In many ways 2010 was a hard year for East Taieri Church with staffing issues, a drop in numbers of people attending morning worship services, and financial pressures amidst the recession. In behind these presenting symptoms of course lie deeper issues about mission, vision and expectations related to that; our Sunday worship and expectations about that; and how we relate and communicate together within the church.
Having acknowledged the challenges, I found it spiritually uplifting to review some highlights:
• 13 Adults were baptised including a whole family of 6.
• Two ET families stepped out into Ministry Internship training at the start of the year (Harrexs and van’t Wouts). Always hard to see quality people like this go, but they have been a blessing to the churches where they are doing their internship this year.
• At the end of the year Deborah Bower accepted a position as pastor in the Wakatipu parish (Queenstown, Frankton and Arrowtown).
• We held our first church camp for a few years, with around 150 people attending.
• Joy Davis stepped into a full-time community ministry coordinator role, developing new connections in the community, “Where is God on Monday?” programme, the Parenting Matters group, Christmas Dinner (90 people attending in an excellent partnership between ET, the RSA, Community Board, a community trust, and other organisations and churches).
• 150 church leaders at our inspiring South Island Ministry Conference in May with Paul Windsor as keynote speaker, and Tony Robinson taking one session.
• Global Missions weekend with Jim & Diane Young from Malawi.
• We have 5 young people on a summer mission experience with Teen Mission (2 in Uganda and 3 in Argentina)
• We Hosted the awesome World Vision “Girls Night Out” with Petra Bagust and Julia Grace.
• We took up the E100 Bible Reading Challenge. 235 individuals and 32 families participated plus some extras who joined in along the way.
• The One Service in September at Taieri College with all ET congregations participating.
• We have trained people in evangelism and put it into practice, one to one, and in Journeys and the Alpha Programme.
• Held a difficult but helpful forum to help elders and leaders hear from the congregations about issues facing ET.
• Following our forum in November a reinvigorated group of people met to discuss resourcing creative ministries in 2011.
• Fantastic Christmas services that reached around 1000 people. Huge number of community families at the children’s services. In the later two carol services many people responded by coming forward to write light candles or leave written prayers.
All this is to say nothing of the consistent week in, week out, gathering of children, young people and adults to worship, discover more about God, build community together and reach out to others, in Sunday services at ET, FUEL, CCC (and in retirement homes); youth ministry and children’s ministry, chaplaincy, life groups and pastoral care ministries... Youth East Taieri for example connected with over 250 young people a week in 14 youth programmes.
So, amidst the challenges I find myself encouraged and hopeful - Happy New Year!