Rev Hugh Perry BTheol., PGDipTheol., DipMin.
Hugh went into ministry as a second career and was ordained and inducted to St Stephen's Presbyterian Church Hamilton in 2002 and then inducted to St Albans Uniting in May 2008. Before going into ministry Hugh was a professional photographer in Christchurch and served in a number of roles as an elder within his parish and presbytery including a time as Moderator of the Christchurch Presbytery. Hugh brings a long experience of the church and the world to his ministry as St Albans Uniting along with his wry sense of humour. His strengths are his preaching which seeks to make the biblical narrative relevant to today’s world, his business experience, his patience with people, his passion for social justice and commitment to mission that is Christ centred and community facing. Hugh takes seriously the Presbyterian tradition of the minister as the teaching elder among the other leaders of the parish and sees an important part of fulfilling that role as being the resident theologian in the parish.
Beyond the church Hugh is interested in interfaith dialogue and served as President of the Christchurch Interfaith Society for a year. New Zealand, in his view, is becoming a nation of diverse faiths and to promote the peace that Christ calls us to he sees it as vital within in our society to understand the world views of different people who will more and more become part of the democracy in which we live.
In being open and accepting to other faiths Hugh believes Christians also need to honour their tradition as our way of reaching out to the mystery beyond human understanding. Therefore Hugh sees it as vital that the church pass on to future generations the stories of our faith that have nurtured our understanding and empathy as Christians. Furthermore Hugh understands that the core of Jesus’ ministry is his open table fellowship and the acceptance of all people therefore the realm of God we are called to live into being must be inclusive of all people regardless of race gender or sexual orientation.
In holding such conviction Hugh’s theology could be described as liberal although he feels that the church needs to move on from that label. But other names like ‘progressive’ are a bit presumptive and do not quite seem adequate for the understanding he believes we need to find. Hugh has a passion to provide a ministry to those Bishop Spong calls ‘the church alumni society’. People who have grown up in the church and reached a point where their experience of the world and the evidence of science makes what they have experienced of church seem a nonsense. Hugh’s experience is that it is not only possible to have a serious and intelligent faith that recognises humanity’s scientific advances but it is also necessary if people are going to be anything more that slaves to various dehumanising ideologies and as a minister of word and sacrament he strives to make real such understanding.