The Christian Research Association was established in August 1992 after a group, formerly the Presbyterian Research work group, decided to re-form as a group with a wider view.
It was to become an independent and interchurch body with members drawn from a broad range of denominations
Its declared aims were to....
- Provide from available research material an overview of trends in religion & society in Aotearoa-New Zealand., gathering data from a variety of sources and conducting its own research as required.
- Seek opportunities to share information with churches to assist them in theur mission
Its objectives were
- to collect, interpret, evaluate and disseminate information on the current religious situation in Aotearoa-New Zealand, drawing attention to its implications.
- To initiate or respond to requests for research which falls within these aims
- To encourage writing on research interpreting the data for appropriate audiences.
- To make independent high quality research available to churches
- To develop relationships with other research groups in order to establish a wider perspective.
The founding members were largely Presbyterian under the inspirational leadership of the Reverend Margaret Martin who steered the group through its transformation, and remained the Association’s convenor until ill health forced her in 1996 to take a lesser role as a consultant. However members were sought from all denominations. (Group membership was available at $25 per annum and individual membership at $5.00) Permission to reprint articles from the quarterly bulletin research was given to members. The Ephesus series of booklets contained some of the earlier articles. Eg “A Deep Flowing Stream – NZ women and their churches” 1893-1993 was produced by Margaret herself to mark the centennial of women’s suffrage.
A mini conference was held in Taupo in January 1994 with topics being suggested for future research Guidelines for good researches were also canvassed.
The Church Life Survey initiative was an off-shoot of CRA, providing data which could then be written up and made use of by the churches. The first survey was in 1997, following the 1996 census. Subsequent censuses have been followed by the same group doing a survey to connect it to census data.
The Rev Norman Brookes (Methodist) took over the convenorship of CRA and a part time administrator was appointed. The Anglican bishop Bruce Gilberd became the Chair for a time around the turn of the century, and a wide variety of articles were published – the Values study by Alan Webster was critiqued along with many other treatises.
However, when the then administrator, Rushan Sinnaduray, left to go overseas and the pool of committed volunteers (and funding) was shrinking, it was decided that the CRA would go into hibernation or recess as announced in the last quarterly bulletin in 2003. The Church Life Survey group has continued to operate. It is this group we are looking to resurrect.