The Story of Te Raranga
On the 4th of September 2010 and the 22nd February 2011, our beautiful city was struck by devastating earthquakes. Churches across the city sprang into action and were an immediate support to people across the city. Many initiatives were actioned straight away to bring comfort and help to people in desperate situations.
Quickly a meeting was called at Spreydon Baptist Church two hundred leaders from around the city gathered to explain the situation as they saw it and to tell everyone about the initiatives they had undertaken, and to see if there was a way for cooperation to develop. Following that meeting a number of earthquake coordinators, appointed by their denominations and churches, began to meet fortnightly to support one another and to look for ways in which they could collaborate. The group was eventually called The Canterbury Post Earthquake Churches Forum.
At the same time as the Forum was meeting, groups of pastors began to meet around the city too, some of them locally (for example, the North East Pastors) and some citywide. One such meeting was a lunch for pastors and other leaders at Northcity in December 2011. Steve Graham and Murray Robertson were asked to speak on the Biblical basis for unity in the Church and the need to seize the unique moment that we were living in. Following that lunch several pastors approached Steve and Murray and asked if they could take an initiative in pulling churches and ministries together at a deeper level than had been the case before the earthquake.
When Steve and Murray met together they realised that most attempts at unity in the past had failed as they were imposed from the top down. It was felt the key thing was to see where the Holy Spirit was already at work bringing Christians together and see what they could do to encourage that. Murray and Steve invited Mike Dodge to join them as they felt that Canterbury Youth Services had most clearly developed among youth leaders the type of working together that we longed to see for the whole church. Another six people who had a good level of involvement in helping churches work together in the past were asked to share this responsibility.
The Churches Forum
The Churches Forum (or the Canterbury Post-EQ Churches Forum) started as an informal fortnightly meeting of church and denominational EQ co-ordinators. It has been supported by several Christian NGOs including World Vision, TEAR Fund and Christian World Service. It has been remarkable context to share information and resources with a wide team including Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Adventists, Pentecostals, Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Independents, etc. The Forum has collaborated with the City Council, the Ministry of Social Development and still has regular meetings with the CERA pastoral care team.
The Forum operates with a rotating chairperson.
Meet the Churches Forum team
Matt O’Connell has worked for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch since 2003, the first nine years as the coordinator of Young Adults Ministry in the Youth Team. After the Earthquakes, in association with Caritas New Zealand, the Diocese decided to employ an Earthquake Recovery Coordinator to help parishes and the school help their people recover from the effects of the earthquakes. A significant part of the role is administering the Bishop’s Earthquake Recovery Fund which he set up after the earthquake. Over 150 projects have been funded since the fund’s inception. Matt is a member of the St Francis of Assisi Parish in Mairehau and is married to Emma. Matt and Emma are thrilled with the gift of their first child, Rita – born in August 2014.
Darryl is married to Michele and they have the 3 greatest boys ever! He is a minister in Christchurch Presbytery, and since the earthquakes has served with congregations helping them work towards their future. He is part of a team planting a church exploring new ways of being church in kiwi culture, and also doing a doctorate of ministry looking at 21st Century church leadership, church models, and asking questions around kiwi culture and spirituality.
Anita Voisey is the administrator for Te Raranga and provides administrative and communications support to the Churches Forum. Active across the churches, her home fellowship is Northcity.
John Day: Archdeacon for Mission, Christchurch Anglican Diocese
John is married to Stephanie, who teaches at Canterbury University. They have four adult and married children, scattered across the world, and two grandchildren. John and Stephanie moved to Christchurch from Leeds, UK in 2001 when John became vicar of St Barnabas Church, Fendalton. Since January 2010 his role is to be a resource person for all the Anglican parishes: helping them be the best mission-focussed church they can be in their context . He is passionate about the Gospel and growing the church, specialising in teaching about mission, church planting and fresh expressions.
Nigel has been the Lead Pastor at Burwood Christian Centre (BCC) since 2004. BCC is located in a significantly damaged area of the east and has been very involved in the local needs and recovery of the community. Nigel also facilitates regular church leader’s gatherings in the north east. Nigel was invited to join the Inter Church Forum in mid-2012. Late in 2012 CERA invited the forum – along with a few other NGO’s – to be part of the ‘Community Wellbeing Planning Group’ (CWPG) and Nigel became the forum’s representative. The CWPG involves a monthly meeting of representatives from key local and central government agencies as well as a small number of NGO’s. The CWPG reviews data and gives advice on proposed strategies or projects relating to Canterbury’s social recovery.
Mike is the Director of the Bishop’s Pastoral Office for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch. This role includes being part of the Diocese’s earthquake recovery team. He has been involved with the Churches Forum since its inception after the earthquake in February 2010. Mike is married to Jacinta and they have four children and they attend the Sacred Heart Parish in Addington.