He aha te mea nui? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
Miracles at Manurewa Baptist Church
I am Gail Rautahi Te Pere Southern Irving Hosken, my iwi is Taranaki me Te Arawa and I am excited about the journey our church family is on.
With the encouragement of the elders last year, a group of Māori from Manurewa Baptist Church (MBC) established a roopu (group) to advise the elders on tikanga Māori (Māori customs and protocols). Four of us from the roopu were privileged recently to participate in a forum as part of the church service. The service was deliberately chosen to be at the start of Matariki and in this forum we shared from a Māori Christian worldview how we view traditional myths and legends, and how we respond to critique of Māori cultural practices. We talked about how both Jesus, Paul, and people through history have used the culture of the people to lead people towards Jesus – think of the tale of the woman at the well, for example. We also spoke about how we as people who point towards Christ can point to him in our cultural practices. For example, at Matariki we can point to him through our karakia (prayers): We thank him for the year that passed and for all of his provision and we look ahead to what the New Year holds with thankfulness.
We are growing in our understanding of our own culture, ourselves, and how this all fits with who we are in Christ. To have our brothers and sisters in Christ support us in this is an answer to many prayers over many years. To be free to worship in a way that is true to who we are is amazing. To be able to freely and respectfully challenge each other about any of our cultures is a sign of maturity in our faith.
We are also finding that the same things we are discovering as Māori and as a congregation are concepts true for any culture. As we continue to grow together in the house of our Lord, our ride will embrace all cultures. The ride could be bumpy sometimes, but it will be a good one! We want to continue to see, react, and embrace the world views of each other so that we might serve each other better as we seek to grow into the image of Christ.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the whole congregation at MBC. No reira tena kouto tena koutou tena koutou katoa.
Lyndon Twemlow is the pastor at MBC and he adds: the spirit of grace that our Manurewa roopu operate in is nothing short of Christ-like. Some months back the Roopu asked that space be given for all languages to be heard over Māori language week. Learning from this, since April our weekly reading has been proclaimed in a new language each week, reminding us that the good news of Christ is for all people, of all nations. We thank Jesus for the amazing roopu of MBC! You can check out the recording of our forum at mbcfamily.weebly.com/recent-teaching.
A symbol of commitment
For many years, Franklin Baptist Church has embraced ministry and mission to Māori and the premise of the bicultural journey. As a symbol of commitment to the ongoing exploration of this in their local context, and in recognition of the need for Māori to be an integral part of this commitment, Franklin Baptist Māori Ministries have commissioned two korowai from local weavers as a gift to the wider Franklin Baptist Church. Korowai are placed on the shoulders of those in key leadership, as a token of mana (prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma). The gifting of these korowai is a demonstration on the part of Franklin Baptist Māori Ministries, signifying their commitment to this bicultural journey.
They are also equipping leaders so that they can speak with love and participate fully in this journey. For some, part of this equipping involves study at Carey Baptist College and it is envisaged that the korowai will be placed on the shoulders of these individuals at graduation, honouring them for their achievements. The korowai will also be used in acknowledgement of other accomplishments and occasions that hold significance.
One of those present at the gifting was Joan Milner - Joan is a member of Franklin Baptist Church who was a pioneer for Baptist Māori Ministries from 1953 in Pukekohe, and was involved with children’s work and women’s meetings. She retired in 1978 but continued to meet with women for Bible studies. Emily Whyte was the lead weaver of the korowai and in her childhood years was a participant in the early work that Joan led.
David Costar as RML for TOTS
David Costar has been appointed Regional Mission Leader for the Top of the South (TOTS) region. The TOTS region is made up of seven Baptist churches and one independent ethnic church. David will be supporting the pastors of these churches, including meeting monthly as they seek to learn from, strengthen, nurture, and support one another.
South West Baptist Church – a church on the move
Last month the building we met in as a church from 1881 - 1948 was pulled down. As they scraped away the debris, our cornerstone and foundation stone emerged. This had been our third meeting place; the second was moved from one side of the road to the other, and ironically the first building the church met in, a mud floor whare, had no physical cornerstone. The early church members were quick to explain that they didn’t need one because their cornerstone was Jesus Christ.
