Why am I an Anglican?

Bishop Steve Maina


Originally from Kenya, Steve Maina has served as a pastor, church planter, National Director of NZCMS, and now Bishop of the Nelson Anglican Diocese.

Why am I an Anglican?

Bishop Steve Maina


Originally from Kenya, Steve Maina has served as a pastor, church planter, National Director of NZCMS, and now Bishop of the Nelson Anglican Diocese.

Why am I an Anglican?

a smiling kenyan bishop raises his hands in worship

Why am I an Anglican?

First of all, I love the depth. 

The whakapapa of the Anglican Church spans a rich history of 500 years! I'm walking on the foundation of those who have gone before me. Having been raised Anglican with four generations of Anglican heritage in my family, I can trace my spiritual whakapapa to my great grandfather – an Anglican minister. When Church Missionary Society missionaries landed in Mombasa, Kenya in the 1800s, they created a Mission Station. It served dual purpose: to spread the gospel hinterland and provide sanctuary for enslaved people who had been rescued in the Indian Ocean slave trade.

My great grandfather was among the first people in my tribe in Kenya to receive the gospel!

So my family’s roots in the Anglican church go deep, and I owe this heritage of gospel and freedom to Jesus and to the Church Missionary Society.

It was CMS missionaries in Aotearoa 200 years ago who established the Anglican Church Te Hāhi Mihinare (Missionary Church), and helped midwife Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It’s such a fantastic, unique story, and I feel very privileged to be able to retell this story – through my earlier role with NZCMS, and now as Bishop – to embrace this story, to make it my own, and to pass it on to others.

The depth of Anglicanism also resonates so powerfully within our liturgy, the structure and thought put into the words we say. We get to say what we believe so often in the creeds, and those doctrines ground us. I love the liturgical seasons of our calendar and the opportunity to celebrate key events and historical moments, like All Saints Day, when the Church remembers our union under Christ with those who have gone before and those who are to come. 

For me, to be Anglican is not simply to go to an Anglican Church building to worship within a particular structure.

My identity as an Anglican is that I am a part of passing on the gospel tradition: the truth of Christian teachings, summarised in the Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal. 

I reflect on the Anglican Church being founded on the tenets of the Reformation which deeply grounds me in a solid spiritual whakapapa. The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and conduct, and salvation is by God's grace alone, by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.

As J.I. Packer puts it, “Anglicanism embodies the richest, truest, wisest heritage in all Christendom.”

Secondly, I love the breadth of the Anglican Church. 

We are a three tikanga Church in these islands, covering Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (including Fiji, Samoa and Tonga). And the Anglican Church is also global – I could go to an Anglican Church in Savusavu, Nairobi or Yangon and connect with likeminded brothers and sisters in the faith. It reminds me that I'm part of something bigger. We have room for diverse expressions of Anglican worship, from liturgical, traditional or contemplative to contemporary and charismatic. Add to that a mix of blended ceremony styles in various languages and cultures, and we witness the richness and diversity of Anglican worship. 

Do you know what the statistical average Anglican looks like? A woman in her thirties, living in sub-Saharan Africa on less than four dollars per day, says Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. 

What we see in the Western world does not represent the full picture. The centre of gravity for global Anglicanism has shifted. The majority of Anglicans are in what is called the Global South. The flavour of Anglicanism they represent is orthodox (holding to the authority of the Bible and the centrality of Jesus Christ), vibrant and mission oriented.

I should note too that I have many friends in the Anglican Church who are “on loan” to other denominations. Our whānau is widespread, and we love our siblings in other denominations too.

I long to see the renewal of the Anglican Church in these islands: a Church that reaches deep into our Reformation story and mission heritage to reach wide and bring hope to a world desperate for the good news of the Lord Jesus! 

I believe that the God who blessed Daniel in a foreign land is with me here in Aotearoa. I will continue to be a faithful witness of the gospel as I live out what I consider to be my “life verse”: “Even when I am old and grey, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” Psalm 71:18.

If you’d like to know more about what it means to be Anglican in these islands, I recommend this free resource produced by our diocese, Being Anglican in Aotearoa.

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We have invited these writers to share their experiences, ideas and opinions in the hope that these will provoke thought, challenge you to go deeper and inspire you to put your faith into action. These articles should not be taken as the official view of the Nelson Diocese on any particular matter.