Friday, June 08, 2018

Listening in mission resource (for Friday, Monday, Tuesday)

Unknown-20 For those attending the Listening in Mission workshop and for the sake of the environment, here is a copy of the KCML Resource (Assignment Reading neighbourhood).

Posted by steve at 08:01 PM

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Innovation and congregations: Built for change (for Thursday, Monday)

My first teaching session in Scotland, for the Church of Scotland – is titled Innovation and Congregations. I’ve been asked to offer Biblical, theological and spiritual resources, drawing from my Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration book.

For those attending the workshop and for the sake of the environment (or technology preferences), want an electronic copy, here is a copy of my note – Innovation and congregations: Built for change Thursday workshop.

Posted by steve at 09:49 AM

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Call for papers: CHRISTIANITY AND THE ARTS IN ASIA

A project I’ve been involved with as part of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership for last 2 years – now stepping it up

CALL FOR PAPERS: CHRISTIANITY AND THE ARTS IN ASIA

A Symposium
September 28-29, 2018
University of Otago, Dunedin

Art is an essential dialogue partner for Christian faith. From earliest times, art has given expression to Christian faith. It is a means of contextual theological expression and enriches understandings of doctrine and practice. Art has also served to offer critique of Christian faith.  
  
The Christianity and Cultures in Asia Network calls for papers that reflect on art and Christian faith in Asian cultures. Themes could include:
 
• How has art in Asia expressed, interpreted and challenged Christian faith?
• How might Christian doctrines be uniquely expressed through Asian art and Asian art forms?
• Can art from Asia shed light on the complex and continually contested relationship between art and faith, including interpretation, authority, hermeneutics and performance? 
• How might art in Asia give new insight into biblical texts?

Art is interpreted broadly, including architecture, music, literature, painting, visual media, sculpture, dance, and calligraphy.  Presentations that include art are particularly welcomed. This symposium follows the successful symposium on the movie Silence held in March 2017. All abstracts will be blind peer reviewed. 
 
The Christianity and Cultures in Asia Network is a partnership between the Theology Programme at the University of Otago, the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, and the Presbyterian Research Centre at Knox College, Dunedin. The Symposium will encourage use of two substantial collections of print resources held by the Presbyterian Research Centre, the Rita Mayne England collection on Christianity in Asia, and the Chrysalis Seed collection on Christianity and the Arts.
 
Please submit paper proposals not exceeding 500 words by July 2nd 2018.
Presentations will be 30mins in duration followed by discussion.

Proposals should be submitted to: murray.rae@otago.ac.nz

Posted by steve at 07:21 PM

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Film review: Mary Magdalene

Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 135 plus films later, here is the review for May 2018.

Mary Magdalene
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

“Mary Magdalene” the movie was my Maundy Thursday religious experience. It provides rich Gospel reflection, whether watched pre- or post-Easter.

The reputation of Mary Magdalene was ruined by Pope Gregory, who in 591 preached a sermon (Homily 33) that wrongly called her a prostitute. Sadly he never bothered to correct his homiletical error. Mary Magdalene, the second most mentioned woman in the Gospels, became tarred by the church with a label neither deserved nor Biblical. In the Gospel, Mary is introduced in Luke 8:2, named alongside Joanna and Susanna as one who journeys with Jesus.

In Luke 7:37, an unnamed woman who “lived a sinful life” anoints Jesus. Quite how an unnamed sinful woman became, in the homily of Pope Gregory, a named prostitute named Mary has never been made clear. Nor why it took the Catholic Church over 1500 years to clarify a Papal mistake. But on 3 June, 2016, the Catholic church finally relented. Pope Francis gave Mary a feast day, to honour her witness as the first to give testimony to the Risen Jesus.

“Mary Magdalene” is an imaginative response, locating Mary alongside Jesus on the journey toward Jerusalem. Woman are portrayed as leaders and learners, baptisers and blessers. The scene in which Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) follows Mary (Rooney Mara) down a long mountain track to a well, all the while protesting that he understands Jesus’ (Joaquin Phoenix) commands better than she does, is a moment that will find many a woman nodding in sympathy. The teaching of Jesus in relation to forgiveness is sensitively applied in relation to women’s experience of rape and gender violence. Mary’s intuition becomes a source of revelation, honouring different ways of knowing that are essential in Christian discipleship. In other words, the movie celebrates what women bring to the mission of God.

