Tag Archives: Christian ministry

When the Tui Calls – Reviewed in Tui Motu

Review by John Thornley for Tui Motu Magazine.
Issue 219 September 2017 of

When the Tui Calls:
Rural Ministry — Origins and Futures

By Bill Bennett. Published by Philip Garside Publishing Ltd, 2017.

“Described as an “essay”, this 65-page book provides an informal and readable introduction to rural ministry. Parts one and two cover the historical origins in Roman and Celtic religion, embedded within parish and monastic structures, moving through the Reformation and Evangelical revivals, from a post-medieval to the 18th-century industrial, to the urban world.

The story comes to New Zealand in the third part, “Clash of Cultures”, which covers the missionary and settler activities of Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic developments. This section concludes with the treatment of Māori Missions and Pastorates and with the independent Māori ministries in partnership models which emerged later in the 20th-century.

In Part Four, “Changing Patterns of Rural Ministry in the 20th- and 21st-Centuries”, the subheadings highlight the interplay of religious and secular conflicts and compromises that have been central to the story of rural ministry from the beginning. They include, “Rural Prosperity and Adversity”, “Affirming the distinctiveness of a rural ministry theology”, “Minita-a-iwi”, “The Impact of Political and Economic Changes”, “Rural Religion and Politics”, “Local Shared Ministry” and “The Near Landscape and Beyond”.

Bill Bennett is the ideal writer of this book. As an Anglican Pākehā minister he has been a major mover and shaker in the development of a rural ministry theology and praxis in Aotearoa New Zealand. Much of his ministry has been in rural parishes in the Diocese of Waiapu as well as in Norwich and Lichfield Dioceses in England. His publications of prayers and hymns (both lyrics and music) are a taonga for ecumenical and bicultural worship services.

I strongly recommend this book for ministry formation, seminary and pastoral theology libraries and as a resource for lay and ordained ministers throughout New Zealand.”

Original review is online here:
https://hail.to/tui-motu-interislands-magazine/publication/KrJM98L/article/lOeKq7g

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Like a Dove – Review in Touchstone Feb 2017

Like a Dove – A memoir and biography in honour of Sione Tavo Manukia

By Rubinstine Manukia 2016, Philip Garside Publishing, 98 pages

Reviewer: Motekiai Fakatou in Touchstone February 2017

“Sione Tavo Manukia was a grandson of Arthur Frances Tindall, a missionary and trader to Tonga. Sione migrated to New Zealand in the 1970s. He was a man full of hopes and dreams with humble faith and a deep conviction about his purpose in life.

After he landed on the shore of Aotearoa, his balanced life grew immensely and started to unfold in new ways as he was nurtured by his parents.

His parents Sione senior and Sela Soakai Manukia were staunch Methodists and a local business couple. Sione Sr was a lay preacher and a steward for many years.

Sione’s inner most character was expressed through his ordinary life in extraordinary ways. He lived out his faith practically which explains why so many people, including those who have written in this book, pay tribute to him.

He was a man of tenacious courage coupled with an   enduring faith and a sincere compassion.

Sione’s strong characters have helped him and his family along with many other families. Through his tremendous efforts over the years they have realised their hopes and turned their dreams in to reality.

Throughout the years Sione faced many challenges but this book, written by his daughter, shows how a person can sustain him or herself through the pressures of life and still reach out to assist others so that they can reach their goals and reach their dreams.

The three main elements mentioned above – courage, faith  and compassion – are the three strands that weave together as a strong cord that strengthened Sione over the years.

This solid cord stems out of his great family heritage from both his paternal and maternal family.

His entrepreneurial sense of life came from his grandfather for whom he was a trader in Tonga and around the South Pacific during the early 1900s.

Sione’s steadfast faith was nurtured by his parents, and they encourage him to participate in the life of the church early on. This is where he deepened his faith and displayed it by hard work in dedicating his time and effort to honour God, support his country, and care for his family.

Sione Tavo Manukia is a compassionate father, committed preacher, successful entrepreneur, effective community worker and faithful man of God.”

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“This wise and wonderfully comprehensive book … will benefit many who carry pastoral responsibilities” Review by Anne Priestley of Earthed in Hope.

Doing Funerals Well

Earthed in Hope:
Dying, Death and Funerals – A Pakeha Anglican Perspective

By Alister G. Hendery
Published by Philip Garside Publishing Ltd

EIH_front_cover_20141015_100w_BReview by Anne Priestley, published in Tui Motu InterIslands Oct 2015

“A quick scan of death notices in a newspaper reveals the fading influence of Christian faith in this country. Many funerals now are held at a crematorium or a funeral director’s chapel. Some of these funerals will be taken by a minister of religion; but increasingly funeral directors and celebrants have taken over the traditional roles of a minister of the church. We live in a world where there are multiple views on “what comes next” after death, mostly at variance with the theological witness of scripture. Even church funerals often celebrate the life which has ended, rather than proclaiming Christian hope in the midst of grief and death.

