This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent and the beginning of the Christian calendar. I am so looking forward to celebrating together the birth of Jesus, God with us, over this coming season. We have finished our Sent series looking at the book of Acts and were challenged by Andy last week around Jesus’s character and the kinds of people Jesus spent time with. Now we move into our Advent series, ‘Preparing the Way’. We have the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive and with us already, but over this next period we choose to practice waiting on God, recognising our need for a Saviour and eagerly awaiting God’s kingdom breaking through when we join in celebrating Christmas with one another and our community.
As many of us are preparing to visit family or have others visit us, it would be great to be considering who we might invite to our All Saints Christmas events. Many people are finding it hard to hold onto hope in the current climate of the world, and Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to share the hope we find in Jesus and the unconditional love of our creator God. Jesus is truly Good News! So pick someone to boldly invite - that neighbour who walks their dog past your house, the person who serves you coffee, the friend you’ve been seeing regularly, the family member who hasn’t been to church for a long time. You may be surprised at their responses.
Finally, over the next month we are joining in with the Advent appeal which is going towards building a chapel in the new City Mission building which will be open 24/7. More info regarding this will come at our gatherings this Sunday but it is an exciting opportunity to provide a much-needed service for those in need across our city. May God bless you this week. Let Andy or me know if you have any extra needs at this time of year, both prayer and practical.
Kia ora All Saints Whanau,
What a gathering we had last week and a great chance to celebrate the past year. It was a fantastic service where the presence of God was felt and people walked away encouraged.
We also held our AGM last week and the big news out of that is the passing of our Mission Action Plan! This has been months in the making; we gathered for meetings as a parish, many of our leadership team were away on Parish Leaders Retreat discussing it there and then the Co-Vicars and Parish Council have discerned some of the missional priorities for the next few years.
We will release a video shortly explaining the Mission Action Plan (MAP) in more detail so that we can share that with everyone in the parish - not just those that attended. Our four priorities are at the top of this page and the parish vision is included - these are the main things to focus on.
I spoke at the AGM about the picture of a tree and Matthew 13 where it is drawn from:
Matthew 13 gave us the picture of soil and the good soil being somewhere where roots can take hold and grow. Worshipping God helps both shape the environment around us and ourselves as well so we can be open to God’s word and how we can be shaped. Hence this being the foundation of the MAP.
Then we have three things that can help us achieve that over the next three years. We want to pray – we want to have a space dedicated to prayer but also create good rhythms around that. Some of that prayer rhythms will kick off some things today about praying into our vision. We want to care for the environment as much as we can and becoming an eco-church helps us care and guide God’s creation. We want to develop that alternative time service where people came to know God and worship God and was so influential.
The seeds in Matthew 13 – many wither away and die but others are strong and grow tall. We want to grow strong tall trunks. Therefore, discipling people is key here to grow a strong trunk that can withstand winds and storms of life.
Our three things: creating discipleship groups, these are places of training people how to disciple others so that they can disciple others. We want to do some more training around multiplication – how do we share our faith? How do we start to think about planting some communities, how do we start to think about grafting to another church. We want to create strength here so that when people are sent, strength remains.
The Mustard seed that was planted and nurtured become a large tree that birds rest in and find shelter. We want to be a place like the Mustard Seed. That although we may be small many birds can rest in our branches. Developing belonging is our outcome we are keen to see here.
Our three things for this area: creating opportunities where we can gather as a parish and where people can come and participate. You may invite your friends but create fun community building activities that enhance our connections and relationships. We want to create a good welcoming ministry – how does that look? What are we going to do if new people turn up here? How do we make sure we are capturing them and caring for them? Thirdly, we wish to develop a space where newcomers to faith can connect and develop belonging here. If we are doing the last outcome many more people will hopefully join us and how do we onboard them well.
Lastly, Matthew 13 talks about sowing seeds – it is a generous sowing all over the place and falls everywhere. We want to be a place that grows people that are excited about faith and sharing faith so that we can grow.