Jesus movies are difficult to direct, given an ending that is well-known. Director Garth Davis animates a predictable plot by a powerful portrayal of the first century Roman rule. A sequence of economic injustices are artfully woven into the life histories that shape the call of disciples. Thankfully, and unlike The Last Temptation, the movie avoids any sexualisation of the relationship between Mary and Jesus. The result is a dignifying both of love and gender.

The only blemish is an ending which seems to draw from the Gnostic Gospel of Mary. The Gospel of Mary was discovered in Egypt in 1896. It was not made public until 1955. The most complete text still misses ten pages, including a section from after the Resurrection in which Mary moves from sharing her firsthand experience of Jesus to an ecstatic vision. This missing section seems to resource “Mary Magdalene.” The result is a blurring of lived experience and ecstatic vision and a weakening of the claims for historical accuracy so carefully built in the pre-crucifixion narrations of first century Roman economic exploitation.

Despite this post-Resurrection wobble, the Jesus that emerges is a rich embrace of justice-seeking activist and contemplative: an Easter Jesus worth following, whether first century peasant or twenty-first century #metoo activist.

Posted by steve at 09:53 PM

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Built for change UK trip June 2018

Assembly hall nwb photo credit Bob White I’m in the United Kingdom for 2 weeks early June, working with the Church of Scotland and presenting a paper at the 3rd U2 conference in Belfast. The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand has a partner relationship with the Church of Scotland and it will be good to embody that relationship, reflecting with them on innovation, mission and change.

My itinerary is as follows:

I fly into London on Monday, 4 June and train to Glasgow on Tuesday the 5th.

Thurs 7th June, Glasgow – Built For Change: Biblical, Theological and Spiritual Resources for enabling change within congregations (open to all)

Fri 8th June, Glasgow – Listening In Mission/Mission Seedlings (open to all)

Mon 11th June, Edinburgh – Built for Change: Enabling Change At Regional and National Levels (nomination and invite only)

Tues 12th June, Edinburgh – Initial Ministerial Training – critical reflections on downunder models (invite only)

Tues 12th June, Edinburgh – Listening In Mission/Mission Seedlings (open to all)

Wed 13th June, I fly to Belfast and am there until Friday 15th June, at the U2 conference reflecting on the role of popular music in shaping culture. My paper is Friday morning, 8:45 am – The endings of Pop).

I fly out of London back to New Zealand on Saturday, 16 June.

I’m grateful to Doug Gay, Principal of Trinity College, Glasgow University, for making the trip possible. At a personal level, I’m looking forward to escaping a Dunedin winter. I’m also really interested in seeing how my book, Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration will resonate in the Northern Hemisphere context. I deliberately wrote with a down-under publisher, in order to reflect from my context. So taking the ideas half-way around the world to see how they play will be really interesting.

Posted by steve at 03:26 PM

Monday, May 14, 2018

Can those fines: graced redemption in a modern space

An email a few weeks ago from the University library. With winter approaching, it was an invitation to bring an item for a food bank. In exchange, a library fine forgiven.

· If you pop into one of the University Libraries in Dunedin AND
· Bring an item fit for human consumption for the Dunedin Student Associations’ food banks
· We will waive your fines (up to $30).

can those fines I pondered the grace. A call to participate in making the world a better place. In exchange, redemption, as my shame (a library fine), was redeemed.

A lesson for all those who seek to communicate. The easy way is to point the finger, to name the blame. Such is the cry of fundamentalism.

The sliding way is to ignore the sin. “Don’t judge me” is the cry of tolerance. Yet, as London Grammar remind us, truth is a beautiful thing.

“Miles and miles on my own
Walk with shame, I follow on

You’ll be on your knees and struggle under the weight
Oh, the truth would be a beautiful thing
Oh, the truth is a beautiful thing” (Truth Is A Beautiful Thing)

Hence the intriguing way is to invite me to participate anew in mission, in ways that name my shame, all the while immersing it in grace.

“Can those fines” did that. It was graced redemption in a modern space, a lesson in speaking the gospel.

