|Metropolitan bishop||Archbishop of Melanesia|
Official name Edit
The Anglican Church of the Province of Melanesia is the official name, but it is usually shortened to the Anglican Church of Melanesia or ACOM. Within Solomon Islands and Vanuatu the Church is often called simply Anglican.
The Church was established by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn in 1849, and was initially headed by a bishop of Melanesia. One of the important features of the province's life over many years has been the work of a mission vessel in various incarnations known as the Southern Cross. First based in New Zealand, the missionaries, mainly from Oxbridge and the public schools, established their base on Norfolk Island, bringing Melanesian scholars there to learn Christianity until the school was closed in 1918. The many languages in Melanesia made evangelisation a challenge. The Melanesian Mission adopted the language of the island of Mota in the Banks group of islands as the lingua franca. The Church of Melanesia is known for its pioneer martyrs, especially Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, murdered in 1871, Charles Godden, killed in 1906, among several others.
Archbishop and ProvinceEdit
The spiritual head of the Province is the Archbishop of Melanesia, whose Metropolitan See (diocese) is the Diocese of Central Melanesia. The current Archbishop is the Most Reverend David Vunagi (elected 2009).
Bishops and DiocesesEdit
John Coleridge Patteson was the first bishop of Melanesia. The polity of the Church of Melanesia is Episcopalian church governance, which is the same as other Anglican churches. The church maintains a system of geographical parishes organized into dioceses, of which there are now eight, namely:
The Diocese of Central Melanesia. The Bishop is the Most Rev'd David Vunagi, Archbishop of Melanesia.
The Diocese of Central Solomons. The Bishop is the Rt Rev'd Charles Koete.
The Diocese of Temotu. The Bishop is the Rt Rev'd George Taleki.
The Diocese of Malaita. The Bishop is the Rt Rev'd Sam Sahu, the assistant bishop is the Rt Rev'd Alfred Hou.
The Diocese of Ysabel. The Bishop is the Rt Rev'd Richard Naramana.
The Diocese of Banks and Torres. The Bishop is the Rt Rev'd Nathan Tome.
The Diocese of Vanuatu. The Bishop is the Rt Rev'd James Ligo.
The Diocese of Hanuato'o. The Bishop is the Rt Rev'd Alfred Karibongi.
Priests and ParishesEdit
Each diocese except for Central Melanesia (the Honiara area) is divided into regions, each headed by a senior priest. The regions are further subdivided into parishes or districts (the two words being interchangeable), headed by a parish priest, usually called a rector. Parishes may be subdivided into sub-parishes, headed by assistant priests. Catechists are lay people appointed by a local community and authorised by the bishop to take services and look after the spiritual life of a village.
Worship and liturgy Edit
The Church of Melanesia embraces three orders of ministry: deacon, priest, and bishop. A local variant of the Book of Common Prayer is used, called A Melanesian English Prayer Book. Its predecessor in local liturgical development was A Book of Common Prayer Authorised for Use in Churches and Chapels in the Diocese of Melanesia, first published in 1938.
Doctrine and practice Edit
The focus of the Church's worship is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, sometimes called 'the Mass', more usually 'Communion' or 'Communion service.' This is celebrated weekly wherever there is a priest and in some communities it is celebrated daily, except for Saturdays.
Feast days are celebrated by most communities with great rejoicing on a Sunday near the feast day, or at least in the same month.
Ecumenical relations Edit
Like other Anglican churches, the Church of Melanesia is a member of the ecumenical World Council of Churches, and is a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches, the Solomon Islands Christian Council, and the Vanuatu Council of Churches.
The Mothers' Union is quite active, as are the four religious communities active in the province, the Melanesian Brotherhood, the Society of Saint Francis, the Community of the Sisters of the Church, and the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia. The province has its own liturgical customs and a Calendar of saints.
Further reading Edit
Anglicanism, Neill, Stephen. Harmondsworth, 1965.
- Official provincial website
- A large group of documents on Anglican history in Oceania from Project Canterbury
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