The Dean of Lincoln is building the companion diocese link between Polynesia and Lincoln in Fiji this week in the lead up to a celebration for the diocese.
This weekend, the Revd Fereimi Cama, will be ordained the seventh bishop of Polynesia in Suva. Dean Christine Wilson will be the bishop’s commissary at the ordination accompanied by the bishop’s chaplain, the Revd Jayson Rhodes.
Dean Christine has the role to develop the diocesan link and says the basis of the relationship is one of mutuality where each diocese can learn from the other. She says the visit began in a very reflective way with the imposition of ashes for Ash Wednesday in the Cathedral. While the bishop-elect was on retreat he attended the service, to be with his people, quietly entering and then leaving the Cathedral.
Ministries that seek to transform lives have been a focus of the visit. House of Sarah was established in 2009. The work, that seeks societal change, builds on a diocesan synod motion of zero tolerance for violence against women and children. Dean Christine says the project has developed a strategy with frontline ‘Sarah carers’ in the parishes where it is easier for reporting of abuse to happen. There is also awareness being built through community activists for safe homes, safe churches and safe communities. The work is now developing with agencies across Polynesia.
Last November House of Sarah brought together nine faith leaders for a multi- media campaign. Each leader stated, ‘My faith says no to rape and violence against women and children.’ The Dean says it was an important milestone. “The fact that the campaign in multiple languages, using the holy books of different faiths, could get onto national television and into cinemas with such a strong message was a real achievement”.
Lives are also transformed at St Christopher’s Home near Suva. Since 1968, St Christopher’s has been a home for about 800 children, many abused and abandoned by their families. Each of the 33 children who currently live there introduced themselves to the dean saying what they hoped to be when they grew up. Dean Christine says, “We encountered very gifted children who have been given a fresh start in life through the sisters as they seek to transform lives in Polynesia”.
The bishop’s chaplain used to work in Fiji as part of his New Zealand based role. There will be a further focus on common ground between the dioceses when he meets with the Standing Committee of Polynesia next week to discuss the climate change conference in Lincoln that is in partnership with Polynesia.