I seem always to begin by apologizing for the long interval since the last SPOTLIGHT appeared (this time, three years) and promising to be more regular in future. Some of you know something of the reasons for the long delay this time. I can only say that I will try to bring one out a bit more often; and if this issue is mostly confined to the mission in Canterbury, let that be taken as an appeal for readers to send news from other centres.
The failure of our photocopier has made our task harder, but it has had a sort of resurrection which may last long enough to print an edition.
The heading of our front page displays the three Antiochian congregations, and I hope the information is still correct as shown. Since SPOTLIGHT was founded as an expression of the Orthodox mission to New Zealand, to keep in touch especially with those whose mother tongue is English, we continue to be interested in the work of our good friend Fr Ambrose, and are glad that, by accepting to work under the Russian Church Abroad, he has been able to regain the use of the Church in Webb St, Wellington, and to resume his ministry to the Russians in Christchurch. We hear dimly of other friends who have managed to accomplish their desire to enter the ministry; however we are not really clear as to their relationship with canonical Orthodoxy. At the same time we must rejoice at the arrival of the Coptic Church in New Zealand, and we have every reason to look forward to a cordial relationship. The restoration of a Greek priest to Christchurch is also a matter for rejoicing, the more so as this time it appears to be permanent. An additional advantage has been that the mission at Ashley has been freed to concentrate on its immediate area and on New Zealanders; and, since the visit of our Bishop in February, enjoys full authority to serve the people freely in the authorized traditions of East and West according to pastoral need. We have to be also very pleased at the foundation of the Antiochian Orthodox Deanery in Britain, which has so much strengthened our position here, and with whom we are directed to remain in close contact.
We could have wished that there had been an even greater response to the work of the "Pilgrimage to Orthodoxy, led by the Revd Michael Harper; nevertheless, eight congregations using the Byzantine Rite in English and two using the Western ("of S. Gregory") represent a sound beginning and a sign for the future. In his latest newsletter Fr Michael reports a certain ostracism by former colleagues; and I have noticed, too, that if you mention his Deanery in the circles in which he used to move (his books were best- sellers in the "charismatic" movement here and world-wide), people have curiously forgotten they ever knew him... We have learned to expect such reactions; but what matters is that the Faith is accessible for those who are serious. Obstacles there may be; but the way to the Orthodox Church is not an obstacle course any longer, much as some would like us to think so. Indeed, to judge from an issue of THE ANGLICAN / ORTHODOX PILGRIM downloaded from the Internet and sent to me recently, our Church is being promoted very positively. The British Antiochian Orthodox Deanery itself is apparently soon to have its own web site.
CANTERBURY MISSION - BAPTISM REGISTER
When I was young, parish magazines always used to publish the lists of baptisms, weddings, etc since the last issue. It seems to me a good idea to list in this SPOTLIGHT all the baptisms (and some receptions by chrismation) which have taken place since we began services, on an occasional basis, back in 1973.
13 1 76 Yvette Anne Saba, Christchurch
21 9 77 Rene Lainchbury, Christchurch
25 1 81 Emma Louise Lainchbury, Christchurch
6 1 85 Marilyn Panikhaveetil, Christchurch
4 12 88 Biliana Bozana Hanson, Christchurch
16 4 90 John Richard Allen, Christchurch
3 1 93 John Tsane Hanson, Christchurch
24 11 91 Jessica Mouine Saba, Christchurch
12 4 93 Georgia Hariata Patricia Denny, Rangiora
17 4 93 Jesse Hamish Painter, Leithfield Beach
6 6 93 Philomena Amelia Webb, Belfast
27 12 93 Jack Witbrock Finlay, Wellington
6 1 94 Hayden Mark Nicol, Amberley
22 1 94 Kevin Francis Keats, Rangiora
27 9 94 Connor Neil Murdo Andrew (in Gisborne)
15 10 94 Kevin Bryan Carl Dalley, Christchurch
22 10 94 Katherine Roxine Lee Guthrie, Rangiora
22 10 94 Michael David Duffield, Waikuku Beach
22 10 94 Denny Duffield, Waikuku Beach
8 1 95 (chr) Dyan Thelma Loasby, Rangiora
23 4 95 Rosalee Coral Cecilia Guthrie, Waikuku Beach
18 6 95 Horopapera Matthew Darcy-Foord Denny, Rangiora
25 9 95 (chr) Leon William Chambers, Sefton
3 10 95 Caroline Michelle Andrew, Rangiora
8 10 95 Jeanne Carol Andrew, Rangiora
8 10 95 Tiana Maree Andrew, Rangiora
22 10 95 Russell Kevin Stephen Houghton, Rangiora
28 1 96 Stefan Cvetkovic, Christchurch
26 4 96 (chr) Helen Mary Morrison, Leithfield Beach
2 6 96 (chr) Matthew Thomas William Brokenshire, Rangiora
3 6 96 Angela Nyree Hoani, Rangiora
27 6 96 Mickeal Duffield, Rangiora
7 7 96 Charlotte Amy Leigh Morrison, Leithfield Beach
1 5 97 Cameo Violet Anastasia Campbell, Rangiora
1 5 97 Sharlene Karen Mary Campbell, Rangiora.
