skip to Main Content

Website & Online Presence

You need need help with digital marketing and need an online presence to catch customers attention.

Marketing & Social Media

Uniquely Nelson is all about get up and go, that’s what we do for Nelson City businesses. Get your business out there, with our help. We’ll build a top notch marketing and social media plan to help get you noticed. We’ll do it all for you.

Head Hunting

Need some help finding the right person for the job? We know lots of awesome people and can help build your team!

More About Us

Uniquely Nelson is an incorporated society set up with a Board of Directors and a full-time Manager.  We have been marketing and promoting Nelson City since 2002.

Uniquely Nelson is not-for-profit and is funded annually by Nelson City Council.

Uniquely Nelson has developed a range of marketing initiatives around the Nelson City Experience to encourage greater visitation and retail expenditure in the City.

We act as an important communications forum between Nelson City Council, Nelson Tasman Tourism, Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Agency, other key stake holders and over 630 Nelson City businesses.

Uniquely Nelson’s strategic Vision Statement is:

Nelson City, the best small City to live, work and play in Australasia.

Uniquely Nelson’s Mission is to:

Develop a marketing strategy that clearly communicates and supports the vision statement;

Develop promotions and activities around the unique offerings of Nelson City, thereby supporting the vision statement;

Encourage visitation for the ‘Nelson City Experience’ – the atmosphere, social cohesion and cultural identity;

Develop and implement an ongoing program of stakeholder engagement that enables the vision to be effectively communicated and shared. We want to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the people who influence the City’s cultural, social and business vitality.

Meet Our Team
Simon Duffy

Simon Duffy

Simon has returned to Nelson after being away for many years, mainly overseas. As well as having deep passion for what he does, he comes with a strong international background in marketing, brand development and more importantly, relationship building. If you have a businesses idea, have an event you wish to promote or would like advice on Nelson City, come see us at Uniquely Nelson.

Chandra Tandukar

Chandra Tandukar

Chandra is our techie guy. He is an experienced, skilled and creative talent with multiple degrees and certifications in web development, digital marketing, graphic design and systems security.

Michelle Van Dyk

Michelle Van Dyk

Michelle is our comms girl.  She supports the team in getting things done.  Her role includes collecting content for The Nelson Advantage Newsletter, social media planning/co-ordination & event organising.  She has a true passion for working with people and is always thinking of innovating ways to promote this smart little city of ours.  Michelle also acts as our very own in-house photographer/ videographer.

Bryce Wastney

Bryce Wastney

Bryce is our talented journalist, singer/songwriter and holds a BA/B Tch (double degree) majoring in Visual Arts and Graphic design. He interviews business owners and writes articles for our weekly Nelson Advantage Online Newsletter.

Recent News

29Sep 20

Covid-19 coronavirus: A lethal march across the planet, tracked by a map in motion

