Bishop's Page

Advent 2015

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

SHARING IN THE GOSPEL

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I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5 / Second Reading for Advent 2)

I have just finished preparing my sermon for this coming Sunday, where I will be preaching for the congregation I served before coming back to New Zealand almost 15 years ago; Immanuel Lutheran Church (ILC) in Novar Gardens, Adelaide. Interestingly, these were also the words for my farewell sermon from ILC 15 years ago.

One of the great joys and privileges for pastors (and bishops), is the opportunity to partner in ministry with the people who make up the congregations of the Church. It’s got me thinking about the 3 parishes (9 congregations) I’ve been called to serve and partner with over 26 years of ministry and to thank God for that privilege and joy. It’s got me recalling the saints of God who have shared gospel ministry with me over those years … and as I see faces and remember names, I also recall with joy those wonderful opportunities we had together to be the people and the places where God’s love came to life.

As we enter this Advent season again, we are reminded that we are a Church that is waiting … and that in this waiting time there is gospel work to be done … together; with each other.

What a gift that God brings his people together … partners … for a purpose … you and me … each other for a purpose … to labour together for the gospel until he returns.

Thank you, dear saints of the LCNZ, for the joy and privilege of sharing in the gospel with you.

ORDINATION - A GIFT OF NEW PASTORS TO SHARE IN THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL

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Tomorrow I head to Adelaide for the final round of meetings for the year. This is always a very special visit, because it includes the Graduation Ceremony from Australian Lutheran College (ALC), and most importantly the Ordination of new pastors for the Church.

On Sunday afternoon (in 37degree warmth!) the Church will ordain 4 new pastors – Matthew Bishop, Geoffrey Schefe, Colin Simpkin and Andrew Neumann. Thank God for his gift to us of new shepherds for the sheep, and pray that the new partnerships that the will form with their assigned congregations will bring blessing to many.

TWO LCNZ PASTORS RECEIVE CALLS TO PARTNER WITH NEW CONGREGATIONS

Recently, two of our pastors have received calls to serve in other parts of the Church.

Pastor Joe Kummerow (Mountainside, Auckland) was called to Maitland in South Australia, but announced on Sunday that he has declined this call. Thanks Joe (and Julie and kids) for deciding to continue to partner with us in the ministry of the gospel here in the LCNZ.

Pastor Chris Janetzki (Upper Moutere / Hope) has just received the call to the Walla Walla parish in New South Wales. Please keep Chris, Haidee and their children in your prayers too, as they discern God’s will for where they should partner in the gospel.

FROM THE LLL (Lutheran Layman's League)

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LLL Board of Directors President, Marg Gust reports that the LLL has approved the following grants:

  • $2400 towards the Spice Retreat (for Pastors’ wives)
  • $4000 for Grow Seminar – travel assistance
  • $2500 for Reformation 2017 – travel for the Working Group initial meetings and funds to enable Bishop Mark to travel to the Chatham Islands
  • $1200 for Harrison Street Community Church for Street Party – mission outreach

Monies available for grants made before the end of this year:

  • From Project James – $10857
  • From the Hetty Gudopp Fund – $9834
  • From the Lillian Schwarz Fund – $11100
  • This gives a total of $31791 which is available this financial year; so get a grant application in!

LLL paid out from the Hintz Fund (apps approved by LCNZ):

  • $7500 to St Paul’s Wellington
  • $2739.68 to St Paul’s Upper Moutere for church heating
  • $1500 to Mountainside for treating rust on the church roof
  • $905 to LCNZ for a handrail at the front door of the Bishop’s manse

FROM THE GENERAL CHURCH COUNCIL (GCC) LCNZ REP ...

The LCNZ’s GCC rep, Jill Hobden reports as follows –

  • The item of most interest to people here will be the news that the LCA is making funds available for the 50/500 celebrations commemorating and celebrating 50 years of unity and 500 years since the Reformation. Grants will be possible for celebrations (up to $5,000AUD) and for ‘have a go’ projects where congregations wanting to initiate mission/outreach/development ideas that they would not otherwise be able to undertake (up to $25,000AUD per grant). Some other grant categories will also be available. The next step now that funding has been secured will be to decide the various criteria for each of the grants.
  • The LCA has been invited to participate in the Australian Human Rights Commission Religious Freedom Roundtable which had its first meeting earlier this month in Sydney. Follow this link to read more; https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/rights-and-freedoms/projects/religious-freedom-roundtable.

COUNCIL OF SYNOD MEETS IN UPPER MOUTERE

On the 13th and 14th November, the Council of Synod met in Upper Moutere at the invitation of the Pastor and members of St Pauls Lutheran Community Church.

