Commissary’s Charge to Aotearoa Electoral College – 7 September 2017
I Timoti 3: 1
He pono te korero, Ki te hiahia tetahi ki te mahi pihopa, e hiahia ana ia ki te mahi pai.
Or as The New English Bible renders that same verse from Paul’s Letter to Timothy: Here is a saying you may trust: ‘To aspire to leadership is an honourable ambition.’
E nga iwi, e nga reo, e nga mana, e nga tangata o ia Amorangi, o ia Amorangi, ngati whakapono whanui, tena koutoa katoa.
I nga tau kua pahure, i hoea te Waka o te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa i roto i nga ngaru nunui o te ao. Ahakoa nga hau marangai, nga tupuhi, kaore te waka nei i totohu i tahuri ranei. Na nga Pihopa tokorima o Aotearoa i arahi mai, a u noa ki uta. Kua mutu tera rerenga o te waka.
Inaianei ka timata te kimi tangata hou, hei kaihautu mo Te Pihopatanga whanui, hei taki hoki i te waka mo nga ra kei mua. Koia tenei ta tatou mahi mo enei ra.
Engari rawa, he kupu apiti tenei. Kua tae tatou ki te wa kia whakaarotia e tatou te momo tangata e tika ana hei arataki i Te Pihopatanga a hei Atipihopa hoki i nga tau kei mua.
We seek to appoint not only a Bishop of Aotearoa with all the gifts and qualities which that post requires, but also an Archbishop, who can take on the added responsibilities of the threefold Primacy under which this Church operates, and do that not only nationally, but on the international scale as well.
Kei te kimi tatou he Atipihopa e whakaae ana ki nga whakatikatika me nga whakahou o te Pouhere hei whakapumau i te wairua mahi tahi a te Maori raua ko te Pakeha, me nga tangata hoki o te Moana nui a Kiwa, mo te kaupapa tikanga rua.
The Constitution which binds us together in this Anglican Church requires us to nominate a bishop to be an Archbishop who is committed to implement and entrench the principles of partnership between Maori and Pakeha and the peoples of the Pacific, an Archbishop who is committed to working and sharing together for the good of the Gospel, and the unity of God’s Church.
I te wa e kimi ana te Hahi he Pihopa Tuawha mo Aotearoa, ara i te tau tahi mano, iwa rau waru tekau ma tahi, ka titiro matou ki enei tikanga hei hapai i te rangahau mo taua Pihopa.
Hei whakamama ake i te mahi whiriwhiri ko wai te tangata e tika ana mo te turanga nei a hei whakaoho hoki i te hinengaro, anei etahi tikanga hei whakaaro ma tatou:
Tuatahi, he tangata pakari, ngakau nui ki tona iwi, whanui te titiro.
We are living in an exciting and challenging age when great changes are taking place in the world. We therefore need a particular kind of atipihopa, a person for this season, a person who is strong and far-sighted enough to help lead us to the ‘promised land’, to the realisation of our dreams.
Tuarua, he tangata tu kaha i roto i te whakapono, tu kaha hoki i roto i te ao Maori.
That the bishop should be strong in personal faith and a champion of the Christian faith among not only the Maori people but among all people, are qualities that are expected of a bishop. But for a bishop of Te Pihopatanga, and especially for Te Pihopa o Aotearoa, we cannot escape the fact that that faith must be firmly grounded in Maoritanga as well as in Anglican formularies, canons and disciplines. His ministry should reflect a genuine concern and love for his people, it should respect the heritage of the Maori people, and he should be a leader of the people who make up Te Pihopatanga.
Tuatoru, he tangata kaha ki te tuitui i nga kongakonga o te iwi Maori kia kotahi ai, kia hoki mai ai ki te wairua Maori.
The Archbishop should have the ability to draw people together and to make them feel uplifted in his presence. His task is to unite, not to divide.
Tuawha, he tangata awhi i te tangata, ngakau aroha ki te iwi Maori.
As a leader of the people Te Pihopa o Aotearoa must demonstrate a genuine love and concern for the people amongst whom he moves constantly.
Tuarima, he tangata kei te mau tonu te hauora o tona tinana, o tona whanau.
The Archbishop should be strong not only spiritually but also physically. The office calls for a person of vigour, of stamina, of imagination and of sound health.
Tuaono, he tangata mana e arahi te iwi ki te ora, mana hoki e whakapiki te mana o Te Pihopatanga, a mana hoki ka piki te hauora o te Hahi.
Under the guidance of Te Pihopa the Pihopatanga should continue to grow and to flourish, both in terms of people and of management. Not only the people but also the other Amorangi Bishops should be able to trust and respect the leadership and the mana of Te Pihopa, and be pleased to work collegially with him. The people should expect nothing less.
Tuawhitu, he tangata koia te kaiarataki i te Hahi, he tangata whaimana engari he tangata aroha, he tangata mohio ki te whakaiti i a ia.
This Archbishop is a leader of people, a leader among the people. He needs to possess such aroha for the people that his leadership and the exercise of his office are marked by service and dedication, tempered by a spirit of whakaiti – humility, so that all generations look up to him and respect the leadership he offers.
Tuawaru, he tangata, ma ana mahi pai ka mohiotia ia e Aotearoa katoa, a i tona wa ka rangona tona rongo i tua atu o Aotearoa, a ka tae ki nga topito o te ao.
This Archbishop will possess qualities that will make him renowned throughout Aotearoa and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
I have chosen to emphasise eight aspects of episcopal leadership. Our Catechism sets these out in far more simple terms. In answer to the question ‘what is the ministry of a bishop?’ the Catechism has this to say: ‘The ministry of a bishop is to be a pastor and shepherd of Christ’s flock, a teacher of the faith and a focus of the Church’s unity and mission in the world.’
