2017 Church in Progress End of Year Review

God of Connection,

We give You thanks for 2017 and for the faith community that is Church in Progress. You continue to provide us with the people, the spaces and the opportunities to be a positive presence.

We are unsure what next year will bring. We ask that you help us be prepared, open and willing to do whatever you require us to do.

We need help remembering that You are awesome, and we are on the same team! Forgive us when we forget. Give us the confidence to be okay in the uncomfortable places.

Once again, we asked that we may work together as a team, to have fun together, able to cry together and support each other always. Make Church in Progress a welcoming space for new people to explore their faith and find love and community. We are YOURS. Amen.

What happened in 2017? HEAPS! More details below, but the overarching news is that we finally became legal as an Incorporated Society. You can find out more about becoming a member here. The first official AGM will be held on the 20th of January. Come along! Each year we decide if Church in Progress will continue and we ask …

– Is there still a need/desire from the community for Church in Progress?
– Do we have enough committed people to sustain Church in Progress?
– What vision do we have for the next year?

God continues to call us, and we try as best as we can to listen and respond. As you read through all that happened in 2017, please pray a prayer of thanks for everyone who was involved, strength to continue and wisdom to guide us in the year ahead. We also acknowledge and give thanks for MCC Sydney who is our partnership church who has given us significant monetary donations this year, along with a bunch of moral support!

As Rev Emily (me) put together this End of Year Review, it became obvious that Church in Progress focuses energy into four different areas as we strive to provide spaces for people to reconnect with God and with each other. These four areas are;

  • Community
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Activism
  • Celebrancy

Lots of what Church in Progress does overlaps into all four areas!

Community

Church in Progress facilitates lots of events, physically and online, throughout the year. Everyone is invited and if you identify as part of the rainbow community you will be welcomed, accepted and affirmed just as you are.

It’s also important to keep connected with the wider MCC church. Where it is possible, Church in Progress attends national and international MCC gatherings and in addition builds community with other MCC people and congregations online.

May 2017 saw the start of the monthly ‘Dinner, Conversation and Prayer’ meetups at the Ōtāhuhu Food Court. This has been a wonderfully easy way to build community. There is lots of eating, chatting and a great chance to share prayer concerns and thanks. It keeps growing with 18 people attending November’s meal.

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In addition to regular gatherings, there were a few gatherings throughout the year that deserve a mention. In January we met at the Manukau Live Steamers, had fun on the trains and then went back to Rev Emily and Alan’s place for a cuppa (the weather wasn’t that great)! The Annual Easter Egg Hunt was once again a massive success. Held on Easter Sunday it provided a safe, affirming and welcoming place for those in our community that didn’t have a church service to attend.  Karaoke Christmas, to be held on the 9th of December, is happening soon! This end of year event also provides a platform for Church in Progress to serve our wider community. It also gives us a place to make Christmas cards for those in prison this holiday season and support the work of the Prisoner Correspondence Network (PCN).

‘Faith, Action, Art and Conversation’ is an art exhibition with works by local artist and activist Qiane Matata-Sipu. Church in Progress featured in this exhibition which explored how people in the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu area practice their faith. It was exciting to attend the opening and Rev Emily will also be blessing the new exhibition space at Nathan Homestead in December.

Church in Progress was honoured to be invited to a meal at the Masjid Baitul Muqeet mosque in Manurewa. It was wonderful to be treated to such hospitality and learn more about their faith and commitment to peace.

It’s important to Church in Progress to stay connected to the wider MCC church. In January Emily was invited to be part of the Crave Conference in Sydney. Led by Rev Karl Hand, these weekend event enabled Emily to reconnect with MCC people in Sydney, learn, worship and it also provided a platform to share what Church in Progress is doing. Emily, Alan and Naomi led a service in March for the MCC Oasis community in Christchurch. Well, to be honest, Naomi really took the service with Emily and Alan in supporting roles! Emily represented Church in Progress in the online ‘Listening Tour’ discussion that the MCC moderator facilitated in the middle of the year. Emily has been selected to be on the panel for a potential MCC ordination candidate in December.

New friendships were formed when the inspirational Rev Elder Darlene Garner and her partner Rev Candy Holmes visited in July from Florida. This was one of my personal highlights from 2017. By the time their short visit ended we all felt encouraged, affirmed and motivated! At the shared meal at Emily and Alan’s house Darlene led us through a moving Holy Communion and it gave us all an opportunity to share what Church in Progress means for us. It’s empowering to hear our own stories!

Of course, there are a countless number of interactions that could be listed under ‘community’. I continue to be encouraged by the way the Church in Progress whānau provide one another with support and friendship.

Spiritual Formation

Everyone is own their own spiritual journey but it’s helpful to have support and companionship along the way. Through discussion, study groups, prayer and worship, online and in person, we find that God reveals Godself little by little.

