Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas greetings from KCML

fullsizerender3 I write to offer you Christmas greetings from KCML. Thanks for your support, encouragement, advocacy and input over the 2016 year.

For KCML it has been year of growth. Some highlights include
• The shift of Malcolm Gordon to Dunedin and the blessing of KCML corridors filled with creativity and music
• Six graduating interns from 4 different cultures
• A block course in Wellington for the first time ever
• Four new babies born to the ministry intern cohort
• The first ever Local Ordained Ministry resourcing conference
• A hard-working Faculty who have published 3 books and 2 resources, all engaged with aspects of the church in mission and ministry
• The Christianity and Cultures in Asia lecture series
• A significant increase in funding from Presbyterian Development Society in support of New Mission Seedlings
• The approval of the Thornton Blair Christian Education Research Fellow to guide the development of life-learning
• Two online learning experiments to explore being national in our training
• Partnerships in Alpine and Otago and Southland Presbyteries in establishing New Mission Seedlings.

It has also been a year of challenges. These include
• A new team still learning how to pace ourselves
• A number of our graduating interns as yet unplaced
• The ongoing challenge of living out the bicultural and intercultural commitments of the PCANZ

A recent lectionary Psalm speaks to our highlights and our challenges. In Psalm 67, the Psalmist is full of praise, for God’s face shines. It is an echo of the blessing of Numbers 6:24-26, a God of blessing, protection and grace. For the Psalmist, this blessing applies not to Israel but to all the nations. The potential internal and exclusive focus of Israel is re-shaped by this universal love of God. It is this God that we affirm at KCML and as a church look to celebrate this Christmas.

Thanks for your partnership with us. We’re better together.

May you and yours experience the shining face of grace this Christmas,
 
Steve Taylor

Posted by steve at 04:18 PM

Saturday, December 17, 2016

a moderators re-view of Built for change

builtforchange Here is the 8th review of my book, Built for Change. This one is by Rev Sue Ellis, the current Moderator of the Uniting Church of South Australia. It’s also the first review from the South Australian church community where many of the practical stories in Built for Change took place. So it’s an important authenticity check.

I really liked the way Steve Taylor addressed the changing dimensions of church life in this interesting volume. As a ministry agent involved with growing the church into its new era of life for today’s world, he has picked up the duality of change that goes outward into church life and community and the change that needs to journey inwardly challenging my own beliefs and practices both individually and corporately.

Steve explores some Pauline descriptors of models for change. We need to apply different models for different situations. I identified with his descriptors of at times bring a builder or a servant; a gardener or a parent; a resource manager or fool. I could remember how change I had engaged in had me preferring one of these roles. Living in South Australia, I had seen some of the journeys he described in the Uniting Church. Hence, I was on familiar ground.

The book is well grounded in practical application, but it does need some navigating. Beginning at the end was an initial challenge. I used the book for my ‘breakfast read’ – intentionally digesting its offering for each day. It is a volume I will keep for ready reference, as I believe strongly in the need for creative innovation within western churches.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here. Review 7 by Darren Cronshaw is here.

Posted by steve at 04:28 PM

Friday, December 16, 2016

Seeing Silence: Interdisciplinary perspectives symposium

Friday 7:30 pm, March 17, until 1 pm, Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Venue: Otago University

silence1-e1430835492588

Call for papers: Silence: A Novel (Picador Modern Classics) is a historical novel. Written by Shusako Endo (1923-1999), one of Japan’s foremost novelists, the book offers an absorbing, albeit bleak, meditation on the inability of the seventeenth century Jesuit mission to establish religious change on Japanese soil. It allows us to explore the possibilities and pitfalls when conversion seems fruitless.

The book is currently being made into a movie, directed by Martin Scorsese. Due for New Zealand release on February 17, it stars Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson. Scorsese considers his movie-making an act of prayer, writing “I wanted to be a priest. My whole life has been movies and religion. That’s it. Nothing else” (Detweiler and Taylor 2003: 155).

This symposium welcomes a wide range of disciplinary perspectives on the themes of Silence. Contributors could focus on Silence as film, the history of 17th century Japan, the diversity of indigenous Japanese responses to Christianity and Empire, Jesuit approaches to mission, the ethics and limits of conversion, cross-cultural interactions, the writing of Endo, the missiological and theological challenges presented when faith suffers.

