The Messenger – Spring 2019

Bishop Jim’s Medical Retirement
Bringing People Together
From our Priest in Charge
Twins
Church Finances
Church Giving
Report of Auckland’s 56th Synod
Poster found in a Church in France

Bishop Jim’s Medical Retirement

From the Diocesan News Website

Bishop Jim has announced that he will step down from active ministry at the end of October after eight years serving as Assistant Bishop. He has been advised to take medical retirement after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma earlier this year. He has had eight rounds of chemotherapy and is now going ahead with stem-cell therapy. It is hoped that a service of farewell and thanksgiving will take place on Advent Sunday, 1 December, at 3pm in Holy Trinity Cathedral. This will depend on Jim’s health and so updates about that will be provided close to the time.

Bringing People Together

This article, by Archdeacon Michael Berry, was originally printed in the July 2019 issue of “The Anglican”, the magazine of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland. It is reproduced here with his permission.

Kia tau ki a koutoe, te atawhai me te rangimarie 0 te Atua. As-salamu alaykum. Ahalom. Grace and peace be with you all.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of addressing those who gathered for the Iftar meal at our Holy Trinity Cathedral – it was a meal that brought together people of Christian, Islamic and Jewish faith as well as other leaders of the wider community, in what has become a growing pattern of offering hospitality to neighbours during times of religious significance. My words that night (too long to print in their entirety here, you’ll be glad to hear!), ultimately boiled down to a reflection on the place of religion in modern Kiwi society, and the common ground we share in promoting religious value, freedom and belief.

If we are to look back into our history, as people of different faiths, we have long believed that our differences are important enough to cause each other harm. History is littered with examples of this, and the name ‘god’ has been raised by many marching to war. Recent horrific events in Christchurch remind us, even today, of strongly held views, fears and bigotry.

The Christchurch Mosque attacks left our nation in shock and people looked for ways to express their grief and sadness. Some stood in solidarity outside mosques to proclaim “this is not us”. Some put special borders around their social media profile pictures. In the midst of offering a grace and

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery, there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her, this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”

Maybe this was one of the best explanations of the concept of GOD.

 Love that touched the world, our Prime Minister led swift changes to gun laws then travelled abroad to campaign for social media regulation. Organisations from every sector proclaimed their solidarity, issuing statements against such violence, and affirming their own wholesome, positive values of inclusion, peace and love. Largely, these were positive responses and we have started some conversations which have been long overdue in our society in the midst of our ongoing and growing diversity. We have named and labelled parts of us that we have been agitating away under the surface; feelings and views that have been more hidden until now.

In the midst of this, however, some were nervous. How do we feel about an Imam leading a call to prayer in Parliament? How do we feel about Islamic worship receiving such positive coverage in our media? Does my acceptance of this other faith expression somehow make me unfaithful to my own? Rather than harbouring these concerns, however, I hope that these events might give us an important opportunity for reflection.

Unfortunately, the place of religious discussion in modern society has often proved difficult as our society adjusts to shifting cultural and religious trends. We are often told ‘we are a secular society’, yet somehow this has come to translate into the understanding that religion should be barred from the public arena. In the face of an increasingly secular demographic, people have come to shy away from, or simply object to, any prayers in public spaces; to religious leaders being involved in public occasions; to religious teaching in public schools; and a national anthem that seeks to the protection and guidance of God. As Aotearoa experiences a greater acceptance of new immigrant populations (although, to be fair, some of ‘them’ have actually been here longer than some of ‘us’), even other religious celebrations have been welcomed only once stripped of religious meaning so they can be held as ‘cultural’ rather than ‘faithful’.

The alternative, in my heart, is not for a society that simply seeks to create a non-offensive, homogeneous secular community in a changing world, but rather one that gives itself a wider space to embrace and understand the diversity of beliefs and understandings in our community.

Not to stop prayers from one; but to include prayers of more. Not to ban talk of religion in our public schools; but to find ways of educating our young people about the diversity of beliefs that drive and inspire the vast majority of people on this globe. Not to eradicate the religious meaning of Christmas and Easter to create otherwise benign public holidays; but to acknowledge and understand Ramadan and Passover. It is here, despite our historical, or even real differences, that we find common ground with Muslims, Jews and every person of faith who inhabits this land.

