9 January 2017
St George's College, Jerusalem
It has been with incredible sadness that I learned in the early hours of this morning of the passing of dear friend and beloved Archbishop Brown Turei.
There was a long history of friendship between us and between our respective families, which stretched well beyond the rarefied confines of the institutional church.
I am currently in Jerusalem as Visiting Professor at St George’s College and am feeling the tyranny of distance very keenly.
In fact it is around 4.30am in the morning here in this deeply troubled and ever more bitterly divided Holy Land.
However in the midst of my tears for one so precious I am moved to offer a heartfelt tribute to my friend, my mentor, my bishop and trusted confidante.
My instinct is of course to return home, but in the stillness of my prayers I have sensed that wonderfully affable smile and his always generous reassurance of me – I hear him say: please stay and do your good work.
I want however at this time to enjoin my voice to the chorus of deservedly wonderful things which will be said by many others, but perhaps not from the insider vantage point I am so proud to enjoy.
Archbishop Brown Turei was a truly humble deeply holy man of God. His loss to the church is incalculable bringing as he did such a gentle, grace-filled and unconditional pastoral embrace to all whom he encountered.
His was a completely non-judgmental approach to ministry – there was always room at the table irrespective of one’s human ‘being’.
Te Pihopatanga is now bereft of one of its finest leaders and yet in his wisdom Archbishop Brown spent these last few years intentionally mentoring his young successor – such was the insight of this elder statesman of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.
Into his dauntingly big shoes will soon step his protégé, one well chosen and prepared for the challenges of church leadership.
As one privileged to have been such close friends with Archbishop Brown and with his whanau over many years, this is indeed a time of inexpressible grief and yet as we mourn, we too rejoice at having been so blessed by his precious presence in our lives, and in the lives of all the faithful of the Church we seek to serve.
As we uphold his dearly loved Mihi and all the Turei whanau at this time, we pray that they are acknowledged in absolute abundance for their years of extraordinary selflessness – knowing as they all did of Archbishop Brown’s self sacrificing love for the Church. It is they who are now so deserving of the greatest outpouring of aroha and deep gratitude for sharing their most precious taonga so freely with us all.
I have no doubt whatsoever that God will grant the richest of blessings of eternal rest for Archbishop Brown Turei, surely one of His most favoured of servant leaders.
May light perpetual shine upon his gentle soul.