Solomon Isles blog - "Rest, Celebrations and Science" - Chester Cathedral

Solomon Isles blog - "Rest, Celebrations and Science"

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Dean Tim and wife Jen (also Cathedral Education Officer) are away from the Cathedral for three weeks in the Solomon Isles, preaching, teaching, working with the diocese and meeting the locals. Here's a 'bumper' blog from the weekend.

Saturday 15 June

Today has been a rest day so we have had some opportunity for sight-seeing. There aren't really many sights to see in Honiara. The weather is mostly beautiful (hot and very humid) but the city is largely poor and as yet undeveloped. I am told that unemployment runs at about 50%. There is a new government and we will see in due course whether they can turn the economy around. People seem to be very engaged and it is not uncommon to hear people's radios tuned to the parliamentary channel. We have spent a little time walking along the main city road, through the harbour, and visited the public art gallery which comprises of a single room with contemporary pieces for sale. The city market was a fascinating experience. We needed to be accompanied by a local for safety's sake. It is clearly the heartbeat of the city. Just wait until you see my new shirt. The picture accompanying today's blog (below) is of a common mode of transport we have even seen the Police using.

Sunday 16 June

Today we celebrated the Patronal Festival of St Barnabas at the Provincial Cathedral from 8am to 3.30pm. What a fantastic day. The first two hours were occupied with the Cathedral Eucharist at which I preached to a congregation numbering over 1,000. Today's picture (below) is the Gospel Procession. Maybe we should use our Cathedral's Melanesian canoe during our Gospel Procession some time. The Offertory Procession was even more spectacular, but only a video will do it justice and the limited data link from Honiara to the UK couldn't cope with sending that. In the afternoon we were treated to a Melanesian Feast replete with even more dancing and singing. Some intentionally hysterical and some quite outrageous. This is clearly a church which takes inculturation seriously. Local traditions are welcome and brought into the Christian context - something that marks the Anglican Communion of Melanesia out from the two other churches that form the religious makeup of these distinctly Christian Islands.

Monday 17 June


Seventeen teachers and two diocesan officers took part in the first of our Cathedral's Science and Faith Workshops, "Amazing Light". They did everything that children who have participated in Chester Diocese would have normally done. Their approach to teaching is normally very different to that of UK teachers, for instance their class sizes can be up to three times the number of children in a UK class but in a smaller and less well equipped room. They took part enthusiastically and commented that the clergy should also do this workshop to think about theological concepts, such as light, in a scientific way too.

My day has been much simpler than Jen's, mainly enriched by a late afternoon meeting with the British High Commissioner. He shared his significant wisdom about the Solomon Islands with me and conveyed his enthusiasm for links such as our's to be sustained and developed. One thing we will need to give attention to is about how we can help younger people share the experience.

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford

The Dean

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