Posted by steve at 10:18 PM

Thursday, May 03, 2018

one word: emotional in multiple textures of action

In beginning to prepare for the U2 Conference in Belfast and my Endings of Pop: Benediction, Lullaby or Lament? presentation, some writing this week, as I read the fascinating Ed Pavlic, Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners alongside U2′s Wake up Dead Man.

The argument in Who Can Afford to Improvise? is that song lyrics function uniquely. They might be words, but they are never prose. First, they are received as an experience. They act to hold “our attention to physical and emotional textures woven in the rhythms of the utterance itself” (7). Second, they disrupt. They are a “musical interruption of the report-function usually assigned to what is called prose.” (7) In analysing lyrics, one must consider both physical and emotional textures and the “multiple possibilities, distinct tonalities that communicate at several simultaneous levels” (7-8). This helps as we consider the ending of Pop [Explicit], in the form of “Wake Up Dead Man.”

The emotional texture is enriched by the bridge, in which the one word “listen” is repeated eight times. “Listen” is the one word lyric that is disrupting time. The song is moving on, yet in that moving, the same word of action is repeated.

The listening is one word, but in the one word, sustained by repetition, is a complex set of repeated actions, of “multiple possibilities”, of “to” and “over” and “through” and “as”: Listen “to” (your words; the reed). Listen “over” (the rhythm of confusion; the radio hum, the sounds of blades, marching bands). Listen “through” (the traffic). Listen “as” (hope and peach march). The “to” is twice, the “over” is four, the “through” and “as” are once each. The one action – of listening – is actually four actions – to, over, through and as. This is a demanding understanding of humanity, and the complexity of engaging suffering. In the face of the physical action of suffering, there are multiple emotional textures and a complex range of response.

Posted by steve at 03:44 PM

Monday, April 30, 2018

Lest we forget: Anzac beginnings through the words of Kingmaker Wiremu Tamihana

I preached at the Knox Chapel Anzac service this weekend. The Bible readings were Ephesians 2 and Psalm 23. I looked at Anzac beginnings through Australian eyes and the words of Maori chief, Wiremu Tamihana (whom I researched through much of last year). This opened up a reflection on Ephesians 2 and New Zealand mission history. I finished with the tekoteko of Te Maungarongo, Jesus the ancestor.

“The most remarkable Anzac sermon I’ve ever heard” commented an Emeritus Professor of Law. “Outstanding” commented a University Chancellor. So here it is … (more…)

Posted by steve at 09:56 PM

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Endings of Pop #U2lyricbingo

This is my 100 word summary for the U2 Conference: Belfast.

The Endings of Pop: Benediction, Lullaby or Lament?
Rev. Dr. Steve Taylor
Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Knox College
Dunedin, New Zealand

U2 are performance artists. They shuffle songs, insert visuals and craft snippets, in the name of peace. This helps us understand “WUDM”, the song ending Pop. The album begins with discoteque – everybody having a good time – yet ends with profanity-laced lyrics of divine absence. Live, during Popmart, “WUDM” is performed as ending. Is this benediction, an invoking of divine sending? Yet midway through Elevation, “WUDM” is played mid-show. Located between “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “One,” is this lament? How might such performances contrast with lullaby-like “MLK,” another album ending song for a dead man? This talk includes #U2lyricbingo

The 300 word summary is here. Me, looking happy with my latest U2 publication, is here.

Posted by steve at 09:33 PM

Monday, April 16, 2018

Black Panther film review

Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 135 plus films later, here is the review for April 2018.

Black Panther
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

Black Panther is breaking box office records. Five consecutive weekends at number one leave the movie poised to become the highest grossing superhero film in American history. Commercial success is being accompanied by a wave of critical praise for the way the movie portrays people of colour. This includes the portrayal of Africans as culturally diverse and technologically superior and a dialogue in which white people are named as colonisers.

It is worth repeating: a superhero character gaining critical acclaim for advancing cultural diversity. In other words, the representations of pop culture are deemed to carry culture-making power.

The Black Panther has a past. Marvel Comics cartoonists Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the character in July 1966. The first superhero of African descent in mainstream American popular culture, the comic hero possessed super powers. The Panther’s powers – of strength, speed, stamina and sensory perceptions – were enhanced by access to advanced technology, a mystical precious metal, vibranium, available only in the fictional African nation of Wakanda.

