We met, eight of us from six dioceses, in the little newly restored Sunday School hall. We celebrated the Eucharist in St. John's church, and we wandered around the old mission house where, in the 1830s, Sarah Selwyn waited patiently for her husband to return from one of his six month perambulations around his diocese. The Department of Conservation people had removed the little ropes from the doors for us and so I went from room to room, looking at the household effects that had been there, some of them, for almost as long as the house. In one of the rooms I saw this:
The old mission house is spacious and intriguingly unpredictable in its architecture. It is sparsely furnished and the bare wooden walls aren't painted or papered. It is simple, strong, functional and enduring. Like the chaise longue. Like the faith of the missionaries.
We went back to our meeting room and were fed a delicious lunch of soup and bread. We sat in the little hall with its tall board and batten walls and discussed some of the issues which have brought us all to this end of the country: gay marriage, constitutional reform, episcopal electoral processes. These are important things to consider, but I couldn't help thinking as we talked that perhaps we were missing something. And that perhaps it was the strong faith which was somehow evinced by an old daybed and a quirkily designed old house; the faith which built a church that has survived 200 years in Aotearoa, and which the church needs to find at its core if it is to survive another 200.