The Journey: Endings & Beginnings

WMCNZ AdministratorChurch Development, Church planting, Good News Stories, News

On Sunday 28 March 2021, the members of Journey Church in Dunedin celebrated their final service together as a Wesleyan Methodist Church. Brett Jones and Clint Ussher represented the Wesleyan Methodist Church and shared in the service, as together the church remembered and celebrated God’s faithfulness and his continuing call to serve Him.

Brett preached from John 12:24:

Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Truly this has been a journey of endings and beginnings across the past 10 years.

When Rob Cooper returned to Dunedin with his wife Leigh in 2011, he went with a sense of call to be part of a rekindling of Wesleyan Methodism in the city where he grew up. Little did he know that a coffee meeting, ostensibly a part of encouraging an English teacher heading to China, would fast track the dream!

The English teacher was actually a pastor and the church he had been pastoring was set to close its doors upon his departure. When Rob attended the “final” service it became clear, for many this was not the future that they saw. After some discussion, Rob and the faithful remnant joined forces and sought the heart of God for a new future.

Rob imagined his involvement could be short-lived – his heart remained firmly set on a Wesleyan Methodist cause in Dunedin. But God had other ideas! The steering group of the emerging fellowship began to explore the Wesleyan Methodist church as a home and after some interaction with the movement, determined that their future lay as part of a recovery of Wesleyan Methodist distinctives in Dunedin.

On Sunday 13 May 2012 the Dunedin Wesleyan Methodist Church was recognised as a Foundation Church within the denomination, Servant Leaders were affirmed and Rob Cooper commissioned as Lay Pastor to the church.

Subsequently, Rob was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that ultimately claimed his life.

Pictured: Rob Cooper

Pastor John and Irene Gibson received a call to pastor the church in 2013 and continued ministry from the Stafford Street venue. In time, a new name “Journey Church” became a focus for the vision of the church “Our Journey continues in the footsteps of Christ”. The congregation moved to a new venue, sharing space at the Blind Foundation. The new venue mirrored the church’s priority to “bring sight to the blind” and to share the gospel through street and home evangelism. The ministry was a great blessing to a number of retirement home residents who would not otherwise have received the gospel.

In recent years, the church has walked a journey of mourning together with a number of its members struggling with illness and valued friends passing away. Ultimately, the Servant Leaders reached the view that this season of ministry was over in the Journey Church wineskin. Brett’s message drew hope from the scriptural promise that from death comes life.

Pictured: Pastor John Gibson

Journey Church has been a part of demonstrating this truth to Dunedin as it has sacrificially carried the Good News to others. We pray for God’s leading on a future Wesleyan Methodist presence in Dunedin that will build on the legacy of Journey Church.

We owe a large debt of gratitude to John and Irene Gibson for faithfully and enthusiastically providing pastoral oversight to the church in Dunedin over these past years. We pray God’s richest blessing for the future on all those who have called the church home.