Skip to product information
1 of 1

Philip Garside Books

Ethnic Flames of the Burning Bush - Print.

Ethnic Flames of the Burning Bush - Print.

Regular price $30.00 NZD
Regular price Sale price $30.00 NZD
Sale Sold out
Tax included. Shipping calculated at checkout.

Ethnic Flames of the Burning Bush:
An Exploration of Ethnic Relations in Congregations of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

By Tokerau Joseph

Language: English

Words: 61,751
Soft cover 184pp
B/W text, 6″ x 9″
ISBN 9781991027603

[21 in stock 20 April 2024]

Click for eBooks

About the book

Why are the policies of a church at national level, which seek to bring together people of different cultures and ethnicities as one people in Christ, so seldom reflected in local congregations and parishes?

New Zealand Presbyterian minister Rev Dr Tokerau Joseph shares the insights gained from his doctoral research into this topic.

While his study focussed on the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ), his findings are also relevant to other denominations with multi-cultural and multi-ethnic parishes and congregations.

This exercise in practical theology examines the tension between two realities. On the one hand, there are the stated policies of the PCANZ that encourage its members to live out a diverse life together. On the other hand, there is the reality that PCANZ congregations reflect ethnic homogeneity rather than diversity.

The author observes the extent to which the ethnic composition of congregations is influenced by people’s theological understanding of the church and of their Christian identity, as opposed to tendencies affirming their ethnic/cultural identity.

Tokerau Joseph challenges and encourages people in congregations to learn to live out more faithfully our ecclesiology of unity in diversity. This will involve re-evaluating our Christian identity, cross-cultural engagements, a pan-Pacific model of church, and the sacrament of Holy Communion. He hopes that this book will be thought-provoking and impactful for change in people’s lives.

Key topics discussed are:

  • Ethnicity matters
  • An ecclesiology of unity in diversity
  • The historical development of PCANZ ethnic components
  • Ethnic relations in congregations, and
  • Rethinking our fellowship

The book includes a full bibliography and references.


About the Author

Tokerau brings extensive leadership experience to this work of practical theology. He has been an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand for 24 years serving in mostly ethnically and culturally diverse congregations.

He is of Cook Islands, Scottish, and English heritage, a husband to Tangi, father of five children, and grandfather to seven grandchildren.


Praise for Ethnic Flames of the Burning Bush

“This is an important book that will help all congregations to do justice both to our shared identity in Christ and to our cultural distinctives. Tokerau Joseph provides us with the theological reflection and the direction we need to resist the powerful pull towards homogeneity in our life together.” 
Dr Tim Cooper, Professor of Church History, University of Otago

 “All around the world people are on the move in what has been called the new migration. Largely this is from majority world countries to the west, creating significant ethnic diversity where there was previously a significant European majority, and New Zealand is at the leading edge of this. Many of these people are Christian, and initially they established their own ethnic churches, but as they move into the second generation and beyond most desire to be in multi-ethnic churches, and research shows these are the most rapidly growing churches.

Tokerau Joseph’s work explores this in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand and provides a highly needed understanding, some helpful practical insights, and a solid theological base to help churches engage with this challenging but much needed task.”
Rev Dr Kevin Ward, former Senior Lecturer and Acting Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership

“A superb piece of practical and public theology arising from generous cultural insight, solid sociological and theological research, and the wisdom born of personal involvement.

Dr Joseph displays a deeply committed curiosity about how communities seeking to embody Christian ideals of unity with the welcoming affirmation of human diversity live out the practical challenges of life together.

His timely work is of relevance for politics as well as for our churches in general and the well-being of the country.” 
Rev Dr John Roxburgh, Honorary Fellow, Theology Programme, University of Otago. 

 “This is a significant book. For far too long the Pacific presence in New Zealand and its churches has been siloed, hidden from view in strong but isolated Pasifika churches in very specific churches. But now a very significant moment is happening gradually as Pasifika people mostly from the generation born in this country sit down beside us, their Palagi brothers and sisters.

It is a development that cannot be taken for granted and must involve changes for all of us. Tokerau Joseph has researched the issue and now brings us the book we need.

I urge all to read this book carefully and digest its implications carefully. And I thank its author for boldly pioneering the way.”
Dr Peter Lineham, Professor Emeritus of History, Massey University

 • • •

Table of Contents



1 — Ethnicity Matters

  • Religious Communities Overseas
  • Religious Communities In New Zealand
  • Conclusion

 2 – An Ecclesiology of Unity in Diversity

  • A Christological Perspective of the Church
  • A Trinitarian Perspective of the Church
  • The Universal and Local Church
  • Ethnic Relations Within the PCANZ
  • Relations at the Global Level
  • Relations at the National Level
  • Relations at the Regional Level
  • Relations at the Local Congregation Level
  • Conclusion

3 – Historical Development of PCANZ Ethnic Components

  • Development of the European Component
  • Development of the Māori Component
  • Development of the Asian Component
  • Development Of The Pacific Islander Component
  • Cultural Agency
  • Conclusion

4 – Ethnic relations in congregations

  • Homogeneous or Diverse?
  • Ethnic Group Predominance
  • Worship Services
  • Clergy and Congregations
  • Conclusion

5 – Rethinking our fellowship

  • Evaluating Christian Identity
  • Cross-Cultural Opportunities
  • Fellowshipping Differently: A Pan-Pacific Congregation Model
  • Challenged by Holy Communion
  • Conclusion



  • Church Reports and Correspondence

View full details