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Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter December 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

Political push and shove
concerns churches

The Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) has expressed its deep concern over the effects of recent political push and shove in the country. In a statement general secretary Rev Philemon Riti said the present political atmosphere has left a lot of people confused and unnerved, fearing a return to the dark days of ethnic unrest from 1999 to 2003. Riti said it is understandable that the Solomons Government has reacted to the Australian Government and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) patronising and over-simplistic misreading of indigenous systems of governance and the marginalising of local actors, as well as disrespect for people’s national sense of pride. But when the government first came into power, the prime minister rededicated the nation back to God and promoted a vital strategic development direction of rural development. “SICA is urging the government to return to what is important for the nation rather than be sidetracked by reacting to political wrangling, and not to resort to political point scoring, but to be above reproach.

Riti said SICA appreciated the tremendous gains in law and order and fiscal responsibility in the government budget since the arrival of RAMSI and therefore commends RAMSI. However, he said the engagement of RAMSI with the Solomon Islands Government had been too shallow. So “SICA appeals to RAMSI to rethink their partnership strategy with the government and ensure that it has depth and is built on trust and partnership. “RAMSI’s ‘Helpim Fren’ motto was gladly embraced by most Solomon Islanders, although some wanted to know which friend they are really helping. “Treat your ‘fren’ with more respect, then they may respond more kindly and then the Australian public will be satisfied that 9 per cent of their tax money spent on RAMSI is worth it”, Riti said.

SICA has appealed to the Australian Government, RAMSI and Solomon Islands Government to redeem the deteriorating relations between Canberra and Honiara by putting aside differences and trying to win the trust of the nation through cooperation and actions that change the rhetoric, in order to get the Nation back on track. Riti urges all the people of Solomon Islands to be calm and have faith. Solomon Star 27 October 2006

Solomon churches organise leadership forum

Transparency Solomon Islands and the Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) recently held a National Leadership Forum. Leadership character was seen as an issue to be addressed. SICA spokesperson Judith Fangalasu’u said the forum identified the issue of leadership character as requiring a lot of attention by all sectors of Solomon Islands society. The theme of the forum was “Fo apem lidasip long Solomon Islands” (raise up leadership for the Solomon Islands).

Mrs Fangalasu’u added that poor and inappropriate support by Solomon Islands people for their leaders to sustain ethical leadership had contributed towards the identified weakness. “Common concerns raised include habitual disregard for ethical principles, loss of personal integrity, poor stewardship and inconsistent public performance by leaders,” she said. However the forum found that Solomon Islands leaders, generally, have the appropriate skills and knowledge for leadership. “Many Solomon Islands leaders are gifted teachers, relational experts and team players.

“Leaders are knowledgeable about the Solomon Islands context,” said Mrs Fangalasu’u. “Many possess particular knowledge and many leaders know local customs well and have expertise in the psychology and behaviour of people.” Sadly, she said these areas of strength are compromised by weak character, inappropriate leadership styles and poor leadership visions.

The forum was attended by more than 200 participants from all sectors, provinces, churches and levels of leadership in Solomon Islands. Village dwellers, traditional chiefs, women leaders, younger people and students were notable categories of participants. Mrs Fangalasu’u said the forum challenged participants and had inspired them to act, to lead and to work together. Solomon Star 8 November 2006

UCPNG meets in assembly

The 20th General Assembly of the United Church in Papua New Guinea was officially opened by the Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane in front of hundreds of people from the Moru Circuit in the West Gulf region at Iokea village on Sunday 29 October. The assembly theme was ”Investing in Youth and Children – Empowering Leaders to Make a Difference”.

Sir Paulias, and his wife Lady Kaludia Matane, were greeted by Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta, church delegates and traditional singing and dancing groups when they arrived at the Sir Tore Lokoloko Primary School. He said the assembly was an important benchmark for the highest governing body in the United church, which had the authority to decide the correct paths – policies and directives – for its congregation.

Mr Haiveta told the gathering that religious and denominational boundaries did not influence his government’s development priorities and service deliveries. “All my constituents are given equal priority and as you are aware, my government and I are more than happy in hosting this very important general assembly”. He said the church’s vision in addressing its theme was appropriate and in line with the Government’s plan, and as development partners they should both work together, as children were an important asset to the province’s future. Mr Haiveta appealed to leaders, parents and guardians to play their part in bringing up children in a Christian environment to prepare them for a more disciplined and purpose-filled life. He presented K120,000 to the assembly with Central Governor Alphonse Moroi adding in K20,000 and Western province Governor Bob Danaya, who was also present, contributing a further K20,000.

The assembly deliberated on issues, affecting the United Church in Papua New Guinea. Guests from Samoa, Tuvalu and Australia attended.

The National 31 October 2006

Bilum or plastic bag?

Plastic bags versus woven bilums! It should be a no-contest. The bilum should win hands down every time in Papua New Guinea. Sadly, it is not the case. In every urban centre of the country, the plastic bag reigns supreme despite huffing and puffing about the National Government banning them. These recent inventions are clogging up drains, rivers and ponds; they are a visual blight on the landscape and they increase the cost of living. Yet PNG has the most creative and natural replacement for them in woven bags, commonly called bilums. This is why many will be delighted to see that the Mount Hagen Local Level Government intends to ban plastic bags from the new Hagen Market, due to be opened on 6th December.

The sale and use of plastic bags within the market will be banned, says deputy president Lo Pep. This is an excellent start. But why not extend the ban to every part of the city? And why can’t other local governments around the country take a similar stance on the issue. Bilums are PNG’s own wonderful shopping bag. They are a part of the culture, a productive means of making money for many village and settlement women, and they keep expanding as you pile in more and more goodies, unlike the plastic imitations which burst when put to the test.

A small group of committed young women have taken to the task of scouring Ella beach in Port Moreseby beach to clean it of plastic bags and all other kinds of rubbish. Nobody is paying them. They were offended that what used to be a clean family beach had become a smelly, dirty eyesore. Many who used to take the kids down to the beach don’t go near the place anymore. If this example of conscience can be taken up by community and business groups, this prime public recreation area can be returned to the people in a fit state. Technically this is a task for the National Capital District Commission, but it appears to have been overlooked in the race for power at City Hall. Post Courier 10 November 2006

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter October Secretary: John Roberts

This issue of the newsletter contains news items from World Council of Churches press service covering recent Central Committee meeting in Geneva, as well as proposals for NZ’s ecumenical future.

Bring new life into
the ecumenical movement

A plea to "bring new life into the ecumenical movement" was issued by Rev. Dr Walter Altmann in his first report as World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee moderator. Altmann is Pastor-president of the Lutheran Church in Brazil. He emphasized the WCC's role as "the privileged instrument of the ecumenical movement" and rejected the possibility of "a minimalist agenda".

Opening the first meeting of the WCC's governing body, elected at its 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre last February, Altmann spoke about the "beautiful, though difficult, ecumenical commitment which has brought us together, in spite of the many differences that exist among us". "The ecumenical movement must not be understood as based on a lowest common denominator” he argued. “Instead, it is driven by a much higher and challenging vision". That vision is "full and visible unity among the churches", its basis is the unity that the Holy Spirit grants "through the gospel and baptism," and it is received in faith.
On those terms, "ecumenism is not optional, but compelling". Ecumenical dialogue and cooperation amount not to some kind of strategic planning, but rather to a passion for unity. Those committed to ecumenism envisage full communion as its goal, although they don't lose sight of the divisions among us, which are a sin against God.

The ecumenical movement moves slower than we wish, and our churches probably move slower than they could, Altmann recognized. In a sober assessment of the ‘century of ecumenism’ he affirmed that in many places the relations among the churches have improved considerably, but observed that the question of whether churches are closer to the stated goal of visible unity remains open.

Since burning and divisive issues, both doctrinal and ethical, create inner tensions in many churches, they experience the temptation "to defend themselves against the forces of fragmentation, entrenching themselves within their own theological or institutional walls". As a result, they may regard their ecumenical commitment as a lower priority, said Altmann.

