Anglicans in the South Pacific
Regional co-operation among Anglicans in the South Pacific has a long history. When the Reverend William Floyd arrived in Fiji from Melbourne in 1870 as the first Anglican Chaplain, he found that there were already quite large numbers of people from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in that country, who had been brought there as contract labour. He wrote to Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, the Bishop of Melanesia, from whose Diocese many of these people had come, pointing out that the majority of them were non-Christians and that the Methodist Church did not appear to be doing very much evangelistic or social work among them. As they would presumably be returning to the Diocese of Melanesia in due course, he suggested that Bishop Patteson should visit Fiji to see what should be done to help them, and to carry out episcopal acts, such as confirmation. Bishop Patteson, with his headquarters on Norfolk Island, was the nearest Bishop to Fiji--Floyd himself came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London at that time! Bishop Patteson was on his way from the Solomons to Fiji in 1871 when he was murdered on Nukapu Island in the Santa Cruz Group. However, contacts between Fiji and the Diocese of Melanesia were maintained and in 1876 the Reverend Robert Pantutun from the Banks Islands was sent to help Floyd minister to the Solomon Island and Ni-Vanuatu (New Hebridean) immigrants for a few years. A precedent had been established. Many of the Solomon Islanders never returned home, and after the establishment of the Diocese of Polynesia with its headquarters in Fiji further requests for help in the "Melanesian" work were made to the Diocese of Melanesia, and later to the Brotherhood.
The Diocese of Melanesia had been established in 1861. It had grown out of the initial work by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, first Bishop of New Zealand, whose Diocese at its establishment had included all the islands to the north as well. He arrived in New Zealand in 1842 and concentrated on the work there among the Maoris and Pakehas (white people) till 1848. At the end of 1847 he made a voyage of exploration as Chaplain of a Naval vessel visiting parts of Polynesia and southern Melanesia, and came back determined to start a Melanesian Mission. He had two strong principles which he wished to follow; not to work where any other Christian body was already operating (so that there would not appear to be "competition"), and to use as far as possible indigenous missionaries for the evangelisation of Melanesia. As soon as he had arrived in New Zealand he established a school, St. John's College, with the intention of training New Zealanders (both Maoris and Pakeha, or European) as ordained ministers and church workers, as well as giving a multi-racial general education in "true religion, sound learning and useful industry." This College, which started in 1843 in the Bay of Islands area, soon moved to a site near Auckland, and it was there that he decided to add to it a Melanesian School and to bring boys From the islands to gain both [5/6] a general education (with an emphasis on understanding the Christian faith and life) and also a training as evangelists and catechists. Some, he hoped, would become, before too long ordained deacons and priests. He made his first voyage to obtain boys for his school in 1849 and brought back a small group from the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia and Vanuatu (New Hebrides). In 1850 the first Solomon Islander arrived, brought on a Navy vessel. His aim was to gradually work northwards, as even New Guinea was included in his enormous Diocese, but it soon became clear that the Melanesian Mission would have to concentrate its efforts on Northern Vanuatu, the Banks and Torres Islands, the Santa Cruz Group and the Solomon Islands. In 1855 Selwyn obtained in England an assistant, John Coleridge Patteson, to whom he gradually handed over the Melanesian work. When the Diocese of Melanesia was set up in 1861, Patteson was chosen as its first Bishop. In 1867 he moved the Melanesian School and the headquarters of the Diocese from New Zealand to Norfolk Island, which had a much more suitable climate and environment for Melanesians. They remained there till 1919, when all the main activities of the Mission were moved to the Solomon Islands.
