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Methodist Church Blog

Face Masks

Dear friends

This week I received a query as to whether it is OK to gather 10 people in the chapel, 10 people in the lounge and 10 people in the hall to meet the 10 people gathering at Alert Level 2.5.

The short answer was no. No circumvention, no complacency, no compromise.

If those groups had their own separate and distinct building facilities (toilets and kitchens, entries and exits), and only if they did not mingle in any physical manner or form, then it would be OK.

Let us keep playing it safe and avoid becoming another sub-cluster like Mt Roskill.

Also this week, the Connexional Office staff had a sewing bee to make face masks.

They took over the board room and I didn't know sewing could be sew noisy. Or sew funny- sew there sure was a lot of laughter!

All in all it was a good effort, thirty two masks were made and distributed around the office and with the Archives volunteers. The masks are comfortable, have a pocket for filters and work well when you wear glasses. I am told there is a little bit of origami involved so you will need to take your time with the first effort.

Attached is the photo evidence that Nan requested last week. Thank you to our smiling models, Peter and Bruce. Especial thanks to the sewing team for keeping our people safe.

The pattern is available on the website if your parish is interested.

Yours in peace, grace and multitudes of face masks for the foreseeable future.

02 Sep 20

Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa, 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. Psalm 23. 

It is with sadness that we learnt last week of the sudden death of Rev Melema'u Molitika (Mele). Due to Covid-19 restrictions, as many people have discovered, planning for a funeral is challenging. We are aware that Mele has touched the lives of many people from around the country who would love to be able to attend her funeral but are unable to do so due to the restrictions. We are thankful that arrangements have been made for her funeral to be live streamed. 

President Setaita is in Hamilton and will pay tribute to Mele on behalf of the Conference. We both have fond memories of Mele. Memories from her time at Trinity College, her excitement at moving into ordained ministry and at her ordination. She was also a member of the Christchurch Conference Arrangements Committee with us. During Conference she could be found looking after security and those living in the hostel - always looking after people with grace and dignity. We also both remember her sharing with us her joy following stationing last year at her appointment back home in the Waikato where she would be closer to family. Mele was a gracious, loving and wise woman, who had energy and a passion for Christ along with such a wicked sense of humour. 

At her funeral today, President Setaita will honour Mele's leadership and ministry in the presence of her family. We extend to her whanau our love and thanks for gifting Mele to the Methodist Church. We pray that you will find strength and peace as you say your goodbyes. Mele's warm presence will be sorely missed, yet her faithful service will live on in the many lives she touched. Our love and prayers are with you all. 

Other impacts of Covid-19 restrictions have meant that next weeks meeting of Tauiwi Strategy and then Stationing will be held via zoom. These are important meetings that impact the lives of parishes and presbyters and deacons. It will be a challenge to meet via zoom, but during times like this, we need to be flexible. We ask everyone to keep in their prayers Synod leaders as they meet next week, along with the parishes and presbyters and deacons who are on stationing this year. 

We also want to thank the congregations of Auckland for your response to Covid-19 in the community, particularly the Vahefonua, Sinoti and Wasewase parishes who have been helping in the ministry of health response. Your willingness to open your premises as testing stations, for volunteering to help with the distribution of masks and being open to work with the Ministry of Health shows the nature of living in true community. 

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui. 

Setaita and Nicola

During Mele's funeral today, Rev Susan Thompson will read this tribute which has been written by members of the two Synods where Mele served as a presbyter.
Mele was loved and respected by her friends, colleagues and congregations in the Central South Island Synod and the Waikato-Waiariki Synod. We share a sense of shock and grief at her sudden passing and as part of the family of God offer her family all of our love and prayerful support.
Mele was first and foremost a person of deep faith. Her love for God governed all that she was and all that she did. She approached everyone and every situation with a desire to serve and with an open heart and mind.
Mele offered as a candidate for the Methodist ministry in 2010. It was a time of many changes for her and it took a while to clarify her call and to gain the assurance and confidence she would need for presbyteral ministry. By the time she had finished her training she had the skills and presence that would make her ministry so successful.
Mele's first parish was at Beckenham Methodist Church in Christchurch in 2014. Her calm and peaceful presence was a balm to frazzled nerves as the city, still broken after the earthquakes, worked to find its new normal. One of Mele's first tasks was to work with the Parish and Synod around the strengthening of the church and rebuild of the new hall and kitchen. Not an easy task for seasoned presbyters let alone a new probationer!
Mele was by nature a loving pastor. Her words of wisdom, encouragement and prayer, along with her playful laughter, were appreciated and sought out. Never frowning or complaining she got on with the task at hand with grace and gentleness. Mele quickly became a role model to many. She had a deep spirituality and brought a strong sense of joy to the community of faith. She had a wonderful way of speaking to God and she taught her people to pray more mindfully, to praise God first, then to pray for others and then to seek  positive opportunities to pray for their own trials and tribulations.
The members at Beckenham have said that "Mele was a good friend as well as our minister and we thank the church for sending the courageous woman she was to us. Mele loved our young people from babies through to all ages and she always brought food both spiritual and physical for the youth group; they loved Mele. Mele was a good listener and in her own quiet way could guide a conversation to move people to reflect on their actions without criticizing and with love".
By 2018 Mele's skills and wisdom were well known within the Synod and she was asked to join the Synod Executive Team. Here her humour and quiet wisdom, depth of compassion and understanding were greatly valued by the team. During her time in Christchurch she also served on the Methodist Publishing Board and was a key organizer for Conference arrangements in 2018.
In 2020 Mele moved back to the WaikatoWaiariki Synod and took up an appointment at the Cambridge Union Parish. Her calm presence was again a blessing as New Zealand went into lockdown. Mele ministered with patience and understanding and her warm kindly nature soon  endeared her to the congregation. As one parishioner said, "we needed someone to love us" and Mele opened her heart to us all. When lockdown came to an end Mele led a joyful return to the church, opened her new home to family and parishioners and set about deepening pastoral relationships with energy, generosity and humour.
Mele was very close to her family especially her nieces and nephews. It was a huge joy to have her back in Hamilton and able to be a part of family
life and celebrations. We are so grateful that she spent the last months of her life living so close to her mother and wider family. It was a time to cherish. 

