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Journal 2013 - Wesley Historical Society

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Journal 2013



Donald Phillipps

ANOTHER HERO OF THE FAITH - Taawao, first missionary to Banks Peninsula
Gary Clover

An historical overview of events, conversations and decisions leading to the signing of THE ANGLICAN METHODIST COVENANT IN NEW ZEALAND. May 2008
Terry Wall

In and Out of Sync - The Book
Author: Dave Mullan
Publisher: Colcom Press 2011 pp 228
Reviewer: Eric Laurenson

The Road to Methodist Union in 1913
Author: Gary Clover
Publisher:Methodist Church of New Zealand 2012
Reviewer: Donald Phillipps

Pacific Missionary George Brown 1835-1917: Wesleyan Methodist Church
Author: Margaret Reeson
Publisher: ANU E Press, 2013 pp 338
Reviewer: Lynne Wall


The centenary of the Union of the Primitive Methodist Church and the Wesleyan Church was celebrated at the New Zealand Methodist Conference held in Wellington in 2012. This issue of the Journal publishes Donald Phillipps' address to that Conference. He also reviews Gary Clover's booklet which tells the story leading up to the Union, providing an overview of the leading personalities and debates. The Union remained robust until around the year 2000 when a number of groups broke away.

The Journal also features the fruits of Gary Clover's research into Taawao, the first Christian missionary to Banks Peninsula. Little is known of this figure, but from existing references Gary tells his story. This is part of an on-going research project which seeks to honour early Maori evangelists. My own article provides a survey of recent conversations between the Methodist Church and the Anglican Church in New Zealand leading to the signing of the Covenant between the two churches in 2008.

The Wesley Historical Society records the death of Margaret Gordon, who was a valued member of the executive and whose wider ministry in the Church, especially in the Womens' Fellowship, both within New Zealand and beyond, has been recognised.

The coming year 2014 is important in the history of the Christian faith in New Zealand. At Christmas the churches together will celebrate the bi-centenary of the first sermon preached in this land by the Rev. Samuel Marsden on Christmas Day in 1814. The Rev. Samuel Leigh was a close friend of Marsden and he offered assistance to the mission before Anglican clergy arrived and also received help from them after he established the Wesleyan mission.

Many events are planned to commemorate this landmark in our history. The ecumenical Marsden Cross Trust Board has purchased land adjacent to the Rangihou pa site, the marae of Ruatara who invited Marsden to establish a Church Missionary Society base in the north. The churches have collaborated in raising the $300,000 to complete the purchase of the land and the Methodist Church has played its part in this contributing $30,000 from a number of sources including the Prince Albert College Trust, Te Taha Maori, the Wesley Historical Society and private donations solicited by Eric Laurenson.

We are becoming more aware of the part the north has played in the history of the early missions in New Zealand. Trinity College takes staff and students to visit sites of early Methodism each year and lectures and conversations are held along the way. This is an excellent way to inform those who will be leading the church in the future about our past. As we look to the past we find ourselves asking questions about the future. How will we allow the past to inform our continuing mission in this land? What learnings can be had from considering the first contact between missionary and Maori?

In the middle of March the Methodist Catholic Dialogue took a step into our common past embarking on a pilgrimage to visit sites of early mission stations in the north. We visited Mangungu and Totara Point, Kaeo and Russell where Bishop Pompallier had his mission. Along the way as pilgrims we prayed together, heard presentations on the history and conversed about our origins. All involved leamt a great deal from well informed local people and we hope that many more will be able to enjoy this enriching experience in the future.

Writing in the Auckland Methodist magazine for April 2013 I reflected on the experience that we had shared in.

As we travelled back to Auckland, we were aware of the common heritage that Methodists and Roman Catholics share. We both had a commitment to share the gospel: both established missions on the Hokianga before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; both were represented at and acknowledged at the signing of the Treaty; missionaries from both traditions leamt te reo; both experienced tensions among personnel; both developed small communities of Christians in isolated places; both had success in introducing the Christian faith to Maori and engaged in literacy education.

We came away aware that the missions to these shores were not perfect. Mistakes were made by fallible human beings who were no doubt disoriented by their new context. There was competition and at times antagonism. But at the same time there was also a commitment to share the love of God seen in Jesus Christ with Maori in a distant and at times dangerous part of the world. We honoured their courage and faith, their devotion and witness.

- Terry Wall