A great evening last week in Parliament saw 6 Unsung Heroes awards presented and special thanks expressed to host Eric Roy (retiring after first entering parliament in 1993) and awards co-presenter Ross Robertson (also retiring, after 27 years in parliament).
The category winners were:
Secularism – Simon Greening, CEO of Churches Education Commission
Marriage and Family – David and Jean Moore, founders of the STEPS programme
Value of Life – Marina Young, founder of the Buttons Project
Missional Living – Mt Tabor Trust, founded in 1978 by Irene Hogan, Lorraine Popple and John Hill
Special category awards were presented for:
Unity and Mission – Bruce and Jinny Patrick (in memoriam)
Te Rongopai 1814-2014 – Stuart and Christine Lange (in memoriam)
Special thanks was expressed to:
Eric Roy (National MP since 1993)
Ross Robertson (Labour MP since 1987)
Following are the actual citations:
Stuart and Christine Lange (in memoriam) Our first award tonight is to a couple who have served God together for nearly 40 years, – in their marriage and family and ministry. Christine was a devoted wife and mother, active in church ministry and leadership, and a tower of strength and support for her husband Stuart. Stuart is a devoted husband and father, a lecturer in church history, an ordained church minister, and a member of NZ Christian Network’s board.
But he is increasingly known as the man who over the past 3 years produced the Te Rongopai DVD.
During this time Christine was his number one supporter, despite being very ill with cancer, which she was first diagnosed with at age 33, and which finally ended her life on earth just two weeks ago. If Stuart were with us today, he would say “To God be all the Glory. It is only by God’s grace and strength that he was able to complete this DVD, at the same time as doing his other jobs and also caring for Christine”. The DVD is a unique resource to mark the Gospel Bicentenary and inform the church and nation. But it also stands now as a loving memorial to Christine Lange from her husband Stuart. Stuart is unable to be with us today, but I invite you to put your hands together to congratulate the recipients of our first award tonight – Te Rongopai 1814-2014 – Stuart and Christine Lange.
Bruce and Jinny Patrick (in memoriam) Our second award is for a couple who have worked sacrificially to see Jesus’ prayer fulfilled: “Father, may they be brought to complete unity that the world will know …”
They have pastored several churches. Among these was a 16 year period at the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle, which grew significantly under their leadership. They have served in various leadership roles within their denomination. But they have also worked to help Christians network across denominations, so that the church as a whole could become more effective in its mission and ministry.
This passion led in 1990 to founding Vision New Zealand, and to organising the first Vision Christian Leaders Congress. We just ran the 7th Congress earlier this year. For most of the Congresses they produced a series of books entitled New Vision New Zealand which are highly regarded and sit on most leaders’ bookshelves.
In 2001 after attending a World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly with Graeme Lee, they returned to New Zealand, organised a number of gatherings with evangelical leaders, and re-launched as Vision Network (now called NZ Christian Network) in 2002. They served on the board from 1990. Jinny was focused mainly on women’s ministries, finishing in 2011, and Bruce served as board chairman until 2011, and board member until earlier this year.
New Zealand Christian Network would not be here today without them,
so it is an honour to present this Unity and Mission award to Bruce and Jinny Patrick.
Sadly, after the board made this selection, Jinny was diagnosed in June with cancer. Four weeks later she had a massive stroke, and three days after that she passed away. We are pleased that Jinny’s daughter Alexandra is here today to stand in Jinny’s place alongside Bruce. Please welcome Bruce and Alexandra.
