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The M.V. Southern Cross
Richard Toke
Photo No. : P050324-4
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Archbishop Pogo in the Wheel Room
Richard Toke
Photo No. : P050324-5
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Crew and officers of the Southern Cross
Richard Toke
Photo No. : P050324-6
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Archbishop Dedicates Renovated Provincial Flagship
March 24, 2005

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] The Archbishop of Melanesia, the Most Rev'd Sir Ellison Pogo, re-dedicated and blessed the Province’s flagship in Honiara in the Solomon Islands on March 23, 2005. This is the address he delivered.

SPEECH by Archbishop Ellison Pogo during the Re-Dedication of the Church of Melanesia’s Flagship, the M.V. Southern Cross.

We gather this morning to offer thanks to God for the ministry and mission, the staff and crew, of the Motor Vessel, the Southern Cross, the 9th.

This 9th Southern Cross was built in Ballina, Australia in 1962 at the request of the then Bishop of the Diocese of Melanesia, the Right Reverend Alfred Thomas Hill.

Even by the mid-1950’s, it was felt that the old Southern Cross needed to be replaced, and the mission and ministry of the Church required a smaller, speedier ship that would have lower running costs. The ship they built in 1962 has served the Church far longer than any previous Southern Cross. From 1962, this very ship we re-dedicate to day has run tens of thousands of miles, and carried untold tons of cargo, and innumerable people, back and forth from the British Solomon Islands to the New Hebrides, to the independent nations of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

For generations, this was the ship that carried people into the new worlds opened up by the Holy Spirit to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for countless men and women of faith, this ship was the sun that dawned on different cultures; Southern Crossbrought people to new experiences; Southern Cross has made lifelong friendships and marriages, facilitated peace and hope, projects and dreams, and not forgetting messages of tragedy carried on board as well as news of joy.

This Southern Cross which we re-dedicate today is a powerful symbol of the Gospel as lived and preached by the Church of Melanesia. The flagship of the Church, a ship named after a constellation unique to the southern hemisphere, is built not for business but for sharing the Good News of Christ. Our ancestors welcomed the Southern Cross even as they feared the slave ships forcing them to a life of labour. They welcomed the Southern Cross bringing teachers and medicines, priests and proof that they were not alone, but united with the whole church catholic throughout time and space with the celebrations of the sacraments of our redemption, and carrying the Gospels and liturgy in the languages people could understand.

Today we re-dedicate this Southern Cross to the service of the Gospel, this completely refurbished ship, every plank, every screw and bolt has been replaced and renewed. We pray that the Church as a whole may follow from this example, and seek to be made new.

Today we thank especially Drummond Ama, Still West Longden, and David Mapuru, and those memorable people who provide needed help in to the Mission ship, Dudley Solistino and Gotu, for materials, and Jonah Mitau and Jimmy Oto, Brown Dalo, and mention must be made to the members of the Mothers’ Union at Taroniara, for looking after the workers with food and support.

From 2002 the staff at Taroniara has made the visions and dreams of the church come true in the refurbishing, replacing and renewing of this ship. They have laboured hard for the last 35 months. They began the renovations of the Southern Cross on the 40th anniversary of the commissioning of this ship from Australia in 1962.

The world is a different place since the 1960’s ecological concerns are for us in the new millennium of paramount importance. That is why this new and renovated Southern Cross comes with all the latest technological conveniences and marvels, not the least this ship now boasts environmentally friendly solar energy, as part of our awareness of the international Kyoto protocols on the environment, and the safety and security of GPS.

Not only has there been a major refit, but the services she will be able to render are greatly improved and enhanced. For example, from 10 passengers in bunks, the berth capacity has more tripled to 32 spaced for passengers to recline in comfort.

This year 2005, is the 150th anniversary of the Commissioning of the first Southern Cross by Bishop Selwyn.

May we who here today re-dedicate this flagship of the Church of Melanesia, be ourselves re-dedicated and renewed in our commitment to the true mission of the Church, that is to sharing the reconciling love of God in Jesus Christ, reconciling the world to himself, and having on our feet the readiness to spread the Gospel of Peace.