A number of our bishops peered into the abyss of destruction yesterday.
They were on a platform suspended by crane 40m above the west door of ChristChurch Cathedral – level with the pigeons that now fly in and out of the ruined cathedral.
The bishops –who included Archbishops David Moxon and Winston Halapua, and Bishop Victoria Matthews – were accompanied by an engineer who pointed out major structural damage to the building that is not visible at ground level.
The bishops have been in Christchurch for their annual two-day business meeting, and yesterday afternoon they took a chartered bus trip through the inner-city Red Zone, accompanied by a CERA spokesman.
They listened to engineer’s descriptions of what they were seeing.
Other than that, few words were spoken. The bus stopped, for example, by the foot of the almost demolished Grand Chancellor hotel, and as the bishops watched towering cranes move giant clumps of reinforcing steel, the scene was post-apocalyptic – a giant cat toying with a tangled skein of wool.
Earlier in the day, the bishops had been formally welcomed at a powhiri at Te Hepara Pai, the HQ of Te Pihopatanga o Te Wai Pounamu.
Among other business they will be discussing:
- Resource sharing. At Tikanga Maori’s request, the last General Synod set up a commission to ask questions about more equitable resource sharing between tikanga. That commission had a difficult life – and the bishops will listen to reports of how discussions have gone at diocesan/hui amorangi level.
- At the invitation of Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary-General of the Communion, they will begin preparing a ‘job description’ for the next Archbishop of Canterbury – and spell out the qualities they would like to see in that person. The General Synod Standing Committee will also respond to Canon Kearon’s invitation.
- The bishops will also consider their response to an open letter from a group of Evangelical Anglicans, who have expressed their "grave concerns" that the General Synod appears headed towards formally opening the way for the ordination of people who are in same-sex relationships, and permitting the blessing of same-gender relationships.
- The bishops also heard from Bishop Richard Randerson, who was asked to update them on plans for a visitor centre at Oihi Bay, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Gospel on these shores.
- The bishops also looked at plans for July’s General Synod in Fiji.