125 years

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As you’ll see in August’s Intermission, NZCMS deeply values prayer. In fact, we’ve been praying together for 125 years!

That’s right: on October 25 we’ll be celebrating our 125th birthday. Back in 1892 God’s Spirit was stirring something in our land. There was a restlessness, a sense that there was more for the people of God to step into, a sense that mission is much bigger than what we’d seen.

It was out of that space that NZCMS was born. Within 8 months of our founding we accepted our first missionary, Miss M L Pasley, for service in Japan. Della Hunter-Brown followed only two months later. Then in October, at the age of 66, Bishop Edward Stuart of Waiapu retired from his position and headed to Persia to serve for 16 years! By the end of the century, we’d sent seven missionaries overseas, and were supporting three working in NZ.

This rapid growth was birthed out of a movement of ‘ordinary believers’ who were committed to seeing the Gospel spread to all corners of the world. And no doubt, early on they recognised that prayer was the key to seeing this happen. It wasn’t long before 55 NZCMS branches were regularly meeting across the country to not only hear about mission, but to pray for God to be moving among the nations.

So as we celebrate God’s faithfulness to us over the past 125 years, let’s pause to remember that “We’re all called to pray.”


Is there something you can do in your region to celebrate this 125 year anniversary – as a family, a church, a group, a NZCMS branch? If you are planning something please let us know by emailing office@nzcms.org.nz

A Centenary of Consequence: 100 Years since Bishop Peel’s Death in Mombasa, Kenya

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By Henry Partridge.

Today, Friday 15 April, is 100 years since the death of William Peel, the first Bishop of Mombasa, Kenya. He was the third bishop who had resided in Mombasa, but his predecessors were bishops of Eastern Equatorial Africa. Like them he died while in active service. James Hannington was tragically murdered while travelling by foot north of Lake Victoria to Uganda, while Henry Parker died from a fever caught while taking the caravan route south of the Lake to the same destination. William Peel had previously been a CMS missionary in India.

When we lived in Mombasa I was taken to see his grave in a cemetery, where a number of fallen soldiers were buried also.

My interest in Bishop Peel was through the Cathedral that opened its doors in 1905 during his episcopacy. It was here in 1988, that I was a made a Deacon in a church with an architecture fitting a city with a sizeable Muslim population.

Bishop Peel is remembered by church historians for his part in a conference held in 1913 near Nairobi for a proposed scheme of union between Protestant missions in East Africa. A former NZCMS missionary, Jocelyn Murray, described the uproar on page 171 of her book, Proclaim the Good News:

It was the United Communion Service led by Bishop Peel of Mombasa, held in the Scottish Mission church at the end of the gathering, when missionaries of different denominations were invited to take Communion. The Communion itself was a regular Anglican service and it is a sign of how far opinions have moved that we cannot easily appreciate the feelings of Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar, when he protested against the conference. He appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury (he himself was not a participant) and the fat was well and truly in the fire. Two CMS missionary bishops stood accused of “propagating heresy and of committing schism.”

 The British Press had a field day and a final report did not come out until April 1916 at a time when the World War was raging. Sadly a “United Church of Kenya” did not result, though relations between missions continued to be good. Some 15 years after Bishop Peel’s death the East African Revival Movement brought unity, giving real fellowship across denominations, and continues to do so today. “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133.1)

Bishop Peel is also remembered for his evangelistic zeal in fostering mission in German East Africa, now known as Tanzania and in Kenya itself as Mombasa Diocese covered both territories. We have had NZCMS personnel in places where Bishop Peel went for both Confirmation services and Ordinations. I was delighted to read how on one occasion, after ordaining a CMS missionary, he wrote in his Diary, “Mr Price has promised to keep up his Greek!” This was no small promise as missionary clergy had to also learn either Swahili or a local tribal language – or both!

