The national state of emergency announced by the Prime Minister on March 23 effective from March 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted Church operations. It took increasing precedence in most decisions and discussions gathering momentum from almost two weeks before this date. We continue to adjust to the new mode of operating under confinement to dwellings that remains effective until at least April 23.
The Conference Pastors Meeting scheduled for March 16-19 was cancelled on March 14 due to the increasing risk from the spread of the virus. On March 19 in accordance with the Level 2 Alert we issued the notice for all Church buildings to be closed. Now all Conference events involving physical gatherings of people have been cancelled for the months of April and May and similar decisions for June events will be finalised during April. We continue asking our personnel and churches to comply with the government requirements during this time.
Our pastors and ministry leaders efforts to enable churches to have online connectivity with worship and nurture activities are very commendable and getting good results. Mrs Lisa Kask our usually part-time website and graphics design person is now working more than full time hours because of the demand for internet resourcing. The Bethesda Board meets each Sunday evening to receive updates from Manager Mr Hartley Holtzhauzen on the status of the operation for that particularly vulnerable elderly community with no cases identified as yet. Tui Ridge as well as our schools are now closed during the Level 4 status.
The situation poses challenges but also opportunities to learn for future emergencies and refining alternative internet/digital modes of mission and ministry.
We continue to pray for God’s care and oversight of the Church, wider community and world during this abrupt interruption to life as usual. Other updates will be provided as available in our meeting.
NZPUC Discipleship Tour
I was part of the Discipleship Tour group which included Pr Pelikani Esau from Auckland and leaders from other missions and the South NZ Conference. The tour party of 9 led by Pr Victor Kulakov departed February 20 and returned on March 14.
Its goals and objectives were to provide participants with new exposures, experiences outside their normal environments, interactions with people having practical experience and also to ignite greater passion for disciple-making and provide opportunities for gaining practical knowledge of best disciple-making practices.
In the Muslim-steeped cultures of the Middle East very strong antipathy and suspicion of Christianity is the norm which means in most countries there, any overt Christian teaching or evangelism is either frowned upon or mostly forbidden and often resulting in the cancellation of visas for foreigners, imprisonment and other forms of persecution and violence.
The primary requirement in terms of real and lasting understanding and sometimes acceptance of the Christian faith is the investment of one’s life in relationships with local people. Meaningful discipleship in these contexts is an investment of time, day after day, with people. The time frame given for a
missionary’s influence to see lasting results is usually ten to twelve years. Baptisms are scarce and few. A highlight of this part of the tour was the dedication of foreign missionaries who have committed a large portion of their lives, even entire lifetimes to serve Jesus’ mission in these huge Muslim populations.
The contrast revealed from the Middle East to western societies such as we saw in Germany and the USA was the challenge of discipleship in post-Christian, atheistic and highly secular populations. Younger millennial and Gen Z mindsets do not relate easily to institutionalised Christianity and new approaches and modes of outreach must and are being adopted as well as new ways in which the Church functions.
May God continue to be your strength during this time of worldwide pandemic and uncertainty.
Pr Ben Timothy – NNZC Lead Pastor
NNZC Financial Report
The Conference Financial Report for the period ending February 29th, 2020 records an operating deficit of $666,084.00 before appropriations.
It was resolved that the Audit & Finance Committee undertake contingency modelling in light of COVID-19 and the resultant socio-economic conditions.
The Adventist Book Centre (ABC) operating report to the end of February 2020 showed a surplus before transfers of $36,891.00.
Tui Ridge Park Report
Tui Ridge Park is a great place to be during the COVID19 lockdown. It is even more beautiful when there is no one around! 🙂
Despite a lot of uncertainty prior to their arrival, Glamorgan School (last group booking from 18 -20 March) suggested that it was probably the safest place for the them to be at a time like this. While this lockdown has been a forced rest for many of us, a core group are doing what we can at TRP to ensure that the place remains ready for when bookings resume. Continued functions are limited to ground maintenance i.e. lawn mowing, firewood splitting, and equipment maintenance; as well as booking enquiries, HR function, and website review and maintenance.
The impact on staff has been no different to anywhere else but meetings prior to and since the lockdown has helped to put their minds at ease, particularly around their livelihood in the coming months. Just prior to the lockdown, staff were encouraged to uplift firewood for their families to see them through the next few months. We are doing our best to make our staff feel supported and valued as part of the TRP team. We are grateful for the government subsidy that is helping TRP to support staff through this time of acute change and we are working with NNZC finance staff to ensure that these funds are applied correctly.
TRP has taken advantage of the SPD’s discounted offer for a Zoom licence and this has been a blessing in being able to see one another and catch up on how everyone is coping. Except for a few staff that have difficulties with technology, we have had close to a full uptake on this forum. Since the lockdown, we have had two Monday morning sessions for all staff and have started daily meetings for a smaller group overseeing current functions as mentioned above.
