Encouragement for the Journey
Greetings fellow traveller,
Upon returning from leave this week, and opening my mail I found an invitation to attend the deconsecration of All Hallows Methodist Church in Campbells Bay, where I had been parish minister. It was being closed due to a very low seismic strength reading.
This is not the first church building, nor will it be last, to be deconsecrated, and then used for another purpose from which it was built for. Former church buildings are being used for a variety of purposes including: Night Clubs, TV Studios, Cafés, Light engineering workshops and upmarket homes. There is no single reason why church buildings cease to be places of worship and home to communities of faith. However, the current trend of reduced church attendance here in New Zealand, will see increasing numbers of church buildings, take on new forms of use and place in our communities.
Church buildings offer communities of faith many positive opportunities to grow and create healthy transformational communities of hope and grace. However, because of the bond that develops between people and the church building, this strongly influences how that community sees itself. Namely, the community of faith becomes strongly identified with church as a building; failing to see that the church is always the people who happen to use that particular building space for their worship, fellowship and acts of service. For the church is always people, people, people.
We could describe our church buildings at St Aidans and St Luke’s as our Tūrangawaewae. This is one of the most well-known and powerful Māori concepts. Literally tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), it is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home. I like that idea that our church buildings provide an opportunity where we may be empowered and feel connected, so upon our leaving, we are ready to serve and be instruments of healing and hope in a hurting world.
Of course this empowering and belonging happens within our ultimate belonging, within the mystery we name as God, the One in whom we live, move and have our being. May this year ahead offer you moments of being empowered and belonging in your community of faith, within the eternal presence of God.