Our Parish leadership is committed to carefully discerning what to open, and when to open it.
Currently our Churches are not holding any worship services - the church is instead meeting in homes until June 28th at the earliest.
You can read more in Rev Tim's letter below.
If you would like to know more about home churches, and how you can join, please contact our Parish office: firstname.lastname@example.org | 06 327 8398
or Rev Tim: email@example.com | 022 105 1237
“In the Last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. On my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy … And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Acts 2:17-18,21.
Tena Koutou whanau and thanks be to God who has united us as one body in His Spirit.
Pentecost Sunday, the 31st May, is fast approaching; that day we celebrate that Holy Spirit coming upon the first disciples in power, equipping and leading them to build God’s Church on earth.
It’s a wonderful time to be the church; to be considering our future as a Parish. As God spoke to and through those first disciples, leading 3000 people to choose to follow Jesus that day, so we believe God is speaking to and through his disciples – his church – today.
The Parish Leadership has committed to using this season as a time of discernment, asking God what we ought to stop, start, and continue as a Parish. Through prayerful discussion, we have agreed not to start worship services in our Churches until the 28th of June at the earliest. We will not be holding services in our Churches this Sunday.
We are instead choosing to embrace home churches during this season, as a place of growth, discipleship, and whanau; so that when we do gather again, it will be not as a church that has simply survived lock-down, but one that has thrived and grown – all for the glory of God.
It is quite fitting that like the first disciples at Pentecost, we are not gathered in a church building, but in homes, prayerfully awaiting the leading of God’s Spirit. Yes, we grieve for the opportunities lost in celebrating Pentecost together – but we believe we are faithfully following God’s leading at this time.
As part of our discernment process, we are asking for your feedback. The primary way this will be collected is through a Parish wide survey that will be published soon. You will be able to receive this via email, your home church leader, or in your mailbox.
We ask that you join us, and prayerfully fill out that feedback form. Share with us what you believe God is asking us, as His body, to stop, start, and continue, in line with what He has already revealed as His will for us through the Vision and Values He gave us.
And let me be clear; we are an Anglican Church, we are the people of the word, of the liturgy, and the eucharist. While the shape of those elements may shift, and forms of worship around them may change, we are committed to staying a Church of word, liturgy, and eucharist.
God is at work in the Rangitikei and our lives. I invite you to join me, and Christians all over the world praying together, ‘Come Holy Spirit’, as we celebrate Pentecost together, yet apart.
Holy Spirit of God, blowing through creation: No door can keep you out.
Unlock our hearts, breathe on us anew; that we may speak God’s words of life.
With the Father and the Son, you live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.
022 105 1237 | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” - John 14:27
Kia Ora Koutou Whanau and God’s peace be with you.
As our nation faces another change, shifting from Level 3 to 2, I will admit to feeling some anxiety. Yet I know that no matter what the past or coming weeks hold, you and I can continue to trust in the presence of our God who gives peace through His Holy Spirit in every situation.
Today I am writing to you to share with you the opportunities and changes for our Parish in Alert Level 2; as we strive to ‘move forward together as a diverse community; loving, serving, and proclaiming Jesus in the Rangitikei’.
It is easy, in this season, to focus on what we do not have, such as the ability to gather in our church facilities for large worship services. However, the opportunity we do have is to take our eyes off what was, and look to the future asking God, ‘what will be?’. We can discern what we have learnt in lockdown and apply this to our parish going forward. What do we need to stop, start, or continue?
It is an amazing opportunity for us, in prayer and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to ask the question, ‘what is the church?’. Are we a community of saints because we gather for worship or, are we a community of saints, witnessing to Jesus, who also gather?
I truly believe that God is at work in His church in this season. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear what His Spirit is saying, we will continue to see growth; discipleship, interconnected whanau, community service and people come to know Jesus.
The truth is, it would be easy to go back; back to what we know, back to what is comfortable. That is impossible, time doesn’t go backwards, and neither can we. Instead, we need to look forward and take this opportunity to ensure that the forms of worship we start honour God, and strengthen the function of His Church: To share the Good News of Jesus, to make Disciples, and to worship as one body, blessing all nations. In short; Unity, Family, Discipleship, Service.
The leadership of this Parish, the Vestry, Wardens, Clergy, and I are committed to taking time to discern well what God is inviting us to. To discern what to stop, start, and continue as we move forward together, as a diverse community; loving, serving and proclaiming Jesus in the Rangitikei.
For that reason, we have decided during level 2 to operate in home churches. We will endeavour to place every member of the Parish in a home church, with an appointed leader, to grow together as whanau in Christ, as disciples of Jesus. We encourage everyone to take this opportunity to engage and grow together.
