Tag Archives: Pakeha Anglican

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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“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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What should we be offering to Kiwis dealing with death?

Earthed in Hope

Article in Anglican Taonga – Pentecost 2015

Lloyd Ashton asked Alister Hendery what should we be offering to Kiwis dealing with death.

 

Alister_page_8_Taonga_Pentecost_2015Alister Hendery’s new book Earthed in Hope – Dying, Death and Funerals, a Pakeha Anglican Perspective was launched in Wellington last November. It is the fruit of a life that has specialised in death.

Over the course of 35 years in ministry, Alister has taken more than 1500 funerals – both as a priest and celebrant. He has also worked as a counsellor specialising in grief and loss.

Death is even a feature of Alister’s chosen sport.

A few years ago he took up powerlifting.

The demands of wrestling with a loaded Olympic bar saw him through the more intense periods of writing his book, he says.

He found too, that one of the sport’s three lifts became his favourite:

The deadlift.

“I’m often asked,” he says, “whether I find such a concentration on death depressing.

“On the contrary. It’s life-giving, it adds a sense of immediacy to life, teaching me to measure the present moment and to rely on the grace of God – believing, as I do, that the life I have and the life I will know after death is a gift from the One who created me and loves me.”

If appearances are anything to go by, that’s not mere talk, either.

Because Alister Hendery has an impish grin, a twinkle in his eye, and a ready wit.

Alister decided to write his book because he was appalled by the “acute lack of any serious writing about funeral ministry” in New Zealand.

He wanted to do something about that, to offer resources for funeral ministry – but also to kick-start conversations about death and bereavement.

Because death, he says is a subject we don’t talk about nearly enough.

It has been marginalised, even in the church.

“I go to Anglican funerals,” he says, “where the word ‘death’ is not used.

“The church has been seduced by a societal obsession with the beauty of youth.

“Of course youth matters. But not at the price of ignoring the elderly, and putting things like ministry to the dying and dead into a second tier.”

That lack of deliberate reflection about death and dying is all the more serious, he says, because the Kiwi Zeitgeist has changed.

“How we approach death, how we mark it, what we believe about it, what we do with our dead, has changed radically over the past four decades – and funeral ministry is caught up in this windstorm of cultural change.”

While the church has moved inexorably from the centre to the periphery of our culture, he says we haven’t seen the opportunity that lies at our feet.

“2016 marks the beginning of the demise of the baby boomer generation.

“The funeral industry is positioning itself for this development, but is the church readying itself with as much energy and commitment?”

We haven’t grasped, says Alister, that funeral ministry is “at the edge of our connection with society.

“It’s the place where the gospel and contemporary culture most keenly interact.

“Because it’s the area, as the Prayer Book says, that touches us most deeply.”

Alister began research for his book in 2010.

Within a year, Pike River and the first of the Christchurch quakes had happened.

“Suddenly, with Pike River, you had what one commentator described as the first expression of public grieving on the social networks.

“I was able to download literally thousands of postings, and a picture very quickly emerged.

“And I can tell you that neo-Platonism, the belief in an immortal soul, is alive and well. People are reverting to ancient images of the ferryman crossing the Styx.

“There is no concept of the Judaic-Christian belief in the resurrection of the body. It simply is not out there.”

‘You never find closure’

In the wake of Pike River, Alister got tired of hearing the word closure being bandied around.

It comes, he says, from a 1970s model of grief. “The idea that if you achieve certain goals, people will be able to move on.”

“But human being just don’t work like that. Grief is a time of utter chaos. And we each grieve uniquely. It can’t be stylised in the form that the media present it.

“You never find closure to grief.

“It is always a part of you.

“We look for change. Radical change.

“But that’s not closure. I would go so far as to say that the whole psychological linear model is feeding people a lie.”

“I was watching a movie on day, and suddenly my eyes filled with tears. And it was a grief 30 years old.

“It was almost as though it had tapped me on the shoulder and said: ‘Just pay attention’.

“I didn’t need to go to a therapist. It said: ‘Just notice me. I’m still here in your life.’

Alister is not picking a fight with celebrants. After all, he’s been one himself.

“The church could learn from good celebrants,” he says, “about personalising and expressing the uniqueness of this death.

“What celebrants can’t do, is draw on the richness of the church’s tradition. And the strength of hope that we have, as we look beyond this death.

The celebrant funeral, he says “is often almost entirely retrospective.

“It’s for the living. But the church says” ‘No. It’s not just for the living. It’s for the dead, too.’

We acknowledge the retrospective – but we say there is a prospective dimension. There is a hope.

“That is still the gift the church has. But what the church needs to do, is to learn to speak the language of the people around it.”

