My dear Brethren,
In meeting you on this occasion, I have to record with thankfulness the mercies God has vouchsafed to us, since we last came together. Our Church is but recently gathered to Christ from among the heathen; a Synod therefore is a novelty, and doubts had been expressed as to the success of the attempt. Yea, even among ourselves, because the real object was not understood, there was a degree of indifference about the whole matter. The question was asked, "What good is to be obtained? What return will there be for the great labour of travelling from a distant part of the country? Why not consult with those who live near us in our own localities?" An answer to such questions has been furnished by yourselves, in that you have listened to the invitation which called you hither. We have it on divine authority, that "in the multitude of councillors there is safety;" and again, that, "as iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." It is the practice of all nations, and one which the New Zealanders are not slow to follow, to hold meetings for deliberation upon questions of great moment. And what is there of greater consequence than the affairs of religion, and the laying down of such regulations as will tend to the satisfactory working of our Church system? If our efforts for this object are carried out, as we profess to desire, in dependence upon God's Holy Spirit, whose assistance we have invoked at the commencement of our proceedings, then we may be sure that God will bring our labours to a successful issue.
At our meeting of last year, there were present five clergymen, and seventeen laymen, but some of the distant localities were not represented. We have now the satisfaction of welcoming members from Rotorua, Tarawera, Rotoiti, Tauranga, Matata, and Opotiki, and I cannot but express my thanks to those members, who have come from the distant limits of the Diocese, and have willingly encountered the difficulties of a most arduous journey.
The great object of our Synods is the establishment of unity; for in unity there is strength. It is the characteristic of Christianity that there is one body, one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all;—and yet in lesser matters there may be points of difference. When the scripture lays down the rule, our way is plain; but there are many things, which are left open for the Church to regulate for itself, for which no rule is given in scripture. Wepage 48 who are members of the Church of England have further rules, which are contained in our Prayer-Books. We receive these as they have been delivered to us, and the Synod does not interfere with them. But beyond these again there are other Regulations required, and it is for the purpose of supplying this want that Synods have been established.
At our first Meeting I mentioned some of the principal duties, which demand the attention of the Synod. I have now particularly to call your notice to Statutes 2, 4, and 5, of the General Synod, which have been translated into the Native language for your information.
In the second Statute for Organizing the Diocesan Synods, it will be seen in Clause One that there shall not be less than one Synodsman for every Parish. At our present Synod we have complied with this rule, as nearly as circumstances will allow. In the absence of a regular division of the Diocese into Parishes, Districts have been formed, according to Clause Two, and these are nearly all represented in this Synod. It will be the duty of the Synod to prescribe the number of Synodsmen, who shall be elected for the several Parishes; also to fix the time for holding the election of Synodsmen, and to make all necessary provision for duly carrying out those elections.
The fourth Statute particularly deserves your attention. A Parish is a District of limited extent, the boundaries of which are fixed with reference to its internal government by a body of officers, duly appointed, and to the convenient ministrations of the clergyman, who is appointed to the spiritual charge of the same.
As yet there are no Parishes in this Diocese, but application is about to be made for the formation of one, according to the regulations of this Statute, and it is hoped that other applications will soon follow. As soon as the members of the Church of any District wish to be formed into a Parish, they have only to apply through the Bishop to this Synod, and their wishes will be carried into effect. Then will follow the due appointment of the various officers of the Parish, the Churchwardens and Vestrymen. The powers and duties of these officers are to be defined by this Synod.
The fifth Statute of the General Synod is for the appointment of Pastors to Parishes. This is a matter which cannot fail to be of the deepest interest to the members of the Church. The advantages of having duly constituted ministers in the Church is now beginning to be appreciated. Strenuous efforts have been made in some parts of the Diocese to collect funds for the support of Native Clergymen. At our last Synod the sum of £747 had been collected, chiefly at Waiapu and at Te Wairoa. Since that period I am able to report a further sum of £408, making a total of £1155. The sum of £175 of this money is from Tokomaru, bringing up the amount from that place to £184. As soon as the Endowment Fund for any Parish has reached the sum of £200, the interest of which is to form a partpage 49 of the stipend of the Clergyman, a further sum being provided by the voluntary contributions, of the Parishioners, it will then be competent for the Parishioners to seek for the appointment of a Clergyman to be their regular pastor.
The trust of selecting a Clergyman, and nominating him to the Bishop for institution to the vacant cure, is to be vested in Nominators, to be chosen annually by the Diocesan Synod, and by the Vestry of the Parish respectively. This course therefore must be followed, and a Board of Nominators duly constituted, before a Clergyman can be rightly appointed to any Parish. I hope that we shall be able before we separate to carry out this regulation, so that there shall be no difficulty in the appointment of Ministers.
I have to report to this Synod four liberal donations towards the support of Native Clergymen, amounting in the whole to £100. This money has been transmitted to me by F. H. Piesse, Esq., of Hobart Town, who is Secretary to the Campbell Street Juvenile Missionary. Association in that place, and the contributions are chiefly made by the children who attend the Sunday School. This money is not intended to supersede the Native collections, and it has been appropriated to make up the deficiency in the income of Clergymen, in those localities where the fund has not yet been completed.
The Deed of Transfer for the School Estate at Waerengaahika has been completed, and the Estate is now placed under the care of the Trustees chosen by the Native donors. I lay the Deed upon the table. The work for which this Estate was given has hitherto answered our expectations. The number of the pupils in the Central School at Turanga is about ninety. As the fruits of this School we have two Clergymen, who are occupying important spheres of labour, and others are coming forward as candidates for the sacred office. The School at Tauranga also is going on with satisfaction. It has to struggle with the difficulties of a new undertaking, but the pupils already number forty-five.
At our last Synod we noticed the subject of Foreign Missions. I am thankful to be able to inform yon that at the late Meeting of the General Synod, the Melanesian Bishoprick was associated with the General Synod; so that the connexion, which existed before between the Melanesian Islands and ourselves, is become more intimate. The islands, which are visited by Bishop Patteson, are about one hundred in number, inhabited by tribes distinct from each other. Children and young men are brought to the school at Kohimarama, near Auckland, to remain during the summer months, returning again in autumn, the object being to train them as teachers for their own people. At the last trip of the Mission vessel fifty-one scholars were brought, speaking twenty-five different dialects andpage 50languages. Here then is an outlet for the Christian liberality of the Native Church, which is brought almost to our doors; the appropriation of which we are in some measure able to witness with our own eyes.
Having noticed some of the points which call for your consideration, it will be open to every member of the Synod to bring forward any other matters which may appear to be of importance.
May God direct our deliberations by the gracious influence of His Holy Spirit, that so His work may be established among us, and that when we separate we all may have reason to acknowledge that it was good for us thus to have been brought together.