Bishop's Page

14 September 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

GENERAL ELECTION

Transient

By this time next week, the General Election will be over, and we will know who will be serving as the government of New Zealand for the next 3 years.

At the recent gathering of the National Church Leaders of Aotearoa-New Zealand, we discussed how we might, as leaders, assist the members of our churches as they prepare to vote.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for; I’m simply going to share some principles that came from our meeting, which could guide our thinking. The principles offered here are adaptions of the principles issued by the leaders of the mainline churches in New Zealand prior to the General Election in 1993. It seems that these principles were widely welcomed then and remain relevant for today.

Each person possesses a dignity that comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment. The foundational human rights that protect this dignity include food and shelter, work, education and health care. Therefore, the test of any policy is whether it ensures that everyone – regardless of race, gender, age or economic status – has these needs met. This must be the first priority of any political system.

We are called into community. People realise their full potential, both rights and responsibilities, in relationship with others. Our most treasured values are learned when we live in close and loving relationships with each other across standard social barriers. A central test of both institutions and policies is what they do with people and how they enable people to contribute and participate. Anything done to or for a group of people who are disconnected from the process is of enduring concern from a Gospel perspective. Furthermore, in Aotearoa / New Zealand our institutions must take account of the special relationships between all our peoples brought into being by the Treaty of Waitangi.

All are called to work for the common good of society. Individuals and groups have an obligation to pursue not only their own interests but the good of all. This is no more or less than an application of the second commandment: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 12:31).

Work is more than a way to make a living. It is participation in God’s creation. The unpaid contribution of voluntary workers, home makers, people with disabilities, the elderly and others, is of equal value to the contribution made by those in paid employment. No policy should disadvantage or stigmatise those contributing to the well-being of society in ways that do not earn wages. However, people have the right to decent and productive employment, and to fair wages and working conditions. Paid workers are not impersonal instruments of production. In any economic order based on justice, human labour takes priority over capital and technology.

We are stewards rather than owners of God’s creation. All economic activity must be an out-working of a commitment to ensure the sustainability of creation. Our use of the resources of creation is to be in such a manner that we enhance the inheritance that we pass on to our children and grandchildren. In living out this principle we are aware of the delicate global interdependence between ecosystems and humanity.

The Gospels show a preferential concern for the poor and vulnerable. This is in recognition of the powerlessness that often comes with poverty and vulnerability. The poor must be a major focus of social policy. A basic moral test of any society is how its most vulnerable members are faring. This is not a new insight. It is the lesson of the parable of the Last Judgement (cf Matthew 25). To reject the “option for the poor” is to imitate Dives, the rich man who ignored Lazarus, the beggar lying at his gate.

The task which faces us all is to support and endorse policies which are consistent with gospel vision and values, and to challenge those which do not. We look for policies that promote human dignity, stress rights and responsibilities, emphasise the value of work and creativity, protect and care for the creation, and express human compassion.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, also identifies four key issues facing our nation:

Child poverty Many New Zealand children lack access to warm homes and nourishing food and are at greater risk of abuse than in many other countries with similar levels of economic wellbeing. Our lack of official child poverty measures, reduction targets, and consistent reporting of progress is of urgent concern.

Income inequality High income inequality breaks down the social fabric of society. It erodes trust and reduces social mobility. Inequality is a relational rather than a quantity problem.

Lack of affordable and accessible housing Housing affordability is closely aligned with the challenges of poverty and inequality. Unhealthy, overpriced, substandard housing is a reality for an unacceptable proportion of our society. Significant health problems such as rheumatic fever are one of the results of poor housing.

Global Warming The environmental impact of global warming on the island nations of the Pacific is significant. We are already seeing, in the face of rising sea levels, the relocation of whole communities. Urgent action is required and, as yet, not being seen.

Gracious Heavenly Father, all governments are given by You for our good. Teach us to honour all who govern, because they are Your servants. As we approach a time in our nation to choose our leaders and representatives, we ask You to grant wisdom to all who will cast their votes. Help us to choose the best and most honourable among us to lead us. Use the consciences of all, Your law written on the hearts of all people, to guide everyone in all their decisions. Give us leaders who will govern with wisdom and laws that bring order and justice to our nation. Provide a continued environment in which Your Church may preach and teach all of Your Word and administer Your sacraments without interference or persecution. Strengthen the faith of all who trust in Your Son as their Saviour with the knowledge that You guide and control all things. We ask that you help our citizens to unite for the common good of all, obeying the law of the land, setting aside selfishness and all evil thoughts. When all decisions are made, help us to support our leaders in all their work, and to obey all laws that do not oppose You and Your Word. As with all things, we ask that Your will be done. In the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

ANGLICAN-LUTHERAN IN NEW ZEALAND

A couple of weeks back the Anglican-Lutheran Dialogue Group met for one of its regular meetings at St Francis Cooperating Parish at Clive in the Hawkes Bay. St Francis is a wonderful example of cooperation in worship, ministry and service between three main denominations – Anglican, Presbyterian and Lutheran (there are also some Methodists).

