WHILE THE WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH OF NEW ZEALAND is a relatively new Church, it can trace back its ecclesial roots a very long way!
The British Wesleyan Methodist missionary, the Rev Samuel Leigh, was the first Wesleyan to visit Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1819, a few years after Church of England missionary Rev Samuel Marsden preached the first Gospel message in the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814.
The Wesleyan Missionary Society from Great Britain established a mission in 1822 at Kaeo in the Bay of Islands. Later, following the signing in 1840 of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the Maori people, a number of other branches of British Methodism were established in New Zealand. These were the Primitive Methodists (1844), United Free Methodists (1860), and Bible Christians (1877).
As in other parts of world, Methodism proved highly adaptable and evangelistically successful in the New Zealand pioneering environment. Methodist support peaked at the 1901 census when about 10 per cent of the population claimed identification with the John Wesley family of churches.
By 1913, the diﬀerent branches had united to form the Methodist Church of New Zealand (MCNZ). eologically, the MCNZ existed in the mainstream of international Methodism with the Primitive Methodist influence making for an especially recognisable evangelical and missional impetus.
With the opening of Trinity Methodist eological College in 1929, the MCNZ began to adopt a more intellectual style of ministry training, including a critical historical biblical teaching method, strong pastoral ministry training, and a move away from evangelical and holiness convictions.
In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Pacifism, ecumenism, and the eﬀects of post-war social turmoil influenced promotion of a liberal theological ethos throughout the church, and especially evident among many of the clergy.
‘‘As in other parts of world, Methodism proved highly adaptable and evangelistically successful in the New Zealand pioneering environment. Methodist support peaked at the 1901 census when about 10 per cent of the population claimed identification with the John Wesley family of churches.’’
The 1960s and 1970s brought a significantly changed mission focus. Methodist social services took a strong lead; social justice and feminist advocacy work was promoted, but with reduced emphasis on holiness teaching, evangelism training, or church planting. At the same time, increased immigration from the Pacific Islands impacted the church, more so in the cities than in rural areas. The Pacific flavour was to add a richness to the church and pose questions about eﬀective and just multiculturalism. In the post-war environment of change within the Church, evangelical witness and involvement was fostered by a small number of Methodist ministers and lay leaders. Despite the strong revivalist evangelical heritage of early Methodism, this purposeful promotion was necessary as liberal influences were already well established and influential.
The Methodist Revival Fellowship (MRF) began in 1961 and was linked to the parent British Fellowship. Led for many years by the Rev Owen Woodfield, this group eventually included evangelical, charismatic and holiness Methodists, although the “holiness” term was rarely used in New Zealand Methodism. The MRF, and organisations that succeeded it, always promoted a model of inclusion for both evangelical and charismatic emphases.
In 1985, the MRF changed its name to the Aldersgate Fellowship, gained recognition from the Methodist Conference, and took a more intentional and prominent role than before. The Aldersgate Fellowship organised many national gatherings with frequent guest speakers, evangelical resources being promoted, and regular submissions made to annual conferences.
In 1994, another name change was made to Methodist Aﬃrm. is change associated it with similarly named Aﬃrm renewal movements within the New Zealand Anglican and Presbyterian denominations.
The unique heritage of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand is influenced by the background of the liberal Methodist Church of New Zealand, with a heritage of British evangelical missionary endeavours (including wider South Pacific work), participation in the international Wesleyan Church and appreciation of the holiness tradition, and more recent and renewed World Methodist membership and involvement. – The Wesleyanz Vine.
Chinese Methodist Church in Australia gets new bishop
THE CHINESE METHODIST CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA (CMCA) has a new bishop. At its 9th Session in Brisbane last November, the Rev James Kwang was elected bishop, succeeding Bishop Albert Chiew.
In his sharing, Bishop Kwang exhorted his flock to “build a caring and loving fellowship and make a diﬀerence in the world we live”.
“God wants us to gather together anew, serving Him and supporting one another, to share with those in need, to give hope and new life in the midst of this broken and sinful world,” he added.
The CMCA, whose primary aim is to reach out to immigrants and students of Chinese origin from South-east Asian countries, is divided into three districts – Australia West, Australia South and Australia East. It has 11 churches and four preaching points with 26 pastors and nine lay preachers.
Immanuel Methodist Church in Perth, Western Australia, is the biggest church in terms of Sunday Service attendance, which totals an average of 460, including about 90 Sunday School children. – Connection, the English newsletter of The Chinese Methodist Message, Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference.
Religious leaders condemn bombing
NEW YORK – Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders have condemned the New Year’s Eve bombing that killed 21 worshippers and wounded many others at All Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt.
“The perpetrators of this outrage are apparently so blinded by hatred that they have lost touch with the tenets of any known faith,” said the Rev Michael Kinnamon, top executive of the US National Council of Churches. “It is simply agonizing to think that many around the world will mistake this horror as the attack of one religious community on another. Christians, Jews and Muslims around the world are united by their outrage and condemnation of this soul-less act.” – United Methodist News Service.