following the way, truth and life of Jesus


Tom Mepham

Hello, I'm Tom. I have been with Student Soul for 3 years now, working collaboratively in leadership with Lynne Taylor. After a 3-year stint in Papakura, South Auckland, my family and I landed back in Dunedin in 2016, where I spent a couple of years getting my essays graded my the hard task-masters of the theology department. Having recently graduated from KCML, I've now been called full-time into the role of minister of Student Soul.

I've spent most of my adult life involved in music and working with young people, and I expect that will keep on going. The drive behind my work is that I want to see people awakened to the call of Christ and equipped for the resulting adventure. This is what we'll be aiming to do with Student Soul this year. If you're up for it, we'll look forward to hangin' :)

Tessa Barlow

Kia Ora, I'm Tessa. This year will be my first year with Student Soul, in the role of pastoral and administrative assistant. I've spent the past 4 or so years working with young people in various capacities while bouncing between Wellington and Dunedin. I'm a third year Psychology and English student at Otago University so consequently love words and people, spending my time outside of study reading and having brunch dates with friends.

This is going to be an epic year as I am so passionate about seeing people journeying deeply together towards Jesus. I'm so looking forward to going on this adventure and would love for you to join me!

(Lynne Taylor has just finished her wonderful work with Student Soul. Read about it here, and keep in touch with here via her website. We [heart] you Lynne!)

What are we about?



Our mission is to help people realise their true worth in relationship with God.

realise (verb): 

  1. Become fully aware of something as a fact; understand clearly. 
    • “She realised how precious she was.”
  2. To achieve something desired or anticipated. 
    • “His potential was realised.”


DNA (or Values)

We are becoming:

  • Confident in who we are and who God is
  • Equipped and empowered for all of life
  • Passionate in our commitment to God and God's mission
  • Healthy in our relationships
  • Mature in our faith



Inviting God to transform us (including through our Sunday gatherings); by growing deep relationships with each other (including through small groups); and by creative missional engagement (including experimentation).



In the course of a year, do we see growth in:

  • Imaginative & risk-taking service?
  • Passionate worship? Creative activism?
  • Fresh and courageous expressions of the gospel?
  • Generous giving on behalf of others?
  • Trusting obedience in God? 

The Story So Far

Student Soul began in 2002, when Helen Harray and Richard Dawson started running services for students on the Otago University campus in Dunedin, New Zealand. Why did it start, what was the need? The need was twofold. First, young people from small churches around Otago and Southland were landing at Uni and struggling to finding a church home. Second, there was awareness and conviction that this thing we call "church" matters: that the life and message and promise of Jesus matters. So, Student Soul was born to be a home in the present, as well as equipping and inspiring students for their futures.
Student Soul is now in its fourth season of life. The first season was a time of inspiration, challenge, of putting down roots, and of growth. In the mid-2000's Student Soul grew into a vibrant and creative community of young people. The church developed a unique culture, prioritised the equipping of leaders, made a strong contribution to arts in the city, and championed an alternative way of doing church. It was a good beginning.
The second season came after the first wave of SSers graduated. The dream was now established, but there was lots to do. The ministry remained financially dependent, the community was reforming after major turnover, and some early dreams had not come to pass. (Such as the vision for SS to be a church-planting church, although we note the gallant effort at establishing a new Student Soul at the Auckland University campus.) What do you do when the joy and energy of the new thing fades but the demands remain? Well, season two for Student Soul is the season of faithfulness and consistency. The truth is, good things take time, and sometimes you just gotta stick at it. Credit to every friend and partner of Student Soul who has played a part in sticking at it. Thank you.
The third phase began with the arrival of Ivan Martinez and his family from the USA. Ivan was given the task of starting afresh (which with student rhythms is really just a part of the deal). In doing so he led Student Soul into a new place, embracing a liturgical worship approach and melding it with a depth of spiritual and intellectual engagement. At the end of 2016, Ivan moved on. This paved the way for current leaders Lynne Taylor and Tom Mepham, to enter the picture, so beginning this fourth phase in the life of the Student Soul journey.

(See recent not-yet-integrated updates in this blog post)


Student Soul is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ). We sit formally under the governing authority of the Leith Valley Presbyterian Church Session (eldership) via the Student Soul Oversight Team, who directly provide staff support, an accountability channel, and strategic continuity.


We are funded as a Southern Presbytery mission project. Our operating budget comes largely in the form of an annual grant from the Synod of Otago and Southland. Tax-deductible donations from our supporters contribute to the sustainability of this ministry.


"True Trinitarian orthodoxy ... flourishes more naturally at the boundaries of 'established' forms of Christianity than under its protective guardianship." (Sarah Coakley)

We've inherited our Presbyterian family/tribal identity of Christianity's Reformed tradition, and hold to orthodox Confessions of faith, both ancient and contemporary.

Shaping world-changers since 2002

Student Soul is a church for students and young adults in Dunedin, New Zealand. We're committed to inviting young people into a life of daring creativity and radical freedom in Jesus.

Equipping students for life to the full, together, for the sake of the world. Powered by the Spirit of God.

Contact us

15 St David St (upstairs)
North Dunedin
Dunedin 9016
New Zealand
(03) 474 9470

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