In 1948, the church was on the move again. The Lincoln Road church, now known as Spreydon Baptist Church, joined with Lyttelton Street Baptist Church. Buildings were dragged from each site by steam tractor to our present site in Spreydon. Sixty-eight years later, the original Lyttelton Street Baptist Church building is our church foyer.
Decades later, the Spreydon church would plant Halswell Baptist, a series of area congregations, as well as many ministries reaching into different areas of need across the city. After the earthquakes reshaped Christchurch, Halswell and Spreydon combined again, and then chose a more generic name of South West Baptist Church.
With all the changes of buildings and names, one could ask what makes the church the same. Perhaps two key things: Firstly, Thomas Jeffcoate, our visionary pioneer, saw a need for a church that was geographically, culturally, and relationally accessible to the local people. Secondly, and most importantly, in spite of all the change the church has been through, that first cornerstone remains the same today – Jesus Christ. Our vision is to help people become his lifelong followers and for our communities to be shaped by his kingdom vision...150 years on, that is worth celebrating!
Sleep Out for Syria
Invercargill Central Baptist Church, Avondale Baptist Church, and Kaiapoi Baptist Church joined with Tearfund staff and other churches in New Zealand to sleep outside churches for a night in June.
This was part of Tearfund’s Syrian Refugee Appeal, intended to show solidarity with the Lebanese Baptist Society, raise awareness of the crisis, symbolise the church as a place of hope for refugees, and to raise money.
Tearfund partners with the Lebanese Baptist Society, who work through churches across Lebanon to help refugees with winterisation supplies. Pastors there say they are overwhelmed by demand, having to turn families away that turn up at the doors of their homes. In one case, a pastor offered his wedding ring in a bid to get medical attention for a refugee child from a hospital running over capacity.
Checkout tearfund.org.nz if you would like to donate to the Syrian Refugee Appeal.
LEAD Conference – emotional health and a partnership with Burmese churches
Hutt City Baptist Church hosted the second annual LEAD Conference in June this year. The LEAD Conference sets out to equip, empower, and engage Baptist pastors and leaders. One theme that emerged this year was the need for leaders to know themselves, care for themselves, and allow God to work in their lives so that leadership comes from a place of emotional health. A big thank you to Hutt City Baptist Church for your hospitality, the LEAD team, and those who contributed in the main, seminar, and workshop sessions.
As part of the LEAD conference, a number of Burmese church leaders here in New Zealand gathered with other church leaders to intentionally explore what a partnership between the Burmese churches and the Baptist Union of New Zealand might look like, in terms of the future mission of these churches and beyond. Up to ten Kachin, Chin, and Karen churches are in the process of making this partnership happen, so it was wonderful to share stories around how our Burmese brothers and sisters have come to New Zealand, how the churches are doing, and what challenges the Burmese refugee communities in New Zealand are facing. Time was spent considering what the word ‘partnership’ means in this context and some of the unique contributions that the rest of the Baptist Union can receive from our Burmese brothers and sisters, and visa-versa, were looked at. There was also a focus on how we identify and train the second-generation of leaders in our Chin, Kachin, and Karen church communities and what might need to happen to facilitate this. See the progress at facebook.com/ NZbaptistEMM.
Mental health and the church conference
Equip (a mental health service that is an extension of Windsor Park Baptist Church) and Willow Creek Association New Zealand organised a one-day conference in June this year to look closely at a range of mental health issues. Keynote speakers and workshops explored aspects around depression, suicide, psychosis, and the pastoral care of people who experience mental health issues. This was a huge success with just on 400 people attending. One delegate commented: “Thank you for addressing the very real issues that are often swept under the table.” In fact, feedback was so positive that there will be two conferences in 2017 – one in the North Island and one in the South Island. As another conference attendee said: “May God bless us in our challenge to make our churches the safest places on earth.”
Big changes for Te Anau Baptist Church
The members of Te Anau Baptist Church have made a courageous decision to windup as a church. With the retirement of its pastor in June and the lack of numerical strength, the church has decided to discontinue after thirty-three years of service to the community.
