Melanesians May 2013 SUMMARY REPORT

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undefinedIn April and May our diocese had the privilege of hosting the brothers and sisters of Melanesia over a period of three weeks. The four Orders of the Anglican Church of Melanesia were represented the Melanesian Brotherhood, the Melanesian Sisters, the Sisters of the Church and the Franciscans.

The visiting ‘Simply Living’ mission team was led by Brother Clark Berge, who is Minister General of the Franciscans (leader of the brothers around the world).

The mission clearly touched many people as there were more than 200 people at Chester Cathedral at the farewell service on Sunday 12 May, writes the Revd Jacky Wise

During the three-week mission the Melanesians were based for one week at Chester Cathedral, during which there was an open day for the public, various planned school visits as well as a youth event and an evening with University of Chester  students and staff.

The 11 brothers and sisters spent a week at Foxhill, our diocesan spiritual retreat and conference centre in Frodsham. The first of their retreat days was for the Mothers’ Union and the other three were for both lay and clergy members of our diocese.

Over the four days at Foxhill there were team presentations on social Justice, the environment and Melanesian worship and prayer. The last day was a family event with a ‘Messy Church’ flavour. It involved everyone taking part in a celebration of dancing, singing and pan pipe playing. A joy-filled occasion (typical of the whole mission visit) it showcased the playful nature of the brothers and sisters.

All who seized the opportunity to spend time with the Melanesians this spring said how special their days had been, sharing and experiencing a way of life – of living simply and rejecting the material things of the world. Many people found it very challenging to hear that the brothers and sisters had no possessions of their own; many times they go to bed without having had a good meal. It was humbling and inspiring to be in the company of our friends from the South Pacific.

During their final week with us various Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood in our diocese facilitated a week’s ‘holiday’ for our visitors, who lived at the Sisters of Jesus Way in West Kirby. They enjoyed a walk to Hilbre Island off the tip of the Wirral peninsula; a trip to the zoo; a day in Liverpool visiting both cathedrals, during which they all experienced their first train ride, much to their delight. The mission team thoroughly enjoyed their day with the 11-15 year olds at Blestival (diocesan youth event), where they joined in with the games and led worship. The Melanesians love of being with children and young people was clear for all to see.

If you have been touched by your time with the brothers and sisters, perhaps you would like to carry on supporting in an active way? One way to do that is to become a Companion of the Melanesian Brotherhood, which involves making commitments in a special church service. Do look out in the next CDN issue or on the e-bulletin for the date of the service and do think whether you would like to support in this way. We have much to be thankful for and much to celebrate.

We wish the brothers and sisters every blessing as they end their ‘Simply Living’ mission in the UK and return to life in the Solomon Islands.

Pictured above: Brothers at Foxhill

Below: at Hilbre Island off Wirral – Brother Hilton is photographed by Brother Patrick