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The Church of the Province of Melanesia is part of the Anglican Communion, and includes 8 dioceses. The Primate of the Church is the Archbishop of Melanesia. The Most Rev'd Sir Ellison Pogo, KBE served in this position for fourteen years from 1994 to 2008, but has now retired.

Official name

The Church of the Province of Melanesia is the official name, but it is usually shortened to the Church of Melanesia or COM. Within Solomon Islandsmarker and Vanuatumarker the Church is often called simply Anglican.


John Coleridge Patteson died a martyr's death in 1871.
The Church was established by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn in 1849, and was initially headed by a bishop of Melanesia. One of the important features of the province's life over many years has been the work of a mission vessel in various incarnations known as the Southern Cross. First based in New Zealandmarker, the missionaries, mainly from Oxbridge and the public schools, established their base on Norfolk Islandmarker, bringing Melanesian scholars there to learn Christianity until the school was closed in 1918.The many languages in Melanesia made evangelisation a challenge. The Melanesian Mission adopted the language of the island of Mota language in the Banks group of islands as the lingua franca. The Church of Melanesia is known for its pioneer martyrs, especially Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, murdered in 1871, Charles Godden, killed in 1906, among several others.


Today, there are nearly 200,000 Anglicans out of an estimated population of over 800,000 in two countries, and a newly formed parish in Nouméamarker, New Caledoniamarker.



The spiritual head of the Province is the Archbishop of Melanesia. This office was held by The Most Rev'd Sir Ellison Pogo for fourteen ears until his retirement in December 2008. The post is currently vacant, awaiting a new appointment.

Bishops and Dioceses

John Coleridge Patteson was the first bishop of Melanesia. The polity of the Church of Melanesia is Episcopalian church governance, which is the same as other Anglican churches. The church maintains a system of geographical parishes organized into dioceses, of which there are now eight, namely:

The Diocese of Central Melanesia. The Bishopric is currently vacant.

The Diocese of Central Solomons. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Charles Koete.

The Diocese of Temotu. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. David Vunagi.

The Diocese of Malaita. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Canon Sam Sahu, the assistant bishop is the Rt. Rev. Alfred Hou.

The Diocese of Ysabel. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Richard Naramana.

The Diocese of Banks and Torres. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Nathan Tome.

The Diocese of Vanuatu. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. James Ligo.

The Diocese of Hanuato'o. The Bishop is the Rt. Rev. Alfred Karibongi.

Priests and Parishes

Each diocese except for Central Melanesia (the Honiaramarker area) is divided into regions, each headed by a senior priest. The regions are further subdivided into parishes or districts (the two words being interchangeable), headed by a parish priest, usually called a rector. Parishes may be subdivided into sub-parishes, headed by assistant priest. Catechists are lay people appointed by a local community and authorised by the bishop to take services and look after the spiritual life of a village.

Worship and liturgy

The Church of Melanesia embraces three orders of ministry: deacon, priest, and bishop. A local variant of the Book of Common Prayer is used, called A Melanesian English Prayer Book. Its predecessor in local liturgical development was A Book of Common Prayer Authorised for Use in Churches and Chapels in the Diocese of Melanesia, first published in 1938.

Doctrine and practice

See also: Anglicanism and Anglican doctrine

The centre of the Church of Melanesia's teaching is the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The basic teachings of the church are summed up in the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed.

The focus of the Church's worship is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, sometimes called 'the Mass', more usually 'Communion' or 'Communion service.' This is celebrate weekly wherever there is a priest and in some communities it is celebrated daily, except for Saturdays.

Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are offered in most churches and congregations daily, and Evening Prayer, "Evensong", is often sung (except for the Psalms) on Sundays and feasts.

Feast days are celebrated by most communities with great rejoicing on a Sunday near the feast day, or at least in the same month.

The Church in its canons accepts and teaches the seven sacraments of the Church, Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.

Ecumenical relations

Like other Anglican churches, the Church of Melanesia is a member of the ecumenical World Council of Churches, and is a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches, the Solomon Islands Christian Council, and the Vanuatu Council of Churches.

The Mothers' Union is quite active, as are the four religious communities active in the province, the Melanesian Brotherhood, the Society of Saint Francis, the Community of the Sisters of the Church, and the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia. The province has its own liturgical customs and a Calendar of saints.


Further reading

Anglicanism, Neill, Stephen. Harmondsworth, 1965.

External links

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