Today we give thanks to God for Mele's life and ministry. Her warm presence will be sorely missed, yet her faithful service will live on in the many lives she touched. In the words of the Maori whakatauki or saying, He kotuku rerenga tahi, a white heron flies once. Fly now, beloved friend and faithful servant. Be at peace in the love of God. Go well. Amen. 

Prayer for this week
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Written by Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932



On Monday Auckland moved to Alert Level 2 with continued restrictions on gathering

Dear friends

We have seen COVID-19 touch multiple churches in Auckland recently. We cannot afford to become complacent in our COVID-19 fighting habits.
The Ministry of Health is encouraging testing in the South Auckland area. Please take up the opportunity to be tested as part of the effort to eliminate Covid-19. President Setaita was being tested at Lotofale'ia in Mangere last Friday.

Now is the time to keep doing things right because we will be walking this path for many more months.

I was reminiscing this morning about the privilege of living very near my grandparents as I grew up. My grandfather taught me to swim, and would regularly take all us kids with him during the summers as he went for his daily swim.

Many of us are older, or with compromised health conditions, or we are lucky to have regular contact with our kaumatua and grandparents. We should look after all grandparents so the mokopuna can enjoy the opportunities that I enjoyed when I was younger.

Therefore the Methodist Church is taking an extra step over and above the government guidelines, and expects that people from different bubbles travelling in one vehicle for a Church event or Church business will also wear a face mask.

I urge you to keep current with all the things we need to do to help control COVID-19. The basics are:

-  Stay home if you're sick

-  Call the Healthline if you have cold or flu symptoms

-  Wear a face covering

-  Keep track of where you've been

-  Wash your hands

-  Cough or sneeze into your elbow

-  Clean surfaces that get touched frequently

-  Maintain physical distancing

-  Wash your hands again

-  And be kind, always be kind

And the Methodist Church response is regularly updated at

Our foe in this battle is invisible and people are the solution, not the problem.

Yours in peace and grace


Rev David Bush
General Secretary


Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,
As of midnight on Sunday, all of New Zealand moves to level 2 - those of us in Auckland can't wait. For the rest of the country, it means no change. This week Rev Michael Greer has reflected on the "new normal" and the impact of Covid-19. Michael rightly reminds us that "even in change, God is. That even in this moment, God is – today – and will be tomorrow. That our awareness of the divine in our life is never limited by time or any one event. God is in our past, our present and our future. That God is already in our future."

During this time of change we encourage us all to be strong in faith and be there for each other. We are all in this together. "Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11) NRSV

In Christchurch this week the court is hearing the impact statements of some of the victims of the March 15 2019 attack on the two Christchurch Mosques. The testimonies have been harrowing. However, what is apparent in some of these testimonies, is the strength of faith that many of the victims have.

Farid Ahmed (husband of one of the victims – Husna Ahmed), in his address at the service at Hagley Park last year said "A volcano has anger, fury, rage. It doesn't have peace. It has hatred, it burns itself within, and it burns it surroundings. I don't want to have a heart like this, and I believe no one does. I want a heart that is full of love and care, and full of mercy, and will forgive lavishly, because this heart doesn't want any more life to be lost. This heart doesn't like that any human being should go through the pain I have gone through. That's why I have chosen peace, love and I have forgiven." This powerful statement needs to stand alone. But Michael Greer reminds that God is ever present, even when we find it difficult to see. Jesus says in Luke 6:35 "love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return". In Farid's statement, we see this in action.

Today we pray for those who stood before a terrorist, for those whose lives changed forever on March 15, for those whose hearts are still broken, and the wound is fresh and for those who will never get their loved ones back. We are thinking of you. We stand with you, wherever we are. We pray that justice is served, in this life and the next.
'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui.

