Wanaka: Day 10

The regional event in Wanaka today was already planned before the Hikoi was announced. The local churches had long planned a thanksgiving service in the Rippon vineyard for this Sunday and were generous enough to incorporate us. It all worked perfectly. The weather was great: one of those hot, still, Central Otago days with the clear golden light and the dry air. The venue was a hillside with a view out to Ruby Island floating serenely in the blue lake with the lion coloured mountains beyond. At this time of the year the trees are just starting to turn colour, making them a vibrant light golden green. A couple of vintage Tiger Moth aircraft droned picturesquely overhead and the waterskiers on the lake were far enough away not to be heard.

All the churches of Wanaka were present and a few other people beside. A very good band from the New Life Centre played a variety of modern worship songs, people read and prayed and spoke on cue and all of them had thought about their various tasks and practiced them. A young woman from the Presbyterian church gave an excellent children's address and I gave an account of the faith that is within me. All of the local clergy took part in leadership and all gave a pretty good account of themselves.

Speaking to people who are sitting at a distance in the open air isn't easy, but there was a good sound system and the folk were attentive. I thought my talk went well and a few people were quite complimentary afterwards. The service lasted a little less than an hour and we all stayed on for a picnic in the sun. What impressed me was the congenial way people from the various churches moved amongst each other and interacted with one another. There was a very strong sense of community and common purpose which I found hopeful. I spoke to a lot of people and Clemency and I were fairly late in leaving the venue with our hosts, Mike and Becky Horder.

I had a quiet afternoon. I managed to replace my worn boots with ones of the same make but a slightly different model. Mike drove us around some of the new developments in Wanaka and we had an early dinner and then conversation before bed.

I like Wanaka. It is a tourist magnet but it feels less frenetic and more ordered than its bigger sister Queenstown on the other side of the Crown Range. It is in a different climate zone - warmer and drier - and has more space for development than Queenstown and I hope it manages to avoid the dangers of unregulated growth that tourism can bring. A town moving as fast as Wanaka offers many opportunities for the local church. Damon Plimmer is making a stunning job of leading our congregations there and in Cromwell and Tarras, and during the event today I lost count of the people who volunteered positive things about him and his family. This is one place where the Anglican Church is not in retreat and today's regional event helped fan the flames of hope in me.


Peter Carrell said…
It is a joy to read this series, +Kelvin! Keep walking and writing :)