Alister Hendery was ordained in 1980.

He’s now 61.

“Because my life on earth is now more memory than future,” he writes, “I am increasingly mindful of my own mortality.”

Having officiated a hundreds of funerals, he now practises a discipline:

“As I leave a funeral, I take a moment to be still, and in that stillness I say to myself:

“One day this will be me.

“One day, I shall not walk away from this place.

“Should I forget this, the liturgies of the church remind me of my mortality and the need to prepare for death – my death.”

And the last words of his book are a quote form what he considers to be an “utterly brilliant resource” – the New Zealand Prayer Book:

There is nothing in death or life,
in the world as it is,
or the world as it shall be,
nothing in all creation,
that can separate us from the love of God
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)


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The following review by Rev John Meredith appears in the June 2015 issue of Touchstone – the Methodist Church’s monthly newspaper.

 “Alister G. Hendery,
Earthed in Hope.
Dying, Death and Funerals. A Pakeha Anglican Perspective
.
Wellington: Philip Garside, 2014, 300 pages.

Hendery remarks that over the past four decades funeral practices in New Zealand have undergone sweeping changes. Celebrants who are not clergy conduct well over half Pakeha funerals and offer a highly personalised, life-centred alternative to churches. Although the church is no longer the chief provider of funeral ceremonies, Christian faith has a realistic approach to death and grief that is grounded in undying hope in God. Writing from an Pakeha Anglican perspective, Hendery addresses significant issues of Christian faith and practice and touches on matters relevant to all who exercise funeral ministry.

A funeral marks the ending of a human life and, as Hendery points out, people today have a wide choice in style and content of a funeral service. When a minister of the church is requested to officiate it cannot be taken for granted that the community for this funeral either understands or accepts the Christian story. Listening is a key part of the minister’s preparation. It is also important for a minister to accept that profound feelings of the loss of a physical presence cannot be assuaged by religious formulae.

At several places in the book the author stresses that whatever form the funeral takes, the most effective feature will be the embodiment of compassion by the minister. While those attending the funeral may forget what was said they will probably remember the attitude of the minister.

While a minister of the church is a spokesperson for the gospel, Hendery stresses this does not mean imposing on people. Ministers must be flexible and willing to offer guidance rather than ruling on matters such as choice of music and form of tribute.

Hendery expresses concern about the way euphemistic language may diminish the reality of someone’s death. Too often a person passes away to become the deceased. Instead, the author prefers unambiguous language. His practice of referring to someone who has died as “the dead person” indicates both respect for the person and an acceptance of reality.

The idea of closure, as it is popularly termed, is addressed thoughtfully. Writing of the pastoral care of people who are grieving, Hendery suggests that while, over time, those who have been bereaved may become reconciled to their loss, this does not mean that closure, is an appropriate end to the experience of grief. Those who are left continue to relate to those who have died through memory and abiding influence.

For those concerned with funeral ministry there is much in this book that will repay careful reflection: how God and Christian hope are presented, the avoidance of euphemisms and idealistic eulogies, ritual at and after the funeral, funerals following suicide, funerals of children and children at funerals. Hendery states: We need to be able to look death in the face and be willing to wrestle with the theological, spiritual and emotional demands that this takes. Earthed in Hope offers significant help for those who are serious about doing this.”


eBook editions of Earthed in Hope have now been reduced from NZ$14.99 to NZ$9.99.
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‘When people talk about me losing my son, it makes me sound so careless.’

“When speaking with children about a death, the news needs to be broken gently, and then a brief but accurate description of the death needs to be given. Unfortunately, adults, encouraged by the media, regularly use euphemisms to deny the reality of death. How often do we hear people saying someone has ‘passed away’ or that they have ‘lost’ their mum? We understand such language as code for death, though at times it has an almost comic side to it. A parishioner whose son had died remarked: ‘When people talk about me losing my son, it makes me sound so careless.’ For children such language results in confusion. What does ‘passed away’ or ‘passed over’ mean? Passed to where?

She has ‘fallen asleep’ or ‘she is resting.’ I recall working with a family whose baby girl had died. In one session it emerged that her brother was afraid to go to bed. It transpired that the baby’s death had been explained to him as her ‘going to sleep and not waking up.’ Not surprisingly, the boy was scared to go to sleep.

He ‘has gone on a long journey’, but people come back from long journeys. We take holidays that involve long journeys. This simply adds to a child’s confusion.