This is the terrain surveyed by Hendery, a Pakeha Anglican priest. His writing is marked deeply by his trust and hope in God’s grace and equally by his long pastoral experience.

He begins with sociology and theology, chapters which are most lively when earthed in contemporary New Zealand practice. The second half of this book has a strong practical bent, as Hendery discusses pastoral and liturgical issues in journeying with the dying person and in the stages before, during and after the funeral service. He includes thoughtful commentary on the rich resources of A New Zealand Prayer Book /He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, the Anglican prayer book (this material, valuable for Anglican ministers, will be less useful to others). Here, as elsewhere, he provides ideas from a wide range of religious and cultural sources.

Hendery pays attention to the complexities arising from a death by suicide and to special questions concerning children and death. He is not afraid to criticise the Church for less than helpful theology and practice, both past and present.

Hendery’s theological commitments and generous pastoral instincts stand in unresolved tension — the tension of God beyond and God within. For me, this reflects a great challenge of funeral ministry: how to speak the language of the bereaved, in our changed and changing world, and also to proclaim faithfully the good news of God.

I also appreciated Hendery’s determination to be blunt. To say the words “die”, “death”, “coffin”. To face the fact of one’s own death. To accept that, facing death, we do not know everything.

This wise and wonderfully comprehensive book about funeral ministry in Aotearoa is not a quick read, but will benefit many who carry pastoral responsibilities.”

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Sample Psalm from Mark Gibson’s The In-Between Land

The In-Between Land: Psalms, Poems and Haiku will be released in print and as an eBook on 15 June 2015.

Here is a sample from the 15 Psalms that appear in the book.

Psalm 6

From the heart of this unfolding disaster I cry to you O God.
On the days that the earth shakes with great ferocity,
many people are terrified, and try to flee to a safer place.
Others stay and weep as they watch their homes bend and break.

Some have claimed that you are punishing us,
but this is such a cruel and untruthful thing to say.
It just adds to the fear.
I don’t believe you are that kind of God!

But it is not what the earth is doing that upsets me O God.
The earth is just doing what it has always done,
and we have just not been good at listening to it.

What disturbs and angers me is the way that the rich and powerful
are looking after their own interests first and adding to our misery.
Behind their carefully crafted media releases,
glossy brochures and feigned grief
they manipulate and exploit and act unjustly.

People live in cars and vans, or on the streets.
Three families crowd into a small house.
Landlords charge exorbitant rents because they can.
The market eclipses ethics and social justice.
Yet the political leaders deny there is a crisis.

O Compassionate One,
when the powerful say that they care,
but then abandon the people
to the jaws of greedy insurance companies,
it is easy to fall into despair.
It is easy to give up.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed.

The biggest disaster of all, the hardest to bear,
is the crumbling of truth,
the rise of deceit and the refusal to care.

O God of Truth, keep us strong in your ways.
In the midst of this catastrophic failing of human love
may your aroha forever hold and embolden us!

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“…rich with stories, metaphors and invitations for ministering across cultures…” Review of Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight by Jione Havea

The following review by Jione Havea — Senior lecturer in biblical studies at the United Theological College & School of Theology, Charles Sturt University — will appear in the August 2015 issue of the Uniting Church Studies journal.

 Rev Havea is a Tongan Methodist minister and is the Principal Researcher with the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre.

 Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight
‘Alifeleti Vaitu’ulala Ngahe

(Wellington, Philip Garside Publishing Ltd., 2014),
pp. 68. ISBN 9781501004476 (pbk).

“This slim book is rich with stories, metaphors and invitations for ministering across cultures, generations and languages, written by a Methodist Minister in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ngahe reflects on his ministry over nine years at two parishes (Avondale and Manurewa) and identifies stepping stones for those who wish to be involved in what he calls “engaged ministry,” which simply means to be not just saying it, but doing it (p. 11).

Ngahe values the practice of reflecting on one’s experience and ministry, and then sharing the wisdom gained with other colleagues and other ministry agents. Those are the motivations for Ngahe’s work and I hope that this book will inspire other Pacific islanders to reflect and share, instead of hiding, their experiences, stories and wisdom. This hope echoes a biblical opinion: that the lamp which is not lit and placed on the table is of no use to anyone.