Singapore in the 60s: Reflections and Connections

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By Pamela McKenzie (NZCMS Mission Partner to Singapore 1966 – 1969)

Late January 1966 my parents and siblings gathered on the Lyttelton wharf for final farewells before we sailed on the overnight ferry to Wellington. There, on the wharf, we had our first meeting with my Japanese pen friend – a war bride. After a picnic breakfast they took us to the station to board the train to Auckland. That was Alan’s 38th birthday, spent on the train, then the night was spent with Alan’s brother and his family. At that time the ages of our four children were John (11), Kathryn (9), Alastair (almost 7) and Stuart (2). The next day, with Stuart asleep in my arms, we were taken to board the “Castel Felice,” an Italian ship. Again “Now is the hour” played out on the wharf! (It was many years before I could hear that played without a lump in my throat & tears in my eyes. Even the words of “Search me O God” to that same tune had the same effect on me!)

Apart from a few hours berthed up the Brisbane River we were at sea for two weeks. There had been many adjustments –nausea for some, unfamiliar food, keeping track of our children, so much to see and several days of adjusting to the tropical heat (as the air conditioning had failed) as we sailed through Indonesian waters. What a joy it was to find a new church family on the wharf to welcome us to Singapore. This church was to be the nucleus of all our involvement, sharing and outreach for the next three years.

It so happened that our mid-February arrival coincided with the Chinese New Year celebrations. In those days streams of fire crackers which hung in door-ways, etc. would be lit from the bottom. Sparklers too jumped in all directions. The more noise the better!  Before we had even arrived at where we were to live a hole had been burned in Alan’s trouser leg! My parents had been anxious that their first child and oldest grand children were going into the midst of the Vietnam war. For a while I was thinking that maybe they were right…

Alan was the Chaplain of St Andrew’s Anglican Mission School with approximately 1000 pupils at kindergarten, junior, senior and pre-university levels. Two sessions were held each day (morning 7.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and afternoon 1.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.) each with its own staff. But there was only one chaplain! Alan took Religious Instruction classes for Cambridge School Certificate and was involved in clubs and a lot of social and pastoral activities. A boarding house was attached to the school. It had boys from many parts of S.E. Asia including Christmas Island.

The Church of the Ascension was also the school chapel. The chaplain was its vicar. The congregation had originally grown from the school. Chinese were in the majority. The previous chaplain/vicar had been Indian and sadly there had been a lot of racial tension. A New Zealander was able to heal those divisions. The Rev. Ross Allen followed Alan as chaplain for two terms. Since then there have been both Chinese and Indian clergy who have been well accepted.  As a priest in the Diocese of Singapore and Malaya, Alan was often called on to take an afternoon English speaking service in a church whose main congregation worshipped in a Chinese or Indian language.   

As a trained teacher I was able to develop the Sunday school. It grew from less than ten to over one hundred children. That involved teaching and training the teachers, the preparation of material for each age group, Christmas productions and also the pastoral side of that ministry with both the children and teachers and their families. I restarted and lead the DWF (Diocesan Women’s Fellowship) at parish level and was also on the diocesan committee. On Saturday mornings I helped with the Junior School Christian group as well as with the Sunday evening service for the school boarders.

We lived in the school compound at St Peter’s House which had been the Anglican Theological College until Trinity College became a new ecumenical training centre. Then the old St Peter’s College was divided into four for missionary accommodation. The chapel’s sanctuary became our bedroom – with very little ventilation! Living there on the spot, and with little privacy, it was common for young people to be at our door early in the mornings with their questions. Parents who chose St Andrew’s School usually did so for the standard of its education, not for its Christian influence. But teenagers, receiving a scientific education, would often begin to question the traditional religions of their families. It was not until a commitment had been made that they would consider themselves to be Christian. Until then they would be known as ‘Free Thinkers.’ Baptisms and confirmations were part of the Easter celebration. Many whom we knew as teenagers are now involved in mission trips to countries which are now Deaneries of the Diocese of Singapore.

The school warden and principal, with their families, also lived within the compound. Nearby were many poor families. Some had employment positions around the church, school grounds and tuck shop. They were mainly Malay (Muslim) also Chinese and Indian. We had friendships there too. Two teenage Malay girls each helped me part-time with cooking and washing. That was after I realised I couldn’t do it all myself and that it was giving employment where needed.