Papers of 20 minutes in length are sought. The deadline for 250 word abstracts is Friday 20th January, 2017. Enquiries and abstracts to Kevin Ward kevin@knoxcentre.ac.nz. Presenters will informed on 31 January, 2017. Papers will be streamed if needed.

Programme (draft):

Friday evening March 17 – Special viewing of Silence and conference meal.

Saturday morning March 18
9-9:45 am Panel discussion: Asian history, film studies, history, missiology (tbc)
9:45 – 10:45 am Papers

Morning tea

11:15 am – 12:15 pm Papers
12:15 -1 pm Concluding comments

The symposium has been timetabled with a view to presenters watching the film after release on February 17 and having time to develop papers for the symposium.

This event is a programme of the Christianity and Cultures in Asia series, sponsored by Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, the Otago University Department of Theology and Religion, and Presbyterian Research Centre.

Posted by steve at 02:07 PM

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Presbytery partnerships

Presbytery partnerships are one of five key directions in the KCML strategic plan.

Presbytery partnerships: KCML wish to establish teaching partnerships with each Presbytery. Each will be individualised, given the unique needs of each Presbytery. They will include shared commitments and timelines around the location of New Mission Seedlings and teaching sites for the National Learning Diploma. This move will help KCML be national, forming intentional training relationships with Presbyteries

In the first half of 2016, Presbytery partnerships involved connection. As Principal, I was invited to speak at six of the seven Presbyteries. I spoke at Alpine Presbytery and two Otago events in April, Central ministers in May, Northern Council and Kaimai Ministers in June, Pacific Island Synod in July. This gave me an opportunity to introduce myself as the new Principal. I also used this time to test pieces of the KCML strategic plan. In particular, this involved sharing about innovation and mission and then hearing the questions and being part of conversation about how this landed.

In the second half of 2016, Presbytery partnerships involved explanation. Once the KCML Strategic plan was approved by Council of Assembly in June, I wrote to each Presbytery. I briefly explained the plan and I asked if I could visit their Council to share the plan and to ask how a partnership could be formally adopted.

The aim is clarity with each Presbytery

  • how together – KCML and Presbytery – to identify training needs and shape a five year plan for training
  • how to strategically discern and work together on planting of New Mission Seedlings

img_4323

Over the last five months, I have had responses and been able to engage five of the seven Presbytery Councils. My last visit for this 2016 year was this week, when I spent over two hours with Pacific Island Synod. These face to face visits are important step in developing these partnerships. Each Presbytery is unique, and so each visit has been unique. The questions are always different. Different parts of the plan excite different Presbyteries. The pace of developing a partnership will be different for each Presbytery. That is good, because KCML can’t do everything at once. It also means we can run experiments and learn as we go.

Theological Colleges are not ivory towers who (theoretically) know best. Rather, we are shared partners with the church in seeking the mission of God. At the heart of Presbytery partnerships is a desire to practise shared discernment in mission and training.

Posted by steve at 04:31 PM

Friday, December 09, 2016

Coming to our Senses: the spirituality of wine national tour

Coming to our Senses: KCML and partners events in February 2017.

881875-405245-34

Do wine and faith have anything to do with each other? What is the place of wine and wine-making in the Christian tradition? Jesus told parables about wine and vineyards and used wine at weddings and the Last Supper to demonstrate his message. Yet is wine anything more than a symbolic item within Christian spirituality? As New Zealand continues to grow in stature as a producer of quality wines and wine becomes a stronger cultural feature, is it time to awake to the senses: to gather around the table, and reclaim this gift of creation?

Annual KCML Public Lecture – Coming to our senses with author and researcher, Dr. Gisela Kreglinger. This public lecture addresses the interface between Christian faith and everyday life practices. It is part of an initiative of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, of the Presbyterian Church. 2017′s lecture will tackle a matter that many Presbyterians historically viewed with suspicion. (The lecture in Dunedin is a stand alone event. In Auckland and Wellington the lecture is combined with a tasting).

Dunedin: Tuesday 7th February, 5:15 -6 pm. Free, Cameron Hall, KCML, 6 Arden Street, Opoho.
Auckland: Monday 13th February, 5:45-8 pm. $30 book through Eventfinda, Maclaurin Chapel
Wellington: Friday 17th February, 5:45-7:45 pm, St Johns in the City. $20 Door sales (tbc).

