Bishop's Page

17 December 2014

Kia tau ki a koutou te atawhai me te rangimarie o te Atua
願 父 神 所 賜 的 恩 惠 和 平 安 與 你 們 同 在
Grace and peace to you from God


Around this time next week – on Christmas Day – thousands of people will be gathering, as the Kiwi Christmas carol says, upon the grassy ground at Oihi in Rangihoua Bay in Northland to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Aotearoa – New Zealand.

The people gathered round upon the grassy ground, And heard the preacher say: “I bring to you this day Te harinui, te harinui, te harinui; glad tidings of great joy.” (Te Harinui, Willow Macky)

I loved preaching on the words from the prophet Isaiah this last Sunday –

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour …. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

And as I preached, I was overwhelmed by this sense of the Lord’s anointing in this land of Aotearoa – New Zealand; an anointing that began almost 200 years ago on Christmas Day, 1814, when Samuel Marsden announced the good news (Te Rongopai) to the congregation that had been gathered together by Ruatara, chief of the Ngāpuhi iwi (tribe) –

‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord (Luke 2:10-11).

With these words, New Zealand was forever blessed and anointed by the Incarnate One who had come to make his incarnation here. Two hundred years on, and you and I together with many who call this place home, continue to be blessed and anointed and loved back to life by the Good News who is Ihu Karaiti / Jesus Christ.

I have written before of the incredible joy with which the gospel was received that first Christmas Day. Between three and four hundred Ngāpuhi Māori performed Te Hari a Ngāpuhi (the dance of joy of Ngapuhi) as an immediate response to Marsden’s gospel proclamation; such was their sense of the Lord’s blessing and anointing.

Friends, we belong to a Church whose foundations are the very essence of the gospel. We are a good news Church because it is the good news of God’s love for us in Christ that sets us free from sin and death. We are those who through our baptism have been anointed with grace and mercy. We are those whose lives are called back to life as the gospel of God’s love touches our lips with bread and wine. We are those who live by the Words of eternal life contained in scripture.

I’ll be honest with you – I’m not going to perform a dance of joy or a haka, but I am so thankful to God that I am alive at this exciting time in our nation’s history that I probably would if I could … if you know what I mean (I do have a bit of a bung knee at the moment, you see). I sense a deep presence of the Spirit on me as your servant-leader; as one anointed and called, to anoint and call you again to your mission, which is God’s mission of love and grace to the world.

My question is this: how will the Lutheran Church of New Zealand allow itself to be used by God in the next two hundred years to be the means by which many others are anointed with God’s Spirit and blessed by his grace? Will our prayer in this next chapter of Aotearoa’s gospel history be, Come, Holy Spirit … anoint us again and use us to proclaim the good news of Christ? My prayer is that this will be our prayer.

In A Statement for the Gospel Bicentenary (He marau mō te Rongopai huri ruarautau) prepared by the New Zealand Christian Network, we read –

Tapatahi atu kia Apotoro Paora, ka whakahautia e mātau e kore mātau e whakamā kit e rongopai, nō te mea koia te mana o te Atua hei whakaora mō te katoa e whakapono ana.

With the apostle Paul, we declare that we are not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16).

Thank God for his anointing in this place, and especially for his anointing in your own life.

Let us pray –

E Ihowā Atua (O Lord God)

O ngā iwi mātou rā (Of all people)

Āta whakarangona (Hear us)

Me aroha noa (Cherish us)

Kia hua ko te pai (May good flourish)

Kia tau tō atawhai (May your blessings flow)

Manaakitia mai (Defend)

Aotearoa (New Zealand)

The National Anthem of New Zealand


On Christmas Day 1814 a service and a sermon preached by Samuel Marsden, to a Māori and Pakeha congregation, began Christian mission in this land. It was the partnership of Marsden and Ruatara which led to a pivotal moment in our history and the development of the special relationship between the two peoples, Māori and Pakeha; it was a step towards nationhood.

I am delighted to have been asked to participate with many other National Church Leaders in the Ecumenical Service to be held on Christmas Day next week at Oihi. I have been invited to be the guest of Te Pīhopa Te Kitohi Pikaahu of the Te Tai Tokerau (The Anglican Bishop of the Northland Diocese, Kito Pikaahu) and so will be travelling to Waitangi on Christmas Eve afternoon, attending Christmas Mass at St Pauls Anglican Church in Paihia later that evening, and then travelling to Oihi by water taxi on Christmas morning for the Bicentennial Ecumenical Service.

This service will be broadcast on TV One at 11.00am on Christmas Day.

Even though you can’t be at Oihi with me, I don’t want you to miss out.