We met here for a couple of reasons. You will recall that it was back in March that Redeemer Lutheran congregation from the Hawkes Bay joined the cooperative venture at St Francis. So, over a lovely Morning Tea, we listened to Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians and some Methodists tell us how it was all going. There was a lot of very positive conversation and reporting, characterised by a wonderful spirit of love and appreciation for each denomination. It seems that the Lutherans have been warmly received and that they are enjoying fellowshipping with a larger group.

We also met to thank the Reverend Noel Hendery, one of the Anglican members of the Dialogue Group, who is retiring, having served on Anglican-Lutheran Dialogue, as I understand it, from its inception many years ago. Noel played a very important role in helping us identify Clive as a possibility for putting into practice the mutual hospitality arrangement Anglicans and Lutherans have in New Zealand, and it was through working with him, that we Lutherans were able to join St Francis.

Lord God, thank you for the spirit of love and cooperation that you have created in this land between the Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church. And thank you for Noel Hendery and for his commitment to finding ways that our two churches could share worship, ministry and life together. Give him joy in his retirement, and continue to bless the growing cooperation between your people at St Francis Clive. Amen.

PERSONAL PEACE-MAKING AND CONFLICT COACHING - A LIFE CHANGING EVENT - BOTANY LUTHERAN CHURCH - OCTOBER

This 2+ day training event builds on the introductory peace-making seminars conducted by Rev Bruce Zagel. This training takes the basic steps of personal peace-making and applies them to daily life situations. You'll learn and practise ways to apply your Christian faith in family, business, church, and legal conflicts. You'll learn how to coach others into peace-making approaches.

Since all children of God are called to be peacemakers, this training is appropriate for every Christian. Church leaders who have responsibilities for teaching and assisting others in their conflicts will find this training especially helpful for assisting others to respond to conflict in a biblically faithful manner.

Where:

  • Botany Lutheran Church 150C Harris Road, East Tamaki

When:

  • 2 October 2014 7:00 pm to 9.00 pm 3 October 2014 8:30 am to 5.30 pm 4 October 2014 8:30 am to 5.30 pm

Cost:

  • Training $175.00 plus meals ($15 / day) = $205.00
  • Some LLL assistance may be available for participants

For more information or to receive a registration form, contact:

50th ANNIVERSARY

Transient

Just a reminder that the 50th Anniversary of the church building at Kawerau Lutheran Church will be celebrated on Sunday 19th October with a Service with Holy Communion at 10.30am. Guest preacher will be Assistant Bishop John Davison. A light catered lunch will follow.

Past and present members and friends of the congregation are warmly invited. Please RSVP by Monday 6th October to Erik Rohde, 07 3228365, or rohde@clear.net.nz.

The church is on the corner of River Road and Ward Street, Kawerau

BOARD FOR LOCAL MISSION

Last week, together with Sharolyn Mollet, I attended a Board for Local Mission (BLMiss) meeting in Adelaide. One of the main tasks of this new Board is to identify opportunities for planting new churches throughout the LCA-NZ. Newly appointed Church Planting mentor, Dean Eaton is keen to come to New Zealand to see how the Board can support the LCNZ to identify new church opportunities and plant them. The plan is to invite every Lutheran Church in Australia and New Zealand to become either a Sending Church or a Partner Church.

SPICE GIRLS

3 Spice Girls (spouses of LCNZ pastors) gathered at the Home of Compassion in Wellington recently for the annual Spice Retreat. Pauline Simonsen was Retreat Facilitator. Some of the other Spice Girls were unable to attend for various reasons, including sickness. Please pray for these Spice as they support the ministry of their partners.

By the way, there’s no news on when they might get around to releasing an album.

CHURCH WORKERS CONFERENCE - ST LUKES PALMERSTON NORTH

Transient

This coming week, the Church Workers (pastors and lay-workers) of the LCNZ will meet for conference at St Lukes in Palmerston North. Glenn Schultz, lay-worker formation officer of the LCA will be present for this conference, and Jill Hagen, Professional Standards Officer of the LCNZ will also present a session. Please pray for our pastors and lay-workers as they gather for worship, Bible study, prayer and mutual encouragement.

IN YOUR PRAYERS ...

Transient
  • Assistant Bishop John Davison and Diane as the health condition of John’s mother, Maud deteriorates quite rapidly.  Please pray for John’s father, David and their family as well.
  • The Pastors and Lay Workers of the Church as they meet in conference this week.
  • The Board for Local Mission as it seeks to support new and renewing ministries in the Lord’s Church.
  • Our nation as it approaches the General Election.
  • Vicar Jaswanth, as he concludes preparation for becoming a pastor in the Church.
  • The opportunity the bicentenary of the Gospel in Aotearoa gives us to re-tell the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ to our nation.

MĀNAWATANGA / BLESSING

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 Amine

May 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.

+MARK

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

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