On one thing Kiwis are currently united: we are having a terrible summer!
Apparently there was an inauguration somewhere else in the world but local Anglican attention was on the inauguration of a new episcopal ministry in the South Island of NZ (Te Wai Pounamu).
Saturday was overcast but not dull which was good for an outdoor powhiri (formal welcome) and consecration service for Richard Wallace at Onuku, Akaroa Harbour. Taonga article here and my personal pic below.
Yesterday was one of our worst days: rain, more rain and a washed out day of test cricket here in Christchurch. And, by the sounds of it, not great weather for an otherwise excellent installation service for +Richard Wallace at Te Hepara Pai, Christchurch. Taonga article here. (No pic from me because I was preaching elsewhere in the city).*
All in all a good start to this new chapter for the mission of Anglican Maori on this island.
Natch I keep thinking during weekends such as this one past about our mission generally as Anglicans, and especially in the localities of the South Island where I have lived most of my life and served nearly all my years as an ordained minister.
Both Maori and Pakeha have huge challenges as we move deeper into the 21st century. Simply put, we have a challenge connecting with our communities. The challenge is highlighted by attendance numbers. Even though it is difficult, if not impossible, to get a full, statistically satisfying set of numbers, no sets of figures I see, nor discussions I have with those who do what research is possible on these numbers concludes anything other than this:
we are not connecting with our communities as we once did and, with the exceptions of parishes/rohe here and there, we are not showing signs of of turning that tendency around.
(See also this related post).
I have described things in the words above because I think "connecting" is a helpful word to describe what is not happening (when we see numbers declining) as well as to explain what is happening when we do see numbers rising. Growing churches connect with their communities (that is, a local, residential surrounding community or a community of interest (Gen X, Y, etc or families or a group identifiable by race/culture/nationality). Declining churches rightly discuss how they can better connect with their community and feel some despair at not knowing how to make that better connection.
I also see in some churches, where congregational attendance is falling, that "connecting" within the existing church community has become challenging. (That may be as simple as working on greater relevancy for sermons or it may be much more complex re the tide of secularism washing people slowly but surely out of the orbit of the church family).
Anyway, I am not going to resolve these matters in this post but I write to acknowledge the challenge we Anglicans Down Under continue to face as we move into this particular year. It is a greater challenge than the You Know What issue.**
*Incidentally, our local Christchurch Press today, reporting on the two events of the weekend, mixes up the installation with the consecration and throws in another mistake or two ... ecclesiastical reporting is not what it used to be.
**On that matter, there have been some bits and bobs of things Anglican (here and abroad) happening since I last mentioned it on this blog but for now I note only this latest Canterbury letter to the Primates.