The Black Panther as a Marvel comic character lasted through six volumes. Many of the key characters from the first four volumes are skillfully woven into Black Panther the movie. These include the Black Panther/ T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his technologically gifted scientist sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). They also include his enemies, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the first attracted by his greed for vibranium, the other by an unresolved grievance with T’Challa and the leaders of Wakanda.

This means that alongside the super hero action scenes and the visual richness generated by the rich palate of African cultures is a plot that explores a rich set of essential ethical questions. One involves the consequences when grievance remains repressed. A second is the question of who is my neighbor. Wakanda has vibranium. Yet if you have resource, do you arm the oppressed? Or do you enact social compassion. Hence a final scene, in which Africans begin doing social outreaching in America. Which generates a final ethical question. Can money and technology be deployed in ways that reverse colonization?

The questions generated by comic and cinema popular culture are given an edge by the real time American history being referenced by the Black Panther title. Some five months after Marvel introduced the comic character, a real life Black Panther Party was founded in California. Co-incidence? Or another example of popular culture creating culture?

The Black Panther Party began by enacting social outreach, including free breakfasts for school children and community health clinics. In time, it sought to take up arms against an oppressor and was linked to police fatalities in 1967 and 1968. Hence the big screen movie conflict between T’Challa and Killmonger echo real time questions about black consciousness and how the oppressed might seek liberation.

The result is a movie to be enjoyed, whether you are seeking action, cultural complexity or social debate. And a reminder: that the pop culture world of comics and movies is a powerful culture-maker, busy addressing real time realities.

Posted by steve at 02:30 PM

Friday, April 13, 2018

Fa’afetai Hibiscus and Ruthless: film review

Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 135 plus films later, here is the review for March 2018.

Fa’afetai Hibiscus and Ruthless
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

A year on from the Hollywood-isation of Pacific cultures that is Moana (see review in Touchstone February 2017), Hibiscus and Ruthless offers rich intercultural film making. Told with humour and generosity, this is cinema that engages the contemporary complexities inherent in coming of age in multi-cultural New Zealand today.

Thematically this a film about the intergenerational pressures of education. New Zealand born Samoan director, Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa describes how classic Samoan parenting prioritises learning. But a message sent with concern – “Whatever you do, do it well” – is not always heard as a message love. For Hibiscus (Suivai Pilisipi Autagavaia), aided by her childhood, Palangi, friend Ruth (Anna-Maree Thomas nicknamed “Ruthless”), Samoan parenting is received as a strict set of rules.

Central to Hibiscus and Ruthless is the kitchen table. It marks time and sets boundaries. Every New Year’s Eve, while the neighbours celebrate with fireworks, Hibiscus’ household gather around the table to hear the message of proper planning. Salamasina, the mother, lays down the rules: work hard, pass University, organise family weddings and stay away from boys.

Every day ends with a cup of tea, shared around the same table. As the rules are strained by the enterprising Samoan men interested in Hibiscus, the dynamics around the family table become increasingly tense. In the growing void of words, silence preaches volumes.

Hibiscus and Ruthless is the second film directed by Stallone Vaiaoga- Ioasa. His first, Three Wise Cousins (2016) was self-funded. A single film trailer, the strength of Pacific networks and the power of Facebook ensured a box office success. The profits that resulted were invested in Hibiscus and Ruthless.

Hibiscus and Ruthless is made, set and shot in New Zealand, all within fourteen days. With little fanfare, we are reminded of the diversity of Auckland, from the University campus and Albert Park, to the volcanic cones and Onehunga Foreshore. While Auckland is present, what is surprisingly absent around the family table are Samoan men. Hibiscus is parented by woman, her mother Salamasina (Lafitaga Mafaufau) and grandmother (Yvonne Maea-Brown).

Religion is present, albeit in dialogue rather than visual iconography or characterisation. We are spared the bro’Town stereotypes of angry ministers preaching moralism. Instead, Ruth offers what is a common secular critique, in which the missionaries bring Jesus, only for Samoan’s to have their Sunday’s stolen for the entirety of their lives. A line comically delivered, it diminishes the social and identity forming role played by the church in Samoan culture, in which faith is entwined with family and feasting.