On top of that we are asked to nominate from amongst five Bishops that we know reasonably well, a person to become an Archbishop, a leader both nationally and internationally. I know what that means. I spent six years in that role. In my time it was a lonely task, and a heavy responsibility. Now it is different. It is a task that is shared between the three Tikanga in a collegial manner, which requires mutual respect and co-operation for the sake of the whole Church.
When our three Archbishops are working well together, they will have been meeting often, they will have been talking clearly to each other, they will have developed a real sense of trust and a deep understanding of the particular difficulties, challenges and joys within each of the three Tikanga.
Many of us here this evening will have experienced an Electoral College for the nomination of a new Bishop in Te Pihopatanga. Some of us have also experienced such an event in the life of a Diocesan Synod. But this Electoral College here in Nelson has a critical difference. We are not looking at a range of priests to discern who might have the gifts and skills to become a Bishop. We are looking at our current Bishops, who have been offering episcopal ministry for varying lengths of time. We know them well. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We harbour a variety of thoughts and opinions about who might be nominated for such high office.
One of the great strengths of Te Hahi Mihinare, of the Anglican Church, is the way in which episcopacy operates. When each of these bishops was ordained he was reminded that Bishops are sent to lead by their example in the total ministry and mission of the Church. They are to be Christ’s shepherds in seeking out and caring for those in need. They are to heal and reconcile, uphold justice and strive for peace.
You will all hold a view about how well these bishops have performed in these tasks. The Ordinal continues and I quote again: Bishops are to exercise godly leadership in that part of the Church committed to their care, and to maintain wise discipline within its fellowship. The Church looks to them to promote peace and unity among all God’s people, and to encourage their obedience to God’s word. They are to keep the Church true to its faith, as found in Scripture and the Creeds, to teach this faith and proclaim it.
And then just before the act of the laying on of hands, the Archbishop has this to say: People look to us as bishops to make decisions and to speak with authority, whether or not we can do so. In the exercise of your office do not be arrogant or overbearing. Let us have the same mind as Christ Jesus.
Now, I have tried to emphasise the huge responsibilities which the Church lays on its bishops. But the remainder of the Church also has serious responsibilities. The clergy and people of the Church are asked to pray often and sincerely for their bishop, to submit to the bishop’s authority and to work together for the kingdom of God.
Now: This Electoral College will not be an easy experience for our bishops. Their life and work and ministry will come under a very public telescope, for we are all human, and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You know that.
In what I’ve said so far, all the attention, all the focus is on our House of Bishops.
But, in fact, it is the members of Te Runanganui who have the heaviest responsibility. For the future of te Pihopatanga is in your hands. It’s in your voices, it’s in your hearts.
I am now going to say some hard things… I cannot stress enough how careful the people of Te Pihopatanga have to be in these next 48 hours. If you feel tempted to stand up and be critical of any of the bishops – me noho wahangu – maintain your silence. People already know about those things, about those behaviours. When you stand to speak to any particular nomination, find something positive to say. Otherwise the bishops will be hurt, and the life of the Church will suffer irreparable damage, and the Holy Spirit will find it difficult to work with us.
A very few of us were part of the meeting of this Runanganui when Bishop Hui Vercoe was nominated in 1981. There were a good number of nominations, but the outstanding feature of the Hui was that for every nomination there were speeches of support, and not one speech of personal criticism. It was not until the secret ballots began that we could see where the Holy Spirit was leading us.
My prayer is that we can do the same, that we can be the same. Don’t let our differences of opinion tear the Pihopatanga apart. Whatever we do, don’t hurt or harm the reputation of our bishops. This is God’s Church and tonight it is in our hands. Let us leave our Bishops in God’s hands.
Are we setting out on ‘mission impossible’ ? Can we possibly identify in one of these five Bishops, all the gifts and graces and strengths that I have listed ?
If I have learned anything in twenty four years of episcopal ministry in this Church, six of them as an Archbishop, it is this. God never asks anything of us without supplying the grace to accomplish it.
So the task is not impossible. If Te Pihopatanga is united in prayer and support and aroha for a new Archbishop, one of these men will achieve great things, and this Church, this nation, the worldwide Anglican Communion, will reap the benefits.
When our late colleague and great friend, Brown Turei was installed as Te Pihopa tuarima, he asked me to preach at the Installation in Te Poho o Rawiri, and I used an illustration which seems equally appropriate this evening.
Ranginui Walker’s biography of Sir Apirana Ngata recalls a true story from the time when the first Bishop of Aotearoa was about to be selected, ninety years ago. Ta Apirana had taken a strongly Ngati Porou stance that the first Bishop should be Pine Tamahori. In 1928 travelling by train, Ngata and Tamahori left the train at Pukehou Station where the students of Te Aute College were waiting to receive them. A gust of wind caught Tamahori’s bowler hat and bowled it along the platform. Ngata took the mishap as a tohu, as an omen, saying to Tamahori: “E hika, ara ta taua take e puhia ra e te hau!”
Oh dear, there goes our intention, our hope, blown away by the wind.
Let us await the gentle cleansing of the wind of the Holy Spirit to blow amongst us, so that all iwi aspirations, intentions, and hopes are tested by that Spirit, in order that God’s will be done and a new Atipihopa is entrusted by the Church to seek God’s grace in order to bring us together and lead us all into God’s future.
So let us be careful, let us be prayerful, let us be mindful of the presence of God in our midst.
Kororia ki te Atua !