Key church role in
responding to HIV and AIDS

The global fund for tackling HIV and AIDS should be distributed through churches because they have the best access to the populations affected. This appeal was made during the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee meeting in September by the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Burundi. Central Committee, meeting 30 August to 6 September in Geneva, issued a statement on the churches' compassionate response to HIV and AIDS, saying the world possesses the means to reverse the global epidemic and that churches have a unique and critical role to play.

The WCC's Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA) enables churches in Africa to gain access to the information, training, networks and funding they need to help deal with HIV and AIDS in their communities. Dr Manoj Kurian, of the WCC programme executive for health and healing, said EHAIA was responding to the burning needs of people. He said through its five EHAIA offices the WCC was making it possible for church leaders and their congregations to speak honestly about HIV and AIDS, formulate relevant liturgy and theology, and to act practically in response. The programme was nurturing the strength available in Africa and drawing on the tenacity, love and compassion of people living with HIV and AIDS, he said.

Dr Agnes Abuom, a former WCC president, said through EHAIA the WCC was attempting to help restore hope and courage and address issues such as the church's presence and witness in Africa. Critical issues, she said, were capacity building and making the church "HIV competent", so that it: indicates clearly that stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS is against the will of God; has a full understanding of the severity of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Africa; takes into consideration pastoral, cultural and gender issues; and uses its resources and structures to provide care, counselling and support for those affected.

The Rev. Moiseraele Prince Dibeela, from Botswana and deeply involved with the theological component of EHAIA, agreed with Archbishop Ntahoturi saying the church existed in every community. The programme therefore was equipping pastors with knowledge about HIV and AIDS and with liturgical and pastoral skills, because life and death were theological issues. "How do we preach about a loving God in the midst of so much suffering?" he asked. He said the programme sought to develop a theology that spoke of life and a language to articulate faith and hope.

The Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa was set up in 2002 as a joint undertaking of African churches, Northern churches and agencies, and the World Council of Churches.

New voice for youth

Young people will have a stronger voice in the World Council of Churches (WCC), following the establishment by its Central Committee of a new body to promote the participation of youth in the organization's life and work. The new youth body, which was decided at the WCC's 9th Assembly in early 2006, is designed to broaden and strengthen the fellowship in the ecumenical movement by ensuring the sustainable and active involvement of young adults in all levels of the WCC by developing their leadership skills and advocating their broader participation in the council.

Speaking immediately after the decision, the newly-appointed moderator of the youth body, Ms Outi Vasko (Orthodox Church of Finland) expressed her enthusiasm for the decision. "What will be important with this new body is not only to focus on representation, but to enhance the contribution that young people can make in the WCC, in key areas facing the churches and the ecumenical movement," Vasko said.

The WCC's 9th Assembly, which involved more young people than any previous assembly, decided to create the youth body as a means to promote the development of ecumenical leadership and a more direct participation of young people (aged between 18 and 30 years) in the decision-making and programmatic work of the Council. Three primary objectives of the new youth body were agreed in the new proposals:

· consultation and mutual account-ability with the WCC;

· networking with the wider ecumenical movement;

· strengthening ecumenical leadership skills of young ecumenical and church leaders.

The body is also expected to assist churches to enable the involvement of young people in their own decision-making.

A set of proposals for the youth body were worked out in the period following the assembly by youth representatives from the WCC governing bodies and related youth movements. The body, whose name will be decided in the coming months, will consist of 25 young adults from among the governing and advisory bodies of the WCC, and active youth leaders nominated by churches and ecumenical organizations from around the world. Young people from a broader constituency than the WCC's membership are also to be represented.

NZ’s ecumenical future
– have your say

In 2003 discussion on establishing a new ecumenical body began. A small Strategic Thinking Group (STG) to consider options was formed with representation from Vision Network New Zealand, the Roman Catholic Church, the five co-operating churches (Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Associated Churches of Christ and the Congregational Union), and the Conference of Churches of Aotearoa New Zealand (CCANZ). The group also includes members who give Pacific and Asian perspectives.

The STG began work late in 2004. It has now prepared three models for consideration, and feedback on what might be the best way forward. Proposal one is the status quo, which means leaving things as they are now (with no national structure of any kind) but with an invitation for the churches to share together. Proposal two is a forum. This would require: adherence to a core statement of commitment in order to belong; a council of church representatives and an executive that would meet each six months, and two part time staff. Proposal three is networking involving a minimal structure with no formal membership. Meetings would take place as and when necessary or relationship building and consultation.

The report of the STG emphasises structure, with little attention given to an ecumenical vision that draws on significant biblical and theological insights. Also consultation by the STG has not extended beyond church leaders to regions and the churches grass roots. Perhaps we need more time to develop the vision, and to consult more widely before settling on a structure.

Feedback on the proposals is now being sought from churches and interested parties. The STG will receive the feedback and prepare a summary. It will also analyse the feedback to discern the way forward. Details of the proposals and a response form is available on the website

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter September 2006 Secretary: Rev John Roberts

Reconciliation essential to ecumenical vision

Reconciliation is at the heart of the ecumenical vision, and can be a source of unity among churches and cultures, the WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia stated in a keynote address to the 19th World Methodist Conference meeting in Seoul, Korea, on 22 July. "It is because of God's reconciling work in Jesus Christ that unity is possible among Christians, among churches, among peoples of different cultures," Kobia

Referring to the WCC's long involvement in the search for peace and reconciliation, whether in post-war Europe, the divided Korean peninsula, South Africa or the Middle East, Kobia quoted Nelson Mandela who, speaking to the WCC Assembly in 1998, said that "the most precious gift the church could offer the world today would be to enable the people to gain greater. capacity for reconciliation". Emphasizing that the ecumenical movement is at a "turning point" in its history, Kobia underlined the need for all churches to look to a common ecumenical future rooted in the vision that has always shaped the WCC. The basic concerns and commitments remain those that inspired the women and men who brought the WCC to birth: commitment to Christian unity in faith and spirit, mission and evangelism, education and formation in discipleship, social action for justice and peace, dialogue with the contemporary world," Kobia said.

Referring to the encouraging experience and results of the WCC's 9th Assembly in February 2006, Kobia invited all churches to re-engage in the search for visible unity as the fundamental task of the WCC. WCC Press Service

Churches urged to work together

Churches in the Solomon Islands have been urged to work together in unity towards a prosperous Solomon Islands. This was the call of United Church minister Reverend Maezama who was guest speaker during a four day revival meeting organised by the United Church and South Seas Evangelical Church (SSEC) members in Geopae, Marovo, in July. Speaking on the theme of “togetherness”, Maezama said like all organisations in the Solomon Islands working towards nation building, churches too must contribute. He said the effort by United Church and SSEC members at Geopae in organising a joint meeting with a focus on partnership and unity is a step in the right direction and an example which all churches should follow. Over 500 people within Geopae community participated in the meeting, which started on July 27 and concluded on July 30. SSEC West Churches coordinator Patson Fomani, said what Maezama highlighted is very true. “Let us not stay in our own groups but engage together in mission to bring God’s salvation to the people of this country,” he said. The revival meeting consisted of discussions on biblical texts during the day followed by public open-air concerts in the evenings. Solomon Star 8 August 2006

Poverty is a time bomb

Poverty is like a time bomb, which can explode at any time with detrimental effects to the whole structure of society. Speaking during an International Youth Day gathering at Honiara in the Solomon Islands Jasper Anisi said poverty affecting the youth population is a growing phenomenon which needs to be tackled by the government and civil society. He cited the increasing youth population in the country as a factor, which contributed to youth poverty in Solomon Islands. 75 per cent of the country’s population is youth and with no employment or activities to keep them busy, they turned to drugs and alcohol and social concerns such as sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies were the result. Anisi said these problems were associated with poverty and something must be done by all parts of society to help alleviate it. “It’s a time bomb which can explode any time if not handled properly. We need to tackle this together before it’s too late,” he said.

