Hot Chips & Coffee

Thank you to all those who have put their thoughts on post-it notes on the response board in the foyer or sent emails about the future of our Church cafe space. Below is a brief summary of the key themes that have come through so far. We will be asking for more feedback over the next 2 weeks and then having an open meeting on March the 2nd to discuss together all that we have heard.

This week in response to the two questions we heard you saying:

1. What are the things you value and special memories of the café:

Hot chips, meeting and bringing non church people to neutral environment, great place to connect with others, safe environment, sharing food with others, employment opportunities for those who need extra support, place to be able to talk, great space for functions

2. What are your hopes and dreams for the future of the café space

Keep the café space open for hospitality, use the space for events, does not have to be full cafe


Submission on the Right to Die bill

The government is looking at the law around assisted suicide and the potential of a bill to bring a law change.  Late last year a small group of concerned people from the church began drafting a submission to go before the select committee.

The busy Christmas and January period is not an easy time to collate a submission but one has hurriedly put together and agreed to by the church elders as a submission they are willing to send under the church name.

The submission is below. if you have comments or thoughts please let Alan know via email –


The Right to Die Bill

Submission by Southwest Baptist church

1. Introduction

In this submission we articulate, on behalf of Southwest Baptist Church, our opposition to the End of Life Choice Bill. This statement, reflecting the research and life experience of multiple people, explains our objections to the Bill .These objections are formed from several perspectives including – medical, psychiatric and biblical and consider the effects of voluntary euthanasia within the societies that have already legalised it. We believe that New Zealand society is immeasurably better off without Physician Assisted Suicide being legalised.

2. South West Baptist Church

South West Baptist is a large multi-ethnic church situated in Christchurch. It has a membership of over 1100 people, weekly attendances of approximately 1400, and is particularly known for its work in the community through a large number of ministries.

Today 24 ministries started by church members are providing more than 40 community services connecting with over 2000 people each week. Collectively the church began ministries which employ over 300 staff, with hundreds of volunteers assisting. The annual ministry expenditure is over $13 million. These ministries are as diverse as a community preschool, work among at-risk children, a budgeting service that provides loans at no interest, and the largest provider of mental health services in Christchurch outside the hospital system.

South West Baptist is particularly effective in youth work founding the Spreydon Youth Community (SYC) and the 24-7 Youthwork which places youth workers in intermediate and secondary schools nationwide.

3. Foundational Statement

As a church, we believe that God is the author of all life. Because of this, life has inherent value and human beings should not take that into our own hands, as it is not our role to ‘play God.’

4. South West Baptist perspective on the proposed ‘End of Life Choice’ bill.

As a church, we believe it is not the role of government to enforce faith-based directives, or make decisions purely based on Christian doctrine. However, as humans and New Zealand citizens, we affirm the universal, inherent worth of human life. In light of this, the rationale behind the writing of this bill must be examined; its assumptions about the suffering and the value of life will, if put into practise, fundamentally alter the way we view and treat the gravely ill and elderly. Euthanasia creates a society in which one’s value is determined by one’s own sense of comfort or suffering, which (in a disturbing number of cases) is often subject to the prejudices and mistreatment  by others. We as a church are strongly opposed to the proposed bill.

5. Medical and Psychiatric Concerns

The bill states that voluntary euthanasia will be an option for people who meet (amongst other criteria) the following;

“(c) suffers from-

(i) a terminal illness or other medical condition that is likely to end his or her life within 6 months; or

(ii) a grievous and irremediable medical condition; and

(d)  is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and

(e)   experiences unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that he or she considers tolerable; and

(f)   has the ability to understand –

(i)             the nature of assisted dying; and

(ii)           the consequences for him or her of assisted dying.”

While there are several problems with the wording of this bill; the definition of terminal illness is not clear, nor is the distinction between ‘terminal’ and ‘chronic’. What is evident in the wording of the bill, is the belief that ‘value of life’ is somehow determined by the level of pain or suffering one is experiencing. We do not agree with this worrying precedent. If the experience of pain or suffering is the measure of the value of life, this creates a sense that one’s worth is dependent on one’s sense of comfort. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is not without real-life impact. According to a report conducted by the Oregon state government in 2013, physical pain was not one of the top reasons for seeking euthanasia, whereas ‘the fear of burdening others’ was. If The Right to Die Bill is passed, we risk becoming a society where those who require care and aid will see themselves as placing undue burden upon others and, in turn may seek to end their lives prematurely because of this.