On a Thursday night in early January, the disease that would become known as Covid-19 claimed its first victim, a 61-year-old man who succumbed to the newly identified coronavirus in the city of Wuhan, in the People's Republic of China. Nine months later, the pandemic took its millionth life. And while the vagaries of record-keeping mean we may never know who that victim was, the fact remains: Covid has killed a million people. Tens of millions of things undone. Daughters and sons unborn, works of genius uncreated. Pieces of communities — excised. Entire residential complexes filled with older people — ravaged. Human contribution melted away, with no way of ever knowing or chronicling what was lost. Accounting for what's missing when people die is never an easy task; now it is one multiplied by an entire million. Advertisement A new AP interactive map of the coronavirus' spread — represented by the lives it has claimed — blends data and geography in a way that forces us to see what has happened to the world. And what is still happening to it. The path of Covid-19 to a million deaths. Like so many things in the world, it started small. At first, the map shows only one splash of colour: China, the place where the coronavirus silently began its march. As it began to move around, the map evolved. Month by month, week by week, day by day, the coronavirus spread. Pandemic was declared. Hospitals girded. Cities and countries, shut down. The world changed so fast that its people could barely keep up. How did something so contained at first, so localised, upend the routines and activities of huge chunks of human civilisation? We all have watched it, lived through it, but the visual is striking. From a world largely unsullied by the virus to one merely touched by it to an entire planet feeling its effects. Some of the hardest hit countries. — March 18, 2020 China still leads the world in deaths. In the United States, President Donald Trump has just declared a state of emergency. The US has lost 191 people. The wide belief among Americans: This can still be contained. Advertisement — April 6, 2020Italy is being ravaged; 16,523 have been lost. China has dropped out of the top five when it comes to deaths. The US is second by now at 14,199 dead. — May 22, 2020The US has shot ahead of the rest of the world and sits on the cusp of 100,000 dead — 99,166. It, like the United Kingdom (35,440), Italy (32,616), Spain (28626) and France (28,292), is rendered in a darker forest green, along with Brazil. The march is accelerating. — July 26, 2020In the heart of the summer, the US remains the country with the most dead: 147,656. Brazil, whose president has just tested positive for coronavirus, is second at 87,004. Darker greens are starting to fill the map, including in India. In China, blamed by Trump for the virus in terms some deem racist, the hue is light after strict and protracted containment measures. — Sept. 27, 2020India is third in the world with 95,542 deaths. The United States, still No. 1 and criticised for its haphazard efforts at containment, has just passed the 200,000 mark. Brazil sits at 141,741, with no apparent detrimental political effect on its leader. Russia is now darker green. Africa, Australia and much of Asia are lighter, though swaths of Southeast Asia are showing higher death rates. Olivia Troye, a former adviser on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recounts her "nightmare to tell," saying there was an organized effort to seek data to underplay the danger of coronavirus for certain populations, ages and demographics. https://t.co/Ep0fGPozYc pic.twitter.com/U0sRWpnQiK — Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) September 29, 2020 This map tells the story of an invisible virus that upended the world. It tells of first responses and fear and decisions good and bad. Stories of valiant women and men who tried to stop it, and were sometimes claimed by their efforts. It tells stories of leaders who measured up and leaders who didn't. And how simple human touch ended up killing. Advertisement Most of all, it tells of the one million dead and gone. These are the stories of the human beings who, had they been able to stick around, might have done things we'd all remember — or might have done things just as important that only a few people they loved would remember. The map contains their stories, too, and even amid the elegant lines of the map and the illuminating contours of the data they should not be forgotten. - Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for AP, oversees the news organisation's coverage of the pandemic's ripple effect on society. - AP
read more
29Sep 20

