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