CHURCH HALL: Rev Kylie holds services in the church hall next door to St David’s. Photo John Morin D8723-18

EDGECUMBE has a new Presbyterian minister, officially, following the recent ordination and induction of the young, and perhaps unorthodox, Reverend Kylie Provan. Or Rev, as she likes to be known.

Rev Kylie, who earlier spent six years in the New Zealand Defence Force working in communications and logistics with both the Army and the Air Force, says she sees her ordination as confirmation of the work that she loves and has been doing for a long time.

“I’ve been ministering in one way or another for 12 years now, just without the official title,” says the minister, who moved to the Eastern Bay with husband Robert in 2016 to complete her studies under the mentorship of former Knox Presbyterian Church senior minister, Chris Barnard.

Rev Kylie had been ministering at St David’s church in Edgecumbe for the past 18 months before being ordained and inducted into the church in May of this year. “The ordination doesn’t change anything that I do,” she says. “I’ll be continuing to do what I’ve always done.”

Rev Kylie says she sees herself first and foremost as a chaplain – a spiritual caregiver who reaches out to those in need – a role she tends to approach both spiritually, and practically.

Not into “boring people with long sermons,” but rather “doing the work of Jesus with my arms and legs,” she concedes she may not fit the mould of a traditional church minister. “I guess I’m one out of the box,” she says. “I’m just uniquely me.”

For Rev Kylie, the role is not just about providing spiritual guidance. “Christ is a practical guy. He does whatever he can, wherever he can,” she laughs. And Rev Kylie herself is a practical person too.

She is already a member of the Eastern Bay Volunteer Fire Brigade – the new name for the Whakatane Voluntary Rural Fire Force – continuing her voluntary firefighting service that began in other communities several years ago.

Keen to help with practical matters in her community, the Reverend says she sees the various roles she takes as all being extensions of the same thing; “Of being there for people, of loving and caring for people. That’s what I believe is good work”.

And as she spreads her arms to indicate the width and breadth of her surroundings, it’s clear the Reverend is feeling right at home and has quickly grown fond of the Edgecumbe region. “I love this area,” she says. “I’m here for these people, and to do whatever I can do for them whenever I can.”

Despite having grown up in West Auckland, Rev Kylie says it’s rural areas and small towns that she most enjoys. “They’re a much better fit for me.”

Ministering in various places around New Zealand for many years (most recently in Helensville), she says many of her roles have been in chaplaincy, including her role as Chaplain of Unitec in Auckland.

“Coming to know the Lord” when she was 20 years old, and in the military – also where she and Robert met – Rev Kylie ministered for the Assembly of God Church for many years before moving to the Presbyterian Church five years ago.

She currently provides support roles for both St John and for the Returned Services Association in Whakatane. “We’re happy here,” she says. “We love the town. I think once this place is in your system you won’t get it out again easily.”

Reverend Kylie has two grown up stepchildren, and a granddaughter.

St David’s Parish church services continue to be run from the hall adjacent to the church as the building continues to undergo seismic standards testing.