Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A way forward?

No, not back to "the" way forward our church at large seeks on Another Issue but is there a way forward for our cathedral in the Square?

On the one hand, Bishop Victoria has written an op-ed for the Christchurch Press, online here (and, presumably, to be published tomorrow in the print edition). She has also been interviewed tonight on Seven Sharp (here).

On the other hand, tonight a cross-party political group of local MPs has announced it is united and determined to "break the deadlock over the Christ Church Cathedral."

That doesn't sound like a group of democratically elected MPs intent on respecting the parliamentary democracy of the church!

UPDATE THURSDAY A.M.

In the Press this morning:

This frontpage article

This assessment of power and influence (which inaccurately describes her power within Synod as "She has a third of the vote at the synod." A bishop of a diocese does not have a third of the vote but has the power to veto a decision sought by the other two houses - the same power which each of those houses has. In practice, at least on matters not doctrinal, bishops rarely if ever use such a veto. The critical vote at Synod will be the majority not the vote of anyone individual.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cathedral decision to be made by Synod [UPDATED]

Last Wednesday evening at our clergy conference at Pudding Hill we had a full and frank discussion of the matter of the cathedral in Christchurch Square. One outcome of that discussion was a unanimous recommendation by those gathered that the matter of the cathedral be referred to our Diocesan synod, whose next scheduled meeting is in early September.

Bishop Victoria clearly took that recommendation on board because late Saturday afternoon just past a pastoral letter was sent to all parishes with request that it be read out the following Sunday morning. The substantive action proposed in the letter was that the decision about the future of the cathedral would be made at our September Synod.

Below I give (i) the Diocesan Media Release about this; (ii) some links to media reports; (iii) a citation of the express power in the Church Property Trustees (2003) Act for Bishop Victoria to make this referral.

Press Release:

"Media Release
Diocese of Christchurch
21 May 2017


Decision on ChristChurch Cathedral will be made in September 2017

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Synod will make the decision on the future of ChristChurch Cathedral at its meeting in early September 2017.

Synod is the governing body of the Christchurch Diocese and is made up of more than 225 members representing the entire Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.  
Making the announcement today (Sunday May 21) Bishop Victoria Mathews said, “We are very aware that the city and beyond is very frustrated with the amount of time it has taken to reach a decision on the future of our beloved Cathedral. Church Property Trustees (CPT) and the entire Diocese share that frustration.
“After much thought and prayer I have decided to reserve the question on the future of the Cathedral in the Square to September 2017 for our diocesan Synod’s decision.  This means that the members of the Synod will decide on the future of the Cathedral, rather than the Church Property Trustees.
’As the ChristChurch Cathedral is a church building above all else, and a place of worship, the decision on its future should be made by the membership of the Synod comprising the gathered clergy and laity of the Diocese who will be using the Cathedral forever.
“One of the factors that influenced my decision was the strong recommendation of the diocesan clergy at our recent clergy conference to take the matter to our Synod.  I acknowledge and thank the clergy who were present for their prayer, support and advice.
“To date the view of the Church has been that we should proceed with a contemporary Cathedral. In 2013 our Synod voted for an inspirational Cathedral. Recently the Standing Committee expressed its view that a new Cathedral, costing no more than the insurance proceeds received for the Cathedral building in the Square, is its preferred option.”
Members of Synod will make a decision on whether to accept an offer to assist with reinstatement from the New Zealand Government or construct an inspirational contemporary cathedral to a design that is, as yet, undecided but the cost of which will be within the $42 million insurance fund.
“For the past six and a half years Church Property Trustees and its staff have done extraordinary due diligence on different options regarding the future of the Cathedral.  This includes engineering investigations, quantity surveying and research into fundraising options.  Along the way there has been active and passionate debate on what should be done.

“We recently undertook a scientific survey of public preferences among residents from Greater Christchurch on the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral. The results of the research were clear. People’s preferences change when they are fully informed, but there is still no overwhelming preference. People are still divided over whether to reinstate the Cathedral building in the Square or to commit to building a contemporary Cathedral that is inspirational and fit for purpose. We will soon release the survey results.  

“Church Property Trustees have carefully sought expert advice on all aspects of a possible reinstatement and considered the Government’s offer towards potential reinstatement,” says Bishop Victoria. “A majority of the Church Property Trustees are inclined to support the contemporary option however these preferences are still not decisive.  This is a vitally important question for our Diocese, the Canterbury community and impacts the regeneration of Christchurch which is why I have now made the decision to take the vote to Synod.”


Background
·         The Anglican (Diocese of Christchurch) Church Property Trust Act 2003 allows the Chairperson of the Church Property Trustees to reserve matters before the Church Property Trustees to Synod for its decision

·         Membership of CPT comprises Chairperson Bishop Victoria Matthews and eight trustees, who are members of the Church elected by the Synod. CPT Trustees are elected by Synod. 


Timeline
·         The Church Property Trustee’s decision to build a contemporary inspirational cathedral in the Square was challenged in the courts by the Greater Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT) in 2012 and led to two years of CPT defending its decision.

·         In June 2014, the High Court lifted the stay it issued in November 2012 on deconstruction of the Cathedral. This meant CPT could continue with its plan to progress the idea of building a contemporary cathedral in the Square.

·         Although there would be significant consenting issues, a beautiful and highly functional inspirational and contemporary cathedral, incorporating features and materials from the old cathedral, could be built within the $42 million of cathedral insurance funds then available.

·         This earlier key decision made a commitment to building a contemporary cathedral in the Square. The decision had been based on numerous engineering, costing, risk and other professional evaluations for which CPT sought advice for different options. All key reports were made public.

·         In May 2015 CPT's decision to build a contemporary cathedral was paused following a request from the GCBT to further discuss engineering and costs of a rebuild. At that meeting, GCBT's experts agreed with CPT's advice that the approximate cost of a rebuild would be approximately $100m (not $67m as GCBT had been publicly claiming), that base isolation is preferable, and the rebuild project would take approximately seven years.

·         CPT approached the government and suggested it might like to become involved. The Crown decided to appoint Miriam Dean QC to assess the situation.

·          In a previous conversation with Minister Brownlee, the Bishop and the Trustees present explained very clearly that they believed CPT might do well to move towards a compromise – a build of old and new materials despite the Diocese and CPT stating it had a preference for a contemporary build. 

