Twelve churches, some more "mainstream" than others, are located on or near Tawa's Main Road. One of those is Tawa Baptist Church at which Will Warden has been the minister for almost seven years. The Baptist church is traditionally not too traditional (if that makes sense), and Will is a youngish pastor seldom seen in a tie, let alone a clerical "dog collar". Read on to learn a little about the man whose full-time role is responsibility for the local Baptist flock.
Where were you born, Will?
Where did you grow up?
Hamilton, through to the age of 23.
Where were you educated?
Hamilton Boys' High School, then Waikato University. Completed a BMS (Bachelor of Management Studies) course, "a four year degree which took me five years because it was the wrong course for me. I did a lot better in theology."
What is your line of work?
After university we moved to Papamoa where Robyn got a job as a teacher and I got a job at CCS (formerly Crippled Children's Society). I started as a puppeteer and ended up as their business manager. In my first year I was officially Disability Awareness educator, in my second year Disability Awareness coordinator, and after that the Business Manager. I was there for seven years in all.
Then to Carey Baptist College in Auckland to train for the ministry. That was for three years. Came out with a BTheol degree. In the summer of 2002/2003 I had a three-month assignment at Waikanae Baptist, before starting my current role at Tawa Baptist late January 2004.
What about family?
Married to Robyn (during university days at age 21), now with two primary school daughters.
What are your interests/hobbies?
I like a good story, mostly listening to other people's stories - "real people telling their own stories." Also enjoy watching movies or reading short stories. "Most of my [spare] time is spent with the kids and church. Just that stage of life."
How long have you lived in Tawa?
Since the start of 2004.
What do you think is great about Tawa?
People here generally care about the place. It feels like there's a basic level of respect with most people. It feels like a relatively safe place to live.
What, if anything, would improve Tawa?
This already happens to a certain extent: "Love God and love your neighbour. You can't really go past that. It's an ongoing thing."
What is your favourite dessert?
Ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce.
[Editor's comment at that point: "That sounds pretty cool."
Will's response: "Pretty basic."]
Favourite sports team or sportsperson?
The Black Caps (NZ cricket team).
[The Editor made some comment at that point about their recent poor run.
Will's response: "I like underdogs."]
Favourite musical group or style of music?
[Ed: "Anyone in particular?" as Will has been known to sing the praises of Bono from time to time.
Will's response: I think they go together as a band. I don't think they'd work as individuals."]
I enjoy a variety of styles of music.
Favourite holiday destination in New Zealand?
Papamoa/Mt Maunganui. "When we can, we go there for holidays."
Favourite quote or saying?
From the book of Genesis (spoken by Joseph): "He said to his brothers, Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So do not be afraid."
If you could meet any two or three people (alive or dead), who would they be?
If I could do that, I'd like to get Jesus together with two other people who need to meet him. "And I'd like to be in that conversation."
What three things would you take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
A Bible, some drinking water, and a satellite phone.
What is one talent you would like that you do not have?
I don't think it matters. It's not really about me. It's about the community we're a part of. (Part of my role is to help other people use their talents for the well-being of the community.)
What is one talent you have that you could not do without?
I don't think of myself as having talents. If anything good comes through me, then it comes from God. "I'm pretty average. There's nothing I'm really good at."
What accomplishments/achievements in your life give you much satisfaction/pride?
Helping others. It's more a satisfaction thing than pride. "I haven't done anything that remarkable."
What is something "interesting" about you that local people might not know?
[Being the modest sort that Will is, the Editor had to push him on this one.]
"I kayaked over a 10 metre waterfall twice at Aniwhenua (Eastern Bay of Plenty), at the age of 15." [And obviously survived - Ed.] "I was young enough and dumb enough to find it exciting, I guess."
What are two or three things you would like to do before you die?
To remain faithful and loyal to God.
To take Robyn on a holiday throughout the South Island.
To finish parenting my children, "but not tomorrow. When they're adults!"
Compiled December 2010.