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[By the Rt. Rev'd Alfred T. Hill, Bishop of Melanesia.]

Honiara: Church of the Province of Melanesia, 1963.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, 2009

Text. I Corinthians chapter 3 verses 6 & 7.

I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then is neither he that planted anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.

We, who are gathered here to-day, are actors in a great spiritual drama, of which this is the final scene or climax - the Consecration to the Holy Order of Bishops of two Melanesian priests. This drama began in the very mind of God before it was known to the world. The beginning of this drama on earth took place over 100 years ago in the days of Bishop George Augustus Selwyn and the martyr Bishop, John Coleridge Patteson. Both these men were inspired by the vision of God, which led George Augustus to go forth in the little Undine to explore these islands for Christ. Then John Coleridge, his young friend and disciple, was called and sent by God to serve Melanesia as a missionary priest. After a few years, Patteson was consecrated our first Bishop, and for ten years followed the sacrificial way of life, leading to his martyrdom. Only four years after his consecration, he had the courage and faith to ordain George Sarawia a deacon. I have often referred to this and reminded you of the letter he wrote to his sister in England, after that first mile stone in the beginning of the Melanesian Ministry. This is the first fruit, he wrote to his sister. All that is nearly 100 years ago, and it was the time of planting, the first sods had barely been turned before the seed was planted. This period of planting continued, but as with all gardens, there were the days of draught and of other difficulties. But the seed was sown, the seed did not die. Immediately after the planting, there must follow the watering and the tending of the garden. How many gardens in Melanesia have failed, not because of the lack of planting but from the neglect of watering and of weeding? This entails a long and a persevering process, but we rejoice and give thanks to God that His garden was sown and watered and brought forth much fruit, some 30 fold, some 60 fold and some 100 fold, Time does not permit me to speak on this at length, but we must not pass over these pages of history without remembering with gratitude and glory to God the service and the lives of so many, Melanesians and Europeans, some of whom shed their blood for the Faith of Christ. It was not only the beloved bishop, who gave his life, there was a young Melanesian disciple, called Stephen Taroaniara, who through the days of great pain showed forth his love and faith in our Lord. From him, there were no words of hatred or of revenge, but those of love and joy, that he had been privileged to suffer and die for Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the redeemer of his people. We may read too of others who gave their lives for Christ and His Church, but whose sacrifices are not recorded. They are all too easily forgotten, but let us remember the well known saying "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."

As we give honour to those who have served in the past, I would express the joy it gives us all that Canon Doctor Fox is with us here. He is one, who for nearly 62 years has served God and the Melanesian people; one who has seen so many changes from the darkness of heathenism and superstition to the light and glory of Christ. Though the past is precious to him, he has the vision of youth and will, I know, go forward with us as these newly consecrated bishops usher in a new era of our Church for the greater glory of God and the unifying of our peoples.

May I now speak of the growth of our Melanesian Ministry? During these 110 years, God has guided the hand of the Church and continued to call from our Melanesian brethren, men to the Sacred Ministry. Beginning with George Sarawia of I865, we now have over 100 Melanesian clergy throughout this large and scattered Diocese.

[2] The vision of Patteson has never been lost, the seed has never died. About eight years ago, further step was taken when the first Rural Deans were appointed, two of whom are about to be consecrated bishops. This somewhat faithful and venturous step has strengthened the core of our Ministry, and led the clergy to greater acts of leadership and pastoral responsibility.

This gives me the opportunity of speaking directly to the clergy and all members of my staff, Europeans and Melanesians alike, who serve God in this portion of His vineyard. Ever remember that these two brothers in Christ are men who have been called, sent and set apart as Shepherds of Christ's Flock. I know we all rejoice at this, it is a day of great rejoicing, but there are other days to follow. Some of those will be of sunshine, some will be of storm. It will be in those days that the test will be applied to you, who are to follow and obey them. Give them that reverence and honour which is due to their high office, in which God has placed them. In the consecration of these two priests, we are entering into another important phase of the living Church in Melanesia, one which will affect not only Leonard and Dudley but every one of us, as integral members of the Body of Christ on earth. Not only will they be faced with these challenges but WE also, as fellow workers with God. The Church in the Pacific is on the verge of far reaching changes in the spiritual growth and economic welfare of the people. I call upon this congregation, yea all the people of these islands, to stand shoulder to shoulder with these our two brothers in Christ, as they face the future and prepare this Diocese for the time when it will become a self-governing Church.

So, I would draw your minds back to the words of the text in its three stages - the planting, the watering and the increase. The first two phases, which also include the very necessary weeding, are man's part, as co-workers with God, but the third part is that which belongs to God alone. Today our hearts are filled with thanksgiving for the increase which He has bestowed upon us in our work of planting the seed of Christ, in watering and in weeding of His garden, so that His increase might be manifest to all. It is not only we in Melanesia who are rejoicing, it is the Church throughout the whole world, for we must remember these two priests are not consecrated only as Bishops of the Church of Melanesia, but as Bishops of the world wide Church.

Now in speaking to you directly, Leonard and Dudley, I would add another text, "Remember that thou stir up the Grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of our hands."

These are some of the words which will be said as our hands are laid upon you. You are about to receive the Pentecostal gift, the Divine Power of the Holy Spirit, as given on the first Whitsunday. You are receiving this for the office and work of a bishop. This Divine gift will always be within you, but it must be used daily. So you are commanded to stir up this gift, as St. Paul commanded Timothy, that you may use it daily to His glory and the fulfilling of His will. The world must see in you, men who are living with Jesus, men who are filled with the Holy Spirit. Read again those stirring words in the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, remember you are the successors of St. Peter, St. John and the other Apostles.

You need His Grace for your personal lives, for there will be the days of sunshine and the days of storm. While you are bishops, remember you are still men, and Satan is no respecter of persons. You will continue to have your personal conflicts with the devil, never be deceived of that, do not let spiritual pride eat into your souls. All this you well know, but the word of warning is necessary.

There are other and even greater battles ahead of you as bishops. You are called to be spiritual leaders of your people, they will look to you, they will follow you, but beware that in no way, by word, by action, or by omission, you lead them astray. The words of Christ are your words "I am the way, the truth and the life." The words of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd," apply directly to you. You are chosen shepherds.

As leaders, you will have to make difficult decisions, to rebuke evil, to punish wrong, to oppose false teaching. In doing this, never seek the praises of men, you will never please all, our Lord never did. His words, His judgements led Him to Calvary.

[3] But at all times and in all His judgements, our Lord was merciful, showing as you must show. He hated sin but loved the sinner.

As shepherds, you are to feed the flock of Christ, remember the threefold command of our Lord to St. Peter, as He told him "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep". You will promise in your vows to-day, to be gentle and merciful to all who need your help, the sick, the aged, the sorrowful, the lonely and the dying. Never forget them in your ministry. The example of our Lord is ever set before us, so often we read "He had compassion on the multitude", or "As he passed by". He did this or that act of love and mercy.

In closing, be of good courage, remember you are chosen vessels, within which the Holy Spirit dwells, that such may flow forth from you upon those to whom you minister. The love of God enfold you, the example of Christ inspire you, and the holy Spirit of God ever sanctify and direct you.

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