A unique and pioneering initiative in Levin is about to mark a new phase in its life this Sunday. The Greenhouse Community, an inclusive, sharing community, has sprung up out of the life of the Parish of Levin, and will mark its new phase by entering a three-way covenant with the parish and the diocese, formally becoming a new Pioneer Mission Unit. The signing ceremony will be this Sunday, and Bishop Justin will be there to mark the occasion.
David Atkinson is one of the founders of the community, and says it came out of a home group bible study in which the members felt a sense of calling to have a greater impact on marginalised members of their society. In the meantime, David established a project to gather members of the community and allow them space to tell their stories. Afterwards, the group shared a simple meal – and David noticed that it was the meal that was more enjoyable than the discussion. “What they wanted was whanaungatanga – a sense of connection. So I started putting on a pot of soup every Saturday and people started to show up. We put this together with the bible study group and something magical began to happen,” says David.
The community offers a number of gatherings every week – from prayer meetings to after school games and activities, and is usually always centred around shared meals. It takes an intentionally inclusive and values-based approach, and has become an appealing destination for people who would otherwise feel uncomfortable in a traditional church service. “One man started coming but sitting at the back of the hall, and now he’s really involved and in the centre of it all,” shares David. He highlights the flat leadership structure as a mechanism for drawing in and involving people. “Whoever wants to be a leader can be involved in some way,” he says, though the community still benefits from the professional expertise of its kaitiaki (guardians), including social workers, counsellors and teachers.
The community has been seven years in the making, and stepping into a covenant relationship has been a decision which has also taken time to reach. “This is about drawing closer,” says David, of the relationship with the rest of the parish. He likens it to a marriage covenant, which often draws together and unites the partners. The three-way covenant is a unique venture, in that it strengthens the parish relationship whilst also giving the community the ability to relate to other pioneer mission units in the diocese. “We want whole-hearted participation in the Anglican family, in the diocese.”
The covenant signing ceremony will be held this Sunday, the 20th of August, from 3:30pm to 5pm in the Levin Anglican Community Hall. Festivities include shared food, games and a bouncy castle for children. All are welcome.
Photo: Members of Greenhouse Community’s after school programme engage in some fun activities