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Milestone in the life of the Polynesian church

Media advisory April 5, 2005

Milestone reached in the life of the Polynesian church

A turning point has been reached in the development of the Anglican Church in Polynesia.

This Sunday, April 10, in Suva's Holy Trinity Cathedral, three new bishops will be consecrated, further equipping the church for its work among the different peoples of Polynesia.

Rev'd Gabriel Sharma, who is a Fiji Indian, is to become Bishop of Viti Levu West, and will operate from his parish base in Lautoka.

Rev'd Apimeleki Qiliho, a Fijian, has been elected Bishop of Vanua Levu and Taveuni and will continue as Diocesan Ministry Officer.

Rev'd Dr Winston Halapua, a Tongan, is to be consecrated as the first Bishop for the Diocese of Polynesia in New Zealand. He will continue to be the Principal of the College of the Diocese of Polynesia at St John's College in Auckland.

The three new bishops will assist Rt Rev Jabez Bryce, the first Polynesian-born Bishop of the Diocese of Polynesia. He was consecrated in 1975, and is the longestserving bishop in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

"In May," says Bishop Jabez, "I will have been the Bishop for 30 years. It's very clear to me, that for the work to grow, we need to do everything in the language of the people.

"The old idea, of having one diocesan bishop to minister to our multi-ethnic groups, is no longer appropriate.

"Furthermore, it is very important that the bishop be accessible. One person can no longer meet the needs of our people."

A full contingent of bishops will take part in the consecrations. Ten bishops from New Zealand, including the Archbishop of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Rt Rev Whakahuihui Vercoe, will arrive at Nausori on Friday. Bishop Charles Koete, from the Solomon Islands, will also attend the consecrations.

A traditional welcome ceremony for the visiting bishops will be held in the grounds of the Cathedral at 2pm on Saturday April 9, and a rehearsal for the ceremony will take place in the Cathedral at 4pm on Saturday.

The service of consecration will take place in the Cathedral at 10.00am on Sunday, and will be followed by a lunch at the Holiday Inn in Victoria Parade.

ends

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