BY BARNABAS ORERE MBE
The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea (ACPNG) joined 85 million adherents in 156 countries around the world last Sunday (18 May) in a commemorative funeral service for Her Majesty the Queen.
The Mass was conducted at the Parish of St Martin in Boroko, Port Moresby, presided over by the Bishop of Popondota, the Right Reverend Linsely Ihove, who flew to the capital with his wife and the historic Diocesan staff inherited from the first Bishop of New Guinea, Sir Philip Warrington Strong.
The staff is the Shepherd’s crook; symbol of Bishop’s authority.
The church was packed out when all parishes and chapels in the City came together to participate in the world event.
In spite of the time difference, what united them with Anglicans world-wide was the Collect for the day and the Gospel text, John 14, 1-6.
The Collect (prayers of the day) went to King Charles III.
The Queen’s bit came with the prayers of the Church (intercession) which was taken by select priests.
At every Sunday service, the Queen has been prayed for since the independent Anglican Church of PNG was inaugurated on 27 February 1977 and ACPNG became part of the world-wide Communion.
She was the titular head defender of the faith, a role now inherited by King Charles III.
The altar was draped with the colours of St George which is a red cross in a background of white. A high Mass is usually a sung Mass which occurs on Saints’ days and other special occasions, and includes the singing of the Collect and the Gospel.
Four deacons who will soon be ordained priests joined at the altar to get a feel of their future role. A condolence book was opened after the service which will be sent to St James Palace to kept permanently.
When hymn 244 (Amazing Grace) was sung for the Offertory, it was clear from the thunderous soprano voices that this was the epitome of the people’s expressed grief and high praise for a queen they adored.
The wake came in the form of a sumptuous lunch served in the church grounds.
The Christian family and love of Christ is often portrayed in events like the feeding of the 5,000 where the faithful don’t bring loaves of bread and couple of fishes but the best they can provide.
There are very ordinary Christians and they come from all over so to be able to give them a treat brings special joy. Such is the Christian life.
The Queen’s eulogy was delivered before the Sermon by the Chancellor of ACPNG, retired judge, the honourable Sir Bernard Sakora.
Here’s a bit of what he said: PNG’s connection with the British monarchy was both constitutional and religious.
The former dated back to Thursday November 6, 1884 when Papua was proclaimed a protectorate of the British Crown on behalf of her ‘Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the faith, Empress of India, establishing a protectorate of Her Most Gracious Majesty over a portion of New Guinea and the islands adjacent thereto’.
The National independent Constitution of Papua New Guinea describes the role of the British Crown where specific provisions are made about the monarch in our supreme law of the land.
The Preamble to the Constitution pledges on behalf of our people ‘to guard and pass on to those who come after us, our noble traditions and Christian principles that are ours now’.
Sir Bernard said, Section 83 provided the basis for King Charles III as King and Head of State of Papua New Guinea and the defender of the faith.
On the glorious coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, a contingent of select policemen graced the grounds of Westminster Abbey with their impeccable turn-out and drills.
Those policemen came from all parts of the territory and were non-commissioned officers with the rank of sergeant. Three Anglicans took part and they were, Sergeant Major John Guise, Sergeant Christian Arek and Sergeant Saura (from Dogura, Tufi and Buna respectively).
“That, with respect is exactly why we are gathered here”, concluded Sir Bernard.
Bishop Linsley who less than a month ago returned from the Lambeth Conference in London, said in his homily that the Queen addressed the bishops from Commonwealth Countries.
She had said two things:
– She urged the bishops to take care of the people
– “I have done my part and I’m now ready to meet my husband up there – Heaven/New Jerusalem.
Anglicans in PNG rank around 2 per cent of mainline church following.
The Church became a Provision of its own two years after PNG gained independence and joined the world-wide Communion.
King Charles III now assumes the twin roles of the King of Papua New Guinea and the titular head of the ACPNG as ‘supreme governor’ of the Anglican Communion.
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