Meanwhile, in response to an article in the North Canterbury News, several local people have offered to help with the garden, including a boarder who came to us yesterday.
Antiochian Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand
New Zealand Report for Quarter Ending December 2000
No report received
The services at Howick started on Sunday 12th November 2000 with a service
limited to few friends, on 19th November 2000 at 11:30am. The weekly Sunday
services started with reasonable success. During this period we conducted 9
Services with total attendances of 164 average 18, total Communions given
103 average 11. We are thankful to the Anglican Church for providing every
assistance and providing for us the Old "All Saints Church" for our
Also, we attended to a sick person at hospital who received oil anointing
and Communion, assisted with a Funeral service and memorial service.
The parish is still in its early formative stage, the Holiday season being
the middle of the few meetings we had. We spoke to two people regarding
taking on the Treasurer's and another the Secretary's job, they promised a
reply after their return from the holiday. Probably, with things moving as
planned we could have our first General Meeting in February.
In preparation for the General meeting a copy of the Archdiocese's
Constitution for its Parishes would be helpful.
For the time being we are working through the Archdiocese Bank Account,
which is controlled by Fr Ilyan.
Liturgies continue to be held on a monthly basis and are well attended (30
to 40). The Anglican church of S. Barnabas Roseneath was used until
November (and are welcome back if the Russian Church is not available). We
presently have use of the Russian Church. Both Fr's Jack and Ilyan have
officiated. There is no liturgy scheduled for in January. Fr Ilyan will be
taking services in February and March., Fr Jack will resume duties in April
during Holy Week.
The congregation is hopeful that the Archdiocese will be able to provide
Arabic speaking priest or Deacon for the liturgy in April. The liturgy is
currently scheduled to be held on late Easter Eve/Easter Day.
The proto-parish committee desperately require constitutional documentation
and advice from the Archdiocese on the structure the Archdiocese is
expecting to put in place in New Zealand.
Fr Jack has continued to recover from his first knee operation, he resumed
services about two months ago. The services outside Ashley have continued.
Fr Jack will be undergoing his next knee operation on January the 24th and
expects to be "back in service" by late March.
[Note: this was a mistake. Fr Dn Michael had sent a report to Ian, who had mislaid it. This has now been remedied. -Fr Jack.]
The Dunedin parish suffered a great loss in December with the death of long
time parishioner and long serving member (president) of the parish council
Maurice Ayoub. He will be missed by both Fr's Ilyan and Jack.
Fr Ilyan continues to provide successful multi-lingual services to a
pan-Orthdox community. Weekly liturgies continue to be supported by about
20 parishoners on average. The Slavonic members of the community (about
90% of the parish) celebrated their Christmas on the 7th of January 2001 at
the normal Sunday liturgy. As usual the Christmas liturgy was well
The Dunedin parish is keen to have a copy of the Archdiocese's proposed
model constitution for parishes.
Dr Ian J. Nield
New Zealand Representative
Antiochian Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand Trust Board
Throughout most of the twentieth century, severe strain has been put on the unity of the Orthodox Church. From the early 1920s, the Soviet Government's treatment of the Russian Orthodox Church made open communication almost impossible between the émigrés and the Church at home. The measures that were taken led to an overlapping of national Churches on the territories outside their homelands, and conflicting claims to "jurisdiction".
Since the fall of communism, hopes for reconciliation have for some time appeared to be disappointed. There were fears that positions might become more entrenched as the rational basis for them faded. Yet in the last few weeks a new tone has appeared in the utterances both of the Moscow Patriarchate and of the Russian Church Outside of Russia. We should be rash to make predictions, but we can surely pray that these signs may lead to a new era of unity. In New Zealand, where the Russian Church Abroad is the only Russian Church, a closer relationship with Moscow and therefore with the other Patriarchates with people in New Zealand would be especially welcome. We have always thought that we Orthodox in NZ are too few to be able to afford disputes. To be permitted to practice greater unity would be a great joy.
