E NEWS 5TH MAY 2023
Talofa lava. The UCANZ (Uniting Congregations Aotearoa NZ) Forum in Christchurch over last weekend was an intimate gathering. Dr. Peter Lineham was our keynote speaker. I thought it might interest you to see the Mainstream Protestant decline taken from Census figures up to 2018.
I have been voted onto the Standing Committee of UCANZ for another 2 years and have also been voted in as Co-chair of UCANZ. I used to chair the Auckland Forum and got voted on to the Standing Committee. It has a 6 year term which is renewed every 2 years, so I had just completed 2 years and still have 4 years to go, which I have been happy to continue doing. Even though SAOTT is not a uniting congregation we do use the UCANZ constitutional guidelines as opposed to the PCANZ Book of Order. \
On Tuesday night I was a panellist at Victoria University’s Student Christian Movement event which looked at Theologies of Governance and Church and Crown relationships. I was asked to give a Pacific perspective on monarchy and governance. I gave an historical and contemporary view on Samoan matai (chieftanship) and that our only monarch was a Queen Salamasina in the 15th century. How, when the Christian missions arrived the high chief Malietoa Vaiinuupo declared on his death bed that there will be no more kings, however, treat all of our pastors as kings. Hence, church ministers today are treated like royalty. Except that women who used to be the worship leaders were usurped by the men and the Christian church and women were/are excluded from ordination in the Congregation Christian Church of Samoa.
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is John 14:1-14 and more specifically verse 6 “I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me”. Christian fundamentalists use this verse to justify that Jesus is the only way to God and unless you believe in Jesus you cannot know God. Therefore, Christianity is the only one true religion because Jesus is the way to God. This is an exclusive ideology which excludes all other faiths and deems Christianity as superior and other faiths as inferior.
I like the simplicity of how Jason Sorosky talks about this verse. Put simply that Jesus is addressing our very human instinct to know where we are going before we start a journey. The disciples wanted to know the next step, the next turn, the ultimate destination of where this journey in faith would lead them. When we have a long trip ahead of us, we want to turn on our GPS and get an idea of how long it will take and the roads we will travel on to get there. We determine the best, fastest routes and then start our journey. Thomas was looking for the same kind of information.
However, Jesus makes it clear that they (or we) won’t know the defined way we are supposed to travel in life. We are instead tasked with simply knowing and trusting in Jesus daily, and walking in faith that he is the way. When we abide in him, we will not know a defined course, but we can rest in the comfort of faith – that Jesus will lead us exactly where we need to go as we walk in him.
This Sunday I am preaching about “Is Jesus the only way to God?” I will be exploring what pre-Christian Samoa looked like in terms of their religious belief and practice and their understanding of God before the Christian Missions arrived.
In a fortnight’s time I will be in Queenstown attending the National Assessment Weekend for the PCANZ. We are assessing two candidates for ministry over the weekend. Apparently it is cheaper to hold the meeting in
Queenstown than in Wellington which is a bit of pain for me as it means another weekend away from church and my dogs. Rev. Ross Scott will be leading worship on the 21st May while I am away. Enjoy your weekend, Fei
You can read the full E-news here: http://mailchi.mp/fd8544bfffcd/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-9342599