2019 has been a challenging year for our Diocese - a new bishop to get used to, the tragedy for Christchurch city on 15 March, ongoing effects of disaffiliations after GS 2018, our huge Cathedral Reinstatement project getting off the ground - but by 8.30 pm yesterday [first Sunday in Advent], I could reflect joyfully on some splendid end of year events and news.
Over the last ten days we have had three inductions: the Parishes of Ellesmere, Rangiora, Riccarton-Spreydon. Each filled with well-received ministers.
Yesterday morning, we were able to announce a new Vicar for the Parish of Papanui. Later in the day, at two different services I was at, parishioners from that parish expressed their excitement at the news of this announcement.
On Saturday, St Andrew's Day, I ordained three new deacons, each of whom will make a much valued contribution to ministry and mission in different parts of our Diocese.
But, wait, there is more ...
Yesterday morning I visited a Diocesan youth camp - a lively sequence of fun and sporting activities rounded off with teaching and worship - enthusiastic campers and keen young adult leaders.
And that teaching was given superbly by one of our youngest priests - a privilege of being bishop is to see our deacons and priests delivering ministry with verve, passion and excellence.
It was lovely to have Amy Page-Whiting, Senior Pastor, Cashmere New Life Church, as our preacher at yesterday's induction. Amy's presence reminded us of the work God is doing in all the churches of our city.
(Aside: all three inductions had female preachers. Whatever 1 Timothy 2:12 meant and means, I continue to be unable to see that it is meant to prohibit godly, trained female preachers from expounding God's Word in God's church.)
Then, a further observation: some conversations recently, including after the ordinations on Saturday, reminded me that even in a secular country such as NZ, where the church and its ministries are public, done well, and connecting with people, we remain a force of influence and impact in our society.
So, I feel, all in all, that 2019 is ending well for us as a Diocese. Thanks be to God.
2020 will have its own challenges ... one of which is that the lovely anecdotes above do not by themselves shift the "data" of decline in Christianity in this country. There is work to be done!