Home churches are not just a Sunday gathering; they are a place for a group of followers of Jesus to disciple one another, to share life well as family, offering pastoral care to one another and to draw us all closer to Jesus through prayer and worship, in whom we all find our unity. During level-2, home churches will be the primary gathering, worshipping, and caring unit of the Parish.
During Level-2 the following will also be happening in the Parish.
If you, or someone you know, would like to be in a home church and haven’t yet been contacted, please get in touch with me and we will link you into to a group near you!
If you, or someone you know, needs help connecting into virtual services or the Parish phone tree for pastoral care, please let me know and we will organise that.
I dream that every member of our parish is connected into a weekly home church group for their worship, pastoral, and discipleship growth. Earlier in the year, I shared that I believed God was inviting this Parish into a deeper season of whanau and discipleship. I still believe that, and I believe this is how we can begin to walk into His future for His Church in the Rangitikei.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or ideas.
Now may the peace of Christ be always with you; and as you strive to love and serve the Lord, may you know His peace.
022 105 1237 | email@example.com
Kia ora koutou e te whanau - Dear Family;
As I write this letter, it’s the first day of our Level-3 quarantine. While we rejoice at the health and strength of our nation and community – my heart still longs to be with you. I long for the next season when we can meet and worship God together! How beautiful those first gatherings will be! This week, Paul’s words from Colossians 2:5-7 have been resonating in my mind:
For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
I am so thankful for the way all our communities have rallied together to care for, support, and encourage one another. I am thankful for the amount of time you have spent on the phone to one another, and for all of those who have stepped out of their comfort zone and learnt to use Zoom. I am thankful for all of you who have taken up, or continued, daily prayers; for those tuning in to live-streamed services from all over the world, and those holding services with their bubbles at home. I hear so many encouraging stories of how God is moving in your lives – I know that your roots are growing deeper, that your faith is becoming richer and stronger, and God is glorified in your lives. I know that God’s church in the Rangitikei will come out of this season stronger than ever.
Thank you also for your continued prayerful and financial support of the Parish. We could not exist without it – and are so grateful that we have not experienced a significant decrease in giving. God bless you all!
As we transition into Level-3 and, in the future, Level-2, I wanted to update you on what is happening for our Parish, and how you can get involved.
As we begin to prepare for the time when we will transition into level-2, we are undertaking deliberate discernment about where God is leading us. At the direction of the Bishops, all across our Diocese, Vestry groups and Clergy are prayerfully considering what moving forward looks like. It is impossible to go backwards, the past is the past, and our new future will look different. The Parish leadership is working to discern what God is asking us to start, continue, and stop, as we move forward.
Please join us in prayerful discernment, and please let me know what you hear from God.
At this stage, this is what we are planning for Level-2.
You can expect to see our Sunday services gradually begin to re-open; as we keep in line with the Governments direction for contact tracing, and physical distancing.
Finally, I want to leave you with an encouragement and an invitation. The encouragement is one from Psalm 121, whose poetic words remind us that in all times, and all seasons, God is present, willing and able to help.
I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
And it is from these words of encouragement that my invitation comes. All across our Diocese, we are seeing a new wave of people digging into the word of God, into prayer, craving discipleship. If you are interested in joining a (for now) virtual discipleship group please call or email me, as I believe this is part of Gods future for us. At the start of the year, I said that I believed God was inviting us as a Parish to grow in Discipleship, and I believe this is when and how He wants to do that.
Now may ‘the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
Yours in Christ,
022 105 1237 | firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ John 12:24
Tena Koutou e te whanau a te Karaiti; Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ, from my bubble to yours, on what, as I write this letter, is day 14 of quarantine – what may be our halfway point in this period of isolation.
As I begin, I want to say how proud I am of the way our Parish has rallied together; showing compassion and support for one another during this pandemic. Together, we created a phone tree to ensure that our church members are all being phoned weekly and receiving the care and help they need. We created a ‘shut-in’ register to make sure the most vulnerable in our Parish and community were not alone. A team of volunteers put together and delivered packs to everyone’s home containing resources and encouragement for how to continue to daily worship in our bubbles.
Alongside this amazing pastoral care, we are partnering with the Combined Churches of Marton, Civil Defence, Ngati Apa, and local Council to form a care network for the whole region – this included dropping 6000 flyers in homes across Bulls, Marton, and Hunterville; from those flyers, we have responded to 83 requests for help in the last 14 days. Now, the Matron Churches Food Pantry, a ministry of our Parish, takes donations of food, and bulk purchases, and makes food parcels for the most vulnerable in the wider Rangitikei each week.
Thank you all for your continued prayers, donations, and compassion. God is certainly not in isolation from us – we see Him at work every day!
