The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has launched a free advice service called e-minister to the public.
Begun in 2003 but little known outside the Church, e-minister is a team of experienced senior Presbyterian Church ministers who answer email questions, usually within 48 hours, from anyone who writes to them, churchgoer or not.
Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Right Rev Dr Graham Redding, says that e-ministers receive both the kind of questions they can answer directly and those they cannot, “and in those instances the e-minister refers the writer to a professional who can offer appropriate advice”.
Over the past seven years the questions that e-minister has received range from those concerning serious personal life issues to exploring faith.
Flyers explaining the e-minister service have recently been sent nationwide to organisations that offer information or advice including libraries, Citizen’s Advice and community centres.
Graham says that people can write without fear of their communication being revealed as all e-ministers are bound by professional ethics to be confidential, “we keep the identity of our e-ministers and those that write to them strictly confidential; many writers choose to write anonymously”.
The launch of e-minister has been timed, Graham says, to coincide with the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, 17 February.
“Lent is traditionally a time of almsgiving; it is a season when Christians reflect upon their humanity and reaffirm their faith in a God who comes alongside us in our suffering and draws us towards new life.”
Graham says that many in New Zealand society experience a spiritual wilderness caused by the temptations and burdens that weigh upon them, “and as a Church we are committed to offering services such as e-minister to help people in their search for meaning and purpose”.
E-minister can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to reporter:
Contact details have been provided for one of the Presbyterian Church’s e-ministers. Only his first name has been supplied as all e-ministers are anonymous and need to remain so. If contacting Martin for comment please do not reveal identifying information such as his full name, or his location, in the published article.
Link to the e-minister flyer distributed nationwide:
e-minister on the Presbyterian Church website: