2016 Scholars and Writers

June

Hinekura Lisa Smith (Aotearoa)

My name is Hinekura Lisa Smith. I have been a teacher for almost 20 years, 15 years as a te reo Māori teacher in mainstream secondary schools, working with a wide range of youth, their whānau and communities to empower them to achieve to their potential. I am passionate about education and believe that education and learning happens all around us, and is not isolated to a classroom

My doctoral research explores the rich and complex idea of Māori Aspirations to live ‘as Māori’. Māori aspirations do not exist in a cultural vacuum. Instead they are the culmination of complex, interwoven histories, experiences and ‘choices.’ My PhD research celebrates whatu kākahu (feathered cloaks) as richly storied text(tiles) that embody and (re)present Māori aspirations through the stories of 8 Māori women and the aspirations they hold for their children and grandchildren to live ‘as Māori.’

This research is important as Māori identities continue to grow and evolve. Typically, Māori voices in education are often not heard and the notion of educational ‘success’ for Māori is reduced to ‘getting good grades’. Taking in to account the historical assimilatory intentions of the Aotearoa New Zealand education system and the impact that colonisation has had on Māori peoples identity, this research offers another way for education to hear, see and most importantly feel how this group of women express the aspirations they hold for their children to live as Māori.


October

Chris Grantham (New Zealand)

Chris Grantham is a born-and-bred Kiwi (of English and Swiss stock) whose speaking and writing and the occasional stand-up comedy have seen him out and about plenty. Chris is the author of the best-seller The Kiwi Bible (published by Penguin in two volumes) and The Chocolate Seller on Broadway and his kids. He has worked for several mission agencies (including Interserve, NZ Church Missionary Society and World Vision) and now directs the interdenominational Arrow Leadership programme which provides in-service leadership development for young clergy/pastors and other Christian leaders. Chris holds degrees in accounting (B.Com) and theology (BD), and in previous lives was an accountant and a school teacher. He and his wife Jocelyn have two grown-up kids and three grandchildren.

Chris’s Vaughan Park project is to record a series of conversations on contemporary and life-related issues recorded over a 48-hour live-in eat-converse-debate-laugh-pray with Bishop Justin Duckworth of Wellington, journalist Tapu Misa, and historian Professor Peter Lineham. These conversations will be transcribed, edited and published, supplemented with something of the stories of the three contributors.


November

The Rev. Alfred Damu (Malaysia)

I was working in the Oil and Gas industry for 12 years before going into full time ministry. My first degree is in Chemical Engineering. I took my theological studies (Master in Divinity from 2003-2006) in Seminary Theologi Malaysia (STM) in Seremban. Currently, doing the Doctorate in Ministry Programme  in STM. Married to Shirley Gren and have two sons, Daniel (15years old) and Samuel (12years old).

The church I am currently pastoring in for the past 8 years is St. Columba's Anglican Church in Miri city.  The church membership is about 4,000 members from about 800 households. There are three language based congregational groups, i.e. English, Iban and Mandarin. I serve in both The Parochial Church Council (PCC) which oversees the various departments in the parish and the Spiritual Growth Taskforce (SGTF) which oversees the various ministries in the church, i.e. Women ministry, Youth ministry, Children ministry, Senior Citizen ministry, Choir and Server Ministry, Home Fellowship and Bible study ministry, mission school , army   and hospital chaplaincy work. I am assigned to minister mainly to the Iban and English congregation.  The ministries that I am involved in are the youth fellowship, hospital, school and army camp chaplaincy work, church resource centre and library. I also conduct discipleship training programmes such as Alpha Course for new church members, apologetic workshops and leadership training programmes for the lay leaders in the parish. I am the coordinator for the Theological Education by Extension Course in English and Bahasa Malaysia in St. Columba.

Apart from ministering at St Columba's Parish I assist in conducting services at one of St Columba's mission centre in a semi-urban area and also in Brunei parishes. I also conduct Youth Leaders and Lay Leaders training for other parishes in the Diocese as well.

Context of Study

Currently, I am in my third year doing the Doctorate in Ministry module with Seminari Theologi Malaysia.  I have completed 6 out of 8 modules (Study of Job, Advanced Hermeneutics and Homiletics, Church Management, Pastoral Theology, Urban Mission, The Book of Revelations). The thesis topic that I will be working on  is “Developing and Evaluating a programme for Holistic Urban Mission in the Local Church” which is a mixture of church growth, mission and church leadership. Below is the outline of the purpose of the study.

Purpose of study

This research aims to study three areas of challenges experienced in St Columba's church.

Firstly, the plateauing church attendance (250-300) in the morning service in in the last 10 years despite the admission of new members into the church via the confirmation or catechism classes. The attendance would swell by about 30-40% during the Easter and Christmas services. The bulk of the church members do not attend the church services on a regular basis. This trend is observed in many urban Anglican churches in Sarawak in recent years.

Secondly, is the sluggish church growth in the local parish. There is a lack of adult conversions, particularly in the English and Chinese services. There is not much of a deliberate effort to conduct urban mission activities (evangelism and social involvement) within the local parish. Church members lack exposure to urban mission.

Thirdly, despite having a registered membership of about 4000 members, approximately 800 families only a small number are involved in the church ministries and out of this only a handful are actually involved in pastoral ministry or evangelism work. Quite often lay leaders experience “burn out” in ministry.

It is believed that these three areas are inter-related and the common factor that links them together is the lack of mission or urban mission to be specific. They are not discrete and isolated areas issues in discipleship, evangelism or leadership. The root cause of the three observable unhealthy trends in the local church is due to the inadequate understanding and involvement in urban mission. Therefore, this study is carried out based on the hypothesis that an adequate understanding and involvement in urban mission will help maintain regular church attendance among members, spur more adult conversions and awaken the laity to serve in the church and beyond. If this hypothesis is indeed true, it has an important connotation for the Diocese of Kuching, which has often been likened to a “sleeping giant”. Firstly, it is the key towards a deeper spiritual life and secondly it provides the impetus towards a greater mobilization of the lay people for service within the Diocese. Aligning the church ministries around urban mission will help the church shift away from maintenance mode (merely running church departments and organizing events) towards effectively executing the Great Commission.