The Presbyterian Church is one hapu in the wider iwi of Christian churches – people who seek to follow Jesus Christ, who lived 2000 years ago and who, we believe, is alive and present, willing and able, to shape our lives today. Presbyterian churches in New Zealand find their historical roots in 16th century Europe and Scotland, and in particularly church Reformers like John Calvin and John Knox. Presbyterian faith in Jesus Christ is both personal and corporate, and based on understanding and applying the Bible to the issues of daily life. We therefore value study for everyone, thoughtful preaching in services, and a robust and ongoing theological education for ministers. Governance in the Kiwi Presbyterian church is connectional and collaborative, with the participation of members, elders (leaders) and pastors kept in a healthy balance. Our structure also gives individuals the opportunity for participation and involvement in the wider Church. Diversity in style of worship and mission, freedom of conscience in some areas of belief, and involvement in social issues also characterise Presbyterian congregations. The aspiration to build "healthy congregations" is expressed in different ways as groups of lively Presbyterians share a sense of direction and a shared leadership and an outward focus. The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand’s 375 parishes are attended by an average 26,000 adults and 5200 young worshippers weekly, and are led by 250 ordained ministers, traditionally known as ‘teaching elders’ (2015 statistics).
In July 2017, I visited a Catholic charismatic community in Fulda, Germany, and enjoyed the generous hospitality of their guest house, a former US Army barracks. One of the sisters talked with me about sharing your life with others. In response to the question, “what is the hardest part of being in community?”, she responded that it was the self-awareness and needed growth it provokes. “Its like looking at yourself in a mirror every day,” she said. “You learn what you are really like and the Holy Spirit helps you become a better person”.
"Community is the place of belonging .... of acceptance .....of caring. It is a place of growth in love....... Community leads to openness and acceptance of others.”
Jean Vanier 'Community and Growth' (1989)
“Practice” means the repeated performance of a task or action regularly over time.
A spiritual practice is exactly what the word suggests, a way to be deliberate about matters of the soul.
It’s like they realise that a whole lot of meaning can be bundled up in just one word.
That’s the mentality behind a spiritual exercise I have been recommending. Its called One Word.
The Baptist family of New Zealand churches is a network of 240 congregations who share common beliefs and practices. At the heart of Baptist life are two principles: worship - the honouring of God, and mission - the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Baptists believe the message of Jesus' life, death and resurrection is truly good news that needs to be heard. They place a high value on speaking out this message in word and deed. New Zealand Baptists look back to the English Separatists of the sixteenth century for their evangelical values and collaborative polity. However Baptist denominational structure is informal and Baptist churches spread around New Zealand are free to determine the best way to fulfil the mission of God in their own context. The Baptist Union is a network of mutually supportive churches overseeing congregations, social initiatives and missionary endeavours. These programmes impact lives of all ages, ethnicities and social groupings in New Zealand and beyond. Over 33,000 adults, 7000 children and almost 5000 teens attend a New Zealand Baptist church (2015 statistics).