Ngahe developed his reflection according to three metaphors borrowed from the life practices of three different subjects: weaving of mats by Tongans, spinning of webs by spiders and the flight of birds. On first view, these metaphors could be unpacked toward defining forms of ecological ministry. Maybe that is a task for another series of reflections! At a deeper level, the metaphor from Tongan mat-weaving represents Ngahe himself, and his place in the two parishes, represented by the other two metaphors. Ngahe is a Tongan weaver who “net-works” with a spinning spider (hence the word “networking” on the title of the book) representing Avondale, and a bird in flight representing Manurewa (a name that consists of two Māori words: manu translates as bird, and rewa translates as kite).

The first metaphor is weaving. Weaving is a communal activity in Tonga, and the outcomes are various kinds of mats for different persons and for different purposes. Mats are made of the interweaving of strands and at the end, the edges are unfinished. “They remain open and ready for more strands to be woven in” (p. 14). This is how Ngahe saw his ministry at Avondale. A mat was already being woven, when he arrived. That mat was unfinished. He wove more strands into that mat; then it was time for him to move on, leaving the mat for the next minister and the community to add more strands. In this regard, ministry is never finished off. One comes to the mat (read: ministry), adds a few strands, then leaves the edges unfinished for others to join in the weaving.

The second metaphor comes from the Avondale Spider, which is an icon at the Avondale Town Centre. Ngahe reflects on the process and art of spinning a web. The hardest part is the first thread, and finding an anchoring point for the web. Once that’s in place, then the spider goes back and forth to weave its intricate web. For Ngahe, the spider is in a process of net-working. This is valuable insight for engaged ministry: get the first strand anchored then net-work with other churches, other organisations, and other social bodies, to cooperate in building the web (read: community).

The third metaphor, bird in flight, is inspired by the name of Ngahe’s second parish: Manurewa. Similar to the spider, the bird has to struggle to get off the ground as it starts its flight. But once it is in the air it floats, almost effortlessly, like a rewa (kite) that is being carried by the wind. Mission is like this also. It needs a lot of help to start its flight, but once it is in the air, it will glide almost effortlessly. This is how Ngahe experienced his ministry at Manurewa, where the support of the community made the mission of the church almost effortless. Almost!

One of the strengths of this book is the way Ngahe explains the three metaphors with stories of his ministry, which was always engaging the community in different mission projects, including working on a car park mural at Manurewa. For Ngahe, mission is about hospitality, compassion, empowerment and hope (pp. 42-43).

The chapter on theological themes is worth reading and reflecting upon (chp 5). Ngahe invites further reflection and engagement around the theologies of hospitality, which requires breaking down the barriers that come with social status, and transformation, which needs to be at the physical also and not just in a spiritual exercise. Ngahe closed the book with his ten personal (chp 6) and ministry (chp 7) learnings, which reads like a “top ten list” (à la David Letterman) instead of a list of “ten commandments.” Personal and the ministerial experiences are indeed interwoven, and reflection on one leads to reflection on the other.

I commend this book not just for Tongan Methodist Ministers but also for all ministry agents who are involved in intercultural and engaged ministries. Who isn’t? In other words, this book is for you as well!

I hope for two kinds of responses to Ngahe’s work: First, for readers to critically engage his proposals. Do the metaphors work? I’m conscious that some are scared of spiders, for instance, while others eat them as a snack. What other metaphors would you weave into Ngahe’s mat? Second, I hope that this work will inspire Pacific Islanders to reflect on your ministries, write your stories, and share your wisdom with the rest of us. If you don’t, then future generations of Pacific Island ministers will have to learn from non-Pacific Islanders. You may of course write in your Pacific languages. In other words, you don’t need to write in English. But writing in English is also an opportunity for non-islanders to learn from the rest of us.

Finally, I look forward to the outcome of the next nine years of Ngahe’s ministry and for his further sharing of his reflections and his gifts.”

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Touchstone March 2015 Review of Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight

Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight
– Engaged Ministry in Avondale Union and Manurewa Methodist Parishes

By ‘Alifeleti Vaitu’ulala Ngahe

2014, Philip Garside Publishing, 68 pages

Reviewer: Brian Turner

“Rev Vai Ngahe has done what many clergy intend but few actually do – that is, to reflect on past ministries in order to traverse better the pathways ahead.

Vai has done this for the first nine years of his Auckland ministries in Avondale and Manurewa and he has shared his reflections with us by publishing them…Brave man! Vai utilizes compelling images from his Tongan background as well as a presbyter/minister in Aotearoa-NZ. Drawing on his experience in relating to the community in Avondale and Manurewa, he makes a strong case for congregations and parishes to relate more closely to the communities where they are located.

This raises a number of interesting questions. In what ways should the church relate to the community?

Should it offer programmes and initiatives that the wider community can join (for example, rebuilding the Rosebank church building as a community centre or painting a public mural at Manurewa) or should a parish/congregation relate to the good it sees being done by others in the community and offer its support without seeking to take over or dominate?

