Author(s): Reverend Dr Geoff M.R. Haworth
The Christchurch City Mission is one of the city’s most respected and active caring organisations. It was born during the start of the Great Depression, the last of New Zealand’s Anglicanfounded city missions. It took root during a time of social upheaval, as Christchurch came to grips with the depression, and then with the outbreak of the Second World War.
Countless Cantabrians have benefitted from the services it provides. Many hundreds of people have contributed to its teams of volunteers, or joined its paid staff. Many more give generously to supporting its operations, sharing its vision, and planning its future.
As the Mission prepares to celebrates its ninetieth birthday, it will finally tell its story. It is a remarkable story of vision, generosity, daring experiment, and fruitful partnerships. The City Missioners have all been people of rare talents and creative energy. They have been served by many people of strong ability and practicality, united in their dedication to the purposes of the City Mission.
When the Mission first began, it was resourced mainly by goodwill and faltering amounts of money, in a city under dire economic stress. It could barely afford to pay its City Missioner. Yet within a few years, it built its own headquarters, and set up a hostel for unemployed men. Now, it has a staff of over 70, and hundreds of olunteers.
It has a complex range of services, and yet still exists to help people who come to it because of particular needs in their lives. During the Canterbury earthquakes, it was forced to make major changes to its operations, while still greatly increasing its energy and the services it provided. When the city really needed help, the City Mission was there. Its history is marked by guts – the courage of its staff and volunteers, and of those who saw the need for Mission, and ensured that it could survive and grow. And it is marked by grace – the impulse to freely offer assistance to those in need, because grace is what is needed, to touch the human heart.
The Reverend Dr Geoff Haworth is a retired Anglican priest. Geoff wrote the first published history of the impact of World War Two on the life of a major church in New Zealand, Marching As To War? The Anglican Church in New Zealand during World War II. He is also the author of He Taonga Tongarewa: A Highly Prized and precious Gift – the commissioned study of the creation of A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare O Aotearoa. He has also written The Triumph of Maintenance Over Mission: Or Local Mission at the Flaxroots, a study of the development of local shared ministry/mutual ministry within New Zealand’s Anglican Church.