Covid protection from 3rd December 2021

The last week of November was busy and sometimes fraught, with urgent church council meetings. This issue is first about protecting us all and our value of promoting good community comes into play.

Methodist churches are obliged to follow the line of gatherings monitored by vaccine passes – see advice. I believe this means that uniting congregations with a Methodist partner will also adopt these procedures. If churches choose to debate the morality and the legality further, there are very useful links embedded in PCANZ advice. And, if you need to talk it though with a Partner, you are urged to contact  healthandsafety@methodist.org.nz (Trudy Downes), your Presbytery Executive Officer/Secretary, or you Diocesan Bishop as appropriate.

The government’s own tailored advice for churches can be accessed here. Anglican Dioceses are promulgating separate policies – but in principle they consider vaccine-pass services as normative, while seeking to include those without vaccine passes virtually or in other spaces. In all of this, children under 12 years 3 months are currently exempt from the need to show a pass, of course.

Half-time ministerial vacancy at Te Aroha Co-operating

Te Aroha Cooperating Parish (Presbyterian/Methodist), is seeking an ordained minister to become part of the ministry leadership team on a half time basis.

Responsibilities would include preaching, visiting, taking communion to shut ins and generally providing leadership for the parish; involvement with an active Ministers’ Association (The Minister’s Association organises combined services five times a year including an annual Good Friday March and an Advent Service in the Domain); and taking an interest in the activities of the Community Trust which operates from St David’s.

There are two worship centres, Te Aroha and Waitoa.   A Deacon focuses on ministry in the Waitoa area and is involved in the activities of the Ministers’ Association.

We are mainly an older congregation who are active, welcoming and community focussed, always looking for new ways to serve Jesus Christ.   Mission Statement:  We worship God, follow Jesus and serve our community.   Trust activities are supported by church members and include a weekly Music and Movement group, a weekly Care & Craft group, a weekly Community Lunch, a fortnightly shopping bus service, and an annual Day camp during the October school holidays. A Toy Library also operates from our premises under the umbrella of the Trust.

The parish has a team of competent and experienced lay preachers who lead worship services, including taking a turn on the rosters at the two rest homes.   There is also a team of experienced and faithful people who manage the parish and contribute to spiritual and practical activities.   An office administrator is employed for 8 hours a week.

Remuneration, hours and tenure for this position will be by negotiation. The way in which the 50% time is worked is negotiable to suit the applicant.   A church house is available (could be partly furnished) and is up to standard.  The position is available at the end of March 2022.

Expressions of interest are to be sent by email to Parish Council member, Tom Luxton, tomraewynluxton@gmail.com

Biennial Forum highlights

Attendees at the April 2021 UCANZ Forum were treated to a variety of presentations and workshops. Material from Rev Mary Petersen and Trudy Downes has already been circulated to participants.

Rev Tony Franklin Ross gave us a valuable survey of Ecumenism from a worldwide perspective. His notes can be accessed here.

Dr Emily Colgin spoke about the possibilities – indeed the necessity – or a religious response to the ecological crisis: necessary because the origins of the crisis can be seen as religious perspectives. Here is a link to her slides.

UCANZ Forum 2021

We gathered at El Rancho, near Waikanae Beach, for the 14th UCANZ Biennial Forum: “Hear what the CVs are saying to the Churches”. We gathered with April rainclouds, and departed with sunshine and joy!

We were 65 people from 35 parishes: although less than one third of the Uniting Congregations, yet a good range (in the North Island, at least) of urban and rural, large and small churches, with ethnic diversity increased from previous Forums. Accommodation was good, with a holiday camp atmosphere and good spaces to meet in.

Friday night was noisy with the chatter of speed-dating, once the CV cats had been herded. After hearty porridge on the morrow, Rev Mary Petersen set the scene, recalling earliest origins in 1943 (Raglan), 1947 (Tata), and 1951 (Marchwiel – the oldest to survive), but emphasising that where we’re going is more important than where we’ve been.

