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Archbishop prays for Melanesian Brothers killed during peace work

Posted on: August 12, 2014 4:23 PM

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, paid tribute to seven Melanesian Brothers who were killed twelve years ago while working for reconciliation during the Solomon Islands conflict. 

The Melanesian Brothers, the largest Anglican religious order in the world, played a key role in promoting peace amid the civil conflict, which between 1998 and 2003 left hundreds dead and thousands homeless.

The Archbishop and his wife, Caroline, attended the dedication ceremony today during a two-day visit to the Church of Melanesia. They are currently on a 10-day visit to Anglican primates in the South Pacific, as part of the Archbishop's commitment to visit all his fellow primates around the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office. 

Visiting Melanesia at the invitation of the Archbishop of Melanesia, David Vunagi, over two days the Archbishop and Mrs Welby met with Anglican bishops, clergy and religious brothers and sisters. They visited Tabalia, the mother house of the Melanesian Brotherhood, where the Archbishop addressed the Brothers as well as students from nearby Bishop Patterson Theological College. 

Before arriving in the Solomon Islands yesterday, the Archbishop visited Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

Tomorrow he will travel to Australia, where he will spend two days before travelling to Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Anglican religious orders in Melanesia

Melanesia is home to four Anglican religious communities – or ‘orders’ – in which members commit to lives focused on prayer, simplicity, and serving their communities.

The Melanesian Brothers are the largest Anglican religious community in the world, whose 400-plus members take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for three to seven years, after which many return to their villages. The Brotherhood has houses in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

During the civil unrest in the Solomon Islands between 1999 and 2003, the Brotherhood participated in peace-making efforts which led to a ceasefire and to the Townsville Peace Agreement. They then gathered weapons and discarded them at sea.

Seven of Melanesian Brothers were martyred while carrying out reconciliation work during the civil unrest in the Solomon Islands in 2003.

Archbishop Justin has made strengthening such religious communities – in all their diverse forms around the Anglican Communion – one of thepriorities of his ministry.