Church numbers growing

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012

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Some Hamilton churches are experiencing a growth in congregations and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is creating a fourth "stake" in the region to cater for the increase.

Mormon Church hierarchy realigned the boundaries of the Glenview, Hamilton and Temple View stakes to make way for the new Rotokauri stake nearly two decades after the last one was created.

The president of the Rotokauri stake, Todd Miller, will lead a team of bishops serving more than 2000 members across seven congregations from Hamilton's western suburbs to Raglan.

"There has been growth and I thought when Church College closed that might not have been the case but people are still moving to Hamilton, children are still being born and others are being introduced to the church and joined," he said.

Membership is subject to migration flow as much as any group but the numbers are still increasing as people make the Waikato their home.

"We are a natural part of that and obviously with the temple being here many members are seeing this as a place to come and settle with their families because of the strength that the church has."

There were only so many roles to go around in the church but the formation of the Rotokauri stake would allow more people to be actively involved, he said.

"There are people who are sitting on the sidelines who will be able to get involved in serving and participating rather than just attending."

Pastor Ray Moxham said Hamilton's Freedom Christian Church flock had undergone rapid growth of 40 to 50 per cent.

Increased fellowship was expected in his eight-year-old church but he said many Hamilton churches were seeing a rise in membership in tough economic times.

"Traditionally church attendance increases when the economy is bad. When there is uncertainty, church helps to provide certainty," he said.

About 150 people attend his service each week and he was associated with the Assembly of God movement with around 250 churches across the country.

He doubted whether he would see new followers attending regularly over the Christmas period, but expected people to drop in for the Christmas service.

"People get very busy over Christmas," he said. "People will come because they have a connection with us already."

Mr Moxham said the church was there to help people in any way it could. "What we offer . . . is community. There is growing recognition that there is a hole within society. We offer a bunch of people who you can rely on, who you can let your hair down with and we offer a relationship with God."

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- Waikato Times

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