Traditional dancers and singing led the new Archbishop of Melanesia, Archbishop Leonard Dawea, into the service at St Barnabas Cathedral, Honiara in the Solomon Islands, where he was installed as the Primate of the Anglican Church of Melanesia last week.
Formerly the Bishop of Temotu, Leonard Dawea became the youngest archbishop to take up the role, at 47 years old.
Before training for the priesthood he had spent 12 years as a monk with the Melanesian Brotherhood.
The packed colourful service included greetings from other Provinces across the Communion. Extracts from a message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, were read out in which he recalled a visit to the Province in 2014 when he had been humbled and inspired by the Melanesian Brotherhood and their commitment to peace and reconciliation.
He said: “You will be on our prayer list at Lambeth Palace and we will pray for wisdom for you as you steer the Province in the many challenges that lie ahead. I am confident that you will lead the church of Melanesia in building discipleship and transforming communities.”
During his sermon, Archbishop Leonard said the church needed to work together for unity. He said: “We notice some areas of our church becoming lukewarm, becoming disunited, we have poor church attendance and lawlessness… we need to remain in the church we need to talk together, we need to plan and think together.”
“In our everyday struggles with our church and society … we ought to make Jesus part of this for he knows far more than us. This is the model we want for our Province, when Jesus is always behind the wheel and all our members are co participants.”
Originally from the Reefs islands in Temotu, Archbishop Leonard and his wife Dorah, who hails from Guadalcanal, have two children.
The Anglican Province of Melanesia covers three independent nations: the Solomon Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu, and the French Trust Territory of New Caledonia. Its Provincial Headquarters is in Honiara with a sub-Provincial Administration Office at Luganville on Santo in Vanuatu. It has seven dioceses in Solomon Islands and two in Vanuatu.