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31 January to 6 February 2016

Letter from Hugh

After getting so involved with parish activities in December that I forgot our Diana Isaac service, I made contact with the activity people at Diana Isaac about the viability of our monthly service.  It is a very long time since I have had more than three people attend the service and on numerous occasions nobody has attended.  As well as the preparation involved it takes me away from our weekly Bible study group.  Therefore it was mutually agreed I would stop going for a while and then review the position later in the year.  There are a lot of activities at Diana Isaac and I know that a number of Presbyterians who are resident there go to their own church Bible study on a Wednesday morning.  When I first led worship there the nursing staff used to bring people from the hospital, but that has stopped and indeed some of those people who were keen to come became too frail to do so.

We chose last Wednesday as our first Bible Study of the year to avoid starting on a Diana Isaac Wednesday, but as it has now worked out that didn’t matter and we had a great discussion.

On Thursday I again had to attend the Presbytery Council meeting to deputise for Ann McMillan, the convenor of the Property and Finance.  Presbytery is also holding a minister’s retreat at the end of February and a meeting of the total Presbytery from Friday 29 April to Sunday 1 May in Blenheim.  At least part of that will be compulsory for ministers because there will be a Risk Management & Ethics training event which ministers have to attend every three years.  However, at this stage it appears those will be the only Presbytery gatherings for the year because the bi-annual General Assembly will be in Dunedin on 15 to 20 November.  I mentioned last week the increased workload on Presbytery committees with the larger Presbytery and these meetings being held over several days and the extra travel involved is another consequence.

At the time of writing I was looking forward to the opening of Christchurch North Methodist Parish’s new complex on Saturday.  As one of our immediate neighbours it will be great to be part of their opening ceremony.  Of course we will be holding a similar event this year and at next Parish Council I will not only be recommending dates, but also seeking to set up a small subcommittee to organise the event. It is important to have a representative group with good ideas.  This will be a unique opportunity to make an impression on our community and we need remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.                                                                                                                                                    Hugh Perry

Notices and News

Breakfast Church

Sunday, 31 January is welcome to the children, parents and friends who are the other part of our parish. Their special worship and place in our hearts and life of the parish is renewed.

The excitement there is for the opening of our new church is now doubled (trebled even?) by the expectations of young people. It must be like Christmas again. Let’s keep it that way, all of us, until the day really arrives.

Women’s Fellowship

Tuesday, 2 February—The first for 2016!  Everyone is welcome to be at this fellowship meeting. Hear Suzanne Trim speak of her trip to India! Same time—12 noon. Same place—Parish Lounge.

Building report

It is hard to see inside the building, but that is where the action is at present. The builders can be heard and if you get the right angles, you can see obliquely at times some of the wall framing. There is still some exterior work being done and the front entrance should appear soon. Ramps to the level entrances are still to be constructed, but what we have looks like a church and that is exciting. We can truly begin planning the fit out now.

Chairs for the new church

Last Sunday Jennifer Delaney introduced a chair that is proposed for the new church. A selection of colours was also presented.  We are invited to give feedback on the chair selected and the fabric colours.   The manufacturer has provided additional information. So please let Jennifer know what you think.             There are two options: a ‘standard’ chair without arms, which is priced at $90.00 and one with arms at $105.00. We will purchase some of these for people who need a little help in sitting and standing.

If you would like to make a donation for the purchase of one or more chairs, we would be delighted and grateful. The present set of chairs will be used elsewhere through out the complex. The new ones will compliment the décor of the new church.     For more information please talk with Jennifer.

Walk for Others

This will be a public event at New Brighton Union Church on Sunday, February 7, from 3pm. Christchurch East MP Poto Williams will speak about “community well being”. David is planning to have children's activities and music.

Two months ago David Hill set himself a challenge— a series of walks during Lent and Easter (February and March). The objective: to lose weight and lower his cholesterol. But why do something only for yourself, when you can help others in the process. Thus the birth of “Walk for Others”. The aim of Walk for Others is to raise awareness of project partners supported by Christian World Service and hopefully raise some money along the way.

In East Christchurch, David will be walking in solidarity with Haiti, while in North Canterbury and Timaru the walk will be  in solidarity with the Philippines. In Oamaru he will be supporting the Waitaki Presbyterian Parish in its efforts to support a village in Tonga. David is seeking to engage with churches and local groups along the way—so if you would like to get involved you can like his Facebook page:, or contact David directly on 0274213761 or email him at dphill [at] xtra [dot] co [dot] nz

Progressive Spirituality NZ Conference

Friday to Sunday, 6-8 May 2016. St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Napier. Cost: $90 if paid before Easter; thereafter $110. Get a brochure from Bruce Baillie if you are interested in this event.