Exploring the history and purpose of CVs

Hutt City Uniting Congregations (HCUC) ministers, Anna Gilkison and Les Solomona, gave some insights multi-ethnic and multi-denominational church. The challenge to be multicultural is more than having multiple ethnicities. Indeed, there are many other cultures to be aware of: generational, theological, socio-economic, LGBTI, urban/rural, and regional.

Rev Tony Franklin-Ross explored ecumenism in the wider context with a scholarly survey of Receptive ecumenism, Empathetic ecumenism (“a lifestyle, not a task”), Differentiated ecumenism (unity requires more than ‘being nice’), and Ecumenical catholicity (we can experience catholicity deficit if we do not accept each other). Are we prepared, as uniting congregations, to go beyond the boundaries we already work within?

Trudy Downes, the Care Taker of the Methodist Church, explored the scary side of compliance issues but provided some reassuring strategies – and chocolate! Theatre maker and social justice provocateur, Jo Randerson, was absent due to illness, so we had to “give voice to it” in different ways.

We elected nine local churches representatives to Standing Committee by acclamation, including three first-timers. The open floor of the business session became quite heated with different voices seeming to ask for (a) sight of the annual report from UCANZ to Partner Churches, (b) a report from Standing Committee to the Forum, and (c) a report/summary of the event we were attending.

Methodist President Andrew Doubleday, Presbyterian Moderator Fakaofo Kaio, and Jenny Chalmers (standing in for absent Anglican bishops) were in the hot seat for Question Time, tackling such questions as: What is making the denominations retreat behind the barricades? Do you believe in the viability of the Cooperative Venture? How can bureaucracy be simplified for property issues? What aspects of your denomination are unique to your particular brand?

A final presentation on Sunday morning reminded us of ecological readings of the Bible. Dr Emily Colgin explored the Principle of Interconnectedness with specific reference to Genesis 2 and Jeremiah 31. 35-37 and work with the Anglican Indigenous Network and Anglican Communion Environmental Network. Worship from HCUC brought proceedings to a ‘Uniquely Uniting’ close.

The Rubbish Challenge

PCANZ minister living in Burnham, Rev Sylvia Purdie, is inviting you and your whānau to join in a transformational journey over 10 months. Blelow is the first episode of The Rubbish Challenge. For future editions – suitable for publication in your local church newsletter – please follow Sylvia’s instructions below.

Remember – pollution is simply an output you do not use. So use it!

10 Steps to Less Waste in 10 Months

A resource for churches and whanau. Please copy and share (free copyright).

More material and videos at: www.conversations.net.nz/rubbish-challenge.html

Written by Silvia Purdie

Step 1) February: Consider

Bible verse: Ephesians 1:22 

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything.

‘Big Idea’: Mission is Gospel in Context

Christ is Lord of everything and the Gospel of Christ is good news for every-where. Mission happens at the points of connection between the eternal truth of salvation and the messy specifics of human life. In our time we face huge environmental issues. Following Jesus takes us where ever he leads, even into the rubbish dumps of the world.

Questions – for reflection & discussion

Whose problem is our rubbish? Is it a problem for God?

It’s great to throw things in the bin and someone else takes it away … but where does it go? What impact does it have on the environment? Is it our responsibility?
Is this something our church/group/home would like to address this year?

Action Steps for February

1. Download the ‘Waste’ study guide from A Rocha’s ‘Rich Living’ series:

www.arocha.org.nz/resources/rich-living-series

2. Read and talk about with others

3. Watch Silvia’s short video at: www.conversations.net.nz/rubbish-challenge.html

4. Decide to do the Rubbish Challenge 10 Steps this year.

For a church this could involve taking a formal proposal to the leadership/Council.

Prayer

Almighty Creator, all things come from you. You call us to be responsible stewards.

Jesus Christ, you are in all the world. You call us into mission to all the world.

Life-giving Spirit, give us strength to follow Christ, in the little things and in the big things.

Amen.

2021 Forum at Waikanae – El Rancho

We all hope that next year will be easier for churches – indeed for all citizens. Some ways of working will clearly be different. UCANZ Biennial Forum has been brought forward so as not to clash with Presbyterian and Methodist national gatherings later in the year.