Covid 19 coronavirus: Worldwide death toll eclipses 1 million

The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed 1 million today, nine months into a crisis that has devastated the global economy, tested world leaders' resolve, pitted science against politics and forced multitudes to change the way they live, learn and work. "It's not just a number. It's human beings. It's people we love," said Dr Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan who has advised government officials on containing pandemics and lost his 84-year-old mother to Covid-19 in February. "It's our brothers, our sisters. It's people we know," he added. "And if you don't have that human factor right in your face, it's very easy to make it abstract." The bleak milestone, recorded by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas. It is 2.5 times the sea of humanity that was at Woodstock in 1969. It is more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Advertisement Even then, the figure is almost certainly a vast undercount because of inadequate or inconsistent testing and reporting and suspected concealment by some countries. And the number continues to mount. Nearly 5000 deaths are reported each day on average. Parts of Europe are getting hit by a second wave, and experts fear the same fate may await the US, which accounts for about 205,000 deaths, or 1 out of 5 worldwide. That is far more than any other country, despite America's wealth and medical resources. Spencer Cushing, 29, tends to David Feinour, a 71-year-old Covid-19 patient, at St. Jude Medical Centre in Fullerton, California. Photo / AP "I can understand why ... numbers are losing their power to shock, but I still think it's really important that we understand how big these numbers really are," said Mark Honigsbaum, author of "The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria and Hubris". The global toll includes people like Joginder Chaudhary, who was his parents' greatest pride, raised with the little they earned farming a half-acre plot in central India to become the first doctor from their village. After the virus killed the 27-year-old Chaudhary in late July, his mother wept inconsolably. With her son gone, Premlata Chaudhary said, how could she go on living? Three weeks later, on August 18, the virus took her life, too. All told, it has killed more than 95,000 in India. "This pandemic has ruined my family," said the young doctor's father, Rajendra Chaudhary. "All our aspirations, our dreams, everything is finished." When the virus overwhelmed cemeteries in the Italian province of Bergamo last spring, the Reverend Mario Carminati opened his church to the dead, lining up 80 coffins in the centre aisle. After an army convoy carted them to a crematory, another 80 arrived. Then 80 more. Eventually the crisis receded and the world's attention moved on. But the pandemic's grasp endures. In August, Carminati buried his 34-year-old nephew. Advertisement Cemetery workers in protective clothing bury three victims of Covid-19 at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo / AP "This thing should make us all reflect. The problem is that we think we're all immortal," the priest said. The virus first appeared in late 2019 in patients hospitalised in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first death was reported on January 11. By the time authorities locked down the city nearly two weeks later, millions of travelers had come and gone. China's government has come in for criticism that it did not do enough to alert other countries to the threat. Government leaders in countries like Germany, South Korea and New Zealand worked effectively to contain it. Others, like US President Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, dismissed the severity of the threat and the guidance of scientists, even as hospitals filled with gravely ill patients. Brazil has recorded the second most deaths after the US, with about 142,000. India is third and Mexico fourth, with more than 76,000. The virus has forced trade-offs between safety and economic wellbeing. The choices made have left millions of people vulnerable, especially the poor, minorities and the elderly. With so many of the deaths beyond view in hospital wards and clustered on society's margins, the milestone recalls the grim pronouncement often attributed to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin: One death is a tragedy, millions of deaths are a statistic. Advertisement The pandemic's toll of 1 million dead in such a limited time rivals some of the gravest threats to public health, past and present. It exceeds annual deaths from Aids, which last year killed about 690,000 people worldwide. The virus' toll is approaching the 1.5 million global deaths each year from tuberculosis, which regularly kills more people than any other infectious disease. But "Covid's grip on humanity is incomparably greater than the grip of other causes of death," said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University. He noted the unemployment, poverty and despair caused by the pandemic, and deaths from myriad other illnesses that have gone untreated. Cemetery workers place the coffin containing the remains of Jose de Arimateia, 65, who died from Covid-19 complications, into a niche at the municipal cemetery in Nova Iguacu, Brazil. Photo / AP For all its lethality, the virus has claimed far fewer lives than the so-called Spanish flu, which killed an estimated 40 to 50 million worldwide in two years, just over a century ago. That pandemic came before scientists had microscopes powerful enough to identify the enemy or antibiotics that could treat the bacterial pneumonia that killed most of the victims. It also ran a far different course. In the US, for example, the Spanish flu killed about 675,000. But most of those deaths did not come until a second wave hit over the winter of 1918-19. Up to now, the disease has left only a faint footprint on Africa, well shy of early modelling that predicted thousands more deaths. Advertisement But cases have recently surged in countries like Britain, Spain, Russia and Israel. In the United States, the return of students to college campuses has sparked new outbreaks. With approval and distribution of a vaccine still probably months away and winter approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, the toll will continue to climb. "We're only at the beginning of this. We're going to see many more weeks ahead of this pandemic than we've had behind us," Gostin said. - AP
read more
29Sep 20

Global Covid-19 death toll passes one million

The number of people worldwide who have died from Covid-19 has passed one million, researchers say, with many regions still reporting surging numbers of new infections. People wearing face masks, to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Nantes, western France. Photo: AFP According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University the death toll now stands at 1,000,555. The US, Brazil and India make up nearly half of that total. Experts caution that because of differences in recording deaths the true figure is probably much higher. The grim milestone comes nearly 10 months after news of the new coronavirus began to emerge in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The pandemic has since spread to 188 countries with more than 32 million confirmed cases. Lockdowns and other measures to try to stop virus spreading have thrown many economies into recession. Meanwhile, efforts to develop an effective vaccine are continuing - although the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the death toll could hit two million before one is widely available. The US has the world's highest death toll with about 205,000 fatalities followed by Brazil on 141,700 and India with 95,500 deaths. The US has recorded more than seven million cases - more than a fifth of the world's total. After a second wave of cases in July, numbers dropped in August but appear to be on the rise again now. The coronavirus has been spreading fast in India, with the country recording about 90,000 cases a day earlier in September. Confirmed infections in India have reached six million - the second-highest after the US. However, given the size of its population India has seen a relatively low death rate. Brazil has the highest number of deaths in Latin America and has recorded more than 4.7 million cases, the third highest in the world. Elsewhere in the region, newly confirmed infections are also rising quickly in Argentina, which now has more than 700,000 cases. - BBC
read more
29Sep 20

