Kia ora friends,
Once again we will shortly be celebrating the salvation God has given us in our annual gathering into one place as a joyous part of the people of God. This salvation, of course, is not ours alone but is in Christ freely available to all. And so, over several days we will fellowship, break bread together, worship our heavenly Father and celebrate all that our Saviour has done and is doing in the power of the Holy Spirit within our world. It is a very special time, and something a number of us have participated in and enjoyed for nearly five decades. This annual gathering for fellowship, worship, encouragement and communion is, in my mind, a taonga or cultural treasure. Few denominations have anything remotely like it. Indeed, where denominational gatherings are celebrated they typically take the form of conference or synod and aim to instruct, resolve issues or determine matters of governance (e.g. Acts 15; Acts 20). We, by contrast, gather intentionally to share more particularly in the community of God in the expectation of enriching the ties that connect us, encouraging each other in our respective walks, and sharing a few days of spiritual and physical rest away from normal stresses and tensions.
Once again we will gather in Ngongotaha at the Willowhaven Camp beginning Monday evening, 28 September and ending Saturday morning, 3 October, corresponding to the first week of school holidays. Our plan is to begin as we did last year with a welcome service on the Monday evening followed on Tuesday with a song service and communion in the morning, then a full service that afternoon. Thereafter services will be each morning.
Our plan is to keep the programme simple, allowing plenty of time for fellowship and rest during our week together. It will include activities for our youth, a seniors’ luncheon and a family evening. And it will be a special time for gathering with our many friends scattered across Aotearoa New Zealand in worship and celebration of the many blessings that God in his grace has showered upon us. Your prayers that most of us will be able to come, and especially that those short of resources may be helped, would be much appreciated.
FESTIVAL REGISTRATION & INFORMATION
Our venue for meetings is at Willowhaven Holiday Park, where we enjoyed the Festival last year, on the western shores of Lake Rotorua. 6 kilometres from Rotorua, it's a short walk to the Ngongotaha Shopping Centre and close to Rotorua's tourist attractions.
Given our setting, capacities and opportunities, we would like to explore what our future direction might be. We are all participants in the mission of the gospel (Phil. 1:5), and since the Spirit speaks to us all, your impressions, opinions and input are valued. My hope is that our discussion (using a rotating form of moderated small group discussion called World Café – Google it if you wish) will delve into one or maybe two questions and bring to light what we feel is important that GCI in New Zealand be doing in the years ahead.
- Dennis Richards - Festival Co-ordinator