Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The first time I ever set foot in a NZ church was five years ago this week, on Sunday 7th March 2004.

Having spent the weekend at a beachhouse in Omokoroa, we'd rushed back home and then charged-up State Highway 1 to spend a few days in Auckland, trying to arrive in time for the service at CLC.

Well, we didn't, we missed it. It had been a special baptism service anyway.

Subsequent attempts to experience a 'regular' service at CLCA tended to involve arriving late too, and blessed me with accidentally attending their Christmas pantomime, and a service featuring a visiting speaker who was selling the prosperity gospel. I still haven't made it to a full-length 'regular' service there.

But back on that first night at a New Zealand church though, as I wandered around the dispersing crowd inside, I felt quite warm and at home. I liked this church. I knew I could become a part of things here. However despite friends there, that future would not actually come to pass.

What I didn't know though was that across town, presumably at around that same moment that evening, (correct me if I'm wrong) another crowd of people were also milling around after their very first church service in New Zealand. Perhaps I should rephrase that - it was their brand new church's first ever service.

Over the coming five years, it was instead many of them who would become my trusted friends, and thinking back to that evening now makes me automatically wonder why on Earth we hadn't attended that church that night instead. If I could go back in time to that night, we sure would.

Well, because I hadn't met them all at that point, obviously. But it still feels odd to know my geographical location in relation to where my friends-to-be all were on that pivotal night, (we passed within four miles!) especially since my intention to regularly attend a church in NZ matched so well the one they were simultaneously launching.

Apparently it also matched the intentions of the person who'd brought me along that night.

Later that month she told me: "I have been praying that you will find a church you can attend regularly and one that you can really meet with God in - where you feel challenged but at peace also. One where you will feel part of the body of Christ and where you will meet people you can trust, relate to and be motivated and encouraged by."

Within about a week I had heard of a DJ called Frank, and by the end of that year I had not only been introduced to him, but been invited and driven along by him and his wife to my first service there. Divine plan unfolding?

The church was called Cession | Community, and I'm recounting these events here because tonight they celebrated their fifth anniversary.

Yep, like I said above, it's now been five years since that first night when I didn't go there.

Tonight, photos from the last (first?) five years had been invited from members, presumably for use in the service, but I didn't know how. Having taken many pics over the years, I selected eleven and emailed them in, wary of sending a deluge and clogging-up the office's Inbox. As I'd suspected, they got included in a rotation of images on the screen at the front during the service.

Anyway, by way of my own tribute, I've collected them together below too, along with some other images that I would have liked to have also included. (a few off DVD – thanks camerapeople!) They give my inevitably personal perspective on Cession's formative half-decade (obviously I've predominantly photographed the things that I did there) and every one of them is a happy memory. I don't have any unhappy memories of Cession.

I have, just for once, omitted the picture of Brett looking like a drug baron. Here we go:

Christmas Day 2004: Frank and Melva, several hours after introducing me to Cession's midnight Christmas service.

In May 2005, by invitation, I moved-in with friends I'd met through the Korean Salvation Army church that I had been attending in the City. As it turned-out, they lived so close to Botany Down Secondary School (where Cession's services were held in those days) that I didn't even have to cross any roads to get there. I dropped in to say hi, and left wondering why the comedic sacriledge in the service's comedy-skit was never debunked afterwards. It was a real culture-shock to try to get it through my head that nobody in the audience needed to have something so obvious explained to them.

Here's Dave, in his alter ego as Random Dave. No, wait, that's his real persona. Random Dave would use illogic logic tell people things they didn't believe. It was part of a series called "Up-Side Down Religion". As was the first item they invited me to do in a service...

Yes, give the bible-reading in Klingon. The YouTube clip has now had over 4,000 viewings, including one by the guy who translated it!

Party-poppers were distributed for use during the 1812 overture, as part of a service on joy.

Demonstrating her Guatemalan mission-work, Tina offered to take everyone's blood-pressure one week. Reuben looks brave.

The super-organised Kristen, masterminding Kids' Encounter. She asked me to help out one week. Three-quarters of a year in advance. And, come October, I did!

Most of these prints aren't mine. (officer)

Katie at Kids' Encounter. (on right)

Not actually a photo, but the conclusion to a list of ice-breaker anagrams we revealed over five weeks.

Referring back to the service on joy from five months earlier, Brett again handed-out party-poppers and incorporated my photo into the service as a flashback!

Ministry Of Works - a series of four sketches (with Tyrone and Jacob) recapping each preceding week's lesson on faith in the workplace.

Myself and serious Dave performing 1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3 as a conversation for the Wholly Holy series.

Whoops how did that get in here?

Jacob and Jon bust Rhett for driving under the influence of Tab. How else are you going to breach a subject like alcohol addiction?

Grown men saying goodbye. There are probably other churches in the world where they send-off a member to pastorate training by publicly giving them undies that match their jacket, but I haven't come across them. I think Rhett is crying.

"Welcome kids,
Christmas Town,
I'm an elf,
Not a scary clown..."

Planning the services' creative content: Melissa, Brett, Steve, Greg and Dave.

Dave (the not-so-random one) and Rebecca in the third Conspiracy Busters sketch. People only ever wear lab-coats in sketches.

Are you my mummy? This is the last sketch I have appeared in so far. Because I ripped my trousers in front of the entire church.

Kate, Paul, and the multi-talented Megan. This is my most recent photo of Cession.


4 comment(s):

At 11:17 pm, Anonymous Rhett said...

Fantastic post Steve. You've been a Cessionite longer than Sarah and I have! I think the first time we met was at Frank's house on the day of Live 8? I think you popped in some time. So that would have been around June 2005, I think.

At 9:01 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Cheers Rhett.

Live 8 is certainly my earliest memory of meeting you too. Not sure if I qualify as having been a Cessioner longer than you though - I did leave it about 5 months before my second service!

At 1:11 am, Anonymous Rhett said...

Sarah tells me that I have to tell you that I bought a soccer game today (FIFA 09 for Xbox 360), and since I have never watched much football before, and so don't know the teams, I chose to play as West Ham United because I recognised their uniform: it's the maroon and sky blue top you use to wear!

At 9:20 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Funny! I've never watched much footie either, but I was given that t-shirt by my flatmate Neil when he went back to the UK. If I had a dollar for every time a West Ham fan had come up to me in NZ expecting to post-mortem Saturday's match with me, I'd be very rich!

Now see if you can find a team that wears Mozelee t-shirts...


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