Our three things for this area: We want to grow spaces that Christians and non-christians form together and faith sharing happens in that space. We call these missional communities. We want to grow to be 150 people at our weekly services. This is part of the outworking of other goals in this plan but sets us an aim so that we can be sure that if we send people we have strength left here too. Lastly, I talked about reclaiming that narrative of being sent – we want to help out some churches around our Diocese by sending well trained people to help them out as well. We want to claim that, stay connected and be intentional about sending.
In all of this we cannot do it on our own but require the whole parish to help us do this. So to pray into this please pick up a bookmark with a prayer on the back (written by Ginny) so that you can help pray into our Mission Action Plan.
We are also on the lookout for five people to help us lead out in this space. If any of the below you feel called to or God is prompting you then please talk to one of the Co-Vicars.
In other news the Bentons left for America on Wednesday and are travelling, seeing friends and visiting supporters for the next five weeks. It has been 10 years since they have been back for Christmas. So continue to pray for them as they are away. They will return on the 15th January.
May God bless you this week in all you are doing,
Kia ora All Saints whānau,
The Benton family is preparing to leave for America next week. We currently have suitcases everywhere and some very excited children, already losing sleep in anticipation of all the fun they are expecting to have. As we wrap up things in New Zealand for the year, we have been reflecting on all that God has done. We are also anticipating sharing with our friends and family in the US all about the amazing things that God’s family is up to down here at the bottom of the world. It feels appropriate that this time of reflecting for us has come leading up to our AGM and the end of the church year as well. We are coming into the end of our second year at All Saints and it is so incredibly exciting to look at what God has done and imagine what might be coming next.
This year we have spent a lot of time learning together about the Kingdom of God, Acts and the early church, and mission efforts around the world. As we have journeyed through these very big concepts and stories that underpin our faith, we have seen the fruit of our learning play out around us. Our house church network has grown and strengthened, bringing church into our homes and neighbourhoods. We have pushed out of our normal rhythms and begun to serve our community on 5th Sundays, worshipping God with our hands and our feet rather than simply gathering with one another. We have seen amazing growth and renewed energy in programmes like Mainly Music. We have put on an epic Light Party that was the talk of Hataitai for days. And most exciting, we are hearing that people around us are wondering and gossiping about what’s going on at All Saints.
I could not be prouder of each of you; this is what the Body of Christ is meant to be about. We are living in a time and a place where most people don’t know Jesus or understand the incredible gift he gave. To share that with those around us, our lives must reflect our beliefs and we must stand out from the world around us. As a church, we must reflect God’s Kingdom. This is what we have been learning about in our Central Gatherings and House Churches all year, but to see the outworking of that learning so clearly is incredibly exciting.
Guy and I will be away in America for 7 weeks, spending the holidays with my family, allowing our children to spend time in that part of their culture, and sharing with all those we meet about what God is doing in New Zealand. We will keep you all in our prayers as we go and will return in January, excited to see what God has in store for All Saints in 2023!
Kia Ora All Saints Whānau,
This past Sunday, as a part of our response to Halloween, All Saints’ Day and a Go Sunday missional outreach, we hosted our annual light party at the centre on Sunday as part of our response to Halloween. There was a moment that day that I realised that we were not prepared for the number of people coming through the door to participate in the festivities. I stood there thinking to myself, “the flood gates have opened and there is nothing I can do, we all just have to roll with it!” It was an incredible moment, but I was equally daunted by the prospect that this event may be all over inside the first hour. I prayed that the candyfloss machine wouldn’t catch the building on fire (thanks Heather for tuning on the ventilation). I prayed the candy wouldn’t run out too fast. And sorry to the Verners, I forgot to pray for the popcorn and it ran out first! I prayed that one day people would be flooding in the doors to know and worship Christ.
Now, I have positivity high in my strengths and I’m usually the eternal optimist, but I also know that it is not me who controls revival. I am, however, convinced that as we continue to pray fervently and regularly, as we become bold in our understanding of the good news of Jesus, and if we can be creative and strategic about how we operate with those who don’t yet know Christ, the Kingdom is going to come in a real and powerful way.