Some background from Rev Sally Carter and the planning committee: The conference has its roots in a commitment to Progressive Spirituality, and follows the successful 'Beyond the Borders' conference in Auckland in August 2014. We believe we have put together a fine and feisty line-up: Robin Meyers from Oklahoma will be well matched by a trio of Kiwi speakers: Jo Randerson, Robert Myles and David Clark, MP.

Our theme is "Common Ground" —. although, after committing to that title, we realised that Common Cause was closer to what we envisioned: vigorous presentations of faith-in-action, with faith very broadly defined, and action very variously portrayed.

Waitangi Day

The sixth of February falls on a Saturday this year and is therefore ‘Mondayised’ for the purpose of celebrating the day. From 1 January 2014 the public holidays for ANZAC Day and Waitangi Day were changed by Act of Parliament to be  “Mondayised” if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday. This year is the first time this will happen for either commemoration. Both days have sparked controversy in the past, though it is only Waitangi Day that seems to arouse protest now. t is a pity that on the day itself the first item of news on TV or radio seems to be about protest and disruption. There is much to be proud of that New Zealand has the opportunity to celebrate its beginning history. Though here have been shameful acts in the past, we ought to be able to use this special day to talk about things and get past any anger that may still be nursed in our breasts, for what ever reasons.

There is a good historical survey of Waitangi Day and how it has developed to the present day. Go to this website for information:

The Marrakesh Treaty

The bulletin for Sunday, 3 January included an article in commemoration of Braille Day on 4 January. The article noted that international copyright laws had an adverse effect on publishing books in braille. Rev David Bush, the General Secretary of the Methodist Church has written about this (Ask(and his letter is set out in full below.

I learnt this week that consideration is being given to New Zealand adopting the Marrakesh Treaty which would allow greater access to books for those who have a print disability. Is this something you or your congregation or study group might like to consider? Take some time to read the material on the website. A submission need not be long. A simple 'We agree' is valuable feedback.

Copyright exceptions allowing extended access to published works in accessible formats (such as braille, audio or large print books) is under consultation and your feedback is sought.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has released a discussion document to determine whether New Zealand should accede to the Marrakesh Treaty that aims to increase access to published works for people with a print disability. New Zealand's Copyright Act would need to be changed.

For more information on making a submission, please see the Marrakesh Treaty page on the MBIE website:

Submissions close on 26 February.           

More about pulses

Part of the reason for writing about pulses (Bulletin, 24 January) and the International Year of Pulses 2016, was the that being a staple food source of many nations in Africa, the loss of these crops to other forms of agriculture, especially those grown to supply an alternative source of fuel, has left some African countries unable to produce enough of the various pulses to meet their nutritional  needs. They feed gas guzzling motor vehicles with fuel instead of people with good food.

If we in New Zealand are going to use pulses creatively for nourishment we should do so imaginatively. If the so-called western world gets the message about food they way it has about petrol, the more likely growing crops for fuel will be better managed for the betterment of all of us, including African farmers.

Bible study

We have returned after the end of the year festivities and the familiar things soon fell into place.We should all know the Bible better than we do and when we really study what it says to us we may be amazed how contemporary many of the situations seem. There is little new under the sun.

There is plenty of space in the church lounge for more participants and the tea, coffee, milk, biscuits won’t run out. The situation in the new church will be no different. Give yourself a good mid-week pick-me-up.       Become a member of an inclusive club!

We are half-way there

2011 to 2020 is the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

A February celebration

National Bike Wise Month! Also Go by Bike Day is on 11 February. There is more information at

World Cancer Day

Thursday, 4 February is a day to consider this disease and recognise how it affects so many of us in so many different ways.

A question

Christ is called a priest after the order of whom?

You will find the answer in the book of Letter to the Hebrews.

Get me to the church on time!

We have two important dates coming up soon one and the other in about a month or two.

It would have been nice to open our new church on the day of our nineteenth year of existence as a uniting parish. But unfortunately or, perhaps it is not so unfortunate, our new church will have to wait a month or two longer.

However, we need not be too regretful because we will have two birthday celebrations in future, instead of a combined one and two lots of cake and chocolate at morning tea!

An aside at this point: there is another event we could celebrate each year, especially as we may not be the most celebratory parish: namely the start of the Breakfast Church; surely it is worth a small annual party—for the children, at least.

So keep in mind Sunday, 2 February 1997, our beginning, which we could remember today, except that I do not suppose anyone has thought to bake a special cake. We could do that next week. We could also make February a celebratory month!

But I wonder whether w can justifiably talk about an anniversary. For the last nineteen years we have lived together, Presbyterians and Methodists, in a way without the benefit of clergy: we are living together, that is the pertinent fact; we have not sought to get married.

As a father once said to his daughter who had settled down with her beloved in a sort of a trial, ‘you jumped the gun a bit, don’t you think?’ In other words when, after all these years, are we going to stop uniting and become united?

Perhaps the consecration of our new church might be an appropriate time to drop the Uniting part of our name and go for being United. After all, we need to give the parish a new name; or do we?