The Secularism award this year goes to a man who understands that secularism does not mean that children should not learn about Jesus and the Christian stories which are an integral part of this country’s foundation. He has worked in a number of youth ministries including YFC’s Rock programme. At law school he was awarded the David Mummery Scholarship in law for academic achievement and service to the community. He works now as a lawyer, but is known to most people as CEO of the Churches Education Commission, a part-time position he has held since 2011. CEC runs Christian Religious Education programmes, often referred to as Bible in Schools in approximately 600 schools around the country. This involves a huge nationwide team of volunteer teachers and the challenge of ensuring adherence to CEC content and policy throughout. In his role he is attacked regularly by groups and individuals who do not want CRE in schools, some of whom can get very personal and vicious in their comments. He appears regularly in the media explaining why CRE is important and why it is not illegal. On every occasion he speaks with gentleness and grace. Under his leadership CEC has innovated with new curricula and programmes, and continues to work at communicating well with schools and parents. Please welcome – Simon Greening The Marriage and Family award goes to two people who have worked for over 25 years in the area of problem sexuality leading to pornography addictions, affairs and similar issues. These problems can affect leaders in the church as well as people outside. Understandably, marriages are devastated when the “bombshell of discovery” surfaces and many marriages don’t survive. But these two people have helped save many marriages from divorce over the years. David has developed a very successful treatment program, and support groups for men facing issues of problem sexuality, addiction and abuse. Jean has been successfully leading a woman’s support group for wives that provides a safe place to share, and to receive hope again for their relationships. They themselves have been married for 43 years, working together first in social work and later as Salvation Army officers. For the last 25 years they have worked as counsellors at the Tamaki Family Health centre. Demand for the sort of help this couple have developed is huge and comes from all over New Zealand. David has workbooks and programs ready for publication and online use but no funds to progress these – not even set up a proper website. If you know people who could help, please talk to them afterwards. In the meantime, please welcome David and Jean Moore. The Value of Life category award goes to a brave, caring woman who in 2008 started the Buttons Project. Flowing out of her own abortion experience, her aim is to help women and family members who have been affected by abortion to work towards closure and healing. For many this can be difficult when there is no grave to visit, no tangible way of remembering. The Buttons Project invites women who have been affected by the loss of an unborn baby, and other family members, to send in a button. For some it is a way of simply remembering; for others a step on the journey of healing. The dream is to collect thousands and thousands of buttons which will be displayed as a memorial – a collective statement which simply says, “what happened mattered.” A way to remember, to grieve and to love. This person currently works as the Family, Whānau facilitator at Equip Mental Health Services, and has previously done a variety of voluntary work including Pregnancy Counselling Services, ministering to the homeless and youth at risk, music and movement for intellectually and physically disabled people. The Buttons lady now has three adult children and a husband of 28 years, Peter, who is with her here today. Please welcome Marina Young
The Missional Living category award (previously known as All of Life Faith) is being presented to Mt Tabor Trust, founded 36 years ago by Irene Hogan, Lorraine Popple and John Hill, as an intentional community to welcome people with intellectual disabilities from out of the big institutions of the day – St Johns, Mangere, and Carrington Hospitals. Irene was a nurse and midwife with VSA experience in Malaysia, Lorraine a teacher who had been a missionary in Papua New Guinea, John was a young businessman in Auckland. In 1978 they invited seven people with disabilities to come and live with them. These people became the first core members of Mt Tabor Community. The ideal of living, working and praying together like a family, in the spirit of the Gospels and Beatitudes, was inspired by L’Arche Communities and they adopted their Charter as part of the Trust Deed in 1979. From there, more people came and lived in houses and flats in Grey Lynn, and then Helensville, supported by trustees, neighbours, friends and families, churches and community groups. Over the last 36 years, Mt Tabor has grown and now has seven family sized homes for people who are intellectually disabled, living alongside support. Currently there are 31 core members and 35 support people. Their community encourages interdependence, personal value, personal responsibilities and awareness of individual choices for all community members. A favourite song at Mt Tabor is “we are friends” and we welcome Stuart and Annette as friends here today. The passion and self-sacrifice of the founders, and more recently Lorraine’s husband Michael and other key people, is an inspiration and challenge to us all Please welcome Lorraine Popple and John Wood
Here are some photographs taken at the New Zealand Christian Network’s Unsung Heroes Awards 2013. The event was a-buzz with excitement and celebration. Once again, congratulations to the recipients and thank you to all who made this event a memorable occasion.
Our first award tonight is for the secularism category and is presented to the person who is Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, and holds the Howard Paterson Chair in Theology and Public Issues at Otago University.
