Spring 2010 // No.34
Angels of E-Town Planting hope on Taranaki’s wild side SCRIPTURE
Hui on sexuality Fleshing out the texts that divide POLITICS
Tour of duty What was Katharine Schori’s real agenda? V O C AT I O N
Holy pursuits Forming priests who dare to be… JUSTICE
It’s criminal! Our jails feed fires of vengeance PA S T I M E S
Steam driven Clergy with a passion for railways Winston says the kids are all right in Pasefika
S P RING
2010 Page 1
Anglican Taonga SPRING 2010
Regular 23 Environment: let’s have your eco-tips, please 28 The Bible: Peter Carrell, Howard Pilgrim and Tim Meadowcroft 35 Liturgy: Bosco Peters gets a lift from atheist billboards 38 Young adults: How can we help them keep the faith? 40 Youth: Sign up for the Anglican Supergroup at Parachute 41 DVDs: star-crossed lovers, apartheid, and a big kid in fantasy land 44 Books: John Bluck’s autobiography, ‘Hidden Country’ 47 From the Far Side: Imogen de la Bere finds joy in the midst of decline Anglican Taonga is published by the Commission on Communications and distributed to all ministry units and agencies of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia - Te Hahi Mihinare ki Aotearoa ki Niu Tireni ki nga Moutere o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa. Editor Brian Thomas 214 Ilam Road Christchurch 8041 Ph 03 351-4404 firstname.lastname@example.org
The kids are all right in Pasefika
What actually makes a good priest?
Taranaki breeds a team of champions
We face at least four years of stagnation
Graham Cray’s insights into Fresh Expressions
Same old tensions surround sexuality
No quick FX
Tour of duty
Design Marcus Thomas Ph 04 389-6964 email@example.com
What was Katharine Schori’s real agenda?
Distribution Chris Church Ph 03 351-4404 firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising Brian Watkins Ph 06 875-8488 Mob 021 072-9892 Fax 09 353-1418 email@example.com Media Officer Lloyd Ashton Ph 09 521-4439 021 348-470 firstname.lastname@example.org Cover pic by Lloyd Ashton.
Behind the collar
Prison policy is a blight on the nation
Jacqui Sturm: a pioneer in Maori writing
Clergy who get fired up by railways
Julanne Clarke-Morris is joining Anglican Taonga as Associate Editor. Julanne was Media Officer for this church before going to work in Geneva with her husband, Michael Wallace. They are now back in Dunedin where Michael is Vicar of All Saints. Julanne is committed to the three-tikanga church, has a theological degree from Otago, and is a professional photographer. In Geneva she has been writing and publishing for the World Student Federation.
For the latest on the Anglican world, check out our website: www.anglicantaonga.org.nz
P as E f i k a
Our new Primacy: Archbishop Winston Halapua, flanked by Archbishops David Moxon and Brown Turei.
hose three simple words were the headline of the Fiji Times editorial on February 22 this year – and they summed up the paper’s estimation of Archbishop Jabez Bryce (right), whose funeral had taken place four days earlier. It described him as “humble, yet forward-looking leader” who was one of the most senior and respected clerics in the region. “His stature as a person, his seniority as a church leader and status as an elder regional statesman” was why he had been chosen to crown the new Tongan king in 2008. The editorial noted that there aren’t many Anglicans in Fiji. Nonetheless, the Anglican Church “is one of two Christian denominations (in Fiji) in which people of all races and colours worship together and are not divided into communal groups in order to praise God.”
Archbishop Bryce “was a man of deep prayer and humility” who had promoted equality between ethnic groups, promoted women priests and built bridges between churches. “We would all do well,” the writer said, “to attempt to follow in the footsteps of Archbishop Jabez Leslie Bryce.” To read longer tributes to Archbishop Jabez, go to: http://www. anglicantaonga.org.nz/ News/Tikanga-Pasifika
P as E f i k a
Bishop Winston strikes the Great West Doors of Suvaâ€™s Holy Trinity Cathedral three times with the Diocesan Pastoral Staff.
Knocking at heavenâ€™s door Otahuhu pays tribute: Loleini Tevi (right) and Elizabeth Cokanasiga (below).
Archbishop Winston Hal apua, the sixth dioces an Bishop of Polynesia.
Right: Sepi Hala’api’api, the diocesan youth co-ordinator, who preached at the installation.
She’s got it! Lloyd Ashton finds that the kids are all right in Pasefika
ithin an hour of being confirmed by General Synod as the next Bishop of Polynesia and the newest archbishop of this church, Winston Halapua was sending a clear signal of the course he intends to steer while at the helm of his diocese. He asked Sepiuta Hala’api’api, the diocesan youth coordinator, to preach at his August 1 installation in Suva’s Holy Trinity Cathedral – quite an honour for a young person. At first Sepi (who could scarcely believe her ears, nor hold back her tears) doubted her ability to deliver: “Can I do it?” she asked Winston. “Of course,” he replied. “Why did you ask me?” Sepi asked. “Because,” said Winston, “you’ve got it.” Come August 1, Sepi proved – before a congregation of around 2000 people – that she has indeed “got it”. And Sepi wasn’t the only young person in Suva showing that she’s got what it takes. By performing their mass action songs hundreds of young people played a significant part in that service, and their combined contributions, says Bishop Winston, were “the talking point of the installation.” They also show where he’s heading. “My number one priority,” he confirms, “will be mission – mission driven and led by young people.” Bishop Winston says the church has been slow to learn lessons that have long been taken on board by the military, in technology, in sport and music. “You look at the air forces of the USA, Russia and China. Who is flying the fastest planes? Who is contesting with the enemy on the battlefields? It’s the young people.
“I believe the church needs to wake up to its young people. They are there, with maximum energy and willingness, and they have the education and skills. We just need to release them and open the church up to their energy.” The day after his installation, at a meeting of the diocesan standing committee, Bishop Winston announced two key appointments. Eseta Mateiviti, a second-year PhD student at St John’s College in Auckland, is to become his personal youth consultant. And both Eseta and Sepi will become members of standing committee. Secondly, he told standing committee that he wanted to see next May’s diocesan synod electing people to positions of responsibility solely on the basis of their merit. In other words, he didn’t want young people ruled out just because of their age. Where the young people and their new bishop are concerned, it’s been a case of each one setting the other challenges – and each rising to those challenges. Five months ago, at the diocesan electoral synod, the young people had produced an eight-point statement about what they yearned for in their new bishop. They longed for: a God-fearing, visionary leader who is able to serve ; someone who is approachable, humble, and loves all races; someone who will challenge unjust structures – and who will be a role model, not only for young people, but for the church as a whole. The synod’s choice, they said, “would directly affect the future of youth in the mission of the church in the 21st century.” That message clearly took root with Bishop Winston. And the 2000 people who jammed into the cathedral on August 1, and spilled on to the verandas and lawns that day, tasted its first fruits.
epi and the young people of the Diocese of Polynesia won’t be slackening their pace any time soon, either. They’re in rehearsals right now for a choir competition in Holy Trinity Cathedral next month. Youth choirs from the different parishes will try to outdo each other’s interpretations of Bishop Richard Ellena’s hymn, Glory to God, which was composed for their new bishop’s installation. And in December the young people will play host to three major youth events. The biennial Tikanga Youth Exchange will be held in Suva from December 9-11, in conjunction with a Raukura, which is a training programme for senior youth leaders of the three tikanga. Immediately following TYE, the Diocese of Polynesia will host Talanoa Pasefika, which is a training programme and ‘Talanoa’ session for its own youth leaders. And on the last day of the weeklong gathering, Sunday, 12th December, Polynesia will launch its own diocesan youth year – the theme being “Here I am, Lord – Send me.” Lloyd Ashton is Media Officer for this church.
Three major youth events are coming up in Polynesia in December.
TA R A N A K I ’ S S U C C E S S S T O R Y
When you’ve got nothing, where do you begin? That’s the question Philip Richardson was fretting about when he became the first Bishop in Taranaki. He’s since learned that God was already in Taranaki, preparing the way for what was about to unfold… Lloyd Ashton has been finding out more.
We are the ‘You’ve got a team of champions here.. The real question is how can we turn them into a champion team?’ - Stuart Trundle
Photo inset: At the cutting edge of community: Peter Barleyman and Philip Richardson.
champions W hen Philip Richardson was first tackled about becoming Taranaki’s bishop, the idea took him so much by surprise that he burst out laughing. He’s not proud of that reaction. But perhaps it was understandable. At the time he was shepherding the Kotahitanga legislation through the 1998 General Synod, so he had other things on his mind. He was also Warden of Selwyn College at the University of Otago. He’d driven reform of the student culture there, things had settled down nicely and he was heading down the academic path. So becoming the first bishop in Taranaki? The first bishop of a place he’d hardly ever set foot in? That possibility wasn’t even on his radar screen. Of course, we know the idea grew on him. In fact, it wouldn’t let him go. It was to do with the challenge of starting
something from scratch, and helping renew the church in Taranaki. That’s what got him intrigued. So he let his name go forward – and in February the following year, at an electoral college in Stratford, his intrigue turned to anticipation. Ordination as the first Bishop in Taranaki followed on July 10, 1999, at St Mary’s in New Plymouth. Six months later, he wasn’t laughing. He was feeling as if he’d been passed the ball just as Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn and Kieran Read arrived. Wham. Flattened. The problem was money. Or rather lack of it. There was just enough in the Waikato diocesan pot to pay his wages and for him to hire a part-time secretary – and not a cent more. So he felt he couldn’t get anything going, because any idea he dreamed up meant money. “I found myself feeling very disempowered. All I could do, I felt, was be a chaplain to struggling congregations. “I was blind to the potential in front of me.”
ver the years, people have dreamed big dreams for Taranaki. Back in the 1840s, George Selwyn, the first Bishop of New Zealand, saw Taranaki becoming a centre for West Coast North Island Anglican mission, and a diocese with its own bishop. He bought the land on which St Mary’s sits, and St Mary’s did in fact become a fully-fledged cathedral – almost 170 years later, in March this year. The holdup was because the settlement of the North Island didn’t follow the pattern Selwyn had expected. Frankly, Taranaki suffered on account of that. When the constitution of the Anglican Church in New Zealand was signed in 1857, for example, Taranaki was divvied up like Africa in the colonial carve-ups of the 19th century. The southern half of Taranaki, from Eltham south, was ceded to the Diocese of Wellington, while the Diocese of Auckland took control of the territory north of Stratford.
Then, in 1926, when the Diocese of Waikato came into being, it took over that northern half of Taranaki from Auckland. In terms of the province’s historical, geographic and economic integrity, the partitioning made little sense. So, in the late 1980s, Archbishop Brian Davies – who was born in Stratford – began to unite Taranaki under the one Anglican jurisdiction. He got together with Roger Herfft (who had followed him as Bishop of Waikato), and in 1996 an Anglican commission reported that the southern part of Taranaki should secede from Wellington and link with the rest of Taranaki to become a new bishopric within the Diocese of Waikato. That’s what happened and, as we’ve seen, in 1999 Philip Richardson was chosen as that first Bishop. In the normal scheme of things, he’d have been 2IC to the Diocesan Bishop, David Moxon. But Bishop David wasn’t looking for a 2IC in Taranaki. He wanted a full colleague. So he and Philip began to speak about a diocesan leadership that looked like a catamaran – with twin hulls beneath a single sail. Those twin bishop arrangements were written into canon law at the 2008 General Synod. The meaning of that deal became clearer in March this year when St Mary’s was consecrated as a second cathedral for the diocese (alongside St Peter’s in Hamilton) – and in May when the General Synod changed the name of the Diocese of Waikato to The Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki. -----------------------------------------------------So – Philip didn’t lack authority to make things happen in Taranaki. He just lacked dollars. In fact, in 2001, only about a quarter of the parishes and chaplaincies in Taranaki had enough income to support normal stipended ministry. About then Stuart Trundle sailed into the picture. Stuart is the CEO of Venture Taranaki, the regional development agency. He’s English, he’s Anglican – and he’s got quite a track record. He’d led the largest chamber of commerce in the UK, had been a company director, an MBA examiner, and had set up regional development agencies in Poland and Romania. Earlier in his career, he’d been a merchant navy officer, and had served on the QE2. Stuart Trundle is also an eternal optimist – and the appointment of a Bishop in Taranaki was a chance, he felt, to get the
church back into the centre of regional life. “He had this big vision of a bishop able to really influence a community and a region,” Philip recalls. “He claimed that the church could be a powerful driver of change for good in the region, and that I was uniquely placed to lead that change because I didn’t have political masters. I was a bit frightened by his enthusiasm, to be honest.” Those two talked several times – and eventually, Philip let his frustration show. So Stuart made him a proposal. Why don’t you call your troops together for a day at Venture Taranaki and just see what comes of it? “It was a simple day,” Philip recalls. “We encouraged each of the stipendiary clergy to talk about their patch. To talk about their communities. “At lunchtime Stuart said to me: ‘You’ve got a team of champions here. The real question is: how can we turn them into a champion team?’ “There’s more intellectual horsepower, and more skill and knowledge of community here than in any boardroom I sit in, or any council meeting I go to. “You’ve got resource to burn. We’ve just got to think about how to deploy it.’ ” Later that day, Stuart presented Philip with a sketch. He was proposing a trust that would empower the bishop to make targeted, sustainable interventions to tackle unmet needs in Taranaki – and, right there, you have the outline of the Bishop’s Action Foundation. But first things first. Some serious research was needed to identify those needs. Research costs money, of course – and Stuart came to the party here, too. For every dollar you raise for research, he told Philip, Venture Taranaki will supply another. At that point, Philip was thinking about Catch 22. Because a 100% subsidy on nothing is still… nothing. But then, out of the blue, a $15,000 bequest came his way. Add to that the $15,000 Venture Taranaki subsidy, and they were in business. They had the means to commission Dr Sharon Milne, a researcher at Massey University’s School of Social Policy and Social Work, to put Taranaki’s voluntary sector under her microscope. Sharon found hundreds of community or voluntary organisations offering some kind of service in Taranaki – more than 100 in Waitara alone. ›› CONTINUED PAGE 8
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Action Foundation Charitable Trust, and began musing about “champions in the community” he wanted on it. Philip wrote 25 names on a whiteboard. He let that list marinate for a year, and settled on six names: Stuart Trundle, John Young (then chairman of Kiwi Co-op Dairies and director of the New Zealand Dairy Board), Mary Bourke (then long-time Mayor of South Taranaki), Jim Gibbons (a big name in car and truck retailing), Gerald Bailey (former Chancellor of Waikato University, who later made way for Archbishop David Moxon); and Bishop Philip himself. Each one signed on and, in April 2005, the deed for the Bishop’s Action Foundation Charitable Trust became law.
