National Assembly, or better known as the Gathering, is an annual event where all the Baptist churches are invited to send their pastors and representatives to hear what the Lord is doing amongst us. Linda and I have been regular attenders for the past 20 years. We worship, celebrate, debate, vote and listen to the prophetic voices from the Christian Communities, even beyond our own Denomination. Our wonderful hosts were Manukau Baptist Church in Auckland. We started early morning and went late into the night.

Eleven of us managed to attend the graduation at of Jeremy Adams, Margaret McFedries and Donna Reid. They have been on a two year probation period of study and supervision. In this process they also learn about the history of our Denomination and gain a better understanding of how we operate as a family of churches. They are now accepted by our Denomination as fully registered Ministers. This is a great achievement for our church. I can feel our vision statement; “belong, grow and influence” in their development. Congratulations!!

The topic of “the Gathering” was “Diversity”. Our main speaker was Keith Newman who is the author of: Beyond Betrayal and Ratana the Prophet. Keith delivered a sombre message around our Treaty and the injustice of our past to our present day. Fantastic!

Duncan Gibb, the CEO of SCIRT was inspirational. He shared the story of Christchurch rebuild. SCIRT leads all the underground work of water and waste. They have been recognized on the world stage for their model of unity and efficiency. Brilliant!

We heard stories of how churches have been embracing different ethnic ministries; even Sam and I got a slot to share our story. There were constant deliveries of powerful short testimonies often bringing people to tears mixed with sorrow and joy. We could attend workshops; sound, children, youth, mission, Maori ministries, and much more. Our overseas mission focus was the sad and moving story of world slavery.

The debate on same sex marriage was intense, but held in commendable manner of respect. We finished off with “the banquet” and ethnic celebration held in Mangere, and Sam and Nimol treated the large crowd with their dance.

 

Those of us who went are still digesting the rich layers of theology and stories.

Overall this will have to go down as one of the most stirring, moving and memorable Gatherings for Linda and myself.