And we have put much of our money into the pot—the new church.   Oh I know the procedures for establishing a cooperative parish make provision for churches to pool their money and still keep some sort of record of who provided what. But it looks suspiciously like one of those pre-nuptial agreements that are fashionable these days. They allow for an escape clause, just in case things do not work out.

We've been together now for forty years,

An' it don't seem a day too much,

There ain't a lady livin' in the land

As I'd "swop" for my dear old Dutch.

The writer of this old English music hall song did not think it necessary to include an escape clause ‘just in case’ one might be needed.

Instead of such a way out of a possibly awkward predicament Alfred Doolittle, who wanted to get to the church on time, opined on a different note at an earlier stage of the GBS based musical that ‘with a little bit of luck you won’t get hooked’

The gentle sex was made for man to marry,

To share his nest and see his food is cooked.

The gentle sex was made for man to marry-but

With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,

You can have it all and not get hooked

It may be a bit of a long shot to make the St Albans Uniting Parish seem like the ‘gentle sex’ of the lyric, but it could be seen that we may be having it both ways by not taking ‘the plunge.’

It might also persuade those who have grown out of love with denominationalism to come along and see what we are about. It might also give added support to our motto— Christ in the community. No strings attached.


Blind unbelief …

William Cowper wrote his memorable hymn, God moves in a mysterious way … to remind us that we may not have all the answers to life, the universe and every thing.

At a time when the church is assailed on all sides by those who dispute all our beliefs, we may need reminding now-and-then that its detractors may not have all the answers either.

Cowper wrote in the last verse of his hymn—

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.

It is not necessary to be a theologian, philosopher, or scientists to know that our knowledge of religion is incomplete. That is nothing to be surprised at; our knowledge of science and philosophy and every other branch of life, the universe and every thing is equally incomplete. Even when some of our own progressive theologians seem to attack us, we may be certain their views may be founded on shaky ground.

If it seems too easy for a poet to write as Cowper does, it should be remembered that in poetry some of the great truths of life are better expressed than in prose. Consider the poetry that formed the basis for so much of the writings of the prophets of the Old Testament. Consider also the Psalms. Cowper was in good company when he set down his understanding of God in his verse.

William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) was born in Hertfordshire, England, on 26 November 1731. He was a son of the rectory and was steeped in the faith of the church. In 1763, through family connections, he accepted a clerkship of the journals in the House of Lords. A rival faction, however, challenged his appointment and the ordeal caused Cowper to enter Nathaniel Cotton’s Collegium Insanorum at St. Albans. While there he converted to Evangelicalism. Cowper became a good friend of John Newton.

William Cowper’s attention in his poetry to nature and common life along with the foregrounding of his personal life prefigured the concerns of Romantic poets such as Wordsworth.  At the time of his death, his Poems had already reached their tenth printing. William Cowper died on 25 April 1800. Despite being in ill health for much of life, William Cowper achieved much in his poetry and especially in his hymns. (Sources include:

Rosters and Lectionary

31 January                    Rev Hugh Perry

M Steward                      Rev Bob Coates

D Steward                       Ernie French

Organist                          Diane Comyns

Morning Tea                   Heather Mace and Claire Groters

Reader                             Bill Pearcy

Jeremiah 1: 4—10; Psalm 71: 1—6; Corinthians  13: 1—13; Luke 4: 21—30.

7 February                    Rev Hugh Perry

M Steward                      Bruce Baillie

D Steward                        Bruce Baillie

Organist                            Ann Millar

Morning Tea                   Averil Cullen and Ellen Howard

Reader -  Angela Hirst

Exodus 34: 29—35: Psalm  99; Corinthians 3: 12 —4: 2: Luke  9: 28—36.

14 February                 Rev Hugh Perry

M Steward                      Ernie French

D Steward                      Bill Delaney

Organist                          Diane Comyns

Morning Tea                   Lynette Garnett and Jennifer Delaney

Reader   - Maurice Smith

Deuteronomy  26: 1—11; Psalm  91: 1-2, 9-16; Romans 10: 8b—13; Luke 4: 1—13

21 February                 Rev Hugh Perry

M Steward                      Eleanor Monson

D Steward                      Bill Pearcy

Organist                          Diane Comyns

Communion                    Jennifer Delaney and Bill Delaney

Morning Tea                   Raewyn Perry and Margaret Angus

Reader  Eleanor Monson

Genesis 15: 1-2, 17-18; Psalm  27; Philippians  3: 17—4: 1; Luke 13: 31—35.

28 February                   Rev Hugh Perry

M Steward                         Rev Bob Coates

D Steward                         David Monson

Organist                              Diane Comyns

Morning Tea                       Margaret Norton and   Eleanor Monson

Reader  Pam Popenhagen

Isaiah 55: 1—9; Psalm  63: 1—8; 1 Corinthians 10: 1—13; Luke 13: 1—9.

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