Rugby Championship: Frustrated Ian Foster 'bitterly disappointed' over All Blacks schedule

All Blacks coach Ian Foster is "bitterly disappointed" with the proposed Rugby Championship schedule that may force his team to quarantine through Christmas but remains hopeful a resolution can be reached with New Zealand's Sanzaar partners in the coming days. Foster fronted on Tuesday, as the All Blacks gathered in Hamilton for a three-day camp, for the first time since Sanzaar released the Rugby Championship draw without New Zealand Rugby's agreement. Wallabies coach Dave Rennie gives an insight into how the team is managing in quarantine. Video / Australian Rugby On Monday night Foster addressed his team to talk through the various options on the table and when he spoke publicly one day later, his frustrations with the process were clear. "There's still a lot happening in that space. There was a deal based on [December] 5th we feel Sanzaar has reneged on that so we've put some solutions forward and we're waiting on that. We have to fix it," Foster said. Advertisement "There's been set expectations and they haven't been delivered on so that's up to the game and Sanzaar to sort out in the next few days. "We've got to sort out this little hiccup and get on with it. Today would be great, but we'll accept tomorrow." All Blacks coach Ian Foster during a training session. Photo / Photosport Asked if the All Blacks were prepared to boycott the final Rugby Championship test against the Wallabies on December 12 to avoid having to quarantine through Christmas, Foster said: "I don't want to talk about that now. That's a headline I don't want to put out there but we're bitterly disappointed that what was proposed got changed. "We're not basing on any schedule now because the schedule that's been proposed is not one we agreed or accepted. "This is not about a Christmas issue. It's about players that have been playing and preparing to play through Covid and a whole lot of situations for a long, long time. At some point we've got to draw a line in the sand and say 'that's enough'." Foster would not go into specifics on alternative solutions but it essentially involves the prospect of moving the final All Blacks and Wallabies test forward, while allowing the Springboks and Pumas to play on December 12. "I don't think that's going to be helpful. At the end of the day there was a good solution at the start – six tests in five weeks was achievable. South Africa and Argentina could play six in six weeks; it fitted a time zone. We've come up with a couple of ideas around that." The issue of quarantining through Christmas may affect the decisions of some players, particularly those with families, about whether they commit to the full nine-to-10 week Australian tour or not. Advertisement "There's a whole lot of things that could happen but let's not dwell on that. We think there's a good attitude to fix this up and it needs fixing." The Rugby Championship schedule continues an ever-evolving, uncertain rugby year but All Blacks hooker Dane Coles is attempting to set aside the latest issue to concentrate on the dual Bledisloe Cup tests, which start in Wellington on October 11. "There's so many scenarios going around," Coles said. "We've talked about plan A, B, C through to F. There's a process between New Zealand Rugby and Sanzaar to sort out and we've got no control over that so we'll let the top dogs have a few meetings and get it under control. "Hopefully things work out. It's not ideal, we don't want to spend Christmas in quarantine. "I'm not going to talk to my wife until I know what the plan is. Everyone will be in their different situations. There's no point going to all the new dads and partners and saying 'there's six situations' I can just imagine what would happen. "Once we get a solid plan then we can have those tough conversations with our loved ones. I've spent a huge amount of time away from my family with rugby. My wife knows that, and we've got great support, so when it happens we'll have a yarn and see what the best thing is for us and the All Blacks." Advertisement As Bledisloe preparations ramp up, Hurricanes midfielder Ngani Laumape, Crusaders captain Scott Barrett and Otago hooker Liam Coltman have joined the All Blacks camp in Hamilton. Laumape (broken forearm) and Barrett (toe) will have their respective injuries assessed but both are expected to be among the 11 players added to the original 35-man squad, along with Wellington midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen who is in line to replace the injured Braydon Ennor, for the Rugby Championship. Coltman has been called in to cover Asafo Aumua who is recovering from a head knock sustained while playing for Wellington. Beauden Barrett is also back the squad following the birth of his first daughter, Billie Rose. "It's been an exciting time for Beauden and Hannah and we congratulate them and little Billie Rose but he's back into work today and excited about that too," Foster said. "Ngani is still a way off. His is an easier assessment because it's a bone whereas Scott is progressing well but we need to factor in what is his timeline to get into full contact."
read more
29Sep 20

