The New Zealand Lay Preachers Association is made up of over 200 lay preachers from mainline churches around New Zealand who have undertaken the training and assessment which has allowed them to be recognised by their respective churches as competent to fill the role of a lay preacher. The NZLPA as an ecumenical body issues certificates to accredited lay preachers which recognises their calling and ability to lead worship. NZLPA also tries to represent the interests of lay preachers, and endeavours to provide a forum for and a source of support for lay preachers. An important part of that role is encouraging the sharing of resources useful to lay preachers. Our quarterly publication of Word & Worship is valued by our members.
The National Executive of the New Zealand Lay Preachers Association is scattered throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand, and meets using Skype and email. Personnel are:
President: Joshua Robertson
Minutes Secretary: Nola Stuart
Correspondence Secretary: Linda Hall
Treasurer/Membership Secretary: Valerie Marshall
Registrar: Hugh Williams
Member: position vacant
Corresponding members: Viv Whimster
Editor, Word & Worship: John Meredith
Editorial Assistant: Jill Meredith
Our History – by Hugh Williams (edited)
The NZ Methodist Local Preachers Association began in 1901 and a Register of Local Preachers (as they were then called) was started. Unfortunately, no record of this remains. The register is believed to have been destroyed by a fire in Christchurch late in
1954. The records of some of the early local preachers can, however, still be found in a Long Service Register. An inscription in beautiful flowing handwriting on the fly-leaf of this heavily bound book reads, ‘At the Annual Meeting of the Association, held in the Cambridge Terrace Church, Christchurch, on the 21st February, 1928, Brother J. Lomas, President, in the chair, the desirability was affirmed of the recognition of the service of Local Preachers for periods exceeding 25 years.’
At the Annual Conference of the Church, held in the Pitt Street Church, Auckland, commencing 21 February 1929, Rev John F Goldie presiding,
It was agreed to grant such recognition in the form of a certificate, to be signed by the President and the Secretary of Conference, together with the President and Secretary of the Local Preachers’ Association.
The executive of the Association has decided that the period of service counted shall be that on “Full Plan” and shall include service in any branch of the Methodist Church. (Minute Book Folios 130 & 1370).
The entries in this book are to be made after verification of the service by the Branch Officials, or by the Superintendent Minister of the Brother concerned and a suitable opportunity taken for public presentation of the Certificate.
Signed by W.F. Stock, Hon. Secy., in Wellington, dated 19th June, 1930.
By the end of the century, a total of 652 entries had been made in this book. A further 100 entries have been made during this century to date.
A new book to record the details of those Local Preachers issued with the Accreditation Certificates was started on 9th December 1954. Its flyleaf was headed
New Zealand Methodist Local Preachers Association Dominion Executive. – Register of Accreditation Certificates issued since 9th December 1954
a) To fully accredited local preachers qualified by written examination and other prescribed tests, in accord with (Section 254 a-c) of the Law Book.
b) To fully accredited local preachers exempted by Preachers, or Quarterly Meeting, from taking the written examinations. (Sec. 254a)
c) To Deaconesses desirous of becoming Local Preachers and accepted by Quarterly Meetings. (Section 254.f.)
This new Register began at Number 0001 again, with no reference to the last record in the previous Register.
It was in 1999 that a new Lay Preacher initiative developed in Christchurch. The National Executive was, at that, time based in that Southern City and they had enjoyed working ecumenically. They promoted the concept of an ecumenical lay preachers’ association, encompassing lay preachers from four churches, Anglican, Churches of Christ, Methodist and Presbyterian, together with Uniting Parishes. The then National President of the Methodist Local Preachers Association came to Wellington and sold the concept to the Wellington Lay Preachers, who brought to a reality the birth of the New Zealand Lay Preachers’ Association.
A report from this new body was presented to the Methodist Conference in 2000. It stated that the Wellington-based executive was commissioned at a special service at Trinity Union Church, Newtown, Wellington on Friday 10th March and contains members from each of the constituent partners:- Ron Malpass (Upper Hutt, Uniting), Vice President (Tawa Union), Secretary, Tom Law (Presbyterian, St. James, Newtown), Treasurer, David Davis (Upper Hutt Uniting), Registrar, Hugh Williams (Johnsonville Uniting), plus Michael Chapman (Anglican), Gloria Hollier (Tawa Union), Alsea Laukau (Tongan Methodist), Rae McHardie (Union), Russell Pitt (Ngaio Union), and Rosalie Sugrue (Kapiti Uniting). The Editor of The Preacher was Garth Cant, Riccarton Methodist.