The Forum will be residential (2 nights), starting on Friday afternoon, 16 April, and concluding, before lunch on Sunday 18 April. We have an impressive line-up of facilitators ready to help us speak our concerns to the Partner Church heads present. Ecumenical-minded ministers Mary Petersen, Anna Gilkison, Les Solomona, Tony Franklin-Ross, and Marilyn Welch, together with Jo Randerson, Trudy Downes, and Dr Emily Colgin will stimulate our thinking and doing.

Take advantage of an Early Bird price of $220pp, which includes accommodation and food and events, by completing the registration form here.

A Call for Action after Covid-19

Quakers officially known as the Religious Society of Friends, Te Hāhi Tūhauwiri, have applied to join the national ecumenical club, the National Dialogue for Christian Unity. This is their recently released Call for Action…

We Quakers find hope in the communal response to the Covid-19 crisis across our nation.  The collective action of New Zealanders has demonstrated how much we can achieve together in a short time. We see the current pandemic as a warning which creates an unprecedented opportunity for systemic change and as a call to remodel our nation guided by the principles of sustainability, non-violence, simplicity and equity.  This is a transformation that will require redistributive and regenerative economic, government and social policies that ensure all members of society benefit in an equitable manner. 
 
Our vision is of a society that is inclusive and respectful of all people. We affirm the special constitutional position of Māori and a Treaty-based, bi-lateral system of government. We seek government which leads with integrity, shares information based on evidence, and engages with communities prior to decision-making.  We oppose violence at every level and look to practices that bring peaceful dialogue and non-violent management of conflict.
 
Quakers have a strong sense of the sanctity of creation. We are committed to the development of systems and new societal norms to rebalance climate disruption, preserve biodiversity and water quality and enable New Zealanders to live simpler lives within sustainable natural boundaries.  We support the use of national resources to provide housing, low-carbon transport, and regenerative food production to benefit future generations.
 
We see that society has been putting profit and consumption above other considerations despite clear evidence that earth’s natural limits have been exceeded.  Consumer lifestyles have been destroying the natural ecosystems required by future generations.  Decades of neoliberal economic and social policies have allowed a few people to set the agenda and benefit disproportionately. This has condemned many to low wages, poverty and insecurity whilst also degrading the environment.
 
Quakers consider that the current pandemic offers the people of Aotearoa New Zealand a chance to reassess the situation and to create a new sense of community and purpose. The Light of the Spirit has inspired Quakers through the generations into social and environmental action.  We see this experience with Covid-19 as the impetus to find a way forward based firmly on the Quaker values of peace, simplicity, and equity
 
Quakers call on every person in Aotearoa New Zealand to bring about whatever changes they can to enable us to live in harmony with one another and with the planet.
 
 
Lesley Young
Yearly Meeting Clerk

Old religious quarrels return as covid-19 lockdowns ease

A current article in The Economist poses the question of what kind of churches we are…

“…imagine two camps that are defined by what they fear and dislike most. In one are religious groups whose strongest impulse is to improve the material lot of humanity, by fighting poverty or pollution. They are open to working with secular agencies, including governments and supra-national bodies, where they can be a force for the common good. In the other camp, faith communities believe the main challenge is secularism, the watering-down of old certainties, the threat posed by new thinking about sex and gender—all perceived evils deemed to be perpetrated by liberal elites and secular government authorities…

“To a degree the divide splits Europe and America, in part because of their differing collective memories. Americans abhor state-imposed religious orthodoxy, whereas Europeans have a theocratic tradition whose current form is emollient. The humanitarian camp is much stronger in Europe, at least among established Christian hierarchies…

“And even Scandinavian social democracy, on the face of things a godless creed, has clear historic roots in the region’s Lutheran tradition which emphasises good citizenship, says Nick Spencer of Theos, a London think-tank. For pious traditionalists, that Nordic example is a warning, not an inspiration: wherever religion merges with social welfare, they would retort, it virtually ceases to exist.”

What about New Zealand churches, and where are you?

For full article see link.