But the really sobering thing was this: within three months of being launched, around a third of those projects had fallen over. There was a crying need, Sharon found, for an umbrella outfit to build the capacity of those groups. •••• Intriguing stuff. And when Philip checked out that diagnosis with some of the leading lights on the Taranaki social service scene – including Simon Cayley, one of the council’s community development team – it stacked up. Those analysts had some reservations about the church’s neutrality – but no doubts that something had to be done. Without the capacity-building injection that Sharon Milne had described, Taranaki’s voluntary sector would struggle. Given that no one else was volunteering for that job, they said to Philip: go for it. Within a couple of days, too, Simon Cayley was in touch. If this foundation gets off the ground, he told Philip, I’m keen to be part of it. Philip had lawyers frame up the Bishop’s
he BAF Trustees figured they needed $360,000 over three years to get going, and Bishop Philip and Stuart Trundle made a pitch to Waikato Diocese’s finance administration council for that amount. The council’s verdict was this. You can have $100,000. Total. On the drive back to New Plymouth Philip was glum about that $260,000 shortfall – while Stuart was “whistling away, obscenely confident.” Stuart explains: “My view is that if you have a compelling vision and a compelling product and service, the money will mysteriously happen. I don’t know how it works – it’s a miracle – but it always works.” He smiles: “I don’t think the church is used to that model.” The trustees interviewed four candidates for the BAF CEO job – and asked them, in the space of an hour, to write a proposal spelling out how Taranaki’s voluntary agencies could be helped. Simon Cayley was one of those four candidates. His ideas were good enough for
‘If you have a compelling vision, product and service, the money will mysteriously happen’ - Stuart Trundle
him to nail the job – he started in July 2005 – and good enough, in fact, that they became the blueprint for Keystone Taranaki. -----------------------------------------------------Keystone Taranaki is BAF’s answer to that pressing need to build capacityto help parishes, and voluntary and community groups. It runs a range of training programmes. Each year, for instance, it taps regional and national leaders to deliver low-cost workshops in New Plymouth, Stratford and Hawera. The topics vary from year to year – for instance, BAF offers a course on governance and management in the community sector. It also offers one-to-one support with its own staff – and it has also hatched a Critical Friends Programme, modelled on the New Zealand Business Mentoring Service. BAF can also help volunteer organisations to evaluate their own projects, and to create “a self-assessment tool” so they can weigh up their strengths, and focus on areas they need to work on. Early in the piece BAF also came to the realisation that it’s tough at the top in Taranaki, and lonely, too. So they’re big on leadership development. Each year they host a leadership seminar – Archbishop John Sentamu was the key speaker at this year’s gathering – and local mayors, school principals, police and clergy converge to listen to a big name talk about what being a leader means to them, and to thrash out issues (eg: Leadership and the Treaty of Waitangi; The dynamics of high performance leadership) relevant to the challenge of leadership in Taranaki. Quite apart from whatever those regional leaders gain from the seminar itself, there’s the chance to build relationships – and to break down the loneliness of leadership in Taranaki.
journey Where the
becomes a destination
Technology is another area where many outfits in the voluntary and community field struggle. They can’t keep up – and they don’t have the cash to hire consultants. So they fall behind. Or fall over. As a result BAF has set up ICT Gateway (ICT = Information Communication Technology) to guide these groups across the digital divide. Pat Edwards and Kiki Ruakere can help community and voluntary groups in their ICT planning and managing, and when it comes to sourcing hardware they’re pretty handy, too. For example, heavy-duty computer-users such as health boards and the police are regularly updating their gear, and Pat and Kiki can sometimes secure that cast-off gear for a song and set it up for their clients. Early on, BAF also saw that many top-level folk working for Taranaki communities had no training in community development – which is the discipline of helping communities to identify their needs and then empowering them to respond to those needs. What’s more, there are scant opportunities to get that training in New Zealand. So BAF forged a partnership with the Auckland University of Technology to launch a community development training programme which has been delivered in Taranaki for the last four years. So far, about 40 people – from district councils, health boards, community agencies and parishes – have graduated from these courses.
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Philip Richardson and the CEO of BAF, Simon Cayley.
Where does church fit?
his focus on community development is well and good – but what’s it got to do with church? Everything, says Philip Richardson. To see where he’s coming from, we need to delve into his past. Philip was accepted for ministry training before he left Rangitoto College. He reeled in a BA from Otago University and had virtually completed his BTheol by the time he went to St John’s College – but he was still just 20, three years too young for ordination. So the then Bishop of Auckland, Paul Reeves, teed him up with a scholarship to spend a few months at Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary (TTS) in the South Indian city of Madurai. Those Madurai months were an eyeopener for a middle-class Kiwi boy. Regular students at TTS – many of whom came from privileged families – did a four-year course that sandwiched formal theological education with months spent living among the rural and urban poor. Philip sampled that life on the margins – experienced its squalor, its tragedies, and the humbling generosity of those who spend their lives in poverty – and it challenged every element of his Christian experience. “I came back to St John’s College,” he says, “with my life turned upside down. I found getting back into college life extremely difficult.” So when the chance came to help set up a community house in Mt Taylor, down the hill from St John’s, Philip was in. In the 80s, Mt Taylor was one of the toughest, most deprived housing tracts
in Auckland. The two years Philip spent living in Mt Taylor reinforced a lesson he’d learned at Tamil Nadu – that God’s love is biased towards those on the margins, “and that love works from the margins to the centre, rather than from the centre to the margins.” He says the Tamil Nadu and Mt Taylor years also made him see the Gospel “in extremely practical terms. “In both those places I began grappling towards an understanding of just how holistic, comprehensive and collaborative mission is. “It’s not our mission. It’s God’s mission. The old theological phrase is Missio Dei – the Mission of God – and God calls us to take part in that mission. “And what is that mission? Nothing less than the redemption of the whole of creation, the restoration of the whole of creation. “Human beings and the whole created order are wired for relationship with God. But something’s gone wrong with the wiring. We resist that relationship. “God in Christ offers us a way back – but Christian faith isn’t just about personal piety. It’s about creation, society, and the individual. So you can’t just talk about individual evangelism. You have to talk about the transformation of society, and the preservation and restoration of creation as well. “You can’t be a Christian and not be ecologically committed. You can’t be a Christian and not be socially active. You can’t be a Christian and not be concerned about the health, wellbeing and safety of the individual. You can’t pray the Lord’s Prayer ›› CONTINUED Page 9
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›› CONTINUED without being moved to work for a better society. “So it’s comprehensive, it’s holistic, and it’s integrated. “The Tamil Nadu and Mt Taylor experiences also showed me how God is always ahead of us. Sometimes we think evangelism is about us taking Jesus to the people. When, in fact, Jesus is way ahead of us. “He’s already there, and we find Jesus reaching up to us, and out to us, from the most unlikely people, and in the most unlikely situations. People who wouldn’t claim to be Christians show us what being Christian is all about.” The conviction that Jesus is out in front, says Philip, is one of the things that’s sustained him where BAF is concerned, too. Where do you start when you’ve got nothing? Well, says Philip, you have confidence that God is ahead of you. And you look at the resources already present in the people and in the wider community.
here aren’t that many folk in Taranaki. Just over 100,000, 70% of whom live in New Plymouth. Where the Anglican church is concerned,
the stats are sobering. Church attendance has been shrinking for decades – and the people who do come are getting older. So the church’s financial base has been shrinking, and its assets are often liabilities. Many historic churches, for example, need maintenance and restoration. In the face of those stats, doing nothing isn’t an option. Which is why, in November 2005, Philip launched his “Bishop’s Commission for the Future” and charged it with coming up with a 10-year plan. The key thing to flow from that plan has been a broadening of outlook. Taranaki Anglicans are thinking and acting regionally, rather than parochially – and that shift has released all sorts of mission energies. How – specifically – has that happened? Well, the bishopric of Taranaki has been reconfigured into three rural regions, plus the city parishes. Regional deans have been appointed to each, and it’s their job to drive mission across the cluster of parishes they serve. They’re encouraged to work with anyone – other churches and community groups on their patch, for example – who shares their vision of the good of the community. E-Town (see page 12) is a shining
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example of what’s possible, and that’s just the start. They’re building a community house on Stratford parish-owned land, the old Methodist hall in Hawera is being made over into a multi-agency centre; and there are plans for Patea and Waitara, too. As far as Philip Richardson is concerned, neither the Commission for the Future nor the good work that has flowed from it would have been possible without BAF. Every step of the way, he says, BAF was there – helping the parishes think through what they wanted to do, how they wanted to go about it, and how they wanted to serve their communities. Philip’s respect for BAF is clear: “There’s not a conversation I have in relation to parishes or chaplaincies,” he says, “nor a move I make in the community that doesn’t involve BAF. “In other words, it’s the primary resource that I have to be the Bishop of Taranaki.” He reckons the Taranaki public have voted with their feet about the moves the church is making. That’s why they turned up in droves – just about every community leader among them – for the consecration of St Mary’s. That’s why the Taranaki Daily News gave massive coverage of Archbishop John Sentamu’s visit in the week leading up to that consecration. “I was staggered by the goodwill shown,” says Philip, “and I believe that exists because of the practical way in which the church is being seen to be concerned for the people of Taranaki.” -----------------------------------------------------And the money? That seems to have taken care of itself, too. Four years ago, for example, Simon Cayley put Keystone Taranaki forward to the Ministry of Social Development. He was hoping it might qualify for support from their Community Initiatives Fund. A couple of weeks later, Simon got an evening phone call: the MSD was happy to fund Keystone Taranaki to the tune of $70,000 a year for the next three years. Since then, BAF has tapped into a wide range of funding for its various projects. So much so, that BAF now has a staff of seven who operate from Tikituterangi House, the bishopric’s new offices. But for Simon, there’ll always be something special about that first call from the MSD. “I sat there after that phone call and thought: Look! We’re going to be all right!” Lloyd Ashton is Media Officer for this church. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Bourke: picking the right people
ary Bourke knows how Taranaki ticks. She was Mayor of South Taranaki – which stretches from just north of Whanganui to just south of New Plymouth – for five terms. She stood down at the last local body elections but still chairs Taranaki’s polytech council, sits on the district health board and the TSB community trust – and she’s a Bishop’s Action Foundation trustee. She’d met Philip Richardson in 1999, and
Lloyd Ashton talks to two of the prime movers behind the Bishop’s Action Foundation
in the wake of the Central North Island floods of February 2004, asked him to advise on the doling out of flood relief money. She returned the favour when Philip was seeking feedback about BAF. Later, she agreed to become a trustee. Mary believes BAF’s success is largely down to the people involved. “There’s Philip himself,” she says. “He’s a go-getter, he’s approachable, and he’s ‘out there’ – and there’s Simon Cayley, who is a fantastic community development man. Their skills are complementary.” Handpicked trustees are part of the secret too, she reckons. “There’s no doubt about the luxury of being able to pick your team rather than having to rely on whatever the vagaries of a democratic process might throw up.” Taranaki’s isolation, she says, is one of the reasons why BAF is needed. “Where social services are concerned, there’s a principle at work the world over: the further you get from the centre, the less important people seem to become. “Which is ironic, because the further you get from the centre, the greater the need for
those services. “The same principle applies within Taranaki, too. People in New Plymouth get a much better service than anybody else around the rest of the coast. “I’ve always argued that the foundation shouldn’t get into work which government departments should be doing. But we’re talking about community groups having difficulties keeping going… we have to fill the gaps.” Mary says that what appeals to her about BAF is that it’s about people’s wellbeing. “Rather than luring bums on to seats, as it were. “Take the Regional Leaders’ Forum. That’s about recognizing there are a lot of people in leading roles, and being in those positions can be quite lonely. “So pulling those people together to discuss leadership with some of the country’s finest leaders… that’s been amazing.” “Philip was proposing quite radical reform. But he introduced it in such a way that people became quite excited about working on it. “He identified the issues, and left it up to the communities to work through those issues themselves.”
Stuart Trundle: championing the cause
n life, says Stuart Trundle, the CEO of Venture Taranaki, you’ve got only so much energy to give. Invited to lead a planning session with Taranaki’s clergy 10 years ago, he saw a group of good-willed, God-minded, highlyintelligent people – whose energy was seeping away. They’d become, he says, “overwhelmed by the business of Christianity, and consumed with the micro-management of their parishes. “Within parishes it’s easy to get hung up on the boiler not working, the photocopier running out of toner, and the leak in the gentlemen’s urinal in the church hall. “So you had these people with masters and doctorates in theology working incredibly hard, incredibly long hours, with minimal resources, attending to these things… and no longer engaged with strategic leadership of the region. “If I go back to my QE2 background, we were so busy running the lifeboats that we
had forgotten we had 3000 souls on board.” This misplaced focus, he recalls, meant the clergy weren’t seeing themselves as a co-coordinated team – in business terms, not subsidiaries of a larger group. At that first meeting he didn’t sense much corporate pride, either. No one came wearing a dog collar. But what emerged was a sense of hope – a glimpse of an opportunity, under Bishop Philip’s leadership and with Bishop David’s support, to make a real difference. There was still a heap of work to do, though. “It was all very well appointing a bishop, but I knew that unless that bishop had the ability to fire Exocet missiles at challenges within the community, he’d soon become frustrated. “He’d become the regional eunuch, on the sidelines, watching what’s happening – and becoming another frustrated, expert resource.” The idea for BAF was eventually birthed.
Simon Cayley was appointed soon after that, and Stuart reckons he could have bowed out at that point. Instead, he was persuaded to stay on as a trustee. “Our role now,” he says, “is to comfort the executive when they become afflicted – and to afflict them when they become too comfortable. “I do have to stress: it worked because the first Bishop of Taranaki was somebody who was willing to listen, instead of saying: ‘Who the hell is that buffoon – get rid of him!’ “Not only did Philip listen – he heard. And that’s a rare skill.”
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TA R A N A K I ’ S S U C C E S S S T O R Y
At home in E-Town: (from left) Paremokai Moses, Taonganui Marino and Tiaki Edwards.
Angels since day one Lloyd Ashton discovers fresh hope on the wild side of Eltham
Eltham’s kids were caught in a ‘silent crisis’ – until E-Town joined the neighbourhood.
he small Taranaki town of Eltham wasn’t feeling festive at Christmas 2006. A month earlier, drunken teens had gone on a letterboxsmashing spree in the town. Someone had tried to stop them – and been bashed so badly he’ll spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair. Eltham’s kids were caught, an emergency meeting heard, in a “silent crisis.” Far too many were dropping out of school, there were unwanted teen pregnancies and a high rate of sexually transmitted disease – with nothing happening to turn that around. Eltham doesn’t have those problems on its own, of course. Nor even the fact that many mums and dads in the town are shiftworkers who sometimes can’t be there when their kids need them. But Peter Barleyman, the new Regional Dean for Central Taranaki, who had called that first crisis meeting, wasn’t going to
wash his hands of Eltham’s plight. He linked with the Bishop’s Action Foundation, and they asked Waves – a onestop youth health “shop” in New Plymouth – whether something like that could be set up in Eltham. Together, they surveyed the Eltham kids to find out what they needed, what was important to them – and how they felt about the idea of a youth centre. There was a big thumbs-up for that scheme. While that survey was going on, Peter was also talking with the folk at All Saints’ Eltham. They were an ageing, dwindling congregation, going through tough times of their own. Every month during the past 18 months, they’d buried one of their fellow parishioners. How would you feel, Peter asked the All Saints’ people, if your parish hall doubled as a youth centre?
The E-Town team: (from left) C.J. Brown, Tarsh Amohanga, Jan Barleyman, David Thompson and Peter Barleyman. Inset: Storm Savage.
We’re all for that, they said. And, to cut a long story short, that’s what happened: in 2008 E-Town (the kids had called their town by that name anyway) was born. So what happens at E-Town? Every Tuesday after school, droves of primary and secondary kids drop by. They play all manner of games – from playstation to pool; chess to computer games; table tennis to shooting hoops – and at 4pm they slam on the brakes for cheese toasties (or mince on toast; soup and a bun or a hamburger). Then it’s back to the games till dinner time. On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, E-Town is also open for breakfast. Up to 40 kids – some barefoot, even in the middle of winter – drop by for that, too. But food and games don’t begin to describe the safety net that E-Town is weaving around those vulnerable kids. Take Marilyn Chittenden’s contribution, for example. She’s a nurse practitioner (qualified to prescribe, in other words) and
thanks to a partnership E-Town has forged with Ngati Ruanui, Marilyn is in her E-Town surgery every second Tuesday. Where the kids might feel whakama about seeing a GP, they trust Marilyn. She keeps an eye on their physical, mental and sexual health, and just as important she plugs them into the health system. Then there’s Peter Hokopaura, who drops in regularly to shoot a few hoops. Peter’s an ex-policeman, a father of five – and he’s a Youth Transition Officer. Which means that if a kid is teetering on the edge of dropping out of school, Peter can get alongside them. He makes sure they don’t disappear, and guides them to a more secure rung on the ladder. Above all, Peter and Jan Barleyman are always on deck with their helpers, always there with a listening ear. According to a report that CJ Brown wrote about E-Town for the Eltham Argus, Peter and Jan have been “angels since day one.” BAF has been there from the start, too.
