THIS update intends to be honest about what is going on with the John Coleridge Patteson University project. In the church’s search to strengthen the education legacy in the move to setup the university, hard and tough thinking must be taken on board. Seven years without a tangible result caused by the lack of financial commitment by the church mustn’t be allowed to go on in the next seven years. It doesn’t mean we’ve been laidback doing nothing. The reality is that, the Task Force Committee appointed by the General Synod to do the planning and mapping the course of the project were vigorously exhausting all avenues to setup the university in the last seven years, but without funds to make initial constructions to put up infrastructures on the land acquired from the landowners.
In recent times, the landowners were reluctant to give away completely ownership of the land even when the church has bought and is now taken ownership of the land. Thanks to the Diocesan Bishop of Guadalcanal the Rt. Rev’d Nathan Tome for spearheading the intention to resume talks with the landowners. In his report to the TFC Bp. Nathan has revealed that, the landowners are willing to restart the talk with the church. That talk is yet to take place.
The issue about land is a contentious issue. The landowners and the Anglican Church of Melanesia are yet to meet at some stage to sort out the issue. However, a common understanding to be reached between the parties has some underlined issues for both parties to resolve. To deal with these issues, the landowners must resolve their internal disagreements and if need be thoroughly negotiate among themselves through their Land Trustees, should they have new demands with the church. Importantly, to recognize the process the church has taken to return the land from the government to the point the church in turn had to acquire the land from the landowners. These are legal, time consuming and difficult processes ACOM on behalf of the landowners has committed her-self to, and is therefore appeals to the landowners for their understanding over the issue.
There is also the need to respect the initial mutual talk and understanding in as far as Anglicans are concerned. It was the landowners who initiated the offer for the church when they heard the church was looking for a place to relocate Kohimarama. The ACOM bishops and delegates of BPTC Board of Governors then went on an initial trip to the current site based on the offer by the Anglican landowners. At the first sight, everyone agreed as they saw the location was as ideal for a grand development. To this end, the need to speak as Christians in search of building the Kingdom of God among us should also be considered.
Pressure is also on the church on the issue. Since we have come in the last seven years with no funds set aside for this huge project, its time ACOM set aside funds for JCPU project in its capital project funding. Better still start investment in all vacant lands. The General Synod is coming up. Therefore, let’s use it to do God talk about many unfinished business facing the church. As for the office of the Coordinator I am hoping in the words of Jesus. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. With such divine assurance I am hoping for positive and mysterious things to come our way. I believe this, because Tertiary education is a tiny undertaking for God. Let us not be afraid of it. God is so pleased and is willing to step in, if only we dispose ourselves into his pleasure and not in our own disbelief and disappointments.