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Methodist Church Blog

24/9/20

Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, 

tena koutou katoa, 

On the 17th October we will all be going to the polling station. As well as voting for who we want to represent us in parliament we will also be asked to vote on two referendum. This week President Setaita signed the attached joint statements along with the leaders of nineteen other national churches of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Recently, Trinity Methodist Theological College staff circulated a statement noting, it is our moral imperative to engage in informed participation in our country's collective ethical discernment. Their statement was not a prescriptive statement telling people what to choose. Rather, it was raising some points for serious consideration as people come to make their choice. 

During this week we have become aware of some churches holding information evenings focussing on these referenda. We congratulate the parishes who have organised forums to help their communities engage with the issues. These are complex questions and there is no one Christian response, but please be prayerful and engage with others in conversation so that when you go to the polling station, you go informed and ready to cast your vote with confidence. 

We have also been engaged in a conversation with Michael Lemanu, Tauiwi Children, Youth, Families Ministry National Coordinator. Our young people have been engaged in conversation about the future and what they have learnt following the Covid-19 experience this year. Shortly they will be introducing two new programmes: 

1. TYTANZ Youth Service Online: This will be the start of a monthly online streamed 'service' for young people of the church, run by the Tauiwi National Youth Ministry Team. The main vision is to create a new Virtual Connexion for our young people to be part of. 

2. TYTANZ Talanoa Podcast: This is a new venture being explored where our young people will interview people from around the church and talanoa together. In the spirit of talanoa it is intended to be an informal type of conversation with a loose structure but, is mostly intended to hear the stories and thoughts of our people. 

We congratulate Michael and his team for these initiatives and are looking forward to supporting these programmes. We encourage you to find out more details from Michael and support the work of Tauiwi Youth. We are also excited to see the vision and creativity of TYTANZ who are offering leadership and exploring new ways of being in connexion. 

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui. Setaita and Nicola 


A joint statement by the national leaders of most New Zealand church denominations 

We urge people of Aotearoa New Zealand to vote very cautiously in the two Referendums, because both decisions carry the risk of inflicting serious long-term damage on our society, endangering vulnerable people, and making our country less safe for everyone. 

1. The End of Life Choice Act 

As church leaders, we are very familiar with people being terminally ill and dying, and we have great empathy for the sorrow and anxiety they often go through. 

We understand the reasons why euthanasia appeals to some people, as a way of alleviating individual suffering in the context of very serious illness. However, we do not support the End of Life Choice Act. We believe it would be an unethical and dangerous step for New Zealand society to allow doctors or nurse practitioners to actively end someone's life or to assist them to commit suicide. We believe that is a line New Zealand should not cross. 

We are confident that with good palliative care most people die with pain well controlled, and very often peacefully. 

We believe that the End of Life Choice Act is too loosely framed, is more liberal than euthanasia laws in most other countries, and that it lacks enough effective safeguards, particularly against coercion: there is no 'last resort' clause, no requirement to see a palliative care specialist, no mandatory requirement for psychological assessment, no mandatory cooling-off period, no requirement to consult or tell family, no independent witness, and no adequate protection for doctors who object to euthanasia on spiritual or ethical grounds. 

We note that overseas provision for euthanasia has almost always been widened to include other conditions, and those under 18, and has also been associated with an increasing incidence of involuntary euthanasia. We believe that those who will ultimately suffer most from euthanasia are society's most vulnerable: the aged and frail, the poor, cultural minorities, and disabled people.  

We respectfully encourage New Zealanders to help keep our society safer for those who are very vulnerable, and to vote against the End of Life Choice Act. 

2. The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill 

We support the recent new provision in law (2019) for cannabis-based medicine to be available on prescription. 

We also support the general move towards decriminalising cannabis users, and instead concentrating on a non-punitive health-based approach of helping those being harmed by cannabis use and addiction. We note that police are generally no longer prosecuting recreational cannabis use (and we want them to apply that discretion without any bias). 

However, we do not support the legalisation of cannabis use, as proposed in the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. We believe legalisation would help normalise cannabis use and increase its use (as has happened overseas). Cannabis use remains addictive and dangerous for some people, especially those under 25, and can induce psychosis, depression, loss of cognitive function, lung (and other) diseases, suicidal tendencies, and foetal harm. 

Legalisation, and the rise of a cannabis industry with a network of retail shops in many communities, would undermine societal messages about reducing drug use (and also undermine the campaigns against smoking, and about driving under the influence of drugs). 

The evidence from overseas is that legalisation would not end the black market in cannabis. In Canada, over 70% of cannabis is still purchased on the black market). Illegal dealers including gangs would continue to sell cannabis (at lower prices, with unsafe levels of THC, and also to those under the age of 20). 

We are concerned that legalising and normalising cannabis use will increase domestic violence, cannabis-related road deaths, work place accidents, and educational failure. We are also worried that society's socio-economically disadvantaged groups are likely to suffer most from the increased availability and use of cannabis. 

We suggest that voting 'No to the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill carries significantly fewer risks of long-term damage to New Zealand society than a 'Yes' vote. 

We also suggest that a 'No' vote still leaves space for New Zealand further decriminalising cannabis law in relation to users, while retaining penalties only in relation to producers and dealers. At the same time it could strengthen a health-based approach towards those affected by drugs, while continuing to message society about the risks of all drug use. 

Signed by Leaders of nineteen churches. 


Prayer for this week
E Ihowa Atua,
O nga iwi matou ra
Ata whakarangona;
Lord of justice and peace,
we thank you for the freedoms we enjoy
to choose our leaders
and shape the course of our common life.
Give us wisdom to use the power we share for the good of all,
the relief of those in need and the furtherance of wholeness and truth;
God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Through Jesus Christ.
Amen.