Anisi also called on the government for a separate youth ministry so that issues related to the young population could be dealt with directly by specific people. He also noted that youth needed to be encouraged in order to participate in any decision making stating that youth have a potential in the development of the nation.

Hundreds of youth including students, community youth groups, youth officials, and youth agents attended the celebrations held at the Melanesian Cultural Village on 11 August. Solomon Star 17 August 2006

Nurse Aides graduate

Twenty seven nurse aides are the latest to join the country's health sector after successfully completing their training at Helena Goldie Hospital Nurse Aide Training School. The 27 students graduated on Monday after 18 months of intensive training. The training school expressed their thanks to the students' sponsors. "It was through your support that the students are able to successfully complete the training," the school stated. Students who train under Helena Goldie Hospital Nurse Aide School are from all provinces around the country. The school wished the newly graduates the best in their future as nurse aides.

Solomon Star 28 July 2006

United Church in PNG Assembly

The Gulf provincial government has given K120,000 to the United Church to hold its 20th General Assembly meeting in October this year. The meeting, a gathering of the Moderator, the 10 bishops of the church in PNG and 120-plus delegates from all circuits, will be hosted by the Moru Circuit at Iokea village, Gulf province. Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta officially released the money to United Church general secretary Rev Suilangi Kavora at a meeting at Parliament House.

Mr Haiveta told the gathering that the provincial government made the commitment to help the church with funds last year and had budgeted for it. He said it was a good example of the government and church working together to serve the people. Mr Haiveta said the meeting was significant and of national importance to the church and its followers throughout PNG.

Part of the funds, he said, would be used to pay PNG Power Limited to install temporary lighting at Iokea, upgrade the water system to the village and maintain the feeder road leading to the village from the Apanaipi turn-off.

Security will also be provided for delegates coming from all over PNG and other overseas visitors from Samoa, Tuvalu and the Uniting church of Australia. The National

George Brown Day celebration

A choir competition was the main highlight of the George Brown Remembrance Day celebrated at Raim United Church in the Raluana division in East New Britain on 15 August. Hundreds of villagers within the Ratavul Circuit turned up for the event which marked the arrival of Christianity to the province 131 years ago. Other United Church congregations and circuits in the province also held celebrations to mark the day. At Raim a sermon was held before the celebrations and the choir competition started. The theme of a sermon before the choir competition was “The Liberating Power of the Gospel”. Reverend August Waninara said “Dr George Brown and some Pacific Island missionaries came to Port Hunter at Molot in the Duke of York Islands on August 15, 1875. They attracted the natives through hymns and songs. The church later spread to other parts of the province.” Villagers from Raim, Tanaka, Turagunan, Ravat and Tinganalom came together to showcase their singing skills.

The George Brown Day celebrations will be bigger next year. The United Church in the New Guinea Island Region and Papua New Guinea as a whole will celebrate the day and also reconcile with relatives of Fijian missionaries who were killed in East New Britain. Four Fijians who had accompanied Dr Brown to ENB were killed in 1878 and their relatives will be in the province to reconcile with the people. Post Courier 22 August 2006

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter August 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

NZ opens market for PNG produce

New Zealand will be accepting some of Papua New Guinea’s agricultural products under a newly-formed trade accord, PNG Agriculture Minister Mathew Siune said recently. With new market access, Mr Siune had urged farmers to take advantage of the opportunity and produce more agriculture crops like coconuts, taro, pitpit, cassava, yam and fresh ginger for export to New Zealand.

Statistics from the Bank of Papua New Guinea showed that PNG imports from NZ far outweighed its exports. PNG imports from New Zealand totalled K233.8 million last year, K154.5 million in 2004, and K217.1 million in 2003. Exports totalled K7.6 million last year, K30.1 million in 2004 and K36.2 million in 2003.

“I am encouraging the agriculture business community and farmers to take advantage of this new market access just paved by the Government through the National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (Naqia). Whilst the protocols of the export procedures had all been agreed to by relevant agencies of both governments, the onus is now on the business community, individual farmers and exporters to take advantage of this opportunity to export farm products needed by New Zealand,” he said.

The PNG government as part of its export-driven strategies has been striving to reaffirm and enhance the various multilateral and bilateral trade arrangements and open up new trading opportunities.

“One of the successful arrangements was with the New Zealand government,” Mr Siune said. Although New Zealand had strict import standards, Naqia and other agencies were ready to help in ensuring the quality, export standards and security of these commodities were met.

Mr Siune wanted relevant agencies to help in ensuring that stakeholders enjoy the maximum benefits from this market access for the local farm commodities. He has directed his department and Naqia to meet with all farm producers and suppliers regarding trade protocols and the creation of export facilities for New Zealand bound PNG farm products.
The National 14 June 2006

Solomons churches urged to address social issues

Churches must take a collective effort to address social ills in the country, says General Secretary of the Solomon Islands Christian Association, Bishop Philemon Riti. He was particularly concerned about girls who were frequenting foreign ships berthing at Point Cruz Harbour, Honiara. “This is a serious issue and the church must take a collective effort to bring the gospel to this group of people,” Bishop Riti said. He was speaking at the 150th anniversary of the Mission to Seafarers in Honiara yesterday. Riti said Mission to Seafarers is an important church ministry because it serves a wider community. “It served the sea men and women who have dedicated their lives to serve Solomon Islands – providing transportation between the islands. “They serve amidst dangers of strong wind, rain and seas and risk their lives to transport people, goods and services to our people,” he said. Bishop Riti of the United Church in Solomon Islands, paid tribute to the Anglican church for pioneering the Mission to Seafarers ministry which provided an outstanding service to seafarers in the country. Riti also urged the churches to address the issues of gambling addiction and street kids. Solomon Star 10 July 2006

Solomons youth want to work in New Zealand

Unemployed youths say the Solomon Islands government should pressure Australia and New Zealand to accept temporary workers from Solomon Islands to reduce the unemployment rate. A group of unemployed secondary school dropouts said the arrangement would help young people to raise needed money to help their families and start a new life. “Sending temporary workers to work overseas would ease the problems faced by unemployed youths. We want the government to do something for us” they said. They have heard and read about the temporary workers scheme in the newspaper and were keen to be part of it.

New Zealand is expected to come under increasing pressure to accept temporary workers from fast-growing Pacific countries like the Solomon Islands Papua, New Guinea and Vanuatu. The looming problem of Melanesian countries’ mushrooming populations was highlighted by many speakers at a Pacific Cooperation Foundation conference on Pacific labour mobility held recently in Wellington. Professor Richard Bedford, of the University of Waikato, said by the year 2050 the population of Melanesian countries would account for one-third of the Pacific region’s population. Most sobering was that Papua New Guinea had very limited potential for

employment growth. It was a large country with very limited outlets for emigration of surplus labour.”

Figures for the year ending June 2005 show that only 431 of 6400 approvals for residence for temporary work or study granted in New Zealand were for Melanesians and about half were for students. Mary Anne Thompson, of New Zealands Department of Labour, agreed Papua New Guinea’s issues needed a closer look. Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said while labour mobility issues were being investigated, there had been no decisions in favour of new temporary work opportunities because it was not clear the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. Dr Manjula Luthria, senior economist for the World Bank, said the projections of people in the Pacific expected to be unemployed or underemployed was a major concern. Solomon Star 10 July 2006

Mission and Ecumenical will be putting this issue before the Methodist Conference in November.

Honiara church choir celebrates jubilee

The United Church Wesley Choir recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Celebrations included a choir competition, a singing festival, a bazaar and feasting. Choir members from Gizo and Munda also participated in the celebrations which included a jubilee service of worship.