Our boys attended St Andrew’s School with Stuart in the kindergarten. Apart from two school terms, they were the only white children. Kathryn, with another European girl, was at St Margaret’s Primary School which had the honour of being the oldest girls’ school in S.E. Asia. Students at both mission schools were taught in English. At that time their education involved rote learning. Students were discouraged from giving their own interpretation in any exam questions. This was very different from the project type research which children were used to in New Zealand. (For our children that proved to be a good preparation to learning for exams in secondary and tertiary education back here.) Other schools provided a different language choice. Children in all schools learned the National language, Malay, as a compulsory extra. At the end of their primary schooling students had to pass the Malay exam in order to go on to Senior School. As John had one year in the Senior School that had applied to him as well. Alastair, as a seven year old, had started in Primary One, meaning he had to learn Mandarin as well. To help the children catch up with their level I learned as much written Malay as I could. Kathryn became adept at speaking Bahasa Malay in the market and at road side stalls so that was a big help to us, especially when on holiday in Malaya.

At first our children had to learn to cope with unkind comments, even from some teachers. That was racism in reverse but it wasn’t long before our children were bringing friends home and so barriers were broken down. They were an important part of our ministry. Some of the younger children who lived in the school compound came to me for help with English and maths.

Singapore: then and now

Singapore in the 60s was very different from the Singapore of today. Guns faced out to Indonesia. American soldiers from Vietnam came on furlough. Communist cells were scattered throughout the island. There was high unemployment and frequent racial riots. Housing estates were being developed. The Singapore and Kallang rivers flooded in monsoons. There was rubbish in abundance and the smells most unsavoury. Mosquitos, ants, snakes, toads and quick-darting lizards (chit-chats) were prevalent. Any bites or broken skin quickly became infected.

With fans and mosquito nets but no air conditioning, we would, when possible, all go to the city to cool down at Cold Storage. It was a refrigerated market shop selling mainly imported foods. That was also the time when we could visit the library. After a visit from the Rev. Harry Thompson, NZCMS General Secretary, we had a hot water source provided in the house and a subscription to a swimming club. That was wonderful – somewhere to go as a family to relax. (We hadn’t realised that in the tropics bare feet & sitting on the grass are a no-no and even in the heat hot water for washing is more cleansing and refreshing.) The only contact with New Zealand relatives during those years was through letters and spoken tapes and postage was slow.

We were the first NZCMS short-term missionaries. We had hoped to return after furlough for another two years but that didn’t fit in with NZCMS structures at the time. A family of six, with older children, became too expensive. Transport by sea was no longer an option after the Suez Canal closed, as shipping then went by another route which didn’t include Singapore. Another full term didn’t fit in with New Zealand’s university requirements for John either. At that time a student had to be living in the country for the preceding two years in order to qualify for ‘free’ tertiary education.

In the 60s only 1% of Singapore’s population but approximately 10% of St Andrew’s School pupils were Christian.  The 2010 census now records over 18% of the population as Christian.

We returned to New Zealand January 1969.  Alan was inducted into the parish of Geraldine by the beginning of February. Without time to process our experiences, the re-entry was much harder than we had expected. The children had left behind those they had come to know as aunties and uncles. We were all homesick for Singapore for a very long time.

Contacts continued. Friends visited and students coming to Canterbury University to study would be referred to us direct or through the diocese. We would be involved in finding boarding situations and providing a home away from home during holidays. Many of those students, now with children and even grandchildren of their own, still maintain contact.

Alan and I were able to return to Singapore on four occasions:

In 1983 for the last three weeks of Alan’s study leave. We stayed with a lecturer at Trinity College and his family. He had been Alan’s curate at the Ascension.

1992 and 2002 –invitations were sent to attend the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the Church of the Ascension. For the former we were sent the tickets to ensure that we went. That time we also spent five weeks at Tawau, Sabah in the Diocese of East Malaysia whilst Alan did a locum to enable the Vicar to take study leave. We stayed at the Vicarage with his family.

2006 – Members of the school Old Boys’ Association sent tickets. This time it was to attend a school rugby final between St Andrew’s School and Raffles Institute. Alan had initiated the Kiwi Cup which had been given through Mr Weir, the New Zealand High Commissioner at the time. After lapsing for several years the competition had been reinstated and the Old Boys wanted Alan there to present the cup. Raffles won!

