Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making the most of winter

This afternoon three Royal Sovereign Spoonbills are on our beach at Te Haumi. These majestic creatures are not common in this country, a few having straggled across from Australia ages ago. But a small colony breeds at Okarito along with our own rare Kotuku or White Heron. And at this time of the year they move around the country a little but mainly in the south.
We don’t need these majestic visitors to remind ourselves that it is winter. Our little town is very quiet. Motels and restaurants are putting out bargain signs and the early evenings are coaxing us indoors to watch more television or read more books than usual.
It’s Matariki, of course, the beginning of the Maori year. It’s time in which skills are celebrated and generous meals shared from the last of the autumn harvests. The Gen-I Summit here last weekend shared such a meal last weekend and, by all accounts, was a great demonstration of the people preparing and presenting it.
Matariki is also a time for consolidating experience, a kind of “retreat” from the everyday with time to reflect and learn. Retreats are a universal tradition and deeply rooted in the bible. We have heard recently of Elijah’s 40 days and we know how retreat times were important for Jesus.
We should take these examples into our own lives and make the most of this precious time of the year. Its different demands on our lives and energies are a gift in our busy times, a time for re-Creation and refreshment.
Make the most of it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Affordable Accommodation in Paradise"

Having posted this morning about our exciting DIY management programme I realise that our facilities in this parish have never been mentioned in this blog. I guess I, too, have "left it to the Manager..."
Suffice it to say that when the parish opted for Local Shared Ministry and sold the minister's house a fund was created which enabled the erection of a couple of two-bedroom holiday flats on the rear of the church property. The name would be Centre for Re-Creation. The vision was to provide free short breaks for people under stress.
To bring this about, we recognised a number of social service organisations; they send us their own clients for whom a few days' Time Out would be an advantage. These sponsors are asked to contribute a small fee as part of their commitment to the programme.
A modest number of paying guests provides the income stream that enables the programme to break even. But, in the last couple of years we have not enjoyed a good level of paid bookings. With that downturn and the cost of paid management, the losses are beginning to mount up.
So, like many a small congregation, whose financial commitments rise beyond their resources, we have to develop a new strategy. And, for the moment, that involves volunteers...
So that explains today's other post!

Visit the Centre

LSM in a different setting

After some years of paid management, our parish's holiday flats are currently being managed by a group of volunteers. Our manager resigned to take up a full-time position and, to carry it over the "low" season, Parish Council has taken over the operation itself.

  • Three or four of us are taking responsibility for specific aspects of day to day management
  • Members of out congregation are having to identify their own sense of mission in trying to provide free short breaks for stressed people in need of Time Out...
  • Members who have been standing back and leaving everything to the manager are coming forward and asking what they can do to help...
  • The sense of teamwork that existed between the Manager and the small management committee is being extended to a much wider group...
  • There's some controversy about exactly what to do in the changing economic circumstances but there's also lively and informed discussion as people get involved in the issues..

It's fascinating to see the parallels between this situation and that of a congregation exploring Local Shared Ministry as an alternative to paying a minister. In either case, there's an air of uncertainty about the future but, together, people put their energies and their faith to the test.