Photo Credit: Florence Charvin
Photo Credit: Florence Charvin

As featured in current BayBuzz magazine article, Twenty.

Every Sunday morning Reverend Jill McDonald puts on the same black dress ready to lead the Sunday service at Hastings’ St Andrews Presbyterian Church.

“The one thing I have noticed as a woman in this role is that people comment on how I look. I wear the same dress every Sunday because I don’t want people thinking about what I am wearing, but rather entering into worship.”

When Jill was inducted as the minister of St Andrews in 2017, she was the first female minister in the church’s 132-year history. Already she is making her mark with a keen aspiration for social justice.

In 2018 Jill and husband Chris Lambourne seeded an ambitious project to build a solar farm to bring low-cost electricity to around 1,500 people in Flaxmere. That has now evolved into Manaaki Energy which aims to end energy poverty in Aotearoa.

As a board member Jill says that Manaaki Energy is becoming a social retailer/generator using solar, wind and geothermal energy generation.

“We are all given an equal amount of sun, but people who struggle financially are the last to benefit from the technology to harness it,” she says. “That’s where we aim to make a difference.”

Jill is also facilitating The Common Good, a monthly talk at Common Room in Hastings hosting a guest speaker on a social justice issue such as homelessness or domestic violence. 

“Church can be a real barrier for many, so we want to engage with people where they hang out. 

“This is public theology in action.”

The fact women are leading key organisations in Hawke’s Bay such as the Police, HBDHB, HB Prison, along with the majority of mayors and MPs being women, is something Jill celebrates. 

“There is such a strong relationality and ‘can do’ attitude.”

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