·         The Trustees were open to reinstatement as long as when completed the project did not leave the Diocese or CPT in debt. In particular, it was highlighted that CPT could only commit $30m as it needed significant endowments to pay for the maintenance of such an expensive building and also to cover the cost of full replacement insurance, which is estimated at up to $360k a year.

·         In January 2016, CPT's decision to build a contemporary cathedral was again paused, following an approach from the Government to review the feasibility of reinstatement. CPT committed to good faith engagement and rescinded its standing resolution to deconstruct the Cathedral. 

·         The Government's Cathedral Working Group's report confirmed CPT's advice that the cost of reinstatement (rebuild) was approximately $104m (plus $4m fundraising costs), base isolation is preferable, and reinstatement would take approximately seven years.

·         CPT then agreed to a Government request to negotiate a funding and delivery model to reinstate the Cathedral. In late December 2016, CPT believed that an agreement was in place and were ready to sign.  However in November we had the Kaikoura 7.8 earthquake and the following month the Prime Minister resigned. 

·         By December 21, 2016, the offer on the table which CPT was prepared to sign  was changed to an entirely different document – a Statement of Principles. 

·         In March 2017 the Government clarified the terms of its new offer - $10 million grant and a $15 million loan and legislative assistance for reinstatement.

·         On 21 May 2017 Bishop Victoria Mathews announced that the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Synod will make the decision on the future of ChristChurch Cathedral at its meeting in early September 2017.


Note: Individual Church Property Trustees are not available for any further comment.

Media inquiries
Communications Advisor
Jayson Rhodes
021 661319"

Media Responses:

NZ Herald

Stuff

The Press (which does not quite square up with the final sentence of the Media Release above!)

Radio NZ

ADDED TUESDAY:

Two Press articles: here and here.

Press Editorial here. (a bit odd, in my view, calling for a decision to be made yet not acknowledging that when a decision was made, it was challenged!)

Authority to Make Referral (from here):

"
6. Chairperson may reserve matters for consideration of Synod
  • (1)The chairperson of the Church Property Trustees may reserve for the decision of the Synod any matter raised for consideration by the Church Property Trustees.
    (2)The Synod must not decide under subclause (1) to rescind or cancel any contract or agreement or any sale, mortgage, lease, or other disposition of any part of the property.
"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tremendous Gospel Reading Today - The Best Gospel Reading

I am heading off to a lovely church at Mt Somers (Mid Canterbury) this morning to preach on the lectionary readings and to preside at the eucharist (blessed to be able to do so to enable the local priest and deacon to have a lovely holiday (they are married to each other).

The RCL gospel today is tremendous, the best gospel reading (now, who talks like that???):

John 14:15-21

"”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”"

The resurrected Jesus is alive and well and inside you. "The resurrection" is not an historical event if by that we mean that the resurrection only concerns the raising of a dead body on such and such a date from a tomb in the vicinity of Jerusalem. It is both that event of transformation of Jesus of Nazareth and the event of the transformation of our own lives as believers in whom Jesus Christ dwells by the Spirit, "another Advocate."

Christ is alive, Alleluia and he is living in me, you and us the church. Slight awkward implication, however! That means the most direct evidence for the resurrection of Jesus for the disbelieving world around us is, er, um, me, and you. and the church. The church as "the body of Christ" is not an ideal notion of the chummy unity of Christians: it is, literally, the living Christ in the world.

Does the world see the living Christ when it sees the church?

Yes, well, awkward question when we think of the scandals, the shortcomings and the silliness of the church (yes, not one of those funny hats we wear, constitutes evidence for the life of Christ).

But then the point of reading the gospel, to say nothing of preaching the gospel is that we hear and learn again what we are meant to be. Our confession and penitence is our opportunity to say to Jesus, "Here I am Lord. Sorry! Renew your life in me that my life may be your life in the world." Actually, also our confession is corporate: "Sorry, Lord! But here we are, renew a right spirit in us, that we may be the body of Christ, real and not ideal, attractive and not a turn off."

Our eucharistic participation is our feeding on the life of Christ that we may become what we eat and drink: Christ!

And this gospel reading tells us the amazing news that Jesus - the same Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine - wants to live in us and us to live in him.

And, the reading gently challenges and encourages us about what this means: it is not a question of whether we feel Jesus is in us. It is a question of keeping Jesus' commandments.

Am I keeping Jesus' commandments? Are you? Yes? Then the life of Jesus is being lived out within us.

Very cool. The best gospel reading :)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cathedral views

The Press carries a major article today about the possibility of a new cathedral in Christchurch, depending where the settlement of cathedral issues settles. Some bloggers familiar to readers here are cited from blogposts in 2013.

Not unrelated to me there has also been this view in the Press this week!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Best Ever?

For obvious reasons I don't like to place a headline on this blog "Out of Town, Out of (straightforward) Internet, Out of Action" so I didn't broadcast on Monday that I was heading to Pudding Hill (foothills of the Alps, 1.25 hrs from Christchurch) for three days of our annual Clergy Conference.

There I was able to post comments (there was internet) and even initially respond to a few. But then work on a presentation for our "Respectful Conversations" involved some transfer of videoed material to my One Drive (i.e. cloud synchronizing file system) and I realised that if I used my phone as a "hotspot" for laptop internet connection I would blow my monthly limit higher than nearby Mt Hutt. I was out of straightforward internet dealings with this blog and only last night at home responded to comments. (I also note this morning a message from One Drive saying it is nearly full!)

Anyway, as someone intimately involved with the running of the conference (led by Bishop Victoria, and with several others heavily involved in the work before and during the conference), it was very gratifying by the conference end to have some "best ever" comments. Not least because I thought the past two conferences were also "best evers" and it is pleasing to improve on already high standards.

Best ever conferences involve two important factors, I suggest. One is the content of the conference and the other is its mood. Content (culture, money, social justice, discipleship, respectful conversations) was outstanding with excellent input from mostly local "homegrown" speakers and the one out of Diocese contributor, Sue Burns, superbly led a "dry run" of our Respectful Conversations. Mood. Well, you cannot choose the mood of the conference in the way you can choose a slate of speakers, but the mood was great: a happy, convivial, congenial family of colleagues. Whether we were focused on difficult issues of our day or engaging in casual conversations during breaks we did so cheerfully.