As I read through Romans 8 I continue to be reminded of my/our identity in Christ. As we put our hopes, dreams and identity in Christ it is out of that space that we are able to be obedient to his will in our lives. As disciples, we can rest in the knowledge that we cannot work in our own power to bring about God’s Kingdom, but there is a very real invitation to join in the work that the Holy Spirit is doing around us. No amount of good works, great programs, or epic light parties can earn us a place in God’s Kingdom. It is by grace alone that this gift has been given to us and we are, therefore, asked to share that good news with those around us. It is this reminder of where my identity rests, and how I’ve been invited to share in the Spirit’s work in the world, that spurs me on as I think about seeing Gods kingdom come in this place and to those around us. Not through my own works or strength but through God’s.
Summer, the kids and I are heading off to America for the first time in 5 years. It is very exciting for our family and we feel so fortunate that we are able to go. We are looking forward to introducing Addison to Summer’s family for the first time. We will get to be with family for the Christmas holidays for the first time in 10 years. Our kids will experience their first American Thanksgiving and winter Christmas. We plan to visit family, friends, some of our teammates from our years of missionary work in Cambodia, and many other people who have been praying for us and supporting our ministry for nearly 13 years . We also hope to show our kids some of America and allow them time to get familiar with this part of their culture and identity. We will be away from Nov 16th through Jan 11th. Please pray for us, for safe and easy travel, for quick recovery from jetlag, and for the time we will have with the people we love. Pray for a refilling of the tank and energy for the new year, which we are already very excited about.
A couple of things that I would love to fill you in on and point your attention to,
Next week is our AGM so we will be having one combined service at 10am followed by a potluck lunch and the AGM. Please bring a plate and be ready to hear all about how our MAP process played out and what the next steps are for our parish. We as a parish council and clergy team are extremely excited to share with you all.
House churches only have a couple more weeks of gathering before we enter into Advent which is a beautiful season of preparation for the birth of Christ. So just a reminder that House Churches break over the summer so that leaders can have a much deserved rest. We will restart House Churches again in 2023 in the middle of February. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org my hope is to put a video out shortly with some information on our hopes and dreams for House Churches at All Saints.
Lastly, New Wine Summer Festival happening Jan 19-23rd!
A group of us from All Saints are going along and hoping for more people to come and camp with us. There will be about 1000 others from the Wellington Diocese coming out for a long weekend of worship, teaching, fun, food and summer festival vibes.
There is something for the whole family. Each day, all age ranges have a specific zone for appropriate fun/content/input. Adult zone runs alongside youth/kids/preschool. It’s an absolute blast and a phenomenal way to start the year off together in the spirit of God.
You can register at the link here https://newwine.org.nz/festival/
If you are keen to come we will start to build a list of who all is coming so we can work out catering numbers and tents etc.
As always, you are all amazing! We love you dearly and we look forward to worshiping with you all on Nov 13 before we fly out.
Much love and blessings,
Light Party Success!
Last weekend our All Saints Centre was transformed into a giant party full of lollies, games, food/drink, toys, face-painting, and an indoor-access bouncy castle! And what an event it was - the centre was packed for several hours, with around 200-300 people from our neighbourhood joining the fun (it was extremely hard to count at any one time as heads were bobbing around everywhere!).
A highlight of mine (Emily) was seeing children so comfortable in our space, with parents often losing track of them among the crowd but catching up with them again soon. There were so many connections between various families there that everyone looked out for everyone else and it really felt like a community event.
Many people from the community were surprised that we weren't asking for any koha or payment, and that we had opened our space to people from all walks of life. This was a core part of our focus on our value of Missional Living this year: that we would give generously to others and open up our lives to those around us. We know that many of you miss the All Saints Day services, and they may make a comeback, but this year we are living out our role as 'saints' to connect with others and generously share the joy we have as Jesus-followers.
Perhaps next time someone mentions All Saints in our neighborhood, it may be more than the brick building on the corner, and instead the place where the blue fairy, dinosaur and flamingo, cowboys or kind church people hang out.