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The strange story of Bishop Ambo

Ambo_George Most of us who served in Port Moresby in the sixties and seventies would remember George Ambo, the bright and personable clergyman from the Northern District who never shied from admitting that his grandfather was a warrior who practised cannibalism.

With his brother, he was ordained a priest in 1958, two years later becoming the first Papuan bishop and a knight. In 1983, Sir George Ambo was appointed the first indigenous bishop of the South Pacific.

George retired in 1989 but, in a startling sequel to his distinguished clerical career, he was later excommunicated from the Church after shacking up with former Anglican mother superior, Sister Cora, and setting up a cargo cult.

The two of them founded the Puwo Gawe [‘come see’] Ministry after Cora claimed she saw spirits of dead relatives returning to their land with large quantities of goods. She believed a new better world was coming where inequality, suffering, and death would stop.

But now all is forgiven. “Ambo was a great man whose intentions were always to help," the Bishop of Popondota, Joseph Kopapa, has said. “He wanted to help Anglicans who had drifted away from the Church.”

George Ambo died in July last year aged 85, reconciled to his Creator and the Church and having apologised for his cargo cult involvement. “His name was cleared of any taints at the reconciliation process," said Bishop Kopapa.

Source: ‘Anglicans forgive PNG cargo cult leader’ by Ilya Gridneff, AAP, 30 January 2009


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Timothy Williams

George Ambo did not shack up with his niece Cora. He was with his wife when he died. This is scurrilous.

His and Cora's problem was their respective loss of power.

For Bishop Ambo, when he ceased to be Archbishop [on reaching the retirement age], but in his mind being forced out.

And, in the case of Sister Cora, when she was voted out from being the head of the Sisters of the Visitation. Both engaged in a guerrilla war against their successors.

The cargo cult aspect along with the Black Jesus movement was a later development - seen by the cultists to be proved when the cargo did start to arrive after cyclone Guba.

An interesting continuing competition is that of the graves of Bishop David Hand and Bishop George Ambo beside the cathedral in Popondetta - Bishop George having died later and being a of the area having the more lavish - and last time I saw being adorned with a perpetual flame.

Betty Sagigi

Bishop Ambo may have ordained Father Gayai Hankin of Thursday Island, Australia, as he was known in 1969.

Father Hankin later became a Bishop of the Diocese of the Independent Christian Church in Torres Strait and Kaiwalagal, Australia (United Anglican Communion) Incorporated.

Bishop Hankin passed away on 8 December 2010 and information is required on his ministry in Papua New Guinea in the 1960's under the leadership of Bishop Ambo.

- Betty Sagigi, Diocesan Registrar, ICCTS&K, A (UAC) Inc

Diane Bohlen

Sure is strange. Nearly as weird as the sacking of Father Kennedy of St Mary's in Brisbane.

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