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Steve Maina, National Director of NZCMS, responds to Michael Blain

Response to Michael Blain's article published in AMB- E Newsletter - May 09

25 June 2009

As one who has just arrived in New Zealand I have of course little background in the early history of the original New Zealand Church Missionary Association formed in 1892 and the subsequent name change to the New Zealand Church Missionary Society in 1916. How the relationship between Anglican Missions Board and New Zealand Church Missionary Society was established and the subsequent journey we have made together, also are matters which I am sure in time I will study and understand.

I have, however, become aware that the book “ Stretching Out Continually “ A History of the New Zealand Church Missionary Society 1892 – 1972 by Kenneth Gregory, on which Fr Blain has relied so heavily as his major reference source, is not an official history of the Society and Mr Gregory was not an official NZCMS historian as stated in his “ NZ Church Missionary Society and the Melanesian Mission” 1895-1919 presented to the Selwyn Symposium. The book was in fact a private publication.

While it is valuable to study our history and learn from it, the present contains the challenges. I come out of a church in which there are both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical roots and have seen how they have worked together for the sake of Kingdom of God. So while NZCMS has an evangelical base it seeks to stimulate the Anglican Church in New Zealand in association with the Anglican Missions Board to take mission seriously.

Fr Blains comment of “Could the non-partisan support of NZCMS be offered today to provinces of the Anglican Church which are not party Evangelical?” What that implies does cause me some concern.

If one, even takes a moment to see where and with whom we are working one would quickly realise we indeed seek to serve the worldwide Anglican church. However there is one important qualification. We do not force ourselves on another, but we go at the invitation of the national church. The support we can offer both in human and financial resource is now very dependent on how the New Zealand Anglican Church responds to its perception of mission and what value it puts on the effort of those who now serve. The days of the wealthy church members dispensing largess seems to be well gone as evident in the hard work that the Anglican Missions Board has to put in to raise the funds to finance the present.

Therefore while we acknowledge the past, we cannot return to it, nor can we stand or speak from where our forebears spoke. We are faced with the urgent task of stimulating our church, and challenging this generation, that being part of the church requires each one to take mission seriously.

A vision for the future is where we must put our efforts. In these first few months my focus has been to learn of where the New Zealand Anglican Church is now and how we can move forward. Youth and its perception of the church and mission, is a top priority and I look forward to engaging with clergy and Diocesan youth leaders in vigorous debate so as to formulate a strategy which will make an impact and capture the imagination of youth and stimulate them to action.

The people we now seek to serve know little, if any thing, of the theological diversity of Anglican Church, but see us as being Christians who serve them with compassion and concern. Is this not the core issue? that we serve in the name of Christ and for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Steve Maina