Shirley-Joy Barrow was "pretty crushed" when her job as City Missioner ended in 2011 - but she decided the story of her seven years there needed to be told.

Her book, Mission in the City - Hopes and Dreams My Story was launched at Whanganui's Grand Hotel on October 11. It was the second launch, after one in Christchurch about a week earlier.

Barrow has self-published the book, through Philip Garside Publishing in Wellington. It's available as a hard copy and on Kindle through Amazon, and she's received her first royalties.

She was Whanganui's City Missioner from 2004 to 2011, when she and several others lost their jobs.


"To start with I was devastated. It took me a good six months to go outside the house again," she said.

A legal battle over her employment followed in 2012. In the next few years her husband Tony had a heart attack and she nursed her elderly mother. Meanwhile she was compiling information and writing the book.

Barrow had previously been a Methodist deacon "working in the community with drug, alcohol and detox, working in prisons and refuges, with people struggling with poverty".

When she got the City Missioner job she first sussed what was needed and not available in Whanganui, and went through a process of setting it up. There was already a Food Bank. She started Project Jericho, which provided emergency housing.

After a time the make-up of her governing board changed, she said.

"The focus seemed to be on putting a business template across a social service. I don't believe you can do that."

In her first five years as missioner money had just come in when it was needed.

"If you are doing the right thing, the money came," she said.


Within months of her losing her job Project Jericho closed, which upset her. At the time the board said there was not enough money for it.

Writing this book has been cathartic, she said.

"This chapter of my life is done."

She's now planning to write three more books. One will be about the need to serve, and another about changing and enabling.

The last will be the story of her life. Its title is A Front Row Seat in a Life of Miracles.