Summer Conference

5-12 JANUARY 2019

ST Peter’s, Cambridge

Explore how faith and life connect over seven days in the beautiful Waikato

with ninety young professionals, creatives, and students from around Aotearoa, New Zealand.


Y ou’ve been told that following God matters to all of life. But does it really? Does the Christian faith have anything good or interesting to say about our day-to-day lives: how we work, how we relate, how we grieve, how we face disappointment, how we plan and how we celebrate? We think it does.

This summer, join other young professionals, creatives, and students from across Aotearoa, New Zealand at the Venn Summer Conference, as we dig into and wrestle with these questions and together seek answers in the Bible and theology, as well as history, culture, and the arts.

Know the gospel; know culture; and translate.

The week-long conference is challenging, life-giving, and creative; it’s for young adults 18-30 years old, is fully residential, and is held in the beautiful Waikato.

During the week you can expect to:

  • Hear from engaging and thoughtful speakers who love God.
  • Think deeply about the big questions of faith and life.
  • Explore the ideas and stories that have shaped and are shaping New Zealand culture.
  • Be challenged about what you think and how you think.
  • Eat well, laugh loud, talk a lot, and perhaps even disagree at times—all while making new friendships and deepening old ones.

A t Summer Conference we’re privileged to host an exceptional group of speakers from across New Zealand. The speaker lineup for Summer Conference 2018 was:

  • Andrew Shamy
  • Hannah Chapman
  • Dr John Dennison
  • Nathan McLellan
  • Sarah Corban
  • Dr Alistair Reese
  • Dr Luke Fenwick
  • Dr Sam Bloore
  • Rachel Kitchens

The Week

During the week we’ll explore what the gospel means for all of our lives. We’ll do this by asking: what does the Bible say about God, God’s purposes in the world, about what it means to be human, and about the nature of world we live in?

We’ll also ask how our answers to these questions relate to other stories about life that we find embedded in current NZ culture, such as consumerism, individualism, and collectivism.

The week isn’t just about gaining knowledge; our prayer is that you’ll encounter God, and through that encounter, you’ll come to know him, yourself, and others better.

The conference is designed with a particular flow. Each day will address a major theme or question. These themes follow the arc of the biblical story.

Creation: What is the nature of the world we live in?

Humanity: What does it mean to be human?

The Fall: What’s gone wrong with the world?

Jesus: Who is Jesus? And what does he mean for us today?

Holy Spirit and Church: Who is the Spirit? What is the Church?

Redemption: What is the end of our story?

Culture: How should we engage culture faithfully in 21st century Aotearoa, New Zealand?

Each morning you’ll get to participate in a mixture of creative workshops, lectures, and learning groups, as we explore the key theme and questions of the day. Each evening there’ll be an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been learning and to consider what it means for our lives. Our hope is you’ll come to a deeper understanding of the gospel and what it means for your life.

The week will be full, but there is also plenty of time each afternoon to relax, to enjoy the local area, to pray, to worship, and to have fun.

Pricing + Details


STUDENT Standard*


ADULT Standard*


Prices include all meals, accommodation, and conference materials.

*All prices are NZD.

2019 pricing will be released later in 2018.


We encourage you to first seek support from your church, family and friends.

A small amount of sponsorship money is available from year to year. When applying for sponsorship we will ask you to let us know how much you can contribute and a little bit about your situation. Sponsorship is not guaranteed.


A limited number of scholarships are available from year-to-year for full time students currently studying in NZ, as well as options for Māori and Pasifika.


Dr. Sam Bloore

Dr. Sam Bloore

Sam grew up in Dargaville, prior to studying medicine and bioethics at Otago University. He worked as a doctor for 5 years in Emergency Medicine and Psychiatry. He went on to join the staff of his local church and completed a Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology. While working for Compass Foundation, Sam co-authored The Hare and Tortoise. Sam now works for the Venn Foundation as a Senior Teaching Fellow, and along with his wife Julia, oversees the residential life of the Venn Internship. They have three young children, Eden, Benjamin, and Sophia.
Hannah Chapman

Hannah Chapman

Hannah lives with her children Canaan, Josiah, and Psalm, and four generations of their whānau on ancestral lands in Tūrangi. Together they facilitate experiences for people who wish to engage with the question of what it means to be people of Aotearoa. Passionate about the restoration of indigenous people with their God-given cultures, Hannah co-founded iEmergence, an organisation that supports the sustainable development needs of indigenous young adults and youth in the Philippines and Canada. She works for the Parenting Place and is working towards a Master of Indigenous Theological Studies.
Dr. Alistair Reese

Dr. Alistair Reese

Alistair Reese is a farmer, historian, and public theologian. He and his wife Jeannie live near Te Puke in the district of Tapuika/Waitaha.  He holds postgraduate degrees in History, Tikanga Maori, and Theology, from Massey, Waikato, and Cambridge University. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Public Theology at the University of Auckland for his thesis: Reconciliation and the Quest for Pakeha Identity.

Worldclass, engaging, experienced communicators who love God. Here’s a brief intro to our 2018 lineup.

