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Friday, 7 February 2014

Melanesian Sisters E-News

Melanesian Sisters E-News
February 2014
Number 1

In This Issue

·    Welcome
·    Introduction to the Sisters
·    Their work
·    Their needs
·    Prayer requests
·    Get involved

Prayer Requests

·         For those returning to the community after the Christmas break and Christmas mission, travel conditions can be very difficult at this time of year
·         For Sister Collin as she settles into her role as Head Sister
·         For Fr Selwyn the new chaplain to the Community
·         For discussions on replacing the old chapel
·         For 3rd year novices who continue on with their practical in Reef Islands on the Eastern part of Solomon as part of their last year training mission.

Sisters’ Prayer

Almighty God, we pray you to bless and guide the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia.

Fill them Lord, with your Spirit of wisdom, love and power so that your will be done in these islands, following the pattern and service given to them by our Lord Jesus Christ.

May they serve you without fear, shame and doubt, and be willing to offer themselves to serve you and be helped to glorify your name: through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Sisters ask that we in the UK

·         Grow the number of supporters or as they are officially known 'Associates of the Sisters' who will be committed to pray and support the sisters as best they can

·         Establish a prayer network
·         Raise funds for an ablution block and for lunches for all Sisters and Novices

Get Involved

If you would like to respond to this E-News, commit to pray for the Sisters and Novices, make a donation or are interested in becoming an Associate, visit

Contact Us

Welcome to the first edition of the Melanesian Sisters E-News produced in the UK by the Melanesian Mission on behalf of the Sisters of Melanesia. This quarterly newsletter will keep you up to date with the Sisters’ community, their projects, plans and prayer requests.
Many of you will remember Sister Collin who was part of the Simply Living team which toured the UK in Spring / Summer 2013. Sr Collin returned to Melanesia and is now Head Sister of the community. Following the Simply Living Mission, many wanted to know more about the religious communities in Melanesia including the Sisters.
In this first E-News let us introduce or reintroduce you to the Sisters.

Their Story

The Sisters of Melanesia were founded by a woman from Guadalcanal, Nesta Tiboe, in 1979.  In 1967 Nesta received a vision in which she realised that Melanesian women were also called to serve God "without fear, shame and doubt." Nesta was a brave and determined woman and though facing much male opposition at first, established a community of women on the same lines as the Melanesian Brotherhood.

Today, over thirty years on, the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia has flourished to become the biggest women’s religious order in the Anglican Communion in terms of membership. However the path for the CSM has not been smooth. They have had to move headquarters twice, from Bungana to Bokoniseu in the Guadalcanal Plains in 1983, and then three years later, the Solomon Islands’ worst natural disaster ‘Cyclone Namu’ ravaged the Community’s headquarters. The CSM then moved from Bokoniseu to their present site at Verana’aso
At present there are now 47 sisters and 34 novices. The Sisters' community is marked by its joy and simplicity of lifestyle. The Sisters have opened the eyes of many people and, by their example, have encouraged the church to become more socially aware. They have also won the respect of many people by showing the wonderful potential and gifts women have to offer within the church.

Their Work

The Sisters of Melanesia have a special heart for building up the vocations of young girls and serving women and families, spiritually and in any kind of need.

One of their roles is to recognise the needs of women in Melanesian society. The Sisters’ households have become sanctuaries for mothers and their children escaping domestic violence and the sisters are frequently called upon to protect women and children from drunk and violent partners.
Entrenched gender inequality in the Solomon Islands has resulted in one of the world’s highest rates of domestic violence, with an estimated 64 percent of women aged 15 to 49 years experiencing violence at the hands of a partner.

Together with the Sisters of the Church, the Sisters of Melanesia have jointly managed the only women’s refuge in the Solomon Islands, The Christian Care Centre (CCC), since its inception in 2005.

The sisters are hardworking and provide counselling, food, shelter, medical care and protection for those at the Centre, working closely with the local police and community groups. They mediate, trying to reunite families and provide awareness of domestic violence issues.

The Sisters have also been on Mission to the UK, on numerous occasions.

Their Needs

The Sisters need support in prayer, fellowship and resources.

Recently, the most pressing need was met by funds from UK church groups.  Verana’aso had lacked a safe water supply for some years, and Novices and Sisters spent their days carrying pots, pans, clothes, buckets and food, up and down the hill to take water from the river. Now they have a new bore hole and pump to supply fresh water to the community. Many thanks for all those who responded so quickly to this fundraising request, the joyful results can be seen here.

