by Ken Keyte
In March, our Carey year group gathered with our spouses for our first official reunion since graduating from Baptist College in 2002. With a sense of long lost family reconnecting, we began arriving from Dunedin, Timaru, Geraldine, Waikanae, Palmerston North, Rotorua, and Auckland. Our reunion was at the Bowentown batches Lorraine Morgan had booked for the weekend and we were all looking forward to catching up and hearing our stories from the past 19 years! I had been looking forward to this weekend ever since Maree Rauhala set up the Facebook Group for collaboratively planning a suitable time and place to meet. Ironically, Maree was the only one who wasn’t there due to a timetable clash with a Marae visit. Covid lockdowns had already caused one postponement so now that we were finally all together – what we would we do?
Saturday morning after breakfast, we gathered around the TV to listen to the pre-recorded messages that Greg Liston had organised. We heard encouraging words from Paul Windsor (our Principal), Lecturers Martin Sutherland, George Wieland, Laurie Guy, and Nancy Squire (our Director of Ministry Training). For a moment, I thought we were back in class again!
Diane Liston suggested we each share the highlights and low points since graduating and so we began with Rhys Morgan leading the way. After several years pastoring in Geraldine, Rhys (& Lorraine) now operates and owns an animal nutrient business. Marcus and Brigitte Kempf finished pastoring Nelson Baptist with Marcus resuming his banking career and Brigitte running her own travel agency in Timaru. Richard (and Esmae) Goodwin transitioned from pastoring at Kaikohe Baptist to prison chaplaincy in Palmerston North, which he recently retired from to take up counselling in private practice. Jethro Schreuder is a youth worker for a Community Trust in Dunedin. Last year Ilkka (and Maree) Rauhala returned from their second term in Thailand with NZBMS and are now based in Rotorua. After time with Graceway Baptist Church, Carey, Oxford Terrace Baptist, and completing a PhD in Communication, Mike Crudge is now married with a son and heads up the Carey Centre for Lifelong Learning (he is soon to become the Baptist Union Communications Director). Greg (and Diane) Liston concluded at Hillsborough Baptist to complete a PhD in Theology and is now a lecturer with Laidlaw College. Ken (and Raewyn) Keyte finished pastoring at Te Puke Baptist and is now the All Nations pastor of the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle. Nigel (and Wendy) Scott continue to pastor the church he was originally called to – Waikanae Baptist.
You might expect that our sharing time would be full of accomplishments from the past 19 years. Yet as one by one our turn to speak came around, it was the challenges and disappointments we had all been through, that dominated what we shared. It had not been easy for anyone! I don’t know if any of us felt particularly successful or accomplished in what we’d achieved and most of us were now in positions we would never have envisaged being in 19 years on from graduating. Yet the common theme through just about every story we heard, was how God had gotten us through our challenges and disappointments to bring us this far by his grace! All of us are still actively involved in people ministry in a variety of ways. It was nice to be able to pray for each other too!
An evening meal together and a Sunday morning walk either to the beautiful Orokawa Bay or to the Waihi Beach Market before our reunion drew to the end. With a renewed sense of being family together, we said our goodbyes. However, before going our separate ways, we committed to meeting again in another four years for our 25th anniversary since starting at Carey. I wonder what stories we will share when we reunion again?
After sending a draft of this article out for feedback, Ephesians 2:10 was suggested by someone as an apt descriptor of how God had been working in each of our lives over the past 19 years since Carey. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (even if we didn’t comprehend where and what that might be!)