LETTER TO EACH OF THE ABOVE
My Dear Child,
Even if we have not had much contact lately, you have been in my thoughts and I wonder how your life is progressing; what has become of the gift that was planted in you, and how much you are aware of it. Baptism , the Holy Chrism and the Holy Communion are not just formalities, fulfilling a temporary need in your life in this world, to be forgotten and left in the past; indeed it is beyond our capacity fully to realize what these Holy Mysteries do for us and in us. Some people speak glibly about "having God in my life" and I suppose there is some truth in that, but it is really quite inadequate to express what you have received. "God in your life" - that is true for everybody: His friends, His enemies, even those who are quite unaware of Him. He has always been in your life, as He is everywhere in the world, the world that is made by Him, the world that does not know Him. No, what you have been given is rather: God's life in you. The Almighty God, who took our flesh of His holy Mother and walked our earth, has attached His most true promise to water, to oil, to bread and wine, so that when that promise is called upon in His Holy Mysteries, we are born again, not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God; we are born anew of water and the Spirit; we eat His flesh and drink His blood, and have eternal life in us, and He promises to raise us up on the last day. Even if we have forgotten Him, he has not forsaken us, and He is faithful to His promises.
You may say: I do not feel the life of God in me, and I do not seem to be making any progress towards the kingdom of God. He did not promise you would feel His life in you, but that you would have it. But look into the depths of your being. He is there, waiting for your attention, longing for you, but not compelling you. Look for Him and He will show Himself within you.
You may say: I have turned away from Him and sinned against Him, and so He hides His face from me. But only turn back, ask His help to put the wrong right, and you will find Him. Baptism and the Holy Chrism are for once only, but Confession and Holy Communion are for again and again, as often as we need to renew our union with Him.
You may say: I needed God once, but now my life is happy, and I don't need Him any more. Do not be deceived. The world, even in its present state of decay, still appears attractive to many, but it will not last. Perhaps you first sought God when it seemed the world had rejected you, and now it seems to be your friend, so you forget Him. But it will not last. The world is passing away, and its delights; but he who does the will of God abides for ever. More and more it is becoming clear that we are in the last days, and the Lord is at the door. Blessed are those who are ready for His marriage feast.
You may say: I live a long way from the Church, and the service is rather dull; and everywhere there are new assemblies singing away and having such fun; and so many voices tell me so many different things that I am confused, and so I do nothing.
Let me answer you as the Apostle Paul did in a letter: though you have 10,000 teachers, you do not have many fathers, for I became your father through the Gospel. A father likes to see his children from time to time. Come home soon. The table is laid every day, not with turkish delights, but good, plain, nourishing food, such as a family shares.Your father,
the priest Jack.
We keep a book in the Church to commemorate, on their anniversaries, all the departed who have had the remotest connection with the Church. However, we think the following worthy of special mention here:
31 1 95 Philomena Amelia Webb. Her baptism record appears above. When her great-grandson Jesse asked for baptism she decided to be baptized too, and became a faithful member of our congregation here, while continuing to live in a Salvation Army flat in Belfast, where Holy Communion was brought to her during her last illness. Her funeral was entrusted by the family to the Salvation Army; but a requiem was said here without the body; and although the SA got her body, we rather think her soul is safe in the Church in heaven. Memory eternal.
11 5 95 Argeo Dobran. He appeared at Ashley on Palm Sunday, 1987, in response to a newspaper ad for Holy Week; and quickly became a pillar of our congregation. He asked explicitly to be taken under the Antiochian jurisdiction, but was enormously supportive with his musical expertise wherever it was accepted, and especially at Ashley and in the Russian Church in Christchurch. His wide musical experience included not only the Greek and Slavonic traditions, but also the Latin and English services, and with his thorough expertise and total loyalty he was able to bring all these into play in his last years. His death from cancer marked the end of an era for our mission at Ashley, and he will be greatly missed for many years. He is buried at Belfast where there is now an area set aside for Orthodox burials. Memory eternal.