Now back into the ordinary work and plenty to do. Not least on pressing forward with our "Respectful Conversations" across the Diocese in June. These conversations are about same gender relationships in the life of the church, as requested by our Synod last September. In order to be respectful they need to be structured, in order for the structure to work we need trained facilitators (which we now have) and in order for the whole diocese to be covered we need a programme of dates, which we are currently organising. No, do not comment on this paragraph. The moratorium is still in place. Once we get to c. 1 July the moratorium will lift. Patience ...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ecclesiology: Everyone does what is right in their own eyes?

The "embarrassing evangelicals" at Jesmond Parish Church (JPC), Newcastle, England - ordaining a bishop without requisite orders to do so - have stirred up a hornet's nest of posts and counter-posts, radio interviews (perhaps TV also), and have even made the news in Christchurch's Press. A good round-up of posts is at Thinking Anglicans. TA also reports on moves towards a new structure here.

Back to my post below: I finished it thus:

"I think in this situation there are also significant episcopathological questions about what we Anglican evangelicals understand ecclesiology is. I will leave that for another post, save for this teaser:

Is it not strangely "Catholic" rather than "Anglican" when we go outside our national church boundaries to secure the ordaining hands of another bishop in order to have a bishop "of our own"?"

Needless to say some others have been getting there before me:

(1) On the matter of what the ordainers and their supporters think about what they have done ecclesiologically, see this paper, Credible Bishops. Its fine and non-controversial point is that faithful leadership needs faithful uber-leadership. But what it misses, I suggest, is this idea: faithful uber-leadership to support faithful leadership does not require a bishop. A senior and respected priest will do the job. A General-Secretary (lay or ordained) or a relevant organisation for reform and renewal will assist greatly. Anglican history is replete with examples of faithful uber-leadership who were not bishops: Newton, Simeon, Stott, Watson, Green, Philip Jensen and here in NZ, Canon Orange.

(2) Andrew Goddard, the voice of centrist evangelical reason in the CofE today, exposes the irregularities of the ordination here. And, SPOILER ALERT, makes the point that the ordination is not only not in accord with CofE canon law, it is not in accord with the canons of REACH SA itself.

(3) We voices from Down Under are plural, with Mark Thompson, Principal of Moore College, Sydney, chiming in with fervent support for the ordination and the reasons for it taking place, but recognising that nevertheless the ordination is "irregular" which strikes me as precisely the point Andrew Goddard makes (though Mark Thompson does not understand how the ordination even breaks REACH SA's own rules).

(4) We had better balance the Goddards out by including the liberal one (if I may so speak) and Giles G makes a point here which is not far away from the point I would like to make re the ecclesiology of this specific episcopathology (the study of the conditions under which episcopacy may be a flourishing form of life, including whether that flourishing is like the multiplying of bacteria or the multiplying of fruit ripe for harvest).

(5) [Added later]: JPC itself has published its thoughts in a Q and A document about "new style bishops."

Here goes, and quite briefly because it is The Week of Clergy Conference and There Is A Lot To Be Done Before Heading to the Wilds of Mid Canterbury (and slightly less than flourishing internet):

(1) bishops oversee the church in large chunks (dioceses, provinces, national churches, Communions) and thus need to be drawn from the chunks by a process the chunk is agreeable to;

(2) bishops offer a focus of unity and work for unity of the chunks of the church they are appointed to oversee and thus their appointment (and ordination before appointment, if not already ordained a bishop) should be according to the agreed processes (orders, canons, liturgies) of the chunk concerned so that this focus of and work for unity begins with unity;

(3) bishops are definitional of churches which have bishops: (among other definitions and distinctions) Anglicans are not Presbyterians because we believe in individual bishops rather than the corporate episcopacy of the Presbytery; but we Anglicans are not Roman Catholics because we believe that (a) bishops may be married; (b) need not be submissive to the authority of a single bishop for the whole world, though should be submissive to some authority whether a more local/national archbishop/primatial bishop or to a local/national General Synod (Convention).

Wise owls among us will add further points, but three is a fine number, standard for sermons and bless by the Trinity. On the first two counts the ordination in Newcastle is jolly well irregular (at best) because it involves zero process of involvement according to agreed protocols of the wider church (whether that is the CofE, REACH SA or the network of churches Bishop Pryke will be bishop of).

That is, bishops, even evangelical ones, must have a catholic (agreeable to the whole church) character to them and in the case at issue, this character is missing. There is a strong sense in this case where a few have chosen a man to be ordained bishop and the ordination has taken place in a secret location, unknown to the many, that "everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes."

On the third point, I suggest that we do not beat about the bush or South African veldt working out whether the Overseas Bishops Measure or Canon X,Y or Z applies. When canons are disregarded in order to have a new bishop, we have a new church in process of being defined. (Cf. Giles Goddard's article). Let's not bewail the irregularity of Bishop Pryke's ordination. Let's beseech those who seek a better way for the orthodox in the CofE to leave now, following the new bishop. It is the honest thing to do.

However all the orthodox who want to stay in the CofE, who want to work within the rules of the church, who wish to both influence if possible and then abide by the resolutions of the General Synod, let them stay. Let them give their bishops a good old hurry up if they should stray from the way of Christ. But let them not go down the path of irregular ordinations ... unless, see the paragraph immediately above.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Embarrassing Evangelicals?

Warning: I am well aware that beneath the issue(s) I draw attention to here is "the issue" of the day for the Anglican Communion. Do not discuss that issue here: the moratorium remains in place. Do not mention it in passing. If you do, your comment will be deleted. Please comment on matters ecclesiological, episcopathological, vagrantes and flagrantes bishops, the imminent triumph or failure of evangelical Anglicans, Anglican evangelicals, Anglican churches here, there or here-and-look-now-also-over-there.

In the last few days Anglican news has taken an unexpected twist and turn. About a week ago the GAFCON Primates announced that they were thinking of ordaining a bishop for the British Isles. Cue wondering who that might be, which country they might come from, where their support would be and whether or not they would in some way be recognised by the powers that be.

But a couple of days ago it was announced that a senior priest/presbyter in the Jesmond Parish (Diocese of Newcastle, England), Jonathan Pryke, has been ordained a bishop by bishops of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa [REACH SA] (formerly known as the Church of England in South Africa [CESA]). This church, for the record, has orders recognised by the CofE.