Peter says they’ve supplied a professional edge when needed. BAF spent months helping E-Town nut out its procedures and policies, they’ve brokered the service contracts, and picked up funding from corporate supporters like the Taranaki Electricity Trust. These days, it seems, everyone is feeling good about E-Town. The All Saints’ congregation is connecting with its community in a way that feels relevant – and the wider community is backing E-Town, too. The Lions Club, for example, has just painted the hall. But what about the kids? What about their wellbeing? Well, there are good signs there, too. Including reports of a reduction in those trends mentioned earlier, with some people saying credit for that should go to E-Town. And the kids themselves? They’re voting for E-Town with their feet. Week after week, in big numbers, they keep coming back for more.
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– but no quick-FX
‘ It’s challenging and exciting but will require a change in thinking.’ – Archdeacon Lawrence Kimberley
New approaches to mission at home are revitalising Anglican churches and communities across the UK and look set to do the same for Aotearoa New Zealand. Known as fresh expressions (FX), these new ways of engaging people outside the usual scope of church life have been picking up speed as Anglicans break out of their comfort zones to meet people’s needs in the midst of their ordinary lives.
Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Missioner and leader of the UK fresh expressions team, Bishop Graham Cray, was at Lincoln University for a threeday conference in June, when he shared the foundations and insights of this new movement with Anglicans from across the South Island. Julanne Clarke-Morris went along to see what FX is about.
“Amazing!” is how Gillian Swift, regional support priest for Southland, sums up her days with Bishop Graham Cray. “I don’t have the words to describe how hopeful I felt; it was uplifting!,” she says. “I felt resourced, I felt engaged in story, I came home with my head just swimming. “I have visited fresh expressions in England, seen them working and talked with the people, but I had never heard such deep theological reasoning for being a mission-shaped church. What an amazing prophet of a man.” Like any prophet, though, Bishop Cray spells out some startling truths: up to 80% of urban English have either never been church regulars or have intentionally left, so it’s the old “you come to us” approach is clearly not working. In light of this, fresh expressions are not clever strategies to attract more people on Sunday morning; they involve a complete mission reorientation that sends parishioners out to listen and learn. The first step in any fresh expression sees small groups of praying, listening Christians go out to discern how the transforming power of God can be released where people are. In some cases, the listening phase alone takes several months or even up to a year. Fresh expressions form where people share a neighbourhood, network, subculture or life stage – in schools, youth movements, seniors’ study groups, skateboarder and goth churches, or in one case a police force network church. According to Bishop Cray, the key to reaching the unchurched is to head out and serve the community first. Nelson’s Archdeacon for Mission, Mark Chamberlain, agrees: “Christians need to Below: Bishop Cray
The checklist According to Bishop Cray, God wants a thousand flowers to grow. But how do we know if each flower is really the church? FX adherents have a list of checks that should reassure even the most sceptical of observers. A true fresh expression must have: ›› authentic worship as the gift at its heart ›› God’s glory as its chief inspiration ›› prayer undergirding all its activities ›› discernment as its key to sharing in God’s mission The test at the end is the life in Christ and quality of discipleship experienced by its members. How would our inherited churches measure up to all that?
be confident in their faith and brave enough to be involved in the community – working with people of goodwill, not just other Christians. “We need to experiment and innovate and not be too worried if things don’t turn out. We also need to pray that God’s Spirit would open doors for ministry.” Which is why Bishop Cray says ‘go gently’ in the process of building genuine Christian discipleship in totally new settings. By all means use insights and guidelines from others, he adds, but always have the word Grace stamped over the top,. Listeners discerning where to start should ask, “What is God already doing here? What is on the hearts of the community? Where is the pain? Where is hope needed?” In theological terms, then, the challenge is to join in the Missio Dei, God’s own mission in the world, instead of making human plans and asking God to bless them. This approach to mission means that no one knows what a fresh expression will look like until it has begun its own life. Quite a change from the default mission approach most of us unwittingly hold, which is to make other Christians in our own image! With fresh expressions, the Church of England is bringing its ordinary members up to speed with a century of cross-cultural mission praxis from overseas.
For more information about fresh expressions and for the presentation notes from the Lincoln conference, go to http://www.chch.anglican.org.nz/ Resources and select Fresh Mission: New Anglican Expressions of Church Conference - Registration Form. A web search for fresh expressions will lead to a host of resources including guidelines for beginning and supporting fresh expressions. Julanne Clarke-Morris is Associate Editor of Anglican Taonga. email@example.com
Time and again, experience has proven that the Gospel best takes root within the patterns and priorities of the cultures it encounters. Not to mention that for years Maori theologians and church leaders have made this point resoundingly clear in the context of mission in Aotearoa New Zealand. Now, in order to reach the unchurched, it’s the culture of the secular world that we’re preparing to meet face to face. All this talk of mission makes immediate sense to evangelical Anglicans, yet perhaps surprisingly, some high-profile fresh expressions have come from AngloCatholics. In 2009 Canterbury Press published a book with an introduction by Archbishop Rowan Williams, entitled Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition. Numerous stories from the UK and North America show liturgical Anglicans meeting postmodern spiritual needs through non-verbal communication and direct experience of the holy – and drawing deeply from the wells of Christian art, ritual, monasticism and contemplative prayer. At the same time, new urban monastic communities are engaging in hands-on social justice as well as joining in the worship of heaven, harking back to the origins of the Oxford Movement. ›› CONTINUED PAGE 16 Page 15
Bex Chapman Youth Worker, Belfast-Redwood I’m excited that there are other ways of doing church, not just traditional. I liked the idea of looking at what the community needs (not what we think they need) and meeting people where they are. I’m practical, and today’s stories got me thinking what can our young people do for our community that’s hands-on, that’s not preaching but doing. From working in the mental health system I know that actions speak louder than words. If you go in not preaching, but trying to be Christ-like in everything you do, people know they’re being treated differently. Andrew Mcdonald Priest Assistant, Fendalton, Christchurch I can tell lights are going on for people all around as the bishop speaks. For me, a lot of this is intuitive. I joined the Anglican Church with the sense it was prepared to invest a lot of goodwill and support in new ways of being church, without abandoning the rhythms and tools of the historic church. I think as you move away from studying theology the lenses get banged around and put out of focus – in these few days Bishop Graham has brought things back into focus, done some lens work. We’ll be able to go back and have some great energy for new conversations. Arona Tusenga Presbyterian Ministerial Intern, Auckland What stands out for me is that mission can be done by taking the church to the people, not just by the method of making people want to come. It’s costly, it takes time, it needs patience, and these kinds of ministries have to be long-term. They also take courage (to handle the failures) and persistence, but the bottom line is it can be done, as in the case of the skateboarders. They went to the skateboarders, heard what concerned them, helped them and made a real difference, because they really listened and learned what those kids cared about and needed.
Experience has proven that the Gospel best takes root within the patterns and priorities of the cultures it encounters. ›› CONTINUED
The catchline for sacramental fresh expressions is “ancient faith, future mission,” which like the emerging church, combines the best of ancient traditions with the best of contemporary technologies. The Ven Lawrence Kimberley, Archdeacon of Pegasus and Vicar of Opawa-St Martins in Christchurch, is impressed with the grounding of fresh expressions in Trinitarian doctrine. However, he has practical questions about sacramental forms of fresh expressions. “There seems to be a vision of numerous small ecclesiastical communities in local subcultures existing alongside the inherited tradition of a geographical area served by a central church,” Lawrence says. “It’s challenging and exciting but will require a change in thinking. The hard work will be in ensuring that nothing is diminished, that it is the universal catholic faith that is being nurtured and celebrated in these dispersed groups.”
ishop Cray was realistic about these concerns at the Lincoln event and took pains to show they are not about dumbing down, “We’re not interested in rewriting the Gospel to make it fit,” he said. “Neither are we interested in leaving out. We are profoundly interested in translation.” Amidst the infectious enthusiasm for fresh expressions, there’s a need for
caution. FX is not a quick-fix for falling numbers, nor is it to be embraced simply because it’s new; the movement is part of a broader call to costly, years-long incarnational mission. Social action plays a vital role in fresh expressions, which are essentially outwardlooking and never self-serving. Bishop Cray tells of one outreach in a violent council estate in Manchester, where a decade of druglord control had reduced tenants to inmates and their neighbourhood to a tip. Hope dawned after a call to local police from the Soul Survivor youth festival (an English fresh expression) saw a thousand young Christians spend 10 days of their summer holidays cleaning up the estate. They removed 280 tonnes of rubbish, tidied 200 gardens, created a park, cleaned the streets and in two weeks turned the whole estate around. Neighbours began to relate to each other and form alliances, instead of being separated by piles of rubbish and an attitude of fear. The local tenants’ association then found the confidence to order the druglord’s eviction and, following the tidy-up, crime statistics for the estate fell by 47% and stayed down for five years. After the first four days of the clean-up, one tenant asked a team member working on his garden, “What are you guys doing this for anyway? Are you Christians or something?”
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Fresh expressions differ from other innovations in their positive attitude to what’s called “inherited church”. Those beginning fresh expressions are less likely to be people who have run out of patience for an earlier form of church. In practical terms, this makes fresh expressions stronger and more sustainable, because they can rely on the inherited church’s support – for people, prayer, theological foundations, money and professional oversight. According to Susan Howarth, youth and families minister for Nativity Church in Blenheim, this is vital. “Bishop Cray was very realistic about the support fresh expressions will need. They must be fluid, because once they are under way you have to be able to take them where they go. “They will generate unforeseen challenges. So leaders need to be able to help problem solve and to support without controlling.” Susan points out that in England all ordinands now study the theology and practicalities of fresh expressions. She believes it will take this country some time to come up to speed with the kind of leadership that’s needed. “People in the Anglican hierarchy will have to be willing to allow the kind of diversity fresh expressions bring. We need leaders who can offer courageous leadership – who can help lay people find their gifts and vision, whether it’s a passion for music or BMX – and then stay in dialogue with them and resource them as the ministry unfolds, without standing in the way.”
A fresh take on SCM Julanne Clarke-Morris
t turns out I came to faith through a fresh expression of church. The term fresh expressions didn’t exist when I joined the Student Christian Movement, but reflecting on Bishop Cray’s words I realise all the hallmarks of this movement were there. A cynical atheist, I grew up the unchurched child of parents who had rejected the church along with their Sunday school faith. I spent my first 20 years in an environment closed to organised religion and the institution of the church. So, how on earth did I end up following Jesus? Traditional evangelism didn’t work for me – when evangelists visited our school assembly, their testimonies gave me the impression that faith was a rehabilitation programme for drug addicts and dropouts, which excluded me. The local Baptist holiday programme didn’t work either – I got the message that unless I accepted Jesus into my heart (a creepy concept that left me cold) I was damned. I got there slowly and by my own volition, not because someone made it seem popular or couched the same words in different media. What brought me to faith was meeting with peers I could relate to, and engaging with ideas and issues I cared about
already. In SCM I found people who cared about justice, integrity and holistic living. It offered an encounter with people and experiences that could serve as spiritual resources for my life – without my being grabbed and pinned down to something I didn’t understand or want. There was no dotted line to sign on and no secret plot to make me into what others were. When I turned up I was immediately valued as someone with a contribution to make, who would enrich the discussion, rather than being seen as a “not yet” person or trainee. In many ways these are the qualities of fresh expressions. FX is a form of mission that doesn’t assume it has all the answers. First off, Christians heading out to form a fresh expression have to make a habit of listening, with the desire to learn what it is that people really value, need and want so that they can discern what the Gospel can offer them. The path to true discipleship, where we are challenged by the Gospel, comes a lot further down the track. Bishop Cray struck a chord with me when he said, “Imagine if we went out and instead of telling people what they were doing wrong, we helped them feel good about themselves.”
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Taonga editor Brian Thomas analyses the politics that shadowed Katharine Jefferts Schori’s first visit to New Zealand
Tour of duty
he came, she saw, and she conquered – but only her disciples. That’s my immediate impression of Katharine Jefferts Schori’s first Downunder tour at the end of June, surely the most ambiguous primatial visit in the history of this church. In case you don’t know, Katharine Schori is Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church of the USA, which has upset a good number of Anglicans by defying a Communion-wide moratorium on the election of bishops in same-sex relationships. Even the impeccably mannered Archbishop of Canterbury is hot under the collar over the recent election of a lesbian priest, Mary Glasspool, as assistant bishop in Los Angeles – with the result that TEC has been deprived of a voice in ecumenical encounters on faith and order. Bishop Schori therefore has to choose carefully which doors to knock on whenever she travels abroad, despite the fact that she is still technically a bishop and primate in good standing. Conservative provinces – especially in Africa – have always been no-go areas for women bishops, let alone liberal Americans. But now even Western provinces are growing cagey about their closeness to TEC for fear that the global fallout will rub off on them and Page 18
contaminate their own houses. This accounts for why Katharine Schori’s six-day visit to these shores was shrouded with caution. Was it an official visit? Or simply a holiday tacked on to an Australian encounter? No one in authority here was saying early on – although bloggers speculated wildly. Some argued that TEC anticipated being thrown out of the Communion, and that the Schori tour was therefore part of a strategy to cosy up to friends and build an alternative network of liberal provinces. Others interpreted her presence here as a clear statement of New Zealand’s theological sympathies, and warned that we were courting the same ostracism that TEC faced. Well, midway through the tour someone finally popped the question to Bishop Schori – and she responded that it was an official visit, following a personal invitation from a senior churchman some time back. However, don’t read liberal conspiracy into that. A goodwill visit to at least one other Anglican province every year happens to be part of the Presiding Bishop’s regular schedule, she told a group in Christchurch. And this year New Zealand came to the top of the list. The fact remains, however, that she arrived at an awkward moment for this church – just
as we were convening a national hui to flesh out the scriptures on human sexuality. The texts that divide, no less (see pages 28 & 29). Initially it was thought that Bishop Schori might even contribute to the hui, but this idea was shelved amid fears that she would inflame an already nervous gathering. There were also rumours of protest action by conservative clergy – especially if she was given an elevated platform to promote the liberal cause. So her itinerary was confined to carefully managed forums in Auckland and Christchurch, plus a lecture at the Canterbury Women’s House and a presentation at Canterbury University.
ne man who did relish Katharine Schori’s presence was Bishop John Gray, her host for the Christchurch leg of the visit. His little community of Te Hepara Pai was lavish in its hospitality, and Bishop John took obvious delight in helping to discomfit her detractors. Bishop Schori was equally lavish in her praise of this church, making a brave stab at Te Reo and saying that our threetikanga model “has something to teach the Communion.” I guess she believes the same of TEC, although she was modest enough not to push it. What she did stress about TEC was its
missionary credentials, dating back to its beginnings as a missionary society. “We’re seen as a church that causes trouble in the Communion,” she acknowledged. “But we can’t be what we’re not. “We know that some parts of the Communion don’t agree with our views on sexuality. We’re still working out such issues ourselves. “Lifelong, faithful, monogamous relationships matter to us. But we’re also concerned with issues of poverty, black self-determination, Millennium Development Goals… We’re focussed clearly on mission!” Surprisingly, her Christchurch forum drew just a handful of clergy – and then only those sympathetic to TEC. Whatever you might think of TEC, it’s still a highly resourced and generous province with branches in 16 countries, not to mention projects in poorer nations of the Communion. So, why is there so much antagonism towards it? The obvious answer is TEC’s disregard of the Communion moratorium. Except that Bishop Schori doesn’t believe that TEC has broken it. Well, not in canonical terms anyway.