The wonderful people of Te Anau Baptist Church have worked primarily behind the scenes for this time serving the community with activities like Rock Climbers (Bible in schools), mainly music, meals on wheels, a secondhand clothing ministry, and a number of children’s Christmas productions as well as the presentation of the story of Tarore last year. In 2015 the church began [email protected] welcome international (and local) visitors to experience Christian hospitality with worship, discussion, and a shared meal.
Many people from all over the world have been a part of the church during the past thirty-three years as visitors and members. Lives have been impacted for good and many, both members and non-members, have expressed how the church has cared for them in loving and thoughtful ways.
On August 14th 2016, Te Anau Baptist Church will formally disband and the current members will involve themselves with and support other established congregations in the town. Funds will be distributed to charities and great causes both local and overseas. Te Anau Baptist wants to extend their thanks for the support and encouragement they have received.
100 Years Ago – Sermon Slackers
I knew a man who was once the pastor of a great church. In conversation with a group in the corridor of a hotel on a Sunday afternoon he was told by the party that all of them intended to go around and hear him preach that night. He urged them not to do so, as he said he had nothing much to preach. His crowd was always small, he said, at night, and he gave them only a little talk. It did not seem to occur to him that his small talk had trimmed down his crowd. I want to use that occasion for some practical suggestions. Doubtless the pinkish homiletical teacher and pupil will smile at these, but let them smile; what is needed to be done in the pulpit is to bring things to pass. It is well to learn the principles of homiletics, but every man must apply them his own way. The preacher is an architect. He must build sermons. Everyone wants to be listened to, and he wants his sermon to be effective. In order to these he cannot throw together a lot of stories, a few bits of poetry and an occasional quotation of Scripture and persuade himself that that will do. Real sermon-making is no easy job. A fresh repast twice a week means work. Leaving out mannerisms, dress and all else now, let’s get down to serious business. The preacher does not want to surprise or startle at the outset of his sermon, but this thing is true—the success of a sermon depends largely on the impression made within the first five minutes of its delivery. If a preacher can fix the attention of the audience within that time, he can hold it thereafter if the people have anything to hold to. The short story writer understands this. He must learn the art of arresting the attention, but he does more— he arranges his matter in such adjustment, that he excites interest at every step to the extent of the reader wishing to know what is to come next, and this is continued to the climax.
The old rhetoricians used to call this a trick. Trick or not, it succeeds. In order to its sale, the story must have certain elements of merit, and these elements not only make it marketable but readable. Hence it goes. Here is something for every sermon builder to learn. Interest excited at the first and maintained to the close, the thread of unity followed without break or knot, the symmetry of the structure preserved arid this interest added.
It used to be that orators could potter along, tie in a rosebud here, a green leaf there, tell a story now and then, dawdle for a few minutes, fire up afresh and say something worthwhile, aiming all the while at the conclusion when the pent-up fires long held in reserve burst forth, flare and flash, detonate and coruscate and suddenly close. But all that is over. Interest must begin and be maintained thoughout even to the close. This cannot be done off-hand. Nor can it be done by a lazy fellow who thinks just anything will do so thirty minutes are killed, or by the other who squats on his imaginary reputation, presuming that some people will think that anything is great that he may get off.
Aside from all else, the pastor owes to his people the best that is in him every time he preaches. On a basis of ordinary honesty this is time. He is maintained for this very thing. A mutual contract exists, and the pastor should comply with its terms, whether the others do or not. If preachers will accept the wisdom to which I have given expression, for no one knows its profundity better than the writer, and because it is needed it is hereby given, all will be well. Because I am not a professor but a plain man, one need not think I cannot give advice, I have a ton or two stored away for emergencies, not of my own, but of the truly needful. Some professors may laugh at what I say, but being of the people I can teach even some professors— some things. Get the best results in your sweet way and don’t fail to apply them like I say.
Yours in candour,
Baptist Magazine August 1916
These stories are from the August 2016 issue of the Baptist magazine.
You can subscribe to the Baptist Magazine here.