On these occasions our accommodation was arranged with people known to us and hospitality was given by different groups. It was always moving to hear them talking about their school days, even repeating verbatim memories they had from Alan’s teaching and speaking openly of their Faith with an obvious and natural love of God.

I am godmother (kaima) to two and NZ Mum to two others who all keep in regular communication. In addition there are many others with whom I have contact as do family members when the opportunity arises.

Even in December 2015 three generations of a family who were visiting the South Island asked for advice regarding their touring. Twenty of us in Christchurch with Singapore connections shared a meal together. They had home hospitality and shared worship as well. The grandparents, teenagers in the 60s, were James (Lap Kuan), a boarding house boy from Christmas Island and Christianne (Hoo Bee) one whom I trained as a Sunday school teacher and she still is.

We had learned so much from living amongst those of other ethnicities, languages and religions where we were very much in the minority. These people had suffered so much during the war years from torture, cruelty, hunger, grief and deprivation yet, amongst Christians, we were aware of so much forgiveness.

Our three years in Singapore had made a big impact on us all as a family.


Within the NZCMS family is a wealth of experience and a wealth of stories. It’s our hope that we’ll be able to share some stories from returned Mission Partners, reminding us all of the tireless efforts that paved the way for NZCMS today. If you have a story to share, please contact office@nzcms.org.nz

Reclaiming the Discipleship Roots of CMS (Issue 24)

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Two thousand years ago the world’s true ruler came declaring that the Kingdom of God was at hand. He explained – and demonstrated – what that Kingdom looks like. He died for our sins and rose to inaugurate that Kingdom. But rather than continuing to gather followers and spread the Kingdom himself, he did something peculiar. He told his followers that they were the ones to continue his mission, and central to their mission was this thing called discipleship (Matthew 28:19).

Discipleship is central to mission. As Dallas Willard said, “The church is for discipleship, and discipleship is for the world.” But where does this group called CMS, the Church Missionary Society, fit into the picture?

To be honest, we’ve wondered that ourselves. We’ve wondered where we fit in and alongside the Kiwi Church. And we’ve been wondering how we can make discipleship central to who we are and how we operate.

Back to our roots

As it turns out, when CMS was launched over two hundred years ago, discipleship was already central to our vision, values, models and methods. So when we say we’re making discipleship central, we’re actually talking about reclaiming something of our original DNA. We’re reclaiming this same focus for a changing world and a new generation.

The early CMS didn’t just send people overseas. Joining CMS meant being committed to mission everywhere, whether in deepest Africa or the streets of London. And ‘local’ and ‘global’ weren’t seen as opposed, but two sides of a single coin. After all, can you really say you value God’s mission if you only care about your own neighbourhood or focus only on the other side of the world? That’s why the early CMS sent people from within the community to the farthest reaches, and why they fought the slave trade in England – Wilberforce was one of CMS’ founders you know.

To join CMS meant to be part of a missional community who were together learning what it meant to follow a missional God. And that’s what emerged in New Zealand in the 1940s. Young evangelicals from various churches, calling themselves the NZCMS League of Youth, started gathering to explore all things mission. A movement was born. Passion for mission and the Gospel resulted in many people coming to Christ or going deeper in their faith. And from among the community people were sent into the nations. The League eventually waned, but we hope to see a new movement with that same passion raised up, one that suits our post-modern, post-Christian context.

From Agency to Community

Today NZCMS is typically seen as being a mission agency. We may send people to other countries, but ‘agency’ isn’t the right word to describe us. We’re the Church Missionary Society. First and foremost, we’re supposed to be a society, a community centred on God and his mission. We’re not an organisation you support or a list of missionaries for the church wall, but a community you belong to – a community made up of people across different churches, united by a passion for local and global mission.

How should this look in the 21st century? To be perfectly honest, we don’t fully know yet. Yet we sense God is moving us from functioning like an agency to being a nation-wide missional community once again.

So maybe the question isn’t so much where we fit, but where you fit.

