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New Zealand: Unity in Diversity

Posted on: February 8, 2000 4:48 PM
Related Categories: New Zealand

Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in New Zealand, John Paterson, is feeling positive about being an Anglican and about the future of the church.

"We're not scared of ideas," he says, "and we're good at holding together a diverse group of people. It's a real strength and we don't celebrate it enough."

In his own diocese of Auckland, Bishop John experiences of a wide range of diversity in worship, circumstance and culture. "The way people worship and express who and what they are can be very different. We've always talked about 'unity in diversity'. What it means in practice is that a lot of us are very different, but we hang together somehow. It's an anomaly really."

The Bishop is pleased to see an increase in confirmation numbers in Auckland, taking this as one of the signs that the church has a role for the future. "Parishes that haven't had a confirmation in five, perhaps nine, years are suddenly producing groups of people who know what they're doing and why they want to do it. These are people who say they're going to need the Christian Church into the next century. They want to be part of it." John Paterson acknowledges that the future holds enormous challenges for the church. "I'm told the technological revolution is going to make the Industrial Revolution look like a Sunday school tea party," he says. "There are huge questions for the Christian Church."

The Bishop recognises that the "knowledge economy" that is growing around new technology will have a major impact globally. "The number of people who will not be part of the knowledge economy is immense," he observes. "So many people in undeveloped parts of the word will be left still thinking that the most important thing in their lives is one square meal a day."

Bishop John believes that the wisdom and faith of today's church is the foundation of future success. "The survival of the Church as we know it," he says, "depends on making sure that the next generation knows about the things we believe in and hold to be essential."

Article from: Anglican Taonga