This weekend Presbyterian parishes around the country will be extending the hand of friendship to their neighbours.
Neighbours Day weekend, the national initiative to build stronger, more resilient neighbourhoods, falls close to Easter, so the Church is encouraging its congregations to be neighbourly and share Easter buns with nearby families and schools, explains the Rt Rev Andrew Norton, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
“It’s good, old-fashioned Kiwi hospitality at its best. The idea of hospitality is central to Christians, and making time and space to welcome strangers – especially those in need – is what we do,” says Andrew.
“We know that almost half of all New Zealanders identified themselves as Christian in the last census so Good Friday and Easter Sunday have real spiritual importance for many. It is an important part of our cultural and religious heritage.
“But I wonder how many children, in particular, know that Easter is important because it marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ? It’s the reason there is a cross on the hot cross bun.”
Sharing the story of Easter and how there came to be a cross on Easter buns, will be part of many church Neighbours Day activities this weekend explains Andrew.
St Andrew’s in Ashburton is among those who will be reaching out to their neighbours – they will be handing out Easter buns at local schools, and other parishes are planning to share buns at community events they are organising - like St Austells Uniting congregation in New Lynn who are inviting neighbours to a tea and coffee morning; Kaikorai Presbyterian Church in Dunedin is hosting a picnic in a local park with family games and a sausage sizzle to bring neighbourhood families together; Rotorua District Presbyterian Church is hosting a family Easter event for wider community where they will share Easter buns and the Easter story with neighbours; and St Peter's in Ellerslie/Mt Wellington is organising a Neighbours Day BBQ.
“In today’s world, it isn’t uncommon for individuals and families to be isolated and events like these help people get to know those around them. Neighbours Day provides a great catalyst for our churches to do what we do best – reach out to people,” says Andrew.
For further information or an interview with any of the parishes mentioned, please contact Jose Reader on 027 535 3020.