Report from Anglican Taonga by Lloyd Ashton
It’s hard to believe that a man who likes to mix with convicted criminals, who commends a life of slavery, who walks barefoot into cathedrals in the middle of winter could be … so, well, so downright popular. Yet there’s no mistaking just how enthusiastic Wellingtonians are for such a man.
Because they reckon 2000 shoehorned themselves into the Cathedral of St Paul today to see Justin Duckworth ordained and installed as Wellington’s 11th Anglican Bishop. There were so many, in fact, that it’s probably just as well the Fire Department didn’t see how so many were standing in the aisles, and against the walls.
And when, moments after the gathered bishops had laid hands on Justin, and prayed the prayer of ordination, and Bishop Justin was presented to the people… well, that was the cue for a thunderous and prolonged ovation.
But the thing about Justin Duckworth is that there is no mystery about him.
Carved into the Pastoral Staff he was given on Friday by inmates at Rimutaka Prison – are three marks which indicate the core values of Urban Vision, the movement Justin and his wife Jenny helped found 25 years ago, and which anchor him still.
Those strands are: having a Jesus centre, belonging deeply together – and giving our best for the least.
The assembled robed clergy of the diocese heard a variation on that theme in the 15 minutes before they processed into the cathedral.
Justin gathered them in The Loaves and Fishes, the café next door to the cathedral, and talked about the year he’d spend as Priest-in-Charge of a London parish in 2007.
They met a Christian then whose life purpose was to heal the scars left by slavery.
He’d inspire groups of English and Africans to walk from city to city to show those wounds are – and he made that a walk a headturner. Because this time, it was the white people who walked in chains and yokes.
Justin walked from Birmingham to Liverpool that way, chained to his children, and he told the clergy yesterday that he’d found that experience “profoundly disturbing”.
Yet that, he suggested, was the life that each robed person in that room had volunteered for.
“Jesus leads a triumphal procession of slaves,” he said. “We are the ones who choose to be slaves, yoked together.”
So they processed into the cathedral, with Justin and his wider family, and about 140 members of the Urban Vision family taking up the rearguard – called on by the karanga of Putiputi Mackey, and responding with: Come with us, walk with us, in the footsteps of Jesus, a Taize-style chant composed by one of their number, Gemma Minogue.
Toa Helu read Ruth 1: 16-17 (Where you go, I will go ); the choir sang Psalm 121; Archdeacon Don Rangi read Philippians 2: 5-11 (Let the same mind being you that was in Christ Jesus…who emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…) while the Rev Dave Smart – who built the Chapel of Tarore at Ngatiawa – read John 21:15-19 (Feed my sheep ).
The Rev Martin and Alison Robinson – who co-founded Urban Vision with Justin and Jenny – then preached the sermon.