Feast of Ini Kopuria (June 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Melanesia, 1870

Image in the Public Domain

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INI KOPURIA (CIRCA 1900-JUNE 6, 1945)

Founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood 

His feast transferred from June 6

Ini Kopuria comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via several provinces of the Anglican Communion.  He is a saint in The Church of England; The Episcopal Church (side calendar); The Anglican Church of Melanesia; and The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia.

Kopuria, born on the island of Guadealcanal, Solomon Islands, circa 1900, owed a spiritual debt to Bishop John Coleridge Patteson (1827-1871), founder of St. Barnabas’s School, Norfolk Island.  Patteson founded that school to train young men, to equip them to evangelize on their home islands.  Kopuria, a student at St. Barnabas’s School, discerned his religious vocation there.  He did not return to Guadalcanal immediately, though.  Kopuria joined the Native Armed Constabulary instead.  He did his job well, won respect, and manifested wisdom.

Our saint had an epiphany in 1924.  He was recovering from an injury when he realized he had to leave the police force and serve Christ alone.  Only then would Kopuria find fulfillment, he understood.  After consulting with John Manwaring Steward, the Anglican Bishop of Melanesia, our saint founded and became the first Elder Brother of the Melanesian Brotherhood (Ira Retasasiu).  The Brotherhood spread the Gospel throughout Melanesia.  In 1927, Kopuria refused an offer to return to the Native Armed Constabulary and help to quell unrest on Mala island.  Our saint explained,

It would be bad if I were to go there with a rifle; I may want to return one day with the Gospel.

Kopuria left the Melanesian Brotherhood and married in 1940.  He settled down with his wife and served as a deacon in a village for the rest of his days.  Our saint died on June 6, 1945.

The Melanesian Brotherhood has continued to spread the Gospel and to work for peace.  In 2003, seven Melanesian Brothers joined the ranks of the Martyrs of Melanesia during unrest.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Loving God, we bless your Name for the witness of Ini Kopuria,

police officer and founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood,

whose members saved many American pilots during a time of war,

and who continue to minister courageously to the islanders of Melanesia.

Open our eyes that we, with these Anglican brothers,

may establish peace and hope in service to others, for the sake of Jesus Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Zechariah 1:7-11

Psalm 31:19-24

Revelation 14:13-16

Matthew 8:5-13

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 411

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Loving God, we bless your Name for the witness of Ini Kopuria,

founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood:

Open our eyes that we, with these Anglican brothers,

may establish peace and hope in service to others;

for the sake of Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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God of all tribes, islands, and nations,

you called your servant, Ini Kopuria,

to take the light of Christ to those who lived in darkness:

inspire our hearts with the same love of you,

so that we may become faithful messengers of your gospel,

and in word and action share the good news of salvation with all people;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

or

Jesus, you called your followers friends;

blessed are you in Ini Kopuria,

who worked in a spirit of true brotherhood among his people.

Bind us together as one family, and our work will not be in vain.  Amen.

Isaiah 51:4-8

Psalms 97 and 135:13-21

Titus 2:11-15

Luke 10:1-9

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia

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