Confirmed cancellations have obviously wiped out bookings in April, May, and June as well as bookings further into the year. Our bookings staff have been contacting clients to see whether they would like to change their bookings and where deposits have been paid whether these are to be transferred to a new booking or refunded.
We have asked staff to consider ways that TRP can reach out to the community at this time in ways that stay within government guidelines. One idea was to distribute surplus Up&Go stock from Big Camp to schools but this will have to wait until after the lockdown.
Although those of us living onsite are enjoying the peace around Tui Ridge Park right now, we look forward to the day when we see cars, caravans and buses rolling past our gates again.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 107:1
Norman King – Camp Manager
Tui Ridge Park Financial Report
The Tui Ridge Park Financial Report recorded an operating deficit of $280,335.00 after depreciation to the end of February 2020.
The North New Zealand Conference Executive Committee would like to thank Tui Ridge Board for undertaking financial modelling that takes into consideration the challenges Tui Ridge Park is facing due to COVID-19.
Bethesda Care – CEO Report
04 April 2020
- Bethesda is primarily focussed on COVID-19 for the past few weeks and going forward.
- We have daily stand-up meetings with the key staff and have additional admin staff working on weekends.
- We are in regular contact with the DHB and they aware that we have capacity to take new residents. Bethesda has been identified to Middlemore as a potential location for additional beds.(subject to our T&C’s)
- The Bethesda Board has been meeting regularly for briefings.
- Thus far, Bethesda has no suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases for residents or staff.
- Bethesda has been in lockdown for the past few weeks, strictly adhering to the MOH guidance for Aged Care businesses.
- Various communication messages have been sent to all families and staff, using multiple communication channels.
- Video calls to residents by family have been taking place.
- We have low levels of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in stock as part of our standard pandemic plan and have ordered additional supplies as we wait for the DHB stock.
Bethesda Village – CEO Report
03 April 2020
- COVID-19 has put all new sales on hold for Retirement Villages. The same impact has affected normal residential sales which we directly linked to for new potential residents.
- No village visitors have been allowed for the past few weeks and potentially 4-6 weeks or more.
- We have a few sales of villas and apartments which are currently in the middle of the sales transaction and we assessing the potential impact.
- Auckland Council is interested in a small parcel of Bethesda land for a cycle path at the rear of the hospital. We in discussions with a few parties about this and options to develop the land at the rear of the Bethesda Care building.
Bethesda Apartments Project
Brand new Bethesda Apartments are currently available with some already sold. For more information on these beautiful apartments simply follow this link – www.bethesda.org.nz
Youth & Chaplaincy
By: Willie Iererua – NNZC Youth & Chaplaincy Pastor
It has been a quarter of settling-in. Matt Moore gave me a great handover before he left, and I’m enjoying being part of a ministry team. Lance Boulton is my mentor from a distance for 2020, and I sense God wanted to steer our youth and schools towards a greater sense of mission for Jesus.
I have set the 2020 theme as “Speak Life,” but yet to integrate disciple-making and plan towards a missional focus in 2021
Youth: Develop Culture & Teams for Shared Leadership
Have setup a Sports Team, and now in the process of establishing a team of Regional Youth Leaders. I’m also exploring “Growing Young” as a culture shift for 2021 that is currently being adopted across our conferences and churches in Australia
Chaplaincy: Be Present
I have met with 13 of our 17 chaplains across the North Island, and hope to visit their school or entity at least twice this year
- To pray over the need of a full-time chaplain at ASDAH. Their student count is almost at 300, and more regular pastoral care will greatly support God’s work of mission there. I understand there are budget restrains (especially with the current crisis), but I believe the school size and evangelism potential is worth making it a priority.
- All events leading up to June have been postponed or cancelled. All further events for 2020 will be reviewed from the start of July.
- A digital gathering hosted by Youth Pastors across NZ called “Breakout”.
Wellington Seventh-day Adventist School
The school is growing and thus needs to increase its maximum allowable school roll. Therefore, the NNZC Executive Committee has given approval for the school to apply to the Ministry of Education for an increase to its maximum school roll from 76 to 100.
92nd North New Zealand Conference Constituency Session – September 18-20, 2020
The upcoming Conference Constituency Session is scheduled for September 18-20. This is the same weekend as when the New Zealand parliamentary election has been called. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, the government has so far retained that time for the election and likewise, we presently continue to make preparations for the constituency session, whilst remaining ready to adjust those plans as circumstances change. A big thank you to those churches that have already appointed the names of delegates to represent them at Session and a reminder to those yet to appoint delegates to submit those names before it is too late to do so. A number of churches have used meeting platforms, such as Zoom, to good effect in holding Church Business Meetings at which delegates have been appointed. It has been wonderful to see the great spirit of all those many church family members worshipping, witnessing, meeting and making decisions together online. Church buildings may currently be closed, but the church is alive and well.
Pr Hugh Heenan – NNZC General Secretary