Wine tasting, light food and reflections – The Spirituality of wine with Dr. Gisela Kreglinger. In a unique blend of talk and tasting, participants will sample wines, learn about the Biblical history and spiritual significance of wine, and explore whether wine can be taken seriously as part of a recovery of the senses in Christian spirituality. (The tasting in Dunedin is a stand alone event. In Auckland and Wellington the tasting is combined with the lecture).

Dunedin: Tuesday 7th February, 6:15 -7:45 pm. $20 door sales, Hewitson Library, 6 Arden Street, Opoho.
Auckland: Monday 13th February, 5:45-8 pm. $30 book through Eventfinda), Maclaurin Chapel
Wellington: Friday 17th February, 5:45-7:45 pm, St Johns in the City, $20 Door sales (tbc).

Workshop – Creation and Holistic Christian Living with Dr. Gisela Kreglinger. When God blessed creation and declared it good, what were the implications for Christian discipleship? This workshop will explore practical implications for cultivating everyday gifts of creation. It will engage theologians of creation, including Jurgen Moltmann, Wendell Berry and Richard Bauckham and pay particular attention to the ways that the Christian doctrine of creation shapes everyday practices and builds stronger communities.

Dunedin: Wednesday 8th February, 10-12:30 pm, $20 at door, Frank Nicol Room, 6 Arden Street, Opoho.
Auckland: Monday 13th February, 10-12:30 pm. $20 at door, Carey Baptist College, 473 Great South Road.
Wellington: Friday 17th February, 10-12:30 pm. $20 Door sales, St Johns in the City.

Enquiries: principal@knoxcentre.ac.nz

Who is Dr Gisela Kreglinger? Gisela Kreglinger grew up on a family-owned winery in Franconia, Germany where her family has been crafting wine for many generations. She holds a Ph.D. in Theology from St Andrews University and in her recent book, The Spirituality of Wine (2016), Gisela has woven together her passions for Christian spirituality and the created gift of wine. Gisela has offered lectures, talks and tasting in restaurants, vineyards, churches and seminaries in the USA and the UK.

“Food, and perhaps even more so wine, has always been a powerful instrument of mediation between humanity and the divine. Gisela Kreglinger offers a fascinating and in-depth exploration of the intricate relationship between wine and Christian spirituality.” – Carolo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement.

“In Kreglinger’s hand’s wine becomes a key to a spirituality that rejects false dualisms of matter and spirit and inspires the healing of the earth on the way to God’s new creation of all things.” – Richard Bauckham, Professor Emeritus, University of St Andrews.

Posted by steve at 02:28 PM

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Arrival: an (Advent) film review

ticket-1543115-640x480 Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 120 plus films later, here is the review for December 2016.

Arrival
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”
Dr Louise Banks

Western culture tends to think in straight lines. We imagine a linear future getting brighter. Arrival invites us to think in circles and examine the consequences.

We begin with Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams), grieving the death of her teenage daughter, Hannah. We end before the beginning, in the tender love within which Hannah is formed. The plot’s circular nature makes sense given the internal linguistic developments.

Banks is a gifted linguist. She is asked by the US military to establish communication with twelve alien spaceships that have suddenly arrived and positioned themselves around the globe. Taking a risk and drawing from the mathematical insights of fellow scientist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Banks begins to realize the aliens communicate in a circular form. It is a way of thinking that can only be grasped when the end of the sentence is understood before the beginning. The discovery enables Banks to not only avert a global conflict, but also make sense of her personal life. Hence the circular and philosophical logic of her question: “If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”

The result is a plot that sustains both emotion connection and intellectual curiosity. A strong emotional narrative is generated, first in the joy shared between Banks and her growing daughter, second in the grief as Hannah succumbs to cancer. The alien presence and the resulting linguistic puzzle, offers a pleasing set of interlocking intellectual plot-circles.

Arrival is directed by Canadian, Denis Villeneuve, three-times a winner of the Genie Award for Best Direction. The film is an adaptation of Tony Chang’s Story of Your Life. Chang, American born of Chinese descent, has written fifteen short stories, gaining a string of literary awards (including four each of the prestigious Nebula, Hugo and Locus Awards).

As we approach Christmas, it is interesting to lay Arrival alongside the Christian understandings of a baby in whom is God. In other words, the arrival of mystery comes not in alien technology spread around the globe but in the vulnerability of a baby born in a particular Jewish stable.