The answer is to become CMS, not just support CMS. Because CMS isn’t, at its core, an office or an agency. CMS is you. It’s you aligning yourself to God’s missional Kingdom purposes and joining others who are on that same journey. It’s about becoming part of a movement that reaches beyond your local efforts to the farthest corners of the earth – because mission here should inspire mission there, and vice versa.

We’re exploring what the Society across the nation could become, seeking to develop and nurture purposeful missional communities. How are we to pass on the rich missional heritage to the emerging generations? How can we invite those God leads us to journey with us in our missional engagement? Can we be a community from which people are sent? All across the country I meet young adults seeking missional-direction. The challenge is finding mentors and coaches willing to journey with and open their lives to these people. We desperately need ‘discipleship incubation centres,’ missional hubs and communities: homes, café groups, small gatherings and churches seeking to shape the next generation of mission workers.

We’ve already started reclaiming this emphasis on discipleship. We’ve launched an online ‘community’ that hopes to engage young adults in an on-going missional conversation (nzcms.org.nz/hashtag). We’ve re-invented our Haerenga Mission Internship as an apprenticeship, reclaiming discipleship through imitation by placing people serious about cross-cultural mission under an active missionary (nzcms.org.nz/haerenga). We’re developing resources to equip you in your local efforts (nzcms.org.nz/intermission). We’re finding ways to expand our regional efforts. And we’re preparing to launch a new initiative for anyone seeking intentional missional discipleship that integrates into their daily lives.

Friends, we’re enthused by the journey God has us on of re-discovering our discipleship roots. Rather than say ‘will you join us’, I want to say:  ‘How can we join you?’ That is, how can we partner with you to deepen and further your missional efforts? We want to resource you, encourage you, challenge and equip you to participate in mission-focused communities wherever you are, and in doing so see you flourish as the Community of Mission Service. I’m looking for key people who want to be equipped to support and network local groups that are seeking to be intentional about living missionally. You may be a NZCMS faithful, you might be discovering who NZCMS is for the first time. No matter your journey, we look forward to where God is leading us together.

To find out how we can partner in mission, email me at steve@nzcms.org.nz


For discussion

What would it mean for your group to belong to this ‘community of mission service’?

What do you think CMS could look like in 21st century New Zealand?


Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Teapots and DNA: The Foundations of CMS (Issue 22)

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By Philip Mounstephen (CMS UK)

This article is a summarised version of the talk given by Philip at the Our Story Hui last year.

If you were to sit at my desk in CMS House in Oxford and look at my computer screen you would see that my desktop wallpaper is a picture of a silver teapot. It was around that very teapot that a group, known as the Eclectic Society, gathered one day in March 1799. The question up for discussion that day: “What methods can we use more effectually to promote the knowledge of the Gospel among the Heathen?”

The answer they came to was to form a society. It wasn’t formed for itself but for the sake of others, and formed indeed for the sake of the Lord. This new society was first called “The Society for Missions to Africa and the East instituted by members of the Established Church,” but (thankfully) it was eventually shortened to the Church Mission Society.

This new society was in many ways the brain child of the remarkable group of friends who lived together in the village of Clapham under the guidance of the Rector of Clapham, John Venn. The best known of this group was William Wilberforce, the leading light in the campaign to abolish the slave trade, but in truth it was a gathering of many quite remarkable people. Their detractors labelled them, rather derisively ‘The Clapham Sect’ but it’s a name that stuck and by which we will still refer to them – but now with great affection.


Not always right, but not always wrong

The great missionary enterprise of the 19th and 20th Centuries has often been criticised – frequently out of ignorance. We certainly didn’t always get it right, not by any means. But today we should also remember that many who followed the call to mission left their homes with their possessions packed in a coffin because they had no expectation of returning. Often as not, they respected the cultures they found, expressed the Gospel with cultural sensitively and frequently stood in the gap between those cultures and the often brutal machinery of European imperialism. That was true in New Zealand and it was true elsewhere too.

Over the 216 years since our founding some 10 000 people have crossed cultures and continents to share the Good News of Jesus through CMS. It’s no exaggeration to say that the face of the Church in Africa, in Asia and South America – and in other places too – is substantially different because of the long-term, committed, faithful, sacrificial work of CMS Mission Partners.