In the four and a half years he has had these roles since their inception he has set a wonderful example of respectful and thoughtful dialogue, engaging with academics, media, politicians from across the spectrum, business and church leaders.
He has raised the profile of public theology in New Zealand and made a significant contribution to public discourse and policy thinking.
Through the Centre, he has been prolific in organising forums, seminars, and conferences, in addition to his regular teaching responsibilities.
Andrew Bradstock – Secularism
His areas of interest include:
• The value of the ‘common good’
• Theological responses to ‘global’ issues
• Meanings of ‘secular’, and
• The use of religious language in the public square
Just last week, he and a colleague released an important piece of research on Understanding Secularism in New Zealand.
He has been a good friend of New Zealand Christian Network.
We are sad that he is returning with his wife Helen to live in England at the end of this week, but we are delighted that he could make the trip up to be with us here tonight.
Please welcome Andrew Bradstock
Our next award, for the Marriage and Family category, goes to two people who have been leading Family Life and helping Kiwis build successful marriages and families since 1994.
Family Life has grown from an idea discussed in someone’s living room 22 years ago to conferences and events all around the country, reaching over 20,000 people through the “Weekend to Remember”, “Day Together” and “Understanding One Another” events.
Family Life receives feedback constantly from couples whose marriages have been given hope, many even saved from the brink of divorce.
Andy and Nikki Bray – Marriage and Family
The husband is a walking miracle, having survived a kidney transplant, a serious stroke, on-going dialysis, and a number of cancers. The wife is a gracious tower of strength.
They are parents to Olivia (18) and Ben (17). They also have a 3rd child, Natasha, who died tragically at 16 years old in the Mangatepopo River Tragedy. Natasha’s story is recorded on the dvd “Jumping in Puddles”.
In addition to speaking at Family Life live events they are sought after conference speakers, have authored 2 books “Treasures in the Darkness” and “First things First”, and have regular slots on New Zealand’s Radio Rhema.
Please welcome Andy and Nikki Bray
Our next award in the Value of Life category goes to a young woman who leads the Pro Life group that was facing disaffiliation from the Auckland University Student Association in 2012 after complaints alleging it was harassing students and spreading misinformation about abortion.
This person’s gentle, gracious style and leadership were instrumental in challenging the attack on freedom of expression and truth, winning a vote against disaffiliation following a public debate by 227 votes to 125. Support came from many students who were not members of the club, but who recognised that freedom of expression is a right worth protecting.
Amy Blowers – Value of Life
Her deep belief in her cause and ability to unite hundreds of likeminded people from the University together are two qualities which were crucial to this result.
New Zealand Christian Network had an opportunity to see this person first hand when she addressed a gathering of Christian leaders at very short notice. Many present were powerfully moved by her words and manner.
ProLife New Zealand aims to:
• Inform young people of the effects of abortion and other choices
• Support women who have had, or are considering abortion, and refer them to appropriate counselling services.
• Running public forums and seminars
• Promoting the adoption option as a viable choice
Amy Blowers is not able to be with us tonight but we would like to show this brief message from her
Our next award in the All of Life Faith category goes to the Director of Youth Services at the Eastern Southern Youth Trust in Wellington.
This is a Charitable Trust founded by 2 Youth Pastors, one from the Eastern Suburbs and the other from the Southern Suburbs.
The Trust was formed to address a significant gap between the quality of youth work and care of families in the 2 churches compared to what was available in the wider community.
Lorma Gray – All of Life Faith
This person has worked on the ground with young people in the Eastern Suburbs for over 10 years, and works through the Trust to establish, enable and sustain effective long-term faith-based youth workers in these communities.
Under her leadership the trust has been intentional about developing professional Youth Workers and has become known for consistently delivering a high standard of work in complex culturally diverse settings
She is passionate about helping young people reach their potential and will create any opportunity she can for them to explore their gifts and talents and use them to help others around them.
She has 3 children, is a Nurse with experience in Surgical, Outpatients, and Acute Psychiatric wards, has been a Baptist Youth Pastor for 10 years, is a Strength Coach, holds an Advanced Diploma in Youth Work, and is a Professional Supervisor.