At this point, because you will be bursting with episcopathological fervour to know more (sometimes also known as epistemology), I need to point you to some articles and press releases and what have you, because "why" Jonathan has been ordained a bishop, "where" his territory (or even simply his focus) will be, "what" his relationship with his licensing bishop (as a priest/presbyter) will be, and "to whom" he will be accountable as a bishop, to say nothing of "whether" he will be disciplined and "by whom" is quite beyond this bear of small brain.

Try here, here, here and here. Also, fascinatingly, here for the relationship of REACH SA, CPSA and the CofE. Note also this report which suggests that despite ad hoc action(s) taking now or proposed now, a larger plan is being worked out. Also Andrew Brown on the case here.

Update: Ian Paul kindly includes this post as an introduction to his own thoughts on the matter at Psephizo. And Cranmer also comments here.

But here is what I do get about this situation, as an evangelical Anglican I am embarrassed that:

- other evangelical Anglicans have taken unilateral action ordaining a bishop without transparently informing proper authorities (the Bishop of Newcastle, the Archbishop of York) of intention to do so. Does not basic courtesy and commitment to living in the light require that?

- when GAFCON and its English partner, AMiE, had another plan, this action is unilaterally taken against that plan. What is it about fraternity and coherency that these English and other evangelicals do not get?

- also, in terms of walking in the light, how could Jonathan Pryke, on the executive of AMiE, not inform his fellow executive members of what was going to happen? Are they not on the same side? Why hide things? In what way does such manner of doing things enhance the reputation of evangelical Anglicans?

It is not unknown for evangelicals to operate factionally rather than coherently, it is a bug in the feature of the Reformational DNA which spawned evangelicalism!

I think in this situation there are also significant episcopathological questions about what we Anglican evangelicals understand ecclesiology is. I will leave that for another post, save for this teaser:

Is it not strangely "Catholic" rather than "Anglican" when we go outside our national church boundaries to secure the ordaining hands of another bishop in order to have a bishop "of our own"?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Will NZ blasphemy laws be Fryed?

Following up the post below, NZ anti-blasphemy law ("who knew we had one?") may change.

I am with Archbishop Philip.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Which one will Fry after judgment?

I leave it to the Irish juridical authorities to determine whether their blasphemy laws have been broken or not by Stephen Fry. On the face of it, he is unlikely to be found guilty, as any case against him would need to consider the full extent of what he said when he accused God of being a "maniac". 

And that full extent is pretty standard fare when we see that what he said, albeit colourfully, is simply that he would like God to explain why there is suffering in the world. Even theologians discuss that problem!

"Asked what he would say if he was confronted by God, Fry replied: "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It's not right."It's utterly, utterly evil.
"Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"Questioned on how he would react if he was locked outside the pearly gates, he responded: "I would say, 'Bone cancer in children? What's that about?'"Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac."Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?""
 Fry's point in terms of "blasphemy" is that either God does not exist (so blasphemy cannot be an offence) or God exists and the suffering in the world is what is offensive. Dear God, please explain.

All, by the by, nicely illustrating C.S. Lewis's point about the modern age: we are no longer in the dock, being judged, but God is in the dock and if he should come up with a plausible explanation for suffering then he might get off. But we would need to be persuaded in the face of mounting evidence for the prosecution.

The question in my mind, and I suspect in yours also, is not whether Fry has been blasphemous but whether we can answer the charges he brings against God.

(Very, very briefly, on a subject on which much has been written) one thought that strikes me is that within the household of faith we often meet this kind of challenge by talking in terms of "mystery."

Why God permits suffering while being the God who is love is a mystery (i.e. we do not understand). How God through the incarnate Christ dying on the cross identifies with us in our suffering (or, more generally, in the suffering of the world) is a mystery. And, noting a further Fry charge, God is not selfish or self-centred: the command to worship and to give thanks is precisely something we joyfully respond to as that which rightly belongs to God because God is God (and not an ego). God is neither a maniac nor selfish but God is mysterious.

Clearly this kind of talk does not wash with Stephen Fry. His logic means there is no mystery about human suffering. God being God should and could do something about it, especially the remorseless evil of bone cancer killing children. The only mystery is that some crazy Christians won't admit to the obvious truth: if there is a God then God is a maniac. Maniacs meet the Maniac.

Fry, in other words, is challenging the household of faith about its witness to the world. Whatever it may mean within the household to talk about the mystery of suffering in the face of the God of love, the household has a credibility chasm talking about it to those outside. I suspect Fry actually speaks for millions of atheists and agnostics who refuse to commit to the God Who Will Not Adequately Explain Why Children Suffer.

Thoughts about our "external" language to the world around us?

Also you may like to go to this link.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Paul, Paul, who are you, what did you really mean and what do we do now?

If one scholar in the 20th century turned New Testament scholarship on its head, then a good argument supports that scholar being E.P. Sanders.

Michael Bird, an Ozzie cobber from across the Ditch, gives us choice insights into E. P. Sanders' latest book on Paul.

Plenty to think about.

If you do comment, do not comment on the You Know What section of what Sanders' says. I will not publish such comments. As previously stated in a post below, there is a ban until July-ish ...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Contra Trump, breaking down the walls that divide

Anglicans involved in beatification?

Catholics sharing the platform?

Lovely story here!

Walls can be broken, Donald! Actually, didn't Ronald Reagan say something about tearing down a certain wall?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Is Brexit the key to understanding the English Reformation?

Or is it the other way round?

Either way there is a brilliantly written review by Giles Fraser of Eamon Duffy's latest attempt to argue that the English Reformation was a very bad, and quite unnecessary thing.

Read here.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Edging closer to my dream of a common date for Easter

I may be a nobody in the greater scheme of things re bringing Christians together, for example, by agreeing to a common date for Easter, but a couple of slightly somebodies in the great scheme have just edged us closer to a common date :)

In a Twitter exchange last night about this my "Twitter memory" reminded me that I have previously argued for a fixed date for Easter, so yes, my grand ecumenical plan is:

1. securing a common date for Easter (West/East/Middle East)
2. Fixing the date for Easter (second Sunday in April please).

Monday, May 1, 2017

Gender Justice - Down Under Bishops

Seven female Trans-Tasman bishops have met on Raymond Island off the coast of the West Island of New Zealand. A report of their meeting is here on Taonga and their communique is here.

