The Ministers Collective is an ecumenical group of ministers formed at the height of the COVID-19 Delta Variant outbreak in Auckland. The group meets fortnightly to explore various topics, including community development, and how churches can better reimagine their roles to better support their communities in a changing society.
When multi-denominational groups come together there are often questions of which way is the ‘best way’ and what denominations are doing the most in order to support their congregation. In the Minister’s Collective the questions are less about the ministers’ differences and more about their similar goals of better serving their communities.
For Ifalame Teisi – the operation manager of Taulanga U, the social working arm of the Free Churches of Tonga – the Minister’s Collective has many advantages not just for their congregations who benefit from the group’s networking but also for the ministers themselves.
“I’ve really loved joining this group, there are a lot of advantages that we have from this group, not only are we breaking down barriers of the different ethnicities, to just be ministers and pastors together, we’re breaking down barriers between different denominations.
“We’re here to see how we can support different communities – in the same way we’ve been working alongside our communities to get vaccinated, with both covid and now flu.”
Established in March 2021 as a community of practice to assist Pacific churches in the response to Covid-19 and the vaccination roll-out, the Church Ministers Interfaith Collective was convened at the height of the delta variant outbreak to encourage and mobilise Pacific communities to get vaccinated.
Over a year later 12 ministers remain as part of the collective which consists of different denominations and cultural backgrounds including the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, Samoan Methodist Church, Tongan Wesleyan Church, Cook Island Seventh Day Adventist Church, NZ Wesleyan Church.
The group has continued to meet on a fortnightly basis looking at other areas of church life, from faith in a contemporary context, supporting their congregations through the pandemic and improving their quality of life to capability-building not only for themselves as ministers but for the congregations they serve.
Through the collective, members of their congregations have connected with micro credentialing programmes such as two courses on ‘life online’ and ‘money confidence’. The lessons learned gave the participants essential digital and financial skills for work and home life.
“There’s a lot of work not only around responding to immediate needs of our communities but also a chance for our group to look at how we shift an inequitable system to be responsive to our people,” says Sam Lafolua Relationships Manager – Pacific Faith Based Communities – at The Cause Collective.
The trained church minister has led the weekly gathering of The Ministers Collective since its inception and has seen firsthand how the ministers were able to mobilise their communities in ways that states could only imagine. Leading by faith in order to inspire their congregations to walk by faith.
EFKS Sandringham’s Dr Rev Featunai likened the collective to an advisory group.
“We would be good as an advisory group, whether it is health, social issues, we have the ability to move seamlessly between issues– and right now health is the most important focus.”
Health and wellbeing has been a constant focus for the ministers as they want to ensure that their congregations and communities emerge from the pandemic primed and ready to thrive.
“What we have done so far is a little drop in the ocean but meaningful to the community,” says Rev Epeli Taungapeau.
“We are key people and we have the trust of our people, so it’s about looking forward to the future.”
For more information about the Ministers Collective, contact Sam Lafolua, Relationships Manager – Pacific Faith Based Churches. E: firstname.lastname@example.org M: 021 082 53498