Don’t you sometimes feel the Churches in NZ are out of touch?
You wouldn’t be alone because – apart from the flourishing fundamentalist sects – Kiwis are staying out of church in a big way.
Often the Church stays quiet on the big and tricky issues. So we’re introducing ‘The God Spot’ to put Christians ‘on the spot’ on difficult issues.
The first to put his hand up is a well-known former Raumati minister Norman Wilkins. First, Norman describes his background, then he la\unches into the first of his columns….
My early life and timesBy Norman Wilkins
Born in Somerset, my early interests at school were science and maths and also a curiosity about Christianity.
I remember a school chaplain teaching us about Matthew’s Gospel and leaving me with the impression it conveyed truth, but not to take it literally. That freed me up to keep both my faith and my reason intact!
After school I qualified as a metallurgist, met my future wife Linda, and became committed in my own way to God.
I became disillusioned with British society and we came to New Zealand with our first child Andrew.
After teacher training, I taught for five years at Nelson College during which time our second child, Matthew. was born.
I got more involved in the local church and then went to train for the Presbyterian ministry at Knox Theological College in Dunedin.
My first parish was in Kaitaia, and significant events during that time were the Nuclear Free movement and Homosexual Law reform.
I am by nature not only religious but socially liberal and politically left-wing. I would describe myself as a ‘very liberal charismatic.’
We moved to Christchurch for 12 years and I became progressively more radical socially and theologically. I enjoyed being a parish minister and being involved in people’s lives, but unfortunately I became more disillusioned with the direction taken by the national church.
Next we came to Kāpiti where I was the minister of Kāpiti Uniting Parish for over eight years till I retired.
Kapiti was a good experience in a large and dynamic parish open to social and environmental action and willing to journey with me as I continued to develop my faith.
Since my retirement we’ve lived in a lovely 1890 villa in Petone (which I have done up) and pursue a host of outside activities.
I am still really interested in Christianity, and go to St. Andrew’s on the Terrace in Wellington, where I feel at home and inspired.
But I am sad about the national church scene and I welcome this opportunity to contribute, hopefully positively, to its future. Let’s get started…
Why the church needs to turn on its radar!By Norman Wilkins
One of the perks of being a church minister is having a house with the job.
However we already had a bit of a house and a bit more of a mortgage when I became a Rev. We converted that asset into a little bach in the Sounds.
There is no road access and I have resisted the temptation to get our own boat, so we have always gone out there in someone else’s.
We used to go out with an Old Man Of The Sounds. One evening we chugged out of Havelock into really thick mist and soon didn’t have an idea of where we were going.
He went from bow to stern peering, but couldn’t see anything except white mist. He said he always could tell where he was by the shape of the hills – not much use when you can’t see them.
I looked at the compass and we were pointing in completely the wrong direction, so I suggested he turned on the radar to find his way using that.
The radar showed us the hills and we were away, sure that even though we couldn’t see anything beyond the bow of the boat, we were safely heading down the channel in the right direction.
I have been a church minister for about thirty years and during that time I have seen enormous changes in society that in my opinion have been for the better, and I have been sad about the of loss of influence and relevance of the Church.
The boat has been a symbol for the Church, so it should be no surprise that I intend in my Kāpiti Independent articles to use that story to illustrate my ideas about what has been going on for the Church, and what could happen if it looked at its compass and then turned on its radar.