Suva’s Holy Trinity Cathedral played host on Sunday to the largest ordination service ever held in the Diocese of Polynesia.
Fifteen candidates to Holy Orders were ordained – six to the diaconate, and nine to the priesthood.
The new priests included Brenda Reid Sio of Samoa who, when she returns to All Saints' Apia, will be the first Samoan woman priest ministering on Samoan soil.
And the deacons included Feteleni Havea, who is pioneering a congregation of Tongan Anglicans in Christchurch. They meet once a month at St Barnabas Fendalton.
The service also marked the launch of the 34th synod of the Diocese of Polynesia, and later in the afternoon, Archbishop Winston Halapua, the Bishop of Polynesia, delivered his charge, which was entitled: God’s mission-shaped diocese and moana leadership.
In it, Bishop Winston called for the diocese to express the gospel “in ways which are alive and authentic” to the diocese’s Pacific context.
He said he wanted to challenge the diocese “to be open afresh to the width and depth of God’s immense love – the love which embraces us, our communities and all creation.
“The rapid economic, political, social, religious and cultural changes within Oceania… are to be seen as opportunities to be engaged in new and relevant ways in God’s mission – God’s love for God’s world.”
But he also issued a warning: “We cannot afford to be complacent… The Church needs to set out to address the wrong use of power which stems from entrenched patriarchal attitudes and may be supported by cultural acceptance.
“There is need to examine our practices and assumptions within our churches and within our Church schools... Unless we are prepared to re-examine our hearts and actions, our engagement in God’s loving activity in the world is hampered.”
Bishop Winston also spoke about “Mission and Moana Leadership”.
“Moana is the ancient Polynesian name for ocean….in many parts of Oceania it speaks of the mystery and depth and life of the ocean which surrounds and is so much a part of our lives.
“Moana is the ancient pathway which connects with other islands and other continents and oceans… and it reflects something of the immensity of God’s love which embraces us all.”
Moana leadership, he claimed, “places the emphasis on the celebration of the gift of Christ in each of us”.
“Moana leadership stresses the importance of empowering all the baptized. Although some ordained assume that they have all the gifts for ministry, they do not.”
Gifts for mission and ministry flow from our baptism, he said, and are not restricted to the ‘officials’ in the church.
Bishop Winston concluded by urging that every parish – and each small group within each parish – “needs to begin to see itself as engaged in transforming mission…
“We have sometimes failed to see that there is huge potential among our people. As a fellow disciple of Jesus, leader and your Bishop I have confidence in what God can do in and through us.”