Whangamatā. Not a place many think about except over summer months. Yet, this coastal paradise is home to a small, permanent community. It is one where the Spirit’s manaakitanga is keenly experienced; shaping the lives of those who receive, and offer, hospitality. This is, by some distance, the most generous parish community I have been involved with. It is one which is gifted with both a community heart and one that longs for deeper discipleship. People, mostly retirees, are lovingly involved in all sorts of community groups and projects for refreshingly altruistic reasons. Whangamatā is a reasonably new town, settled in post-war years, something that may play its part in creating the open-minded sense of community here.
A hallmark of this church is a successful op shop which pays for most things, my stipend included. The church acknowledges the support of the wider community via the shop by offering a good portion of my time as Missioner towards community projects on their behalf. Whangamatā blesses me with the opportunity to spend time being rather than simply doing - a God-given privilege and complete change of pace from the busyness of the Whangarei parish, where I served previously.
So, it is with excitement and grateful hearts that Kahu, Timothy and I are settling into life in Whangamatā. In that spirit, I look forward to getting to know this town as well as the wider diocese over the coming months and years.