Thursday, February 28, 2013

Today, with about a dozen other people, I watched a young mum with a babe in her arms, having a struggle with one of those “terrible twos”. The child was lying on the ground screaming her head off. People in most of the big shopping carpark and the adjacent cafĂ© all turned to watch.

Her mother was very patient but helpless. An older woman stepped over and had a sympathetic chat but the child yelled on. With everyone watching but doing nothing, Mum eventually dragged the child off by one arm to even more determined shrieking and an embarrassing show of resistance and agonising pain.

After a few steps mum let the youngster down on the ground where a full-blown tantrum developed. I walked over and said to the now somewhat distressed mother, “Would you like me to pick her up?” and, without waiting for a reply, I did so. Of course, the noise subsided on the instant.

I carried her with her Mum and baby brother over to the supermarket. We fitted the two of them them into a two-seater shopping trolley. They disappeared inside and peace returned to the forecourt.

I left the scene quickly. The last time I kissed a child that wasn’t a close relation I was reported to the Methodist Harassment Police and I had to write an abject apology.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How many chiefs does it take?

Our small parish is now just one congregation with a membership of a couple of dozen. For twenty years we have been using Local Shared Ministry. There's no minister, indeed, no paid person at all. But our strategy seems to be a bit of a mystery to the powers that be. We don't fit the mould.

We have just been informed that we are now to have a "Parish Superintendent" Minister. He will visit us from three hours away, apparently a couple of times a year. Not such a big chore for him, and we know him and would love to have a visit. But we wonder who will pay for all that travelling.

And we want to protest that our little corner of the Vineyard is already supervised, in some degree or other, by the President and Council of Churches Together In Northland, which is our regional affiliation and is supposed to provide pastoral and administrative support. Through CTN, we are also responsible to the Uniting Churches of Aotearoa-New Zealand which draws together ecumenical parishes such as ours.

But, being under Methodist jurisdiction at the present, we are also responsible to the Methodist District Superintendent of Auckland, as well as a new Regional Superintendent for Northland (but who also lives outside Northland and will have to travel for a couple of hours to see us).

And most importantly in our view, we have a Ministry Enabler who meets with our Parish Council Team for training, supervision, support and, to provide the necessary links to the wider church. We think she is quite adequate to replace all these ecclesiastical dignitaries. 

Now I hear on the grapevine that we may shortly be moved to Presbyterian jurisdiction. Right now, that sounds like a good move.