Helping build a multi-cultural community is one of the main aims of the new Ormiston Community Baptist Church, in Auckland's rapidly growing Flat Bush area.
The church, led by former Tranzsend missionaries Steve and Lyn Davis, held its first official service at Ormiston College on Sunday September 8. The couple have a background in multi cultural ministry and have spent the past six months conducting a survey of community needs, holding home groups, church planting workshops and church services at the skateboard park.
"Eastern suburbs Baptist churches, especially Eastview, have been wanting to see this happen for the past ten to fifteen years—a multi cultural church that represents the community. Ormiston is about thirty percent Chinese and thirty percent Indian. We also had many Cambodians at our first service," says Steve Davis.
Members of the church's launch team have been visiting homes telling local residents about the launch of the new church and asking for suggetions on what the church could offer the community.
"We've had incredible responses from every ethnic group. We've had offers of cars, a soccer coach and all sorts of off-the-wall things," says Lyn. "People have been asking if we can be open 24/7 so there's somewhere for them to go—a cafe for some of the older Chinese and Indian men to get together. The consensus is that Ormiston is a community looking for a community."
The church will now hold regular Sunday services, 4-6pm in the Ormiston College Cafe. The college is one of the few meeting places in a new suburb lacking in community facilities. Another church meets at the same venue on Sunday mornings.
"Not every Sunday will be a worship service. We will be flexible and look for opportunities to do something special...For the rest of this year itís about getting to know the community. It's not a done deal and is still a work in progress," says Steve.
The opening service was a reflection of the church's multi cultural intentions, the theme being Revelation 7:9 which talks about "a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb..."
The service started with a formal powhiri led by Steve Mihaere of the local Ngai Tai tribe, and a member of Manukau City Baptist. The music was courtesy of Howick Baptist's worship group led by William Chong, there was a traditional Cambodian dance, a message from Steve Davis about being ìthe people of Godî, the National Anthem and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with representatives from sponsoring churches. The service concluded with a hongi followed by shared food to symbolise the coming together of new relationships.
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