Dreadlocks and sausage rolls

Sausage rolls on plate
Sausage rolls

Greetings Family

As we approach the shortest day and the heart of winter, I pray that we each may experience afresh God’s love, grace and compassion in the darkness of our own lives.

Often, as a Bishop, I get asked three questions: the first normally revolves around my appearance – having dreadlocks and bare feet or jandals; the second is my view on the same sex issues facing the Church; and the distant third is around my seeming addiction to sausage rolls … Continue reading

Season of change

Children climbing a tree

Hi Family

As I spend time around the Diocese it becomes apparent that people are embracing the reality that we are in a season of change.  We are all experiencing the normal sense of anxiety as we venture into the unknown.

For me personally, this has taken the form of working hard to form a Diocesan leadership team to help us navigate in this new environment. Continue reading

On giving up coffee

CupofcoffeeKia ora te whanau

I have been reflecting on giving up coffee around two years ago.  I gave up when I started consuming five or more cups a day, and noticed that I was feeling ‘wired’ most of the day and also had a low level of anxiety through the day.  So I was surprised last week to again feel ‘coffee wired’ and initially thought that Alayne may have been spiking my herbal tea with caffeine!  She assured me that she certainly had not, and the disappointing thing was that I had had no coffee! Continue reading

Bishop’s Letter: February 2013

Bishop Justin Duckworth
Bishop Justin Duckworth

Kia ora koutou katoa


What a stunning summer!

Our family has had a great holiday, a few of our highlights were tramping the northern circuit around Mt Ngauruhoe, resting at Omori and attending New Wine at El Rancho with hundreds of other Anglicans. However the holidays are dwindling into the background now as the Diocese moves forward into the adventures that God has for us in 2013 and beyond.

I was deeply impacted as I read the end of Psalm 77 (The message translation) in the morning office;

“Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.
Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder,
your arrows flashing this way and that.
From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world,
Earth reeled and rocked.
You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come or go.”

What resonated with me was the sense of the overwhelming chaos that threatens us, whether it’s global, national or even Diocese. We/I often feel out of control surrounded by many overwhelming obstacles. Yet God walks through unhindered! The problem is “but nobody saw you come or go”. God is active in our chaos, however, the writer of Psalm 77 does not assume that we will ever be able to recognise God’s transformative work in our world. At this time in history I have confidence that God is at work, I pray though that we/I will have eyes to recognise it. We are called always to be a courageous people of faith.

Where ever Jenny and I visit in the Diocese we constantly come away saying they are amazing people. We are so impressed by the courageous signs of hope that are happening around our Diocese despite the surrounding chaos. To mention a few;

  • The completely renewed vicarage at Raetihi and the installation of the Reverend Sam Bate as a Missioner. The courage shown by the parish of Ruapehu is inspirational and the generosity of the wider Diocese in time and money is legendary.
  • The new Diploma programme starting in a few weeks has over 40 participants from across the Diocese.
  • Sending two new young adults to St John’s
  • The service at Marton where the wider Parish gathered along with the year 9 students from Nga Tawa
  • The installation of The Reverend Ellie Sanderson at the parish of Eastbourne, the welcome of the Parishioners and the huge sense of call that Ellie feels to be part of the family of the Diocese of Wellington.
  • Young clergy and family retreat, over 75 family members came to Ngatiawa to strengthen relationships across the Diocese family

My personal favourite Kingdom moment came when I was just about to address a public rally and felt relatively alone and anxious about my contribution. Just then a beneficiary came up to me and said

“God has said that I should come up and pray for you, as what you are doing today is difficult.”

Then this saint quietly prayed that I would have wisdom and courage, then he just disappeared again into the crowd.

I am always impacted that of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, only one returned to Jesus to say thanks. We, as a Diocese, need to start the year by saying thank you to God for our life together, it is a challenging and rich life, it is the abundant life!

Family, I would ask you to uphold a couple of matters in prayer in this next month.

  1. The nominators are getting into the final stages in our discerning of a new Dean. Pray that God will guide us in this important task.
  2. The Tikanga Pakeha Bishops are meeting on the 18th of March to discern a new Archbishop for Tikanga Pakeha. I would ask that Parishes pray on the 17th in their services and parishioners remember us in their prayers on the 18th.

Thank you, family.




Bishop Justin joins the DIY team

Kia ora koutou katoa

Workers at Raetihi Parish Vicarage outside the vicarage
Workers at Raetihi Parish Vicarage taking a rest from their labours

Greetings friends and family, it has been a busy end to the year. I have just finished the prizegiving season with our schools. I joked with the Principals that I was running league tables judging each Principal’s speech for content, delivery and most of all length. I was once again impressed by the calibre and achievement of the young people in our schools. However it also reminded me of the Biblical principle “for whom much is given much is expected” – we are involved in education so that our young people can be formed and educated to take their place in creating a just world; reflective of God’s Kingdom coming on earth as it is in Heaven.