This year the Melanesian Mission on behalf of the Community will be asking for prayer and financial support to provide the community with an ablutions block with washing facilities and toilets to prevent contamination of the ground water. This will reduce the risk of disease and will also enable the community to offer guest lodgings as a form of income generation.

We are also encouraging groups and individuals to consider raising money during lent to enable all Sisters and Novices to have a lunch each day. At present only those who are sick receive a lunch, and as at best their diets are very basic and this is contributing to some health problems.

We hope you have enjoyed this first edition and look forward to sharing more news from the Sisters of Melanesia.

Reverend Cate Edmonds
The Rectory,
Station Road,
Devon. EX14 3DF

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Carol Singing at the Bowling Club

Members of St. Andrews church joined with members of the Bowling Club at their annual "Candles by Candlelight" variety evening to provide music and sing carols.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Dear Friends,
Thank you to those of you who have contacted me regarding my last letter, it’s always useful to get some response.

We have come to that time of year again when we remember loved ones who have died and those killed in conflicts, a time to pause and reflect on what they meant to us and what sacrifices they have made. I am sure that this is not the only time of the year when we do this but this is a formal time for us to remember. A collective time, when we come together as a community, regardless of our particular faith or belief system  and pause to remember. Differences and disagreements are put aside for a short time and there is an air of calm and peace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that lasted longer than the two minutes silence, the time it takes for a candle to burn or the short services in church?

We may feel that there is little we can do to bring about peace around the world, that is true, but what about peace in our lives in our own hearts? Easier said than done I am aware, but if we can try with ourselves there is a ripple effect which reaches out to others. We may not always agree with those around us, there may be irritations, large or small, but the way they are handled can make a difference to that sense of peace and harmony. 

We talk frequently about this approach to our children in school but do with listen ourselves; do we “practice what we preach”? This year, as we pause for silence, as we remember, let’s also think about working for peace in our hearts and see what ripple effect that may have.
Blessings, Rev Cate

Service of Remembrance for Loved Ones Departed
6pm Sunday November 3rd Feniton Church
Please contact me with names of any one you would like remembered if you are unable to attend the service.

 Reverend Cate Edmonds
The Rectory,
Station Road
01404 851401

Celebrating Harvest with a Parish Harvest Experience, linking School and Parish.

St Andrews, Feniton and St Mary the Virgin, Payhembury, two rural parishes in East Devon decided, under the leadership of their Parish Priest the Reverend Cate Edmonds, to celebrate this great annual festival in a different way this year. The parishes wanted to engage their local church schools fully in their celebrations. There would be the traditional school Harvest Festivals, to which all members of the community were to be invited, but more a more inventive approach was undertaken.

Each parish had several interactive, thought provoking displays celebrating Harvest, which all members of the community were encouraged to participate in regardless of age. The displays challenged thought about traditional and modern farming and food processing methods, air miles for food and the unfair distribution of food throughout the world and of course the celebration of the diversity of God’s creation and our duty to care for it. The parishes help coffee mornings and a soup lunch to attract more than the church regulars into the churches for not only physical but some spiritual refreshment and celebration.

Each parish invited the local schools into a special Prayer Spaces Harvest Celebration Day, to give the children an in depth, interactive participation in the season.  Members of the church family helped them in their activities as they planted seeds, found messages from God in amongst rubbish, suggested ways of helping those in need, thanked God in different ways (which included sucking a sweet), paused for thought about the wonder of creation and explored some Biblical harvest stories as well as completing, harvest puzzles, quizzes, games and enjoying in the inevitable drink and biscuit. The response from the children was terrifically positive, one group exclaiming to an incoming group, “cor it was great, you’re really going to enjoy it!” ; “ It made me think what Harvest really means” Lydia Yr5; “ Most impressive display, like an Aladdin’s cave of activities” Paul, member of the community.

The traditional Harvest Festival in the churches was not forgotten, in one church the celebration was in CafĂ© Style with a mixture of traditional and modern songs and reading, some made by the children in the other an All Ages service had contribution from children and a choir from school to sing their harvest song, both of these events concluded with a bring and share lunch exhibiting the best of food from our area. Again everyone enjoyed the exhibitions and the decorations in church. Offerings over the weekend were taken and will be sent to Water Aid and food collected is given to the needy in the parishes, the local food bank and centre for the homeless. 

