Book review published on Tui Motu Interislands Facebook page 12 August 2015
Weaving, Networking, and Taking Flight:
Engaged Ministry in Avondale Union and Manurewa Methodist Parishes 2006 -2014
by ‘Alifeleti Vaitu’ulala Ngahe
Published by Philip Garside Publishing Ltd, Wellington, 2014.
Reviewed by Johanna Warren
“The book is the study-leave report of a Tongan Methodist Pastor. He reflects on nine years of ministry in two parishes in the Auckland area. It is extremely well written, thoughtful and engaging. I found Vaitu’ulala Ngahe’s writing style fresh and alive. Sometimes a sentence would leap off the page with vigour and impact. Vaitu’ulala’s metaphors are lively and his descriptions and thinking are clear.
Vaitu’ulala began his reflections with three symbols or icons. He builds his theological reflection and his narrative around the mat or Tongan fala, the spider and the bird, which all opened up metaphors for exploring his ministry. The mat, crafted by the family and spread out for family discussions, with its unfinished edges always open to new weaving was a great metaphor for Vaitu’ulala’s ministry practice.
Vaitu’ulala found his other symbols in the places of his two ministries, Avondale and Manurewa. Avondale Town Centre hosts an icon of the Avondale Spider and Manurewa means “soaring birds”. Vaitu’ulala’s ministry and reflections are deeply grounded among the people of these places.
Vaitu’ulala reflects on the processes undertaken in Avondale and Manurewa to revitalise community relationships and begin new outreach programmes. His writing would spark reflection for parish leadership and offers examples of how to undertake such reflection and how valuable it can be. Vaitu’ulala also includes practical insights into practices for leading transformation in parish ministry and community outreach.
I would recommend this book to any pastor considering study-leave or planning a period of reflection before transition in ministry. I would also strongly recommend it as good reading for the leaders of parishes who are considering changing how they relate with their local communities. It would also be helpful to those feeling stuck or complacent in their parish life.
It was pleasure to read this book and it is one I can see myself re-reading as I reflect on my own ministry.”