Most gratifying is the applause that Hibiscus and Ruthless is gaining from my Samoan colleagues, particularly Pacific woman. The accurate portrayal, mixed with the easy humour, is making the kitchen table, a place of tension in Hibiscus and Ruthless, a post movie place of intergenerational conversation. For gifts of humour, the unhibited acting of Anna-Maree Thomas and Vaiaoga-Ioasa’s passion for film, I say fa’afetai (thankyou).

Posted by steve at 08:37 PM

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

words sneak

Words sneak. Quietly they steal away from the page. In the dark of night, they make their way over fences and across borders. They swim oceans and sidestep continents.

On Monday, waiting for an appointment in Mt Eden, I checked a website and noted an article on teaching U2 at Nebraska Wesleyan University, USA.

To prepare students for analyzing this performance, I ask them to read “’Bullet the Blue Sky’ as an Evolving Performance” by Steve Taylor from Scott Calhoun’s Exploring U2: Is This Rock ‘n’ Roll?: Essays on the Music, Work, and Influence of U2 (2012). Taylor examines the different meanings of “Bullet The Blue Sky” over the years, from The Joshua Tree album (U.S. involvement in Central America in the 1980s) and how the song is adapted for new audiences and issues, such as during its Slane Castle performance in U2 Go Home (global arms trade in the 2000s). (more here).

IMG_6133 Words that I wrote about U2, for Exploring U2: Is This Rock ‘n’ Roll?: Essays on the Music, Work, and Influence of U2, sneaking across oceans, to be read by University students in USA.

On Monday, sitting at a bus stop, waiting for public transport to Queen Street, I see a tweet.

“My copies of this book awaited me at Ferney, very well written, beautiful theological, ecumenical and personal approach to the role of collaboration in the leadership of innovation. Nice work on 1 Cor 3 and 4 and concerning the example of Peguy – Jane Stranz (Translated from French).

book Words that I wrote about innovation and leadership, in Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration, finding life in Europe.

On Tuesday, returning from Auckland to my office in Dunedin, a parcel awaits me from the United Kingdom. Inside, a book, compliments of the publisher, in which is a poem that I wrote.

published poet Words that I offered as prayer at a book launch in Australia back in 2013, heard by someone present, passed onto a Sister of Nazareth, woven into a foreword for a Catholic publication.

Over the last months, I’ve often wondered why I wrote. With two journal articles due on the same day at the beginning of March, I’ve faced some long days and late evenings. There’s been a cost – days in lieu consumed by editing, evenings strapped to a desk.

Today I’m reminded that once written, words sneak. Poetic, academic, life reflective: they cross borders and leaps oceans, they play tag around denominations and juggle past different faith systems. Today I’m grateful that words sneak and to all those – authors, publishers, copy editors, reviewers, readers, tweeters, bloggers – who care for words.

Posted by steve at 09:09 PM

Thursday, March 22, 2018

preaching to a burgled church

Last weekend I was preaching at a local church. I arrived in the morning to the news that the church auditorium had been burgled overnight. The sound system and data projector were gone. With the Police on the way to dust for fingerprints, there was no way the auditorium could be used.

broken-window-1501606 (not an actual picture of the actual burglary)

The church had a hall and with 15 minutes to go, I suddenly not only had a whole group of strangers to meet and greet for the first time. I also had a church service to re-jig. My preparation had included a number of creative moments that relied on the now absent sound system and data projector:

  • the use of three art images to illuminate the Lectionary text, to be shown via the data projector
  • a digital file of a song for during the offering
  • a digital file of a song for the end of the service
  • a responsive contemporary Immigrants Creed

In addition, there was a hall to set up, along with the range of emotions that would be present. Which meant some rapid mental reshuffling and some interesting learnings.

First, at the beginning, the value of humour and a settling prayer.  As we began, I introduced myself, noted the burglary and that as a result, this would be a service I would never forget. So could we pause and in this new and unsettling space, take a moment to gather ourselves.  I then named some of the emotions running through me and invited God to be present. Doing this provided some instant connection and a sense of solidarity.

Second, at the end, as a key leader in the church stood to thank me for the worship and sermon, the comment was made “It is good to be reminded we don’t need a building in order to worship.”   In other words, the enforced shift provided an experience in which the shared realisation could emerge – that worship does not rely on bricks and mortar.