US election: Judge rejects Republican challenge to mail-in voting

A Delaware judge has rejected a challenge by the state Republican Party to the constitutionality of a new law allowing universal voting by mail in this year's elections. The judge on Monday denied the GOP's request for an injunction to prevent vote-by-mail ballots from being counted in the November election. The judge said the General Assembly's decision to use its emergency powers to declare that voting by mail was necessary to protect public health and ensure the continuity of governmental operations during the coronavirus epidemic was not "clearly erroneous." US Capitol Building in Washington DC. Photo / Brandon Bourdages "Legislation enjoys a presumption of constitutionality," wrote Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III, noting that he was not a legislator, "let alone a super-legislator charged with perfecting the laws of the state." The GOP filed a lawsuit last month arguing that lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled legislature exceeded their constitutional authority in invoking emergency powers to pass the measure. In passing the bill, Democrats asserted that voting by mail is "necessary and proper for insuring the continuity of governmental operations" amid the coronavirus epidemic. They also declared that conforming to the requirements of Delaware's constitution, including its explicit limitations on absentee voting, "would be impracticable." Advertisement At the time lawmakers passed the bill, Delaware was in "phase 2" of its coronavirus economic reopening, with indoor gatherings of up to 250 people allowed, businesses authorised to double occupancy limits, and convention centres and meeting facilities allowed to open. Julia Klein, an attorney representing the GOP, said the law impermissibly expanded the constitutional allowances for casting absentee ballots. She cited a 1972 opinion in which the Delaware Supreme Court said that it was "beyond the power of the legislature, in our opinion, to either limit or enlarge upon the... absentee voter classifications specified in the constitution for general elections." State attorneys, meanwhile, argued that courts are required to give deference to decisions of the General Assembly. They also said that, even though all polling places will be open and there is no prohibition against in-person voting, not allowing universal voting by mail could interfere with the "free and equal" elections guaranteed by the constitution. Glasscock said that the constitutional provision authorising the General Assembly to exercise emergency powers acted as a "safe harbour" allowing it to authorise "general absentee voting," that otherwise would be prohibited under the state constitution. "Amending the Delaware constitution to provide for remote voting in response to an epidemic, before Election Day 2020, would be not only impractical, I note, but impossible," he wrote. The judge noted that the plaintiffs' challenge to the law could not stand unless they were able to demonstrate clearly and convincingly that the legislature's finding that the law is necessary was either false or unwarranted. "On the facts of record, the plaintiffs do not come close to meeting that standard," he wrote. Advertisement The legislature, in the face of an epidemic of airborne disease and in light of the health emergency declared by the Governor, has made a determination that vote-by-mail is necessary for the continued operation of governmental functions, and that it would be impracticable to address this problem other than by otherwise-extraconstitutional means," the judge concluded. "These finding are not clearly erroneous. " - AP
read more
29Sep 20

Supreme Court: Amy Coney Barrett tied to faith group ex-members say subjugates women

