Mt Albert Baptist began over a century ago, when two enterprising 24 year-olds to start a new church to impact the local community.
It took guts and passion for good friends Ross Penman and Harvey Turner to start a church in the early 1900s. They could see that the Mt Albert population was growing and more people wanted to go to church locally. Their vision to serve the community quickly caught on, and they were able to pool resources with other families to buy land (at four pounds an acre!) and build the first church hall. And so Mt Albert Baptist was officially constituted in September 1915 with 21 founding members who gathered regularly for Bible based teaching and community work.
Fast forward more than 100 years, and to this day their vision lives on with 400 people calling Mt Albert Baptist their home church. And this is a story that continues today – because Mt Albert Baptist is adapting with its community. Auckland’s ever growing population means we are embarking on a building project – increasing the size of the auditorium. For updates on the building project please see Our Stories blog.
Music Director and Team Leader
Steve is the debut playwright behind this original new musical. A former concert pianist turned church minister, he has combined his passion for music and interest in justice and stories of grace to write The Way of the Raukura.
Steve grew up in Taranaki and became curious about the Parihaka story, researching the history and delving into the issues of the day before embarking on writing the musical. As MABC’s lead pastor, he is excited to be continuing the church’s long history of producing musicals.
Steve studied and performed music until his mid-20s, then trained as a church minister starting out in Tauranga before moving to Lower Hutt then Auckland in 2015. During his career as a concert pianist, Steve won New Zealand’s most demanding piano competition before heading to the UK. In London he made the semi-final round of an international piano competition, performed at the Barbican Centre, and studied with Ruth Nye from the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School.
He has a Master’s Degree in Music which included a double major in performance and composition. Steve has recorded various programmes for radio and plays and writes music across a variety of styles.
He enjoys the challenge of bringing out the best in musicians and as Music Director, he can draw on his experience working with professional singers and musicians.
“My upbringing in Taranaki, my training as a musician and my interest in justice and stories of grace as a church minister, all coincide with this Parihaka Musical project. It feels like the project of a lifetime!” – Steve Worsley
Cultural Advisor & Contributing Song Writer
Ko Tararua te Maunga
Ko Raukawa te moana
Ko Otaki te awa
Ko Hoturoa te tangata
Ko Tainui te waka
Ko Ngati Raukawa te iwi
Ko Ngati Kapumanawawhiti te Hapū
Ko Te Pou o Tainui te Marae
Ko Sarah toku ingoa
Sarah describes her upbringing as the straddling of two worlds: Maori and Pakeha. Deriving from that, Sarah has nurtured a passion to help Pakeha better understand Maori, and Maori to better understand Pakeha. Sarah’s advice on a variety of Maori cultural aspects of the show has been invaluable, both to the Production Team and the cast.
Her cross cultural understanding also has ongoing significance in her daytime role – providing pastoral care in schools. Sarah has had creative involvement with events at various schools, including teaching Auckland Grammar school their haka, and coaching them in kapa haka. She has had Production Team involvement for Greenlane Christian Centre events, and together with husband Mark has directed a community dance crew.
Sarah and family are regular stage performers, and it was Sarah’s heartfelt original song, ‘Under the Mountain’, that provided the inspiration for the writing of this show.
Steve Worsley writes, "Sarah’s creative input, cultural advice and unwavering support throughout this project has made a vital difference. I cannot think how this project could have come to life without her."
Mike brings over 40 years’ experience in music and productions to the team, and is part of Mt Albert Baptist’s stage show history – he joined the late renown playwright Wayne Wright in a musical at the church in the early 1970s.
For the following three decades, Mike worked closely with Wayne on a string of musical projects, with Source Theatre.
Their final production The Reason Why told the story of Farmers’ founder Robert Laidlaw and toured the country in 2002 and 2003. Sadly, it was the last time they worked together before Wayne's sudden death that year.
Mike's last production project was Pearls – a collaborative concert working with Wayne's daughter Rebecca that looked back at Source Theatre's 25-year history, which involved many people who had been part of the company.
He has always had a love of music and drama and its power to move people – he believes that combining music with drama and can set a powerful moving experience.
"The opportunity to use music and drama to tell this compelling story of grace, hope and unconditional love demonstrated by the people of Parihaka is unmissable. I had to be part of it.” – Mike Hookey
Catherine brings 30 years’ experience as a qualified dance teacher to the team and can draw on her experience running dance schools to bring out the best in this musical’s choreography.
Having danced and sang her way through childhood, at 15 years-old she won a short-term scholarship to the New Zealand School of Dance, and later trained there.
Catherine has a Diploma in Dance Performance in Ballet and Contemporary dance and a Certificate in Dance Teaching in Classical Ballet from the Royal Academy of Dance and International Society of Teachers of Dancing Association.
She taught professionally for over 20 years from 1991 for dancing schools in the Bay of Plenty, including establishing her own. During that time she choreographed and produced original shows and dance films for students setting up In Situ Dance Theatre Company, choreographing work from her company of contemporary dancers.
Catherine has many career highlights, including choreographing for her own NZ Music month shows, choreographer for Operatic Societies, theatre groups, gymnasts and skaters, and school productions.
New to MAB, over the years she has been involved in church services in worship teams and creative ministries and worked as a tutor for Parachute Music Festival, and Aglow International.
“One of my greatest passions is to tell original stories with a creative, fresh and inspiring message through the art of live performance. This musical ticks all those boxes.” – Catherine Blakeley
Jo brings a depth of experience and knowledge in grassroots drama and production to the team including being part of Source Theatre’s creative team on 11 musicals which toured New Zealand.
Her involvement with the Christian theatre company began in 1992, and for the following decade she worked alongside the late playwright Wayne Wright to bring musicals to the stage including The Reason Why.
Since then she’s been involved in a number of children’s musicals and including three Christmas shows for MABC – Christmas Star by Wayne Wright and The Christmas Tree and The Christmas Play by Gareth Walters.
Jo has been part of the MABC community for over 30 years including working in the office for half that time!
She has been a valued part of the Mainly Music team for a decade and as one of the presenters enjoys encouraging little people and their adults to be creative with music and movement.
The performing and creative arts have been her life’s passion, and Jo says enjoys off-stage roles including directing where she can put her creative talents to use outside of the limelight.
“A musical is a team effort where both the on-stage and off-stage areas are vital for a successful production. I’m honoured to help tell one of our own country's stories of courage, grace, faith and forgiveness in a time of unrest.” – Jo Rasmussen