Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Trinity Fortune Affair

From chapter 4 of The Trinity Fortune Affair, by Dave Mullan, published by the Trinity Methodist Trust, 1981. 145 pp.

The feeling of the Meeting now centred on the chances of being physically able to commence the ‘alternative church’ concept from 1st February, 1978. We figured that if the Radio New Zealand Newsroom could not be made available we could perhaps use the Mission’s own Friendship Centre. Or we could possibly negotiate for the use of the large Broadcasting cafeteria in the Mission Building. These possibilities seemed to answer one of Christchurch’s objections to finalising the Lease with Fortune [Theatre]: we could find an alternative home and we could commence the new church programme by 1st February. Furthermore, in one of these centres we could have traditional worship for January so that, in effect, we could vacate Trinity immediately if we wished to.

The meeting was now unmistakably coming to the point where this was a general consensus. We returned to the proposition that seemed to be forcing us into a premature commencement. If the Administration Division was saying to us that we could not sign a lease with Fortune simply because we were using the church for a couple of hours a week then the sooner we vacated it the better. Once we resolved to cease using Trinity as our ‘home’ then, surely, there would be only gain in obtaining a reasonable financial advantage from it. In the words of one member of the meeting "If they don’t let us sign a lease we’ll send ‘em the key."

At five minutes before 9.30 pm, Superintendent Evan Lewis assumed the Chair, the motion was formally put and voted upon. This time the Meeting was virtually unanimous in support, only one or two people voting Neutral and nobody Against. It was all over in 3 minutes.

Having approached the meeting with a fervent desire to wind down the whole controversy, I was quite stunned. Now swept along on a current of determined enthusiasm I found it hard to acknowledge my feelings of three hours before. There was agony to come, to be sure, but we were apparently determined to suffer it. There would be criticism, but we would live with it. There would be misunderstanding of our motives, but we didn’t have to answer to others, only to each other and to God. This we had already begun to do.

We separated from each other with a mixture of shock and relief, of dismay and elation, of fear and faith. Now we had to try to get the hierarchy of the Church ‘on side’ with what appeared to be a reckless disregard for their authority.
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