Dr. John Dennison

Dr. John Dennison

John lives in Wellington with his wife, Jannah, and their three sons, Theo, Emmaus and Blythe. He serves as Associate Chaplain at the Anglican Chaplaincy, Victoria University, and works as Venn’s Wellington Coordinator. John holds degrees in Theology and English Literature, from Victoria, Otago and St Andrew’s, Scotland. His first collection of poems, Otherwise, was published by Auckland University Press and Carcanet Press in 2015.
Dr. Luke Fenwick

Dr. Luke Fenwick

Luke grew up in Christchurch and studied Classics and History at the University of Canterbury before reading German history at University College, Oxford.  He took his doctorate in 2011 and has worked with policy and tertiary institutions in London, Washington D.C., Moscow and (now) Auckland.  He is married to Olivia.
Rachel Kitchens

Rachel Kitchens

Rachel is from Atlanta, Georgia and spent her undergraduate years in Virginia, studying Dance and Psychology at Hollins College. Rachel is interested in the interplay between the arts, the human body, and Christian faith, which led her to complete a Master of Arts in Christian Studies at Regent College. She has worked as a Church worker, community coordinator, event planner, dance teacher, and florist. Most recently, Rachel completed her studies in spiritual direction and works part-time at Venn Foundation, helping alumni integrate their lives with the Gospel. She is married to Andrew Shamy and together they live in Auckland with their two daughters, Ella and Georgia, and son, James.
Andrew Shamy

Andrew Shamy

Andrew grew up in Christchurch and graduated from the University of Canterbury with a BA (Hons) in History and American Studies. He went on to complete his Master of Arts in Theology from Regent College. Andrew has co-authored two books: The Insect and the Buffalo and The Hare and the Tortoise. He works for the Venn Foundation as a Senior Teaching Fellow. Andrew is married to Rachel Kitchens and they live in Auckland with their two daughters, Ella and Georgia, and son James.
Sarah Corban

Sarah Corban

Originally from Tauranga, Sarah studied Veterinary Science (Massey University) after high school. She worked for seven years in a variety of cities and countries, first as a farm vet and then later as a small animal vet in an inner city practice. She went on to complete a Master of Arts in Theology at Regent College in Vancouver. Sarah is married to Graham and lives in Hamilton.
Nathan McLellan

Nathan McLellan

Nathan is the CEO and a Senior Teaching Fellow at Venn Foundation. After studying economics and finance, he worked as an economist at the New Zealand Treasury, before going overseas for theological study and further work in Canada and the United States. Nathan has an interest in community formation, leadership, and the relationship between economic life and the Christian faith. He is passionate about helping others develop a sound and deep understanding of the Christian faith and the way it relates to all aspects of life. He is married to Bronwyn and is the father of two energetic boys, Jonathan and Caleb. In his spare time, he is completing a Ph.D. in theological ethics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Get a taster of the week through a couple of past talks


It’s not the end! We host a range of different post-conference programmes and events to help you continue exploring some of the themes introduced during the week. If you’re keen to stay connected, check out a snapshot of what’s on offer. Or, if you’re interested, find out more about the Venn Residential Fellowship.

Jehan’s story

Summer Conference wrecked my life. I didn’t expect it to. But it did.

Having been a Christian since I was a kid, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what God’s doing in the world. But Summer Conference knocked down some walls that I didn’t even know were there.

I was faced with questions I’d never been asked before. What’s the purpose of stories? Where do they come from? What’s God’s story really about? And what does that mean for my life; my own story?

I was struck by the realisation that God isn’t just sitting on a cloud, throwing lightning bolts at us while playing Angry Birds on his iPhone. He’s right here. We can see him in in the glow of a sunset; the honk of a horn; the force of an All Black try. And his desire is not for us to cruise through life, constantly trying to avoid screwing up. His desire is bigger, bolder and grander than any of us can imagine.

It’s a vision of life in which Christians are creative. Christians have great conversations. Christians engage with the world around them, rather than trying to escape it. We watch the news. We reach out to people who’re hurting. Rather than running away from awkward or difficult issues, we run towards them. How good does that sound? That’s the kind of community I want to be part of.

Over the course of the week, I came to this conclusion: despite all its sharp edges, dark corners and potholes, the world is a pretty beautiful place. It’s easy to forget that.

I came to this conclusion: despite all its sharp edges, dark corners and potholes, the world is a pretty beautiful place . . . And the kicker: God has tasked us with looking after this beautiful, broken world.

Summer Conference reminded me of the sheer awesomeness of space; the vast expanse of human history; the depth of our culture. All of it is mind-blowing stuff. And the kicker: God has tasked us with looking after this beautiful, broken world.

For me, this changes everything. It means all these moments are part of a much bigger story. It means that our choices matter. How we spend our money; how we treat the environment. What kind of conversations we have; what kind of people we surround ourselves with.

At Summer Conference, I met a bunch of beautiful, funny, smart people. They challenged me on an intellectual level. I had hoped they would. But what really surprised me is that I left feeling loved by God in a way I’d never felt before. I felt small. I felt insignificant. I’d been humbled. But I felt deeply loved, by none other than the creator of this crazy universe, in which my story plays an infinitesimal part.

Once you get your head around that, you have no choice but to live differently. To ask different questions. To make different choices. For me, this changes everything.




Still have a few questions about Summer Conference?