Evangelism in Melanesia
Patteson followed the general principles laid down by Selwyn and concentrated on training Melanesian missionary catechists and clergy. The first Melanesian to be ordained as a deacon was George Sarawia from the Banks Islands in Northern Vanuatu. Patteson was killed in the Santa Cruz Group before George could be ordained as a priest, but the Bishop of Auckland ordained him in Auckland in 1873. The man who was supposed to become the first Solomon Island ordained minister, Stephen Taoraniara, was killed in 1871 when accompanying Patteson to Nukapu. It took some time for the Diocese of Melanesia to recover from the shock of these deaths--one of the white priests, Joseph Atkin (a New Zealander) had been killed at the same time. The general policy of the Mission remained the same, however, under Patteson's successors--the training of Melanesians to become evangelists and pastors to their own people. It became increasingly apparent, however, that there were problems with this policy. From certain areas, notably the Santa Cruz Group, there were very few boys or girls coming for training. Most of those who came for training were from coastal areas and had no desire to work among people in the bush, with whom the Mission had very little contact. Very isolated islands in the Solomons were difficult to contact and most of them were peopled by Polynesians, among whom the Melanesians sometimes found it difficult to work, especially if they were on their own. White missionaries were generally unfitted for the work in the "middle bush", especially if they were married and did not want to spend long periods away from home. Many of them were heavily involved in running educational institutions and superintending the work of the Melanesian clergy and catechists. It gradually became clear that a new strategy was required--Brotherhoods. These would consist of groups of men, unmarried and under a simple rule, who would go out in bands to heathen areas and give mutual support and encouragement to one another. The "Lichfield Brotherhood", named after the Diocese of Lichfield where Selwyn had become Bishop after [6/7] leaving New Zealand, was one attempt by white missionaries to work in this way, and it concentrated its work on the Santa Cruz Group. On San Cristoval in the Solomons, a Brotherhood of Melanesian men attempted for a short time to work among the heathen of the mountainous bush areas. At that time, Dr. Charles Fox was working on the island and took a great interest in the experiment, as he and the Reverend John Mainwaring Steward were contemplating something similar for the island of Malaita, where the largest number of non-Christians was concentrated. One of the boys who had been sent to school at Pamua on San Cristoval at that time was Ini Kopuria. He was from Maravovo, the first Christian village on Guadalcanal, where Steward was based. It was through him, in cooperation with Steward and Fox, that the vision of a Melanesian Brotherhood would eventually come true.
Ini Kopuria and the Melanesian Brotherhood
Ini Kopuria continued his education at Norfolk Island, then returned to the Solomons. His teachers wanted him to become a catechist to his own people, but because of his great love of adventure and travel, he refused. Instead, he joined the Solomon Islands Police Force, rising rapidly to the rank of Corporal. It was one of the few openings available to Solomon Islanders in the service of the colonial Government at that time. His work took him all over Guadalcanal, his home island, so he got to know the bush people as well as the people of the coastal areas, like himself. One day, while attempting to make an arrest, he had an accident and lay in hospital for a long time--the first period of prolonged inactivity in his life! This gave him time to think and to pray, and also to ask himself what was the meaning of the accident. During this time, he had a vision. He believed Jesus himself appeared to him and said, "Ini, you are not doing the work I want you to do." He did not go back to the Police.
The question in Ini's mind when he eventually came out of hospital was "What does Jesus want me to do?". He went to discuss this question with John Steward, who had by then become Bishop of Melanesia. He sent him to the Reverend Arthur Hopkins at the theological college. There he listened to Hopkins's lectures and heard for the first time about St. Francis and Brotherhoods and monasteries of Europe. This set him thinking. Soon he was clear in his own mind that God wanted him to be a Brother and that in this way he could go back to the bush people of Guadalcanal, not to arrest them but to share with them the Good News of peace and love through Jesus Christ. He hoped other young men would join him and that the Brothers would be able to go even further than the limits of the Diocese of Melanesia (which still included the Territory of New Guinea)--perhaps even to Indonesia.
Bishop Steward was overjoyed with Ini Kopuria's suggestion and helped him to prepare simple rules for the Brotherhood, which they called the "Retatasiu', the word for Brotherhood in the Mota language of the Banks Islands, which was then used as the common language of Anglicans in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In 1925 Ini made his life vow standing on his own land at Tabalia, along the Guadalcanal coast from Maravovo. He had [7/8] composed the vow himself, and as well as giving himself to the work for life, he also gave the use of his land to the Brothers, and promised not to marry, and to obey the orders of his superiors. This included being willing to go wherever the church wanted to send him. (His intention was sincere, but the coming of the Japanese invasion in 1942 led him to break his vow, join the American Labour Corps, and get married. At the end of his life, he deeply regretted what he had done, and in 1945 died of a broken heart, though full of trust in God).