This was an historic "first" such meeting and ACANZP was represented by Bishop Victoria Matthews and Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley.

One question they raise is when there might next be a female Primate in the Anglican Communion. In theory that could be any time soon, in practice it probably won't be straightaway. Will it be within the next five years?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Extending the Ban on Talking About ...

It has been good these past seven weeks or so to have a moratorium on talking about You Know What here on ADU.

So good that I want to extend "the ban".

It appears that we can have some reasonable hope that the General Synod Working Group on Same Sex Blessings will have something to say by early July, the plan, you may recall, being that such a timetable allows us to read, mark, inwardly digest and warmly if not heatedly discuss their proposals as we prepare for and engage in our local synods (c. September 2017).

So here is the extension: no comments to be published here re You Know What, and no posts to be made by me, until we can publicly sight and cite whatever it is that the Working Group will publish to us.

As practice, COMMENTS ARE CLOSED to this post :)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Portfolio of interests?

Good news for the Diocese of Llandaff, after a bit of a saga [about which I will NOT publish comments], it has been resolved by the Anglican Church of Wales that June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, will be its next Bishop. The announcement is here.

Now I do not like pouring cold water on the cheerful celebrations of such an event but my convictions on matters of principles and important truths shall not be tarnished.

This is the last part of the announcement:

"Her interests include the arts and football.  A lifelong supporter of Manchester City, she is looking forward to adding rugby to her portfolio of interests."

Rugby is NOT, I repeat, NOT something that can be added to a portfolio of interests. By all means dislike rugby, show no interest in it, have no understanding of the great game. Blanch at the thought of what goes on the scrum. Refuse your sons and daughters any participation in the game, steering them towards gentler pastimes such as football. Do anything you like against the game of rugby.

But do not add it to your portfolio of interests.

Rugby is passion not interest. It is bedrock to culture in places like Wales and New Zealand. It is a matter of DNA in the body and of legend in the body politic. It is not something you add to your interests because you have a new job in rugbyland.

Oh, and all this grizzling on my part is nothing compared to the grizzles I and many others in Anglican Land are having about the latest absurdity of the Church of England/Anglican Mother to Us All. Cranmer nails it here. Really!?

What is the point of having a C of E national press officer if he or she cannot stop these nonsenses before they reach the media. Once there they are difficult to explain away ...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NZ's Most Televised Rural Priest

I do not imagine that I would get much traction if I went to the executives of one of our TV channels and said, "Could you please do a sympathetic profile of one of our hard working rural priests, at least ten minutes long, and show it at prime time viewing?"

However there is another way to achieve the same end!

Imagine an interesting farmer, the interest of our world famous in New Zealand "Country Calendar" in that farmer and that the farmer was also a priest, and maybe ...

In fact, this past Sunday evening, Country Calendar featured Tracey Peters, a farmer on land between Taihape and Waiouru (central North Island).

For the first part of the programme we were taken on a televisual journey of her farms, her varied interests and the challenge of farming on her own account since her husband died many years ago. Then the Rev Tracey Peters emerged!

Among her "varied interests" it turns out that Tracey is 0.25 FTE priest in the Parish of Taihape (Diocese of Wellington) and the remainder of the programme sympathetically portrayed her shepherding of the flock in that parish.

The title of the programme is "Tending the Flock."

You can read about the programme (and some of its dialogue) here.

You can watch the whole programme "on demand" here.

Since the ministry of our rural priests does not get much airtime I think Tracey now qualifies as "NZ's Most Televised Rural Priest"!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Infinite Stupidity Which Lies Behind ANZAC Day

"Einstein famously said, “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” Then he added, “And I’m not so sure about the universe.”" So begins a brilliant Moth story about maths, romance, astrophysics and the unity of all things, which you can read here (or see on the YouTube clip embedded in it).

The bit about infinite stupidity sprang to mind when later in my Monday reading I came across an enlightening post about the origins of ANZAC Day ...

I have read a bit about Gallipoli and the ill-fated attack begun on 25 April 2015. I have been familiar with the facts of its general stupidity as an operation: a prior naval attack had failed to set the situation properly for a military attack; the landings were mucked up; the strength of the Turks was underestimated; too much was decided in London.

But I had thought the general strategy was not stupid, that securing the Dardenelles would lead to the securing of Constantinople and that would provide the way for a new flank to open against Germany and shorten the war.

But reading this post at "Not PC" I now realise that much, much more stupidity was at work. The plan was less about opening a new flank against Germany and more about cravenly offering the Russians a vital conquest in their geopolitical strategic plan. To say nothing of the stupidity of thinking that in return the Russians would meekly give up other parts of that plan. As if!

Worse, from the stupidity point of view, there was no particular need to help Russia in this way at that time.

So, as the Not PC post points out, somehow a futile battle for a faulty plan led by fallible generals and politicians not our own - a plan we Down Under blithely went along with, like good colonies, eager to please their masters - becomes the myth of the forging of new, proud, independent nations.

Well, we weren't particularly "new" as a result of WW1 (see what we did in WW2) and we certainly did not become "independent" soon after (and are we yet a republic with our own Head of State?) but we do have reason to be "proud."

Whatever happened before, during and after Gallipoli from a geo-political or military strategic perspective, our men (and our women nursing them) fought bravely and sacrificially.

We will remember them.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rest [UPDATED]

I have now completed my self imposed Lenten task to blog everyday through Lent.

It has been more demanding than I bargained on, even though most posts pointed readers to other posts.

So I am going to have a rest from blogging for a week or so.

"Rest" has another meaning, however, this morning as I write. Over the weekend the Diocese of Christchurch learned that a treasured colleague, Andrew Starky, died suddenly on Holy Saturday.

Please pray for his wife Kathryn, their son Daniel and their extended family, as well as the Parish of St Michael's and All Angels who have lost their Vicar.

Andrew held other responsibilities in the Diocese and leaves an empty place at important decision making tables. We are all bereft.

His funeral is 11am Friday 21 April at St Michael's and All Angels.

See now this moving post by Fr Ron Smith.

UPDATE:

It was a moving, solemn service, now viewable on YouTube.

An obituary published in the Press on Saturday is here.