The Wesley United Church Choir was formed in June 1956 by choirmaster Panapasa Balekana with the help of his wife Matila. Mr Balekana said when the choir was formed there were only 15 members - three women and 12 men. The choir has participated in major events organised by the government and the church. These have included the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit in 1959, the Silver Jubilee of the Methodist Church in Munda, the Mini South Pacific Games, the inauguration ceremony of Bishop Philimon Riti in Munda, and most famously the national anthem. In 1978 an invitation went out for groups to compose a national anthem for the Solomon Islands. A competition was organised where choirs sang their offering. The choirs were known only by numbers. “Number three was given to us and after the first round ten groups were selected and we recorded our songs which were played on the radio for two weeks. “After the two weeks lapsed the number reduced to six and after another two weeks the number reduced to three. At this stage the public was asked to vote by choosing for the number they favoured and number three came out the top,” Mr Balekana who is now 76 years old recalled. The 52 member choir has recorded four albums with plans for more. Solomon Star 14 June 2006

Church hospitals partner with government

Two United Church hospitals in the Solomon Islands have agreed to work in partnership with the Ministry of Health in the delivery of health services to Solomon Islanders. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by key church representatives of Helena Goldie and Sasamunga hospitals and the Ministry of Health. Dr Cedric Alependava, the Undersecretary of Health Care said that "through closer collaboration and coordination in planning and resource management, we expect to see the health status of every man, women, youth and child improve". He said this new partnership will ensure the improvement of health service delivery to the people of Solomon Islands. "Church based hospitals provide a very necessary and valuable service and the MOU will serve to strengthen both the capacity of the ministry and each respective hospital through mutual support," Dr Alependava also said the Ministry of Health has recently completed a draft document of the 2006-2010 National Strategic Health Plan. The plan sets out the ministry's priorities, and this will be the basis under which health care and the partnership will be delivered in the next five years throughout the Solomon Islands.

Two new highlands regions for UCPNG

Saturday 5th August 2006 is the inauguration of the Highlands Region and the Hela Region of the United Church in Papua New Guinea. Formerly these two regions were one. Rev. Wesis Porop will be inducted as the Highlands Region Bishop. Rev Wai Tege will be inducted as the Hela Region Bishop

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter July 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

Solomons Church Women’s assembly

More than fifty women gathered at Titiana, Tungavlu Region, in June for the Solomon Islands United Church Women’s Fellowship (UCWF) third assembly. The meeting, which is held every three years, brought together the UCWF regional leaders and maramas (ministers wives) to consider issues concerning the fellowship. The theme of the conference was “Life’s First Giving to God is a Blessing”. In his opening message, United Church Moderator David Havea challenged the UCWF members on giving to God the best, the best of time, and opportunities. He urged the women to continue to carry out the decisions of the meeting when they returned to their regions and congregations. The week long conference also had speakers on programme planning and communication.

The conference concluded with the election of new office bearers: President Suzie Amon, Vice- president Kuria Hughes, Secretary Gloria Sibisopere, Treasurer Alison Simbe. Outgoing president Pose Talasasa said the commitment of the UCWF members was what kept the work of UCWF active in the regions. She urged members to continue the team spirit and continue to let God lead them in their work for UCWF as new office bearers take up their responsibilities. Mrs Suri, President of the Anglican Mothers Union, told the conference that she was there to strengthen the relationship of the United Church and the Anglican Church of the Solomon Islands by being with the women “Having women from different church women’s groups join sisters of other churches not only fosters good ecumenism but enables empowerment when women share and learn from each other,” Mrs Suri said.

Solomon Star 14 June 2006

People in the life of the Solomon Islands church

Hetty Bea is a health education officer at Helena Goldie Hospital. In May 1958 in preparation for the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to the Solomon Islands, she travelled to Honiara to record the popular song 'Walk about long Chinatown'. The song was to be recorded and presented to the Duke during his visit. Hetty was a member of the well known band “Solomon Dakei and his Solomon Islanders” that first recorded and popularised the song. Visiting Honiara in June 2006 for medical attention after dislocating her shoulder, Hetty walked through the ruins of Chinatown, recalling the popular song. "I was in tears just walking through the ruins today because I recalled those days where we know just about everybody on this street. The original Chinatown is where I hang out a lot during my younger days and it was really sad now coming back to Honiara only to see Chinatown in ruins.” (Chinatown was destroyed in the events of Black Tuesday 19 April 2006.) Recalling the recording of the song Hetty said, "There was only one microphone for us to sing into and the instruments used then were one steel guitar, one ukelele and one electric guitar. There were no drums or all these fancy instruments we now have today.” Last year she was surprised when friends gave her a copy of the song on a CD. "I never knew that it can be done in a CD because those days our music was only produced on records. The only problem now is having a CD player so I can listen to it." Hetty was only 19 when the song was recorded. She now has four children, sixteen grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

United Church Minister Mareta Tahu and Youth and Sunday School coordinator Caleb Saiqoro attended a trainers workshop on adult learning in Samoa in May. Mareta has called for greater attention to be given to adult learning in the Solomon islands. She said training of adults is very important especially for those in leadership roles. “There are barriers to learning, different learning styles and also differences in adult and children’s learning which adult educators should know about.” Mareta said she and Caleb are prepared to conduct seminars on adult learning on request and are very interested and willing to share what they have gained from their recent training in Samoa.

Rev Jansan Beti, Chaplain at Helena Goldie Hospital, has applauded the recent initiative of inducting the newly elected members of parliament is at Wesley United Church in Honiara. However he was disappointed that not all 50 Members of Parliament attended the service. "They must justify their reasons for not attending to the people who mandated them to be their representatives in parliament.” Rev Beti said “The first public statement of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare after his election, when he handed the Solomon Islands to God, is well appreciated by all Christians and this was confirmed by his presence in the induction service. I personally appeal to all good Christians of Solomon Islands of whatever denomination to pray for Gods Guidance and wisdom upon our Leaders," he said.

Eye doctors John Szetu, Mudi Qalo and John Hue from the National Referral Hospital in Honiara recently visited the Helena Goldie with a team of nurses. It was the first such visit in eight years. They treated more than 300 patients.

News items from “Solomon Star”

Rebuilding Rarongo

Work parties organised by the Uniting International Mission of the Uniting Church in Australia will return to Rarongo Theological College of the United Church in Papua New Guinea in 2007 to complete work begun in 2005. Mission and Ecumenical contributed $16,000 to materials for that effort. The Mt Albert and Waitakere Parishes contributed $2,000 of that amount. As a young man Ken Skinner was sponsored by Mt Albert Parish to join a work party that built the original structures of Rarongo Theological College. Now a member of Waitakere Parish, Ken is keen that a group of New Zealanders should join the Australian organised work parties in 2007. Ken can be contacted by phone at 09-8185520, or e-mail:

The work carried out in 2005 has made a big difference, with a new optimism and hope apparent in students and staff. The work parties in 2007 will take place April to May when the focus will be on: the sewerage system, water engineering; electrical supply, painting of buildings, repairs to the library and administration buildings, building of a new dormitory block and a multi-purpose building. Members of the work party will need to be prepared to meet travel costs: Auckland to Brisbane, Brisbane to Port Moresby, and Port Moresby to Rabaul. Some accommodation and food costs will also have to be met.

New programme directions for WCC

Following the World Council of Churches recent assembly in Porto Alegre, new programme directions together with a framework for activities have been agreed on. The Assembly had called on the WCC to work on a limited range of issues where the WCC could play a unique and global role. The WCC’s activities have been grouped into six areas:

· WCC and the ecumenical movement in the 21st century;

· unity, mission and spirituality;

· public witness;

· justice and diakonia;

· ecumenical and faith formation;

· interreligious dialogue and cooperation.

Detailed plans for activities, staffing and budgets are now being worked on. Welcoming these decisions, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia said that the programme framework "prepares the ground for a more integrated and pro-active style of work in the WCC as we prepare to confront the new challenges of the 21st century". A communication strategy to raise the public profile of the Council and to ensure that communication is a dimension of all programmatic activity is to be pursued. A permanent body on youth participation in the Council is being set up. WCC Press release 24 May 2006

Olive Money

Olive Money who served as secretary to John Metcalf, the Chairman of the Solomon Islands District of the Methodist Church 1954-56, died on 19 June at Matamata aged 93 years. Her service in the Solomons was cut short by ongoing health problems. MM&E gives thanks for Olive’s life and work and extends sympathy to her sister Edna.

