LyCiG Visits New Zealand

Early in July 2022 conversations were afoot between the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch in New Zealand and the members of the Leading your Church into Growth team.  The plan was to run a three-day LyCiG conference for Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand. The Christchurch Archdeacon for Regeneration and Mission, Mark Chamberlain, wanted to explore how plausible that might be, and if there would be anyone willing to endure the 24-hour flight time to come over to run the conference. It certainly is an arduous journey, but it so happened that when faced with the prospect of Christchurch in spring, quite a few team members offered to do their best to clear their diary at short notice.

In the end it was Rhiannon (Archdeacon of Ipswich & Director of Inspiring Ipswich) and Harry (Chaplain to the Bishop of Sheffield) who were chosen, willing and able to represent LyCiG in New Zealand. After long flights the first LyCiG for the Diocese of Christchurch took place between 18-20 October at St Christopher’s Church, Avonhead – 5 miles west of the centre of Christchurch.

The conference was an outstanding success with the great majority of attendees feeling encouraged and empowered to work towards the growth and flourishing of their parishes with renewed energy, insight and practical ideas. There were 115 delegates on the conference, with some visiting from other dioceses in New Zealand. Most parishes attending sent about 3 people so that a small team from the parish could engage with the conference material.

Rhiannon and Harry quickly got to know Mark and all three worked as a team to present. A local team led worship at the sessions, and the Bishop of Christchurch, Peter attended for a full day. One attendee said “This [conference] was amazing and so timely. After COVID and a number of deaths in our Parish, it was so refreshing to focus on looking forward, being positive and being instructed and encouraged by Harry and Rhiannon who brought fresh stories and ideas with them. I felt blessed. Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen.” Another comment was, 'I came to the course sceptical, but it has blown me away! It's clear, simple and encouraging. I would highly recommend this course to every church!'

After the conference Harry and Rhiannon met with the diocesan team to discuss next steps and the ongoing journey of LyCiG. As a result many parishes in the Diocese of Christchurch are making good use of LyCiG Local.

There was, of course, a little bit of time to visit churches in the diocese and share in ministry there. As well as this there was a bit of down time to enjoy the culture and beautiful countryside of the South Island.

Given that the post-conference survey revealed that 97% of attendees said that LyCiG would make a positive difference to their parish’s ministry and mission in the future it is great news that the Diocese of Christchurch are seeking to partner with one of the Dioceses on the north island to run two conferences next year and also to begin to raise a local team to embed LyCiG in New Zealand for themselves. Rhiannon and Harry have already been invited back for the dual-conference next year and are looking forward to it, even if two conferences and local training means there might be less time to enjoy New Zealand’s excellent coffee culture and breath-taking scenery!

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