Raetihi Vicarage makeover

Raetihi Parish Vicarage makeover
Raetihi Parish Vicarage makeover

I managed to escape for a few days and join many others from the Diocese in Raetihi as we DIY’d the Vicarage. It was a great few days that had many Kingdom ingredients. There was at least 35 of us from all around the Diocese; 25 were young people, and it was intergenerational (even my Dad came from Melbourne). We worked hard and laughed a lot. It was a joy to see old ones pass on skills to younger ones – Chris Casey teaching teenagers to scrape and prepare window sills for painting, and then teach them good painting technique (not that I am saying that Chris is that old!)

We experienced amazing hospitality with phenomenal meals and enough baking to force a growing Bishop to consider a diet. People have been so generous in donating building materials. However even with this input, Alison from Raetihi informed me that they were rebuilding in faith; the giving income was less than the upgrade expenditure. We both agreed though, that God’s provision was always good for his projects (just in case you missed it, this was a subtle hint to consider donating a few dollars to help!!) When I reflect on our Diocese commitment to “being family” I thought this was a great example of the family in action. I came away energised and thanking God for the people of this Diocese.

Support and goodwill

I want to take this opportunity as the year grows to an end to just say how much I have appreciated the support and goodwill we as a family have experienced as we have started this new season of ministry. I am still humbled daily by people’s grace and encouragement as I grow into this calling.

Ted Dashfield mentioned in despatches

I finish this Advent news with a few words I received from Archdeacon May Croft reflecting on her attendance at an Evensong at St Matthew’s, Masterton; a celebration of Reverend Ted Dashfield’s 60th anniversary of being Priest.

“Ted’s address was wonderful …he has a way with words and can be quite profound. He ended by saying something like ‘… oh just one more thing … it’s all about Jesus you know and how we relate to him … who we think he is.’”

May you relate deeply again to Jesus this Advent.

+Justin, Jenny, Luca, Jesse and Maya

Jesus: central to our faith

Bishop Justin Duckwoth
Bishop Justin Duckworth

Greetings Family

I have been reflecting this month about the centrality of Jesus to our faith. I was impacted when I sat through three different talks by gifted Anglicans. All talks were inspirational and had great content; they all talked about the parables, teaching and ethics of Jesus. However in each case I can’t remember Jesus actually being mentioned by name. It made me reflect on my own life, whether my faith has become a “formula” based on Jesus but no longer actually connected to Him.

As a follower of Jesus I am more convinced than ever that the core of our faith must revolve around Jesus. It has been my pleasure to be involved in a few Confirmation services in this last month. I particularly remember wonderful services at All Saints’, Palmerston North, St James’, Lower Hutt, St Philip’s, Stokes Valley and St Peter’s, Pahiatua. It was a great privilege to set these people apart as they commit themselves to following Jesus for life. To pray afresh for each of them that God’s Spirit would empower them in emulating the way of Jesus and strengthening their relationship with the living God. Each Confirmation reminds me of my own life commitment to follow Jesus where ever he leads, and to willingly embrace the joy and struggles of that calling.

I would encourage us all, as we head into Advent, to reflect on the centrality of Jesus to our lives. As Anglicans it would be great if we were not primarily known for our great church services, our slick programmes, our wonderful Choirs or even our compassionate social services; but for being people of Jesus.

What excites me at the moment is the courage shown by the Wanganui Archdeaconry. As a family they have undertaken to do a significant makeover of the Raetihi Vicarage. I even believe that John Rowan had Bishop Mwita Akiri from Tanzania up there helping! I am planning to join the youth of the Diocese in lending a hand on 10 and 11 December. I find these times often the richest times: joining with other followers of Jesus, rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in to make a tangible difference. Returning the Vicarage to a livable standard will enable us to place a gifted Missioner in our Northern most Parish. When I talk to Archdeacon Elizabeth Body I am overwhelmed with the stories of God’s provision through God’s people. A loaf and a fish here and there, and slowly the place is being transformed – one small miracle of generosity at a time. Well done Family.

May you be captivated once again by the passion, person and mission of Jesus.


Living below the line and Synod 2012

Kia ora koutou

This last month has been full of life and potential:

Firstly as a family we survived Living Below The Line for the five days; living on $2.25 each a day.  It was a tough week with the hardest moment for me being when I had lunch with Charles Waldegrave from the Family Centre at an upmarket restaurant.  I had a glass of water as I watched Charles eat the most delicious looking meal.  Poor Charles; I think I might have ruined his scrumptious lunch as he felt guilty for eating while I looked on!

Bishop Justin Duckworth talks to Synod
Bishop Justin Duckworth addresses Synod 2012

I was amazed as I did LBTL of the amount of time I spent thinking about my next meal and how to make the meal work.  It reminded me that for much of the world, this is a constant experience of concentrating each day on just feeding one’s family.  What I enjoyed about LBTL was the camaraderie between fellow participants, whether it was Bishops, other Clergy or numerous people within our Diocese – the sense of community as we went through a similar experience together was great.