Third, thank goodness for hymn books. Yes, all the words for sung worship had been carefully loaded ready for data projection and these could no longer be used. But a stack of hymn books meant that we soon had something to sing. More importantly, everyone had something to hold, something familiar. This gave a sense of comfort. It also meant that the absence of the digital songs I had planned for the offering and the end of the service could be quietly dropped.

Fourth, the enforced shift made it easy to implement immediate change.  I was suddenly no longer the visiting speaker but the leader in an unfamiliar space. “How do you want the chairs?” was the first question. “Ah, circle please” I said, not sure if this was allowed. But in a new space, with no tradition, the churches were quickly arranged in a lovely relational, intimate arc. They say you need to build relationship in order to implement change. Well not in a burglary. So never waste a good crisis. Use it to enact different patterns of connecting.

Fifth, the value of being up close.  When it came time for the worship by considering three art images that illuminated the lectionary text, I announced that because of plan B – B for burglary, I would show three art images by walking around with my laptop.  I asked that a hymn be played quietly, and invited people waiting for the images to enjoy the music.  As I walked among the chairs, I noticed people leaning forward to look at my laptop. There was body movement, in a different way than if the images had been on a big screen. There was also often spontaneous comments, like “that’s the best one” or “is that a baby?”  When I mentioned the art images later in my sermon, I included these spontaneous comments, pointing to people and saying “you were right, it was a baby.”  Being up close invited a different type of bodily engagement in the act of seeing and contemplating, along with a set of interactions between myself and those present. All of this enhanced the sense of connection.

There was certainly truth in my observation that this would be a service I would never forget. It was a great morning. The burglary enabled a very different sort of worship experience, one which might in fact be remarkably useful for a church needing to continue to change.

Posted by steve at 09:24 PM

Thursday, March 15, 2018

theology and church as an actor in development

Unknown-11

One of my current projects involves responding to editorial reviewer comments on an article I’m writing on theological education and development. The article began as a paper I presented, with Phil King, at a conference on Christianity and Development between New Zealand and the Pacific in June 2016. I saw this as an opportunity to get to know the story of a key partner church and helping me think more wholistically about theological education in general.

Following the paper presentation, the spoken paper was turned into a written paper and submitted in May 2017. It is one thing to talk. It is another to set out your thoughts over 6,000 words as it tests the logic of an argument over an extended period. The written paper was accepted, subject to my responding satisfactorily to reviewer comments, for Sites Journal of social anthropology and cultural studies of the Pacific Region. It is scheduled for release in 2019. It will be good to be taking theology in an anthropology and cultural studies space.

Editorial review is a wonderful thing, for it ensures allows thinking to gain critical engagement. Horizons are broadened in terms of reading and as the forest is sifted from the trees. In responding to reviewer comments, I start by categorising them as major and minor. I then create a table, in order to note the work I need to do and provide an account to the editors of how I’m responding. Here is the table for this piece of work, as at 12 March.

taluapaperedits

So the last few weeks I have been working away. Here is some writing from today …

Helen Gardner (“Praying for Independence. The Presbyterian Church in the Decolonisation of Vanuatu,’ The Journal of Pacific History, 48:2, 2013, 122-143) argues that Presbyterianism is structured in ways that enhanced its ability to be an actor in development and decolonisation. A Presbyterian church is structured with a national assembly, regional presbyteries and local congregations and these result in a cohesive interwoven identity, encourage individual capacity building and ensure an alertness to context. An interwoven identity is possible, given the interplay between national, regional and local bodies. For Gardner, Presbyterianism is a way of organising that “transcended village and island boundaries … a political form that translated readily to the standards of contemporary democracy” (128). Each body (assembly, presbytery, congregation) has a shared governance group and these provide individuals with opportunities to develop administrative and political skills. The result was that ministers were able to play a significant role in a newly independent Vanuatu (Gardner, 142). An interwoven set of governance groupings enables grassroots voices to be heard. In Vanuatu this “allowed the [church] openly to back the call for independence, as decisions were made from the body of the church rather than imposed by a church hierarchy” (Gardner, 128).

Posted by steve at 10:07 AM