Synod 2016Report from Diocesan Synod 2016
‘In the Kingdom of God, the rule is trust’
Words taken from the Bishops’ Charge to the Synod of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki which met in Hamilton last weekend. Synod began with the Eucharist in St Peter’s Cathedral, in the midst of which Bishop Helen-Ann and Archbishop Philip delivered the third Charge of their episcopal partnership. This year saw the launch third strand of their episcopal vision: that grounded in prayer, we are equipped for discipleship and connected to community. Bishop Helen-Ann described the foundation for our connection to community: ‘We are hard-wired for relationship, with God and one another. The dynamic union that is represented in the life of the Trinity gives us a model of relationship to follow. Drawn into community we celebrate what we hold in common whilst acknowledging that we are all different too…God calls us to know God more, and we respond through becoming disciples. The first disciples were called to follow Jesus and to fashion their lives after him…We are each given tasks and responsibilities for the purpose of increasing and strengthening the community of faith.’ Joining the Diocese for this Eucharist and participating in it were the Archbishop of Melanesia, Archbishop George Takeli, and our own General Secretary Michael Hughes. Archbishop George had attended the meeting of the House of Bishops, also held in Hamilton and remained for the opening Eucharist of Synod. Cathedral kaumatua, Canon Pine Campbell gave a mihi, and the Reverend Ngira Simmonds, Missioner of Waikato from the rohe Hemi Tapu in Hamilton brought greetings from the Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke and their Bishop, Ngarahu Katene. Pihopa Ngarahu challenged Synod to remember Māori in all their discussions and debates. He gave thanks for the deepening of relationships between Tikanga, and prayed that new opportunities for collaboration may be created.
The theme of community was echoed throughout the Synod, as representatives debated a variety of important social justice issues: refugees, natural disaster response, social and affordable housing, inequality and poverty and trans people in prison. That last motion was moved by Karen Morrison-Hume, Missioner of Anglican Action. Based on the agency’s thirty years of experience in supporting people reintegrating back into the community after prison, the issue of the treatment of LGBTI people was brought before Synod. The passing of the motion included a statement, part of which reads: ‘(That) this Synod supports the human rights of all people to be free from sexual assault, violence, and discrimination and implores the Government to ensure the safety and dignity of trans people imprisoned in New Zealand.’
Presentations at Synod came from students at St. Paul’s who spoke about their school’s ‘Over the fence’ initiative, which draws volunteers from the St. Paul’s community to spend time with children at neighbouring low decile schools. This initiative has brought national recognition for the school, and is an inspiring ministry. The Reverend Mike Hawke from the Anglican Missions’ Board spoke about their work in supporting disaster relief in Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Bishop Helen-Ann spoke about the new Diocesan LiFT course (Living Faith Today) which will begin next year and will form the basis of all lay licensing, as well as encouraging everyone to become more confident in their faith so that they might share that with others. Diocesan Director of Vocations, the Reverend Stephen Black spoke about new vocations initiatives that have already started to bear fruit which some remarkable stories of young vocations to ordained ministry. The Bishops also presented a 'road map' to Synod, outlining some key strategic areas of focus over the next six months.
Throughout the Synod, which was held at St. Paul’s Collegiate, the presence and ministry of the School chaplains was prominent. Morning and evening prayers were led by pupils from Southwell School, St Peter’s, Cambridge, and St. Paul’s Collegiate. On Saturday evening, the combined kapa haka group of Waikato Diocesan School for Girls and St Paul’s Collegiate performed for Synod with inspiring and uplifting waiata.
A Synod concluded, Bishop Helen-Ann reflected: ‘the Diocese is in good heart. We have experienced considerable change and transition in the past two years, and we face the future with hope and realism about the challenges that lie ahead. Thanks be to God for all his grace and mercy in sustaining us.’
Story Published: 27th of September - 2016