Accepting diversity, in that sense, is not about ensuring a blank canvas that is void of any one expression. Rather, it is about giving space for the full-colour expression of all our people; a rich tapestry of all that we are. Allowing space for other people’s religions is not about denying my own faith, but about according the very rights that I value to others. Rather than losing this ground, to be willing to share it.

Jesus said, ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …’ (Matthew 5:43-44). Jesus points us to a radical approach to those who might be different from us even if, in the extreme, we perceive that they wish us harm. Even if we see them historically as our enemy. Jesus’ command and encouragement is that we seek to offer what can often be the hardest gift to give; that of love.

In an increasingly secular world, we have seen a church fighting to maintain our historical, yet never official, role of religious sovereignty. In official public places, this position in now almost impossible to defend. Instead, the cause that we can further is the hope for a society that proclaims a most basic human right – to accept and include all people of faith. This is where we find common ground with Muslims, Jews and people of other faiths as we stand together to proclaim, not just the right, but beauty and value of faith in our society.

From our Priest in Charge

You might have heard about the Canonisation of John Henry Newman by Pope Francis on October 13 2019, the first Englishman to be declared a Saint for centuries!

So who was he? He was born in 1801 and had a conversion experience at the age of 15. In 1817 he went to Oxford where his intellectual and spiritual formation largely took place. He became a Fellow of Oriel College and fell under the influence of John Keble – both men were rooted in the sacramental “types and instruments of things unseen”.

He went to Rome and didn’t particularly like what he saw, but made it his business to find a “Via Media” between Anglicanism and the Roman Catholic faith.  He returned to England in 1833 and with people like Keble and Pusey, started what became known as the “Oxford Movement”. They produced a series of “Tracts for the Times” which embodied three principles:

  1. Dogma is important as a counter to liberalism
  2. The Church must be visible in its rites and sacraments, “Externalise and materialise the interior life in accordance with a incarnational sensibility”
  3. Anti-Roman – Newman believed the Roman Church had wandered from its moorings in the Apostles and the Church Fathers. He even described the Pope as the “Anti-Christ”.

People would flock to St Mary the Virgin Church in Oxford to hear Newman preach, but he fell afoul of the English Church Establishment with the publication of Tract No. 90 in which Newman set about giving a Catholic reading to the 39 Articles – the summary of what Anglicans believed and which all clergy, MPs and so forth were bound by.

Newman was condemned as a traitor, had to resign from Oxford, and went to live in a converted stable at a place called Littlemore, outside Oxford. Here, he prayed and meditated and studied in almost monastic asceticism. Here he eventually decided to become a Roman Catholic. “It’s the whole world which judges securely” he wrote, affirming these words of St Augustine. The C of E was only the Church of England.

He was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845, and went to Rome to become a priest. In Rome, he was impressed with The Oratory (Place of Prayer) which followed the rule of St Philip Neri. He joined them, and decided to form an oratory in England. On his way home he wrote the hymn “Lead Kindly Light” out of his own experiences; he was vilified by the English Church, and the Catholics were very wary of him too!

Newman is a guide for our own times when there seems to be such polarisation in our own thinking. He was both Liberal, recognising the need for change and development; and Conservative believing the Church needs an infallible teaching authority. “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” is one of his most famous quotations; he recognised that development and change is usually accompanied by corruption and heresy so you need an authority to decide. He recognised the Protestant authority was the Bible, but also could see how Protestant Churches kept on dividing because they couldn’t agree on its interpretation.

In 1879, Pope Leo XIII made Newman a cardinal. He died at the Birmingham oratory in 1890 where, in 2010, Benedict XVI beatified him. Perhaps his most lasting contribution is to teaching and evangelism. In his book “The Grammar of Assent”, he puts forward the intellectual and psychological act of accepting a proposition – there is in his words a “Notional” assent to something where we accept some philosophical, abstract idea.   But there is also a “Real” assent. Slavery might be accepted “notionally” but it only becomes “real” when we come into contact with slaves or slave owners. “Real” assent produces action, our conscience is stirred. To bring a person to faith in Christ, you need to appeal to both notional and real assent, stir up the emotions, use abstract arguments, hunches and hints, memory, experience……

You never know what will move someone.