Ini set out to find other young Hen w join him. He found them at Pawa School, the Senior School of the Diocese on Ugi Island in the Eastern Solomons where Solomon Islanders and Ni-Vanuatu (New Hebrideans) were trained. This school had replaced the one at Norfolk Island. The headmaster at that time was Charles Fox and he was very interested in his ideas and encouraged six of his schoolboys (some of whom were already grown men) to join him. Later he himself joined and was the only white man to become a Melanesian Brother, although others have worked with the Brotherhood at different times or been associated with it as Fathers or Chaplains or Companions, Charles Fox was a Brother for eleven years and was the only Brother who was a priest, although Ini Kopuria himself was later ordained deacon. Fox was also the only European working under a Melanesian at that time, as Ini was his superior, and he took orders from him. He established a proper training for the Novices and advised them also on their worship and spiritual life, but control was in the hands of the Melanesian leaders, under the general direction of the Bishop. with whom they had an annual meeting. Later, Ini became concerned that most of their support was coming from the Diocese, which derived its income largely from overseas. He therefore expressed his wish to Charles Fox that the Melanesian members of the Church [8/9] should become the main supporters of the work, so that they could become involved with the work of the Brotherhood through prayer and giving, and also see it as their own agency of evangelisation, and not that of the "Mission." Together they worked out a scheme for Companions of the Brotherhood, men and women and young people, who would form groups in villages and schools, who would pray daily for the Brothers, who would receive and help the Brothers when they worked in or passed through their districts, and who would have annual collections in money or kind for the work of the Brothers and their own group of companions. They also hoped that by forming such groups in areas where the Brothers had worked, the Companions would continue to carry out some of the work the Brothers had started when the Brothers themselves were withdrawn or moved on to another place. The principle followed by the Brotherhood was that they were to be the spearhead of the evangelistic work of the church and not normally be used for ordinary pastoral work or teaching. They were to prepare the way for catechist-teachers and priests who would follow up the work. However, in many places there were not enough of these workers to follow up what the Brothers had done, and people who wanted to become Christians sometimes had to join other churches, especially in Malaita. Through their work, as it spread out all over the Diocese, the Brothers challenged the established structures and forced a review of priorities, not so much through what they said but through what they did. Their sense of dedication and devotion and their simplicity of approach, living with the people and supporting themselves with the work of their own hands (or accepting whatever the people would give them), made their influence among village people very strong. Their reputation for courage in the face of opposition (whether of spiritual demonic forces or of physical threats of violence) and also for performing miracles, established them rapidly as the spearhead of the Church's work in the bush villages. Their influence was greatly strengthened when the Companions were established and recruits began to flow in, so that at one time before the Second World War their numbers reached nearly 200.
Special features of the Brotherhood
There were many unusual features about the Brotherhood which made it appear different from traditional religious communities and at first people outside did not know exactly what sort of body it was. The reason for this was the very practical approach of the founder and the emphasis on making it a truly Melanesian movement Ini Kopuria was following the principles first worked out by Bishop Selwyn--going to areas not already evangelised by other Churches and using Melanesian missionaries--but he was doing it in a truly Melanesian way. The planning, the leadership and the inspiration were all Melanesian and caught the imagination of Melanesian members of the church. These features can be seen in the aim, uniform, methods and organisation of the Brotherhood. The aim of the Brotherhood was wholly evangelistic. It did not exist to provide an alternative to marriage, or a community life as such, and therefore it did not envisage the majority of its [9/10] members staying in it for life. They stayed in it for as long as they felt God was calling them to do the work. The vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience were therefore (at the beginning of the Brotherhood) taken one year at a time, and at the annual meeting a Brother either renewed them or was released to do other work. Many became catechists or priests after their release from their vows or promises, thus strengthening the Melanesian Ministry, ordained and lay. The uniform of the Brotherhood was both symbolic and practical. The main item of dress was a simple black loin-cloth reaching to the knees, made of black calico, similar to that worn by the Solomon Islands Police of that time. At the waist was worn a black belt, underneath which was another calico, white in colour, folded to form a sash. On arrival in a village, the white sash was unfolded and was worn as a best uniform for prayer. The effect of the white on black was of the light entering the darkness--a picture of how the Brothers understood their work. When in their best uniform, with the black calico folded to form the sash over the white loin-cloth, the Brothers were reminded that they themselves sometimes prevented the light from shining clearly--the black sash represented themselves and their human weakness! For colder climates they sometimes wore a shirt, but the basic uniform could not have been simpler or more practical. It was also possible to wash it easily and leave it to dry quickly in the sun. With a knapsack on their backs containing their Prayer Book, Bible and a few other essential things, they were ready for action anywhere. They usually carried a walking-stick, which was sometimes used in the casting out of evil spirits from places or people, and sometimes a native umbrella to shield them from the downpours of rain they frequently encountered. When they went into a new area on tour they were wholly dependent on the goodwill of the people for their food and lodging, and when these were denied they had to seek for food in the bush and sometimes make shelters for themselves outside villages until the people would let them come in. In this way, they deliberately followed the example of Jesus and the apostles when they set out to proclaim their message in Palestine. Usually, they had no money at all and did not need it.