‘Lifelong, faithful, monogamous relationships matter to us.’ – Katharine Jefferts Schori “We haven’t done anything in synod to violate the moratoria,” she told the Christchurch forum, arguing then that under TEC statutes she was powerless to stop a gay consecration anyhow. “We say in our canons that gays and lesbians are equal in discernment… My canonical responsibility is just to order the consecration.” The real antipathy to TEC stemmed from “loss of power,” she added. “White men no longer rule…” Some in the audience struggled to see the connection, wondering whether the answer also involved long-standing prejudices towards “the ugly American.” But she was already off on another question – about the abandonment of shared disciplines, especially in worship. “We live in anxious times, so people revert to holding the line,” she said. “Pastoral care of
anxiety is an issue… There has to be a pullback to incarnate community.” Most of the audience must have agreed with all of what she said, because the forum finished up without a dissenting voice. And thereby hangs perhaps the biggest disappointment of the Schori tour, expressed to me by a leading evangelical. Did we actually miss an opportunity for dialogue? he mused. Somewhere during the visit, a small group of evangelicals would have appreciated the chance to sit privately with her and question TEC’s stance. Having seen Katharine Schori front up, I’m sure she too would have relished such an encounter – and given as good as she got. Physically, she looks to be as formidable as a runner bean, but those in the know say she has a spine like a steel waratah. Next time, we might be brave enough to put that to the test.
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‘I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, and his train filled the temple…and the temple was filled with smoke’ – Isaiah 6
Craufurd Murray fires up a childhood passion for railways – and learns that clergy have a tradition of letting off steam
A full head
of steam A passing steam train recently shattered the quiet of our parish eucharist with a huge blast on its whistle. This delighted the Sunday school class which had gathered outside to watch. It was a winter excursion to Arthur’s Pass, powering through the village on rails made in Workington, where, curiously, I was once a curate and played hockey for the steel works. The congregation’s faces lit up at the sound. Many of us belonged to the generation when steam ruled the tracks, and carry memories of country lines long abandoned as unprofitable – despite the frequent championing by clergy of those designated to be axed (amusingly portrayed in the 1953 comedy film, The Titfield Thunderbolt). In some cases, disused lines have been revived in recent years as cycling and walking tracks. Steam trains featured prominently in my childhood in the north of England. I remember going for family picnics to watch trains on the main line. A favourite place was the view of the water pick-up, from troughs between the rails, as the double-headers approached the climb to Shap summit. Excess water always spilled on to hot pipes under the tenders, and the two engines and leading carriage were shrouded in clouds of steam.
Another favourite was along a rough dirt road beside a stone bridge. The 19th century railway builders included beautiful stone bridges so that farmers retained ready access to fields across the lines. We would lean over the parapet and wave to the fireman and driver. The only hazard was the risk of smuts in our eyes, as smoke puffing furiously from the funnel hit the arch below us. Also, we were never impatient when level crossing gates closed the road. The delay to traffic meant we would see a train pass at close quarters. (It’s charming that the road traffic sign in New Zealand for a railway crossing still shows the image of a steam locomotive.) I became fully aware of my appreciation of the majesty of steam when I went with great anticipation to see one of the first diesels pulling a mainline express but returned home utterly disappointed. Even the one photograph I took felt like wasted film. My childhood coincided with the publication of the adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine by Wilbert Awdry, a Church of England clergyman. The Three Railway Engines was the first to be printed, in 1945, and Thomas the Tank Engine appeared the following year. For the 65th anniversary this year, a special edition has been issued. The books began as stories for Awdry’s son when he ›› CONTINUED Page 21
Christmas. Our own set had a locomotive named ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’, after its designer who was one of several renowned locomotive engineers who were sons of clergy. This scale model was a streamlined A4 class, the same as ‘Mallard’ (now in the National Railway Museum at York) which set the world speed record for a steam engine in 1938 (202.58km/h). Our enthusiasm for railways led to the construction in the garden of an extensive O-gauge layout, and my brother and I were among the first members of the Hornby Railway Company – I still have my badge! I’m not sure how far this goes to establish my credentials for writing on the close affinity that many Anglican clergy seem to have with steam engines, but that is the nub of this article. I have only once ridden on the footplate of a steam locomotive, and it was a memorable experience. One of my churchwardens, when I was first appointed a vicar, had been Managing Director of the Vulcan Foundry – locomotive builders with a great history – and he was always interested, and I think amused, at the number of clergy who were keen railway enthusiasts and devotees of steam. The bishop of the neighbouring diocese at the time was Eric Treacy, a noted railway photographer since the 1930s. He had the nickname of “the railway bishop”, and the national team trains are essentially to do with railway museum has some 12,000 of his transporting people, but a clear link photographs in its archives. can be made between physical (outer) A frequently used quotation to and spiritual (inner) journeying. The provide humorous authentication for the steam locomotive – bearing a name we clergy-steam relationship is from Isaiah know – provides power that can be heard 6: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, and felt and seen, and it energizes the and his train filled the temple…and the whole train to move. The locomotive thus represents the Holy Spirit, who animates temple was filled with smoke.” Later in and draws the church on its pilgrimage. that same book (22:19 A.V.) we read: “I The journey, done in the company will drive thee from thy station…” But of others, is a purposeful yet mixed my own train travel is best reflected experience. It involves going through by Psalm 16:6 (R.S.V.): “the lines have a varied landscape with constantly fallen for me in pleasant places…” changing aspects – winding along fertile Such imaginative and distorted valleys, bridging ravines and rivers and use of scripture, however, provides no other obstacles, becoming enclosed in justification for any clergy fascination dark tunnels, experiencing griminess, with steam. From time to time, ‘Letters stopping to refuel, disembarking at to the Editor’ columns have offered various stations, diverting down branch lines, encountering different gradients, various fanciful ideas, most of which occasionally losing traction, going deserve to be shunted into a siding. through shadowy cuttings, being faced Some writers have linked part with summits to climb – in order to reach of the appeal to the vast cathedralthe destination. This, from a Christian like Victorian railway stations. A perspective, is not the end of the line, few of these remain, although no only a terminus.
contracted measles at the age of 2, and continued afterwards as regular bedtime stories. My father, also a clergyman, used to tell my brother and me bedtime stories about a steam engine called Leonard, which laid its own tracks as it went. My daughters were not subjected to further instalments, as they heard about the Little Fluffy Owl! One of my father’s last trips, however, was to take a small granddaughter on the preserved steam railway close to his home. In a valley nearby was a narrowgauge railway, much travelled by Awdry, inspiring Small Railway Engines (1967). One of Awdry’s close clergy friends, who had built a 2ft-gauge railway around his rectory garden, appeared in The Railway Series as the “Fat Clergyman”. His books are still very popular, and some years after he stopped writing his son continued with new titles. The Rev Edward Beal (a Church of Scotland minister) was the “father” of OOgauge railway models, and boxed train sets were always among the most prized gifts at
St Pancras Station.
longer bristling with steam. Isambard Brunel planned Paddington Street Station in London as “a cathedral in a cutting”. Fortunately, visitors can still see the grandeur of St Pancras and Liverpool Street Stations. I once corresponded with Sir John Betjeman about a particular example of church architecture, but he showed himself equally passionate about railways and without his action both of these magnificent structures would probably have been lost. There’s a bronze sculpture of him at St Pancras, a station designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, whose father was a clergyman. Scott was also architect of ChristChurch Cathedral in the South Island, so it’s hardly surprising that the Gothic style of St Pancras has strong religious overtones.. I’ve often wondered what inspired the designers of the impressive crest for the Highland Railway Company, as their insights could have provided a very different interpretation. Against the background of an eagle (the symbol of St John the Evangelist) two smaller crests are superimposed, one with the Lamb of God holding the flag of St Andrew, the other a crucifix. There’s also a sense in which the undeniable gracefulness of a locomotive with a full head of steam speaks of our call to discipleship. It displays the life-giving beauty of controlled and harnessed strength, and in this respect makes direct connections with the third Beatitude, “Blessed are the meek”. Perhaps, though, the reason many clergy are passionate about steam is much simpler: for them it is an interest of signal delight! Canon Craufurd Murray is a retired priest living at Waddington, on the mainline from Christchurch to the West Coast. firstname.lastname@example.org
please By Megan Blakie
ubbish-free couple Waveney Waugh and Matthew Luxon, who captured headlines in 2008 for setting themselves a year-long target of not creating any landfill waste, have revamped their website and want people to send in their eco-friendly ideas.
Matthew says they’re happy to receive practical tips and advice that will help others to shop wisely and avoid unnecessary packaging and waste. Information can be emailed via the website www.rubbishfree.co.nz. “We really want the guide part of the website to become more and more detailed,” Matthew says. “Currently there are about 85 topics, but we want to keep adding more – from people sending us their suggestions and ideas – so that it gets really comprehensive. We’d like to have a thousand topics. Tips and information are listed alphabetically by subject as well as under categories relating to the home, office, garden, and general information.
The website also now has a small on-line shop that offers many household items the environmentally friendly couple sourced during their rubbish-free year. Bamboo toothbrushes are just one of the items available. The couple, who formerly attended Holy Trinity in Avonside, Christchurch, are now living in Auckland. Waveney hopes to do more waste consulting and Matthew works in palliative care at the North Shore Hospice. They are currently house-sitting and haven’t settled on a ‘home’ parish, says Matthew. Visitors to the Nelson Eco Show in late August had the opportunity to meet the couple and hear about their experiences. Megan Blakie is a Christchurch writer specialising in green issues. email@example.com
Jim White takes issue with current trends in the ‘training’ of priests
hat makes for a good priest? Or maybe you prefer the term minister, or pastor, or preacher, or padre? Whatever. What do you look for in the person who will preach the gospel, preside at the table, and sit by your dying mother’s bed? The fact is there’s a host of (mis) understandings about what we are looking for these days and no single recipe will produce the right answer. I offer these reflections on the training of such people, not just because it’s the role I am entrusted with by the church, but also to honour a fine priest, friend and mentor, the Rev Michael Houghton, who was baptized in 1929, ordained priest in 1955, and died in 2010. The pressure is on theological colleges to do a better job of producing priests! We have to do more relevant training and train for whatever the current trend is at the moment. Yet, at the risk of being thoroughly misunderstood, let me say I don’t really believe in it. ‘Training,” that is. You train monkeys, dogs and seals – but not priests. Rather, priesthood is formed in a person. I am enormously grateful for the companionship of Michael Houghton and many others who have been part of my own formation as a priest. I seek to be part
of the formation of priests and I am deeply suspicious of this or that current trend in ‘clergy training.’ This doesn’t mean that I am not interested in current and changing context. On the contrary, I think we should be deeply interested in the politics and culture that we find ourselves living in. I wish we had more time to watch films, listen to music, read the newspaper, argue politics, and so on. I believe God is interested in culture and politics. However, I’m reminded of a recent comment by Walter Brueggeman: I heard a rabbi say not long ago that Christian pastors have ruined the life of a rabbi because the rabbi is a scholar and a preacher but Christian pastors are social workers and therapists and budget managers and now people in his synagogue expect him to be like that. Preachers have to decide what the main tasks are, and practise enormous self-discipline about not being drawn away to do the things that belong to the ministry of word and sacrament.1 Brueggeman goes on to say, If we are to bring a word from elsewhere we have to live, to a certain extent, elsewhere. This notion of “a word from elsewhere,” which in other places he calls “a word from
What lies behind the You train monkeys, dogs and seals – but not priests. Rather, priesthood is formed in a person.
otherwise,” seems to be an essential point of difference for those engaged in ordained ministry. Otherwise, why not just ask students heading towards ordination to do, say, a social work degree and be done with it? I’m reminded of one of my first cars. (It probably doesn’t do to mention the maker’s name – they might be the muchneeded sponsor for this magazine!) My car had a big sporty exhaust system and smart mag wheels and tyres that were worth more than the rest of the car. But the car was all show and no go. It had nothing
real under the bonnet. I fear that current pressure on the church to respond to the crisis it faces (in a word, ‘decline’) is forcing us to look for quick-fix solutions, and the first place to apply these solutions is in ‘training for the ministry.’ But such an approach can easily result in all show and no go. That’s to say, a singular lack of depth or real substance in our ordinands. Currently, the flavour of the month is “emerging church” and “pioneering ministry.” These are good and important developments and I’m actually quite excited
Monica Furlong: I want priests who dare to be... In 1960, writer Monica Furlong (1930-2003) gave the following address to a group of ordinands at Durham. Despite the language of the day, her remarks still speak profoundly to the vocation of priest:
by them. We have to repent, for instance, of our reliance on an ‘attractional model’ of church that just lies in wait for the world to come to worship. At St John’s College we are working on programmes that will educate for and support these developments. But I’m certain that our best students could be faithful, productive and even “successful” in these new developments, with only minimal preparation. They would need the same support as anyone else but they already have all the important ‘deep stuff ‘ –
knowledge and love of God, others and self – that’s necessary if they are not to founder on rocky and dry ground. I’m confident that the best among our graduates will be able to turn their hand to pretty much any plough and any field that God calls them to serve in. That’s because they already have the right kind of depth in their relationship with God, enough ‘learning’ and, more importantly, an enquiring and discerning heart that will have them reading and learning throughout their ministry. This work, the formation of these kinds of individuals, is critical. (It’s important to stress individuals, not clones. David could not wear Saul’s armour, and we all find our own individual way of being priest, pastor, preacher.) We have to educate clergy in every way
lergymen are in for a growing loneliness, of being misunderstood. I suggest that this will only be endurable if they expect this, understand the reasons for it, and do not cast too many envious glances over their shoulders at the circumstances of their predecessors. I am clear what I want of the clergy. I want them to be people who by their own happiness and contentment challenge my ideas about status, about success, about money, and so teach me how to live more independently of such drugs. I want them to be people who can dare, as I do not dare, and as few of my contemporaries dare, to refuse to work flat out (since work is an even more subtle drug than status), to refuse to compete with me in strenuousness. I want them to be people secure enough in the value of what they are doing to have time to read, sit and think, and who can face the emptiness and possible depression which often attack people when they do not keep the surface of their mind occupied. I want them to be people who have faced this kind of loneliness and have discovered how fruitful it is, as I want them to be people who have faced the problems of prayer. I want them to be people who can sit still without feeling guilty, and from whom I can learn some kind of tranquillity in a society which has almost lost the art. It may be true that it is only in so ›› CONTINUED page 26
›› CONTINUED far as the clergy start by exploring their inner loneliness and its relation to Christian belief that all their hard work is going to reach others who, for one reason or another, are alone, and so begin to heal our society. If they do not begin from a vast clearing of quietness around the offering of worship, a quietness in which they can discover who they are and so enter into genuine relationships with others, then they are indeed second-rate social workers, and it were better that they were swept away. But I have a great hope that the clergy will rise to this challenge as historically they have risen so admirably to others. From here I want to suggest that the clergyman’s great strength will be the fact that he has no strength except the strength of love. He is closer to Christ than he has been for centuries because, like Christ, he has so few defences against the world. Without any certainty that it is going to be appreciated or understood he goes out to other people, able only to offer his relationship with God, his longing to help, to love and to heal. He is prepared to be vulnerable, to make a fool of himself in a way which only the Christians still attempt.
we can imagine. But we also have to start somewhere, and a good grounding in the basics of scripture and doctrine is vital. At the most basic level it’s about knowing ‘our story.’ But we still have to learn the true art of forming priests who, using Barth’s famous image, can hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other and reflect deeply about God’s will and Christ’s way right now. This reflective theological practice certainly begins in teaching students how to read and understand – both Scripture (and doctrine and tradition) and the newspaper. This is done adequately enough in most theological degrees and programmes. On another level, though, formation for this task is an art at least as much as it is science. Moreover, the real artist in this matter is God. Good priests are walking sacraments – a term coined by Austin Farrer in the middle of last century but still worthy of further attention. Like other sacraments, priests are formed by intentional human acts – preparation, setting aside, and so on – and the grace of God that comes as answer to faithful prayer. For this reason I worry more if some students don’t turn up to chapel than if they fail an exam (90% of the marks in prayer life come through showing up!). We make a big mistake here at St John’s by calling just a fraction of the programme
Walter Brueggeman: “We have to live elsewhere.”
