Caleb and Billy (Kimberley) Rowe — both prefixed with Rev'd — are part of the new face of the Anglican Church, and they are helping get things done in Whanganui.
They and their two children live on a property in central Whanganui, along with seven adults and another child. It's a community arrangement over two large houses. Caleb and Billy train others to be youth workers.
Billy was born and raised in Whanganui until she was 10. Her father was Collegiate chaplain but received a calling to minister at an Anglican school in Tonga.
The couple met in the UK, Caleb's homeland, at a monastic community, Lee Abbey in Devon.
"That's part of the reason why we live in a community now," says Caleb. "We have people in our home, we have a rhythm of prayer and do discipleship."
The couple studied at St John's College in Auckland for three years.
"Then the diocese wanted to send us here to Whanganui, which was helpful because that is where we wanted to be," says Caleb.
"I brought Caleb back to Whanganui to show him our old house and where I went to school, and we were in Victoria Avenue looking for a cafe, and I got this overwhelming sense that we would end up here," says Kimberley. Caleb shared the feeling.
Now, under the parish vicar, Archdeacon Stuart Goodin, Caleb and Billy are part of a team of priest associates. The couple is in charge of the 10.30am service at Christ Church.
"We are part of the fruit of [Bishop] Justin and Jenny Duckworth's labours. They have influenced a lot of young people and brought them through the ranks," says Caleb. "We lead the service with a child on a hip, more often than not."
"They [Justin and Jenny] have a real heart for training up young leaders," says Billy.
The strategy was to save a church in which the congregation and hierarchy was aging.
Caleb and Billy arrived with the Duckworths who now live in Gonville in Whanganui. It's the first time the Bishop of the Wellington Diocese has made a home here.
"They started the Anglican Youth Movement [AYM] in Wellington and we are a satellite of that," says Billy. "We are an AYM house."
"In essence, we are an experiment. What it looks like to reinvigorate a church from the inside," says Caleb.
Parish youth workers Nathan and Katie Thomas are also part of the two-house community.
"Nathan leads a team of people working at WIS [Whanganui Intermediate], so he's there three days a week, just being a presence, mentoring ... the idea is that they're a blessing, but they're not there to bring teenagers into the church," says Caleb.
Connected with the WIS pastoral team, Nathan's people offer counselling, one-on-one support and good role modelling.
"They're offering positive alternatives," says Billy.
"At some stage we'd like to branch out into other schools," says Caleb.
They have also started up a story club for the elderly, hosted by Caleb and Billy.
"It's a space for people 70+ to come and share their life stories," says Caleb.
"We're trying to respond to the loneliness for a lot of our elderly," says Billy.
Story Club is held at the Community Centre at Christ Church in Wicksteed St, on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. Anyone is welcome. They also run a mentoring programme and there is so much more they would like to do.
"We're in it for the long haul so we're okay with it starting small," says Caleb.
Included in the parish programme is a fair at All Saints in Whanganui East on November 2, 9am to noon.
Originally a plant fair, the Reverends Rowe have added some extras like Devonshire cream teas, vintage garage sale, bouncy castle, face painting and more.
"It's our parish fundraising event, so all of the proceeds go to organisations we support, some local and some overseas," says Caleb.