The methods of the Brothers were worked out by Ini partly through his experience in the Police, working in the bush, and partly through the practical experience of the Brothers themselves as they did the work. They never imposed themselves. They went from place to place explaining their purpose in coming and proclaiming their messages to whoever would listen, but they only remained in a village if they were invited to do so. Sometimes they would visit a place a number of tunes before such an invitation was given by the chief. Often invitations were received from villages which they had not visited, but which had heard about their work and were eager or curious to hear their message. They only stayed where they were welcome, and as soon as possible they tried to make themselves self-supporting (if the people gave them a piece of land for a garden,) or they worked with the people in their gardens to show that they had not come to impose themselves upon the people or to be fed without working as well. This approach made them very popular and was sometimes contrasted with that of the native clergy or the white people, who were considered as people of status and [10/11] therefore less approachable. The Brothers were loved as well as respected. They made no claims to formal education (although some of them were well schooled by the standards of the day) and had at first very little training, but their effectiveness arose from their identification with and respect for .the people, the simplicity of their message and their whole approach, and the way in which they lived the Gospel as well as preached it. As in the Gospels, they went out two by two, never alone, and as far as possible Brothers from different islands went together. This in itself was a symbol of love, because rivalries between islands were still strong and people from other islands or districts would not normally risk going into the bush to people who, in the past, might have been traditional enemies. As people became receptive, so the Brothers began to give them simple teaching. They had a regular life of prayer, morning, noon, and night, which they kept up wherever they were, and this was often a source of wonder to people who only prayed to their spirits when they considered it necessary. Often the Brothers made great efforts to pick up the local language, or they communicated through somebody who knew the local language and Pidgin English or Mota, both of which the Brothers used in their work. They mostly used Mota for their prayers. The effectiveness of their methods in some areas did not always meet with the approval of the clergy, who were sometimes jealous of the Brothers' influence and the respect and affection they aroused in people. Through them, however, new methods of evangelism gradually came to be adopted throughout the Church in Melanesia.
The organisation of the Brotherhood was determined by the aim and Melanesian character of the Brotherhood and the demands of its work. At its head was a Head Brother (in Mota language, Tuaga) who was chosen by the Brothers in the Annual Meeting of all the Brothers, and confirmed by the Bishop of Melanesia, the Father of the Brotherhood, who had the final say in all matters, and to whom problems were referred by the Brothers if they could not settle them themselves. The Father also made the final decision about where the Brothers should work, after the matter had been discussed in the Annual Meeting and the needs of the Diocese as a whole reviewed. At the end of the Annual Meeting, the Brothers were commissioned by the Father of the Brotherhood in their Households and sent out to their places or areas of work. Each household had at its head an Elder Brother (Moemera) chosen by the Head Brother, often in consultation with the Father. These households operated very much along the lines of a traditional "boys' house" in a village, where the single young men would live from about the time they entered their teens (or earlier) until they were married. The main difference was that there were no women to help them with the preparation of food and other traditional tasks, all of which they had to do for themselves. Each household could make its own rules and, in time, from practical experience, a body of generally accepted rules and practices for households was evolved by the Brothers. These were known as "the secret rules" and touched on all aspects of their daily life and behaviour. It was the task of the Elder Brother to teach these rules to the new Brothers in his household and to see that they were obeyed. In addition, regular meetings of the Brothers were supposed to be held called 'confession meetings.' As these meetings, each Brother was given [11/12] the chance to point out anything wrong in the conduct of the other members of the household, starting with the youngest Brother. Things which were against the rules of the whole Brotherhood or the "secret rules" of the household were meant to be exposed in this way, and the older more experienced Brothers were each given the chance to advise the younger ones, thus building up a body of established practice. The Elder Brother would sum up at the end--or, at the Mother House, it would be the Head Brother if he was present. One of the accepted rules of the Brotherhood was the New Testament command of Jesus that we should not let the sun go down on our anger. Any Brother with a grudge or complaint against another was supposed to go up and tell him privately, thus preventing anger or resentment growing between individuals and spoiling the community life. In this way a real effort was made by the Brothers to live the Christian life as portrayed in the Gospels, and to overcome the inevitable tensions, rivalries and misunderstandings which would arise in a Brotherhood composed of men of different races, languages, ages, experience, education and customs.
