After COVID-19 lockdowns cancelled the North New Zealand Conference’s (NNZC) Pastors’ Retreat in 2020, this year’s edition was finally given the green light from March 22 to 25 after being postponed by Auckland’s lockdown for a second time.
Hosted at the Maranatha Church in Rotorua, the theme for the weekend was “I Will Go . . . On”. “As pastors, our lives, our ministries, our calling, our identity, have all been impacted by the uncertainties of the last year, just as it has impacted us all. Yet we are still called to go and to carry on in the work God has put before us,” explained Tony Parrish, pastor of New Plymouth and Stratford Adventist churches.
Relying on local talent due to border closures, attendees enjoyed presentations from regional pastors on a variety of topics, beginning with a word from NNZC president Pastor Bob Larsen. Over the three days, Doug McCleod (regional pastor for Auckland north and west) spoke about success in ministry, Joe Tesese (regional pastor for Wellington) shared on balancing family and ministry, Dr Limoni Manu (pastor of Whanganui and Hawera) presented on confronting theological challenges, Pastor Dale Hokin (NNZC children and whanau ministries director) spoke about LGBTQ+ issues in the church, and Adrielle Carrasco (registered nurse and NNZC health director) shared on pastors being more in tune with their health.
Interspersed throughout the presentations were thoughtful devotions, praise and worship, and interactive ice breakers. In addition, pastors enjoyed hot pools, basketball, mountain biking, deep conversations and fellowship.
“Pastoring can be a lonely calling but gathering together helps galvanise the team and provides energy to continue. The call by the end of the meetings changed from I will go on to WE will go on. We are all on a mission together for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom,” said Pastor Parrish.
A highlight of the retreat was the recognition of many pastors for their years of service, including 52 years of ministry from Pastor Etonia Temo. He received a standing ovation from his colleagues to celebrate his dedication to ministry.
“Special thanks must be given to Pastor Tata Strickland and his team at Maranatha Church for treating the pastors to such incredible manaakitanga—their hospitality is unmatched,” said Pastor Parrish. “Maranatha were wonderful hosts. We also acknowledge the students from Rotorua Adventist School for helping out.”