In 2017 Church in Progress continued to meet monthly for worship and for a special gathering on Good Friday. Most of the year we met at the Māngere East Community Centre and now we are meeting in the Ōtāhuhu-Māngere Youth Group’s (OMYG) space in Ōtāhuhu. These gatherings are small but powerful! Through prayer and discussion, we continue to journey together.

In addition to our monthly physical gatherings there have also been two online facebook group ‘retreats’. The Advent Group is happening right now in December and there was also a six-week retreat in the build up to Easter. These online groups provide a space for people from all over the world to connect and reconnect with God. It’s especially valuable for those who cannot attend a physical church due to different barriers.

Two of Church in Progress members completed the course ‘Jesus 101’ which was facilitated by Emily. This was a transformational five weeks for all of us! It was just incredible to have Rev Elder Darlene join us for the last session.

In October, five Church in Progress peeps facilitated tan interactive service at Takapuna Methodist Church. It was a good way to share what how Church in Progress works towards living out our faith in our everyday lives.

Finally, Rev Emily continues to regularly go to supervision. This keeps her sane (hahaha) and helps her to keep God at the centre.

Activism

Learning to live like Jesus isn’t always easy. It soon becomes apparent that being a follower of Jesus requires us to be present in the margins of society. Church in Progress is committed to working towards positive change and supporting groups who fight for peace and justice.

Church in Progress is slowly building up the #GiveWhatYouCanTakeWhatYouNeed table at all the monthly gatherings. The local women’s refuge continues to benefit from Church in Progress donations of clothes throughout the year.

The year, sadly, has been busy with direct action and protest events. In February, Emily spoke at the ‘No Wall, No Ban’ event in Aotea Square. Read about it here.

A few days afterwards Church in Progress marched up Queen Street to Mt Eden prison ‘10,000 TOO MANY: March against mass incarceration’ rally organised by People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA). Church in Progress are completely supportive of their latest campaign (Emily and Alan attended the launch in October) ‘End Solitary Confinement’.

ANZAC Day saw Church in Progress facilitating a prayerful response, in partnership with Auckland Peace Action (APA) to the military led remembrance at the Auckland Domain. This was well attended by many seasoned peace activists and well supported by Church in Progress peeps who sang, spoke and helped out. Read out it here.

SOUL is still going strong and Emily was surprised (but chuffed) to be called upon to facilitate a meeting for the group in September, Emily also attended the fierce protest outside Fletcher’s AGM in October. SOUL continues to fight for the scared green space at Ihumātao.

October was a busy month! Emily and Alan attended the non-violent direct-action training, provided by APA, to prepare for the blockage of the ‘Weapons Expo’ in Wellington. With the blessings of Church in Progress peeps and travelling with other active locals from Respect Our Community Campaign ROCC and SOUL it was incredible to be part of a successful direct-action.

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Although groups and individuals came together from all over the country and managed to shut down the expo, it was a jarring experience and you can read Emily’s thoughts on it here. The very next weekend Emily and Alan were asked to attend the ‘Just War to Just Peace’ study day at Holy Trinity Cathedral and talk about their involvement.

Emily and Alan continue to serve on the Māngere East Community Hub Steering Group – working towards a new community centre in Māngere East. In addition, they are still both active within ROCC, keeping an eye on local transport issues, alcohol outlets and all things local!

Of course, this year there was a general election. Church in Progress facilitated a collective response in the build-up. People contributed prayers for a prayer calendar, so each day in the month prior, there was a prayer that had an election or policy focus. Each day Emily gave a visual representation for the prayer and posted it on facebook. These prayers reached people all over the country. It helped keep us focus on policy and not on personalities and allowed us to let God into our voting processes.

Celebrancy Services

Rev Emily is available to help you celebrant or commemorate. Finding joy, God and community in life’s significant moments.

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Emily finally got to use her legal celebrant’s licence! In January she was honoured to conduct the marriage ceremony for the lovely Jason and Michael. While over in the UK, Emily also was the celebrant (although not at the legal ceremony) at Josh and Claire’s wedding – which also included a naming ceremony for their twins.

It wasn’t just weddings, Rev Emily was requested for a house blessing to ‘settle’ an unwelcome presence, lead an unveiling and helped to facilitate a funeral service for a local family. It was an honour to be part of these things and to help in some way towards a sense of healing and hope.

Emily and Adrienne maintain connections with the Wesley community. Another Christening this year. This time it was for little Hallie in April – what an honour to be part of this celebration! Also, very privileged to give a blessing for Bayley (Emily’s Goddaughter) at her graduation in May (which was a shared celebration with her mum as she had completed her doctorate)!

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Wow! Lots of stuff aye? What will 2018 bring? Make sure you come along to the AGM to have input.

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