A traditional Fijian welcome ceremony was accorded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Portal Welby, by the Diocese of Polynesia, to mark the opening of this year’s Oceania Anglican FONO yesterday.
The beautiful weather was seen as a blessing and this provided the impetus for all those participating in the ceremonies to bring out the best in them for the visiting head of Anglicans in the world.
Participants were drawn from within the church.
The welcome ceremony was held at the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral ground in Suva.
Archbishop Welby, who is based in England, said he was delighted to be given such a warm and extraordinary welcome.
“It is a privilege to be with you,” he said.
“I hope that the gifts will be shared after – where they are most needed.
“I bring greetings from the Church of England, from Canterbury and we pray for you and God’s blessing on you, and, on your church here as you face the challenges and difficulties of climate change and as you demonstrate your love and service together in Christ.’’
The last visit to Fiji by an Archbishop of Canterbury was 50 years ago.
The current gathering will end on Sunday.
About the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Portal Welby:
The senior bishop and a principal leader in the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury.
He was ordained in 1992 after an 11-year career in the oil industry.
In 2012, he was made a Canon of Coventry Cathedral. He was Dean of Liverpool Cathedral from 2007 to 2011 and Bishop of Durham from 2011 to 2012, before being announced as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in late 2012.
About the Diocese of Polynesia:
The Diocese of Polynesia, or the Tikanga Pasefika, headed by Archbishop Winston Halapua, serves Anglicans in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa within the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
The diocese’s first bishop was consecrated in 1908. The diocese’s cathedral is Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral in Suva.