Wendy Kington has been the People’s Warden at St Barnabas for the past seven years. She shares what drew her here and what she has learnt during that time.

It has been almost 50 years since Wendy Kington joined the St Barnabas parish, serving on Vestry on and off during that time.

It was the welcoming manner of the church during an event she attended at St Barnabas, that drew Wendy to want to join despite living outside parish boundaries.

“I wasn’t particularly drawn to the church in my area. So I rang Bob Lowe [the Vicar at the time] and said I wanted to come to St Barnabas’, could I come? And he said, ‘Go where the food is right for you’ and I have never forgotten that.”

She attended the 7pm service and was introduced to people she remains friends with now.

“Everyone was so welcoming. That’s part of the ethos of St Barnabas. Sometimes people think we must be a certain way because of where we are located, but it’s not like that at all and it never has been.”

Since then, Wendy has immersed herself in parish life.

“The more you become involved, the more you become part of it and the more it becomes part of your family. St Barnabas is my family. Even though I live on the other side of the city, the car knows its own way.

There are two Wardens in the church – the Vicar’s Warden who is appointed by the vicar, and the People’s Warden who is elected by the people of the parish. The two have oversight of the parish and are responsible for what happens within the parish. Wendy has served as the People’s Warden for the past seven years.

“I kind of think of my role as mixing with people and talking to people and letting them talk to me, knowing they can come to me and talk about anything. That’s where I try and involve myself in as many different groups as possible. I’m the People’s Warden so that means being involved with the people.”

This role has taken on particular importance as the parish has been working to find a new vicar.

“It’s a big responsibility because as a warden you become one of the nominators. We have got to get the right person and it’s got to be someone who fits.”

With this in mind, extensive consultation was done with those in the parish and that has led to the final job description.

“It was so important to us that we know what people wanted. We had to give people the opportunity to have their say because there’s such a diverse lot of services and range of people that we have to be able to include as much of that as we can.”

The search is expected to be a long one.

“There’s a real shortage of people and a lot of parishes looking. It’s not going to happen straight away, it’s going to take a while,” Wendy says.

Extending the search overseas is a possibility.

“It’s important though that the person understands the three tikanga church and they understand the Te Reo and accept that that’s part of what we do here. It will be preferable to get someone who is a kiwi, but who knows, we just have to keep our options open.”

Wendy’s hopes for Vestry this year are that the hall renovations are completed and parishioners feel like they can contribute to the church- through either financial giving or using their talents.

“If everyone gave the equivalent of another cup of coffee a week it would make a big difference. Regular giving is really important. People don’t realise how important that is to helping with our budgeting. 

“If you know every week, or month you can budget accordingly. If we can encourage people to do that, to give just the equivalent of a cup of coffee a week, it would make a big difference. 

“I’d also like us to use people’s gifts. There’s some very talented people in our parish, we have got to tap into their gifts and make them feel like they’re contributing.”

By Tania Wright