‘Ministry Formation.’ At the moment Ministry Formation is a weekly smallgroup experience where the students do integrative learning. But the fact is that all we engage in at college is formation for ministry, not just that one period each week. When, by the grace of God, the whole package works we make (or reveal?) priests who will be women and men of God first and, out of that being in Christ, do the tasks of faithful ministry for today and tomorrow. Rev Jim White is Dean of the College of the Southern Cross in Auckland. 1. Brueggeman, W. http://www.workingpreacher.org/ preachingmoments.aspx?video_id=12
Lloyd Ashton profiles the woman appointed to oversee St John’s College in Auckland over the next two years.
Hand of experience at the helm of
St John’s College
he person hired to get St John’s College back on track is a former secondary school principal who has built a reputation for “fixing” schools in crisis. Gail Thomson was installed as Commissioner on August 11, after a commission headed by Sir Paul Reeves found aspects of the college dysfunctional. She is directly accountable to Te Kotahitanga, with all the powers of a CEO, and will head the college until General Synod 2012 when a principal may be appointed. Mrs Thomson was Principal of Auckland’s Diocesan School for Girls from 1993-2003, and built the school roll from 1000 to 1600 girls – the largest independent school in the country. She set up an educational consultancy after that, and now regularly helps schools in strife. Some of her experiences as school commissioner seem pertinent to the task she faces at St John’s. For example, she’s the commissioner of a major South Auckland college that has three schools – primary, middle and senior – on one campus and governed by one board.
When she was called in, the three heads of those schools were barely speaking to one another. “We’ve now got positive relationships and a shared vision,” she says. “So this three-in-one scenario is not new to me.” Had it not been for a family tragedy, Gail Thomson might not have entered the school rescue business. She resigned from Dio in 2003 because her daughter, living in the South Island, was ill. “I had to choose whether to stay and look after 1600 girls, or to support family,” she recalls. “I chose family. “Following the loss of our daughter I began to think Where to from here? I’d built up a lot of educational skills over many years, so that’s when I set up my consultancy.” One of her greatest strengths is the ability to work with people in conflict. “If you get people offside to start with, it’s very difficult to make change,” she says. “But if you get people wanting to be part of the change… then you’re making really good progress. “People are very apprehensive when you go into these roles. That’s
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Above: Gail Thomson is commissioned at the college eucharist. The sentence for the day, 2 Corinthians 5:17, seemed particularly apt: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new.”
understandable. They don’t know you, so you’ve got to gain their trust and confidence in your ability. “Also, I know little about how the college works. So I need people to talk freely with me, so I get the full picture.” Te Kotahitanga’s plan to turn St John’s around will proceed on two fronts. Paul Gilberd, a business development consultant (and son of Bishop Bruce Gilberd), has been hired to draw up a strategic plan for the college. He presented the first draft to Te Kotahitanga on the day of Mrs Thomson’s commissioning. “My first job,” she says, “will be to discuss and finalise the strategic plan with Te Kotahitanga – and then I’ll put an action plan into place, which will show how we’re going to move to those objectives.” Lloyd Ashton is Media Officer for this church. firstname.lastname@example.org
The three-in-one scenario is not new to me. Gail Thompson
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HERMENEUTICAL HUI, July 6-9
An evangelical view
efore the July Hermeneutical Hui I was not convinced that Scripture really, really matters to our church in synod or conference mode. Now I’m convinced otherwise. I heard people at the hui saying that Scripture is central to our life together, it’s not going to go away, and we have to reckon with it. Sure, a distinctive commitment to the ‘authority of Scripture’ remains a preserve of evangelicals. But the hui drew us from across the spectrum of theologies and tikanga on to the common ground of taking Scripture seriously. Difference in interpretation was present, but so was a common commitment to studying Scripture. The hui was a representative event in the life of our church. But what of life back in the dioceses and hui amorangi? For example, how do concepts articulated at the hui play out for those not present? There was talk at the hui of going ‘beyond Scripture’ (e.g. as we have done with usury and the remarriage of divorcees, so we might in respect of same-sex partnerships), or of ‘re-envisioning’ homosexuality (e.g. in terms of a theology of friendship). At the time this seemed pregnant with possibilities for moving the polarised debate forward. But would these conceptions be warmly embraced by the church at large? Well, having listened to evangelical responses to the hui, I don’t think we should get carried away with optimism. Here are three observations for Taonga readers to ponder. One: as this quite long discussion in our church continues, we are becoming more conservative. The liberal pressure for change in our church is losing support among both clergy and laity. This is partly because new clergy are being drawn from conservative parishes, but also because overtly liberal parishes are not growing across our church. One sign of this rising conservatism and lessening liberalism is the sheer lack of interest in the hui in many parts of the wider church. (By ‘conservative’ I mean ‘content to hold things the way they have been’; whereas ‘evangelical’ refers to a specific set of theological convictions which often concur with a conservative disposition. There are more conservatives than evangelicals in our church.)
Peter Lineham, one of the keynote speakers, addresses the hui.
Two: evangelicals are not for turning. On the fundamental issue of whether a homosexual act can be ever recognised as holy in the context of a committed, faithful partnership, I detect no imminent shift in conviction. As I have talked about the hui with friends and colleagues, I find gracious interest in ideas of moving ‘beyond Scripture’ and ‘re-envisioning’. But no one says, ‘Ah, now I see differently.’ Three: evangelicals have a deepening recognition of the need for pastoral engagement with gay and lesbian Anglicans in our midst, and with those not yet part of Christ’s body. There may or may not be much interest in debating the issue in parishes. But at the level of ‘real lives’, evangelicals are more willing to engage with gay and lesbian people. How this will happen in ways that are mutually agreeable is a question I haven’t heard answered. But this deepening recognition should not be dismissed by those frustrated with evangelical convictions. It does mean, for example, that evangelicals are open to engagement with the whole church on ‘how’ we move forward together as a church seeking to be ‘faithful to Scripture’ and ‘open to all.’
At the level of ‘real lives’, evangelicals are more willing to engage with gay and lesbian people.
These observations come with associated questions: • Would further education in our church, building out from the hui, lead to a shift in convictions? Answer: no. • Could things change as re-generation cycles unfold? In other words, are today’s evangelical convictions cherished by an older cadre of leaders, but tomorrow’s leaders will be different? Answer: possibly. But there are signs that younger potential leaders are more, rather than less, conservative than their elders. • Is there complacent satisfaction about the rising conservatism in our church? Answer: no. Evangelical leaders are acutely conscious that their parishes, to say nothing of our whole church, are fighting what seems like a losing battle on church participation. It’s not just that attendance is always threatened by the secular character of wider society; people who elect to go to church tend to choose the ‘even more conservative start-up church’ down the road from the established parish church. The third Hermeneutical Hui underlined a widely shared desire to be a united church. Our discussion demonstrated that we can engage our differences in a friendly spirit. But is our whole church closer to some kind of consensus about matters such as blessing of same-sex partnerships? If I were pushing for change from the status quo as the answer, I would not be optimistic. The Rev Dr Peter Carrell is Director of Theology House in Christchurch. firstname.lastname@example.org
HERMENEUTICAL HUI, July 6-9
A liberal view Howard Pilgrim
n the issue of human sexuality, I am a liberal evangelical: someone who believes that the unchanging Gospel of Christ is now obliging the church to discover the potential holiness in faithful same-sex relationships and to bless such relationships as a valid form of marriage. At our third Hermeneutical Hui, those who shared this conviction put up a strong case in support of six interdependent principles: 1. Openness to New Interpretations. We argued that the crucial texts examined are in fact open to interpretations that do not condemn all same-sex relationships. Such fresh interpretations are offered firstly on the basis of exegesis of what the texts conveyed in their original contexts; and secondly on the basis of their significance in the different conditions of life 2000 years later. Interpreting the text is not something we do to get away from its plain message, as some might think. Rather, both we and they interpret every biblical text we read, precisely because we do take the Bible seriously and want it to speak clearly into our own situation. 2. The need for a renewed Biblical Theology. Individual texts are always read in the light of wider readings of the Bible. We all attempt to find coherence between different parts of Scripture, and do so by identifying key parts which bind others into an integrated whole. This is what Jesus’ contemporaries were doing when they asked him which laws were the greatest. However, such a framework is not explicitly provided in the scriptures, so there may be good reasons for recognising alternative biblical theologies as valid. To subordinate every text bearing on sexuality to a theology of marriage built on Genesis 1 and 2 is not the only option. Other biblical principles such as the love of God and neighbour might be seen as even more fundamental keys for understanding God’s word to us about sexuality. 3. The Importance of Reason and Experience. We were reminded of how our understanding of Scripture’s message for our own cultural context is illuminated
by our life experiences. New knowledge about sexuality means we must now question attitudes and beliefs commonly accepted 2000 years ago. This knowledge, although still imperfect, is God-given, and our consciences are bound to take it into account as we seek to bring godly order into our life together. A process of reasoned reflection in which Scripture and experience shed light on each other is the way in which classical Anglicanism has always modified received tradition. A contrary principle, that Scripture alone has this role, was rejected as the Anglican norm during the late 17th century, but lives on as one influential option within our broad theological spectrum. As Anglicans, it is not our only path. 4. The Real Presence of Gay and Lesbian People. In debating issues of sexuality we are talking about the lives of actual people loved by God, some of whom are our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are often present as we discuss the nature of their lives but are not free to speak openly for themselves, because we have not yet made it safe for them to do so. It was a sign of progress that our plenary sessions included personal disclosures by two gay academics who testified to the reality of their lives in Christ and the debilitating effects they had suffered from traditional attitudes and beliefs. But for other gay and lesbian people in the room, such frankness was not yet possible. 5. The Status Quo is Unjust. St Paul wrote that celibacy is a special gift from God, and that those who do not have that gift should marry to meet their needs for intimacy and sexual expression. By denying any opportunity for same-sex marriages, how many holy options are we offering gays and lesbians? Only one: celibacy. So, where do we go from here? Once we realize that sexual preference is not something freely
We are the ones who need liberating, from our collusion with dishonesty.
James Harding, from Otago University.
chosen, St Paul’s logic leads us straight towards the need for same-sex marriages. To resist this logic is to perpetuate a longstanding injustice. The liberating gospel calls us to think it out again. 6. Truthfulness is Crucial. Some conservative evangelicals moved by the emerging presence of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have begun speaking about the need for “a pastoral response”. What this seems to mean is that same-sex relationships are always wrong, but the church must find a way to be more supportive of sinners, following the precedent of how we deal with divorce and remarriage. But this model will never fit for committed same-sex relationships which aspire to be successful expressions of fidelity and love rather than brokenness. To treat gays and lesbians as defective heterosexuals is a refusal to recognize the truth about their lives. No wonder some of our bishops are still telling their gay clergy and ordinands to live a lie by keeping their sexual orientation a secret. How can such a church stand upright as an embodiment of God’s truth? We are the ones who need liberating, from our collusion with dishonesty. It was hard work putting this case at the hui, and it is apparent that we have a long way to go together to resolve this issue that divides us. However, the challenge to change is not going away, and Christ is calling us forward into his light. The Rev Dr Howard Pilgrim is Canon Theologian for the Diocese of Waiapu. email@example.com Page 29
T H E B I THE B L EBIBLE
Tim Meadowcroft applauds the purpose of hermeneutical hui but says eventually we must face the question of what God is like.
When hermeneutics is not enough
ne response of the New Zealand church to the crisis within the Anglican Communion has been to hold a series of hermeneutical hui. This recognizes that much that divides us is around the interpretation of Scripture. The logic is that if the process of biblical interpretation – hermeneutics – is better understood, and if we can learn better to understand each other’s interpretive positions, then we may understand each other better. This of course begs the question, what happens when we understand each other better? Will we then fall into each other’s arms and interpret together happily ever after? Or will we discover that hermeneutics is not enough – that, as has been rather cruelly put, hermeneutics is only clearing the throat? I subscribe only partially to that view. I disagree with it because a clear understanding of the nature of texts, of their interpretation, and of the location of meaning within them, is critical in a postmodern age where consensus is in short supply. But I do agree with it in that hermeneutics cannot be an end in itself except as a theoretical activity. Interpretive acuity is not going to provide all the answers in the interpretation of difficult texts. To anticipate, sooner or later there must be a turn from hermeneutics to theology.
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Sooner or later there must be a turn from hermeneutics to theology. The need for hermeneutics arises when the biblical text is experienced as at odds with human experience, or challenges the interests of the reader in some way. If I struggle to find myself in the texts, perhaps as a divorced person when Jesus is limiting the grounds for divorce, or as a gay person in the face of a blanket condemnation of homosexual activity, or as a woman when the narrator acquiesces in the abuse of the Levite’s concubine, or as a Palestinian Christian in the face of genocide in Joshua, then my struggle is more than how to interpret these things. It also becomes a question of what God is like. For a believer who cannot find affirmation in the text of Scripture, the question arises: can I then find affirmation in the heart of God? The place from which such a question is posed truly is, in the words of Phyllis Trible, “a land of terror.”1 The question also moves us into the realm of the theological. The Bible must be read theologically – in the light of what God is like. This entails several moves. • The first is to recognize a necessary conceptual distinction between the literary artifact that is the text and the word of God which comes by reading the text. • The second move is to make a further distinction between the particularity of the text and the truth towards which the text points. In other words, the text bears the limitations of its humanity but the God of the text does not. • And a third move is to suppose that, notwithstanding its particularity, the text tells enough of God for the reader to be able to hear when the story told by the
text itself strikes discordant notes within God’s story. For the Christian reader the culmination of the story is the word made flesh in the person of Jesus, and so all such readings inevitably become in some sense or other Christological. These distinctions are enormously risky. Much can go wrong on the human side of the encounter with God in God’s story. It would be much easier if the Scriptures could simply be asserted as the full and final agent of revelation, rather than as more austerely “revelatory” (to appropriate the terminology used by Sandra Schneiders2), and thus in need of interpretation. And there is always the danger of muting the text at points when it discomfits the reader. Nevertheless, it seems to me that we have no choice but to take the risk. The reason we have no choice is the incarnation of God in Christ. God becomes known to humanity by participating in the human experience in all its messy diversity. This participation is evocatively foreshadowed in the first book of the canon: “God [walked] in the garden at the time of the evening breeze” (Gen 3:8). For the Christian this dynamic reaches its culmination in the person of Jesus, in whom God took on all that it means to be human. And so we are entitled to be enraged by the text at points where we know enough of God to know that God is also enraged, even though God appears to be silent or absent. Theories of interpretation are not enough at such moments; a theology of God and of humanity is necessary. Bring on the next, theological hui3. Tim Meadowcroft is Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Laidlaw College and Laidlaw-Carey Graduate School in Auckland. TMeadowcroft@laidlaw.ac.nz
1. P. Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (OBT 13; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 5. 2. S.M. Schneiders, The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture (Collegeville: Liturgical, 1999). 3. I am grateful for some suggestions from my colleague Nicola Hoggard Creegan in the preparation of this column.
Paul Trebilco from Otago Univer sity. Rhys Lewis from Matamata.
Tackling the texts that divide Snapshots fron the Hermeneutical Hui, Auckland Dio School for Girls, July 6-9.
apier. im from N r g il P d r a How
from Peter Linehamrsit y. ive Un ey ss Ma
Frank Sm St John's itColh lefrom ge.
Moana Hall Smith from Rotrua.