My favourite quotation about CMS comes from a man called S.C. Carpenter, Dean of Exeter. Writing in 1933 he said “CMS was at times limited, at times injudicious, but always full of life; a guild with its own peculiar vocation within the life of the Church.” I love that. I think it captures something of the adventurous ambition of the Society. I don’t mind us being limited, as long as we limit ourselves to mission. I don’t mind us being sometimes injudicious, because we always want to take risks in mission. But I do want us to have that sense of being a guild, a family, a community – think of those friends gathered together round the teapot – with a sense of our own particular calling within the life of God’s church: a calling to long-term, committed, faithful, sacrificial global mission.

So what is the DNA of CMS? What defines us as a Society?


The Four strands of CMS

All about people. Our mission has been and always will be about people. It sounds deceptively simple, but actually it’s fundamental. Mission is about people. It’s not about technique or strategy – at least not first and foremost. First and foremost it’s about people relating to other people and discovering in the encounter their true humanity in Jesus Christ.

That’s why when we (CMS UK) articulate our four values we don’t talk about four detached adjectives: pioneering, evangelistic, relational and faithful. We say rather that we are people who are pioneering, evangelistic, relational and faithful. It’s all about character and being formed in the likeness of Christ and displaying his character to the world.


Persistence. What made the early people of CMS so remarkable? It’s hard to overlook their sheer dogged persistence. They were so steeped in the Scriptures that they did not doubt that it was the Lord’s will that his Gospel should spread across the whole world. They understood that difficulty and discouragement were inevitable companions in mission.

They would not give up. Would we have done the same? I fear not. We are too easily put off by difficulty and discouragement, presuming it’s a sign that we’ve missed God’s will.


Holistic Mission. We’re committed to holistic mission because Jesus Christ is Lord of all. We accept no sacred/secular divide. We want to reflect in what we do the commitment of Jesus Christ to the whole person, to the whole of society, to all of creation.

That commitment is very deeply rooted for us. In fact, CMS and the movement for the abolition of slavery share common origins. Because they so rejected any sacred/secular divide, freedom from slavery and freedom in Christ were all of a piece in our founders’ minds.

Our founders in the Clapham Sect were not only about slavery and CMS. They really did want to change the whole world: through things such animal welfare, education, food banks and credit unions – all of which sounds very contemporary. Indeed after the slave trade had finally been abolished Wilberforce turned to Henry Thornton and said, “Well, Henry, what shall we abolish next?” to which Thornton replied, “The National Lottery, I think.” Now there’s an idea!


The priority of Mission. Over the last few years the Church of England has come to the huge realisation that, to quote the words of Tim Dearborn, “It is not that the Church of God has a mission in the world; it’s that the God of mission has a church in the world.” There’s a huge difference between the two attitudes. In the first mission is just one activity of the Church: mission is smaller than the church. In the second it’s the other way round. Mission is much bigger than the Church because it’s not our mission, it’s God’s mission. It’s God’s mission that he calls us to be involved in.

Our founders in the Clapham Sect were well aware that the Church of God does not set the agenda for mission but rather mission sets the agenda for the Church of God. That indeed was why they founded CMS. If they had waited for the Established Church to respond to the challenge of mission they would have waited a very long time indeed. But they followed not the Church’s agenda but the mission agenda – and their obedience and persistence in doing so did indeed change the world.

Lesslie Newbigin once said, “Our business is to go outside the church walls, become aware of what God is doing, and cooperate with Him.” That’s what Marsden and the Clapham Sect did. I think that’s exactly what we need to do too.

It’s outside the walls of the Church, in the uncomfortable and marginal places, that we rediscover the priority of mission and can engage with fresh energy in the transformatory mission of God. The history of CMS has always been, at our best, to go from the comfortable to the marginal. The very best way to honour that heritage, that DNA, is to go on making the same commitment ourselves.



For Discussion.

Which of the ‘four strands’ stand out to you the most and why?

How can you live out this CMS DNA in your own contexts?


Originally published in Intermission (Issue 22, May 2015)