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During the morning of Wednesday, March 15 two visiting members of the Melanesian Brotherhood an Anglican religious community of men in simple vows based primarily in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea visited the Synod offices of the Diocese of New Westminster. Father Richard Nokia (Chaplain) and Brother Nelson Bako were in the middle of a 10 day visit. The principal purpose of their visit was to attend and participate in the liturgies for the late, the Reverend John Blyth, Tuesday, March 14 at 4pm and Wednesday, March 15 at 1pm. At the Requiem Fr. Richard and Br. Nelson administered the chalice during Holy Communion.

They shared many things about their life and work. We were told Br. John Blyth was a very good speaker of Solomon Islands pidgin. We learned about the work of the Brotherhood in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Did you know that over 800 languages are spoken within these islands?

We heard of the peace-making work of the Brotherhood during the 1999-2000 conflict where two military groups competed for land and jobs. The Brotherhood took a leading role in the disarmament process when they physically gathered up the guns of the opposing sides and disposed of them and their ammunition in the sea so they could not be used again.

We learned of the 2003 killing of Brother Nathaniel Sado when he went to convince a rebel leader to surrender.  Six other members of the Brotherhood went to ask for Brother Nathaniel’s body and all of them were also killed by the rebels.

Their work is not easy and yet it also brought us smiles and surprises.  We were told that if they are about to start a Eucharist and they “only have 3 priests, we go looking for two more.”  When we looked a little confused, we were told, “the priests will get a sore back administering Communion.”  So of course we asked, how many people would be at a service.  They smiled and responded, “up to 20,000.”

There is a lot we could learn from these our visiting brothers in Christ about the life of community, prayer, singing and mission.  

A short video about the Brotherhood is available on this post


In the photo left to right: Missioner for Christian Formation, the Reverend Jessica Schaap; Missioner for Indigenous Justice, Kerry Baisley, ODNW; Father Richard; Brother Nelson; Executive Archdeacon and Archdeacon of Vancouver. the Venerable Philippa Pride; Director for Mission and Ministry, the Reverend Tellison Glover. 

Synod staff were delighted to greet and welcome the two visitors and give them a tour of the office.