St David’s Anglican Church in West Hamilton has entered a new partnership with Hamilton's Link Church.
On Sunday March 6, St David's with St George's parishioners joined Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley to welcome Link's 300 members to St David's.
Around 35 St David's parishioners hosted the pōwhiri and service that launched closer relations between the two communities.
A new space-sharing arrangement will bring much-needed income to St David’s, which they hope will lead to creative opportunities for joint community-facing ministry.
The partnership agreement marks a new chapter in the life of West Hamilton’s Anglican community, which faced a bleak picture just under two years ago.
In 2014, the West Hamilton congregation had split over Motion 30, the 2014 General Synod response to the 'Ma Whea' report on same-sex marriage and church leadership.
The majority at West Hamilton left – and those that remained were left with a legacy of debt and deferred maintenance, coupled with great uncertainty about their future.
But Bishop Helen-Ann, who preached at last week's celebration, says that with God's help local Anglicans have shown the gumption to turn a tough situation around.
“St David’s partnership with Link has come about through a series of remarkable conversations and God-inspired coincidences,” she said.
During the launch, Bishop Helen-Ann signalled that the new start sits well in the season of Lent.
“So often we think of salvation beginning and ending in the Cross," she said, “but the story of the Cross begins in the journey of discipleship.
This new partnership is a journey of discipleship, and we give thanks for all that God is doing in our midst."
Matua Pinē Campbell greeted the newcomers on behalf of tangata whenua, backed by Waikato’s ministry educator, the Rev'd Stephen Black, and the Rev'd Phil Wilson, who has cared for St.David's community over the last two years.
Link Church's leadership team welcomed the new relationship, which they see as a ‘weaving together of two communities.’ They hope the pairing will lead to ‘new ways of engaging in God's mission in the city.’
City Link prioritises biculturalism and seeks to uphold Te Ao Māori in all their work, a commitment they bring into this partnership with the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
Bishop Helen-Ann summed up the day this way: “We look forward to all that lies ahead, and give thanks to God for courage, resilience and commitment to our Anglican identity, rooted in our journey of discipleship."