Visiting Christchurch Three Years After the Earthquake

Published: Saturday, 22 February 2014

Julie and Ian Robinson recently visited Julie’s home city of Christchurch. Here are Julie and Ian’s reflections three years after the earthquakes:

Cardboard Cathedral Inside

Quake City

We were in New Zealand over the summer and the last week of our visit we spent in Christchurch, the city of my birth. We had been there in April 2 years ago for our 70th birthday, celebrated on a day when it was earthquake free. The city has had 11,000 after-shocks from 2010 until now! Much of the inner city was fenced off then, but now there is access to all of the CBD.

Smile for ChristchurchSmile for Christchurch

We were impressed by the creative and inspiring installations in the many empty spaces cleared of rubble. It certainly helps to raise the spirits of the people.

One such effort was the map of New Zealand with 1000 photos of smiling ‘Kiwis’ from 19 towns and cities painted brightly on a wall. It is called: ‘SMILE FOR CHRISTCHURCH’.

Bonhoeffer - A Life in Outline

Published: Wednesday, 05 February 2014

The following is the first chapter in a book by Rev Dr. Keith Clements entitled, ‘The SPCK Introduction to Bonhoeffer’. It was published in London in 2010 and is posted here by gracious permission of the author.

The Rev Dr. Keith Clements was formerly Senior Tutor at Bristol Baptist College, part-time lecturer at the University of Bristol and the General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches. He is a member of the editorial board of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition, is the author of Bonhoeffer and Britain (CTNI, 2006) and is the editor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: London: 1933-1935 (Fortress Press, 2007).

Keith Clements is visiting Melbourne to teach an intensive Whitley College course on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is preaching at the Ashburton Baptist Church on 9 February 2014. This chapter gives a marvelous outline of Bonhoeffer’s life. It warms the heart and stretches the mind in preparation for hearing the preached word.

Do You Love Your Customers?

Published: Tuesday, 04 February 2014

Seth Godin Asks ‘Do You Love Your Customers’?

Seth Godin, best selling author and writer of one of the most popular marketing blogs in the world, has posted (3 February 2014) the following article that applies just as much to the church as to the business that you work for or the institution where you study or serve:

There are two ways people think about this:

  • We love our customers because they pay us money. (Inherent here is customers = money = love.)
  • We love our customers, and sometimes there's a transaction.

The second is very different indeed from the first.

In the first case, customers are the means to an end, profit. In the second, the organization exists to serve customers, and profit is both an enabler and a possible side effect.

It's easy to argue that without compensation, there can be no service. Taking that to an extreme, though, working to maximize the short-term value of each transaction rarely scales. If you hoard information, for example, today your prospects will simply click and find it somewhere else. If you seek to charge above average prices for below average products, your customers will discover this, and let the world know. In a free market with plenty of information, it's very hard to succeed merely by loving the money your customers pay you.

I think it's fascinating to note that some of the most successful organizations of our time got there by focusing obsessively on service, viewing compensation as an afterthought or a side effect. As marketing gets more and more expensive, it turns out that caring for people is a useful shortcut to trust, which leads to all the other things that a growing organization seeks.

Your customers can tell.

ABC Down Through the Ages

Published: Friday, 24 January 2014

This year the Ashburton Baptist Church celebrates its 80th anniversary.

We’re looking back with gratitude on those who got us going in the 1930s.

As you think about the church:

What are the areas in which we have changed significantly?

In what areas have we stayed the same while styles have changed?

Think about these questions as you watch this video that depicts 100 years of fashion and dance moves in 100 seconds. This video, that has gone viral, helped to promote the opening of Europe’s largest mall, Westfield Stratford City in the UK.

How did the fashions change among the men and women who attended ABC from the thirties?

Did these different dance steps find expression among the members of ABC or is it enough to state that we’ve changed from a ‘No Dancing’ policy to a time when dancing is not an issue?

Hope you can be part of the celebration this year and share in the constructive change as we help create the future.

Geoff Pound

Raw and Real

Published: Monday, 25 March 2013

A Community Prayer created by Bev Patterson and led by Bev and John in today’s Palm Sunday Service (24 March 2013) at ABC.

palm-sundayFather God

We come to you today with the intention of being real,

Raw and real,

About our world and how it is, about being human and how we can feel.

Today, somewhere in Melbourne, a stroke patient struggles to move her arm, flex her fingers.  The movements that came without a thought yesterday are impossible today, and she cries in frustration at the pain of therapy.

Today, a man reels in the face of redundancy.  After years on the factory floor he has been discarded, shattered to the core of his being.  Now there is the indignity of Centrelink interviews, with a 20-year old (what would sheknow?!) and there simply are no jobs for older workers anyway.

We bring you frustration and despair ---

And we pray for people such as these.

We bring you our own frustration, the times we never seem to win.

Today, somewhere in Melbourne, a man dutifully mows his lawn.  His wife has gone out, with friends he does not know.  Their whole lives are lived apart.  They ‘stay together for the kids’ but have little to say to each other.  There is no-one in whom the man can confide.

Today, a woman newly widowed wanders aimlessly through the house.  The phone does not ring; it is so quiet.  Funny, they’d always bickered about the dog, the rubbish, the remote control – now she’d do anything to hear his voice, any voice.

We bring you loneliness ---

And we pray for people such as these.

We bring you our own loneliness, and the deep connections for which we yearn.

Today, somewhere in Melbourne, a mother lifts her disabled adult son from his bed, to and from the toilet, urges him to swallow from her outstretched spoon.  Hers is the only care he has known, and she will not give him up – but she is so alone, and so so tired.

Today, perhaps in the White House, a leader reflects on national leadership.  The President of the United States worries about the gun culture tearing American communities apart.  They tell him he is the most powerful man in the world, yet he feels impotent - how to move forward against the might of the gun lobby?

The Church as One

Published: Friday, 15 March 2013

This superb poem was read at a recent Communion Service at Ashburton Baptist Church and was written by one of our members, Bev Patterson.

LoafSometimes, at Communion
When all is still – the Spirit hovers.

Do you feel her?
Have you known her calling?

The church kneels,
All equally needy in our need of you.
The purity of silence, and simple companionship,
Social divisions swept away
No pretence now
No performance
No words to cover ourselves

Just you – and the holy touch of your feeding.

Don't rush it!
Don't mar the moment!
Treasure this union all too rare

This, the closest taste of heaven I know.