New minister welcomed to Uniting Church
Levin’s Uniting Church has a new minister, headhunted from the Anglicans, and one who came bearing gifts to her official induction service held last Sunday.
The Rev Sandra Williams is Levin born and bred. She attended Shannon Primary, Fairfield school, Levin Intermediate and Waiopehu College.
She left town for Wellington at age 17 to train as a teacher. A 20-year career in teaching followed. Her husband Glen is an accountant and worked for a bank. Combining these two careers resulted in a lot of moving around the country. Church ministry was far from their minds much of the time.
“As a young mum living in Tokoroa, the parish priest suggested to me I should do some training towards the priesthood,” she said.
“It took me seven years to make the decision to do that.” Another seven years added to her journey to a career in church ministry with the Anglican Church, where her first position was as school chaplain, where she worked with teenagers.
“Teens tell you how it is. Every priest should work with teens. It is a good way to learn how to articulate things simply.” Parish ministry followed and in 2009 the family moved to Porirua, where Sandra worked in a parish for five years.
In 2014 they decided to move back to Levin for a break in their busy careers.
“We’re here to stay,” she said. Soon after arrival she became part of the leadership team at St Mary’s Anglican church in Levin and has been taking care of its O¯ hau congregation.
When a request came from the Uniting church to preach at a service they cheekily asked for her CV. As the new Uniting Church’s minister she was handed the reins of the parish as parish clerk Allen Little gave her a Bible, a chalice and a copy of the parish roll at her induction service.
In response Rev Williams opened the goodie bag she brought and presented her new parishioners with a pair of old walking boots, a party popper, a box of tissues and a big welcome mat.
“The boots mean we have all been on a journey and each bring a story to this place. The party popper and the box of tissues mean we commiserate and celebrate together and the welcome mat means all friends and family are welcome at my place. This is my commitment to you to share my hospitality with you,” she said.
Levin Uniting combines Presbyterian and Methodist churches and now they have an Anglican minister.
“We all worship one God and the worship style of all these churches are fairly similar. I have worked in a few parishes with people from diverse backgrounds, not just Anglicans.”
She said Levin Uniting has a culture similar to O¯ hau Anglican church.
“Understanding Levin is more important that understanding Presbyterians, Methodists or Anglicans. Levin Uniting members care a lot for others and have a very well developed culture of involvement in church ministry by lay people. My role will be to care for that and provide pastoral care and enable them to keep doing what they are doing already. I am not taking over. I will build on what Ian and Stuart have done before me.”
She said Levin Uniting is a welcoming place for all and with good support that congregation has great potential.
“People from all backgrounds and faiths or even no faith are welcome there.”
Levin Uniting’s new minister the Rev Sandra Williams came bearing gifts: a party popper, a pair of old boots, a box of tissues and a welcome mat.
The choir of Levin’s Uniting Church played a pivotal role in the service welcoming their new minister.