Keynote addresses at the Hermeneutical Hui are on the Taonga website: http://anglicantaonga.org.nz/News/ Common-Life/Terror
Brian Easton says that even though the financial crisis is apparently over, we should still prepare ourselves for four or more years of stagnation
and a prolonged recession
he world has just gone through its greatest financial crisis since the 1930s. We may be grateful that things were not as bad as feared, but while the financial stage of the crisis appears to be over, there are still economic consequences working through the international economy. We don’t fully understand them; the only people who are sure about what is happening are those who have not been following events. However, one thing that seems reasonably certain is that the Western economies are going to come out of it on a lower growth track than before 2008. That means that when the economies start growing again, they will settle down at a similar growth rate to the past, but they will not fully recover the lost level of production, a situation I have tried to capture in the accompanying stylised graph. The transition between the two growth paths will look like a prolonged recession -- a period of stagnant growth with up and down wiggles and bouts of false optimism followed by dire pessimism. We seem to
be in one of the downers at the moment, so gloom is the fashion. How long will the recession – the period of stagnation – be? We don't know, but it is probably related to how much lower the new growth track is. The slowly forming consensus among informed
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economists is that the step down for New Zealand may be about 5 percent of output (and a bit more of expenditure, as I shall explain shortly). That would represent a recession of at least four years – so that we cannot expect it to end before 2013. Admittedly, the government may generate This is an open contract subject to annual funding. This is a permanent Lay position: both Clergy and Lay ministers are welcome to apply. For a copy of the Job Description please contact Sharlene (+64 9 521 7480 or email@example.com). To apply send your CV with covering letter by email (as above) or by mail: Administrator, Tikanga Toru Youth Commission, TUIA – General Synod Office, 200 St Johns Road, Private Bag 28 907, Auckland 1072
a boom for election purposes, but it will be unsustainable and in the long run delay the sustainable upturn. The accompanying graph gives a stylised representation of the underlying trend described in the previous paragraphs. There will be short fluctuations around the trend (including the downer in 2008) but the basic picture is that we are likely to have a period of stagnation for at least four years, and when we get back on the growth track it will be a lower one. This (probably four-year recession) means higher unemployment and greater hardship for some people. Implicit in much public policy is how that hardship is going to be shared among the population. Think of it this way: If output is going to step down 5 percent, then incomes will be 5 percent lower too. Expenditure will be even lower, because we were borrowing heavily before the Global Financial Crisis at a level we now know was unsustainable. (A moderating complication is that the expenditure won’t be cut overnight. Rather, we shall have to show expenditure restraint until 2013 and probably beyond.) So the question is who will be cutting their expenditure by 5 and more percent? Too often we hope that it will be someone else. Thus the rich are demanding – and getting – tax cuts so someone else has to take a bigger reduction in their standard of living. That’s what happened during the Rogernomics recession when average incomes stagnated for seven years. The tax cuts ensured that incomes of the top 10 percent continued to grow as if nothing had happened, so the rest of the community’s after-tax incomes declined. One solution is to argue for cuts in government spending. (The British government is talking of cutting most of its agency spending by 40 percent.) Let’s dismiss those who claim that there will be quality improvements to offset the spending reductions. (They said the same thing during the Rogernomics recession.) Let’s also acknowledge there are some inefficiencies which we should address as best as we can. We are always doing that, and the one thing we have learned is that dealing with wasteful expenditure without affecting valued spending is really difficult. It is nicely summarised by the notion that the fat in government spending is like that in prime beef – stippled through – and you destroy the meat if you try to eliminate it. Cutting government spending is going
to impact harshly on the poor and those on middle incomes who will get insufficient offsetting tax cuts. The reality then is that we will have to take a cut in our private spending and public spending, and some will take more than others. The balance between public and private spending involves political judgements (which we often try to obscure by pseudoscientific arguments). Each reader will have their own view on the degree of tax cuts and public spending cuts. Here’s a suggestion though. If you can cut back on your spending, give some of the savings to charity – perhaps a parish or
community project, or even an international one – to share the hardship more evenly. Try to make it a permanent cutback and a permanent pledge. When there were brutal hardships generated in the early 1990s, people initially gave generously, but charity fatigue set in. This time, think about giving generously for at least four years. I reckon that’s what the Good Samaritan would be doing, and what the man who told his story would be advising. Brian Easton is a Wellington economist and commentator.
Tony Fitchett says the Standing Committee is sweating through the same old tensions
ondon turned on the heat for the July 2010 meeting of the Standing Committee of the Communion – up to 26 degrees rather than the cold, rain and snow of the December 2009 meeting. But the contentious issues were the same: disputes over same-sex relationships and cross-border interventions. In December the nomination of Mary Glasspool, a priest in a long-term same-sex relationship, to be an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles had triggered unsuccessful attempts by some members of Standing Committee to exclude The Episcopal Church of the USA [TEC] from Communion activities. Between meetings three members [one of whom had never attended] resigned in protest: it is, perhaps, significant that two were primates and the other a bishop, and that both primates, in letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury, complained that the primates should be making decisions for the Communion, rather than bodies including clergy and laity. A different view of Order from mine – and, I suspect, from that of most of this church – but Standing Committee noted
its regret at the reduction in engagement of different views. By July Mary Glasspool had been consecrated, and the Archbishop of Canterbury had already removed members of TEC from ecumenical dialogues and the Faith and Order Commission, and stated his intention to act similarly with those from other provinces breaking any of the three moratoria1. This did not go down well with several members of Standing Committee, and questions were raised about his right to do so. John Rees, legal adviser to the Anglican Consultative Council, ruled that, in the absence of other provisions, it could be assumed that the appointer could also remove members. But one member of Standing Committee wanted more action, calling passionately for exclusion of TEC members from any consideration of Faith and Order issues by any Communion body. This move failed, but appreciation was expressed for his presence at the meeting, and engagement with it. Considerable time was spent dealing with ‘legal’ matters, including final registration of the new constitution of ACC a few days earlier, membership of Standing Committee, and
filling vacancies. John Rees also presented an opinion, at the request of this church, about provisions of the proposed Covenant over-riding the constitution of the ACC. His careful analysis suggests that members of churches that have rejected or given up on the Covenant are excluded from the processes set out in the Covenant, but not from substantive decision-making [eg, regarding membership] by ACC. But those still considering it, however long that may take, are still included in the process. There was plenty of other business, including ecumenical matters, Mission, Faith and Order, Anglican Networks, the Bible in the Life of the Church project and Continuing Indaba, finance2, and formal reporting to the Charity Commissioners3. Previously, the only reporting to the church on Standing Committee meetings were the minutes, not confirmed till the next meeting, and some lobbyists have exploited this delay to attack Standing Committee. This time the new Communications Officer for the Communion issued four bulletins during the meeting, posted on the ACNS website. It was not all work: on the first
evening we went to Lambeth for the superb ‘Treasures of the Lambeth Palace Library’ exhibition and dinner in the Guard Room, and on Sunday we attended morning Eucharist at Westminster Abbey, toured the Abbey and lunched in its garden, followed by a ride in the London Eye and a return river trip to the Tower. All was underpinned by worship. Morning Prayer, Eucharist and Evening Prayer each day involved us all, and brief reports on our home provinces during the offices kept us grounded. Importantly, strong disagreement on some matters did not separate us from each other, in life or in sacrament. Tony Fitchett is lay representative for this church to the ACC and a member of Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES 1. Requested by the Windsor Report, relating to consecration of those in same-sex relationships as bishops, authorization of blessings of samesex unions, and cross-border interventions. 2. Those affected by the reduction in interest rates in NZ may like to reflect on the fact that interest on deposits in the UK at present is 0.5%! 3. Which needs to demonstrate “public good” – no longer assumed, as in the past, for religious charities.
A good childhood The Science and the Spirit of Good Parenting in the 21st Century DVDs available of the series – $30. Contact: Chris Church, Theology House, 30 Church Lane, Merivale, Christchurch 8014 Email: email@example.com
Bosco Peters gets a spiritual lift from some atheist billboards
Wherever there is goodness –
God is present
ne afternoon I went for a walk in the winter sunshine, to one of the less-affluent parts of town. Along the way I spotted the billboard, “In the beginning, man created God.” Atheists raised over $22,000 for signs like this. Reminding people that it has all had a beginning doesn’t actually play in atheists’ favour. It was a Christian, Fr Georges Lemaître, who in 1931 suggested that the entire universe started at a single point. Fred Hoyle famously mocked this theory, calling it Fr Lemaître’s “Big Bang”! The theory has been refined. The name stuck. It is part of the popular Kalam cosmological argument for God’s existence: 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2. The universe began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. Another billboard reads, “We are all atheists about most gods, some of us just go one god futher.” Atheists can be prophets. They can challenge the idol we call “God”. Some people tell me, “I do not believe in God.” My response often is, “Tell me about this ‘God’ you do not believe in.” When they do, very often I find the “God” they describe is one I do not and could not believe in either. I acknowledge the great damage that bad religion and bad theology and bad spirituality have done. But I don’t see Dawkins and other antitheists giving up sex or money just because of the great damage that sex and money have done in human history! The tagline, “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life”, is based on an impression of an almighty punishing ogre in the sky. Nothing should be further from a Christian perspective of God who is love. C. S. Lewis captured well how our concepts and words are human constructs, signposts to the ineffable Mystery, the Ultimate Reality we call “God”. He wrote A Footnote to All Prayers: He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art. Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream, And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert; And all men are idolaters, crying unheard To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word. Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate. The third billboard text is, “Good without God? Over one million Kiwis are.” In the liturgy we say of God, “You are the source of all life and goodness”. As Erasmus would have it, and Jung so famously reinforced: “Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit - Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” It is not the registering of oneself on the census as having a religion that makes God present in one’s life. Nor does the registering of oneself as “no religion” remove God’s presence from one’s life. Wherever there is love – God is present (“Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est”). Wherever there is goodness – God is its source. I want to work in partnership with all of goodwill – Christians, those of other faiths, agnostics, atheists – to make this a better place. Many atheists challenge me by their altruism and generosity. Some people see Christianity as being about great rewards for limited loving investment. But orthodox Christianity is not about rewards – it is about love for its own sake. And life (in its fullness) is always a gift – not a reward.
The cafe I had my coffee in is run by Christians. They probably don’t want that made a big deal of, because “Christian” has so many unhelpful connotations. They are not “preachy” – the goal of the cafe isn’t to get more people into church or anything like that. Many of those who work there have intentionally chosen to live in the area and are working to improve it. All profits from the cafe are given away, ploughed back into justice for workers on coffee plantations, the local community, and so forth. Some people are working in the cafe voluntarily. The cafe clearly has a passion for justice and for fair trade. As I sip my coffee I wonder what these people would have done with the more than $22,000 that was raised to put up the billboard, and ones like it, overlooking this part of town… Bosco Peters is Chaplain at Christ’s College, Christchurch, and in his spare time runs www.liturgy.co.nz Liturgy.firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Randerson says New Zealand’s prison policy achieves nothing except feeding the fires of vengeance
Prison Policy A shameful blight on our nation
ow much do you know about New Zealand’s prison statistics? To the right is a simple quiz I used at two seminars in Christchurch recently. Check your answers at the end. How did you score? If you got most of the answers right you are probably one of a small minority of New Zealanders. You are probably also very concerned about the direction our country is taking – tougher sentences, more prisons, more social breakdown, less safety for the community at large. It’s distressing that a thirst for punishment seems to drive the unbelievably high level of support for the Three Strikes Law (Q7). New Zealanders would not regard themselves as a harsh, uncaring and punitive people, yet Q7 suggests we are just that. Especially when only two thirds of those who support the new law believe it will do any good (Q8). The latter sentiment is borne out by the answers in Q9: the recidivist rate is 70% on average and 90% for 18-21 year olds. Dramatic outcomes of this extent are a clear indication that present retributive policies
are counter-productive. They are bad news for the offenders who re-enter society worse off than when they were jailed, bad news for the families of offenders, bad news for the whole of society which is at risk from the consequences of a deteriorating social order, and bad news for race relations insofar as more than half of the prison population is Maori. What does the latter say about our Treaty obligations? There’s also a high rate of mental dysfunction in the prison population, and much of this goes untreated. Consider also the financial cost. A simple calculation of 8500 prisoners @ $95,000 pa comes to $807 million annually. Suppose this amount was spent on programmes to remedy the many social factors which give rise to crime, programmes such as education, housing, family support, job training or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Lord Bingham, former Chief Justice in England, has written: The typical offender is usually male, of low intelligence, addicted to drugs or alcohol, from a family where there has been parental conflict or separation, harsh or erratic discipline, and emotional, physical or sexual
From a theological perspective current policies could be described as heretical. Page 36
The Quiz How many inmates are there in NZ prisons? ■ 4000 ■ 6500 ■ 8500 2. What proportion is Maori? ■ 25% ■ 40% ■ 55% 3. How many NZers per 100,000 are in prison? ■ 100 ■ 200 ■ 300 4. In western nations, what is NZ’s incarceration rate? ■ 2nd highest ■ 8th ■ 15th 5. What is the annual cost per person in jail? ■ $50,000 ■ $75,000 ■ $95,000 6. How much p.a. for an offender on a community-based sentence? ■ $3500 ■ $5000 7. How many NZers supported the Three Strikes Law? ■ 52% ■ 67% ■ 81% 8. How many believed it would have a deterrent effect? ■ 55% ■ 70% ■ 80% 9. What is the recidivist (reoffending) rate within five years in NZ? (a) on average: ■ 40% ■ 55% ■ 70% (b) 18-21 yr olds: ■ 50% ■ 70% ■ 90% 10. In Rimutaka Prison there is an FBU wing. What does FBU stand for?
abuse. He will have no school qualification, have been troublesome leading to expulsion or truancy…..with a background of poverty, poor housing, instability, association with delinquent peers and unemployment. I find it hard to believe that in the light of such considerations the population at large would not support better alternatives. I also find it hard to believe that our parliamentarians, including those who sit around the Cabinet table, would not privately recognize the counter-productive nature of current policy.
The tragedy is that widespread public ignorance of the facts, whipped along by a handful of MPs and community lobby groups with ample support from the media, paralyses our politicians into submission to popular sentiment. It has been claimed that in the USA the private prison corporations are funding the ‘lock them up’ lobby groups as a boost to business. Making the changes will not be easy. A huge shift in public sentiment will be required. Victoria University criminologist John Pratt studied prisons in Scandinavia
in 2008-09 and found positive and open policies aimed at re-establishing people in normal social life. But he questions whether there is a sufficient level of trust and egalitarianism in New Zealand society, and hence the political will, to make changes in our own penal system, despite its manifest failings. In Scandinavian countries the incarceration rate is only a quarter of ours. Further, the rate in Finland has decreased significantly in the past 25 years, while the New Zealand rate has increased by a comparable amount. Change is possible. The Faith-Based Unit (Q10), part of Rimutaka Prison, houses 60 prisoners who volunteer to be there. Kim Workman, director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, reports that the recidivism rate is around 25% (cf. Q9), there have been no positive drug tests in five years, and a low level of incidents – about three assaults a year. From a theological perspective current policies could be described as heretical. The core value of retribution on which they are based is diametrically opposed to the Christian ethic of reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration. Alternative policies are not soft, wet bus-ticket options. They require a clear focus on remedial programmes. They require appropriate attitudes and actions towards victims. They require achieving progress towards defined outcomes. But essentially they offer hope, rehabilitation and a new life to the offender and to all society. I have no doubt that most of us, presented with the facts and sensible penal alternatives, would vote for something much different from what we’ve got. And with a groundswell of public support, politicians would be encouraged to take a lead for change. A nationwide coalition of churches and community groups to achieve just such a change is being considered. Email me if you or your parish would like to know more. Answers to Quiz: 1. 8500; 2. 55%; 3. 200; 4. 2nd highest; 5. $95,000; 6. $3500; 7. 81%; 8. 55%; 9a. 70%; 9b. 90%: 10. Faith-Based Unit (see article). Bishop Richard Randerson is a writer and speaker on faith, ethics and society email@example.com
Young Adult W
Spanky Moore explains why young people fall out of church after leaving high school, and suggests a way for them to keep the faith.