Additionally, the issue of mental competency needs to be addressed. Depression and anxiety have pervasive effects on the psyche as articulated in a 2006 editorial for medical website Onmedica;

“The college believes that psychiatric issues are of crucial importance when PAS is considered, and point out that, while clear diagnoses of severe depression or psychosis may occur in this group of people, more frequently, judgement may be coloured by mild depression, mild cognitive impairment and pressure from others. Depression is a subtle insidious condition, which hugely influences people’s psychological processes…”

‘Psychiatrists oppose assisted dying bill’,Onmedica

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Depression (along with other mental illnesses) can be a factor in the decision to euthanize, and cannot be ignored.  The Onmedica article goes on to say “Once a person’s depression is treated effectively most (98-99%) will subsequently change their minds about wanting to die. In persons suffering with painful, disabling and terminal illnesses, depression is very common.” As the statistics from Oregon reveal, feeling like a burden on others is a leading reason people opt for euthanasia, and the World Health Organisation identifies the ‘burdensome feeling’ as a common symptom of depression; even in milder, harder to diagnose strains. With judgement impaired in this way, individuals cannot make a fully rational, informed decision and PAS becomes a ‘solution’ for depression.

In light of the difficulties surrounding determining mental competency, the language and practice surrounding PAS must also be evaluated, particularly with regard to consent. The Right to Die Bill hinges on the concept of consent – a concept which has been treated with ambiguity in the countries/territories where euthanasia has been legalised. According to an anonymous survey conducted among Dutch physicians in 2010, there were as many as 300 cases of non-voluntary euthanasia recorded that year. This is disturbing; if purported safeguards are so easily transgressed, involuntary euthanasia becomes a danger to anyone simply considering PAS as an option.

6. The Age of Consent

The issue of consent is also called into question with regard to children. In Holland, children from the ages of 12-16 are legally allowed to opt for euthanasia (with the consent of their parents) despite not being adults and therefore less inclined to make a fully informed, rational decision (J. Pereira, 2011). In 2005, the Groningen Protocol made euthanasia legal for newborns and infants who are expected to have “no hope of good quality of life”.

Currently, the right to die Bill proposes making voluntary euthanasia legal for citizens of 18 years or older. However, as the Netherlands cases demonstrate, the legalisation of euthanasia leads to a mentality that is very easily extended to citizens of all ages.

7.  A church member’s personal perspective

Regarding the proposed bill and the intended outcome of ‘death with dignity’ a Southwest Baptist member (and nurse working in hospice care) had this to say;

“As a nurse I see the greatest examples of love, care, and human spirit within the most desperate situations. Early in my career caregivers working alongside children with severe disabilities awed me with their love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. I had not witnessed humanity so powerfully before and have seen it repeated in palliative care situations and my current workplace providing Level 6 Dementia Care.

In the worst situations humanities brightest stars shine. Further still, these bright lights often lead clients and family to find a depth of human spirit and experience they never thought possible. There is a chance in euthanizing someone that we miss out on some of life’s most challenging but rewarding times of personal growth.”

8. Conclusion

The Right to Die Bill has the very real potential to reduce society’s view of life to simple terms of pain and comfort, the useful and burdensome. To view our fellow, suffering citizens as somehow less valuable is to act in a profoundly inhuman way.

For these reasons, Southwest Baptist Church strongly opposes the Right to Die Bill and advises that it be rejected.

Church Cafe Changes

As you may have read in previous newsletters, the City Council has informed us that we are unable to continue operating the Hub Café in it’s current format. The Hub was originally set up to be a place of hospitality, where people can gather and ministries are supported, and was accordingly consented as a staff cafeteria. Over time we have leant towards being more like a commercial café and therefore to continue as we are, the CCC requires us to meet commercial café regulations.

What the City Council have told us is that because we are selling food and drink we must comply with the new Food Act. It looks like our kitchen and facilities are very close to the standards they require, but our general kitchen and service processes are not at commercial café status.

The City Council have informed us they want to work with us and have been very supportive of what we are trying to do, but have also been clear that we cannot continue to operate as we have been.  So we have to change how we function.

