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  • Writer's pictureCarol Barron

The Methodist Alliance spearheading social change at all levels

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

The Methodist Alliance Co-convenors, Rev Dr Arapera Ngaha and Jill Hawkey, provided a summary of the mahi done by the Methodist Alliance members during the last financial year. COVID-19 continued to impact the mahi with staff absences and having to adjust how services and projects were delivered. Despite this, significant work was undertaken with over 4,200 families, supported through our members services. A further 2,000 people were supported with their housing. Acknowledgement and thanks were given for the continued support from Parishes and individuals throughout the Connexion for this mahi.

An overview of the Methodist Alliance strategic plan was given and the full plan can be found on the Methodist Church website.

A history of the Methodist Missions bicultural journey since the 1980s was presented through a video with members describing where they are now in their bicultural journey.

Throughout the past year the working group campaigning to increase benefit levels and abatement rates created a discussion paper on wealth distribution and income security. The rich and valuable feedback from Synods, Parishes and individuals helped shape and refine the Conference report and suggested decisions relating to it. The working group also presented a video on the realities of life on a benefit. The video included people with lived experience of life on a benefit sharing their struggles to make ends meet. Thanks were given to everyone that generously shared their personal stories in the video.

As well as approving the appointment of board members to the various Mission boards, and acknowledging those board members that retired over the past year, Conference passed the following decisions relating to wealth distribution and income security:

  1. Actively encourage Government to fully implement all the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group to provide immediate response to inequity.

  2. The President write to the Prime Minister actively encouraging Government to find new ways to redistribute wealth via the tax system.

  3. Conference directs the Methodist Alliance to produce resources, in partnership with allied groups, for facilitating robust discussions within Parishes and the wider MCNZ on wealth distribution.

  4. Encourage Parishes and Methodist entities to use these resources leading up to the election in discussion with local candidates and key Ministers.

The Methodist Alliance had representatives on the working group that drafted the housing action plan for the MCNZ in response to the housing crisis. The plan provided a theology of housing including the verse below which describes God’s vision for housing the multitudes, allowing everyone the right to a place, a space, a home.

“Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord of the thousands has spoken.”

Micah 4:4

The vine and the fig tree are symbolic of the shelter and abundance of life that housing security can bring to the homeless, marginalised and vulnerable of our hāpori (community). The theological imperative that every person has the right to a home is essential to our collective response. However, this imperative is not without implications for our understanding of land and kaitiakitanga (intergenerational sustainability), and for our commitment to the church’s bicultural journey. The telling of our Kōrero Papatupu Whenua - land stories links community to the whenua.

The plan outlined how we have responded to date to the housing crisis and identified opportunities to increase our impact in the future.

Conference made the following decisions relating to the housing action plan which included:

  • Asking Synods and other Connexional entities to identify land which could be made available for social housing.

  • Before any Methodist owned land is sold, consideration is given as to whether the land is able to be used for social housing.

  • Establishing a Methodist Social Housing Group

  • The criteria and a process for distribution of funds from Grafton Downs dedicated for social housing.

  • MTA & CB&L will be asked to explore the total value of low interest loans they can make available to for Methodist social housing and advise the Methodist Social Housing Group.

  • MTA to work with their major investors to explore the establishment of a specific social housing investment fund.

  • Actively work with NZCCSS to identify and support further possible ecumenical responses to the housing crisis.

It was questioned at Conference, whether the Methodist Trust Associations investment in the for-profit residential aged care sector was socially responsible, as these models do not offer capital sharing with the elderly residents. Tamahere Eventide and Christchurch Methodist Mission are the two remaining Methodist entities which continue to provide residential care for the elderly in an increasing competitive market. Conference agreed to consider this investment with a view to divesting.

Carol Barron, National Coordinator

03 375 0512 | 027 561 9164 |

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