Despite the recent measles alert that had been sent out to churches following one case at the recent Pathfinder Rally, 600 people still found their way to the Bay of Plenty regional Sabbath on 19th October in Tauranga.
With a smile and an acknowledgement that those who were at risk of contracting measles had been advised to remain home, Mrs Lynelle Laws, North New Zealand Conference Women’s Ministry Coordinator, welcomed the attendees with a “welcome to the immunised, the acclimatised and the baptised” and promised the day would be an “injection” of spiritual enrichment.
Using his creativity Local Tauranga Pastor, Andrew West brought the Bible study time to life with an enactment of Matthew, the disciple who found his value in a call from Jesus. This was a great lead in to the sermon by pastor Victor Kulakov who as the Pacific New Zealand Union discipleship leader, focused his message on discipleship. Encouraging the attendees to see that at times traditional methods of presenting theory and theology are not always successful in reflecting the call of Jesus teaching to “come and follow me.” Pastor Kulakov highlighted that “follow” is an action, something we do, and how “Jesus is the one making us disciples by calling us to follow him.”
A special part of the service saw Mrs. Ikinisi Natewai and Mr. Serupepeli Nasaica from Rotorua Church being ordained to the diaconate and greeted with a fitting greeting in Te Reo Maori supported by a beautiful Waiata (song) from the Tauranga church.
The attendees were grateful for a weather improvement that saw them able to enjoy picnics for lunch, and a time for connecting with friends across the region.
In an afternoon panel discussion, Hamilton Pastor Joshua Stothers, helped attendees see how discipleship is an integral goal of all NNZC plans. Pr. Stothers interviewed North New Zealand Conference Lead Pastor Ben Timothy, Youth Leader, Matt Moore and Administrative Pastor Hugh Heenan. These Leaders all shared that they were encouraged to see an increase among young people who are stepping up to not only be involved but also lead, something youth leader Mr Moore has witnessed in his work, where he has seen young people wanting involvement and finding ownership through their involvement.
The afternoon concluded with Pr. Kulakov sharing from 1 Cor 1:22, that Christ has given us His seal of ownership, and has put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit and a guarantee of His promises to us.
Cluster leader of the Region Pastor Phil Laws loved the atmosphere the day of fellowship brought, ”it was good to be at a neutral venue” shared Pr. Laws “this meant that there was more time to connect in fellowship across the region without one church doing all the hosting work.”
“It’s been such a joy to see how people have enjoyed a spiritual reunion and revival,” Pastor Marilyn Pasione shared. “I was delighted to watch as people fellowshipped and greeted each other with open arms, and so good to see how throughout the day our members were challenged to serve our world as Jesus would Pr. Pasione concluded.
“It has been a blessed day,” was the general sentiment expressed, as people departed with hearts full, and a new enthusiasm for service to others.
Pastor Kirsten Oster Lundqvist NNZC Communications and Media Officer with Mrs. Lynelle Laws NNZC Women’s ministry co-ordinator.
Photos by Verity Pasione