The Auckland City Mission has been next door to St Matthew-in-the-City for the last 40 years. The Mission work began 98 years ago when Rev Jasper Calder was appointed the first Missioner, building on work already begun as the “Dock Street Mission.”
So it was a big day for us when fittingly on St Matthew’s Day 23 September 2018 we walked from our festive service in procession during the final hymn over to the Mission building to say farewell.
We gave thanks for all the people who had been served in that space, and all who served. Deacon Wilf Holt (who works at the Mission) and I then walked the building with the incense from our service, symbolic of our prayers of thanks rising. Until we set off the fire alarm and the final evacuation of the building happened rather quicker than planned with sirens blaring. Oops – sorry about that!
The day before we had gathered outside the old building and journeyed – on a hikoi (for our overseas readers a hikoi is a journey with a purpose) – to the temporary home for the Mission on Union St.
We sang as we walked the few minutes it took us to get there and we carried the wairua (the spirit) of the old building with us.
Then a large crowd of guests were welcomed in and as we walked we blessed the building with water.
“Open the windows and doors of this place that the light and love of your Holy Spirit may shine within, a light in the world for warmth and welcome.” (A NZ Prayer Book p 763).
For the water I used the bowl from our baptismal font symbolizing new beginnings.
City Missioner Chris Farrelly and General Manager Helen Robinson spoke powerfully of the wairua that was with them in the people, and their determination that the people they served would have a place of dignity to eat and meet in. The old building gave no dignity at all, with cramped spaces and a rabbit warren of offices. The new temporary building has room to sit to eat, where people can be served, where conversation can happen. It will prepare them well for the new Home Ground whose construction is about to begin.
The speeches were just as powerfully supported by waiata (songs) from the Street Choir. The Spirit was definitely moving in that day. Then a first meal was shared.
There are new volunteer opportunities at the Mission serving in the new kitchen and of course donations are always welcome https://www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz/
In the meantime we watch over the old site and get ready for the blessing of the ground as they begin to build.