Special guests from Melanesia will help celebrate historic links
The Diocese of Exeter will welcome two special guests from Melanesia in early July to celebrate the historic link between Devon and Melanesia and also to commemorate the Solomon Islands Independence Day.
The Rt Revd Willie Pwaisiho will be preaching at Ottery St Mary Parish Church on Sunday 7 July (see poster), which is also Solomon Islands Independence Day. The church is a supporter of the Melanesian Mission UK, and a number of the congregation also support the Mothers’ Union and the religious orders in Melanesia.
Bishop Willie will also visit Feniton Church of England Primary School to talk to the pupils about climate change in the Pacific. The school has been twinned with the Bishop Norman Palmer School in the Solomon Islands for eight years, and the pupils take a keen interest in life in Melanesia.
Also visiting the diocese is Sr Kristy, a life professed Sister from the Community of the Sisters of the Church in the Solomon Islands. Sr Kristy is in the UK for six months to learn more about her community which was founded in the UK nearly 150 years ago.
Bishop Willie, who is originally from Malaita in the Solomon Islands, is an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Chester, after retiring as a parish priest in the diocese earlier this year.
Bishop Willie said: “Every time a Melanesian pays a visit to Exeter it is a pilgrimage. In Exeter Cathedral, you have the shrine of our first Diocesan Bishop and martyr John Coleridge Patteson, depicted on the pulpit. He grew up and went to school in Feniton and Ottery St Mary and began his ministry in Alfington and it was from here that he left for the mission to serve and give his life, so that we in Melanesia may know the Good News.”
Katie Drew, Executive Office of the Melanesian Mission, said: “It’s always very special to have guests from Melanesia visit us here in Devon. Bishop Patteson is well remembered throughout Melanesia for his mission work and his caring nature. When people come from Melanesia to the UK, they want to come to Devon, to walk where Patteson walked. For them it’s a pilgrimage, and for us it’s a privilege to have them here, as we have much to learn from their Melanesian spirituality and holistic approach to mission.”