As with adults, but even more so with children, it is crucial that euphemisms be avoided. Children ask what they need to ask and become confused or anxious when we lay on them adult-formed inhibitions. The minister and family need to be very careful how they use religious language and imagery to speak about death to children. In an attempt to reassure the child we may say that, ‘Grandma has gone to heaven to be with God’, but the child may then resent a God that takes to heaven a person they love and need. Adults as well as children are easily alienated from God by such language, and we must consider the consequences of its use. If it is said, ‘Jesus loved her’ or, ‘she was so good God wanted her’, then why have any dealings with God who removes from my life someone I love? God might take me away as well. A boy began to behave badly after his uncle died. Eventually, he explained that he was being naughty so that God would not take him away like God had taken his uncle. He had overhead someone say that his uncle was such a good person that God had taken him, so the boy was working hard to be bad to ensure the same thing did not happen to him.”

From Chapter 11 — Children, of Earthed in Hope: Dying, Death and Funerals – A Pakeha Anglican Perspective. By Alister G. Hendery.

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“…a Christian funeral celebrates first and foremost that this person is a beloved child of God…”

“Ministers learn not to be surprised or shocked by anything heard as well as learning to make careful assessments about what is said and what is left unsaid. During the conversation with the family the minister may be told some ‘dark part’ of the dead person’s life, or experiences that resulted in hurt for others. Occasionally, the minister will deduce the dead person was thoroughly unpleasant or was in some way difficult or cantankerous. It may be appropriate to allude to this without describing matters in detail. There is no virtue in ‘washing dirty linen in public’, but nor is it helpful to pretend the person was someone they were not. Rather than idealising their life it is possible to express what people will miss and not miss. Occasionally, it has been sufficient for me to say, ‘In all our lives there are memories and aspects of our experience with another that need to be laid to rest – things that need to be forgiven.’ As I make that comment mourners give a nod of recognition as they recognise the meaning of what I have said. Sometimes the following may be used, either as a prayer or adapted as part of the minister’s comments:

God of mercy,
as we mourn the death of N and thank you for her / his life,
we also remember times when it was hard for us to understand,
to forgive, and to be forgiven.

Heal our memories of hurt and failure,
and bring us to forgiveness and life. (ANZPB, 862)

“We should not underestimate the importance of acknowledging and dealing with difficulties of this kind. We are loved and accepted by God for who we are, not for what we would like to be, or for what others wanted us to be. In contrast to a life-centred funeral that focuses on a person’s achievements and virtues as the source of celebration, a Christian funeral celebrates first and foremost that this person is a beloved child of God who is loved unconditionally.”

From Chapter 9 — The Funeral Service, of Earthed in Hope: Dying, Death and Funerals – A Pakeha Anglican Perspective. By Alister G. Hendery.

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“It is no wonder then that funerals are the most widely practiced human rituals.”

“Death is our inevitable fate. However hard we work to postpone it or try to deny it, we cannot escape it. Our mortality rate has consistently stood at precisely 100%. It is no wonder then that funerals are the most widely practiced human rituals. ‘Of all human events, death concerns us the most deeply’ (ANZPB, 811). The inevitability of death might suggest an equal inevitability about our response to death, but nothing could be further from the truth. How we approach death, how we mark it, what we believe about it, what we do with our dead, changes from generation to generation and from culture to culture. Within New Zealand, our response to death has changed radically in just the past few decades, and the changes keep coming, but amid them all, we keep having funerals.

Since its beginnings the Church has been deeply involved in people’s dying and response to death. It has made death its business. Indeed, its very life hinges on the death and burial of one man, who then rose from the dead. Funerals are an integral element of Christian ministry just as they are to human life. Yet, as with the rest of society, the Church has experienced such changes in this sphere that they might almost be described as seismic.”

From Chapter 1 — Introduction: A Changing Landscape, of Earthed in Hope: Dying, Death and Funerals – A Pakeha Anglican Perspective. By Alister G. Hendery.

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“…each funeral is the result of a partnership between minister and bereaved…”

“Ministers need a strong and loving wisdom to guide the bereaved through the funeral process, carefully listening to what is being said, building rapport and empathy, and being willing to explore possibilities with those making the arrangements. The trust and confidence of the bereaved has to be gained and this can only be achieved by sensitive response to their spiritual, social and emotional needs. We live in a consumer culture where people are used to getting what they want and expressing dissatisfaction if they do not get it. That does not mean that the mourners should dictate the form and content of the service. Rather, each funeral is the result of a partnership between minister and bereaved, the product of negotiation not dictation. In that process, the minister has to be able ‘to gauge accurately what this family would like to hear said and have done. It is entirely possible to keep the Christian liturgical framework and still include elements or emphasise themes that mean a lot to the bereaved but are not at the forefront of the liturgy.’582”

From Chapter 9 — The Funeral Service, of Earthed in Hope: Dying, Death and Funerals – A Pakeha Anglican Perspective. By Alister G. Hendery. Order now eBooks or Print book