Fr Bob Driver, Priest in Charge

Twins

This article, by Fr Corapi of the Catholic Channel, came to the editor’s attention in a Facebook post by our good friend Benneth Gilbert, who for nearly a year was our office lady under Mark Sullivan.

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other, “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

 “Nonsense”, said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of world would that be?”

The second said “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat with our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now”.

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need.  And the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is in here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense! And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery, there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we shall meet Mother, and She will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother?  If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said “She is all around us. We are surrounded by Her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her, this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first, “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice calling down from above.”

Maybe this is one of the best explanations ever, of the concept of God.

Church Finances

Tony Poole, Parish Treasurer

In one respect, our Church’s Financial position is quite dire; in another respect, it doesn’t look too bad. I will explain.

With a Church attendance of between 20 and 35 people each week, church giving is quite low. Each week, we bank out of the offering plate about $600 – i.e., about $2,500 per month. This is supplemented by an average of $3,200 per month from other sources (automatic payments, hall-hirers, rent from the vicarage, and donations).

The rent from letting the vicarage for 10 years is not as straightforward as it may seem. Calendar-monthly rent is $4,666.67.  Davis Funerals are entitled to deduct $1,518.32 repayment-of-loan each month from their rent, paying us the balance of $3,148.35. However, at the end of five years (in July 2021), Davis Funerals have an absolute right to terminate the lease, either immediately, or at any time over the next five years, and the parish must almost immediately pay back any outstanding balance owing on the cost of renovating the Vicarage (about $91,000 as at July 2021).

Trust Management (the Diocesan Accounting firm) therefore “reserves” $1,518 of rent income each month, so that we will have the sum of $91,000 to pay back on July 2021; leaving us with rent income of only $1,650 each month, instead of the $3,148.35 it would otherwise be.

By being extremely cautious with spending, your vestry has managed to live within its income for the last three years; but it has now run out of money. Vestry will therefore be in debt by up to $30,000 by the date of the five-year review of the lease. Vestry applied to the Diocese, and the Diocese has agreed that, in the event of the lease being terminated at the date of the review or at any time after that, the parish may re-let the vicarage to another commercial or residential tenant approved of by the Diocese, for the balance of the original term  of the lease, and may also borrow up to $30,000 to help it meet its liability to Davis Funerals.

Our thanks go to the Diocese Council for giving us this assurance.

This means that we can use up to $30,000 of the money “reserved” by Trust Management, over the next two years, to meet large payments such as rates and insurance, knowing that the risks of doing so can be offset by borrowing, in the event of the lease being terminated in July 2021.

If the lease is not terminated at any stage, our position will greatly improve. From August 2021, monthly rent received on the vicarage will be $3,148; in addition, at some date between August 2021 and 2023, the money “reserved” for payment of rent in the future will begin to be freed-up.

However, from August 2026 we will be in the same dire straits again.  The vicarage tenancy will end, and so will $3,148 of rent per month, and the rent reserves will be all used. Income (weekly offerings, donations, hall hireage) must increase by about $4,148 per month (say, $1,000 per week) if we are just to stand still, compared to the last five years of the lease.

We have seven years to achieve this increase in income; but it doesn’t actually have to take seven years to start to raise our income.  Let’s start now. We don’t anticipate Davis Funerals terminating the lease in just under 2 years’ time – the $30,000 loan approval is “just in case” – to reduce the risk to us if that does happen.  But if it does happen, wouldn’t it be nice if we had already increased our annual income by the amount we would otherwise have to borrow, so that no borrowing was necessary.

As part of such a plan, please read also the next Article, on Church giving.

Church Giving

Tony Poole, Parish Treasurer

We celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of our Church, on 3rd November with a Eucharist Service at 10.30 AM (note: no 9.00 AM Service that day) followed by a commemoration of the Saints in our Memorial Garden, which will in turn be followed by a communal lunch.

It is customary each year for the anniversary of the Church to also be an annual day of thanksgiving, for the blessings the Church and its members have received, with Parishioners invited to respond to those blessings by reviewing their offerings to their Church.

Offerings to the Church can take many forms, including offerings of work and office holding, and of generally being a good and useful person around the Church. Our Church is full of such people, and your contributions-in-kind are very greatly appreciated. Money is just one form of Church giving; but it too, is also a very important form.