The response from all who took part was good and many people commented on how it had made them think more fully about Harvest and appreciate what we have in this part of the world and enjoy a sense of real community. A very worthwhile and enjoyable experience. Reverend Cate Edmonds

For more information on Prayer Spaces please contact

Prayer Spaces resource boxes available so far:

Love, Perseverance, Friendship, Peace, Creation more in production

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Praise and Worship Service

This a photo taken at Feniton Church showing everyone who took part in the service. It is a very relaxed and enjoyable hour with time for reflection, prayers and hymns ancient and very modern, with toe tapping music provided by local musicians.  This service is held at 6:00pm on the third Sunday in the month

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Harvest Sunday Photos

Rev. Cate's Harvest Letter

Reverend Cate Edmonds
The Rectory,
                                                                                                                                 Station Road Feniton
01404 851401
Dear Friends,
I never cease to be struck by the fact that our society in general has developed into a "me" culture rather than a community culture. It may not be so apparent in our rural villages where there are still many community events and gatherings where people from time to time do pull together. Though even in our rural communities there is a tendency to do what "I" want first and then what the community needs second. Now I don't want to be accusing or controversial but thought provoking. So I put some questions to you:
·         Are there events/ gatherings which you haven't been to because its not exactly what you like?
·         Did you think that your absence may have had an effect on that activity e.g. not make it viable?
·         What would it cost you to support others at these events/ gatherings?
In a community sometimes we have to adapt our own needs to the greater good of the whole community. This is of course a fundamental of Christianity but is also a fundamental of good community living. From time to time we have to look to the greater good of the whole rather than just our own particular need at that moment. Joining in with something which is not quite our style or taste may mean others can participate as well, it may give them the opportunity that they were missing.
This may well sound holier than thou, but it is a way of building up community, whether it is a church community or a social club or a village activity. Next time you think about doing an alternative to an event/ gathering, give a thought to those it might affect.
Look out for various Harvest activities and  please come and join in with our weekend of Harvest Celebration,

Blessings, Rev Cate

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Fundraising Proposal for Melanesian Mission UK Trustees

Update from Rev. Cate:

Dear Friends thank you so much for your support just to let you know that I am up to £840 and hope to make it £1,000, if you would like to contribute please do there is still time, thanks for your help this will be much appreciated by the Sisters , yours Cate

Dear Friends, we were fortunate recently to host for a few days part of the Simply Living Mission from Melanesia to this country. Members of the religious communities in the Solomon Islands came to England to inspire us rather than us inspiring others overseas. We looked after 3 delightful Sisters, 2 from the Sisters of the Church and Sister Collin from the Sisters of Melanesia. On returning to Melanesia Sister Collin was made Head Sister and took up her new position in the Headquarters in Veranaaso. The headquarter were visited this summer by an Ordinand ( priest in training) Catherine Duce who was appalled to find the living conditions of this group of sisters and trainees. Their water supply came from a polluted river, their sanitary conditions were terrible etc. Unlike other religious communities they receive little if any support from outside agencies, read more about this in the attached. They aim to provide help and support for needy women and young people who come to them, no mean task in itself and with little or no financial support their work is is hampered to say the least but they struggle on under terrible conditions. I am appealing to you  for donations, no matter how small initially to fund a bore hole and water pump, please see attached information. 

Please take time to read the attached and if you can feel that you are able to make a donation please send it to me and I, through the Melanesian Mission, have the means of getting money directly to the Sisters. I also attach a photo taken whilst they were with me, Sister Collin is in the green. The Sisters gave us so much it would be great to return the compliment and help them in this dire situation, they haven't asked  but I feel we must help them in their very special and much needed work.  Blessings,Cate
Reverend Cate Edmonds
The Rectory, Station Road, Feniton, Honiton, Devon. EX14 3DF 01404851401 07850112997

September 2013
Fundraising Proposal for Melanesian Mission UK Trustees
A Proposal to raise funds for a water borehole,
Community of the Sisters of Melanesia Headquarters, Veranaaso.

This is a request support a fundraising campaign to raise £1900 to pay for the drilling of a water borehole to enable access to safe, clean water for at least 100 people: novices, sisters, staff, guests and local families.
Veranaaso is the noviate training centre for the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia located on a steep hill, 2 hours North West of Honiara.  The Community of the Sisters of Melanesia have arguably received less international attention and financial support than the other religious communities.  In relation to water, for eight years this training centre has lacked an adequate, safe water supply, arguably compromising the health and well-being of the sisters.

