Christchurch congregations up for a challenge

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Two Pacific Island churches in Christchurch (New Zealand) are putting their best foot forward to encourage other church communities to be healthy.

Inspired by the Garden City Tongan church’s efforts at the ASB Summer Starter—described as Canterbury’s most dynamic, fun and colourful fun run and walk—late last year, Christchurch Fijian pastor Jesel Royokada is challenging his congregation to step up and enter the city to surf fun run this year.

“I thought, ‘We can do that,'” said Pastor Royokada. “I’d love to see our church leading the way and taking exercise seriously.”

Not to be outdone, Garden City Tongan matched their entry numbers, and together they’re throwing the challenge out even wider, hoping to inspire other community and faith-based organisations.

“It’s a great idea to combine together,” said Garden City Tongan youth leader Teuila Saafi. “Maybe we might inspire the Samoans or other ethnicities.”

The two Pasifika churches have already started preparations for the March 19 event by training together on Sunday mornings at Hagley Park—combining prayer and walking.

“I found the Sunday morning walk fulfilling by building up my faith, while also building my body,” said Pastor Royokada. “If you have good spiritual health, you should want to have a healthy body too—the two go hand and hand, so this is a great opportunity for our congregation to ensure they have both.”

As part of challenging other churches to enter the city to surf event, Pastor Royokada and Ms Saafi have opened the invitation to the wider community to join them in their prayer walks.

“It would be great to see other churches and community groups taking part,” said Pastor Royokada. “We meet at 6:30am at the carpark in the south end of Hagley Park and we’d love to have anyone join us. It would be great to see some new faces!”