And who in the church should initiate community facing or joining activities? Historically, the NZ Methodist Church has said this is more the responsibility of the laity and diaconate (deacons) rather than presbyters. However, many presbyters have (like Vai) exercised strong community-facing priorities as well as in-church word and sacrament ministries.

More significantly, is Vai suggesting that the Kingdom of God is in fact the establishment of healthy communities in which the church is an integral contributor rather than a distant outsider? He seems close to this position when under the heading of a “Theology of Transformation” (page 50) he writes:

“We are no longer focussed within the church on the inside/us only. Our focus shifts the position to facing outside, to the community. The wider community also becomes us.”

That left me wondering if the oneness of church and community is more achievable in multi-ethnic communities than predominantly mono-ethnic ones. Vai himself advocates the importance of weaving together a multi-cultural community to support members within the church and people in the community. This pre-supposes that many multi-ethnic communities, and presumably those in which Vai has worked, are more open to the place of the church than communities elsewhere. In predominantly Pakeha Christchurch, for instance, when a congregation canvassed door to door and asked what people expected of the church, the response was invariably ‘Nothing…piss off!”

This suggests that in many communities there is a widening gap between church and community. Vai Ngahe is to be commended for developing ways to help bridge this gap. It remains to be seen whether such methods will work in all communities.” Touchstone March 2015

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Avondale Union Parish launch of Weaving, Networking and Taking Flight

On Saturday afternoon 8 November 2014 Vai Ngahe, invited guests and church members, held a second launch of his book at Rosebank Peninsula Church, Cnr of Rosebank Road & Orchard Street, Avondale.

Here are some photos of this wonderful community event.

WNTF_Avondale_Youth_Group

Mother of Divine Mercy youth group get ready to perform

 

WNTF_Avondale_Youth_Susan_Adams

Rev Dr. Susan Adams – former Director of Ministry Training Unit, Trinity College

 

 WNTF_Avondale_Ruby_Schaumkel

Ruby Manukia  Schaumkel – Whau Local Board member


WNTF_Avondale_Youth_Lisa_Truttman

Lisa J. Truttman – President Avondale – Waterview Society Inc

 

WNTF_Avondale_Youth_Catherine_Farmer

Catherine Farmer –  Chair, Whau Local Board

 

 WNTF_Avondale_Youth_John_Salmon

Rev Dr John Salmon – Former President of the Methodist Church of New Zealand

 

WNTF_Avondale_Youth_Vai_laughing

Rev Vai Ngahe shares a joke with the audience.

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Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight by Vai Ngahe – coming mid-Oct 2014

Weaving, Networking & Taking Flight: Engaged Ministry in Avondale Union and Manurewa Methodist parishes 2006-2014  by ‘Alifeleti Vaitu’ulala Ngahe
— Coming mid-October 2014

ISBN 9781501004476. 68pp. 6 x 9″ soft cover

Tongan Methodist minister ‘Alifeleti Vaitu’ulala Ngahe has been in full-time, ordained ministry for almost 10 years. This book reflects on those years in Avondale Union and Manurewa Methodist parishes in Auckland, New Zealand.

Rev Ngahe’s approach is to create strategies for change by engaging in deep theological thinking, in networking with key local people and organisations, and in careful reflection on learnings from his ministry. He believes all people in a community have a contribution to make and hopes this book will encourage church and other local leaders to work effectively in their communities.

Church life and ministry is changing. Alongside this, our communities are changing and are often stressed. How does the Church engage effectively with the communities in which they are set?

Rev Ngahe says, “Over my years in ministry it has become clear that people are excited and enthusiastic about engaging in God-talk and living out the Gospels. …communities come together when a vision and the possibility of achieving positive change are offered.”

Using the metaphors of weaving a mat, creating a network the way a spider spins a web and a bird taking flight, he explains how he has given new life to his parishes.

  • The mat represents the history of the church. Leaving the edges of the mat unfinished allows new stories and experiences to be woven in.
  • The web represents the network that needs to be deliberately built up between people in the church and the leaders and organisations that form the surrounding local community.
  • The bird reminds us that it takes a lot of energy to take flight. But when the community is working together and heading in the same direction, we can relax and enjoy the ride, soaring through the air.

Vai_Ngahe_PortraitTwo key projects demonstrate the power of church and community working together. The run-down Rosebank Penninsula Church building has been restored and transformed into a busy community centre. The outdoor mural at Manurewa Methodist church was painted by people of all ages from within the church and the wider local community. It remains a vibrant symbol of that church’s role as the Corner of Hope.

Rev Ngahe’s enthusiastic and yet deeply thoughtful, methodical approach will provide inspiration for all who are engaged in multicultural Christian ministry.