Bosco Peters has published the eulogy he delivered at the service here.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Paschal [Resurrection] Homily

By St John Chrysostom (from here) (H/T Andrei)

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: "Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions".
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.
Amen.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Kiwi iResurrection

Ok so its Holy Saturday and not yet the Day of Resurrection, but not only "needs must" - planning a blogging holiday next week, and a special guest blogger is working on tomorrow's post - but the fact is, a new Kiwi site for the Season of Resurrection has actually begun this week. It has resurrectional (is that a word?) reflection materials for every day of the week.

Go to resurrection.nz and work your way through, daily, this week and onto the Fifty Days following.

This is an initiative of the Diocese of Auckland!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Benedict-Dreher Versus Parris-Anglican

It is the great struggle of twenty-first century Christianity.

The Benedict-Dreher Option (enclave? ghetto? distinctive community? Christianity modelled on Orthodox Judaism?)

versus

The Parris-Anglican Option (enculturate? osmosis? blurred overlap church/culture? indecision?).

Of course Anglicans can and do opt for the former and steer away from the latter.

But both arguments have powerful points to make, do they not?

In a declining church, in a post-Christian era, when the last vestiges of Christendom in the West are being farewelled (if even noticed), do we Christians, following Rod Dreher and his increasingly well known "The Benedict Option", need to review, clarify and reassert those things that externally demonstrate what we are internally committed to believing? Do we need to make visible daily which community of believers we belong to?

Our identity as a community (tribe?) is at stake and some of us do not know how to present that identity to ourselves and to the world. Or, we know bits of a complete identity but not what the whole might look like (so we go to church but we are not sure what to wear to church, or we offer hospitality to others in our homes but we wonder if we should display a cross at our frontdoor).

Yet, rightly, as Matthew Parris astutely points out, there are distinctive communities of believers in the world, some of which are just plain weird, some of which are biologically dangerous to themselves, and many of which have no growth plan apart from, well, generational fruitfulness. Meanwhile the world changes at 100 kph and reasonable questions of adaptation of belief are asked and answered in communities (such as Anglican ones) which survive in their own peculiar way!

So, at the heart of Christianity's annual calendar, Holy Week, it is worth asking which option will take us forward as those who remember Jesus' death and proclaim it until his coming again?!

Answers in comments of a brief kind ... longer answers in your next book ... :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Christchurch Stations of the Cross - public viewing this weekend

My sister-in-law, Elizabeth Minato, has created a beautiful series of mosaic Stations of the Cross.

They are on display at St John of God, Halswell, Christchurch this week and through the Easter weekend. All are welcome to view.


Viewing details are as follows:

St John of God, Halswell gardens:

Up to Maundy Thursday April 13th Sensory Gardens, St John of God by appointment

April 13th Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Sunday public access to the Stations as they are back in the public gardens at St John of God, adjacent to the carpark: 10:00—4:00pm.

To get to St John of God, I suggest Google Maps!

These are Elizabeth's reflections on the Stations:

Stations
The way of life
comments by the artist

I Jesus is condemned to death
We are all condemned by others for things we didn’t do. Sometimes people take their anger out on us, and vent their frustrations and abuse us.
Be true to yourself and live with integrity. Don’t argue with a fool
II Jesus carries his cross
We all have a burden of responsibility. We should accept our responsibilities willingly and carry our burdens big or small, without complaint

III Jesus falls the first time
We all have knocks in life. When things go wrong, have strength, get up, and continue your way. Keep fighting, and don’t give up.

IV Jesus meets his mother
Mary was a special woman who loves us all with the unconditional live of an ideal mother, more than our mothers. She is always there for us. He heart bled for Jesus and it bleeds for us when we are in pain.

V Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross
It’s hard to accept help because we are all proud. At one time of another, we are all vulnerable and we may need to accept help from other as gracefully. Frailty is not weakness: it’s part of being human.

VI Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Love can remove the mask we hide behind. We all live behind a mask for our own security. Remove this mask and show that you are a loveable person, regardless of your imperfections. Have confidence in yourself.

VII Jesus falls the second time
Jesus was tired, as we all become tired in our lives. Get up and keep going. The path is long but don’t give up.

VIII Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Sometimes other people suffocate us with their own needs. We must be empowering to others so they can help themselves and stand proud. Don’t let people become depend upon you. Any of us could die at any time: life goes on

IX Jesus falls the third time
The pain and suffering in this world makes us humble. We can easily be overwhelmed by all the evil that surrounds us. Choose your path and keep going, you are only human

X Jesus is stripped naked
What really matters in life? When all our worldly possessions are gone, what is important to us? Take a good look in the mirror

XI Jesus is nailed to the cross
Accept the consequences of your actions. There is always pain. Maybe the memory of this pain will help you make better choices in the future

XII Jesus dies on the cross
This is the darkest time in Christianity. No-one understood what would happen next. We all have these dark moments when life is at its lowest point. What is there to live for? Is death the easiest/best path? The answer is no! No matter how dark your life becomes, there is always a ray of light, even if you can’t see it now. Never give up hope.

XIII the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
Grief is a natural part of life. Be honest in your grief. Show sadness when you are sad and mourn loss, bury the dead.

XIV Jesus is laid in the tomb
Gather all your regrets, problems and grievances and place them in a box. Let go. If you truly bury your earthly grief and leave it, then it will be replacing by heavenly grace/ Wait three days, and your problems will disappear.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Was the wrath of God satisfied?

It is Holy Week. Time to bring out a fruitful theme in past times for provocative discussion?

A year or three back we had a good go at discussing the virtues or otherwise of the controversial line in the ubiquitous hymn, In Christ Alone, the line that goes:


"The wrath of God was satisfied"

One reason for continuing to discuss this line in this hymn is that, at least hereabouts, we are continuing to sing the hymn and that line in it. (And, as I recall, one part of previous discussion here was whether it is or isn't appropriate to change such a line if one does not like it. For slices of previous discussions on ADU, see here, here, and here.)

Actually, to be fair to that line, we should quote the line before and after:


'Til on that cross as Jesus died 
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid

In other words, the question about whether satisfaction of the wrath of God is a worthy theology is a question of atonement theology. We are attempting to put into words what happened to God, to us, to our sin, when Jesus died.