News to share from this meeting –

  • COS continue to discuss ways in which they can journey alongside St Pauls Christchurch as they rebuild ministry.
  • Funding for Lutheran Media Ministry through NZ-ME (Newstalk ZB) was approved for a 12 month period with a review to take place after the first 6 months. A Reference / Support Group to support the ministry has been established by members of Mountainside congregation.
  • The Draft Calendar for 2016 was discussed.
  • Progress on the Finance Review process was reported on. We are getting closer to getting that review process in place.
  • We discussed ways in which the LCNZ might build a strong ministry relationship with the Danish Lutheran Church in New Zealand.
  • ‘Called to Account’ were appointed auditors for the LCNZ and the Gateway Gift Trust Board.
  • At the Gateway Gift Trust Board meeting, funding was approved for the Harrison Street Community Church (St Johns Lutheran) street ministry in Whanganui, and also for the construction and placement of a memorial cairn at the Halcombe church.
  • Ray Meharg, COS member since 2013 has resigned. We thank Ray for his loving service on COS during this term and the past, and indeed some years ago as well.

Every congregation in the LCNZ has been sent brochures from the Care Alliance – Te Manaaki Haumi to encourage all members to say ‘YES’ to caring for suffering and vulnerable people and to say ‘NO’ to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Check with your pastor, secretary or congregational leader for these brochures and plan how you (a) as a congregation can make a group submission, and (b) can also make an individual submission.

You may also like to check: www.carealliance.org.nz for more information.

GROW MINISTRIES WORKSHOP, WELLINGTON

Julie Kummerow (Mountainside, Auckland) writes:

The GROW Ministries Pastor, Vaughn Spring and the Resource Coordinator, Vicki Rochow were our Leaders and the main focus was ‘Re-thinking Child, Youth & Family Ministry in Modern NZ’.

It was the first time Pastor Vaughn and Vicki had visited NZ and they questioned us to think how NZ culture affects what we do and how we care for our Faith community and interact with one another.

Pastor Vaughn encouraged us to ask the hard questions and challenged us to re-think how we do what we do to support our young people (and their families) in their faith formation.

During the Saturday session we reflected on the Ten Guiding Principles of effective Child, Youth and Family Ministry. These Guiding Principles have been developed to assist the congregations of the LCA/NZ to understand the most effective practices for child, youth and family ministry. The core belief that supports these principles is that it is vital that leaders in home and congregation have a strong understanding of the nature and practices of effective child, youth and family ministry and their role within it. This will look different from congregation to congregation, but we started to share ideas and suggestions of what we can do, particularly in relation to how children and young people can be more engaged with intergenerational church experiences.

Here are just a few of the questions we can continue to re-think and reflect on:

  • How are we cultivating caring relationships across all ages in our church family? (Some of us already have immediate family members in our church, but we want to extend that caring relationship to all church members in meaningful and more intentional ways.)
  • How are we engaging all ages and generations together in learning scripture and the Christian teachings of the Lutheran Church?

For example, this year at Mountainside, our Sunday school children focused on learning memory verses and some of the catechism but we still have so much more to learn! How can we involve and motivate our parents and young adults to help us more in this important exercise? Are we using the resources the church has provided over the years well enough? Are we prepared to use technology wisely and utilise new resources without losing our strong foundation in Lutheran theology?

Vicki also showed us the rich resources that Grow Ministries provide to support us. These are all available on their website: http://growministries.org.au.

We can also access the Grow Ministries PINTREST page! This opens up a whole world of wonderful creative ideas and allows for easy sharing and access of ideas no matter which country we are in!

If you had a representative from your congregation who attended this seminar, please talk with them about how your congregation can support each other in Child, Youth and Family Ministry.

We are all a part of this faith journey! ‘Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.’ (Romans 12:4-5)

REFORMATION 2017

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The Working Group met for its second meeting this last weekend, and continues to work diligently in preparing a series of events and opportunities which will enable the whole church to be involved in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

The Working Group are grateful for the support of the LLL who have made funding available in order for us to meet face-to-face for our first two meetings, and which also enabled me to travel to the Chatham Islands to begin exploring the possibilities of some of our commemoration taking place there.

Some news to share with you:

We are trying to make ourselves aware of the global commemorative events that are already happening or that are being planned; especially the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the International Lutheran Conference (ILC). Pauline Simonsen recently attended an LWF Asia/Pacific Conference in Manila as a representative of the LCA-NZ, where the theme was Lutheran Identity and Self-Understanding.

As reported, I spent three days on the Chatham Islands last week (it was supposed to be two, but bad weather in Wellington prevented me from returning on time). I was the guest of local historian, Bill Carter, who made sure I travelled far and wide, saw many historic ‘Lutheran’ sites, and got to meet plenty of locals, all with a view to exploring the possibility of some of our commemorations taking place there. Please allow me to summarise the purpose of this visit –

  • That the Gossner mission in 1842 was the first Lutheran mission to New Zealand, ‘to the ends of the earth’;
  • That this chapter of our history has not yet been commemorated or honoured;
  • That 2017 is a suitable time for such a commemoration in the context of LCNZ and International celebrations of the world wide spread of Lutheranism;
  • That this visit on the earliest possible New Year dawn will provide a suitable event for our commemoration year;
  • That the visit will be an optional event for those from LCNZ and beyond who would like to participate and who are willing to meet the cost;
  • That it will be a symbolic event, providing interest and inspiration for all LCNZ, and build the profile of our history and ministry through the LCA and wider Lutheran circles;
  • That it will give us news opportunities in the NZ press.