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter June 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

Pentecost message 2006 – WCC Presidents

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit transformed a diverse gathering of people - many of them drawn from distant lands (Acts 2:5-11). In February of this year, thousands of Christians from every region of the world had a similar experience - a Pentecost experience - while participating in the Assembly of the World Council of Churches held in southern Brazil. The prayers and songs of the Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre are still ringing in our ears, and are present in our hearts. We left the Assembly with the sure knowledge that our prayer had been heard: "God, in your Grace, Transform the World." In the power of the same Spirit that came upon the disciples at the first Pentecost we pledged ourselves in Porto Alegre: to continue the quest for Christian unity; to find the means of co-operating with one another in mission and service; and to live together in peace, especially through our renewed commitment to the ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010).

As we become aware of the need to improve the quality of our relationships, as we endeavour to become relevant and credible in our ecumenical life, and as we strive to act together in service and mission, the event of the first Pentecost encourages us to open ourselves once again to the Spirit that was manifest on that day, when all those present became aware of the new community to which they now belonged. Their new experience was shown in shared enthusiasm, and in a sense of new identity and belonging to Christ and to one another in the power of the Spirit. They expressed this in diverse ways in accord with their own cultures and contexts.

It was also within this Pentecost experience that the word "koinonia" (communion, participation) appears in Acts 2:42. We read: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Thus those first Christians shared a communion in faith and in life. This is the new life of communion which comes also to us as a wind of change, changing our language, the ways in which we communicate and relate to one another and to the world. May Pentecost this year be a time of new beginnings for us: a time of renewing our commitment to God and to each other and a time of strengthening our common witness as we offer ourselves as servants to carry out God's mission.

Pentecost provides a graphic portrayal of the two forces driving the Christian movement forward: the Spirit and the Word. This power comes to believers as the gift of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). The coming of the Holy Spirit brings the community of the faithful into being and at the same time equips them to communicate the message of salvation. And the coming of the Spirit clearly points to the inclusive character of God's grace. The Holy Spirit, who had spoken through the prophets, had already declared this in advance: "Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old people will dream dreams, your young people will see visions..." (Joel 2:28 // 3:1 New Jerusalem Bible).

Let us rejoice that the presence of the Holy Spirit is God's gift to the whole church at Pentecost and let us respond together to be Christ's witnesses together to the ends of the earth.

The Presidents of the World Council of Churches; Patriarch Abune Paulos, Ethiopian Orthodox Church; Rev. Dr Simon Dossou, Methodist Church in Benin; Rev. Dr Soritua Nababan, Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKBP), Indonesia; Rev. Dr Ofelia Ortega, Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba; Rev. Dr Bernice Powell Jackson, United Church of Christ, United States of America; Mr John Taroanui Doom, Ma?hi Protestant Church, Tahiti ; Archbishop Dr Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania; Dr Mary Tanner, Church of England, Great Britain

Out of the ashes of Honiara

Tuesday 18 April 2006 is referred to as Black Tuesday in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Following the general election and then the election of Snider Rini, one of the old guard politicians, as Prime Minister, a riot took place during which most of Chinatown was destroyed, Facing a defeat in a no-confidence vote a few days later, Rini resigned and Manasseh Sogavare was elected Prime Minister. But the harm had been done.

Mission and Ecumenical responded by sending a pastoral letters of encouragement to the Moderator of the United Church, David Barakana Havea, the superintendent minister of the United Church in Honiara, Rev Henry Kere Mamupio, and the General Secretary of the Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA), Philemon Riti. $1,000 was sent to the SICA appeal fund for the victims of the rioting. Churches in Honiara responded generously with gifts of money and food to assist victims. Church leaders condemned the riots.

The United Church Moderator strongly condemned the riots. Rev Havea says the root causes of the rioting and destruction go back to the earlier crisis which related to migration from other islands (especially from Malaita to Guadalcanal), land issues arising from that migration, loss of property, payback, and ultimately the taking of lives. Speculating as to the way ahead, he says churches need to get the message across to their members that Solomon Islanders need to work harder at accepting and understanding each other, so that a new unified, multiethnic and multiracial society may come about. At the same time, he says, there needs to be a dialogue between the churches and the government, through SICA, to openly discuss issues of national concern.

The moderator has thanked us for our concern regarding what happened in Honiara. He asks that we continue to pray for the restoration of peace, law and order in the Solomon Islands. The Superintendent Minister of the Honiara Circuit has responded expressing thanks and gratitude the pastoral letter. He writes: “The United Church has appreciated your great concern and continued support through prayer during this time of political unrest and instability that has badly affected our country. What has happened during those three days has been a challenge to the newly elected parliament members, church leaders, and chiefs as they seek how best to work with RAMSI and police to restore law and order. However as Christians we believe in the power of prayer; your prayers together with those of all Christians throughout the world, has given us courage and confidence to face the challenges and combat evil. And I believe very much that God can open the door for church leaders to have an open dialogue with the newly elected prime minister and the opposition party

Project updates

Solomon Islands

United Church communications (phone, fax, e-mail) are functioning again and Methodist Mission and Ecumenical (MM&E) is considering further assistance with their communications strategy. The 2006 special appeal for a youth centre at Munda has generated quite a lot of interest. To date thirty six donations have been received amounting to $3,949. A second comprehensive report on the copra project based at Vonunu on Vella Lavella Island, and funded by MM&E has been received. It includes financial statements and outlines future plans for the short term (2006), medium term (2007-8), and the long term (2009-13). The project is to become a joint venture between the Vella Lavella Centennial Agency (of the UCSI) and the Bolopoe Corporation (a local tribally based trading entity). This means that MM&E has seeded the project with a grant of SBD130,000, facilitated a boat purchase through a bridging loan of SBD120,000 and now through the new joint venture, the project should have an assured future. The MM&E secretary has a visit to the Solomon Islands scheduled for September.

Helena Goldie Hospital

The Medical superintendent, Dr Dina Sailo has shared his thinking for the future. To make the Davinia Taylor Memorial (a MM&E project) a two-storey building, the upper floor to be used for office and administration with the current office block converted into ward, laboratory and X ray space. The Nurse Aide Training School to be upgraded to offer a Diploma in Nursing with effect from 2010. This is in line with the vision of the Ministry of Health, as well as a HGH desire to improve the quality of health care. HGH is putting together a plan for staff development, and other infrastructure needs. The Burnside Rotary Club in Australia, is to renovate most of the buildings in HGH. They may build a new Maternity Ward, shifting the present one to make more space between the buildings.

Papua New Guinea

The 2005 special appeal to assist the United Church of Papua New Guinea (UCPNG) to equip its leaders for more effective work with children and youth, resulted in a total of $3,916.74. A transfer of $5,000 (using a top-up) has been made to the UCPNG Assembly office. A report on the library at Rarongo theological College has been received. Librarian Eky Perebugo states there has been a boosting of morale and standards thanks to assistance from Mission and Ecumenical. Thesis writers are making use of the computer provided. All library systems including circulation, catalogue, and archives are being computerised. Photos of the newly purchased equipment have been provided. The new administration building for the Bougainville Region (funded by MM&E) is almost complete. NZ$54,000 has been provided for office furnishings and equipment.

Patricia Moodie

Patricia Moodie, who served the Methodist Church of New Zealand as a missionary nursing sister in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea 1972-80, died at age 64 in Hamilton on 26 May 2006.

From Ruatoria on New Zealand’s East Coast, to Munhiu in the Lai Valley of the Papua New Guinea Highlands, Patricia was a much loved and appreciated woman who used her nursing skill to good effect. She lived much of her life in remote locations which many would have found difficult to endure. Patricia compensated for this isolation with what she called “the wonderful times of coming together in Christian fellowship.”

