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Lay preachers listen out for parables of nature

Joy Cowley 
  Remember rainbows, wonder about the way we are made, and learn lessons from our gardens. These were some of the suggestions Joy Cowley made in a workshop made in a workshop for lay preachers last month.

The widely-known and well-loved writer of children's reading books, novels and prayers led a morning workshop entitled 'Parables of Nature' at Melville Methodist Church, Hamilton, on Saturday 11 August. This event was organised by the national executive of the New Zealand Lay Preachers' Association (NZLPA), currently based in Waikato-Waiariki. People from as far as Auckland, Napier and Wellington travelled to hear Joy.

She encouraged the group to read the word of God in the world around us: pay attention to life-cycles, follow the changing seasons, and be open to the call of life in Christ which always leads us to a 'larger place'. There was time to reflect on our own experience of life, from childhood fears to moments of inspiration.

Joy's own deep faith was reflected in the images she drew and the gentle challenges she made us to face life's paradoxes.

Following lunch, around 30 lay preachers stayed on for the annual general meeting, where the decision was made for the North Canterbury Lay Preachers to take on the work of the national executive from February 2008.

One aim of the NZLPA is to see inter-denominational groups of lay preachers and worship leaders getting together regularly for training and support in every region of the country. Despite differences in training and expectations between the partner churches, lay people involved in worship have much in common, and offer their ministry more effectively when well-resourced and supported.

Until next February, more information on the work of the NZLPA can be obtained by contacting the president, Mary Rose (email: or secretary Viv Whimster (phone 07-578-6056 or email