15th August 03.


e-fish a weekly offering to help feed you and your congregation.

The Evangelical Network of the Methodist Church of New Zealand has as its
one of its objectives, the encouragement and resourcing of local
congregations. This weekly newsletter is part of that. It's different from
many newsletters which are offered, in that each month there is a different
editor/compiler. Not only does this prevent one person from being
over-loaded, it means we are able to enjoy a wider range of thinking and

Perhaps you would like to take a turn. Maybe you have something to
contribute. Then please contact bpeterson@paradise.net.nz  And if you think
this is worthwhile, tell your friends about e-fish. They can subscribe at
www.methodist.org.nz by going to the Evangelical Network page. An archive of
e-fish is now available. So you can read all the back issues.


 Greetings from Dunedin.

 I am Marion Peterson taking a turn at e-fish editing during August.


About myself: I am in shared ministry with my husband Brian in the Flagstaff Union Parish here in Dunedin. The Parish is in what we call the "hill suburbs" of Dunedin and consists of two congregations: Wakari and Halfway Bush. The Manse is sited opposite the Halfway Bush church and is "above the snow line" whilst Wakari is in a valley further down the hill. I am also the Superintendent of the Evangelical Network of the Methodist Church.


One of the interesting experiences of ministry in Dunedin is contending with snow. A big question mark in my mind from the time we were appointed was what would happen if it was snowing on Sunday morning and we needed to get down the hill to church? Fortunately we had a year to get acclimatized before facing that particular dilemma! Now we realise that if it not safe to drive you simply pull some woollen socks on over your shoes to provide extra traction and then you walk!!! Although, truth to tell, we have not had to do that yet. For us northerners there is something rather magical about seeing people arrive in church shaking the snow from their clothes and then of course there are the snow fights in the car park after church! I would have to say that we are delighting in the opportunity to live in this part of the country where we can experience first hand the beauty of places like Queenstown and the ruggedness of Central Otago and of course explore some of the historic areas that we have read about but never seen. And, Aucklanders "eat your heart out", we can be from the outskirts of the city into the Octagon in around 5 minutes at peak traffic times!!!!


Parish Life:

August/September tends to be AGM time for Parishes. It can some times be a struggle to know how to make these meetings interesting, informative and energising!  I thought I would share with you a model that we have now used for several years which regularly leaves people "buzzing". We start with the premise that all the work done by Parishes in committees is ministry and is, in a way, an expression of worship. Therefore, rather than tacking the AGM on at the end of a service we incorporate it into the service. Thus we would begin with the normal format of Call to Worship, hymn/song prayer welcomes etc. Then we constitute the meeting and accept the minutes that have already been circulated with the reports. We might then present all the reports of groups relating to Pastoral Care. These are taken as read and opened for discussion.  A person from one of the committees might be asked to share a scripture that expresses why they are serving on that committee or to give a short testimony of the way that they have seen God at work through that committee. We would pray for the ongoing work of those groups and would sing a song or hymn that reflects something of the theology of an aspect of Pastoral care e.g. “Brother Sister let me serve you.” We would follow this  format with each group of reports. Some are, of course, easier to speak and sing to than others. I think this year we might have to use “Hear the pennies dropping” for the finance report… it would leave the younger people bemused but bring back lots of warm memories for the oldies.  This year we are going to use the children from our Kids.com program to introduce some of the reports using the work they have been doing this term around “the treasures found in Christian community.”

One of the final acts of the formalities is to bring all the Parish Council to the front where they can be prayed for as a group.

We have found the use of power point greatly enhances this type of service as it allows for clarity of presentation and can also allow for the introduction of humour through appropriate graphics.

This format does a number of things:


On the Book Shelf:

I have recently been reading:
 “Reaching out without Dumbing Down. A Theology of Worship for This Urgent Time”

by Marva J. Dawn. ( William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1995.)

Part of Marva’s dedication at eh beginning of the book gives a pointer to the content. She says:

This book is dedicated to

Worship leaders trying to be faithful against the tides of the times,

Teachers who understand the need for new wine and new wineskins,

Pastors who seek to invite the world into our sanctuaries, worship participants wanting more than excitement,

Congregations who struggle to survive, children who love to take part in worship,

Teenagers who search for meaning in the Church,

Parents who want to nurture their families in the faith….

I found her insightful comments on the nature and purpose of worship and on the way that Christian community is shaped by our worship both challenging and encouraging. In our Parish here we have the creative tension that comes with valuing both contemporary and traditional forms of worship and at times this feels very much like a tight rope act! More about this next week.


Out my window:

My office window looks out to a border of trees that separate us from the road and church. One of the trees is covered, at this time of the year, with cream flowers that are very attractive to both bellbirds and native pigeons. For the last two years we have watched with amusement as a rather irascible pigeon has defended his territory from intruders. Last year the two birds, defender and intruder, spent several days sitting on the power lines where the defender would edge up to the intruder until virtually shoulder to shoulder, the intruder would then flutter further along and the process would begin again. Initially we thought this was some form of mating ritual but we soon realised it was a very effective demonstration of the cold shoulder technique! Eventually the intruder gave up and the defender was able to sit in solitary splendour and survey his kingdom. Perhaps a reflection here of Parish life at times?  Happily this year we have a pair of birds in occupancy and we watch in delight as they feast on the flowers or balance precariously on the power lines.


An Advertisement:

The Evangelical Network will be hosting two pre Conference events again this year. Both will be at the Mirimar Uniting Parish Centre. The first is on Friday 7th November from 6.30pm. people are invited to bring their own tea (takeaways!) and share in a time of fellowship over food… tea/coffee provided. Following the meal there will be time for worship and a speaker or panel discussion… this part is still being finalised.  Saturday 8th November we meet for breakfast from 8.15- 9.30am. During this time we will be discussing issues etc. relating to the life of the Network. Breakfast will be provided for a small charge. Mark you diaries now and watch this space for further information.



Arnold Palmer Receives Gift of Golf Club
Golfer Arnold Palmer once played a series of exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia. The king was so impressed that he proposed to give Palmer a gift. Palmer demurred; "It really isn't necessary, Your Highness. I'm honored to have been invited."

"I would be deeply upset," replied the king, "if you would not allow me to give you a gift."

Palmer thought for a moment and said, "All right. How about a golf club? That would be a beautiful memento of my visit to your country."

The next day, delivered to Palmer's hotel, was the title to a golf club. Thousands of acres, trees, lakes, clubhouse, and so forth.

The moral of this story is: In the presence of a King, don't ask for small gifts!

Citation: Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1986), p.165; submitted by Brent Kipfer, Brussels, Ontario


Have a God filled week,

Marion.        marionjp@paradise.net.nz