Unraveling this mysterious communication from another place is not the domain of gifted linguists. Rather, it is for those who let the children come. The Christian God of Christmas speaks not in complex linguistic forms, but in baby babble. It brings to mind the words of the twentieth century’s most famous theologian Karl Barth. When asked to sum his whole life’s theology in one sentence, his reply was more circular than linear. “Jesus loves me, this I know.” It is a response in which complexity and mystery are enfolded in love. Such is the understanding of revelation present in the Christmas “arrival.”

Rev Dr Steve Taylor is Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Dunedin. He is the author of Built for change (Mediacom: 2016) and The Out of Bounds Church? (Zondervan: 2005) and writes widely in areas of theology and popular culture, including regularly at www.emergentkiwi.org.nz.

Posted by steve at 06:54 PM

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Research: Praying in crisis and the implications for chaplains

tear on cheek Our research data on how churches respond to crisis got a second airing today, at the Chaplaincy in Aotearoa New Zealand conference. (The abstract of our paper is below.) It was good to co-present with research collaborator Lynne Taylor and we were grateful to the conference presenters for giving us the space. It is the second presentation in the space of a few weeks, having presented at the Resourcing Ministers day to around 120 Presbyterian ministers as part of General Assembly 2016 in November.

The data set we are working with includes over 8,800 words of description regarding how over 150 churches prayed on the Sunday after the Paris tragedy. It means there is a lot we could talk about! Today, with a different audience, the presentation took on a different life. As part of the presentation, we also offered a takeaway resource, 8 examples of different ways that churches had prayed in crisis, including a brief commentary from Lynne and I as co-authors.

Being chaplains, and being a smaller group, the questions and matters of engagement were very different.

  • First, the complexity of us. There was affirmation of the theological reflection we had done in terms of noting the complexity of praying “forgive us our sins”; “deliver us from evil.” There is a need to think carefully about who is the “us” as we come in lament and intercession.
  • Second, from the field of mental health chaplaincy, the importance of being sensitive to the re-living of trauma. Particular care needs to be taken in the use of images, given the power of the visual to trigger past pain. So the affirmation of those examples that used the auditory, rather than the visual, in providing ways for people to pray in crisis.
  • Third, the importance of prayers for others including prayers not only for victims, but also for perpetrators of crime. This again, from a mental health chaplain, noting the importance of ensuring prayer was real and engaged the complexity of life.
  • Fourth, the difficulty of praying for crisis in religious communities that lack a tradition, and thus a set of established and well-worn resources.
  • Fifth, the enormous value of this type of research, in helping those who minister, to reflect on what they pray. This is a different, yet very life-giving type of research, that celebrates ministry and encourages the seeking of best practice.

Having now aired the data twice, in two different settings, and had the affirmation of the relevance and importance of the data, it is definitely time to seek an avenue for publication. But after Lynne has finished her PhD!

Praying in crisis: the implications for chaplains from an empirical study of how local churches respond to global events

Steve Taylor and Lynne Taylor

Chaplains often find themselves as a Christian presence in the midst of crisis. This can present a particular set of challenges regarding how to speak of the nature of God and humanity in tragedy. How to think of faith in the midst of unexpected suffering? What resources might Christian ministry draw upon?

One common resource is that of prayer. Given lex orandi, lex credendi (the rule of praying is the rule of believing) such prayers – or lack thereof – can be examined as the articulation of a living practical theology.

In the week following Sunday, 15 November, 2015, empirical research was conducted into how local churches pray. An invitation to participate in an online survey was sent to pastoral leaders in two New Zealand denominations: Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Baptist Churches of New Zealand. An invitation to participate was also posted on social media. The date was significant because on Friday, 13 November, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris. At the same time, a number of other tragedies occurred, including bombings in Beirut and Baghdad.

Over 150 survey responses were received. In the midst of global tragedy, how had the church prayed? What might be learnt from these moments of lex orandi, lex credendi? This paper will address these questions. It will outline the resources used and the theologies at work. Particular attention will be paid to the curating of “word-less space”, given the widespread use of non-verbal elements in the data. The implications for those who pray in tragedy will be considered, with particular attention to the ministry of chaplaincy.

Posted by steve at 05:59 PM