Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Don't leave town till you have seen the country

So said a great slogan many years ago, aiming to boost internal tourism.

I am not exactly the world's greatest globetrotter but I have lived overseas twice, travelled a little bit at other times to Australia, South Pacific, Asia, Britain and Europe. But only this year have I visited two of the most beautiful parts of the Blessed Isles for the first time ever.

In January it was the Bay of Islands. This past Labour weekend Teresa and I visited Coromandel for my first time ever. Just lovely - bush, green dairy pastures, sandy beaches, Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, Pauanui, Hahei, Tairua, Cook's Beach, and, wonderfully because of a splendid market, Thames. We live in an amazingly diverse country, blessed with beauty and cows. Lots of them!

This brilliant weekend followed a fascinating four days in Auckland - two at a meeting of the Tikanga Pakeha Ministry Council (TPMC - a policy making body re education and training) and two at a St. John's College Colloquium celebrating 25 years of being a Three Tikanga church.

Being Anglican in the Blessed Isles is a curious thing. On the one hand, factually, we are a church in steady numerical decline. On the other hand, experientially, we are a church working on change, seeking leaders with adaptability, flexibility and creativity. (TPMC's themes were along these lines)

The latter means we are recognising the challenge before us, recognising that we cannot do everything as it once was done and recognising that in a changing world the shape of the future church is not yet known. I sense, for instance, that the biggest change coming - perhaps a decade from now - is the end of parishes as we know them. If so, that will be because we recognise that in a world of connection possible through cars and computers, our gatherings will be determined by factors other than geography.

But our changing world is also a changing world driven by patterns of migration and of upheaval in respect of cultural hegemonies.

The Colloquium was a sharp reminder - not least to me as one of the presenters, of whom some sharp questions were asked - that in a Three Tikanga church, that is,  a church determined to end Pakeha domination, it is very difficult for one or other culture not to be dominant!

But woven through the Colloquium was a reminder that the situation of our church is different to 1992: a figure of some 213 different cultures in Aotearoa NZ was mentioned, 198 of which fall under the term "Pakeha". (Apparently 14 cultures make up Pasefika and Maori is the one Tikanga with a single (though diverse) culture.) What recent migratory patterns is confronting us with is that to be Pakeha is no longer a question of what old settler families and new migrants from Britain think it means. Tikanga Pakeha is old and new European, African, and Asian: exciting and challenging!

In other words, relating the two events of last week, the future shape of our church includes the future shape of a multi-cultural church.

And yet ... a raw reality of Pakeha life is that we have a large number of congregations in which - my estimate - 98% of the faces are white and 85% of those faces belong to faithful Anglicans who will not be alive when we celebrate the bicentenary of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The sands of time are running out on us ...

Through our pleasant weekend in Coromandel, filled as it was with happy holiday makers, I reflected on what the gospel might mean in a land filled with milk and honey - the good life here is so good few seem bothered to connect with God as source of the goodness. What is our "good news" in a land already filled with goodness?

I will try to offer some semblance of an answer in a future post later this - yes, another busy - week. 


Andrei said...

" In other words, relating the two events of last week, the future shape of our church includes the future shape of a multi-cultural church."

But the Church is part of the culture Peter!

Anglicanism is in integral part of the Heritage of the English speaking world

The question is is it catholic and orthodox or is it heterodox?

And should it aspire to be Catholic and Orthodox? If you get my drift?

The Church should lead the culture not be lead by it

I don't know how you do it but I know how you don't and that is getting entangled in inane debates over "Same Sex Marriage"

A good start might be to fight tooth and nail to retain the major Christian Festivals as public holidays

Another good move might be to try and promote Christian Marriage as trendy - you have a mighty fine service which leaves what the majority of what the moderns settle for (the minority who even bother) for dead

The Wedding of Prince William to the Duchess of Cambridge was a fine thing in this regard (even though they modified the service slightly to pander to modern sensibilities)

And encourage Baptisms for the newborn a fantastic opportunity for celebration and evangelization

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,
"What is our "Good News" in a land already filled with goodness?".

It is that when we have eaten and are still hungry,built and filled more barns full of corn and still fear famine and when we have gold and silver aplenty but still feel poor; that the true giver of all we have and are,died on a cross (at our hands) so that once again we might be at peace with the Godhead.
Deut. Chapter 8: verse 6 on. Verse 17-"And then say in thine heart,my power and the might of mine own hands has gotten me this wealth".