NEWS OF THE MISSION AT ASHLEY
The last year has been very difficult in some ways, especially financially, but we can perhaps now hope for a gradual climb out of the deficit. Our financial problems were set out in Newsletter #4 of the Rangiora Helping Hand which was sent out also to those who are in touch with our Church. The donations that we received in response to this have helped us to keep afloat and we are grateful, especially as three large donations were from non-Orthodox christians. Thank you.
As I explained in that Newsletter, the Church was allowing its facilities to be used for the operation of the Helping Hand, and was finding it increasingly difficult to meet the costs. Now, however, some heads have been put together so that the Helping Hand can hope to receive a rerasonable amount of grant money, not only to provide the needs of clients, but also to pay for overheads such as power, phone and travel.
At the same time, NZ Employment is hoping to be able to get some funds to enhance the project which has been running on the land here, so as to increase the food production, upgrade the property as a place of refuge and hospitality, and involve more Community Task Force workers in line with the government's aim of expanding this scheme nationwide. A first step has been taken to employ one or both of us for six months in the running of the project.
The work schemes have been subject to some criticisms and the defects are rather obvious to those who are trying to carry them out. However, from our point of view, we find that those who come to us quickly realize that any injustice being done to them is not our doing, and that we are in a quite similar situation to themselves; and a good and loyal spirit develops among the gardeners who often bring up constructive suggestions and offer their skills in improving the facilities. The fact that treating workers as human beings can have such positive results leads us to wonder about the attitudes of some employers who may have rejected the workers before they came to us.
One development has occurred in our long-term planning for the land: we accepted the offer of Warren and Joan Shivas for two sections at the far end, and they have now been living in their new house for some months. The total area still in our ownership is now about two acres, and we do not have any plans at present to sell more, but hope to bring it all into constructive use. This is partly because of complications about the titles and the unsuitability for building of the titles that could be sold; but also because of the extreme rapidity with which the $50,000 raised from the sale slipped through our fingers. We are however still interested in hearing from people who would like to settle here specifically in order to be involved in our mission.
The work that comes our way through the Helping Hand can be depressing. One is in contact with people whose hand-to-mouth daily existence cannot really be appreciated unless you are in the same position yourself. For that reason our difficult circumstances have been an advantage, although they also restrict our ability to give help. It is also depressing to see people make a bad situation worse by foolish management of the little they have; and yet it remains true (and continues to be overlooked) that the poverty of the poor is due more than anything else to the low levels of benefits and wages, deliberately lowered by government policy. The Helping Hand, I am continually repeating, was set up in response to benefit cuts in 1991 which were blamed at the time on the losses of the BNZ. These were said at the time to total about $700,000,000. I have just fished out the SW letter I received at that time and note that our benefit was reduced from $297-08 pw to $271.88, a cut of $25-20. Other benefits seem to have dropped by about the same amount per family. $25-20 pw is $1,310-40 pa and from the 1st April 1991 until the 31st March 1997 will have amounted to $7,862-40 (or a comparable amount) for every beneficiary family in the country. It is perhaps not an unconnected fact that budget advice services are struggling to assist families; that an increasing number of budget advice clients are presenting themselves with an accumulated debt of a similar magnitude to the accumulated benefit cuts, and that even a Christian agency such as the Kingdom Resources Trust, which makes no-interest loans as part of its rescue programme, is quite unable to keep up with the demand for loans which average at several thousand dollars. I have seen for myself that some of these debts have been built up by a series of foolish actions; but it is often a folly that proceeds from despair, from a sense that, wise or foolish, the client is doomed to go under anyway.
I am sorry to say that this sense of helplessness seems to be afflicting our whole nation and probably most of the world: many deplore policies that have destroyed our social fabric, and yet do not know what can be done. Perhaps some can achieve something by political means, although I can not see it at present. All I can see to do is to do what you can about the need that is under your nose, and pray for the coming of the Kingdom, refusing to give up faith in it even if the powers that be have succeeded in postponing any realization of it until our Lord comes in glory. For come He will, and it may not be long now. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
NEW ZEALAND ORTHODOX REUNION
On his recent visit to Christchurch Fr Ambrose was reminding Fr Jack of the gatherings at Kiwitea in the 1970's, and we thought how nice it would be to get those people and others together for a reunion. We thought a suitable place would be Ashley, and a suitable time might be in January 1998, in the week Monday 12th to Saturday 17th. There are many beds around and those wanting better accomodation could book the motels by the pub. We should like to be as inclusive as possible and revive the friendships forged in those years. Write to Fr Jack or Fr Ambrose and say what you think.
BACK TO TOP