 These features of the Brotherhood have remained largely unchanged until the present. In recent years, the Brothers have changed their aim so that it includes the work of renewal among nominal or lapsed Christians. This has enabled them to work in team ministries with clergy and members of other religious communities, and other church workers, both in towns and rural areas. They have also adapted their uniform where necessary, often wearing shirts and short trousers with the traditional sash and belt, but keeping the white "sulu" or loin-cloth as best dress. The Brothers now normally use English (or Pidgin) for their prayers and have their own Office Book for their Brotherhood services, as well as joining in Anglican morning and evening prayer and Eucharist. Methods in non-Christian areas remain largely the same, but they are constantly working out new ones for the towns, such as holding Bible Studies and discussions with young men who would otherwise be playing cards, drinking or gambling, for lack of anything better to do. They have a ministry of counselling which they carry out through visitation and through welcoming people to visit them in their households. The basic organisation of the Brothers remains the same, but, as it has grown, many additions to it have become necessary, and a formal constitution for the Brotherhood setting out the new organisation was adopted by the first Great Conference (called a General Chapter in some other religious communities), which was held at the Central Headquarters at Tabalia on Guadalcanal in 1965. A two-year Novitiate or training period has been introduced in recent years, and instead of the one-year-at-a-time vows, a Brother makes his first vows for a period of three years, then renews them for an indefinite period or is released. If he renews he can ask to be released (as long as he gives notice of this in reasonable time) whenever he feels God is calling him to do other work, or if for personal reasons (family responsibilities, marriage, etc.) he feels he cannot continue as a Brother. There is also a provision in the new Constitution for temporary release of Brothers which enables them to return home or earn money or study for a while, then return to the work of the Brotherhood again. During this period of temporary release they are still Brothers, but are only under one vow, that of celibacy, which prevents them getting married.
A remarkable aspect of the history of the Brotherhood is the way in which some of these unique features are now being considered by other religious communities, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, and there is now no question about whether the Brotherhood is a religious community or not. It has been welcomed into the Advisory Council for Anglican Religious Communities in Australasia, to which the other Anglican Communities working in the Pacific Islands also belong--the Community of the Sacred Name, the Community of the Holy Name, the Community of the Visitation and the Sisters of the Church (all for Sisters) and the Society of St. Francis (for men and women). Not only that, but some young women who were Companions of the Brotherhood have, with the approval of the Great Conference of the Brotherhood and the Provincial Synod of the (Anglican) Church of the Province Melanesia, started a Melanesian Sisterhood as a parallel community to the Brotherhood. The Community of the Sisters of Melanesia began in 1979 and will gradually work out its own Constitution, but in its essentials it will try to follow the organisation and structure of the Brotherhood and have similar aims and methods. It will concentrate, however, on working more among women, which Melanesian custom often prevents men from doing effectively.
 The Brotherhood and other Communities
Some features of the Brotherhood are also found in certain other communities (although the Brotherhood has in some cases had these features for a longer time). They are:
(a) the emphasis on evangelism and living for others, rather than on community life as an aim in itself
(b) wearing a practical "uniform" similar to dress worn by others
(c) stressing vocation and gifts rather than educational or other qualifications
(d) living in households or "cells" of people (rather than in large community houses) and working in pairs
(e) emphasising the value and importance of a multi-racial community life as an enriching experience in itself and as a witness to the world
(f) allowing persons to serve for a period of their lives in a religious community without insisting on a "life vow"
(g) encouraging the formation of communities of lay people responsible for their own spiritual life, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with the clergy acting only as advisers and guides when necessary
(h) the creation of communities of young people in which their zeal and commitment can be expressed in service of others, because of their love for God
These emphases are a contribution to the religious life of the whole Region and of the world.
