Communal spirit is flourishing. At Christmas a morning was spent decorating the church for participation in local Festival of Lights. A church picnic provided fellowship time and activities for the children on a beautiful summer day. Easter brought everyone together to provide food for Lord's Supper meal and help with the Easter Egg Hunt and telling the Easter story to 200 children. Girls' Brigade garage sale raised $900.
In conjunction with our Prayer & Self Denial weeks we had a mission dinner where the food was Eastern. As well as paying for the meal we had to cook it ourselves. Tough! Recipes supplied to groups saw all ages chopping, peeling, making sushi, cooking - you name it, we were doing it. Things we had never heard of turned out to be thoroughly edible and enjoyable. Ian and Colleen Robertson were our guests and together with other mission-experienced people from our congregation we were given instruction in language and culture which gave true insight into missionary experiences.
Fundraising has been prominent this spring - Girls' Brigade pampered the ladies with beauty treatments and afternoon tea as they raised money to attend their rally in Christchurch early in the New Year; the Intermediate kids washed and vacuumed cars to raise money for their activities. An Olympic Event for families provided great fun plus dinner. Some old muscles were strained, but no bones broken. The kids took all the medals! Another light party was a great success. More than 300 children with parents were treated to food and fun at "our place." Parents from the community appreciate this alternative to trick-or-treating. Peter and Melissa Collier from St John's Anglican Church in Christchurch spent a weekend with us, speaking at a breakfast and a luncheon. Peter also preached at Sunday's service. This year we have said farewell to five of our senior members, called to be with their Lord. We rejoice that the number of people in their 20s and 30s has more than doubled since 2000, with corresponding numbers of young children now in the church family.