Parish Exchange Visit to Tairua on 2 and 3 May 2015

The bishops have instituted partnerships of 3 parishes across the Diocese. Our partners are St Francis, Tairua (Coromandel) and All Saints, Wellsford.

On the weekend of 2 and 3 May George and Jocelyn Armstrong, Rose Christie French and Pedro Portella and family visited Tairua.

They write: “Indaba," our Bishops wrote, a Zulu word for gathering for purposeful discussion, "is a way of being the Body of Christ that places a priority on relationships, empowers all and is oriented to mission." A big ask indeed.

The aim of an Indaba process, therefore, is to allow for mutual listening and learning while recognising and celebrating the diversity in our Diocese. It's not an exercise in persuasion or even evangelism, but a thoughtful glimpse into another Parish's life, way of being church and commitment.

And we did just that in Tairua in 2-3 May. We are three very different parishes, ourselves, Wellsford and Tairua. We listened and learnt about each other, and celebrated who they were and who we are. Right from the start we were into discussion of important faith and church issues.

Tairua is a Local Shared Ministry. This parish of retirees, with an average age of 70, has no vicar, but a team of lay people who are proud of what they have developed over the years with good training and much encouragement. Three are ordained to administer the eucharist in the parish; the pastoral care leader has a team of 12, the worship coordinator a large team including 8 who preach; the educator, the visual leader and the parish administrator complete the team. Everyone has a buddy out in the wider community. The OP shop is a going concern with involvement of the wider community.

The process for the weekend was indeed flexible and enabled us to really hear the personal dimension involved in the work and deep commitment of a Parish so different from our own. We felt, over the weekend, that we had begun a very special connection with Tairua – and with Wellsford – and one hopes that there will be a continuing relationship when all this is over.

A visit to Wellsford is planned and the two parishes will come to St Matthew’s – dates to be confirmed.

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