alking into an Anglican church I sometimes hear David Bellamy’s affectionate lisp ringing in my ears: “Behold the ellusive but much-soughtafter Young Adult. For decades scientists didn’t consider them a subspecies at all, but in recent years they have become increasingly rare on Sundays, preferring to habituate local malls or just sleep in. “There was a time when these specimens would migrate easily from the youth group flock to the full-fledged adult community but now, for some reason, perhaps global warming or postmodernitis, they tend to fly to university and never return. Can we save them before it’s too late?” In case you haven’t noticed, the world has been going through a lot of change lately, and one such change is the emergence of a new life-stage called “young adulthood”. It used to be a short, awkward time between high school and
settling down, a thin band of about three years before someone would get married and begin planting kids. These were the years of study, intense shortlived relationships, road trips and badly paid jobs, but in recent times this gap has turned into a gulf. These day’s it’s pretty standard for this period to last well into the late 20s, and often beyond. Young adulthood is not really an in-between period any more; it’s a fully fledged life-stage. This time of flux also sees the church lose young adults altogether – from Anglican parishes and often from the Christian faith. I asked a regional youth adviser to name the drop-off rate after youth group. He said about 90% enrol in uni and fall off the planet, never to be heard from again. The young adults we do keep tend to be those we’re paying to work for us or who have become entangled in church leadership. So why do most of them go and not
come back? There’s a complex cocktail of reasons, many of which you’ve probably heard before, but this post-high school age is a significant, life-defining time of change. They move out of home into flatting situations, meet hordes of new friends, get their first jobs, control their own money and pay their own bills. Add to that university study, which introduces exciting new ways of thinking about the world, and you can see that this is the time when young adults begin to shape their own identity and beliefs beyond the family values they’ve inherited. It’s also a time when Christianity is ridiculed as an intellectual joke by most university lecturers and as a pointless social roadblock by friends. Think about it – one year you’re playing musical chairs at youth group, the next you’re studying comparative religions in sociology. It’s easy to get the impression Christianity just isn’t a credible option. So, how do we provide space for young adults to explore new ways of thinking about faith, even that radical edge of faith, without Christianity being discarded as a restricting family value or youth group fad? The answer shouldn’t come as a surprise: discipleship. It’s probably the thing that’s most lacking in young adults’ lives as they head into the big wide world, but it’s also the thing that might stem the tide. Discipleship is both relational and flexible – two things essential for responding to young adults’ questions authentically, while keeping them
At university Christianity is ridiculed as an intellectual joke by most lecturers and as a pointless social roadblock by friends. accountable to their newfound freedom. But as Bishop Graham Cray said on his recent visit to our shores, “consumerism makes disciples better than Christianity does.” If we’re to heed Jesus’ central call to make full-life, life-long disciples of Him, we desperately need to work out better ways of doing that for young adults. One approach we’re experimenting with in Christchurch is the Society of Salt and Light – a collaborative effort involving seven parishes (www.saltandlight.co.nz). Once a month all the young adult groups meet in a local cafe for a “summit” – an evening of discipleship-focused, interactive, fast-paced teaching and storytelling, with plenty of space for discussion and the holy sacrament of inter-parish flirting. On the other three weeks of the month each group meets at parish level to eat and study together, helped by resources we’ve developed to work alongside the summits. This approach connects smaller groups of young adults into a critical mass, while encouraging them to serve and be discipled within their local parishes. It’s early days yet, but the approach is just one
of many possible options. There’s a reason not many people are doing ministry to young adults right now – and I don’t mean simply tagging ‘young adults’ on to the job description of your already over-burdened, part-time youth minister. It’s so damn hard. Young adults are old enough to think for themselves, be contrary, and often demand the right to self-direct. But they’re also busy and at times ignorant, uncommitted and unreliable. The church desperately needs patient people committed to a life-long interest in this vital life-stage and doing effective mission and ministry with them. If we want to see the generation gap in our congregations begin to close, young adults are one of the best places to start. Otherwise, all of us may end up on the extinct species list. Spanky Moore specialises in young adults ministry in the Diocese of Christchurch. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Some Parachute... water everywhere!
t just gets better and better. The Anglican Supergroup at Parachute Festival 2010 brought over 500 young Anglicans together from almost every diocese. Together we enjoyed the great sounds and atmosphere of one of the biggest Christian music festivals outside of the USA. We sang, worshipped and ate together, and generally got to know each other better as part of the Anglican family. At Parachute 2010 we also learnt to serve together. After two days of heat and sunshine, the weather turned to custard with a deluge that would have worried Noah. After the weight of the water collapsed one of our marquees we evacuated many tents, the kitchen and dining area to a large covered space.
With help from Archbishop David Moxon and Waiapu’s Bishop David Rice we soon set the chaos in order and carried on serving breakfasts and dinners so our last two days were a great experience despite the washout. We also fed bedraggled refugees from other groups who didn’t have our resources and organisation. New friendships were made, and some asked to be part of the Anglicans@Parachute Supergroup in 2011. This is a rare opportunity to savour breakfast pancakes cooked and served by our very own Archbishop David, to get to know the wider Anglican family better and to enjoy all delights that Parachute Festival has to offer.
Above: All hands to the washing up at Mystery Creek, Hamilton. The Anglican Supergroup returns on January 28-30; discounted tickets available.
Anglicans@Parachute offer tickets at reduced Supergroup prices. We set up a base camp where you can have tea and coffee, and chill out. Breakfasts are served every morning and you can sign up for the Waiapu Meal Deal. For the early risers we start each day with Anglican worship and on Sunday evening gather for Anglican Eucharist. Wade Aukett and Jocelyn Czerwonka Join Anglicans@Parachute today – for more information and news updates contact Wade at email@example.com or Jocelyn at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thinking of further study? From 2011 we offer advanced ‘block’ units at Graduate Diploma level relating speciﬁcally to more innovative forms of Anglican ministry, including pioneering missional ministry. For further information, contact: Dean: Tim Harris (Archdeacon, Dio. of Nelson) T: 03 548 8785 E: ofﬁce@bishopdale.ac.nz
Box seat John Bluck comes back from the DVD store with tales of apartheid, star-crossed lovers, and a big kid living in fantasy land Boy
aika Waititi has broken all the Kiwi box office records with this film before its DVD release. It’s as important to see as the All Blacks in the World Cup final, and will tell you a lot more about who we are as New Zealanders, even though there are far fewer Pakeha in the movie than our national rugby team. The Boy is 11-year-old Alamein (James Rolleston) supported by younger brother Rocky (Te Ahu Eketone-Whitu) who looks after the little kids while Nana goes away for a while. Alamein manages the house with adult seriousness. Then Dad (Taika Waititi) comes home from prison with his mates driving a V8 Valiant Ranger and the film descends into childish chaos. Because Dad is the real kid in the movie, in the sense of living in fantasy land. Veteran of Rambo wars, rugby star, Maori samurai, pothead dreamer, he can do no wrong in Alamein’s eyes. The film explores the hilarity and the tragedy of this loser hero with as surefooted and deft a demonstration of cinematic storytelling as we’ve ever seen nationally on the big screen. And while it’s a Maori story told through Maori eyes, it’s also indebted to Michael Jackson, Hollywood, Western consumerism and all the other ingredients of our cross-cultural boil-up, served up as it was and still could be, in Waihau Bay in 1984. So mark this movie as made with pride in Aotearoa New Zealand. It tells us more than any textbook or sermon about our nostalgia over where we’ve been; our dreams of where we’d rather be, and the myths we use to reinvent and inflate ourselves to each other.
Samson and Delilah
We’ve done some weird things to ourselves as New Zealanders in the name of racial purity – xenophobic laws against Chinese, Aryan myths about Maori, fantasies about being the Better Britons of the South Seas. But nothing beat the madness of South Africa’s apartheid policy. Look at it afresh in this new movie by Anthony Fabian and realize that using legal definitions of race to measure human values and make social boundaries ranks up there with the worst of the 20th century’s sins. The film’s story is true, as you’re reminded at the end when the credits tell you what has happened to the characters you’d hoped were only fictional. Sandra Laing was born in 1955 to staunchly white Afrikaner parents but “Coloured” in appearance – which meant “Coloured” by social category, at least until the apartheid law was changed in an effort to overcome such genetic surprises. Sandra’s legal journey, from Coloured to White and back to Coloured again when she married a Black man, would make a Monty Pythonesque absurdity, were it not for the fact it took her and her family to hell and back. The film ends with South Africa’s independence from this nightmare, but it comes too late for most of them. Skin is smart enough to let the story speak for itself. And the Kiwi connection through Sam Neill as the bigoted Afrikaner father, whom he plays with great sympathy, brings this movie very close to home.
Not a Hebrew Bible story but a central Australian moral fable of equally epic scale. An instant Australian classic, Warwick Thornton’s tough tale of star-crossed and ill-fated young lovers won the Camera d’Or at Cannes. It moves slowly to respect the pace that its characters live at in a tiny Aboriginal settlement. Which is no pace at all. No work, no hope, nothing to do all day but wait. The only source of excitement for 15-year-old Samson is the petrol he and his mates sniff incessantly. That is, until he meets 16-year-old Delilah who spends her time caring for her elderly Nana – a traditional dot painter whose art and laughter are the main sources of light and life in the movie. The art is beautifully expressed and so is the love that these angry, inarticulate teenagers stumble and fumble their way towards. You can be sure this movie wasn’t celebrated or even mentioned during the recent Australian elections, any more than Boy will be talked about too much in our own political campaigns next year.
Bishop John Bluck is retired and living north of Auckland. JohnBluck@xtra.co.nz
Samson and Delilah
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman retraces the remarkable life of J.C. Sturm (Te Kare Papuni), 1927-2009
Between worlds T he earthly life of a pioneering Maori woman writer, Jacqueline Cecilia Sturm, ended on December 30 last year in Wellington, as she left on a journey to ‘that bright place/(I believe - / I swear I believe)/ Where we may be together/ Again, for ever’.1 The pronoun of address in this short and tender poem is directed at no generalised ‘we’ – as in humanity itself – but to one particular human being, her late exhusband, the legendary poet James K. Baxter. Channelling his own borrowed Maori imagery of death’s door, ‘the dreaded fog/ Of Hine-nui-te-po’, she asks that the man who abandoned their troubled marriage in 1969 – and went on to found the controversial Jerusalem community beside a Maori pa on the Whanganui River – light her way through unknown terrors at the moment of death.2 What a contrast this is to another poem, ‘Grieving, 1972 – for Jim’, appearing two pages earlier in Dedications, her longforestalled first book of poetry, published in 1996 after decades of literary silence. In one of the great female tirades against feckless males to appear in New Zealand – or any other – literature, she lets him have it: ‘You – bugger/ You – arsehole/ You – stinking shithouse/ Dying/ without me/ Leaving/ me stranded/ Having/ to keep on/ Living/ without you/ Knowing/ I’ll never/ See you/ again/ You bastard – / You bloody bastard you –.’3 Between these twin poles of rage and reconciliation travel powerful currents of Page 42
emotion, shaping the life of this diminutive and determined woman: orphaned almost at the point of birth in 1927 by the death of her mother from septicaemia, and the disappearance of her father, the death shortly thereafter of her grandmother and carer, her adoption by Salvationists, a life thereafter lived between two worlds, Pakeha and Maori, her marriage to Baxter and its breakdown, and the subsequent years of struggle as a solo mother, a librarian who was really a writer-in-waiting, a pioneering university graduate, a Maori woman at odds with the dominant masculine and racist ethos of the post-war period that would certainly have suffocated and silenced a lesser spirit. As a poet, Jacqui Sturm employs a deceptively simple palate to convey complex human realities, but always beneath the surface is the process of emotional transference, of getting the feelings behind the experience on to the page. She believed that ‘a writer should be allowed to do what their emotional memory tells them, with all the passion in the world. Never mind about their ethnicity, never mind about their gender, just let them do it’.4 Poetry was her first love in writing, but marriage to the literary prodigy Baxter convinced her that she could never be a real poet, and so she turned – in the midst of domestic pressures as a 1950s wife and mother – to the short story form. It was her stories, coming to notice of Erik Schwimmer, editor of Te Ao Hou (the pioneering journal of Maori writing) in 1955, that showcased
Above left: Jacqui and Baxter in the good years. Above right: Jacqui and her granddaughter Stephanie at the unveiling of Baxter’s headstone at Jerusalem in 1973.
her potential as a chronicler in fiction of New Zealand life, especially that of women and those on the margins. But not even publication of her story For All the Saints, in an Oxford University Press anthology of New Zealand short stories in 1966 – making her the first Maori writer to be selected for inclusion – could ensure the opening of a literary career and the recognition to which she was entitled. The marriage breakdown and the pressures of working, and raising two children (and later a granddaughter) kept the lid on her output and her aspirations. As a Maori woman, cut off from her maternal links to Taranaki and her paternal connections to Whakatahea, whangai to Ngati Porou by virtue of her adoptive father, Bert Sturm’s whakapapa, her only recourse to a sense of Maori belonging was her involvement with Ngati Poneke, one of the early urban Maori cultural groups which grew up in New Zealand cities during and after World War 2 as a response to the great internal migration from the country to the town. She also worked to support others in the Maori Women’s Welfare League. It was not until the early 1980s that her fortunes began to change: Baxter, the object of her rage in the poem above, was 10 years dead, when the much-heralded Maori writer Witi Ihimaera realised that the librarian issuing his books in the Wellington Library was none other than J. C. Sturm. Here was a fellow Maori writer whose stories he had read years earlier in Te Ao Hou, alerting
him to the possibility of Maori writing for and about each other (as opposed to paternalistic Pakeha doing it for them). He promptly persuaded her to give him some stories for a new anthology of writing by Maori that he was editing – Into The World of Light – and by 1982, her career was suddenly relaunched. In the following year, her first full collection, The House of the Talking Cat, was published by a women’s group, The Spiral Collective. In her mid-50s, the breakthrough had finally come. Not that her story continues on a glowing upward path: like many women writers of her generation, Jacqui Sturm’s late appearance was still hedged about by relationships and meeting the needs of others. She continued to work as a librarian, while raising her granddaughter Stephanie until her retirement, when she was able to return to writing poetry at will. The daily commuter train journey from Paekakariki into Wellington had given her time to write, and in its brief span she was able to compose short poems, many addressed to family members. These were to form the basis of her first book of poetry, entitled Dedications in recognition of a series of mihimihi she had written to important people in her life. The first was to Stephanie, who became her carer, who was also to die of a rare infection, in her early 40s. This last tragic straw no doubt hastened Jacqui Sturm’s death a few weeks later. Dedications was an instant success, winning an honour award in the 1997 Montana Book Awards, and was followed by a second book of poetry, Postscripts, in 2000. The House of the Talking Cat has also been republished (2003), along with fresh stories, and poetry in The Glass House (2006) – all by the pioneering publisher of poetry and Maori affairs, Steele Roberts of Wellington. In 2003, this remarkable woman’s lifetime achievement against the odds was honoured by Victoria University of Wellington, in the conferral of the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Her recognition – unjustly deferred – was late, but richly deserved and enjoyed. Jacqui Sturm was a remarkable woman, in ways that have only been touched upon here. In person, she was deeply humble and self-effacing, to a degree little seen in the writing stars of today’s festival circuit. As a Maori woman, she lived through the reflexive racism of her post-Depression generation, while yet unable to fully experience her Maori identity, through being brought up Pakeha. As a woman, over the same lifetime,
well into the 1970s, she endured the female lot in a New Zealand where a stultifying patriarchy often ruled the roost. All such repression and limitation, this borderline status, was to feed into her writing: a literature of the outsider looking in, and reading with intense accuracy the currents of feeling that made for her times. She has also bequeathed a literature of the spirit, where both human failure and human forgiveness live on, to enrich those who read the records of such a heartbreaking journey. Dr Jeffrey Paparoa Holman teaches at Canterbury University. NOTES 1 ‘Urgently - for Jim’, from Dedications, Steele Roberts (Wellington: 1996, 2003), p80. 2 For a full obituary, see, Holman, Jeffrey Paparoa: http://www. stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/ national/obituaries/3217296/ Jacqueline-Sturm-A-pioneeringliterary-figure 3 Dedications, p77. 4 From Broken Journey: The Life and Art of J C Sturm, Māori TV (2007).