Over the last few weeks we have processed this first with our employed café staff; as we need to do. We set a proposal before each of our staff that we sensed the need to close the café as a commercial operation. After consideration they too agreed we were unable in our present structure to make the shifts needed to meet the new criteria.  Hence we have decided to operate the café through the Grotto period and close, late Christmas Eve (as we normally do). The café will then be closed through January and come February we will operate with simple hospitality available after services in the Hub. This might simply be free instant coffee, tea and biscuits plus extras we can add to that.

Our employed staff will stop working for us at the end of the year. We are doing everything we can to support them and be generous towards, ensuring we go well beyond our legal obligations”.  For me it is very important that we acknowledge the hard work and commitment they have given to the café and the church and thank them.

This week we have had two meetings with the week-day volunteers who have been gaining work experience through helping in the café. Some are vulnerable people and we know changes to their routine are difficult. We have taken time and put supports around them to help with the news. And for now their involvement continues.

Before Christmas we are planning a couple of meetings with key stakeholders from the past, key café team members and ministries that use the café regularly, to talk through ways forward for the short and longer term.

Early next year we are going to ask the whole church to help us form a way forward. And again there will be specific times where we you will be asked to help shape this.

We anticipate that we will continue to have teams helping to bring hospitality after our services. The food and drink may be simplier for a period and we may not be selling it, but we will still be offering a space of hospitality and serving people.

Already ideas are swirling and with prayer, some careful investigation of regulations and how we might best meet them, we will find a way to create a great hospitality space for people in the future.

In the interium we would appreciate your continued commitment to the café, your support through the busy Grotto and Christmas season and your support of staff and volunteer teams for whom this is a big change and something we are all very disappointed about.  Please pray for those directly involved and for innovative dreams and future stakeholders who can help create something new.


FAQ’s – Questions you might be wondering about


1. Why can’t you keep going as you are with current staff and upgrade to commercial cafe?

After talking with the employed café staff we made the decision that it was better to close the café as it is now and look to a fresh start. The current staff also did not sense they were able to do all that would be required to meet the new regulations and to operate as a ‘commercial café’. They agreed that closing the cafe in its current form is, very sadly, the best option. Better to have clean break and closure for staff and volunteers than to drift into the New Year not knowing future and fully aware that big changes were imminent.

2. Why are you making people redundant just before Christmas?

We have looked at this very closely and sought input from Human Resource specialists who advised us that the start of the New Year is perhaps the best time to seek new employment. We always close down over January, which gives the staff time to plan and consider what next. They will have certainty of finances over this time.

We believe it would be unfair to delay until after the New Year. Making a decision now gives them certainty earlier.  The staff have told us they appreciate the certainty before the holiday period.

3. The café has been around for years, how can you just close it down now?

The Christchurch City Council has told us we can’t keep going as we are. New regulations that will affect many other churches and non-profit organisations like ourselves have come into effect. These regulations mean we need to make significant changes to our processes and way of operating the Hub hospitality area. The current mode of operation and staffing are not equipped to meet these new criteria. So we are stopping the current café operations until we work out a new solution to achieve hospitality in the best way we can. Each year we have a natural close down period over Christmas, which provides the best time to make this decision.

4. It’s a space of hospitality, not a commercial venture, so why are we expecting it to make a profit like a commercial café?

The CCC requires that we run as a commercial venture, which includes charging us commercial rates, consent costs and food safety audit/compliance costs to comply with new Food Act 2014. When they talk about a commercial cafe they are not interested in whether or not we make a profit but rather that we provide safe products and meet commercial kitchen food handling and staffing procedures that the public expect from a commercial cafe. To ensure this is the case they require us to operate within the Food Act legislation.  This doesn’t mean it needs to make a profit, but as with all our ministries we need to ensure it is safe, legal and effective in its operations. We need to change how we are doing it which will require more investment. Or we need to look at providing hospitality in new ways. We want to take some time early next year to assess the options and ways to operate within the new regulations while providing a great hospitality space and ensure good stewardship of finances.

5. Why is this happening?

The key changes are a result of new legislation (Food Act 2014) and the CCC requirement to enforce the new legislation.

