God of Connection,
Church in Progress gives You thanks for 2018. Thank You for providing us, once again, with the people, the spaces and the opportunities to be a positive presence.
2019 is still a mystery to us. Help us be prepared, open and willing to do whatever You require us as individuals to do and as a faith community. Forgive us when we forget to seek Your direction when we plan for the future. Help us to take risks, the wisdom to say no when required and to rejoice as we walk with You. 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.
I hear you asking … what happened in 2018? As usual Church in Progress got involved with lots of positive stuff. Once again, we give thanks that we can have such a big impact with the team that we have. Each year we ask if there is still a need for Church in Progress and so far, God keeps saying YES!
So, on the 24th of November we asked the following questions:
– 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?
We decided as a group to continue as Church in Progress for another year!
As 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 2018, please pray a prayer of thanks for everyone who was involved and wisdom to guide us in the year ahead. A massive thank you to Rosina and Adrienne who, with Emily, formed a Core Team in 2018. It was great to have more support and talk through decisions and ideas. We also acknowledge and give thanks for MCC Sydney who is our partnership church who has given us significant monetary donation again this year, along with a bunch of moral support!
The plan for 2019 is to enable more members to step up and take leadership/responsibility for some of the events that Church in Progress hosts. What will this look like for you?
Congratulations to Adrienne who will continue to be part of the Core Team as secretary and to Angie who takes on the responsibility of treasurer. Thank you both so much!
Church in Progress focuses its energy into four main areas;
Community – Spiritual Formation – Activism – Celebrancy
Lots of what Church in Progress does overlaps into all four areas!
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 online and in person.
Part of being in community is caring for one another. All our members strive to support one another and their wider community/whanau/networks as much as they are able. After all, we are trying to love others as God loves us!
Dinner, Conversation and Prayer – this event happens about once a month at the Mason Ave Food Court. Still our most well attended event as it has all four ingredients needed for a good time – Food, Community, Laughter and Prayer!
Easter Egg Hunt – Easter Sunday Held on Easter Sunday, this annual event provides a safe, affirming and welcoming place for those in our community that don’t have a church service to attend.
Karaoke Christmas will be held on the 22nd of December. It’s a community celebration and also gives us a place to make Christmas cards for those in prison this holiday season, supporting the work of the Prisoner Correspondence Network (PCN). In 2017 Karaoke Christmas was extended to singing karaoke carols outside the Mangere East shops. In addition, for the first time ever we gathered in the park at Massey Homestead for an ‘Xmas Brunch’ on Christmas day (happening again in 2018)! It was wonderful for those of us who needed community that day and it was a joy to be joined by so many locals that found themselves walking through the park and accepting the invitation to join us.
Once again, we were honoured to be invited to share a meal at the Masjid Baitul Muqeet Mosque in Manurewa. Always great hospitality and love learning more about their faith and commitment to peace.
This year Rev Emily was appointed as the Leader for the Australian/Aotearoa Network for the MCC churches. This mostly involves helping keeping people connected to one another through organising physical gatherings. In addition, Emily has initiated an online ‘Community Chat’ – next one on the 28th November.
In March, Emily and Alan attended a service at the MCC Oasis community in Christchurch. Alan also had the joy of going Sunday service at MCC East London while he was visiting family in the UK in July.
Rev Emily was chuffed to preach at Rev Alex Pittaway’s ordination at MCC Brisbane in July. A few weeks later she was at the Australia/Aotearoa MCC Network Gathering in Sydney as she was part of the programming team.
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.
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 2018 Church in Progress continued to meet monthly for worship. We are so grateful to The Good Seeds Trust for allowing us to use their building on Mervan Street in Mangere East. This new venue has really helped to build our community – it’s very child friendly as we have the whole place to ourselves.
We’ve explored lots of different themes. At each gathering we explore the text, discuss, pray and open ourselves up to finding practical ways to live out our faith in our daily lives. We strive to find inspiration in the way that Jesus responded to others. We always shared in the sacred meal which is ‘Holy Communion’. Rev Emily values the help that the kids offer in this part of the service!
This year we found a new way to plan for the monthly gatherings – ‘Pray and Plan Meetings’. Meeting online once a month, different Church in Progress peeps come together to pray and brainstorm ideas. It’s been wonderful to have different voices give ideas for prayers, songs and activities. Our best gatherings are ones in which lots of people are involved in the planning and delivery!
Good Friday Meal and Reflection is always well attended and is a personal highlight of the year for Rev Emily.
This year Rev Emily didn’t run an online retreat for Easter or Advent. However, this is a good example of making space for something new to happen. November sees Church in Progress running a trial of an online ‘Short and Simple Sunday Service’. Rev Emily has had the ‘nudge’ to connect people in this way for some time (God has been patient lol). So far, it seems to be doing what we hoped it would do – provide a safe and affirming space to reconnect with God and with one another – also a wonderful opportunity for those who are unable to attend a physical service due to commitments, disability or exclusion.
