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Anglican Communion’s most senior bishop dies: CEN 2.19.10 p 7. March 1, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.

The Dean of Suva invites mourners to file past the coffin of Archbishop Bryce

The senior serving bishop in the Anglican Communion has died. Archbishop Jabez Bryce of Polynesia died on Feb 11 at the Suva Private Hospital in Fiji after a long illness. He was 75.

The first Pacific Islander elected as Bishop of Polynesia, Archbishop Bryce was consecrated in 1975, and in 2006 was elected co-primate of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Born in Tonga of mixed Scottish-Samoan-Tongan parentage, Jabez Leslie Bryce was reared in Samoa, and trained for the ministry in New Zealand. Ordained in 1962, he served the diocese in Fiji throughout his ordained ministry.

Active in the wider councils of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Bryce was a member of the Pacific Council of Churches and past president of the World Council of Churches. He also took an active role in Pacific affairs, leading protests against French nuclear testing in the 1970’s while in 2008 he led the coronation ceremonies for the new King of Tonga, George Tupou V.

Archbishop Jabez oversaw the expansion of the diocese across the Pacific island nations of Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji as well as chaplaincies for Pacific islanders in New Zealand. In 2005 he appointed three suffragan bishops to reflect the diocese’s ethnic diversity—consecrating an indigenous Fijian, an Indo-Fijian, and a Tongan.

Under Archbishop Bryce’s tutelage “the Diocese of Polynesia has grown in a hundred ways – in its sense of identity, its ethnic diversity and in its ‘Pacificness’,” Archbishop David Moxon of New Zealand said.

Maori Archbishop Brown Turei called the late archbishop a “prince of the church: a man who was dignified, kindly, who liked things done decently and in order, because that reflected what the church meant to him.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams told CEN, “Archbishop Jabez was a leader and pastor of exceptional stature, a warm and wise man. I had the privilege working with him in some of the planning processes for the 1998 Lambeth Conference and learned to respect his judgment greatly. He is a sad loss to the province and the Communion.”

The late archbishop will be interred on Feb 18 at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Suva, Fiji.

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