South Kaipara

Small church grows by reaching out

Press Go has granted $25,000 towards South Kairpara Presbyterian Parish's refurbishment of its new Helensville premises.

From only 12 adults six years ago, the church has quadrupled its congregation by developing innovative ministries to those struggling in its community.

The church is about to shift into a larger, more flexible facility, purchased after selling its former buildings at the height of the property boom.

Minister the Rev Warren Howes says the church’s growth has been “a hard slog” at times, but the Helensville congregation now has 40 adults, with an average age of 40, and 10 children. The church also has another congregation in Kaukapakapa.

They achieved this growth by targeting primary-school-aged children, starting a kids church on Sunday mornings and developing relationships with the local primary school. “They are now the basis of our youth group.”

Many of the children’s families come from difficult backgrounds and struggle with poverty, addictions and unemployment. “We deliberately say that we take anyone at our church.”

The church’s new property is on Helensville’s main road and highly visible. At the moment, a hospice charity shop is a tenant and can be accommodated in the church’s plans, which also allow for function rooms and office space. The site has more than 50 off-road car parks.

The church has identified a range of ministries that target the community’s needs and which its new building will help make possible.

At the moment, the church provides lunch for a handful of children at the local primary school. They plan to extend this to breakfast packs, and make them available at the church so that children don’t feel embarrassed by having to eat at school.

The church has also organised a registered nurse to visit the school weekly and check for head lice, which could be carried out more sensitively offsite.

A homework centre, teaching basic cooking skills and musical instrument instruction and are other ways in which they want to reach out to young people. Another idea, suggested by the school, is to provide a laundry facility so that students can wash their uniforms and take pride in them. The needs can seem overwhelming, but “we just work with what we can do and try our best”, Warren says.

- July 2010

*Read more about South Kaipara’s story in the September 2010 issue of Spanz.