A recent 10 day visit to the community by UK volunteer (Catherine Duce), enabled a water pump device and pipe equipment to be obtained for Veranaaso thanks to initial donations from a local Honiara business and individuals.  A borehole drilling company (Soldrill Services) was identified during the visit with the support of Fr. Selwyn Sae, priest of All Saints parish Honiara and CSM Associate, to enable the ground to be prepared for pump installation.  Using information gained from a previous water site survey of the site carried out in 2011, Soldrill Services has begun drilling work on the site. They have agreed to waive their initial deposit requirement, and for payment to be given following further UK fundraising.  The company is expected to finish the drilling and water quality tests by 21st September 2013 after which they will require payment.  Photos of the first day of drilling and Soldrill’s invoice itemising fees are attached.  Once drilling is complete, an MBH novice plumber has agreed to be available to install the pump and pipes free of charge.  All work will be closely overseen and quality checked by Fr. Selwyn Sae, Head Sister Collin and Catherine Duce.

Eight years ago the borehole and pump at the Sisters of Melanesia, Veranaaso was destroyed by a large flood. It had been located too close to the river side. This put an end to clean water being pumped up the steep hill to the Veranaaso compound. Since then funds have not been forthcoming to rectify the situation, despite several attempts by successive Head Sisters and Chaplains to get water surveys and costings. Instead, the community has relied upon the river at the bottom of the hill to provide the main water supply for washing dishes, clothes and personal hygiene. Novices and sisters spend their days carrying pots, pans, clothes, buckets, food up and down the hill. Drinking water comes from the rain water tanks, which run low and are topped up from neighbouring village Visale, half an hour’s journey away. Many sisters commented that over the past five years the quality and quantity of river water had deteriorated as a result of logging and increased community usage upstream. Veranaaso is located at the mouth of the river. There is a strong case that this water situation compromises the health of novices. There are notably higher instances of ill health at Veranaaso as compared to three other religious communities in Solomons – malaria, stomach ulcers and general ‘pneumonia’ being the main complaints.
There are currently 43 novices and about 15 sisters living on site. There is also a chaplain’s house and family, a tutor, a guest house, and some additional family households on the community land reliant upon Veranaaso’s water supply. The forthcoming October feast day caters for hundreds of visitors and an improved water supply would be an incalculable logistical support. Further beneficiaries would be sensitively negotiated by the community. (Hautambu, Franciscan Friars, located near Veranaaso, also have a water problem, albeit less serious).
Details of Costs
Please see attached quotation for total costings of the Borehole:
SD$20.060 +transfer costs (c.£1820 +transfer costs) = TOTAL c. £1900  
The Water Pump and Pipes have already been purchased and are awaiting installation upon completion of the drilling. Any additional UK funds raised could go towards the establishment of a small diesel fund to ensure sisters and novices make the pump work (estimated at SD$300 a month/£30 tbc). Head Sister confirmed she would make this a priority in next year’s budget.  
Value for Money
Several people in the local area were asked about the best solution for an improved water supply. The tutor, chaplain, staff in the ACOM offices in Honiara and MBH novice plumber all confirmed an individual borehole and water pump at Veranaaso would be the most reliable, long term solution rather than proposed cheaper partnerships with neighbouring Maravovo village (who now have a large new water tank from a Japanese NGO which is about to be handed over to local chiefs and would require extensive negotiation).
Progress to date
The photographs attached show evidence of the first day of borehole drilling (Saturday 31st August). The drill reached 15metres. They were expected to return on the Monday morning (2nd September) to complete the drilling. I have since learnt the drill had a technical difficulty and required a new part. They began re-drilling on Monday 16th September and the boss, Dick Daoleni, confirmed by phone to Catherine Duce that the work would be completed by 21st September. An update will be given at the AGM. This includes: drilling to 20 metres; developing the inside of the well using air compressors; taking samples of water to be a clinic for testing. This will then enable MBH novice Barton, a professional plumber, to attach the water pump and pipes to the Veranaaso water tanks – hopefully, for completion by feast day.    
There is no fixed date for payment.  The company have been good to start the work with no deposit.  
If you think that you could support this project please send donation directly to Rev Cate Edmonds, The Rectory, Station RD, Feniton, Honiton EX14 3DF Who will forward the funds through the appropriate channels to ensure that it reaches the Sisters.
Catherine Duce, Head Sister Collin and Fr. Selywn Sae of All Saints Parish Honiara are monitoring progress and will confirm when the borehole drilling is complete. Photographs have been requested.
Any further details: 07948980024

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

St Andrews Church, Feniton, has established a village collection point for non-perishable food items suitable to be sent on to either the Honiton or Ottery Food Bank. Mrs Cara Sanders is running the project and so far two large boxes of food have been delivered to the Food Bank for onward distribution to those who are in need.
The box is in the church porch and as the church is open during the day anyone is welcome to drop in to donate items.
The Rev Cate says "This is yet another way the village church can become involved in a community venture"

David Lanning
01404 850699