Chancellor, Chapter and Priory Members, Regional Trust Board Chairman, Dr Steve Evans; Reverend Joe Stack, postulants, guests, fellow members of St John Central Region; Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a pleasure for my wife Susan and I to be with you this evening and weekend for this important and memorable occasion.
It is now more than 900 years since the Order of St John began in the times of the First Crusade when a Christian Hospital was established in Jerusalem to care for the sick and poor, irrespective of race or creed.
That historic connection remains strong to this day and this dinner for instance, continues a tradition of members meeting for fellowship in the night before an investiture. It is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on the commitment that tomorrow’s investiture brings in regard to care of the sick and poor, obedience to the tenets of the Order and being women and men of honour.
St John is described as an ancient Christian confraternity of fellowship which is a group of people bound by a set of rules to provide care for the sick and poor.
Since it began in medieval times, St John has been through periods of triumph and tragedy and the men and woman who serve the order have always found strength and fortitude sufficient to carry by calling on their faith, on each other, and on their fellow members.
That strength was evident in the aftermath of the earthquake that shook Canterbury just 77 days ago in the early hours of 4 September. The St John response and the role played by St John at the welfare centres was a credit to all members and a striking example of the integral part that we play in New Zealand life.
The regard for St John was expressed in many ways - from admiration from the Mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, to the anonymous teenage young women who, two days after the earthquake, dropped off freshly baked muffins at the St John Ambulance Station in St Asaph Street just because they thought they might be needed.
A key objective for St John in New Zealand is to establish an Order Community – that is, members of the Order meeting and working collegially. Order members are bound together by rules, but also bound by the unique way the organisation cares for all New Zealanders.
This evening’s function provides the senior leadership of St John and our postulants with an opportunity to meet and become acquainted with one another, and more importantly for our postulants to begin the process of better understanding of St John and its governance structures, and of roles and responsibilities in the various parts of the organisation. From our postulants will come some of the future leaders of this organisation.
The need for everyone to work together for the good of St John and the communities we serve remains as strong as ever.
To all postulants may I offer congratulations and best wishes as you begin a new journey in the Order of St John.
To the organisers of this dinner and the Investiture tomorrow, thank you for your care and attention to detail in making this a very special weekend.
Kia ora kia kaha tēnā koutou katoa