The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has scheduled its first in-person meeting of the General Synod-Te Hīnota Whānui in more than four years, which will take place from 25-29 October 2022, hosted by the Diocese of Nelson.
Usually, the two-yearly week-long General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui gathers around 130 Anglican clergy and lay representatives, provincial staff, and members of provincial commissions from around the Pacific, to report on the three-Tikanga Church’s ministry and mission, set directions and priorities for province-wide work and pass church legislation.
Since General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui met in Taranaki in 2018, Covid-19 lockdowns have meant that only a one-day online synod on 25 July 2020 could meet to make essential decisions. That Synod affirmed revisions to the Church’s Ministry Standards canon and allocated resources for the 2020-2022 work of Te Hīnota Whānui General Synod commissions and administration. Eight Bills that were not considered at that meeting will now join Synod business this October.
Archbishop Philip Richardson says that although Pacific Anglicans have continued to meet regularly across these islands via online forums, it has been hard to be apart through the pandemic. Since borders closed in early 2020, major occasions when Anglicans would have gathered together have been lost, such as at the time of mourning Archbishop Fereimi Cama’s death and after the Tonga eruption.
“We are delighted that General Synod Te Hinota Whanui will meet in Nelson in October. It is particularly exciting to think that we will be gathering again with our brothers and sisters from the Diocese of Polynesia for the first time in several years.”
General Secretary Rev Canon Michael Hughes acknowledged that meeting virtually has been a blessing for the General Synod, but that cannot replace being together to celebrate or grieve, to worship, share in cultural events, build on relationships and support one another. Archbishop Philip agrees,
“There is no substitute for meeting face to face. It will be great to not only renew old friendships, but to meet in person those people we have only been able to meet virtually up to now.”
Hīnota Whānui General Synod is now going ahead as the New Zealand Government announced that all visa categories for entry to New Zealand will reopen from October 2022. That means Anglican Church delegates based in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa will once again be able to enter Aotearoa New Zealand on short-term visitor visas.
Looking forward, major items on the agenda for October will likely include: revisiting the challenges and opportunities of mission-aligned investment, introducing Kurahautu – the Archbishops’ Wayfinder Unit, updates to safeguarding and ministry guidelines informed by the work of the Ministry Standards Office and a number of motions as yet unwritten, including one based on findings of the Church Workers’ Housing Report.
More motions and bills are expected to come in before submissions close in August, and they will join reports from the General Synod Hīnota Whānui's ministry and mission.
Tuia – The General Synod office will publish online all background papers, bills and motions for the upcoming General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui on the Anglican Church’s General Synod website here from 26 September 2022.
Reports for the 2022 Hīnota Whānui General Synod meeting are available here and further reports will be uploaded as they arrive.