We would like to add an ‘LCNZ Reformation 2017 Commemoration’ link on the LCNZ webpage.

The most important task for us is to assist each congregation of the LCNZ work through the issues of how they would like to commemorate the Reformation anniversary:

  • What does it mean that you are a Lutheran Christian?
  • How is this identity expressed?
  • How might you commemorate your Lutheran history in your local location?

We intend to use our REFRESH events next year to inspire, encourage and prepare our congregations to explore how they might use the anniversary of the Reformation as a way of exploring fresh expressions of outreach.

I have also met with Cardinal John Dew to discuss how the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran Church might host a joint ecumenical service of commemoration during the Queen’s Birthday weekend in 2017 (the weekend of LCNZ District Convention). The Working Group is working well and we’ll keep you informed of plans as they begin to take shape; we want as many of you as possible to share in the joy of this reforming gospel celebration.

SINCE WE LAST SPOKE ... WHERE I'VE BEEN, WHAT I'VE BEEN UP TO, AND WHAT'S NEXT

25th October – 7th November  I took two weeks' annual leave and did lots of gardening.

12th November  I met with Cardinal John Dew to begin discussions about how the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran Church might jointly host an Ecumenical Service in 2017 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

13th - 14th November  Council of Synod meeting in Upper Moutere

21st November  Attended LLL Board of Directors meeting in Feilding

22nd November  Led worship at St Martin, Marton

25th - 28th November  Visited the Chatham Islands to gauge interest in beginning the 500th anniversary of the Reformation commemorations there (the first Lutheran missionaries to New Zealand went to the Chatham Islands in February 1842)

2nd - 7th December  College of Bishops, ALC Graduation, Ordination Service, Adelaide

20th December  Lead worship and conduct baptism at Redeemer Lutheran, Clive (Hawkes Bay)

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From Kawerau Lutheran Church Josie Rohde reports: out of the congregation's AGM in March came a decision to sing the old hymns, with their good theology, and praise the Lord in song for twenty or so minutes before the morning Services. So, since April, we have made more use of our excellent pianist (Sabine Edmondson-Slade) and sung a selection of favourites and others, building into our hearts the teaching and memories these carry. Often before the hymn or sacred song we hear about its writer and why they wrote the lyrics or tune. So began our weekly 'hymn-sings'. More recently we have been joined by Martin Werndle (trombone or piano accordion) and his wife Rhesa (guitar), giving a full and pleasant sound.

From the Board for Local Mission we received the following exciting communication: Dear LCA Pastors and Congregational Leaders, How can you grow your Congregation in 2016? Check out the RENEW Mission Life season package being offered free to you in early 2016. Details of what is coming along with an introductory video can be found on the Lutheran Church of Australia, Board for Local Mission page here: www.lca.org.au/renew. What is coming? There is a sermon series and corresponding bible studies, along with a small group resource for developing your local mission team (Love. Life Communities). Various promotional tools including video and flyers will accompany this resource package to be released in January 2016. Praying that 2016 is a very fruitful year for you. On behalf of the Board for Local Mission. Dean Eaton (Church Planting Mentor and Mission Facilitator)

I encourage you to check out the latest news from Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) on their website: http://www.alws.org.au/index.php/news. There is too much for me to include in this Bishop’s Page, but please look for information on –

  • The Syrian Refugee Crisis
  • Support for refugees in South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya
  • Christmas Action Packs
  • Gifts of Grace
  • Booking an ALWS speaker (might not be too easy getting them to NZ)

Continue to pray for:

  • Those affected by bush fires in Western Australia and South Australia (check out http://lcaenews.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/t/E45819B74418FC35/02C6F6CD1237BC91C9C291422E3DE149).
  • The members of St Peters Lutheran Church in Orange (NSW) who have suffered arson attacks on their church (check out: http://www.lca.org.au/twin-arson-attacks-on-lutheran-church.html).

MĀNAWATANGA / BLESSING

Ko taku inoi ano tenei, kia nui haere tonu to koutou aroha i runga i te matauranga, i nga mahara mohio katoa; kia whakaaetia ai e koutou nga mea papai; kia kore ai o koutou tinihanga, o koutou he, a taea noatia te ra o te Karaiti; kia ki ai hoki i nga hua o te tika, e puta mai ana i a Ihu Karaiti, hei kororia, hei whakamoemiti i te Atua.

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

+ MARK

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

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