The New Zealand Christadelphian Family Bible School (NZCFBS) is an organisation committed to providing spiritual nourishment and activities for Christadelphians and their families. To this end, we provide two Bible schools in New Zealand each year.
For over 40 years now we have been running Bible schools in New Zealand. During that time the organisation and the schools themselves have been through several phases and transitions as we’ve adapted to changing circumstances and needs. Nevertheless, the basic objectives and spirit has never changed. Those objectives and spirit have been condensed into written form in our Core Objectives and incorporated into our logo.
We have set ourselves high standards. Our aim is to make each school an “ideal” environment, an oasis, a haven — a “little taste of the kingdom”. Each school is considered individually to ensure that attendees of all ages will be provided with the highest standard in spiritual material, activities, atmosphere, and environment.
In recent years the organisational structure has been formalised to ensure the school’s continuance, if the Lord wills. With the formation of the trust and a board to administer that trust, the NZCFBS is always looking to improve the schools and always make them accessible to Christadelphians and their families.
The two Bible Schools and their environments:
The NZCFBS runs two schools each year — one in summer, and the other in winter. Not only do the seasons add their part to the difference in atmosphere at each school, but so also does the location. The Summer School is held in the South Island in Christchurch, in the spacious environs of the Blue Skies centre and the Winter School is held in Napier, Hawke’s Bay, in the North Island at Hewett House and Napier Girls’ High School.
Both schools run a similar programme for all ages. Planning begins nearly two years ahead of each school by the various committees. Substantial thought goes into every aspect of each school programme. For example, for the main studies we look at such things as balance of speaker styles, balance of types of studies, applicability of subjects. We look at a balanced yet all encompassing programme for all ages attending that particular school. A typical programme would include the following activities:
We usually have two studies each morning of around an hour long each, separated by a half-hour morning tea break. Generally, we would select an overseas speaker as one of the study leaders, and a New Zealand brother for the other.
We have been blessed with a continual supply of volunteer teachers of the highest standard. The Junior School is under the Junior School Superintendent, who is responsible for the planning of the Junior School programme.
A typical Junior School programme would consist of a Bible subject (e.g. Creation, Abraham, The Wilderness Wanderings, etc.) for the first session, and a more general interactive type activity (e.g. Occupations in Bible Times, Bible Lands, The Sea, The Sky etc.,) for the second session.
Kindy Corner is provided and run by roster by the mothers, with a safe environment along with a huge toy box of goodies.
Craft classes are held in some afternoon slots in the programme. Children are given craft item to make and take home. Not only do these sessions provide for the practical among the children, but they are taught manual skills, co-operation and appreciation of others. The quality of the items made is often astounding and would grace any garment, wall, shelf or corner, but sometimes they’ve been a headache for parents when packing already overladen cars!
Junior School climaxes with the Junior School Afternoon, which is made up of plays, songs and other items to let the adults know all about what they have been learning. Our visiting (overseas) speaker is usually asked to give a short talk to the Junior School children. This is followed by a display of the children’s workbooks and craft items, and a lovely afternoon tea.
The Teenage sessions are held at the same time as the main study sessions. We select leaders who are able to relate to young people and on subjects that are applicable to them. Usually, the overseas speaker would take the Teenage Class during the second slot after morning tea.
Activities and outings:
Most afternoons have free time in which to fraternise and join in various activities.
Activities are organised for all age groups and arranged according to needs. From the soap water slide for the children, to volleyball or soccer competitions, or organised family games out on the field, there is plenty of variety and opportunity for young and old to enjoy wholesome activities.
If you are a little older or infirm, you may just like to watch. The Summer School provides a shady area under some trees, which we call, Shiloh, where you can sit and chat with cup of coffee or tea and watch the various happenings out on the field.
The young people have their own activities programme, organised by able young brethren, who arrange with the young people spiritual as well as physical activities and games that young people enjoy. The programme is designed to weld the young people together in a positive environment where they can make good friends, enjoy wholesome activities, and discuss issues relating to them in the light of the Bible.
Outings include trips to parks or gardens, rivers, lakes or sea—somewhere to get out and enjoy a nature walk, a beautiful garden, to play with the children or young people, and generally relax and chat. Other types of outings include visits to museums, olive yards, aquariums, historical villages and so on.
Seminars and special talks:
Many brethren have special skills, experiences, or knowledge that is of interest and help in many areas of ecclesial, family or personal life. Topics can range from mission work to helpful advice on finance!
Our evening sessions are based upon a topical theme – usually some issue facing the brotherhood or brothers and sisters in daily or ecclesial life. Depending upon the subject, these sessions may be expositional, but they are always exhortational and very practical. Subjects range from such things as Prayer, The Daily Readings, Prophecy, Humanism, Technology and so on.
We usually have at least two family evenings during the school. We try to provide a variety in type and style for these evenings, but they always involve all ages, and adults are encouraged to work with the children.
The final night, indeed the finale for the school, is always the Evening of Song and Praise. These evenings are where the theme for the evening programme, and invariably for the whole school, is brought to a climax for an uplifting evening for all, but primarily for praise and thanks to our Heavenly Father for the blessings received at the Bible School.
We do have reason to thank our God for the blessings of the Schools. Our desire is that in some small or even big way, these Schools have a part to play in preparing a people for His Name.