As I said another thread on your site, The curse of broken man's belief in "I did it my way" is the fatal belief which removes all things, including our identity, from it's origin in the Eternal and Creating God. Then as Solomon reminds us,"all is vanity".Christ allows us to share that Eternity in the Godhead, as adapted sons and daughters.That is a goodness and wealth,far more valuable than any gold or silver we have stolen out of it's origin in the Creator.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei and Glen
Not sure if I am heading in either of your directions!
Not because you are wrong but because I am interested in what might get "cut through" to the average or ordinary non-believing, non-church belonging (even in the loosest sense) Kiwi ...

Andrei said...

"Not because you are wrong but because I am interested in what might get "cut through" to the average or ordinary non-believing, non-church belonging (even in the loosest sense) Kiwi ...

You could always try knocking on doors, like the Jehovah's Witnesses do

Or you could hire a sports stadium and hold a rock concert

Or you could by TV advertising like the Salvation army does

Some people are very upset at the loss of the Christchurch Cathedral Peter.

Why? They feel like they have lost an important part of their heritage (even though some of the most vocal are not and never have been Anglicans which feeds my cynicism)

You did a post a while ago linking an agnostic, or atheist even journalist who had stumbled upon "Evensong" and had been moved and touched by it

Put those last three paragraphs together

Maori people in these lands fight to maintain their culture and heritage but you don't seem to want to do the same

A relatively popular TV show of recent times was " Call the Midwife" . What was that about? - Anglican Nuns who looked after newborns, a very rare example of the Christian religion being portrayed in a positive light

But where are the Anglican nuns today? And who is suggesting to the parents of newborns that it would be good to get them baptized? And baptism is where it begins Peter

There is a lot of work to be done - it requires people to be visibly out there in the community talking to people - not ramming religion down their throats but having everyday conversations with them backed by the underlying assumption of God's grace and goodness

And all the time you have a storehouse of treasures passed down through the ages that are kept locked up in a cupboard gathering dust because you think they are in some way "old fashioned"

Andrei said...

I found this Church of England video on Youtube - I might not agree with everything in this video but it surely makes for a good discussion starting point and food for thought


Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, Andrei, for your link to that lovely Video. It does show the openness of the Church of England to everyone who would want to get married in their local Anglican Church. Who can says what such an interface might bring about in the lives - not only of the couple but also of their friends and family who attend the ceremony? Sadly there are clergy arou8nd the Anglican Communion who demand qualifications - that God may not demand. The Gospel Mission is 'being there' for ALL people.

You might be interested in the latest short video from the recent Anglican Primates' Meeting in Canterbury - demonstrating the cooperative equipping for mission experienced by those Primates who were actually present. Here is the link: https://goo.gl/M3KM91

Andrei said...

I'm pleased you liked it Fr Ron

It was posted as a partial response to Peter's plaintive "I am interested in what might get "cut through" to the average or ordinary non-believing, non-church belonging (even in the loosest sense) Kiwi ..."

And a wedding as you noted provides an opportunity for the Church to interact with those who have little contact with it

I guess I am suggesting it that everyday life provides opportunities for everyday interactions and from these tiny acorns mighty oaks may grow.

Not that a wedding is an everyday thing - it is special and the Church can make it very, very special, it has the "venues" and the rubrics and should use them but it also should place its boundaries.

One of the couples in the video were required to attend the church where they wed six times before the ceremony and said they had attended since - obviously they were not committed church goers - not yet but that may come.

I don't have that protestant thing about instant conversion but see people as growing in the Faith as they muddle along. We need to plant the seed and nurture and fertilize it as our fellow Christians nurture and fertilize the Faith that is developing in us

Sometimes people who have a sudden conversion burn out - we must have all seen this.

I don't have the answers for Peter but I do think the Church must be visible and I do think it must be unwavering in standing up for what it believes in and must fight to retain its place in the prevailing culture

When thinking about marriage in 1960 90% of all weddings conducted in New Zealand were celebrated in church and Anglicans were the dominant church in which they occurred closely followed by Presbyterians and Catholics.

How did the Church allow this to slip?