It is my duty as Treasurer to keep you informed of the Church’s finances. Apart from that, it is not for me or anyone else to tell you how much money you should give to the Church; that is a decision to be made prayerfully between yourself and God. The following 10 points are offered merely for your consideration as you review how much to put in the plate, envelope or automatic payment to the Church each week or month over the next year.

9        If I compare the amount I give to the Church each week, with the amount I spend on alcohol, cigarettes, sweets and other such expenses, and I find I am spending as much or even nearly as much on these items as I give to the Church, I think I should feel really guilty.

Please pray about your giving, build up some treasure in Heaven – for that is where your heart should be, so give as generously as you can. Mr W Stevenson gave us the stone for our Church and supervised its construction; we can save it, by similar acts of generosity.

Report of Auckland’s 56th Synod

Thursday to Saturday, 5 – 7 September 2019

Rev Bob Driver, Pat Sallis, Steve Anderson

Synod commenced on Thursday evening with Eucharist in St Mary’s, with a sermon by Bishop Jim White, Assistant Bishop of Auckland, based on Psalm 34 verse 8, “O taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him!”. Vaughan Williams wrote a Choral Anthem for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on the same verse, which the choir sang during communion at the Eucharist.

Bishop Jim urged us to engage with each other and the business of Synod because “we shape and order the life of the Anglican Church”. His words were very poignant because he is battling a rare form of lymphoma; and on Saturday he announced his imminent resignation on medical grounds.

After the service we moved to Holy Trinity where Bishop Ross Bay presented the Bishop’s charge. He saw as priorities the need for greater support for ministry in the North, continuing the Healthy Church work and enhancing the Executive Chaplain role to free him from administrative responsibilities. He paid tribute to the work of the Auckland City Mission, and updated Synod on the $90 million building project Mission HomeGround. The Building is underway, and funding is almost secure. Once completed it will accommodate administrative and social services, plus provide detox beds and apartments for the homeless. It will transform the services and environment currently available to those who seek help, and add significantly to their sense of dignity.

The business of Synod took place on Friday evening and Saturday. On Friday afternoon the Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrell spoke. The City Mission was established 99 years ago when 2000 people gathered at Auckland’s largest venue, the Empire Theatre, in response to the hardship of many people after the Great War. In 2019 the emphasis is on Hunger, Health and Homelessness. The need has not diminished. Chris thanked all parishes for their generous contributions.

Under Legal Business there were four Bills, all of which passed. They were:

  1. Stipends and Pensions Committee (name change to Clergy Remuneration and Retirement Committee)
  2. Youth Representation Statute 2019 (provides a more flexible gathering of young people by setting up a Youth Hui, in place of a Youth Synod)
  3. Repeal of Statutes (which are outdated)
  4. Diocesan Council Statute 2019 (modernises procedures and provides a coherent structure for decision-making outside Synod)

Motions were also moved, discussed and carried as follows:

  1. The Report of the Legal Business Committee
  2. Refugees and Displaced Persons (encourages donations to organisations aiding resettlement as well as prayers being offered as part of the regular prayer cycles)
  3. Grief and Loss Support Services (“Seasons for Growth” programmes praised, and ministry units challenged to seek ways to deliver in their local communities)
  4. Extending the Living Wage to all Government Activities
  5. Climate Change Action (call for sustainable living and practices in every ministry unit)
  6. Diocesan Zero Carbon Plan (support and funding for a ZCP)
  7. Housing for the Elderly and those with Disabilities (calling for Government to prioritise the building of Housing NZ units)
  8. Calculation of Quota (to exclude costs of Parish projects)

A Motion without Notice was introduced regarding the Abortion Bill and End of Life legislation currently before Parliament. There was considerable debate on both sides of the issue, and the motion was eventually withdrawn, but is likely to reappear next year.

If you want information on any of these matters, please feel free to talk to your Synod representatives. A copy of the Synod Sermon is also available.

In Lighter Vein

Poster found in a Church in France (Translated)

Someone Put it on Our Noticeboard

When you enter this Church, it may be possible you hear “the call of God”.
However, it is unlikely he will call you on your mobile.
Thank you for turning off your ‘phones.
If you want to talk to God, enter, choose a quiet place, and talk to Him. If you want to see Him, send Him a text while Driving