During quarantine, a number of people have begun to refer to this time as a ‘Rahui’. Rahui is a Maori term describing a time of enforced rest for the land. While this might be a new concept for some of us, the Church has its own understanding of seasons and rhythms of rest – Sabbath, God’s rule of rest and restoration. Always, the church has understood that fruitfulness and stillness go hand in hand, that death always gives way to life; we see it played out every year in the seasons, as winter’s death gives way to the new life of spring.
But where better do we see this truth than in the Easter narrative? This Holy week we, as God’s people, place ourselves in the story of Jesus’ last supper, His prayers at Gethsemane, arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and finally – after the emptiness of Easter Saturday, reminding us of the three days he spent in the tomb – His resurrection.
This is a Holy week like no other and will be an Easter like no other. On one hand, we grieve that we cannot celebrate together these sacred days, yet on the other we know God is present with us, and so we look for the gift from Him in this season. That gift is the stillness and rest of quarantine, both individually and as a Church.
Individually, we have the opportunity to reflect more deeply, to repent and be renewed, to allow Jesus to shape us – helping the old to die, so that we might have new and full life, in Him.
It was in the stillness that God spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13), and through the death of Jesus that He brought about His greatest victory. So, I invite you to grieve what needs to be grieved this Easter season, but also to embrace the stillness and silence. Appreciate the space you have to be met by God in new ways; and spend time in prayer, reading scripture in your ‘bubble’.
Alongside joining with all the Diocesan livestreamed services on movementonline.org.nz, and Freeview Channel 200, here are some suggestions of how you could journey through Holy Week in your ‘bubble’:
As a Church we are truly in a season of Sabbath rest with our buildings shut, our gatherings cancelled, and all God’s people worshipping at home. I don’t know about you, but I died a little bit when I had to cancel our services and shut our buildings. Yet, I truly believe that from this season of stillness and death, God will bring great new life. I believe that God’s gift to the Parish is the opportunity to be still, to take stock, and on the day when quarantine lifts, to go forward into the new opportunities not backward into what was.
As Vestry and Clergy teams, we will be carefully praying and seeking God’s wisdom for what, and how, to re-open our doors when the day comes. I invite you, as all God’s people in the Rangitikei to join us in that prayer, and to share with us what God says to you.
As we look forward to the joy of Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus, we also look forward with anticipation to the lifting of quarantine; seeing friends and family, joining together in worship again. Please stay safe, stay at home, and together with our whole nation let’s break the chain and unite against Covid-19.
I pray that God blesses us all in this season of rest;
that we would know His presence with us this Holy Week,
and in Him find new life, trust, and hope,
as we are filled with his Holy Spirit.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
022 105 1237 | email@example.com
Tena Koutou my dear Parish Whanau, and God’s blessing on peace be with you in the unprecedented season of our nations history. I am writing to you to inform you and encourage you regarding the work of the Rangitikei Anglican Parish during this season; and God’s close presence to us all during this time. As I write this on Tuesday, our lectionary reading for the day was Psalm 46; a psalm whose words are so pertinent to us at this time.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
As a Parish, and a Diocese, we see this season of change as an opportunity for us each in our household to lean deeply into Gods presence, to spend time in prayer and worship, using the wonderful resource of the Anglican Prayer Book and the daily readings. It is also an opportunity for us to lean in and support one another as Whanau. We are a diverse family, pursuing Jesus together, who love our community – we may be apart, but God is not apart from us.
That is why we have made these little resource packs; giving you each a prayer book, lectionary readings, a beautifully crafted Sunday liturgy that you can use in your homes – and reserved sacrament to share during that service. A guide on how to access online Anglican worship services, and hear news from the Diocese, and how to contact the Parish if you need us.
It’s also why I am asking us all, as God’s Church in this season, to do five things.
First; if you can, please sign up for the Anglican Diocesan news at movementonline.org.nz/signup
Second; join me, in your own homes, in the ANZPB daily devotions (pg 104) at 8am in the Morning and 5pm at night each day.
Third; Get in contact with your neighbours, make sure you have their number, and check in on them regularly. If they need help – contact Tim. The Parish is working in partnership with the Council and Civil Defence to provide support to the vulnerable in our community during this season.
Fourth; Light a candle in your window at 7pm every night, as a sign of God’s presence in our community and a symbol of hope to our neighbours.
Fifth: on Good Friday, at 9am, I invite you to join me and the combined churches but walking to the end of your drive, and taking 5minutes to pray for our communities, our nation, and our world. Finally; if you have any need, or know of anyone in need, please do contact me. We are the hands and feet of Jesus in this season – showing the love of God to our communities.
God bless us all in this season; with the faith, hope, and love that comes from knowing him, and being filled with his Spirit.
Yours in Christ Jesus.
022 105 1237 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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