able to share these past few weeks together and we remember the extraordinary Christian man that he was. Despite his condition, Mike was absolutely determined to work as long as possible. His dedication to the foodbank was exemplary; his faith in God and excitement at returning his Father was inspiring. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

The very next day we gathered at St Andrew’s, Cambridge for the ordination of Tim Frank to the diaconate. Tim and his family (Yudi, Tikva and Jonathan) have been students at St John’s College for the past 18 months but are now on their way to the Waikato Bishopric for a curacy. We are grateful to the Parish of St Andrew’s for their willingness to support this important period of ordained formation and we pray for Tim as prepares to defend his thesis (PhD in biblical archaeology) at Berne University, Switzerland.

The following morning we re-gathered at St Peter’s Cathedral for Bishop Helen-Ann’s farewell. Bishop Helen-Ann has ministered to the Diocese for almost 4 years and in that time has experienced the highs and lows of episcopal leadership. She reflected that she has been formed by the Diocese as much as we have been formed by her. Bishop Helen-Ann has been a wonderful gift to us in so many respects, but we are especially grateful for her work on the LiFT formation programme; the relationships she has built with schools, Trusts and civic partners; her significant theological contributions to Diocesan and provincial life; and the pastoral care she extended. Saturday was a wonderful celebration of her life among us. We cannot overlook the fact that in farewelling +Helen-Ann we must also say goodbye to Myles.  Myles is widely recognised as an absolute gentleman, a superlative musician and a magnificent magician. The Hartleys will be greatly missed, but we rejoice that they will be reunited in England and acknowledge the call of the wider church on their lives.

(More on Bishop Helen-Ann’s departure will be added to the website shortly.)

Twenty-four hours later the Cathedral witnessed yet another farewell. After 5 years as Dean of Waikato Cathedral, Peter Rickman has made the decision to move back to school chaplaincy (St Paul’s College, Hamilton). Dean Peter’s sense of humour, sharp wit, and commitment to youth ministry will be sorely missed. (The Cathedral camps will not be the same without his hilarious magic shows!) The Dean will also be remembered for his commitment to ‘rough-sleepers’ and the homeless. We wish Peter, Jane and their children God’s blessing as they embark on this new chapter of ministry in our Diocese.

While we reflect on these enormously significant events - these beginnings and endings - we remember that God is the Alpha and Omega.  Therefore God embraces us in every experience - arms of consolation and arms of celebration. We also look to 2018 and a year grounded in prayer. We think of Bishop Philip and the diocesan leadership as they seek to discern the Spirit’s call and the Diocese’s future structures. We take encouragement from the incarnation as we recall that God chose to become human, a refugee born to an unwed woman in the most humble surroundings.  We acknowledge that through faith in Christ all things are possible and we look forward to the promise of hope. May God be with you all as you celebrate this holy nativity. May you find the love of God in one another as you embrace your discipleship and connect to your communities.  

Story Published: 18th of December - 2017

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