MM&E gives thanks for Patricia’s life and work and extends sympathy to her family.

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter May 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

Easter message of peace

Prawate Khid-arn, General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia

sent this Easter message for 2006

Once again, the story of resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, comes to us at a time of much despair, hopelessness, and fear. As the gap widens between the rich and the poor in many, if not all, of our societies, there is a growing restlessness about corrupt and inefficient governance with no concern for the people’s security, much less for their freedom, and for genuine peace and justice of the country. In some places, those who question the status quo and clamour for human rights and for social transformation are stigmatised, if not killed, as terrorists or enemies of the state.

Jesus’ passion and crucifixion happened precisely because he questioned the status quo and challenged the self-serving authorities. He was accused and killed as a trouble-maker, a blasphemer, and a sinner. Hence, his death was a big blow to his followers and those who pinned their hopes on him for a better life. His crucifixion was a painful mirror of what following him could mean: “come and die!”

But it is precisely in the darkness and gloom of despair, hopelessness and fear, that his short but powerful message, “Peace be with you” once again becomes a challenge for us, his followers today. It is an assurance that we are not alone in what we are going through – for “I am with you always.” It is an assurance that our troubles do not have the final word – God wills for us “life in its fullness”. It is an assurance that God is working with us and through us – “as the Father sent me so I send you.”

The Christian Conference of Asia affirms this gift and task of peace-building as we remain committed to “Building Communities of Peace for All” in our region and in the world.

Terminator technology and the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islander Willie Atu attended a recent Convention on Biological Diversity meeting.

His report was published in the Solomon Star newspaper on 31 March. It appears here in shortened form.

The Ethiopian delegate sitting across the table at lunch time with the intention of lobbying for my support asked me, “What do you think about the Terminator?” Ignorantly I responded, “Not bad at all, I think Sylvester Stallone did very well”.

Soon the demonstrations by civil societies with the slogans, ‘Terminate Terminator’, ‘Life is Not for Sale’, ‘GMO Go Home’ captured the attention of those at the Expo Trade Centre. The 8th Conference of Parties (COP8) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held in the city of Curitiba, South Brazil, in March 2006.

The CBD, negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, was adopted on 22 May 1992, and came into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 188 Parties to the Convention. The Solomon Islands is one of the signatories. This was the 8th meeting of this Convention. One of the most heated matters was Genetic Use Restriction Technology also known as ‘Terminator Technology’ or ‘Suicide Seeds’. This will have adverse effects for our traditional Solomon Island communities. The idea behind this technology is that a plant will grow, flower and produce fruit and seed as usual; however the offspring seed is engineered to produce a cell toxin that prevents it from germinating. As the companies will need viable seed to continue to grow and sell their seed products, so they must be able to turn on and off the gene sequence. If the seed is treated in a certain way, it will turn on and produce sterile seeds.

There are many problems with this terminator technology. One is that the pollen from these plants is likely to cross with other plant and weed species. A second is that these plants are unpredictable and we do not know what the technology will do to the entire ecosystem through the spread of a very dangerous gene sequence. A third is that terminator seeds will force farmers to buy their seeds and the spray chemicals they will need from the multinational producers at monopoly prices, creating a dependency in our food systems. This is a threat to agricultural biodiversity and global food security to traditional communities and societies.

Another contentious issue was Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) which is working towards an international regime of instruments regarding access to genetic resources and the sharing of the benefits arising from those resources, was. This will provide a framework for indigenous and local communities to regulate the access to their resources and to gain fair and equitable benefits. Currently the transnational companies are taking advantage of the genetic resources of other communities without equitable sharing of the benefits, which promotes inequality and injustice.

The developing countries led by those in Africa, South America, Asia and Pacific spoke about the urgency of the need for the ABS to be in place to protect their people from exploitation, protect traditional knowledge and communities, promote economic development and protect biodiversity. They expressed their disappointment that after more than 10 years of delaying tactics, indigenous communities are still vulnerable to the delaying tactics of the developed countries.

Solomon Islands’ communities and societies have survived through thousands of generations by the planting of seeds or cuttings in our food gardens. To protect our traditional cultural heritage we should rally support and solidarity against the imperialistic companies and countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and USA) that are promoting this technology which would further commercialise and monopolise the essence of life: seeds.

New Zealand MP urges PNG to learn from Africa

You may have seen the TV One news item on HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea screened on 17 April.

Here is a PNG response to the visit led by a New Zealand MP published in the PNG Post Courier newspaper on 18 April

We applaud the suggestion to send our parliamentarians to the AIDS wracked areas of Africa ... and the sooner the better! Steve Chadwick, the woman MP from New Zealand who headed the delegation of Australian and NZ parliamentarians who toured our country last week, made this pungent suggestion at the end of the fact-finding visit.

The only addition we would make is to stipulate that the visit be on a no-frills basis and with the insistence that they avoid the fleshpots and luxury hotels that our leaders are used to. Send them as part of a non-government organisation group, one of those which gets down to the job of dealing with the harsh realities of HIV/AIDS in the most impoverished areas of the world. Have the officials’ noses rubbed in the situation and make them aware that Papua New Guinea is heading down the same pathway to national destruction.

Our leaders should not attempt to wave the recommendation aside as if from developed world politicians who “don’t know PNG”. Ms Chadwick was a midwife in Papua New Guinea three decades ago. She worked at the lino floor level at Lae’s Angau Hospital. She knows what life was like in the wards back in the pre-independence times and she has now revisited our hospitals and come face-to-face with today’s health degradations. Ms Chadwick admits that talking about sex in the Pacific is a tough subject. Most leaders don’t want to talk about it, using the alibi that it is traditionally a no-no. Well, the time has come, as our society changes to meet modern demands in many other areas, to confront the truth that HIV/AIDS is one of those new modern demands, something that will not go away. And sexual intercourse is one of the primary means of transmitting the deadly virus! A lot of our traditional taboos have been swept aside in the past 50 to 100 years. Discussing sex is one of those ancient “no-no’s” and it must be discussed, or else we will be the new Africa when it comes to HIV/AIDS.

Already, there are uncounted thousands living with the disease in cities, towns and villages. The impotent hope of many that they can play today and find a medical rescue tomorrow has not been backed up by reality. People are dying and many more will die before medical researchers find the answer. In the meantime, the few MPs in PNG who have shown a conscience and an interest in the topic will have to be joined by the uninterested majority for us to make a revolutionary change in the HIV/AIDS tidal wave.

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter April 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

Trainee nurses benefit from fund raising effort

The Nurse Aide Training School (NATS) attached to Helena Goldie Hospital recently received an unexpected financial boost. In January Ailsa Stewart, principal tutor at NATS 1993-95, was successful in seeking financial assistance from the Pan-Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association (New Zealand). $1,000 was received and has been forwarded to the NATS.

The NATS programme has national recognition. There are now 36 students, with a range of ages, coming from all provinces and all churches. The course takes a holistic approach to health, stressing the importance of physical, mental, social and spiritual well being. To enable them to work in their own villages, often with little or no supervision, the NATS graduates must have a working knowledge of management, health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment skills. They educate people in the importance of health, not only for the individual, but for the community as a whole. During their year at the NATS the students spend half the time in the classroom learning, and half in clinical work in the hospital, outpatient’s clinics and visiting communities. Tuition fees are paid by the student or a sponsor.

Ailsa was the last principal tutor from New Zealand as in 1996 the first Solomon Islander was appointed. Ailsa trained him during her time in Munda. Ailsa says “My duties were varied and enjoyable. The students were keen to learn. I was also their House mother and always kept a big bowl of jelly in my fridge for when I had a homesick student. I brought my bright pink bike over from New Zealand and taught students to ride it on the airport tarmac. We had a pot luck meal on Friday nights followed by a video as there was nothing else to entertain the students. On Mondays we had Bible class in the open air chapel.”

