The New Zealand young writer's program was initiated in August this year after three years of developing the Australian young writer's program in liaison with Christian Today. 28 young Australians have each been writing one article a month on Sport, Comment, Music, IT, Culture, Society, Theology, Ministry, Mission in a Christian Today daily column.
The Australian young writer program commenced in September 2009 when Christian Today invited me to contribute a daily sport article and to accomplish this, and to accomplish this I found five young sport writers. This in turn led to others areas of interest and the Australian young writers come from as far away as Perth in Western Australia, Launceston in Tasmania and Mackay in Queensland and points in between.
Well-Being Australia's print media ministry “Press Service International” (PSI) houses a web presence for each young writer (likened to a CV of published articles) and the site is also utilised to promote each day's young writers published articles and Emailed to other Australian Christian media inviting them to republish. It is also sent each Friday to an international data-base of Christian publication editors.
New Zealand young writers
It was upon my heart to expand the young writer program to New Zealand and early 2012 he made initial steps through his own ecclesiastical contacts and New Zealand members of the Australasian Religious Press Association's (ARPA).
The first young writer was Auckland's Sam Burrows from Windsor Park Baptist Church in Auckland. His contact came through his senior minister Grant Harris who I knew. Sam and I had a lengthy Skype conversation which went through every aspect of the young writer program and I invited Sam to bring this opportunity to other young people.
Over an eight week period ten young writers were identified. Only two came through direct contact with me, the other eight came through recommendations of one sort or another. For example the Salvation Army's Warcy editor Christina Tyson recommended Daniel Buckingham, an officer in training.
Tash McGill who lives in Auckland came through Christchurch Baptist links, Gemma Margerison came via NZ Weekly Challenge, Amanda Robinson through Salt & Light, Dillon Thornton through Dunedin Inter-Church links.
The New Zealand young writer's program commenced the third week of August with Christian Today columns on Monday's, Thursday's and Friday's. The New Zealand young writers are published three days each week, in a four week cycle.
Young writer Elesha Edmonds said this of the program:
“I definitely love the heart behind the agenda you have for young writers. I see this as such an exciting opportunity to bring together the insights of young Christian thinkers of Australia and New Zealand. It's awesome to know that I can be part of the beginnings of this idea for New Zealand.”
Julie Belding M.A. (Hons.), B. Th.
Julie Belding has been a member of Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) for 20 years whose profession preceded this with the New Zealand Christian Writers Guild in 1987 and then served as its President from 1993 to 2003. A constant encourager and mentor, Julie has organised and presented at many workshops and retreats for Christian writers in New Zealand in recent decades and is currently working on producing a distance education course for Christian writers.
Julie Belding edited the New Zealand Baptist for 10 years from 1992 and that was followed by editing Daystar for nine years. She was then assistant editor and now editor of LiFT Magazine. As well, Julie has edited numerous Christian publications, notably for the Asia Theological Association.
One of key ARPA roles is that of fellowship with members throughout New Zealand. When Mark Tronson sought Julie Belding's support to fellowship with the New Zealand young writers it seemed to Julie a simple extension of what was already happening on the ground. Then at the culmination of the 2012 ARPA conference in Wellington, Julie Belding was awarded ARPA's highest award, the “Gutenburg”.
Sydney meeting today
“Ownership” and what that might mean for the New Zealand young writers is one of the issues under discussion. A New Zealand gathering (a mini-conference) of young writers as has happened in Australia is another area for discussion.
But I'm uncertain that sending over an Australian contingent to meet with the New Zealand young writers, when his motif is to develop a New Zealand young writer Christian philosophy. To “touch base” with the young writers is a good idea, but definitely not to bring an Australian agenda.
To this end, 2013 looks like an exciting year for the New Zealand young writers which might well include a day mini-conference.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html