The Brotherhood's regional character
The Regional character of the Brotherhood has been clear from the beginning. In intention, it has never been restricted to one country or one race or even to one Diocese, although from the start it has been closely related to the Anglican Diocese of Melanesia, which since 1975 has been the Church of the Province of Melanesia (commonly called the Church of Melanesia). This Province now has five Dioceses covering the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu (with New Caledonia). Starting its work on Guadalcanal, the Brotherhood soon spread out to other islands, often under the leadership of its founder. By the 1930s Brothers were working or had worked on Guadalcanal, Malaita, the Polynesian Islands of Sikaiana and Ontong Java north of Malaita, Santa Cruz. Viti Levu (Fiji) and New Britain (Mandated Territory of New Guinea). They had also started work in Aoba and Maewo in Vanuatu. In 1955 a prophecy made by the Bishop of Melanesia in 1934 (when the Mandated Territory of New Guinea was still in his Diocese) came true--the Brothers went to work among the tribes in the New Guinea Highlands. As a result thousands of people became Christians, starting among [14/16] the Chimbu people of the Siane Valley and then spreading to other areas. Some of the people converted later became Brothers themselves, and the first priest from the Siane area was himself an ex-Brother. About 20 years after this call from the Diocese of Papua New Guinea, another call came from Australia. The Bishop of Carpentaria, whose Diocese covers the northernmost part of Queensland, asked for the help of the Brothers for work among Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. A section of Brothers is now working there, and there are Australian Companions.
The Brothers had gone to Fiji originally to work among the Solomon Island communities there. Many of the Solomons people had married Fijians but kept a separate identity. One of the first Brothers to work there, Moffat Ohigita, from Santa Ysabel in the Solomons, later settled and married there and became the first Melanesian priest of the Diocese of Polynesia. He and the other Brothers helped to run St. John's School for the Solomoni people in and around Suva, and visited all the scattered communities in Viti Levu and other islands. An early recruit for the Brotherhood from Fiji died at Pawa School in the Solomons and the work of the Brothers in Fiji lapsed. In the early 1960s the call came again--and this time it was not just to work among Solomoni people but also among Indians. Those who have led the household in Fiji since then include two Ni-Vanuatu who became Head Brothers of the Brotherhood--both of them were able to communicate with those they worked among in Fiji in both Hindi and Fijian, as they stayed in Fiji for a number of years. The Pacific Regional nature of the Brotherhood has been recognized by the South Pacific Anglican Council by making its support (especially fares for Brothers travelling about the Pacific) a special project of all the Anglican churches in the islands, and their overseas partners.
The Brotherhood is now organized in three Regions--the Solomon Islands Region (including the Section in Australia), the Papua New Guinea Region (covering the area of the Anglican church of Papua New Guinea) and the Southern Region (the Sections in Vanuatu and Polynesia). It has members from Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji and Australia. Most sections of the Brotherhood cover a Diocese or part of a Diocese, with the local Bishop as Section Father. He presides at the annual Section Meeting. Each Region has a Bishop who is Regional Father and who presides at the Regional Conferences, held every two years, and the Father of the whole Brotherhood presides at the Great Conference, held at the Central Headquarters every four years. All the Brothers (who average 80-100 in number) choose representatives to go to this. At the Great Conference these representatives of the Brothers elected from all Sections choose a new Head Brother, Assistant Head Brother and Regional Head Brothers. Representatives of the Companions from the Pacific Islands and other countries are also present; there are now about 6000 in the Islands, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and UK. The Brothers are invited from time to time also to visit New Zealand, where at the age of 97 Charles Fox re-joined the Brotherhood (at the invitation of the Great Conference of 1975)--which he felt was the greatest honour which could have been bestowed upon him. He died as a Brother in 1977 and is buried at Tabalia, a symbol of commitment to the service of God in Melanesia.