6. What will happen to the staff?

We are very grateful to our staff and volunteers and are determined to look after staff, offering support for CVs, counselling, pastoral care, time off for job interviews and being generous in every way we can. We have gone above and beyond our legal obligations to ensure they’re looked after. They’ve served faithfully and we want to honour them.

7. When will a decision be made?

A future decision about how the Hub space can be best utilised for hospitality will be in the new year. We are planning to begin the year with simple food and drinks in the Hub as we provide opportunities for everyone in the church, ministries who use the Hub, Café teams and key leaders of the café in the past to be part of discerning a way forward. To get this underway we are planning a couple of meetings for previous leaders, Sunday café teams and ministries before Christmas.

8. Who is making the decision?

All options about the future shape will need to weighed and prayed through, assessed against the City Council requirements, financial cost factors and the key question – ‘what will provide a great space of hospitality for our people and our communities.’

9. What will happen on Sundays?

Sunday is a priority. Nothing changes for Sundays for the rest of this year. Come February we will be providing food and drinks in the Hub after services. It may be quite simple though with instant coffee, tea and biscuits at no charge. Or we might find imaginative ways to get free scones cooked, shared cakes, fund raising events etc.

10. What will happen with all the ministries that use this space during the week?

Space will still be available for use by ministries and other groups. We will have to work together with each ministry to figure out how each ministry can provide hospitality in this space in the new year.

We appreciate your prayers and thoughts. If you want to contact me about any oft his then please email me at


Over the last few months we have been investigating a part-time role of ‘Gatherings leader’. This is a leadership role for our ‘key whole church gatherings’. That is when we gather as a whole church for key events. Specifically we are talking about our Sunday gatherings, big events like Christmas, Easter and Global Missions week. Plus less regular but significant whole church events like our summer camps.

The person in this role will lead our Sunday morning gatherings so they will work closely with Ros and the teams that bring together our services.  Over the next year they will also slowly work through how best to support Matt Barus  and the Sunday evening teams.

The Gatherings Leader will report to Alan and is effectively picking up some of the leadership role Alan has been doing in the morning services and Ants in the evening services.

The great news is that we have found a very skilled, experienced and passionate person to lead this very important part of the church and they have said ‘Yes’….. Fantastic news. Praise God!

Our church teams

What teams make up the church staff (paid and unpaid) ?

Core Leadership Team (CLT) who lead the church reporting to Alan, as Senior Pastor, under the Church Elders.

  • Care Team – who look after pastoral care, seniors ministries, Tuesday Christian Fellowship, marriage and relationship ministries and coordinate  with the Trusts that also focus in the care areas.
  • Big Team – who look after our Local community life, Global Mission, Sunday evening services and Young Adults.
  • 018 Team – who look after all children and youth (0 to 18 years of age) ministries of the church and link in with trusts that also focus in this area.
  • Core services Team – who look after the property, IT/media, Finances, HR, Reception and Communications of the church.
  • Gatherings Team –  Up to now this has been a very small team of Alan and Ros. A few months ago we added some support hours from Erin and now the Gatherings Leader will be stepping in allowing Alan to pull back.


Refugee Crisis

This week we joined many Anglican, Catholic and Baptist churches in asking our government to increase the quota of refugees we allow into NZ and offering to support refugees as a church.

Germany has said it will take 800,000 refugees. We are approximately 1/15th the population of Germany. On a per capita basis, to match the German quota, NZ would need to be taking in 53,000 refugees. Australia has said they will take 12,000 extra refugees. To match Australia on a per capita basis NZ would be taking 2,320 refugees. I believe we can and should do more than the 600 hundred extra refugees proposed by the Prime Minister this week.

How could we as  a church practically help?

1. If each of our local communities cared for one family and each family had 4 to 5 people in it then we, as one church,  could support at least 40-50 people. We would look to ask communities to care for one family each by finding a home they can rent, support into the community, schools, language learning and getting to know the city, finding jobs and generally getting to know NZ culture.

2. We would  encourage people who want to financially give towards the support of refugees to give to World Vision, Tear Fund, Red Cross or Amnesty International.

3. If you want to encourage our Baptist leaders to join the Anglicans and Catholics in requesting our government do more then please email our national leadership –

4. And or Send an email to the Prime Ministers office with your views – see

If you want to get your head around what is happening the link below is a very good summary from the BBC of the refugee crisis and why so many Syrians are fleeing –