Jacqui Sturm was deeply humble and self-effacing, to a degree little seen in the writing stars of today’s festival circuit.
No country for old men Hidden Country. Having Faith in Aotearoa New Zealand by John Bluck Pakiri, Bathgate Press, 2010. ($34.95) Availble from epworth books box 17255, wellinton 6147 Peter Matheson
s one would expect with John Bluck, this book is a page-turner, brutally hard to put down. Its first part, the longer one, is about the stations of his own life’s pilgrimage, the second looks thematically at the challenge of finding a voice, a place, an identity, a future, a faith for Christian life and belief in New Zealand. In short it asks: what would a spirituality grounded in Aotearoa look like? Important! He sketches his childhood in little Nuhaka in the 1950s, the place and the people, the exciting but safe adventures in bush and river, the gatherings in his dad’s garage, vintage small-town New Zealand stuff. We walk it with him. Equally vivid is the abrupt shift to the boarding school in Napier, his ‘stalag by the sea’, its emotional coldness and cultural narrowness. This time we shudder with him! Some fine role models, though, nourished his vocation to priesthood, so off he went to College House in Canterbury, revelling in his motorbike and the dignity and freedom of a student, while doffing his hat, though not much more, to the demands of a traditionalist formation programme. But then Harvey Cox’s Secular City had him hooked. Nothing for it, he must get to the
‘… seeing the world, lit up, alive and radiant with the presence of the holy’
States! Despite much opposition he eventually got permission and raised the wind to study at Episcopal Theological School, Boston. Here we begin to see the John Bluck we later came to know emerging. He was pitched into the ferocious Vietnam controversies, learned first hand about racism and acute poverty, found a mate for life in Elizabeth, became a reporter for Cardinal Cushing’s Boston Pilot, swam in an everexpanding world. Lapped it up. After a brief curacy in Gisborne, though, it was on to Wellington, as chaplain to the Polytech and tutor in the School of Journalism, getting the wave-length of NZ again. Crucial was the ensuing Auckland experience – he edited the cutting-edge Methodist paper, New Citizen, and through St Matthew’s in the City became involved in ecumenism, issues around homosexuality and Maori sovereignty. Meanwhile, his young family grew up, loving the occasional excursions (as I was delighted to read) to Matheson’s Bay. Who wouldn’t? Already we can begin to see the shape his later ministry would take as Dean at Christchurch, with the treasure trove of liturgical innovations, and as Bishop of Waiapu – those remarkable bicultural pilgrimages. But first he was to plunge into the international scene as Director of Communications of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. He graphically portrays this amazingly exciting scene, hate-mail about the Programme to Combat Racism, meeting Desmond Tutu, travelling behind the Iron Curtain, preparing for the 1983 Vancouver Assembly, perhaps the last time the WCC really impinged on the worldwide church. But one senses a restlessness. He was too far from home. So when the invitation came out of the blue, as so often in his life, to the Pastoral Theology chair in Knox Theological Hall he jumped at it. Culturally, this again was a different world for him, a Presbyterian one. He describes the lively mixture of students, half of them Pacific Islanders, some radical, some very conservative. What he doesn’t say is that he turned the curriculum upside down in a quite genial way, with a new focus on field experience, to the delight of candidates
and colleagues. Then came his Christchurch and Waiapu periods, no doubt much better known to Taonga readers. This is his ministry in full maturity, dynamic, effective, and – of course – much loved. What these chapters remind us, however, is how hard the struggles were. The ferocious opposition to the new Visitors’ Centre at Christchurch, for example. Not the least of the interests in this book is to see how this quintessentially non-angular man nevertheless kept a determined eye on a few non-negotiable goals. And eventually carried the great majority with him. Fascinating! The fragments of the mosaic are coming together now. The reflective second part of the book does not altogether forsake the narrative mode, any more than analysis had been absent from the first part. At times he takes no prisoners. The frustrations of finding a voice for the Christian faith in a country where the opinion-makers seem tone deaf to religion has seldom if ever been better delineated. He is often, too, extremely funny. And moving, as when he speaks of “… seeing the world, lit up, alive and radiant with the presence of the holy.” ‘Finding a Future‘ is about his own retirement, but equally about the future for his beloved church. The story he is telling, we begin to see, is not his but ours. In so many ways he articulates the dilemmas, celebrates the delights, spits out the hunches of all of us. The deceptively light touch reminds me of what, in my own Celtic tradition, we call a seannachie, a story-teller, the spinner of a web which catches us all up in its music and its musings. You put it down with a grin, and feel encouraged. A bit humbled, too. Take his description of that first-ever No Ordinary Sunday service in ChristChurch Cathedral; midway through it plunged the 220 people there into a silence lasting for five long minutes: “The longer it went, the deeper down you went, like diving into the river at Nuhaka as a child, the hot summer sunlight cooled and filtered through the grass-green water.” In our end, one might say, is our beginning. Peter Matheson is a former professor at Knox.
Experiences that set the church on fire Transformed Lives: the move of God that shook the New Zealand church edited by Bev Montgomery & George Bryant Auckland: Castle Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-0-9582822-4-6. 216 pages. Peter Carrell
ike a dormant volcano mistakenly thought to be extinct which then erupts to both the dismay and exhilaration of onlookers, the Holy Spirit burst into the consciousness of the global church at the beginning of the 20th century, spawning the phenomenon known as Pentecostalism. For nearly half that century Pentecostalism as an eruption on the face of church history flowed without effect on the (so called) mainstream churches. In the 1960s and 1970s (in particular) the flow of the Spirit in Pentecostalism-mode spread into the mainstream churches, generating a movement within these churches, sometimes experienced within local
parish life, sometimes through conferences and camps which stood on the edge of official, organised denominational life, but in both cases the description given was ‘the Charismatic Movement’ or ‘the Charismatic Renewal.’ Arguably, we are at an ambiguous point in the life of the charismatically transformed churches of the 20th century. Few of us in positions of leadership today were not touched by the Charismatic Movement or by Pentecostalism at a formative stage in our lives, but how many of us routinely bump into manifestations of the Holy Spirit as they were experienced in the heady 60s and 70s? This question is underlined for me as I reflect on this book of 20 stories of lives touched, filled, and transformed by the baptising dynamism of the Holy Spirit. Each story tells of people’s lives blessed by the Holy Spirit, mostly with ‘signs following’ such as speaking in tongues, healing, deliverance, or empowering
for ministry. As I recall the 1970s, meeting people with such testimonies was a regular occurrence. But not so today. Bev Montgomery, compiling these stories, with editorial assistance from George Bryant, has done the NZ church a singular service. Here is a set of testimonies which lays out the personal and intimate experience of an unusual work of God in our midst. At the time it gained a descriptive name or two. Currently its history is beginning to be told (e.g. by Rev Dr Dale Williamson of Tauranga in her PhD thesis, An Uncomfortable Engagement, the Charismatic Movement in the New Zealand Anglican Church, 1965-1985, University of Otago, Dunedin, 2007). No doubt that history in the fullness of time will expound on sociological and psychological factors in this phenomenon, and discuss such traces of its presence in the official annals of denominational life. But the heart of the Charismatic Movement
and of the dramatic birth and growth of Pentecostal churches, along with new mission work associated with them (e.g. YWAM, participation in which is a common theme here), is personal experience. This book is an enjoyable reminder of that fact, and a spirited challenge to today’s church. Rev Dr Peter Carrell is Director of Theology House in Christchurch. email@example.com
Stories pointing to a deeper spirituality Christian Spirituality by Karen E. Smith London: SCM, 2007 - £21.99. Maggie Smith
his is a story book, of sorts. Each chapter begins with a story that illustrates its point, making the book immensely attractive and easy to read. I appreciated,too, the inclusive, non-judgmental way Karen Smith shares her own journey of discovery. She writes at a good pace and chooses her quotations with inspired wisdom. A feature that could challenge both the individual reader or a group is a section after each chapter entitled,“Draw your own
conclusion”, accompanied by an extensive reading list. This models Karen Smith’s basic premise that each of us has a unique relationship with God and with Scripture, and thus our own style of Christian spirituality. Between belief and experience there’s a conversation, which implies relationship. This conversation is spirituality. But for the conversation to begin, there first needs to be a longing. Belief, experience and desire are the “building blocks” – the foundation of our life in and for and to God, who is unknowable and yet is revealed as Love in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the natural and compelling
flow of the book, we move from each story to a people formed into community. When this community is “based on the presence of Christ within the world” (p59), then life in the community becomes an important aspect of Christian spirituality. Smith talks convincingly and with great care about the costs and the deep joy of compassion – a caring with rather than a caring for. Participation in suffering, by life events or by choice, offers “real participation in a relationship with Christ.” (p123) All of us long for a different world, which is God’s initiative. This waiting in hope and expectation is balanced by
our quest for social justice, genuine equality, real peace. The tension between waiting and acting therefore determines our spirituality. “Essentially, Christian spirituality is nurtured through life within community while still longing for a different kind of community: a community participating in God’s love…now and for evermore.” (p143) This book both challenged and affirmed my own journey, as it will yours. Maggie Smith is an Anglican priest and spiritual director, living in rural Canterbury. firstname.lastname@example.org Page 45
Lively interpretation of John Wesley The Wesley Code: Finding a Faith that Matters by James Stuart 211pp, $35; Philip Garside Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-09582682-2-6. Peter Lineham
ainstream Methodists sometimes seem the very last people to appreciate the ministry of their founder, John Wesley. He is acclaimed by Charismatics, Catholics, Lutherans and conservative Wesleyans and Nazarenes while the direct inheritors of his legacy seem to have little interest in his ministry. New Zealand Methodism gradually lost interest in its historic heritage as it became absorbed in ecumenical affairs and in maintaining the institution. Jim Stuart came to New
Zealand in 1980 as a relatively young American and his PhD on Methodism was completed under the supervision of the Lutheran theologian Gerhard Ebeling in Switzerland. Now in retirement, Stuart has at last put together his vision of Methodism, and presented it as a clarion call to New Zealand Methodists. The book does a great job of popularising theological ideas in a lively way. To enhance understanding of Wesley’s
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historical setting, the book includes a series of prints by Hogarth. The heart of the book, however, is an interpretation of Wesley, and how he fits into the broader evangelical tradition. From the very beginning Wesley went one way and his fellow preacher George Whitefield went a very different way. But just what was the point of difference? How come Methodism headed in a very different direction from Evangelicalism? In my view the best part of Jim Stuart’s scholarship is his analysis of Wesley’s notions of expedience, experience, consensus and vision. This makes a lot of sense of Wesley’s choices. When Stuart comes to analyse the characteristic features of Wesleyan theology he focuses not on theological views but on
attitudes and values, in particular providence, compassion, grace and love. I have some questions about this, for Wesley could be very emphatic and highly conservative on doctrine. Moreover, I think Stuart is so sympathetic to Wesley’s approach that he (like Wesley himself) is rather unfair to his opponents. But this doesn’t diminish the value of the book in giving New Zealand readers a sense of Wesley’s spirit – brim full of enthusiasm of the very best kind. Overall, Stuart calls for a church built around values and attitudes, not theology and property. I’m all in favour of the former, but it is not so easy to abandon the latter, and I’m not at all convinced that Wesley would have even dreamt of such an approach! Dr Peter Lineham is a religious historian at Massey University.
Best of NZ’’s hymnody Hope is Our Song: 158 hymns, carols and songs by 48 New Zealand writers of words and music Nz Hymnbook Trust; Full Keyboard Settings For All Songs And Guitar Chords For A Selection. 340pp, Wire Binding. $30 Plus P&P. Available From Po Box 4142, Manawatu Mail Centre, Palmerston North. Info@ Hymns.Org.Nz
his valuable resource reflects the theology of our time and also the increased awareness of God in our daily routines and common rounds. Most of our great hymn writers are represented, and it’s especially pleasing to see some established regional writers – Bill Bennett, Marnie Barrell, Bill Wallace and Jocelyn Marshall to name a few. Hymnody is balanced with more superficial material – both a strength and a weakness. For example, A pinch of salt as a song does not have the same gravity as God, companion on our journey. The test of a good tune is its easy adoption by a congregation, individuality and simplicity, use of repetition, how it supports the rhythm and spirit of the text, and its longevity.
While I think Colin Gibson is overrepresented, his Anzac is an example of a fine tune. It uses repetition skilfully and enhances the Shirley Murray text superbly by its rising pattern. A criticism of hymnbooks published 40 or so years ago was that the melodies were set too high for most congregations. There’s a danger in this collection that too much melody delves into the region around the break in the human voice. It’s no accident that middle C was not placed on the stave. Anzac, for instance, would be more effective above the break, in D major. There are many fine melodies here with sound, supporting harmonies. It is difficult for any hymn writer not to unconsciously delve into a melodic cliché from the past. How many hymns do not remind one of a previously composed melody? A metrical index would have given alternatives for some hymns. Will churches with only one copy seek permission to print music and text? I hope so. The copying machine is depriving publishers and authors of royalties, so publishers of a collection such as this should sell a copying licence with the publication. Paul Ellis is a Christchurch organist.
F R O M T H E FA R S I D E
Imogen de la Bere discovers joy in the midst of a recitation of decline
To absent friends
e have been enacting the expatriate summer ritual. Our friends and relatives arrive in a steady stream throughout the Northern Hemisphere summer, bearing jars of Sanitarium Marmite and funeral service sheets. And once again we experience the horrid jolt of learning who has died, without our having experienced the natural precursors of sickness and decline, and without the necessary opportunity to mourn. We have not been able to say goodbye, before or after death, to people to whom we were once very close. And even to those whom we knew slightly, people whom we only remember holding a glass at one of our parties and swaying slightly. My friend is dead – suddenly, horribly dead, because I did not see him sicken and decline. Torn from me unnaturally, because I did not visit him in his last days. Cruelly dead because the final, personal words are forever unsaid.
Terribly, clinically dead because I cannot weep at his funeral. There are fewer things sadder than this. It breaks your heart. Choosing to live away from home, you accept this as a cost. But it is the only pang of exile which time does not dull. For over time, more and more people die – we sometimes feel our beloved friends are being cut down in swathes, rather than stalk by stalk. The landscape once crowded with odd, beautiful people, holding glasses and slightly swaying, becomes a desolate wasteland. Perhaps worse is the other class of news that comes with the annual summer migration. It’s not so dramatic as death, more a slow burn of sadness. It’s the casual remark ,“Dear A has completely lost the plot” or “B is in care now, of course” or “Poor Old C – almost completely blind”. We can only imagine A, B and C as vigorous adults managing their lives and maybe a multi-million-dollar
enterprise. At that point you want to go out and drive into a wall. But why am I surprised by this recitation of decline? Not so long ago, at parties, the talk was all of divorces, redundancies and midlife crises. Now the same people swap tales of surgery and pills. Everyone except me – who got these things over with in childhood – is either taking something or undergoing something. Young, you were interesting if you had some serious illness; old, I find it cooler to admit to nothing. Shamefully, like Medieval survivors of the plague, surrounded by death and decay, I feel an insane desire to celebrate being alive. To dance in the graveyards, springing with flowers. On reflection, perhaps it’s neither shameful, nor insane. Perhaps it’s God given. Imogen de la Bere is a Kiwi writer living in London. email@example.com
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Please support Habitat for Humanity’s 2010 Annual Appeal As Christians, we are called to love our neighbours. Whether they are over the fence, in the neighbourhood, somewhere in the Pacific, or beyond, we are all called to regularly exercise our humanity towards those we share this planet with. The trouble is we don’t always know the best way to do it. Is it possible to make this world, or even New Zealand for that matter, a better place to live? It is possible. When you support Habitat for Humanity New Zealand’s work, we can help you make a practical and lasting difference to others in need, because we’re all about bringing communities together and helping build better places to live. The provision of shelter, having a safe and decent place to call home, really is addressing one of humanity’s most basic needs. Please consider supporting our Annual Appeal and help us address the growing need for our vital services both here in New Zealand and overseas.
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