Joe and Marina started coming to St Barnabas in August 2020. In Timaru, they went to St John’s, Wai-iti Road and feel St Barnabas has many similarities. The 8am service appeals to them as it is a more orthodox service and is ‘silent’. This style of worship is very important to them. “We like the experience; it’s good – peaceful. We appreciate community, sharing the one bread and services based on the Bible.” Mark was preaching the first Sunday they attended and made a powerful impression on them. Seeing the sun coming through the stained glass windows is an awe-inspiring experience. 

Marina’s background is Orthodox and traditional. Although used to a different church calendar, she says a calendar is just a calendar and is not disturbed by the difference. She was baptised as a one-year-old in Russia as this is seen as giving a child protection from false gods. Both her father and her godparents are Greek. Her Greek Orthodox godparents gave her a (Greek) yellow gold cross but she had to wait until she came to New Zealand to get a chain in matching yellow gold as Russian gold is more reddish. 

Marina’s grandmother was a very disciplined Christian going to church every Sunday. In Russia there are two Lents; one before Easter and one before Christmas. Marina’s grandfather was blind from childhood but had a strong faith. 

Joe also has a Christian background. For him, it is important to focus on the practical and physical works rather than intangible statements. He believes you need faith to do works. He went with his family to church every week and reads the Bible daily. He is very disciplined and likes to keep it practical. Over lockdown Joe discovered a book called the Didache, an early church teaching to new converts in the first and second century, which he believes has a lot of parallels with the New Zealand Prayer Book. As a discipline and doing something traditional, Joe fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays.  

Marina’s major hobby and interest is perfumes. She loves to be surrounded by nice smells and described being in perfume retail and how over lockdown, she experimented making her own perfumes. She is committed to a healthy lifestyle and takes a keen interest in nutrition, cooking and fitness (ask her about her 90-minute walks). She enjoys finding a new hobby, listening to music and reading. Marina has just finished a nail course and is looking forward to working at Nail Prodigy in Opawa Road. 

Joe’s interests encompass sports, running the triathlon and his Ironman achievement. He also likes hiking, being at the beach and swimming. Joe has a strong interest in archaeology and history and likes to read.  Both admit to being naturally shy so are gradually getting to know people at St Barnabas. 

Roberta Smith