Samoan missionary to Norwich returns to NZ
A Samoan Christian
missionary is set to return to New Zealand
after four successful years of ministry in Norwich.
Rev Henry Iputau will be taking part in his final service of worship at Princes Street United Reformed Church in Norwich this Sunday, January 7, at 10.30am.
Later in January he will return with wife Maressa and daughter Dorothea to Auckland to rejoin the Christian Congregational Church of Samoa.
Henry was invited to Norwich by URC members in order to reach out to people who need God but who may not attend church on Sundays, explained Victor Hughff, chairman of Henry’s support group.
“We looked to appoint a mission partner who would move and shake us to see the openings that only a fresh mind can notice and help us, with our ecumenical friends, to turn aspiration into action.
“A man with an acute sense of faith, Henry brought a warm, friendly approach to all and became well known around the city,” said Victor. “Maressa had the same open and friendly attitude and strong faith and gave much in her own right, as well as being a wonderful support for Henry.”
As Community Chaplain, much of Henry’s work was helping the church connect with over 30 groups and organisations which use the Princes St building regularly. Full-time users include Christian Aid and Age Concern, with part-time use by Big Sky choir, Norwich Cricket Society and Adult Education English classes.
“Opening up our doors for these groups is based on lots of mutual trust, and enables us to offer the ministry of welcome, presence and hospitality,” said Henry.
He set up pastoral surgeries, supported the vulnerable in society and also aimed to get people together to deal with aspects of life in the community as well as faith. His work culminated in the recent production of a DVD entitled 'In His Service' which describes some of the many community support activities which take place at Princes St URC.
Henry also took on a second role, that of Chaplain at the Norwich School of Art & Design College, including running a Christian Union which meets at Princes St.
While Henry’s interests include piano playin,g he is well known at Norwich Rugby Club where he plays from time to time as a Number 8 for his “Maori sidestep” when scoring. Known also as a man who often dons a minister’s collar, his fellow players have used the team bus journey to ask questions about faith, suffering and other concerns.
“Henry’s lack of reserve and passion for his ministry left us all out of breath to keep up with him,” said Victor. “The speed with which he made friends with people outside the church membership amazed us all and showed us what can be done. Denominational differences between churches appeared to be quite outside his experience. He also demonstrated that, although the results of his efforts were very worthwhile, the support demanded from the church is time-consuming and this has left us with a need for a great resolve time-wise and a serious financial commitment.
“All this is being addressed as we draw to the close of a wonderful four years in the life of our church and in the lives of many folk who only know us as the church from which Henry worked.”
Pictured above is Rev Henry Iputau with wife Maressa and daughter Dorothea.
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