It has been a year of encouragement and challenge for Evangelicals in the Methodist Church.
On one hand, the Evangelical Network has provided a growing sense of identity and belonging to Evangelicals, and members of the Network are well represented in the power structures of the Church. On the other hand, the Network has not been as active this year as last.
In the coming year the Evangelical Network plans to move forward through regional gatherings and sharing resources with a special emphasis on material for children.
Superintendent Rev Marion Peterson says she is pleased with the wider participation of members of the Evangelical Network's executive in the wider life of the Methodist Church.
"In the past the voices of Evangelicals were not heard and their positions were not respected. This has changed significantly and our contributions to the life of Connexion are now valued."
These involvements include a district superintendent, the superintendent of Bose Ko Viti; two district treasurers, two members of the Communications Committee, two on Stipends Committee, two on the Board of Ministry, and five on Tauiwi Strategy and Stationing Committee.
Marion says the Network's main offering to Connexion this year was a touring two-part seminar organised by John and Bonnie Hebenton. The two topics it covered were 'Present Church / Future Church' and 'All Age Worship'.
"The Hebentons' road show went to Wellington, Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin, Rongotea, and Manukau. The Evangelical Network organised and financed it and our objective was to make a gift of resources and encouragement, particularly to smaller congregations.
"The seminars were open to members of the Network and neighbouring congregations of all denominations. We had very positive responses from those who attended but we were disappointed there were not more people at them. I suspect it reflects the fact that there is still some suspicion out there of all things Evangelical."
The Network also used the opportunity of the Hebentons' road show to hold regional gatherings. Next year regional gatherings will happen around local worship sessions and camps.
Marion says regional gatherings enable people to worship together, learn from one another and share resources.
One of the resources the Dunedin's Wakari Union Parish will be sharing is Kids.com (or Kids in Divine Service Called on a Mission) it ran this school year. Kids.com is a children's programme with a format that is creative, energetic, and heaps of fun.
In each school term Kids.com featured a different theme. One was a challenge to join the 'Mission Impossible' team. Those who did received ID photos complete with black sunglasses and dark jackets and then set about studying Biblical heroes.
Another term featured WWW (Wise Words for the World) and used a modified OASIS programme to study the book of Proverbs. The Mission Impossible headquarters turned into an Academy for Clowns and the children dressed up, learned to juggle and clowned around while exploring some of the wisdom of Proverbs.
The aim of Kids.com was to provide kids variety and excitement and at the same time encourage them in their Christian understanding and growth. At Wakari the programme engendered enthusiasm and energy in the congregation as well as with children and next year the parish will offer new themes with the same enthusiasm. Some of the material used in the programme was provided by Spreydon Baptist Church in Christchurch.