She lives her faith
Please welcome Lorna Gray
Our last award – Bicultural Mission – goes to a man who in 1991 planted a church on the East Coast. The church has seen rapid growth and today helps hundreds of people discover a new quality of life applying the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Norm McLeod – Bicultural Mission
When we asked the local minister’s group convenor about this man, he talked about his staying power, his commitment to the local people, and his work in building bicultural relationships.
He believes the Church must go beyond just a Sunday activity and also have a significant social and economic ministry to its community as well.
To this end House of Breakthrough has a 20 year social and economic development plan for Tairawhiti involving housing, education, health, social justice, employment and reconciliation relationally and culturally.
The Church’s main thrust is to the city of Gisborne, with ministries such as budget advice, marriage and family counselling, addiction counselling programmes, food parcels to the poor, and after school care for children.
At a bicultural peacemaking hui organised at Auckland in May this year, our award recipient delivered an impromptu message which impacted those present powerfully because of the history, the expansive vision, and the mana of the person who spoke it.
Please welcome Norm McLeod from the House of Breakthrough in Gisborne
Tuesday 27 August, 2013 Grand Hall, Parliament – Wellington
Citation given by Glyn Carpenter, National Director of New Zealand Christian Network
New Zealand Christian Network is a broad-spectrum network of churches, Christian organisations, and individuals, with a Board of Reference that includes leaders from all the main denominations. It seeks to “help Christians work together, build the Church, and positively influence society”.
In May 2012 the board of New Zealand Christian Network made a decision to inaugurate a new award, to be known as the New Zealand Christian Network Unsung Heroes Award.
The purpose of this award is to honour the good work of individuals and groups which has gone largely unrecognised, to encourage others, and to give glory to God who inspired and empowered them.
This year’s event is being hosted in Parliament by MP Tim Macindoe, with awards being presented in categories related to New Zealand Christian Network’s key projects. These are:
A person or group who is doing exceptional work in raising awareness of issues related to secularisation and equipping Christians to address the issue; possibly a person who works in a challenging secular workplace or public office, and who presents a clear Christian witness in deeds and in words
2. Marriage and Family
A person or group who is having significant results in the area of strengthening marriages and families; this might be through writing, teaching, speaking, counselling, or some other activity
3. Value of Life
(including issues from social justice and human rights to euthanasia and abortion)
A person or group whose life and ministry involves any of the types of issues just mentioned and who articulates the biblical foundation of life “made in the image of God” in the context of their ministry
4. All of Life Faith
A person or group who is an inspirational role model of 24-7 Christian faith, including worship, witness, words, and action; someone of who brings to mind Paul’s statement “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1Cor 11:1)
We also have a special category for this year flowing out of the 200 year Gospel Bicentenary taking place in New Zealand next year:
5. Bicultural Mission
A person or group who is recognised in their community for having contributed significantly to bicultural relationships, peace-making, and mission.
The individual citations will be read by Seth Fawcet and Gary Colville immediately after Tim Macindoe has shared some thoughts with us. But before I invite Tim to the front, I do want to say a special word of thanks to artist Karen Sewell who has designed these beautiful artworks which are being given to the award recipients tonight.
It was a delight meeting Karen just a few weeks ago at the church she attends in Auckland where she was exhibiting an artwork related to the Marriage Bill. When we started talking about Unsung Heroes, Karen raised the idea of developing a creating special Unsung Heroes trophy – like our very own Oscar or Grammy – and I am absolutely thrilled with the result.
I also want to thank Karen’s husband Dr Graham Sewell, and his partners Dr John and Mary Clark, who through the Tamaki Family Health practice which they run, have largely funded these works of art.
I also want to thank Russell Dunn and Manna Christian Stores for their most generous donation of book vouchers to each of the recipients tonight. Manna Stores provides a wonderful service in their stores around the country – not just for the products they sell, but also the warmth and friendliness you’ll experience whenever you visit their stores. When you do visit next, please make sure to mention the Unsung Heroes.
Now, please welcome our host tonight – Tim Macindoe