Ailsa has many happy memories about her time in the Solomon Islands. She says, “I feel I did my best work ever in my professional role with the wonderful students.” Ailsa lives in Wananui and is a member of St Mark’s Presbyterian Church. Well done Ailsa, and thanks for you ongoing interest and support for the NATS.

PNG Churches challenged on HIV/AIDS

The Papua New Guinea Government has challenged faith based organisations on their disapproval of condom use in Papua New Guinea. Dr Puka Temu, Minister assisting the Prime Minister on HIV/AIDS, has given a strong message to Christian churches and other faith-based organisations, individuals and groups to put aside their “religious and moral biases” and support the Government’s push for 100% condom use in the country. “100% condom use is the way to go,” Dr Temu said. It is the first time ever that the Government has come out publicly to state its position on the use of condoms.

Papua New Guinea has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the Pacific region and the fourth highest in the Asia/Pacific region. It is expected that in ten years time there will be about 21,000 infected people, and by 2025 about 400,000 will have died of the infection. All this in a country with a current population of about 4.2 million people.

Dr Temu’s statement on condom use was made after accepting the draft report and recommendations from the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Summit in Port Moresby recently. There was loud applause among participants at the summit when Dr Temu said: “100% condom use is the way to go. Put aside your religious and moral biases. There must be consistency in the message we are sending out to the nation.” Donor agencies were called to work together and support the Government’s efforts in implementing the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS.

Dr Temu told the churches to sort out any difference they may have and work with the national strategic plan. The Government’s determination to see 100% condom use in the country is likely to draw some opposition from churches which are opposed to condom use. Dr Temu said the challenge for the nation now was to take up the national response to the fight against HIV/AIDS and it would require all stakeholders, including non-government organisations, faith-based organisations, donor agencies, provincial governments and leaders across the nation – working together to implement one national strategic plan. He said the greatest challenge facing the Government and all stakeholders is to protect the 98.3% of Papua New Guineans who were not infected with HIV/AIDS.
Post Courier 10 March 2006

MM&E Projects Update


The new administration centre for the Bougainville region of the United Church in Papua New Guinea, funded by a PAC grant is well advanced. The architect from Port Moresby has made two visits to the site at Hutjena, close to Buka on Buka Island. We are now looking at what furnishings will need to be provided.

Rarongo Theological College

We continue to assist the development of the library at Rarongo. We have paid the shipping cost for some 30 cartons of books from the personal library of Dr Keith Carley who has just retired from St John’s Theological College. Funds have been provided for the purchase of a computer and an air conditioning unit for the library. We will continue to purchase new books for the library with Keith Carley’s help. We have paid the tuition fees for four students in 2006: Ovo Rai (Urban Region); Mickey Arua (Papuan Islands Region); Peter Nevia (Highlands Region); Jack Tatakal (New Britain Region). They have been selected by the Rarongo staff on the basis of needs and potential. Unfortunately the college campus has been without electricity since November due to inability to pay the bills.

Solomon Islands

Completion of the communications strategy project at the United Church assembly office is on hold pending a resolution of payment of an outstanding Telekom debt. The 2006 special appeal for a youth and children’s centre at Munda has been launched and is already meeting with a good response. More details available on request. It is hoped the Davinia Taylor Memorial Hall at Helena Goldie Hospital will progress this year once the proposed site has been cleared of its existing buildings.

Pijin Bible in the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group (SITAG) and the Bible Society have released new copies of the Pijin language New Testament. According to SITAG Pijin Translation Advisor, Gerry Beimers, for several years now it has been impossible to buy a Pijin Niutestamen (New Testament). There were several contributing factors. The first print run of 15,000 had sold out.

A full reprint was not possible because there is a need for some revision of the Niutestamen and it is not economic to do an entire reprint of the Niutestamen when the full Bible in Pijin is close to completion. To fill the gap, a limited release of the four gospels and Psalms in Pijin has been released.

Mr Beimers said the Pijin Bible is expected to be ready for printing by late 2007. “After commencing the Old Testament translation in 1995 it is great to know we will soon be finished. We hope the Pijin Bible will be dedicated in Solomon Islands’ 30th anniversary year.”

World Methodism News

Preparations for the World Methodist Conference, 20-24 July 2006 in Seoul, Korea are well advanced. The theme is “God in Christ Reconciling”. The Winter 2006 edition of the World Parish newsletter of the WMC reports on that conference; on a WMC delegation meeting with Pope Benedict XVI; a peace award bestowed on Bishop Lawi Imathiu of the Methodist Church in Kenya; the depositing a copy of the Codex Vaticanus (a 4th century manuscript of the New Testament), that had been presented to Donald English by Pope Paul II in 1992, into the World Methodist Museum.

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter March 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

New Moderator for Solomons Church
The United Church of the Solomon Islands (UCSI) has a new Moderator, the Rev David Barakana Havea, who was inducted into his new office in December 2005.

As a young boy aged three, David was taken by a Tongan Missionary Rev Paula Havea, to Tonga where he was adopted into the Havea family a renowned missionary family of the Pacific Region. Rev Paula Havea was a Tongan Methodist missionary to Solomon Islands for 33 years from 1921 to 1954. David is a native Solomon Islander from the Marovo Lagoon and with his family he returned to Solomon Islands in 1977 to fulfill a long time wish of his Tongan “father” to continue missionary work where his father had left off. David was married to a Tongan wife with 4 children and several grandchildren. Sadly, his wife Lea Havea died on 9th April 2005 after a brief illness and she was buried at David’s home village in Patutiva, fulfilling her wish.

After successfully completing his secondary education David entered Teachers College and from 1964 to 1976 he taught Tongan Grammar, Music and History at the Middle Schools of Vaini, Nukua’alofa and Houma where he came to hold the Deputy Principal post. All such schools belonged to the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. During his term as a teacher he did his theological training from at the Sia’atoutai Theological College in Tonga, 1972 to1974.

At the end of 1976 David left Tonga with his family for his home country and was welcomed by the United Church of Solomon Islands. His first appointment was as a probationer minister at Tiqe, an outlying village, in Marovo Circuit. The following year he was sent to Rarongo Theological College in Papua New Guinea where he studied marriage counselling. In 1979 David returned to the Solomon Islands and was ordained into the ministry and since then has taken up several appointments including Principal to the Seghe Lay Training Centre (now Seghe Theological Seminary) for 5 years, as circuit superintendent minister at the circuits of Sasamunga, Honiara and Gizo for a period of 14 years and, as first Bishop of the Central West Region from 1998 to 2004.

David Havea brings to his new role vast experience from his Tongan and Solomon Islands cultures and missionary background.

Information supplied by UCSI

New directions for Solomon Islands Christian Association

The Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) is the national ecumenical body of the churches in the Solomon Islands. Its new Chairperson, the Moderator of the United Church, David Barakana Havea, said he was excited about the work before SICA in this year. At the recent AGM three major areas of work were highlighted for the forthcoming year. Firstly, the Executive is to take a more active role in promoting the work of SICA to the churches in the provinces. It is proposed to undertake an outreach information and exchange mission to promote the ecumenical work of SICA. The Province of Makira has been selected for an ecumenical visit in 2006. The visit will provide an opportunity for the heads of churches to learn more about the issues of local church leaders.

As part of this year’s Business Plan, the SICA executive will revitalise the truth and reconciliation process so that establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be put on the national agenda and pursued with the new Government. The executive also decided to

send the proceeds of its Tsunami Relief fund, in excess of $55,000, to an ecumenical body in Sri Lanka.

Solomon Star 31 January 2006

Assistance for education in the Solomon Islands

One hundred and sixty-six primary schools in the Solomon Islands will soon see their rundown classroom buildings transformed to new and permanent ones. The shipment of building materials for these schools has begun and will continue for the next three months. The schools are to benefit under the first phase of the New Zealand Government-funded Solomon Islands Primary School Project. SI$15 million for the first phase.