We therefore pray that this will come about, and not be overshadowed by the rumblings we hear from Eastern Europe between Constantinople and Moscow. We hope leaders there will remember to put unity above the seeking of power; and also that the very great progress made with the Oriental Churches will soon lead to formal unity. The damage done to the credibility of the Orthodox Church as the true Church, the true continuation of the Undivided Church, by the tensions of this last century will only be fully understood when it is a thing of the past, and the Church is one not only with her Holy Tradition, but also, unmistakeably, with every part of her present reality.
Care for unity, however, must start at home. Because we were so few in the 1970s, those of us who had become Orthodox, on whom mainly the organization of services rested for an ethnic membership, realized the need to be in touch and cultivate each other as friends. With the growth of membership and number of congregations, it is important not to lose sight of this need. Part of the reason why SPOTLIGHT was begun in 1974 was to keep NZ Orthodox in touch with each other and with interested enquirers. We hope it still has such a function, and that is why I continue to appeal for items of news. News may be quite trivial, and seem not worth sending; but ordinary bits of information about parish activities, baptisms, weddings, etc; i.e reports of each priest's or deacon's doings in his ministry, help to make real the life of each congregation to the others. Unity is not just a matter of approving the sacraments and faith of each other. S. Paul speaks quite strongly. against any attitude that thinks it can exist in isolation: "if the head says to the foot, I have no need of you, does it then not belong to the body? God forbid!" (from memory). So brethren, let us have a special care to keep in touch with each other, exchanging even humdrum matters as a sign of our belonging to each other; and let us begin especially with the congregations of our own Antiochian Church.
Over the last few months we have seen a considerable increase in the numbers of centres for worship, including the more frequent use of Holy Communion Liturgies without a priest (usually with a deacon, using the reserved Holy Communion, or "Holy Gifts" to use the Eastern expression. At this point someone might feel like asking: "is it not our obligation to be present at the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that is, at the consecration of the Divine Body and Blood by a priest?
The answer to this, of course, is yes. That is, of course, the meaning of Eucharist: the giving of thanks by the Bishop or Priest which introduces the Anaphora (Greek=offering, called Canon in Latin) by which the consecration is made. The universal tradition of the Church obliges us to be there every Sunday and major Holy Day, and this was confirmed as early as the first General Council at Nicaea, where those who had been absent from the eucharist for three Sundays were, if clergy, deposed, if laymen, excommunicated.
However, obligation is not absolute: it is weakened by sickness, or by distance. Some of the holiest people in the age of the Nicene Council deliberately withdrew themselves into the desert at such a distance from the cities that they could not conveniently come in regularly for the Eucharist. Eventually, of course, the Eucharist followed them, as they formed communities and some monks were ordained.
In our situation, people often live a long way from the nearest offering of the Divine Liturgy just because of the shortage of priests. It was pointed out to me the other day that in New Zealand people may be in danger of assuming that it is normal for Orthodox Priests to be unpaid and to have some other source of income. Of course, it is not; it happens because for the last thirty years there would otherwise have been almost no priests and no sacraments for the Orthodox people, who are so few, and who would be even fewer if we had waited until we could afford for our Priests to be salaried, and paid by the people.
In this situation we must do what we can. Even in our main cities the distance from one side to the other is more than many people can reasonably travel. To have two centres of worship in Auckland, and three in Christchurch, should enable people to access Holy Communion more often, and in our rapidly de-christianizing society the need is all the more urgent. People in Christchurch city, for example, could not reasonably be obliged to travel every Sunday either to Ashley or to Diamond Harbour, although for some on the nearer edge it might be only as far as crossing the city. For this reason we have revived, at least as a trial, the practice we tried in the 80s of using the Cathedral Grammar Chapel occasionally, to see if it helps some more to get to Church.
In the pioneering situation here and in other places, it often happens that Orthodox Christians find themselves living close to a (perfectly canonical) Church of another jurisdiction. They may not understand the language, but they surely know the service. What are we to say about the common custom of sticking to one's own ethnic grouping, even at the cost of missing out on a real Eucharist? We can say nothing; the practice is encouraged so widely and by such exalted authorities that we dare not express an opinion. But we cannot deny that the concept is widely different from the strong obligation that drove the earliest Christians to risk martyrdom at the hands of the Roman authorities rather than miss the Holy Sacrifice which in those days was available in only one place in each city.