New lease on life for Mangere Church
By Cory Miller
Hidden away in an eastern corner of Mangere sits an old church, where a dwindling congregation has fought against all odds to survive.
One year ago this small congregation seemed to be facing its inevitable demise, but since then, it has more than doubled in number.
Some of those who have helped rejuvenate Mangere East Methodist Church are
(from left) Vatisi Uasi, Manukau District superintendent Rev Prince Devanandan,
Lolita Malafu with her daughter Lolita jnr, Matilda Parker and Rev Kalo Kaise.
Rev Kalo Kaise is the presbyter for the English-speaking congregation at the Mangere East Methodist Church.
“I believe revival is not about numbers but about the soul in this place.” Kalo says. “It is a small but great congregation. Even if there are only three of us we will continue on, to share in faith. We will keep going.”
Last year, the attitude at Mangere East was not so positive as the English-speaking congregation faced a difficult choice – whether to stay or go.
With only seven remaining members, four voted to leave, and the difficult decision was made to cease worshiping as a congregation.
Vatisi Uasi, was one of those who voted to leave Mangere East.
“I saw good reasons to leave,” she says. “Due to the low numbers one person was being forced to carry multiple roles. The membership was declining and the spirit of the congregation was in decline.”
The last intended month of worship for the congregation came and went in April but surprisingly the congregation remained.
Not only that but miraculously it grew, as more members came and joined the worshippers.
Lay preacher, Matilda Parker says “I don’t know why we didn’t leave. Perhaps it was God’s calling.”
Matilda says staying with the church has been difficult at times. “I wanted to run away but I couldn’t,” she says. “I have a purpose here as a lay preacher.”
Vatisi too says despite her decision to leave when the time came she found herself staying put.
“We kept on going as we did not have the heart to close,” she says.
Lolita Malafu, one of the new members says she chose Mangere East Methodist church, as it was close to her home. She says its small size was not a deterrent, in fact she was drawn to its small size as she felt it would enable her dreams of becoming a part of the leadership of the church.
“Praise God,” she says. “The decision was a human decision to close but for some unknown reason we are still here and growing. I can see it growing, and in five years we’ll still going,” she says.