Thirty primary schools have been identified in Western Province to benefit under the project, twenty-one of these on Choiseul. Guadalcanal Province will see twenty-two of its primary schools rebuilt under the project, Temotu another twenty-two, Makira thirty-three, Central thirteen, and Renbel nine.

The Ministry of Education Undersecretary, Timothy Ngele, said the selection of primary schools for phase one was based on a number of criteria: that the school does not have proper storage facilities; remoteness of the school from Honiara and other provincial education centres; whether the school has been affected by any natural disasters or ethnic conflict in the past; whether the school has never received funding or assistance from any aid donors towards their infrastructure needs. Priority for assistance was based on the “greatest need” prior to the school data and 2003/2004 site survey of the existing school facilities.

Mr Ngele says the project will provide the schools with two types of classroom buildings. The first is a two-storey classroom building with two classroom blocks and storage room at the upper floor. On the ground floor, there will be open area for future classrooms to be built by communities, if required by the school. The second is a combined two-storey building which will consist of a storage room, library and office block at the upper floor. One future classroom space will be provided for on the ground floor.

New Zealand High Commissioner Brian Saunders saw the first shipments of materials off. He expressed satisfaction at seeing the building materials heading to their respective schools. “Yes this primary school project was funded by the New Zealand Government. But I think it is also important to note that the communities are contributing in a significant way towards the project. Without them, the project would not be a success.” Mr Saunders says. Whilst the project meets all building materials and transportation cost, communities would contribute skilled and non-skilled labour, gravels and sand and trees for use in the construction of the buildings.

Education Under-Secretary Mr Ngele says at every school where the project plans to work, the support and assistance of the local community will be essential. “Without their help the project will not succeed. The level of community assistance required by the project will vary depending on how much work is being undertaken at each school. However, at all schools where construction work is planned, communities are expected to provide free of charge manpower, a dry and secure place to store the materials, security for the materials and project workers, meals for project workers and locally cut timber at a reasonable price.”

A qualified and experienced building supervisor will be nominated by the communities and is responsible for the daily supervision on the site. Provincial works officers will make regular visits and will report to the Planning Coordinator and Research Unit (PCRU) of the Ministry of Education regarding matters affecting the progress of the project. Each school is expected to complete its building with a period of two months. The project is anticipated to improve classroom facilities at schools, improve education of children and improve people’s lifestyle.

Solomon Star 6 February 2006

Methodist Mission & Ecumenical
Newsletter February 2006 Secretary: John Roberts

Share in the world’s most representative

gathering of Christians

Organizers World Council of Churches' (WCC) 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 14-23 February 2006 have launched an invitation to churches and Christians everywhere to accompany and support the event.

"Assemblies are often turning points in the life of the World Council and this Assembly will surely leave its mark on ecumenical history," says WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in an appeal sent to WCC members and partner organizations. "I invite churches, communities and Christians in all places to pray together on Sunday 12 February and during the days of the Assembly which will follow, united in a common faith and common vision, that the Spirit of God will come upon us and guide our work during that time, and to offer solidarity and support for the event and the proposals and vision which will emerge from the gathering."

The WCC 9th Assembly will gather over 3,000 church and ecumenical leaders representing virtually all Christian traditions and regions in what is expected to be the broadest WCC Assembly ever. Mark Gibson is the delegate of the Methodist Church of New Zealand. There will also be delegates from the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches.

A WCC Assembly Sunday information brochure, ideas for prayer and worship, and materials and reflection on the Assembly theme, "God in your grace, transform the world," are available in five languages on the WCC's official Assembly website: or on request from the WCC.

A world without poverty

"A world without poverty is not only possible but is in keeping with the grace of God for the world" affirms a call that will play a central role at the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Porto Alegre, 14-23 February. Called "AGAPE - A Call to love and action", the document summarizes the results of work done by the WCC and ecumenical partners on economic globalisation since the previous assembly in Harare in 1998. It also calls churches "to act together for transformation of economic injustice".

The call, in the form of a prayer, will invite assembly participants to recommit themselves to work "for the eradication of poverty and inequality", "for justice in international trade relations", "for responsible lending, unconditional debt cancellation and the control and regulation of global financial markets".

Preservation of natural resources and bio-diversity, resistance against privatization of public goods and services, promotion of land reforms, advocacy for decent jobs and just wages, and a firm faith stance against hegemonic powers are among the recommitments to which the call will invite churches and the wider ecumenical movement.

The document seeks to address the human tragedies caused by economic globalisation. It reflects the expectation that churches and the ecumenical family will move beyond a critique of neo-liberal globalisation and go on to develop a vision of a just, compassionate and inclusive

world. Throughout the document, the emphasis is on transformation, in accordance with the WCC assembly theme, "God, in your grace, transform the world". Even its title - AGAPE - is derived from the Greek word for love, used in the Bible as an expression for God's abundant grace and the love of God and the neighbour.

We live in what the report styles a "champagne glass economy," where the richest 20% of the population owns 83% of the world's wealth, the next 20% owns 11%, and the remaining 60% owns only 6% of the world's wealth. The intolerable levels of poverty which result from this economic model are condemned by the report, particularly on theological and spiritual grounds which challenge the churches to act.

"It is hoped that this document will inspire the churches and the ecumenical family to address the complex questions around economic injustice, which is the main challenge of our times," says Rogate Mshana, WCC programme executive responsible for economic justice.

World Trade Organisation falls short

says Solomons minister

Solomon Islands commerce minister Walton Naezon, told the 6th Session of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December that the WTO has not delivered on development issues as promised in the Doha Mandate that was adopted in the Qatari capital in 2001. “We believe that the ambition on development issues, falls well short of what will be required to meet the Doha Mandate and unlock its potential.

“We have not only failed to meet the many deadlines of the programme, but have also lost the very development dimension of the agenda,” Mr Naezon said. “This is the time to reclaim the development agenda if the WTO is to meet the needs of all its members, including small island states like Solomon Islands.”

“That agenda not only embraced a balanced work programme, but also an expanded negotiating agenda, which we considered was necessary to address the many challenges confronting our trading system.” Mr Naezon told the Conference.

He also told the Conference that the road map for the post-Hong Kong phase must include clear instructions for members to address the specific needs of small vulnerable economies in order to advance the work programme and deliver meaningful results by the end of the round in December 2006.

Solomon Star 19 December, 2005

Solomons church woman leader calls for change

We must change if we want to see changes taking place in our country, a local Solomon Island church leader says. Rev. Marita Tahu, of the United Church, made the observation after returning from an eight weeks training course at Alan Walker College in Sydney, Australia.

40 people from the Asia Pacific region participated in the programme which covered topics such as trauma counselling, fundamentals of religion, reconciliation, non-violence and forgiveness, women in peace building, community-based restorative justice, traumatised children and damaged families, and developing peace building initiatives.

Rev. Tahu says if we are to see positive changes taking place in the country, individuals must first change. She also advocated the use of non-violence as the way forward for Solomon Islands.

“The problems we have in the past came about because of our violent ways. We need to employ non-violent ways in all our dealings if we are to move forward,” she said.

Another woman who attended the training programme was Audrey Baeanisia, who went on behalf of women and youth. She said the eight-week training prepared her well for her new job as Coordinator of the City Council’s Youth Division. “As someone who works with women and youth, the training programme really equipped me well for my job,” she says.

Three other Solomons participants were Jetro Iro of the South Seas Evangelical Church, David Gina of the Department of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace and Roy Ifusinao of the Bible Way Centre.

Solomon Star 13 December, 2005

The War on Terror

The Churches Agency on International Issues has just issued a new resource in its ‘Hot Topic’ series.

This 8 page A4 resource covers: what is terrorism? defining terrorism; a brief history of terrorism; terrorism today; a theological response; what is the war on terrorism? New Zealand’s response; the Terrorism Suppression Act; terrorism and poverty; terrorism and the churches; and includes questions for reflection and a prayer with suggestions for taking action.

The resource can be downloaded in pdf format at: or requested from Christian World service

P O Box 22652 Christchurch