following the way, truth and life of Jesus

Staff

Tom Mepham

Tom Mepham

WHATSUP!!! I’m Tom. I’ve been with Student Soul for 5 years. My journey here has included time studying theology at Otago Uni, doing an internship through the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, and two years (so far) of covid craziness. My role is Minister of Word and Sacrament which I suppose is a fancy title for servant leadership. The idea is that the church is called to be a community of light which is a blessing to the world. Our life together ought to/gets to arise out of biblically-infused worship and a creative & compassionate missionary stance with culture. So that’s what I’m here for.

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. If you’re reading this then maybe you’re interested in that too & I hope we might get to meet!

thomasmepham.com

Tiana Hill

Tiana Hill

Kia ora, I’m Tiana.  I’ve been part of the Student Soul Community for a year and a half now, some of which has been in the role of “worship enabler”. I’ve added “pastoral and administrative assistant” to my titles this year, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me! I’m a local of Dunedin, having spent the last 12 years here, and absolutely love it you can often find me up one of the various hills surrounding the city, checking out the latest walking track. I graduated in 2021 after studying Public Health at Otago University, and have moved on to further study at the Polytech where I have just started my Midwifery Degree. 

I’ve grew up in a community of youth workers and student churches, so I’m stoked that I finally get to be a part of it myself! I am passionate about seeing young people build their relationship with Jesus, through creativity, creation, and connection with others. I’m so looking forward to the adventure this year will bring, and would love for you to be a part of it!

What are we about?

What

Mission

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.”

Why

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

How

Strategy

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).

When

Health

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)

We really need to update this section. Yes we do.

Governance

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.

Finance

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.

Beliefs

“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 from Christianity’s Reformed Protestant tradition, and hold to orthodox Confessions of faith, both ancient and contemporary.

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