The Theme of “Community” – Part 2 – Angela Murdoch

The Theme of “Community” – Part 2 – Angela Murdoch

Sun 05 Jun

This week, the second of the two week theme ‘Community’, we have heard accounts from two groups who work outside St Luke’s in the wider community.

Some groups we are closely involved with, including the Dingwall Trust and Remuera Christian Trust Board, have been operating for many years. Another is the Auckland City Hospital Volunteers, where St Lucan’s go into the Hospital on the 5th Sunday of the month and help patients to the Chapel for the Protestant Church Service.  There is frequently a marked difference in theology but that seems unimportant in the warmth of the interactions before and after worship.

St Luke’s intention to have meaningful participation with the wider community is part of our vision to grow and to seek opportunities for intellectual, spiritual and practical engagement with themes and issues many of us find important.

The Social Justice Team was formed after the Parish Council Retreat in early 2014 and has become an active group committed to coordinating the social justice interests of our community and providing opportunities for participation by all of us.

A relationship has been developing with Presbyterian Support Northern and we have been able to support initiatives such as White Ribbon events addressing family violence and responding to child poverty.

It was exciting to receive twelve mission outreach applications this year indicating interest and work in outreach initiatives.  The Social Justice Team evaluated all these applications against a set of principles including the alignment with our Mission Plan, trustworthiness and relationships with the community.  David McNabb will be announcing the grants that St Luke’s will be giving this year within the next week or two.

Aotearoa Development Cooperative (ADC) was founded by two St Lucan’s, Andrew Colgan & Geoff Cooper, in 2007 and is supported by many in this community.  Recently a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed to and this will be signed here in Church during the Sunday service on June 19th.

The Interfaith programme has developed over the past few years under the direction and efforts of our Interfaith Enabler Keith Rowe.  It is taking significant steps in the development of interfaith exploration and establishing relationships.   St Luke’s is committed to promoting the interfaith programme as an expression of peace and friendship with the wider community.  A meditative service is held here in the church on Fridays at 11am which draws people from Christian communities beyond St Luke’s.

Restorative Justice continues to be an active initiative in our community and has evolved as the system has changed.  The values remain the same, creating the possibility of reconciliation through the practice of compassion, healing, mercy and honesty.

The movement Progressive Spirituality NZ is still in its early stages with St Lukes holding the first conference Beyond the Borders in 2014.  Last month it was heartening to see four parishes in Hawkes Bay work together to hold the second conference, Common Ground.  St Andrews on the Terrace have undertaken to hold the third conference in 2018.  A website has been established. This movement is closely aligned to Common Dreams network in Australia who offered financial and mentoring support to enable us to start up in NZ. Keith & Kathleen Rowe and Glynn will travel to Brisbane in September to their conference further developing these ties.

At the Common Ground Conference last month it was a great experience to be part of a 13 strong group of St Lucan’s.  We were able to meet again with many of the people we met from two years ago.

The keynote speaker, Robin Meyers was a gifted and interesting speaker and spoke about his own progressive Church, the Mayflower Congregational United Church in Oklahoma where he has been the Minister for 30 years. He was asked to describe what his church community was like and spoke of their aim for radical hospitality, openness, and being inclusive and affirming. In our gospel reading this morning we heard the familiar story about the feeding of the five thousand.  One explanation that appeals is that the miracle was not that Jesus produced fish and bread out of thin air.  After he blessed loaves and fishes people shared what they had with each other.  This is an example of radical hospitality which draws on goodwill, compassion, neighbourliness and sharing with others so that there is more than enough for everyone to be fed.   

Robin Meyers also spoke of the group who go out and read to a school in a part of the city where a need was recognised, supporting a medical initiative in Nicaragua, their Social Justice Group ‘Voice’ and pastoral care and caring for those in the community.  This sounded remarkably like us!!! It is heartening to be aware of other churches, around the world, trying to make a difference, working in progressive communities encompassing our families, our Church, all other churches and faiths and the world at large.