The three lines of the song effectively follow a "scapegoat" form of atonement theology fused with a "paschal lamb" theology of voidance of wrath merged with a "sacrifice of atonement" theology in which the justice of God is satisfied:

- Jesus was a form of the scapegoat on whom sins were laid on the Jewish Day of Atonement

- our sins were laid on Jesus as he died on the cross*

- by taking "every sin" laid on Him, Jesus fulfils the paschal/scapegoat destiny spoken of him by John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

- the doing of this is a Passover Lamb sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7; see also timing, according to John's Gospel of the crucifixion of Jesus as the same time as the sacrifice of the Passover lambs) and

- that sacrifice of Jesus is simultaneously the "sacrifice of atonement" (Romans 3:25), a sacrifice which could fairly be described in terms of Romans 3-5 as a sacrifice which "satisfied" the justice of God;

- *at this point the scapegoat imagery ends, because the scapegoat takes the sins into the desert; and the paschal lamb imagery comes to the fore: Jesus died at Passover, that festival celebrated the killing of lambs in order that their blood would mark the lintels of the doorways of the Israelites so that the angel of death visiting households in Egypt would avoid killing the firstborn sons of those households.

If, dear readers, you follow me thus far, we are not quite at the point of squaring the line "the wrath of God was satisfied" with this theological fusion of scapegoat, Passover and atoning sacrifices.

Notably, the New Testament does not speak of God's wrath being satisfied. At least not directly, in so many words.

It does get close, however. In particular I note two ways in which talk of the wrath of God comes close to talk of that wrath being satisfied.

(1) Paul's discourse on God's wrath in Romans 1 spills over into Romans 2:5-6 where we read:

"But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one's deeds:"

It is reasonable to talk about the avoidance of God's wrath on that day comes through the "repay" being made on our behalf by Jesus, that is, on the shortfall in our "account" with God being satisfied by the "payment" Jesus makes through his death on the cross.

(2) Speaking of what God has done for us in Christ, Paul writing in Ephesians, says that we "were dead through the trespasses and sins which [we] once lived" ... "by nature children of wrath" ... "But God, who is rich in mercy ... made us alive together with Christ" (2:1-5). What makes us alive when we are dead is the same as that which changes our status as "children of wrath": the "blood of Christ" (2:13) or Christ's sacrifice on the cross becomes the "gift of God" which saves us. God's wrath towards us changes into God's acceptance of us. In some sense - but much less implied than in Romans - God's wrath is satisfied and thus no longer determinative of our status before God.

So, I am as uneasy as ever about the line "the wrath of God was satisfied"! It is not completely wrongheaded but it places emphasis on the wrath of God driving Jesus to the cross rather than the justice of God, let alone the love of God. The line is, I argue here, less accurate than a line such as "the justice of God was satisfied."

But that alternative is pretty unsingable if substituted [!!] within the hymn.

Other alternatives?

Theologically accurate, lyrically smooth and rhythmically balanced ...!

UPDATE: (H/T Jonathan commenting below) Keith Getty, song writer, himself comments on the hymn here.





Monday, April 10, 2017

Palm Sunday Persecution

I was going to post on something else today but that can wait.

Yesterday our brothers and sisters in the Coptic Church in Egypt were battered by yet another bomb attack, two in fact, in Tanta and in Alexandria. NZ Herald report here (with video).

Militant, violent, vicious forces working in the name of Islam - though thankfully not supported by the majority of Muslims - are intent on killing Christians.

These are dark days but not unknown days for Christians.

Damian Thompson sees the attack as part of a campaign to wipe Christians from the face of the earth.

I wonder if Sonny Bill Williams will visibly protest this murderous violence by his co-religionists when he next plays rugby?

UPDATE: Statement from Archbishop Mouneer Abbas.

Also worth reading is this from Mark Steyn.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Easter Bunny Better Than Jesus?

As we head towards Holy Week and the Paschal celebration, it is sobering to read this piece published by Fairfax Media yesterday. Entitled "Why I don't take my kids to church?", the view proposed here is that the Easter Bunny providing Easter eggs is a better bet as an explainable saviour-figure than Jesus himself.

It is always good to be reminded that what we Christians take for granted as "good news" is not so for many non-Christians and (in this case) post-Christians.

I sympathise with the writer to the degree that her life story involves major events in which God has seemed absent in her life. But I note with concern the "semiotics" of the article posted a week before Easter: the secular media goes not to a Christian to explain why Easter means so much to them but to a post-Christian to explain why she does not send her kids to church. Message received loud and clear, Fairfax!

Disclaimer: the church the opinion writer happens to pooh-pooh is the Catholic church. I am not linking to this column to join her negativity about Catholic Christianity. The central concern she raises could have been raised whether she had been brought up Pentecostal, Baptist or even Anglican!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Very Latest on ChristChurch Cathedral

As circulated last night to the Diocese and (re the Opinion Piece) published in the Press this morning:

Message from the Bishop

 
Dear Friends,

Last Saturday in The Press newspaper Mr Philip Burdon of the GCBT  had an opinion piece about Church Property Trustees and the Cathedral.  This Saturday the CPT are responding and I am sharing with you what will be in the paper over the name of Gavin Holley, the CPT General Manager.  CPT also has placed an ad in the Saturday Press (see below).

There are aspects of the history of the Cathedral conversations which probably need to be stated again just because six years is a long time and people forget what has happened when they have not been involved in the deliberations on a daily or weekly basis.  For example, five years ago the Synod passed a resolution in support of the building of an inspirational Cathedral on the site of the Cathedral building in the Square. Legal action followed.  When it became possible and desirable  to have a conversation with the Government we re-visited the decision about deconstruction and possible re-instatement of our Cathedral in the Square.  Hence in late December 2016, CPT was open to considering signing a document which signalled an intention to re-instate the Cathedral.  As you will read, the actual late 2016 offer leading to that possibility is now off the table and a new, somewhat more conservative offer from the Crown is being considered.  Hence CPT need in the near future to give an answer to the Crown about their present offer.  It is with the intent of making the best decision possible that CPT has ordered more community research and is also undertaking further due diligence.

I have to say that none of this is easy for the Church Property Trustees or our excellent CPT staff team.  I am immensely grateful for their work since February 2011.  They serve and operate at the highest level of their professions.

Please be aware that this recent media engagement about the Cathedral building should not distract us from what is truly important as we enter into Holy Week and prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Holy Week blessings,

.
 



