Waiapu Diocesan Theologian

About the Author

“Who Is This Man?”   Allow me to introduce myself.

Executive Summary – I am a 65 year old Kiwi Anglican Priest with a life-long passion for biblical studies and theological reflection. Now let’s unpack that …

A 65 year old Kiwi

*  I was born in 1943, during WW2, and grew up in rural New Zealand (Marlborough then Westport) during the post-war rediscovery of our national identity. The literature exploring this process is still speaking  to me. and it all comes out of me in poetry and song … most of it not fit for publication. I love this land and its people and count myself blessed to have lived my life here.

* A fourth-generation pakeha, my forebears from northern England, Scotland and Ireland settled in various parts of the South Island of New Zealand during the late mid to late 19th century – Nicholsons, Godfreys, Stevensons and Crichtons, among others (but not Pilgrims: that is an adopted name, and another story).  Their shared interests and married ties were largely built around farming and commerce, and we have no family history of significant relationships with the indigenous people of the country in which we settled. I have been more involved in my own generation’s awakening to the nature of the covenant relationship between the races forged by the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, and am happy to identify myself as tangata tiriti, one who has a right to live in this land founded in that agreement, and committed to the vision of just and peaceable relationships expressed in its signing.

* My parents had seven children, and I have had six, who have in turn made me six times a grandfather (to date and still counting). My wife, Sue Dick, is a landscape architect, running a successful consultancy serving the Gisborne and Wairoa districts. I have reached an age where family life is full and rewarding, and the pensions that kicked in at 65 give me options in how I spend my time from here on.  However, a recent publication “Avoid Retirement and Stay Alive” says it all and I hope  to make a contribution to society, and get paid something for it, for many years yet.  Which brings me to my vocation …

An Anglican Priest

*  My father bucked his own family’s expectations to become an Anglican priest in the Nelson diocese, and I have had a love/hate struggle with that evangelical heritage since my own adult conversion (after a string of transient youthful responses to God) as a young man at Canterbury University in 1962.

*   Committed to a life of Christian ministry from that time, a further experience of  personal charismatic renewal in 1965 sent me on a long exploration of Christian church options before returning to my Anglican roots in the early 1980s.

* I was ordained deacon in 1985, priest in 1986, and have served in pastoral positions in the parish of Cashmere, Paparoa prison, Lyttelton, and Gisborne.

* The centre of my Christian and priestly vocation has been a ministry of preaching and teaching, and these are the aspects of church life in which hope to make an ongoing contribution. My pastoral interests have not disappeared but are now focused on supporting my colleagues in ministry.

A Theologian

* My first degree, a Canterbury B.A. with majors in Philosophy and English, also included units in Religious Studies and Hebrew, in support of my self-taught exploration of theology. I then earned a teaching diploma and worked for 20 years as a teacher in various public and private secondary schools in the Canterbury area while developing my ministry as a lay preacher and teacher.

* I began my Otago B.D. as a distance student while still teaching and completed it during a year of full-time study as an ordination candidate, majoring in both New Testament and then Systematic Theology, with Old Testament (stage 2), Church History and Pastoral Theology in support. This experience of distance learning led naturally to a decade of teaching others studying for the L.Th. diploma through College House and then EIDTS in Christchurch.

* A decade of further part-time distance study towards a MCD masterate upgraded and transferred to an Otago doctorate led to a  Ph.D. awarded in 2003 for my thesis “Benefits and Obligations: Reading 1 Corinthians 8:6  in Context”, an attempt to use a battery of exegetical methods to determine a new reading of a key verse in Paul’s  Christology.  (You can download and read the thesis as a pdf file from http://www.howardpilgrim.com) Further spin-off reasearch has been presented in several papers at international meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Biblical Studies.

* Since my mid-life ordination, I have made various contributions to the theological deliberations of the dioceses of Christchurch and then Waiapu, to the General Synod of Aotearoa New Zealand and to various national meetings of our church. I have provided numerous bible studies, seminars and training workshops for clergy and laity, and mentored others in their theological explorations.   By the grace of God, I hope my best contributions are yet to come and am grateful to the bishop and diocese of Waiapu for inviting me to take up the inaugural role of diocesan theologian. Where this will lead is yet to be seen …

Howard Nicholson Pilgrim



  1. I was in Hawkes Bay the weekend and picked up a Waiapu News. I am very interested in your ‘academy’. My husband was a priest and I have a lot of books from his library. If anyone from Waiapu could come and have a look you would be welcome to any that you care to have. We were both parishioners at St. Mary’s in Waipukurau and it would be very fitting for Stewart’s books to return to our “home” diocese. My father built St. Mary’s. This is the only way I know to get in touch with you. Now it’s over to you if you want to know any more.
    Velna Mcconchie, Wellington

    Comment by Velna McConchie — September 24, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  2. Now that is the sort of offer I really appreciate. I trust it will be followed by others. You can email me direct at hnp@inet.net.nz.

    Comment by howardpilgrim — September 25, 2009 @ 8:41 am

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