The Constitution of the new Association allowed for the registering of Lay Preachers who have been approved by their own Denomination, Movement or Co-operating Venture, by accreditation/licensing/approval, in whatever way their Church Court requires, to lead worship and preach the Gospel, following a period of appropriate training. The training must have been both theoretical and practical, with applicants having been assessed and found competent in the conduct of worship. Applicants must have the support of their appropriate Church body. Methodist Accreditation and Long Service Diplomas were re-designed and the new logo of the Association incorporated. All certificates were henceforth to be printed in English.
The position of Editor of the quarterly magazine was taken over by Colin Gibson (right), in Dunedin in 2002, whilst Rosalie Sugrue took over the Presidency. At the Association’s Annual Meeting, held in Linwood Union Church in November 2002, it was decided to change the name of The Preacher to Word & Worship, together with re-formatting the front cover to feature a coloured seasonal photograph, beginning with the Spring 2003 edition. It was at this time (Conference 2003) that the new Methodist Lay Preachers’ Network Executive was set up, in large part because the NZLPA could not be seen to deal with the business of one of its ecumenical partners to the exclusion of any of the others.
In the early part of 2004, the executive of the Association was shifted to Central North Island, under the presidency of Mary Rose, of Putaruru Co-operating Parish, assisted by Mike Templar, of Te Awamutu Presbyterian. The position of Secretary was taken up by Viv Whimster, of Wesley Methodist in Tauranga. The Treasurer was Lynne Pinkerton, of Te Awamutu Methodist, whilst the Registrar remained in Wellington. Other members of the new Executive were:- Nancy Clark, of St. Albans Chartwell Co-operating Parish, Catherine Dickie, of Hamilton East Methodist, John Hall, of Raglan and Esther Mark, of St. John’s Anglican, Otumoetai, plus Professor Colin Gibson, of Mornington Methodist, as the editor of our magazine.
By Autumn, 2008, the Executive had transferred back to Christchurch and was then led by Mary Stanton, of St. Margaret’s Presbyterian Church, with Garth Cant as Secretary and his wife, Elizabeth looking after the recording of members. The Treasurer became Margaret Inglis, of Linwood Avenue Uniting Church, with other members of the team being Helen Buxton, of New Brighton Methodist and Linda Cowan of St. Giles Presbyterian Church. The Registrar and Editor remained, but four new Corresponding Members were elected, these being Lyndsay Jacobs, Barbara Peddie, Janet Teage and Dorothy Willis.
The issue of Word & Worship for Autumn 2012 contained a feature publicising a further change in the form of a shared Presidency and a geographical spread of the executive. Photographs and short biographies of the new presidents, Joy Kingsbury-Aitken and Linda Cowan (who had been involved in Lay Preaching for 20 years in Alexandra and Oamaru, prior to moving to Christchurch), both attending St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Bryndwr, Christchurch, were shown on the reverse of the front cover. Similar brief biographies and photos of the Treasurer, Barbara Little, (Wesley Broadway, Palmerston North), the Secretary, Peter Blake (currently a member of the Palmerston North Central Baptist Church and associated Church of Christ), together with the Registrar, Hugh Williams, (Johnsonville Uniting Church), appeared on the inside of the rear cover.
It was in the Summer of the following year that the editorship of this quarterly magazine passed from Emeritus Professor, Colin Gibson, who has given us so many new hymns and choruses to brighten our services, to John Meredith and his wife, Jillian, of Lincoln.
Last year, another change occurred to the executive, which has led to the most diverse locations possible (except for maybe Stewart Island to Kaitaia), but modern technology, in the form of Skype, has allowed us to have face-to-face meetings regularly. Our President, Pieter Jacobs, lives in Whitby, whilst the Minute Secretary, Nola Stuart, takes note in Riverton, the Treasurer, Valerie Marshall, reports from Christchurch, the Correspondence Secretary, Linda Hall, from Remuera, the Registrar from Wellington and the Samoan Methodist member from New Plymouth. Viv Whimster and Lyndsay Jacobs remain Corresponding Members. The new executive has many new ideas, so it is expected that some changes will become apparent during their four-year term,
Since December 1954, 1,044 Lay Preachers have been issued with Accreditation Certificates, and the Long Service Record book contains the names and service of 755 Lay Preachers, several of whom have exceeded 50 years of service for our Lord.