Opinion Piece for The Press   

For the ChristChurch Cathedral, the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, Church Property Trustees (CPT) and the wider community, the damage to the ChristChurch Cathedral from the Canterbury earthquakes is heart breaking. The ChristChurch Cathedral was a place of enormous spiritual significance and heritage for the Anglican Diocese. Having to make decisions on the future of the Cathedral is one of the hardest challenges CPT has ever had to face. Since February 2011, the Diocese has suffered total loss or damage to 248 of its 280 parish and commercial properties.

CPT holds and administers the property and funds of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, which stretches from Hanmer Springs in the north to Waimate, Twizel and Haast in the south, and its parishes. Membership of CPT comprises the Bishop Victoria Matthews and eight trustees, who are members of the Church elected by the Synod. Synod is the governing body of the Christchurch Diocese where reports are received to allow representatives to debate and vote on key Diocesan issues.

Church Property Trustees make decisions by vote and while the Bishop chairs the meetings, she neither has veto nor does she usually cast a vote. It is usual to have unanimity in the voting. This means no one person can decide on the fate of the Cathedral nor can Bishop Victoria Mathews exercise any “personal agenda”, as she has been accused of, to stop the reinstatement of the Cathedral.

For six years CPT has been striving tirelessly to find a workable solution on the future of the Cathedral and has always said that it is committed to a cathedral in the Square. It shares the frustration many feel over the lack of progress.

There has been recent commentary that the Church and CPT have somehow frustrated recent negotiations with the Government. In an opinion piece published by The Press last week, Philip Burdon, representing the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT), went so far as to say: “We have all been victims of sham negotiations and that the private ambition of the relevant Church leadership has always been to oppose restoration of the Cathedral.” Mr Burdon is not correct.  The Trustees were fully committed to good faith engagement with the Government and rescinded CPT’s standing resolution to deconstruct the Cathedral.

This earlier key decision made a commitment to building a contemporary cathedral in the Square. The decision had been based on numerous engineering, costing, risk and other professional evaluations for which CPT sought advice for different options. All key reports were made public.

The decision to build a contemporary cathedral in the Square was challenged in the courts by GCBT and led to three years of CPT defending its decision. During this time, in May 2013, CPT asked the public which design options for ChristChurch Cathedral it would prefer. More than 800 people attended public forums, the website had more than 14,000 unique visitors, and more than 3,800 votes and comments were received. A contemporary design for the future cathedral was favoured by respondents.

In June 2014, the High Court lifted the stay it issued in November 2012 on deconstruction of the Cathedral. This meant CPT could continue with its plan to progress the idea of building a contemporary cathedral in the Square. Although there would be significant consenting issues, a beautiful and highly functional inspirational and contemporary cathedral, incorporating features and materials from the old cathedral, could be built within the $40 million of cathedral insurance funds then available.

However, in May 2015 CPT’s decision to build a contemporary cathedral was paused following a request from the GCBT to further discuss engineering and costs of a rebuild. At that meeting, GCBT’s experts agreed with CPT’s advice that the approximate cost of a rebuild would be approximately $100 million (not $67 million as GCBT had been publicly claiming), that base isolation is preferable, and the rebuild project would take approximately seven years.

CPT approached the government and suggested it might like to become involved. The Crown decided to appoint Miriam Dean QC to assess the situation. In a previous conversation with Minister Brownlee, the Bishop and the Trustees present explained very clearly that they believed CPT might do well to move towards a compromise – a build of old and new materials despite the Diocese and CPT stating it had a preference for a contemporary build. The Trustees were open to reinstatement as long as when completed the project did not leave the Diocese or CPT in debt. In particular, it was highlighted that CPT could only commit $30 million as it needed significant endowments to pay for the maintenance of such an expensive building and also to cover the cost of full replacement insurance, which is estimated at up to $360k a year.

In January 2016, CPT’s decision to build a contemporary cathedral was again paused, following an approach from the Government to review the feasibility of reinstatement. As mentioned, CPT committed to good faith engagement and rescinded its standing resolution to deconstruct the Cathedral. The Government announced a Cathedral Working Group, however its appointment and the agreement to the Terms of Reference was delayed for several months due to the Minister’s heavy schedule. CPT was then concerned about the delay in the timing as it had committed to making an announcement about a way forward by the end of April 2016; in fact that was when the working group was confirmed  by the Crown.  The Cathedral Working Group’s report confirmed CPT’s advice that the cost of reinstatement (rebuild) was approximately $104 million (plus $4 million fundraising costs), base isolation is preferable, and reinstatement would take approximately seven years.

CPT then agreed to a Government request to negotiate a funding and delivery model to reinstate the Cathedral. In late December 2016, CPT believed that an agreement was in place and were ready to sign.  However in November we had the Kaikoura 7.8 earthquake and the following month the Prime Minister resigned.  These and other developments that occurred may have led those representing the Crown to re-assess their offer. Hence on 21 December 2016, the offer on the table was changed to an entirely different document – a Statement of Principles.

This brings us to the present, with an offer of a grant from the Crown of $10 million and a loan of $15 million towards potential reinstatement. CPT has clearly said that to leave a Bishop and Diocese with a $15 million loan is unacceptable.

More importantly there is the need to fundraise as much as a further $56 million in order to complete the project of reinstatement. The policy being followed for all of the buildings in Trust with CPT is that the money must be in hand before the repair or build begins.  Fund-raising efforts by the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust report $15 million intentions, but no pledges have been presented or seen. In the meantime, CPT continues to assess the Government’s offer.

Some people have argued that CPT has the means to fund the shortfall and fund the insurance and running costs of the reinstated Cathedral. But, CPT simply cannot do this as it holds no assets in its own right. It holds the assets in trust for the Diocesan and parish mission and ministry – and must ensure that any potential reinstatement does not weaken the wider mission of the church.

GCBT claims that opinion polls consistently supported reinstatement. This is not the case as proven in the consultation undertaken in 2013. However, to give us up-to-date information, CPT has engaged an independent research firm to complete a community survey to determine Christchurch residents’ opinion on reinstatement and their appetite to contribute to fundraising. Once the survey results are known they will be made public.

CPT anticipates soon being able to give the government an answer to its offer.

Gavin Holley is the General Manager of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Church Property Trustees.