Anglican Church of Melanesia elects new archbishop

The Anglican Church of Melanesia has a new archbishop. He is the Rt Rev David Vunagi who is currently the bishop of the Diocese of Temotu in Solomon Islands.

Bishop Vunagi was elected to the highest Episcopal position within the Anglican Church by the Provincial electoral board on the afternoon of March 4th at Tetete Ni Kolivuti; headquarters of the Sisters of the Church east of Honiara.

The new archbishop will become the fifth in succession since Melanesia was inaugurated in January 1975 as an independent ecclesiastical province from New Zealand.

The archbishops since then were the late John Chisholm, the late Norman Kitchener Palmer, Amos Waiaru, and Sir Ellison Pogo.

The Province of Melanesia covers three independent nations of Solomon Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu and the French Trust Territory of New Caledonia.

Its Provincial Headquarters is in Honiara with a Provincial Administration Office at Luganville on Santo in Vanuatu. It has six dioceses in Solomon Islands and two in Vanuatu.

Bishop Vunagi who has served in the Episcopal ministry in the last eight years in the Diocese of Temotu will be enthroned as the fifth Archbishop of Melanesia on May 31, 2009 in Honiara.

Prior to serving in the Church as a Clergy, and then as a bishop, he was a teacher by profession teaching at the government school at KGVI and the Anglican Church of Melanesia school Selwyn College.

Bishop Vunagi from Samasodu in Ysabel Province was educated at KG VI Secondary School from 1968 to 1973. He obtained a Diploma of Education in Science from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji in 1976, and later a Bachelor of Education in Biology from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1982.

In his theological training, the archbishop-elect obtained Bachelor of Theology from St. John’s College in Auckland, New Zealand in 1990.

In 1992, he taught at the Bishop Patteson Theological College Kohimarama in Solomon Islands.

From 1996 to 1998, Bishop David Vunagi, served as Assistant Priest at St. Anselm’s Parish in the Diocese of New Westminster, British Columbia in Canada. He obtained a Master of Theology from the Vancouver School of Theology in 1998.

On his return to Solomon Islands he served in the Diocese of Ysabel as Senior Priest and Parish Priest at Lawe region.

In 1999 he returned to teach at Selwyn College where he held the position of a Principal before he became the Mission Secretary at the Provincial headquarters of the Church in 2000. He was elected the same year as Bishop of the Diocese of Temotu.

Bishop Vunagi is married to Mary, daughter of late Bishop Dudley Tuti of Ysabel. They have three children, Duddley, Rusila and Douglas.

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