Archbishop of Melanesia

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The Archbishop of Melanesia is the spiritual head of the Church of the Province of Melanesia, which is a province of the Anglican Communion in the South Pacific region, covering the nations of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. From 1861 until the inauguration of Church of the Province of Melanesia in 1975, the Bishop of Melanesia was the head of the Diocese of Melanesia.

Responsibility of the Archbishop[edit]

The Church of Melanesia consists of eight dioceses, formed into a single province. The Archbishop of Melanesia is therefore:

  • Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Central Melanesia;
  • Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province;
  • Primate of the Melanesian Church, and its representative to the Anglican Primates' meeting.

History of the See[edit]

The first Bishop of Melanesia was John Patteson, consecrated in 1861. Three years later his church suffered its first two martyrdoms, and the Bishop was himself martyred in September 1871. He is now remembered in the calendar (list of saints) of many Anglican provinces. The mission to Melanesia advanced, and the diocese was subdivided and regional diocesan bishops created, until in 1975 it was officially formed into a new Province of the Anglican church[1] with the Bishop of Melanesia, John Chisholm, becoming the first Bishop of Central Melanesia and Archbishop of Melanesia. With the 1975 foundation of the province, the Diocese of Melanesia was split in four: the Dioceses of Malaita, of Vanuatu and of Ysabel were erected and the remainder became the Central Melanesia diocese.[2]

The primatial archbishop title belongs ex officio to the diocesan bishop of that metropolitan see – as such, the bishop elected as Archbishop leaves his previous see and is translated to Central Melanesia in order to become primate. Chisholm died shortly after appointment and the then dean of St. Barnabas Cathedral, Norman Palmer, was chosen the second archbishop. After Palmer's retirement, the third archbishop was Amos Waiaru, who served until Ellison Pogo replaced him in the office where he served for fourteen years from 1994 to December 2008. He was honored by Elizabeth II, Queen of Solomon Islands – becoming a Knight of the Order of the British Empire[N 1] – and by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury – being awarded the rare medal of the Order of St Augustine.

List of bishops[edit]

Bishops of Melanesia
From Until Incumbent Notes
1861 1871 John Patteson Martyred in office.
1877 1892 John Selwyn Invalided back to the United Kingdom.
1894 1911 Cecil Wilson Translated to Bunbury, Australia.
1912 1919 Cecil Wood Returned to the United Kingdom.
1919 1928 John Steward Returned to the United Kingdom.
1928 1931 Frederick Molyneux Assistant bishop in Melanesia since 1924; resigned following a mental breakdown.
1931 1937 John Dickinson, Assistant Bishop of Melanesia Assistant bishop only;[3] returned to the United Kingdom.
1932 1947 Walter Baddeley Translated to Whitby and later Blackburn.
1948 1958 Sydney Caulton
1958 1967 Alfred Hill
1968 1975 John Chisholm Previously auxiliary bishop in New Guinea; became Archbishop of Melanesia in 1975.
Archbishops of Melanesia
1975 1975 John Chisholm Died in office.
1975 1987 Norman Palmer
1988 1993 Amos Waiaru Translated from Temotu.
1994 2008 Ellison Pogo[N 1] Translated from Ysabel; knighted in 2000.
2009 2015 David Vunagi Translated from Temotu.
17 April 2016 present George Takeli Translated from Temotu.
assistant bishops
1963 1975 Duddley Tuti Assistant for the Ysabel region; became first Bishop of Ysabel.
1963 1975 Leonard Alufurai Assistant for the Malaita region; consecrated 30 November 1963;[4] became first Bishop of Malaita.
1974 1975 Derek Rawcliffe Assistant for the New Hebrides; became first Bishop of Vanuatu.

Recent elections[edit]

The college of electors, who choose the new primate during a vacancy, last met from 3–5 March 2009, to carry out their electoral duties following Pogo's retirement.[5] They elected David Vunagi, Bishop of Temotu, as the new Archbishop of Melanesia. He was therefore translated to the Diocese of Central Melanesia and became the Archbishop of Melanesia ex officio. He was enthroned on the Feast of Pentecost, 31 May 2009. He left office on 6 September 2015, being replaced as acting Primate by Nathan Tome. On 12 February 2016, George Takeli was elected to become the new Archbishop of Melanesia. He was enthroned on 17 April 2016 at Saint Barnabas' Provincial Cathedral, Honiara.[6]


  1. ^ a b It appears that, despite the tradition that knighted clergy do not use the title "Sir", Pogo is commonly referred to as Sir Ellison.