Setaita and Nicola

Once again over these past 10 days, all of us have had to rediscover a new "normal". Having stepped back from the constraints of Level 4, we had settled contentedly into the comparative freedoms of Level 1.

Suddenly – even here in New Zealand's seemingly far flung place in the world – community transmitted reinfection that has swept devastatingly through so many other countries, abruptly stopped us too, from our renewed routine of "being together".

To some degree or other, home has once again become workplace, telephone calls have had to substitute for the presence of family and other visitors. Cards, emails and letters have had to stand-in for first-hand news. Facetime, Zoom and Skype have had to substitute for "our being there". Our grief upon losing those we have loved, has been made even more challenging, more testing. Celebrations of life – some postponed from just weeks earlier – have once again been compromised, rescheduled.

Nor has the severity of restraint been confined to just one region or another. It's cast a very long shadow. It's not only our usual patterns of retail therapy that have been placed at social distance.

Worldwide, older persons, particularly those in more fragile health, have been the most vulnerable to this pandemic. Not surprisingly then, Level 2 constraints immediately meant the equivalent of Level 4 restrictions in rest homes and hospitals throughout New Zealand. For example, it's meant that here at WesleyCare in Christchurch, our chapel community has once again been dispersed back along the corridors; Chapel services are cancelled; social activities and interaction are severely curtailed; there can be no visitors except in the most necessary circumstances; and Chaplaincy becomes a vital and urgent pastoral care.

It's once again brought change. And although I'm loathe to admit it, change shakes my comfortable nest. I don't like things to change. I want to know exactly where I'm going. I have a place for everything and want everything in its place.

Change and uncertainty tends to make me gripe and grumble.

So it's left me wondering, is there anything permanent in life?

The answer is that in truth, I'm having to put my faith where my preaching and pastoral theology have been across the years. To remind myself that even in change, God is. That even in this moment, God is – today – and will be tomorrow. That our awareness of the divine in our life is never limited by time or any one event. God is in our past, our present and our future. That God is already in our future. That whatever change I go through and whatever upheaval confronts me, an awareness of the divine in my life is going to be there ahead of me.

Now how come I forgot that? Because it's a truth as old as time itself. How did that hymn put it?

Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee

Perhaps not exactly in the style of how we might state it in modern day conversation, I know. But there's an unarguable, enduring truth in those words. That when the winds of change seem to be blowing every which way and all is being uprooted, we do need a few rocks we can hang onto – and that the love and presence of God in our life is indeed, more than any other and in every circumstance, that rock.

Rev Michael Greer
Chaplain WesleyCare, Christchurch

Prayer for the moment

For all whose hearts are troubled
be the voice that they hear,
the warmth that they feel,
the wisdom they seek,
the strength they require,
and the one in whose arms they rest.
     Embrace us in a love that knows no end. 
          Fill us with a power that overcomes.
               Encourage us with a word that nourishes.
                    Inspire us with a hope that sustains.
                        Comfort us with a peace that endures
                            and at day's end, bring us safely to rest.


As we work through alert levels

Dear Friends

This week we had a query regarding singing in regions that are not 'hotspots'. This is a great question.

Here is my stream of thought as I reflect...

- Respiratory droplets are what has to be controlled

- Our current Level 2 advice is based on our previous lockdown experience

- We used physical distancing

- We reduce numbers of people

- We stopped activities that spread droplets

So what has changed that we should change our current advice

- Our current Alert Levels now includes facemasks as a form of droplet control

- We have more knowledge (thanks to contact tracing) about the outbreak hotspots

Therefore mixing all the control together seems reasonable

- Reduced numbers of people singing, while physically distanced, all wearing face masks, in 'cold' spots

- Ensure strong contact tracing (photos/videos of people, everyone registered or registering at entry etc)

- Continue with all other great hygiene practices we have developed.

I will leave it for Synods and Rohe to decide if they are hot or cold, and if they are luke warm on the idea! The bottom line is 'control the droplets' and keep our people safe!

Our COVID-19 response has been updated to reflect this change in our approach to singing.

Tony Franklin-Ross and I met last night with the steering committee of the World Methodist Council, twenty six people from every part of the world.

The conversation about the effects of COVID-19 were very interesting.
- In Germany they are talking about 'learning to live with the virus'!

- In a major city in India restrictions are being eased now that cases are between 1000-1500 per day.

- Norway is having a second wave, not too serious, but with an average age of those infected of 40

- The comment was that in Sweden it is very serious.

- In Nigeria a number of Methodist Church leaders have died.

- Those in Britain lamented a poor Government response and are wondering how many small churches will never reopen.

- In the USA three issues are focussing attention; Black Lives Matter, COVID-19 and the election.

We in New Zealand are in a special position. Even in this time of more restricted movement we are in a far better situation than the rest of the world. We arrived here because we worked together as a team of 5 million. We will get through this because we are a team of 5 million putting 'love for neighbours' into practice.

Keep up the good work, support one another, be kind.