As our month of prayer and action on the housing crisis comes to its peak, churches around the diocese will be gathering this Sunday on long-vacant Housing New Zealand land in an expression of “shared anger” and lament at the housing crisis.
The housing needs of New Zealanders are diverse, and can best be described as a spectrum of need (watch the video here). In all areas of the spectrum, the situation is getting worse for Kiwis, which you no doubt will have seen in the media. These services are a call to respond out of grief for our fellow New Zealanders who are caught up in sometimes dire circumstances, in prayer and action.
Rev Martin Robinson of St David’s in the Parish of Naenae-Epuni is looking forward to joining with St Paul’s Waiwhetu and others this Sunday on vacant Housing New Zealand land near Epuni Railway Station. He connects these services with the plight of the Israelites in Exodus 2:23-25, in which they “groaned in their slavery and cried out,” and “God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.” Martin reminds us that “God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them,” believing that God will hear the combined prayers of those crying out to him this Sunday, and “is already moving in response,” both corporately and in us as individuals. The Epuni service will include a reminder in song and prayer of the grace and compassion of God, as well as symbolic acts of walking the land and praying over it, as well as sowing grass seeds to represent the blessing of the land. (For details of the Epuni service, click here.)
Lament will turn to hope in Palmerston North at a service in Awapuni, says Rev Tim Duxfield. The service, being jointly planned by the Parishes of All Saints’ and St Matthew’s, will occur on four adjacent lots of vacant Housing New Zealand land. The service will be short and contemplative, and will include stories from those affected by the crisis in Palmerston North, followed by a walk around the properties to sprinkle wildflower seeds, as a symbol of hope for God to intervene and bring about positive change. (For details of the Awapuni service, click here.)
Other services include a service in Strathmore, Wellington; involving a number of churches from the capital’s southern suburb and a shared afternoon tea (click here for more), and Porirua’s Cannons Creek, including creative prayer stations and an afternoon tea of pikelets (click here for more). The Cathedral will hold a lament service at 5pm, following the launch of the Tūrangawaewae art installation at 4pm, which reflects on the 42,000 New Zealanders who are homeless.