Colin Gibson Workshops June 2010

The New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, the Taranaki Bishopric,
and the SW Region of Kaimai Presbytery
together held “These Hills Workshops”
in Te Kuiti and Bell Block, New Plymouth in June 2010.


Colin Gibson workshop report from a participant from Auckland (- when telling others of Colin’s upcoming October 2011 tour.)
We saw the initial advertisement for a Colin Gibson workshop in a
Presbyterian magazine that was lent to us by our local Presby. Minister, for
a completely different subject. We emailed Gaynor McCartney about it and
went down to stay in Te Kuiti in a motel overnight, went to the workshop on
the Saturday and later travelled home to Auckland, stopping for a meal on
the way. This was last year. (It only took 3.5 hours from Point Chevalier to
get to Te Kuiti. Piopio is about 20 minutes further, on the road to New
Plymouth.) It was a splendid occasion and we were well looked after with
country hospitality. We were asked to take a ‘plate’ for a shared lunch and
a donation towards costs. (Needless to say we visited the Dutch Cheese
Factory at Pokeno and found some crackers or nice bread too.)
When we received this notification recently from Gaynor McCartney I thought
‘what a pity we can’t open it up to some others’… such a big effort
was put in by these kind hospitable folk down in the King Country.
As you will see from Gaynor’s letter, there are several workshops being
planned in different areas which might suit people better than Piopio.
For anyone who likes singing or organises church music, we found this a day
of great interest, lots of singing and many like minded people to talk to.
Colin Gibson not only played his music but entertained us with his chatter
about the hymns he had written. We also had a talk from Val Riches, Rural Dean for North East Taranaki. She spoke on being a Welcoming Church.
Eleanor Lane, August 2011
Colin Gibson workshop report from a participant at Bell Block.
Approximately 23 people from Taranaki joined with Colin, Dean Val and Gaynor (who had arranged for the Workshop to take place) at St Luke’s on Monday night 14th June. We had no real idea of what to expect and by the time the evening was over we were really excited. What an interesting time it was. Colin spoke about hymn writing in New Zealand and about the ideas and New Zealand images that are in the hymns. He shared the stories behind some of them and how they came to be written. It was really good to hear these stories and to look at the words in a new light. I suspect most of us had never really looked at the imagery in hymns before and I believe that we will be looking at Hymns in a very different way now. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this workshop.
Jan Cox, Licensed Lay Administrator.
St Luke’s Church, Bell Block.

Report of These Hills Workshops – Organiser’s Viewpoint
We held two “These Hills Workshops”         
on 12th June in Te Kuiti, and 14th in Bell Block.
Colin Gibson led topics
“NZ Imagery in Worship” and
“Lay leadership in Worship”.
Rev Val Riches led
“Listening to the Stories”.

Colin discussed the theme of hymns expressing a New Zealand identity through their images of the landscape. He explained why some older hymns, feeding the nostalgia for UK and Europe in colonial days, no longer have relevance to NZers today, and pointied out those aspects of certain hymns that show the expertise of writers like Bill Bennett and Shirley Erena Murray. His second topic centred round the authenticity of lay leadership in worship as modeled by Jesus and in the early Christian Church; the giftedness we all have so that all can share in the tasks of leadership; and the need for parishes to nurture emerging skills in their members.

Val demonstrated how our pastoral ministries gain new direction when we understand where the people involved have come from. One example she used was of passengers in a bus annoyed that a father was not controlling his children’s noise etc. When someone spoke to him about it, he explained they had just come from the hospital where his wife had died two hours earlier. Everyone in the bus became more understanding and helpful. Val also opened our eyes to the background of the Sunday’s lectionary readings.

This workshop project was sparked by the combination of my concern for the SW corner of Kaimai Presbytery and my desire, after the NZ Hymnbook Trust’s Labour Weekend Conference, to bring Colin to speak in my part of the country. I was brought face to face with how geographically remote we are, and yet Colin’s name brought people flocking to us from Putaruru, Matamata, Hamilton, Pukekohe, and Auckland, as well as exciting those more local.

We ran one workshop in Te Kuiti on Sat 12th June (50+ attended), and another in Bellblock, New Plymouth on Monday evening (23 attended), with all local churches invited. At the end of each workshop people were very enthused. So I asked those gathered if they would like me to get Colin back in 18 months time and got resounding applause. People from further afield told me they will support us in future similar events. They were delighted that we included workshop topics relating to Lay Leadership.

These Hills Workshops were advertised widely as a combination of SW Presbytery, The NZ Hymnbook Trust, and the Anglican Taranaki Bishopric.

The NZ Hymnbook Trust encouraged us, supported us with much needed advice, and paid for a lot of the advertising. Our sales table sold over $1100 worth of the Trust’s books and CDs, and twenty Karaoke CDs produced by Roald and Lucy Barthow of songs from the latest book, Hope is Our Song.

The Bishopric booked Colin’s flights enabling us to get the earlybird fares totalling $380 as opposed to the ordinary fare of about $680.

We effectively broke even. Registration was free but we encouraged donations towards our expenses – which were mainly Colin’s fares, petrol travelling him between planes, and local advertising.

Pat Gibb and Terry Tutty did the on the ground organisation for the Te Kuiti workshop, held at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. I consulted parishes for topics, invited tutors, and saw to travel arrangements and advertising, with a lot of welcome advice from Colin, John Thornley (manager of the Hymnbook Trust), and Rev Val Riches (Regional Dean, NE Taranaki – Anglican) who organised the Bellblock event.

I thoroughly enjoyed showing Colin two local waterfalls and the limestone features of our landscape. My husband had hot meals waiting for us each evening.

The workshops were such a success that we have established a group “Ecumenical Workshops – KC&T” (short for King Country & Taranaki) to run more twin-venue events, held in Te Kuiti / Piopio and Bellblock Churches. In this sparsely populated area it is important to share our events across denominational and geographical boundaries. We have opened a bank account and hope to build up a ‘kitty’ for paying travel bookings in advance. We will mostly find North Island leaders to keep travel costs down. We’ll welcome ideas for workshop topics and suggestions of possible leaders.

Next Event – Practical Workshops on 12 &13th March 2011,
[1] Roy Tankersley teaching us the songs and how to teach them to our congregations,
[2] Malcolm Gordon initiating us to writing hymn verses, and
[3] an aspect of Lay Leadership (Te Kuiti only).

Gaynor McCartney
11 July 2010

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