A time to Zag – Andrew Norton

Andrew is based in Auckland and the following article is based on reflections spoken at his retirement as senior minister at St Columba in Botany Downs.

Down on the farm my father taught me, when everyone is planting wheat it’s time to plant barley. There is no demand for over-supply.

As I think about this in relation to the church’s unique contribution to today’s society, I see an over-supply of some things and correspondingly an under-supply of others.

The decline of church attendance over the years is not because the church is no longer relevant but exactly the opposite. The church looks in every way, just like our society, it is no different to the world we live in. Continue reading

White Space Conversations #1: The politics of love, an alternative way by Andrew Norton

White Space Conversations* are a series of short papers by Andrew Norton (Moderator of the PCANZ) addressing issues of life, faith, order and imagination inviting generous, open, grace filled and robust conversations within our church.
This is the first in a series of six that will be posted each week on the moderators web page and on the PCANZ Facebook page

The word ‘politics’ is the coming together of a number of Greek words, polis- city, polites – citizen and politika – the affairs of the city.

There is a thread flowing through these words pointing toward something greater than the meaning each word contains in itself; the well-being, safety, protection, provision and benefit for everyone in the community; The creation of an ordered and civil society. Continue reading

Imagination Series – Andrew Norton



At the end of the road 
a dirt track zig zags up the mountain 
into the clouds of unknowing. 
To be here you must leave there 
(wherever “there” is), 
defying the gravity of your own importance, 
the unfaithful way this busy world offers itself to you 
and the blindness of a life without a horizon.

As reception fades to one intermittent bar, 
contact with the outside world is all but 
leaving you 
under this wide sky 
to a wider conversation 
worthy of the landscape of your soul.

Shy shadows come out from their corners, 
ears hear a silence splinter granite rocks; 
the lies and excuses you’ve told yourself, 
and eyes are renewed by a soft gaze 
as outlines become clear. 
In this place, 
words are surrendered to the wind, 
to the arriving of your breath.

Andrew Norton 2016

Have our meetings lost their way – Andrew Norton

One of the core practices of being “Presbyterian” is our commitment to collective discernment. Our belief is that discernment requires listening to one another and to the spirit of God and the scriptures. The result of this has been meetings, meetings and more meetings. How many meetings does it take to run a church!

My observation is that our meetings are not working.

  1. Our meetings are not practicing spiritual discernment. They are the collective sharing of the opinions of the opinionated and then taking a vote. These meetings favour only those who speak.
  1. The wrong people are at the meetings. How can we expect to make decisions about our God given futures if the very people we want to reach have no voice? Where is the voice of the minority and the voiceless; does God not speak through them also?

Continue reading

Being Matters

I’ve never seen a mountain be anything but a mountain, a river a river, and the sea, the sea. A mountain, a river and the sea cannot be unfaithful to their creation. They cannot be anything more or less than they are.

I’ve been told, “Be yourself,” but, do you know how hard that is? I think you do. There are a thousand voices inside and out calling you to “do this, do that and the other”. Of all creation, you and I have a choice to be, the “me-ness” of me, and the “you-ness” of you. Continue reading

Friendship before serving

When you’re down and troubled and need a helping hand and nothing is going right…

You and I need a friend. In the matters of every day, friends matter. A friend – one you can count on, who will “be there” and most of all who will hold out a welcome hand.

Friends are amazing because at the core of friendship is choice. You choose to friend and to be friended. It is the ultimate voluntary relationship. You can walk in or out of it as you please, unlike marriage and family that are complicated by contract and blood. Continue reading

Monuments, management and movements

Welcome to the Candour blog. In this format I will have less to say and invite more interaction and conversation around the ideas expressed.

The first task of leadership is to define reality, but what reality are we defining?

As I travel around the Church I’m finding there are three different understandings of time that are shaping the reality (realities) we live in. This is what makes planning for the future so difficult. It is a bit like being lost and asking an Irishman for directions: “if I were you, I wouldn’t get there starting from here”. Continue reading