On the 19th of May Jo, Justin, Rob and Carol completed the Church in Progress membership course. Thank you for taking time out to learn more about the history and vision of MCC and to explore your own faith journey. Welcome!
Five people completed the course ‘Jesus 101’. This was a transformational five weeks for all of us! This year we used ‘Zoom’ to connect for this course. This way we got to avoid Auckland’s traffic, stay warm and it enabled a new friend of Church in Progress to engage from Whakatane. God is Good!
In September, Rev Emily took a service at Crossroads Methodist Church in Papakura. This is the home church for Noel, Katie and Jonathan – with their help, myself and Alan transformed the worship space into a prayer doodling heaven!
Finally, Rev Emily continues to regularly go to supervision and makes time to be part of a clergy support group that meets monthly online. It’s important to Rev Em to engage in this type of support and we encourage everyone to look after themselves and reach out.
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.
Torranice started off the year with a positive action outside a local dairy on Massey Road. The owners of the dairy had been victims of a robbery and had to close for some time. Torranice asked Rev Emily to come and pray at the gathering and we all chalked messages of support.
We are 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. A massive thank you to Nancy who used Church in Progress’s community connections to give out HEAPS of heaters and household appliances to those who needed them.
Massive thank you to Sophie who provided us with live updates from the Pride Parade as she marched alongside other Christians. Our message of God’s inclusive love got out there as we were trolled by some religious fundamentalist in February lol. Always a good sign!
ANZAC Day saw Church in Progress speaking at a powerful event ‘Picnic for Peace’ organised by Auckland Peace Action (APA). This is the second year we have worked together to provide an alternative 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.
In April, Torranice facilitated the ‘Transitioning Together’ hui. This hui is part of a wider initiative which supports LGBTQI youth. It was such an honour for Rev Emily to come along to the hui to learn from the amazing young people that attended.
Carol and Rev Emily attended a film screening of ‘Leitis in Waiting’. This documentary highlights the lives of the trans* community in Tonga.
On the 28th of May Jasmine and Emily presented a submission to the a Select Committee on the ‘Sale and Supply of Alcohol Amendment Bill’. We continue to speak up about this crazy situation, the lack of community control and the effects on everyday people when profits and business are prioritised at the expense of everyday people.
In June, Angie and family along with Sophie and Huhana represented at the USA: Love not Hate Rally outside the USA embassy in response to the revelation that children were being held in cages at the border.
We were represented at the ‘Peaceships NOT Warships’ peace picket outside the Naval Base in Devonport. We were showing our exasperation at the amount of resources put into “RIMPAC” – war games that are attended, in the Pacific, by 26 nations.
We continue to be educated about the injustices inside New Zealand’s prison system by the dedicated PAPA (People Against Prisons Aotearoa) crew. We provide ongoing support one of our Church in Progress peeps who is currently in Auckland Prison with care packages, prayers and pastoral visits. We give thanks that so many people in our faith community are working towards better outcomes for those who find themselves within this system.
Church in Progress was proud to support “Heads Held High” again. This movement, in its second year, saw 60 young people from nine South Auckland joining together to challenge negative perceptions about our area. This year Church in Progress helped with a small donation towards feeding the crew and Rev Emily and Adrienne worked with Dr Michelle Johansson to provide pastoral and mentoring support. Many of us enjoyed the INSPIRING performances in July.
Rev Emily was part of the team that organised the ‘Rally Against Racism’ – a response to the two alt-right speakers that visiting Aotearoa. The rally was well attended by Church in Progress peeps and it was a positive, united and loving response to the vile hate-speech!
Huhana was selected to be part of the team that is leading the ‘Welfare Expert Advisory Group’. Huhana and her wife Sophie, have been travelling all over the country hearing people’s stories. We are so grateful that you have taken on this mammoth task and we continue to pray that the powers that be have the wisdom to make some real positive changes.
Rev Emily is available to help you celebrant or commemorate. Finding joy, God and community in life’s significant moments.
One of highlight of this year was the baptism of Adrienne and her son, Matheus in February. Adrienne did a fantastic job of gathering everyone together at the lagoon in Onehunga. What a celebration!! Thank you, Adrienne, for making the very public decision to follow Jesus and bring up Matheus in the way of love. It was such an honour for Rev Emily and Alan and our whole faith community to help you both take this next positive step. One of the most moving experiences … EVER! God is Good!
Sadly, Adrienne’s father passed away this year as did Lyn’s dad. Rev Emily was pleased she could help with Jim’s family service while support Adrienne and Desiree. It was also an honour to facilitate John’s funeral which was held at the RSA in Manurewa.
Rev Em was also pleased to be asked to provide blessings at Rosa’s first birthday and Torranice’s graduation. A blessing of thanks was also given at Frances party to celebrate reaching 10 years of remission. So good to celebrate!