Polynesia: Archbishop of York plants for the future
[Anglican Taonga] The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd & Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, visited one of Tonga’s smallest islands [on 3 August] where he prayed and took action to prevent erosion.
On a mission to promote awareness of climate change and to protect the environment, he preached at an Oceanic Eucharist on Pangaimotu Island led by Archbishop Winston Halapua and attended by priests of the Anglican Church of Tonga [Diocese of Polynesia], members of the local Anglican community and the St Andrew’s High School brass band and students.
On the exposed side of the island where the sea is rapidly eroding the land and trees have died, Archbishop Sentamu and his wife Margaret planted mangrove seedlings. They were assisted by the Acting Prime Minister, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni.
On Sunday, 2 August, the Archbishop ordained two new priests, Fr Laiseni Liava’a and Fr Steven Vaka, at St Paul’s Cathedral in the Central Business District.
He attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the Anglican Church in Fasi, accompanied by Hon Frederica Tuita Filipe.
On Monday afternoon he met local church leaders during a luncheon. He was due to leave Tonga for Fiji on Tuesday.
The Archbishop is in the Pacific to lead a series of leadership reflections on climate change at the invitation of Archbishop Winston Halapua.
The Islands are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The Archbishop’s visit is timely, ahead of the Paris summit in December 2015, where 196 countries are expected to sign a new climate change agreement.
Dr Sentamu said: “Climate change affects everyone: agriculture, tourism, fisheries, water, health and wellbeing. The skills and capabilities of local populations, national governmental authorities and regional organisations must act to ameliorate the effects of climate change. I am delighted to join Archbishop Winston Halapua for this diocesan visit.”
This month the General Synod of the Church of England overwhelmingly welcomed the new climate change policy adopted by the church’s investing bodies.
This is the first time that the Archbishop of York has come to these islands.
In addition to the leadership reflections with clergy, lay and ecumenical leaders, Archbishop Sentamu will also address young people on Pangaimotu Island as part of the ‘Moana’ Oceanic Eucharist. He is to attend ‘Lotu’ youth mission events at Suva and Ovalau.
The Archbishop will also visit the Pacific Theological College and the Pacific Regional Seminary In Samoa.
Dr Sentamu blessed a new school building in the presence of Samoa’s Prime Minster, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.
He also visited Poutasi Village, which was extensively damaged by a tsunami in 2009, and preached at two ordination services in Samoa and Tonga.
Mrs Sentamu will address the Anglican Association of Women in Fiji. She also will meet young mothers at New Town and Suva, and accompany the Archbishop on his visit to the Sisters of the Community of the Sacred Name where they will meet children of St Christopher’s Home in Naulu.
Mrs Sentamu will visit the House of Sarah, a diocesan initiative to combat domestic violence. She will also address a Lay Ministry Training Group at the Anglican Cathedral of the Diocese of Polynesia in Suva.
______________________________________________________________This high-profile visitation of the Pacific Island, In the wake of the Church of England’s recent dedication to the cause of amelioration of the problems of Climate Change, in one of the places on earth where the practical liabilities are most expected; and at the invitation of our Archbishop of Polynesia, the Most Revd. Winston Halapua; is a most timely intervention on the part of the leading Province of the world-wide Anglican Communion.
No doubt, Archbishop John Sentamu’s presence in the Islands will have a beneficial effect on the efforts of the Anglican Communion to come to terms with the stark reality of how the changing climate situation is already affecting the Islands of the Pacific, which are part of ACANZP, where Archbishop Winston exercises a charism of pastoral care for all of the Islands under his jurisdiction.
It is wholly good that the Archbishop of York and Mrs Sentamu become acquainted with the particular threat to Pacific Island communities from the effects of Climate Change. As part of the New Zealand group of Church of the Anglican Communion, Fiji Tonga and Samoa and the other Islands around them become more and more aware of the problem, this show of support from the mother Church of England must come as a welcome, if not altogether surprising, intervention.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand