New min­is­ter wel­comed to Unit­ing Church

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS - By JA­NINE BAALBERGEN

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.”

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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.

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The choir of Levin’s Unit­ing Church played a piv­otal role in the ser­vice wel­com­ing their new min­is­ter.

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