 

 

18/09/20

 Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,

with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

This weekend Aucklanders have another weekend of level 2.5, while the rest of the country are at level 2. However, today we go into the weekend after four days of no new community transmission. This is good and possibly on Monday there will be an announcement that the restrictions will be changed. Read more…

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.  Read more…

27/8/20

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.


 

19 Aug 20

Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa, 

God is not unjust he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people (Hebrews 6:10) 

   
This week we honour Rev Andrea Williamson who died on the 9th August. Andrea will be known to many people around the church and the community. Her tribute records the roles she has fulfilled in her ministry both as a lay leader and then as a presbyter. 

The end of the tribute gives thanks for Andrea as a courageous, wise lady who was a beacon of hope for those who at times find it difficult to put their trust in God. The Methodist Church of New Zealand will miss her, we will miss her vibrancy, her joy of life, her passion and compassion for people. Both of us have worked alongside Andrea in different capacities. Her verve for life and enjoyment of life is something we will remember of her. We offer to Peter and their family our love and prayers. We pray that you will be conscious of God's peace at those times when you miss Andrea the most, and that you will know the presence of Christ in the days ahead. 

A memorial service for Andrea will be held sometime in the future due to the lockdown restrictions. Unfortunately, the re-emergence of Covid-19 in the community has sent those of us in Auckland back to level 3 restrictions and the rest of you to level 2. During this week President Setaita has been meeting daily with the Ministry of Pacific People and the office of the Prime Minister to work with other Pacific leaders to ensure that those most vulnerable in our community have up to date information, along with the social support they need. 

 

While going back into lockdown has been disappointing, we are once again reminded that we have been warned to take the advice of medical professionals and scientists rather than those advocating conspiracy theories. Also please note the material prepared on our behalf from the connexional office relating to safe practice in our churches. Please everyone stay safe – wash your hands, stay home if you are sick, get tested if you show any symptoms of Covid-19 and look after yourself, your family and your neighbours. 

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui. 

Setaita and Nicola 

We thank Peter who has allowed us to share this video prepared for Andrea's funeral.


Andrea Joan Williamson 

The funeral and celebration of the life of Rev Andrea Williamson was to have been held on Friday August 14th. Covid-19 restrictions allowed the family to share a brief farewell on Wednesday morning. A memorial service will be advised when we are able to gather again. 

The death of Andrea Williamson on 9 August 2020 just a few days after her 65th birthday brought to a close a varied and vibrant ministry in both Church and community. 

Andrea was born in Preston, Lancashire, England. Her father, an assisted immigrant, worked for the Post Office, settling in Howick and worshipping initially at Howick and then later at Pakuranga Methodist. It was here, aged 12 that Andrea met Peter who was to be her future husband. Peter Williamson was at that time a member of the local Baptist Church. 

Andrea's faith was real and vital. She truly enjoyed her walk with God which had come alive through participation in an ecumenical 'Life in the Spirit' Seminar. Andrea's life was to be characterised by the desire to "walk in the Spirit"

Ministry was through the lay led early service at Pakuranga, participation in the Lay Witness Programme of World Methodist Evangelism, and most importantly as 'parents' of a rapidly growing Bible Class. 

Andrea formally trained as a counsellor when their adopted children were old enough, and began to broaden her practice into spiritual direction and ministry supervision. Participation in TELM (Training Equipping for Lay Ministry) proved to be foundational and hugely important. It was the genesis of moving Andrea's work as a counsellor from 'job' to 'ministry'. 

In 2001, Andrea was inducted as Vice President alongside the late President Rev Aso Samoa Saleopolu. To understand the significance, this was a time of uncertainty and conflict in the Church as many had left the Church due to the Conference decision to accept Gay and Lesbian persons into ordained ministry. Andrea was a member of the Aldersgate Fellowship and an executive member of the Evangelical Network. Conference saw in Andrea a person who could address the conflict. Andrea was very proud to have that trust and saw her ministry as helping to 'still' the conflict and restore relationships. 

In the three years following her VP term Andrea was asked to act as a Co-facilitator of the Tauiwi meeting at Conference. A daunting task, but one where she gained the trust and co-operation of the members. 

When Peter responded to the call to ordained ministry Andrea provided the support of a Lay person with the particular role of making sure the music used in worship was diverse. 

The move from Christchurch to Whangarei brought new opportunities with a Chaplaincy position at North Haven Hospice. Andrea experienced a profound sense of call – she truly enjoyed the role and felt that she had discovered her life's work. 

At the time they moved to Papakura, Andrea received the diagnosis of advanced cancer, with potentially limited life expectancy. The opportunity arose to be a Chaplain for Counties Manukau Police District. This became the next love of her life. She loved the Police, their sense of humour, and the energy of the role. On 21 July 2020, she was presented with an award recognising Andrea's "dedicated service as our Police Chaplain and our beloved friend". 

Andrea's call to ordained ministry caused her intense struggle. She had been diagnosed with cancer, and wondered how to respond. Her ordination in 2014 was in the face of a period of poor health. The effectiveness of her ministry and Chaplaincy proved the call to be valid. 

The Church surrounds Peter, their two adopted children Anna and Rachel (and their birth mothers and families) and their 3 grandchildren with prayer and care. We give thanks for a courageous, wise lady who was a beacon of hope for those who at times find it difficult to put their trust in God. 


Prayer for this week
Loving God,
We are mindful of those of our church family
who have lost loved ones this week.
We pray for all who are grieving, suffering, lonely, and who feel abandoned.
We give thanks to you for love that
Gives us life and holds us through the hard days.
We give thanks for friends who share our joys and sorrows
Thanks be to you God
For the hope of your son
Jesus Christ.
Amen.