People having Eucharist in The Square, Palmerston North, as part of Synod 2012
Synod 2012 Eucharist in The Square, Palmerston North

Having just finished LBTL, I was delighted at Synod that one of the motions passed was concerned with addressing the growing inequalities within our own bountiful land, where the disparity between the rich and the rest is dramatically increasing.  I have spent time reflecting on this motion and the Climate Change motion, particularly wondering what we as a Diocese can do.  In some sense it’s easy to pass a motion at Synod on these issues as just about all agree that these are huge areas of concern.  The more challenging issue is what we actually do.  As God’s people it is important that we are doers and not just talkers.

Synod though wasn’t just talking – we also danced!  Saturday night of Synod was a real treat as we joined together in a barn dance.  We had talked together during the day of the importance in these challenging times of “being family”, however that night we were.  We danced, laughed and ate together.

It has been Jenny’s and my pleasure to visit different parts of the family this month.  To return to Stokes Valley after all these years was a moving experience – we were not prepared for how God is so present in this Parish.  The connection with neighbourhood young people and their families was truly miraculous.  It was our joy to encourage the Parish to not spend the best of their energy on the challenges they face, but instead to focus on joining in what God’s spirit is already doing amongst them.  So often we fight fires in ministry as opposed to following the fire of God in our midst.

Finally last weekend we spent Sunday in Pahiatua and Eketahuna, enjoying the hospitality of God’s people.  It was my privilege to confirm five young people.  The Parish was a beautiful picture of the Kingdom, with intergenerational and multicultural diversity, all sharing in the Kingdom Banquet.  I would like to thank all the Clergy and leadership by name, however having seen them all, there would not be room on this page!

I think on that note I want to just recognise how blessed we are as a Diocese and say thank you to God once again for the life he has called us all to.  We want to be a people of gratitude.



See also The Perfect Storm: Bishop’s Charge to Synod

A busy month for the Bishop

Kia ora

It is hard to believe it has been a month since I last wrote. Three experiences stand out from this month:

Collegiate consecration

First is the visit by Jenny and me to Wanganui Collegiate, for the Consecration and celebration of their Chapel. It was a great day where pupils, staff, parents and Old Boys and Old Girls gathered to party. Personal highlights were the InterHouse tug of war and the Consecration cake in the shape of the Chapel. In my sermon I laid down the challenge to honour the vision of the Old Boys who built the Chapel a hundred years before: the challenge to create a school where Jesus was the centre of their life together; a school that although highly successful, also realises that success is meaningless unless it is used to create a more just world – a world reflecting God’s Kingdom.

Porirua confirmation

Second is the visit by Jenny and me to St Anne’s in Porirua. This Confirmation and Baptism service was the best of being Anglican: intergenerational, multi-cultural, friendly, hospitable and passionate. The Reverend Rosie Dell and her team did an amazing job. I was particularly impacted by the stories of the Confirmation candidates Jo, Donna and Daniel – real stories of God entering people’s lives and making a tangible difference.

Dean farewelled

Thirdly, we attended Dean Frank’s farewell Evensong at the Cathedral. It was a huge testimony to a faithful couple. I think all who were present were encouraged to reflect on the legacy that we will leave in our own lives. If only more people selflessly laid down their lives to join in Christ’s Kingdom work – we were challenged!

Intercession-led life

As my life has become busier, I reflect upon the need to live an intercession-led life. I am confronted with numerous pressing issues including pastoral crises, management concerns, and people wanting me to be more vocal on the Same Sex Marriage Bill before Parliament. The temptation is to spend one’s life reacting to situations. The challenge I find is instead to draw aside and to sense the invitation of the Spirit of God of how to pro-actively engage with life; and to then join in the work of the Spirit around me and not allow my life calling to be governed by the constant voices demanding attention.

Coming up in the next month I am looking forward to gathering with the Diocese at Synod as we focus on how we will head forward through some challenging issues, although, as with life, often challenges also yield opportunities. It will be exciting to explore these as a Diocese.

Living below the Line

As a family we have started planning our menu for the Living Below The Line project. As expected there seems a lot of rice and legumes on the menu. I note that Archbishop David, Bishop Philip and Bishop David are joining Kaz, Chris D and our family in this adventure. Check out the website www.livebelowtheline.com if you want to know more. Our family is entered under Duckworth Whanau. Also thanks go to Reverend John and Gail Marquet who supplied us with a LBTL food parcel of the cheapest supermarket food you have ever seen.

This weekend I am looking forward to gathering with our Diocesan Youth Workers at El Rancho in Waikanae. This will be an exciting weekend as we strategise, train and build relationships together, ultimately enabling us to see more young people find the life that God has promised.

Same gender relationships

Finally you may be aware that the Province has established a Commission to help the Anglican Church wrestle with issues surrounding same sex relationships and the Church. The Commission is called Ma Whea. For further information see
Ma Whea: Commission on Same Gender Relationships, Ordination and Blessing

Sir Anand Satyanand on Ma Whea

I encourage you to make submissions to the Commission so your voice is heard. Submissions are to be made to:

The Reverend Michael Hughes
General Secretary
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
P O Box 87 188