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Candlelit vigil celebrated Christianity

by Lynley Smith of Challenge Weekly, New Zealand
June 28, 2007
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WELLINGTON, NZ (ANS) -- A group of New Zealand intercessors has called the nation to stage a silent candlelight vigil honouring New Zealand's Christian heritage.

This follows the publishing of a National Statement on Religious Diversity by a government agency, describing New Zealand as a diverse nation where all faiths are equal. In response, some Christians have called for Christianity to become the nation's state religion, to ensure the heritage is acknowledged and traditional religious practices safeguarded.

Bethel Ministries spokeswoman Bronwyn Hallot, of Upper Hutt, said the vigil would symbolise the unity of the Church in recognising the role God has played in the country's history.

"We simply believe that our nation has a strong Christian heritage, and why should we not acknowledge that?" she asked. "We are not ashamed of our Christian beliefs and we are happy to say we are Christians."

Mrs Hallot said she wanted it to be made clear that the vigil was not in support of making New Zealand a Christian nation, or Christianity a state religion.

"We are celebrating our heritage while we acknowledge the diversity of this country," she said. "There might be some radical Christians who want to force Christianity down others' throats, but that is not what we are about.

"We want to come together in a gentle unity. We applaud dialogue with other religions but never at the expense of selling our Christian heritage."

The group decided on the plan after three of its members received visions of candles lit across the nation. They decided God wanted them to take up the challenge and call the nation to light a candle for Christ.

"It's totally based on Christian love. There is no personal agenda at all. It's about gently shining his light. He's worth it. He's worth lighting a candle for." Group member Raj John said there would be no placards, no petitions, were asked, if they live in the Wellington region, to go to the Parliament buildings with a candle to light.

Those living in other areas of New Zealand were asked to pull their curtains back, light a candle and place it in the window.

"We have contacted many people across the country and this is really touching people," said Ms Hallot.

Vision Network New Zealand executive director Glyn Carpenter said that if this vigil was about celebrating our Christian heritage, he was very happy with the initiative.

"If it is just identifying with our Christian faith, I fully support it," he said.

© 2007 ASSIST News Service, used with permission.

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