The Archbishop of the Church of Melanesia, Sir Ellison Pogo, has formally retired from his service to church and the country in partnership with the government.

In front of a packed audience at the St. Barnabas Cathedral Sunday, Sir Ellison formally laid down his Primate cross and Episcopal staff on the altar.

Sir Ellison's retirement, having served the Anglican community for 14 years, falls on his 61st birthday.

Speaking at the Liturgical service to farewell Sir Ellison, the Prime Minister, Dr. Derek Sikua, said the government is grateful for the retiring Archbishop, Sir Ellison's contribution in Education, Health and Ecumenical through his leadership.

"You have left a legacy of spiritual and trust worthy leadership full of respect," the Prime Minister stated.

He acknowledged Sir Ellison's leadership under trying times "which was evident during the darkest hour our country had faced".

"... the people and government of Solomon Islands will always be grateful for the role of the C.O.M church through Sir Pogo's leadership," Prime Minister Dr. Sikua stated.

The Prime Minister added that the government and the church are inseparable and "... what concerns the church is also concern to the government".

Dr. Sikua acknowledged a recent visit by the retiring Archbishop, Sir Ellison, giving him advice on his leadership which, he added, is truly treasured.

Prime Minister Dr. Sikua assured that his government will work closely with the next
successor of Sir Ellison.

Other speakers who spoke yesterday described Sir Ellison as a good shepherd for people in the Anglican Church.

Sir Ellison was also appreciated for promoting human respect among Christian friends and denominations and for his great leadership in recognizing gender equality.

Among many appreciations given, Sir Ellison was described as a good ambassador in the C.O.M church, a peace maker, a man of discipline, a very honest and generous man and a beacon of hope.

In response, Sir Ellison said that what he learned throughout his leadership is friendship and humbleness.

He acknowledged the support of the people of the C.O.M church, stating that without them, he can't achieve or solve anything.

"It's a pride for all of us together that we all made things possible."

"During my years of service, I was very pleased with the work I have done and wish my successor all the best," Sir Ellison said.

Sir Ellison was the first Melanesian Archbishop in the C.O.M church, elected as Archbishop on the 7th of April 1994.

Among leaders in the Government and other dignitaries from in and around Honiara and his friends overseas who attended the service are Speaker of Parliament Sir Peter Kenilorea, Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer, Roman Catholic Archbishop Adrian Smith,
Solomon Islands Christian Association (SICA) outgoing Chairman Rev Eric Takila, Parliament members and members of the diplomatic corps.