So, I have made available to all LCNZ pastors and congregations, resources for worship which will enable you to hear the same call to worship, pray the same prayers, sing some of the same songs (especially Te Harinui), and hear the same readings pretty much ‘in sync’ with the congregation gathered at Oihi.

I have encouraged pastors and worship leaders to consider reading Luke 2:10-11 in Te Reo Māori, and if you’re really lucky, you might even hear a sermon based on the first gospel reading ever proclaimed in New Zealand.

My sincere thanks to the pastors and worship leaders of the LCNZ for acknowledging this significant event in local worship around the Church.

Here are details of Christmas Worship in LCNZ congregations as I knew them at the time of publishing this update (please check our website for addresses of our congregations – -

Mountainside, Auckland

  • Christmas Eve, 7.00pm – with Children’s presentation
  • Christmas Day, 10.00am – Worship including celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the First Proclamation of the Gospel in Aotearoa-New Zealand

Botany, Auckland

  • Christmas Day, 10.00am – Worship followed by Fellowship Lunch


  • Christmas Eve, 7.00pm – Lessons and Carols
  • Christmas Day, 9.00am – Divine Service with Holy Communion


  • Christmas Day, 9.30am – Worship

Hawkes Bay

  • Christmas Eve, 11.30pm – Worship at Clive
  • Christmas Day, 9.30am – Worship at Haumoana


  • Christmas Day, 9.30am – Christmas Worship


  • Christmas Eve, 7.00pm – Combined Parish Worship
  • Christmas Day, 8.30am – Worship with Holy Communion (Trinity, Feilding)
  • Christmas Day, 10.00am – Worship with Holy Communion (St Lukes, Palmerston North)

Wellington / Wairarapa

  • Christmas Eve, 7.00pm – Family Service
  • Christmas Day, 10.00am – Festival Service with Holy Communion including also the commemoration of the Bicentenary

Upper Moutere / Hope

  • Christmas Eve, 7.00pm – Family Service
  • Christmas Eve, 11.15pm – Reflective Service
  • Christmas Day, 9.30am – Worship


  • Christmas Eve, 7.00pm – Carols and Readings
  • Christmas Day, 9.30am – Shared Service (St Paul's Lutheran Church and Emmett Street Christian Centre)


The LCNZ office has recently been informed of the resignations of Andy and Abbey Bensemann as Youth Workers in Upper Moutere, and of Ben Grulke as Parish Worker in the Manawatu Parish. We thank God for blessing his Church through Andy, Abbey and Ben, and we pray his blessing on them as he leads them to other means of serving him.


On Sunday 7th December, Jaswanth was ordained as a pastor of the Church, anointed with the Spirit of the Lord and invited to proclaim the good news; the gospel of Christ. Having spent the last few years journeying alongside Jaswanth on his path to ordination, it was a wonderful moment for me together with Pastor Joe Kummerow (Jaswanth’s Vicar Father) to lay hands on Jaswanth as he knelt before Bishop John Henderson and heard these words –

By the authority which our Lord Jesus Christ has given to his church, I ordain and consecrate you, Jaswanth Aleph Kukatlapalli, to the holy office of the public ministry, in the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What a great joy that his father Johnson, mother Anuja, and brother Jabin could also be present for this occasion.

Jaswanth, we pray for you every blessing as you prepare to take up your first call in the Wodonga Lutheran Parish in Victoria. Jaswanth’s installation date has been set for Sunday 15th February next year.

(Photo of Pastor Joe Kummerow, Pastor Jaswanth Kukatlapalli, Pastor Nicholas Kitchen formerly from Feilding and Bishop Mark Whitfield at the Ordination Service.  This photo is courtesy of Rosie Schefe, Editor of The Lutheran)


The LCNZ office will be closed from midday on the 24th December until the morning of Tuesday 6th January 2015. During this time, I will be in Oihi and then in Geelong (south of Melbourne) where we will celebrate Christmas with Leanne’s side of the family in Australia for the first time in 14 years.

If anyone has a need to make contact with the LCNZ office then please phone either the LCNZ Administrator Robert Hagen on (021) 425676 or Assistant Bishop John Davison on (07) 8395768 or on (027) 5078897.


For unto us a child is born. He is the Messiah who saves the world. Leanne, Chelsea, Brittany, Charlotte and I pray that your Christmas will be absolutely wonderful as you bask in the light of the Saviour’s love! And Happy New Year as well!



Kia tau ki a tātou katoa

Te atawhai o tō tātou Ariki, a Ihu Karaiti

Me te aroha o te Atua

Me te whiwhingatahitanga

Ki te wairua tapu

Ake, ake, ake


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all Forever and ever Amen

Kia noho a Ihowa ki a koutou; the Lord be with you.


Pastor Mark Whitfield BTh MSM
Bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand / Pīhopa o te Hāhi Rūtana o Aotearoa

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