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Advent Message from Bishop Andrew Hedge

Greetings all

Welcome to the first week of Advent. Have you noticed how the Christmas cheer is beginning to show up in Christmas lights on houses, carols being sung in church and community, all amidst the craziness of the rush to the end of the year with schools, community groups and workplaces winding up for the great Kiwi summer break. Well, I’m sure like many of you, I’m looking forward to the break ahead and hoping that it will be kind to us all and provide some space for recreation and recharging some fairly empty batteries after an extraordinary few years. In the meantime we have a few weeks ahead of busy events and important things to attend to as we draw the calendar year to a close.

First of all, I’d like to congratulate the Rev’d Paul Leighton on his appointment as Lead Chaplain at Rotorua Hospital. Paul will conclude his curacy in the Parish of Whakatane in early January, taking a few weeks break before commencing at Rotorua Hospital. I’m very pleased for Paul and glad that we are able to keep him in Waiapu and that he has been able to pursue his long-held passion for chaplaincy ministry. Paul has been a keen part of parish life in Whakatāne for the past two years and I know he will be missed from the parish. Please join with me in congratulating Paul on this new adventure in Christian ministry.

Hereworth School in Havelock North will farewell their Headmaster, Trevor Barman and his wife Jenny, this week as the school year comes to a close. Trevor and Jenny have been part of our life in Waiapu for the past five years leading the school community through some very difficult and unpredictable times. Trevor and Jenny have also been regular worshiping members of the Parish of Havelock North and served on various committees in the life of the parish. After five years the call of family and grandchildren in Australia has been too strong to resist and Trevor and Jenny will head back across the ditch to resettle into life in Australia. We have deeply appreciated having Trevor and Jenny as part of our life here in Waiapu, and especially at Hereworth and St Luke’s parish. We will miss them and wish them every blessing as they return to Australia.

Two weeks ago I, along with Pastor Warren Heke of Hastings Church and the Integrated Hub in Hastings, went to Auckland to the Business Sustainability Awards ceremony. We were representing the Hastings District Council, Anglican Care Waiapu and the Connect Community Trust which are all partners in the Integrated Hub project to serve and help homeless people in Hastings. While we didn’t win the award for the Collaboration category it was a privilege for the project to be considered among some amazing businesses, community groups and NGOs working throughout the motu to bring sustainability in all forms into our life in Aotearoa. I was very proud of Money Sweetspot which took out the Social Impactor award after just 11 months trading. WASSTB invested in the startup for Money Sweetspot as part of our impact investing. Check out their website to see the good work that they are doing to reduce high interest debt traps for whanau.

Next week I, along with the team who have been doing lots of work with me, will be presenting our Strategic Plan to the Standing Committee. This is the culmination of much work since June this year and consultation across the diocese. We look forward to sharing this once we have shared it with Standing Committee and shaped it up for wide distribution. Stay tuned.

In a time when there are a lot of competing agendas on our plates with concerns about large conflicts overseas to the busy schedules of the end of the year, I encourage you all to pay attention to the political landscape and developments in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Since the announcement of the new government there have been several concerning policy positions made public by the Prime Minister, decisions which will have a direct impact on our lives as a nation, the place of Te Ao Māori in the ongoing development of our nation, and on the well-being of our most vulnerable, marginalised and Māori and Pasifika communities. We have a part to play, each one of us, in not allowing years of susbstantial development toward fulfilling the hopes and longings of those who first caught a vision of what this nation could be, Māori and Pākehā together, to be undone by thoughtless rhetoric turned into policy. Perhaps you have noticed already that there are moves afoot in the community to take a stand to challenge the reversion of various policies that would diminish the place of mātauranga Māori in our government departments. We all have a part to play in ensuring that the communities within which we live function in a way that gives space for all, that honours all, that sees all as being created in the image of God and thus all valued and honoured, with the needs of the most vulnerable, marginalised and excluded placed at the heart of our decision making.

Also, of course, we need to keep a watchful outlook and offer intercessory prayer for all the areas of conflict in the world at any time. Perhaps like me your attention is daily drawn to the situation in Gaza and the conflict between Hamas and the Israeli Defence Force. We recently added our support to the statement for peace prepared by the Wellington Abrahamic Council which can be found here:

I hope to write to you all again before Christmas, until then stay safe and journey well through this season of Advent.

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