Sunday, November 26, 2006

Worshipping in New Zealand (Aotearoa)

It has been a delight to worship in the South Island Cathedrals of New Zealand.
On October 29 I attended Choral Eucharist at Nelson Cathedral. Nelson has always been regarded as evangelical and has provided bishops for the Sydney diocese but probably not these days. However the service was Anglican (which is a term difficult to apply to much of the Sydney diocese these days).
The celebrant was the Dean (Very Rev Charles Tyrrell) and the preacher was one of the assistant priests Rev Yvonne McLean. The Cathedral dominates the city from a hill to the south and is quite modern having been completed in the 70's. The pews were very comfortable and I was made to feel welcome. However I do not like having to keep the wafer and dipping it into the chalice. They were to have a family fun night on October 31 as an alternative to Halloween (Better than fulminating against it). I gather Halloween is bigger in NZ than Australia.
On November 5th I attended Choral Eucharist at Christchurch Cathedral. This service was packed as it was the 125th Anniversary dedication festival of the Cathedral.
Again the celebrant was the Dean, Very Rev Peter Beck, who welcomed me twice but there were a lot of people, assisted by the Associate Dean, Rev Diana Rattray. The preacher was Bishop David Coles.
The Offertory hymn was "Give thanks for life" words I do not remember seeing before although the tune was familiar. I became quite emotional at the verse
" And for our own,
our living and our dead,
thanks for the love by
which our life is fed,
a love not changed by time
or death or dread,
I had been disappointed that my itinerary meant I missed All Souls Day at St James the week before as I had wanted to attend in memory of Mum. This hymn assisted.

At the beginning of the service a new altar cloth was dedicated. It was bright red and had many languages embroidered in gold. There was a comment about the dedication being delayed due to controversy. On returning to the Cathedral later I asked the guide about this controversy. He said it had been opposed by evangelicals because it included writing from the language Sanskrit which is pre-Christian ?????? He asked "Do you know the sort of people who run the Sydney Diocese? I groaned and said "Only too well."
Finally on November 12 I attended St Paul's Cathedral in Dunedin . Being Remembrance Sunday the morning service was a special service of Thanksgiving with both the RSL and the Cathedral Choir. This was very moving but I attended again in the evening for Choral Eucharist. A small congregation as this is usually a service of Evensong. At both services the preacher (and celebrant at the Eucharist) was the Dean, the Very Rev David Rice. His accent obviously shows he was educated at Duke Divinity School, North Carolina.
I was excited to see that, in the week before, the Bishop of Dunedin had created controversy by ordaining as deacon a man who is living openly in a gay relationship. Apparently this man is a member of the cathedral congregation and the Dean has had to front the media on the matter. The Diocese of Dunedin also made history by consecrating the first woman Anglican bishop Bishop Penny Jamieson in 1989. Of course she was not welcome in the Diocese of Sydney.
It was nice to worship back at St James, King Street but I did not enjoy the 85 km drive each way. (I walked in Nelson and Christchurch and it was only a 4km drive in Dunedin.) However St James is still under the control of the Archbishop of Sydney so we are unlikely to see women priests any time soon and as for the ordination of an openly gay man !!!!!!!!.
So much points to my emigrating to Dunedin - time will tell.