United States President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court has close ties to a charismatic Christian religious group that holds men are divinely ordained as the "head" of the family and faith. Former members of the group, called People of Praise, say it teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands. Federal appeals judge Amy Coney Barrett has not commented publicly about her own or her family's involvement, and a People of Praise spokesman declined to say whether she and her husband are current members. But Barrett, 48, grew up in New Orleans in a family deeply connected to the organisation and as recently as 2017 she served as a trustee at the People of Praise-affiliated Trinity Schools Inc., according to the nonprofit organisation's tax records and other documents reviewed by AP. Only members of the group serve on the schools' board, according to the system's president. Advertisement Judge Amy Coney Barrett applauds as President Donald Trump announces Barrett as his nominee at the White House. AP also reviewed 15 years of back issues of the organisation's internal magazine, "Vine and Branches," which has published birth announcements, photos and other mentions of Barrett and her husband, Jesse, whose family has been active in the group for four decades. On Saturday NZT, all editions of the magazine were removed from the group's website. People of Praise is an intentional religious community based in charismatic Catholicism, a movement that grew out of the influence of Pentecostalism, which emphasises a personal relationship with Jesus and can include baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. The group organises and meets outside the purview of a church and includes people from several Christian denominations, but its members are mostly Roman Catholic. Barrett's affiliation with a conservative religious group that elevates the role of men has drawn particular scrutiny given that she would be filling the high court seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist icon who spent her legal career fighting for women to have full equality. Barrett, by contrast, is being hailed by religious conservatives as an ideological heir to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch abortion-rights opponent for whom she clerked as a young lawyer. In this June 11, 2011 photo, then-University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett speaks to Trinity at Greenlawn graduates at the Trinity People of Praise Centre in South Bend, Indiana. In accepting Trump's nomination on Sunday, the Catholic mother-of-seven said she shares Scalia's judicial philosophy. "A judge must apply the law as written," Barrett said. "Judges are not policy makers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold." Advertisement Barrett's advocates are trying to frame questions about her involvement in People of Praise as anti-Catholic bigotry ahead of her upcoming Senate nomination hearings. Asked about People of Praise in a televised interview last week, Vice-President Mike Pence responded: "The intolerance expressed during her last confirmation about her Catholic faith I really think was a disservice to the process and a disappointment to millions of Americans." But some people familiar with the group and charismatic religious groups like it say Barrett's involvement should be examined before she receives a lifelong appointment to the highest court in the nation. In this page from the May 2006 issue of Vine and Branches produced by People of Praise, Amy Coney Barrett is seen at left at a People of Praise Leaders' Conference for Women in 2006. "It's not about the faith," said Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University, who has studied similar groups. He says a typical feature of charismatic groups is the dynamic of a strong hierarchical leadership, and a strict view of the relationship between women and men. Several people familiar with People of Praise, including some current members, told AP that the group has been misunderstood. They call it a Christian fellowship, focused on building community. One member described it as a "family of families," who commit themselves to each other in mutual support to live together "through thick and thin." But the group has also been portrayed by some former members, and in books, blogs and news reports as hierarchical, authoritarian and controlling, where men dominate their wives, leaders dictate members' life choices and those who leave are shunned. Advertisement AP interviewed seven current and former members of People of Praise, reviewed its tax records, websites, missionary blogs and back issues of its magazine to try to paint a fuller picture of an organisation that Barrett has been deeply involved in since childhood. In this April 2, 2014, photo, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence, speaks at Trinity School at Greenlawn. People of Praise was founded in South Bend, Indiana, in 1971 as part of the Catholic Pentecostal movement, a devout reaction to the free love, secular permissiveness and counterculture movements of the 1960s and early '70s. Many of the group's early members were drawn from the campus of nearby Notre Dame, a Catholic university. The group has roughly 1800 adult members nationwide, with branches and schools in 22 cities across the US, Canada and the Caribbean. All members are encouraged to continue to attend church at their own parishes. After a period of religious study and instruction that lasts from three to six years, people involved in People of Praise can choose to make a lifelong covenant pledging love and service to fellow community members and to God, which includes tithing at least 5 per cent of their gross income to support the group's activities and charitable initiatives, according to a statement on the group's website. People of Praise's more than 1500 word covenant, a copy of which was reviewed by AP, includes a passage where members promise to follow the teachings and instructions of the group's pastors, teachers and evangelists. Advertisement "We agree to obey the direction of the Holy Spirit manifested in and through these ministries in full harmony with the church," the covenant says. It's unclear whether Barrett took the covenant. But members of the organisation and descriptions of its hierarchy show that members almost invariably join the covenant after three to six years of religious study or they leave, so it would be very unusual for Barrett to continue to be involved for so many years without having done so. A 2006 article in the group's magazine includes a photo of her attending a People of Praise Leaders' Conference for Women. The magazine also includes regular notices when members are "released from the covenant" and leave the group. AP's review found no such notice of Barrett's or her husband's departure. Sen. Kamala Harris is uniquely positioned as a Democratic vice presidential nominee and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which offers recommendations on Supreme Court nominees before the Senate holds a vote. https://t.co/lM689M6ZTT — ABC News (@ABC) September 28, 2020 A request to interview Barrett made through the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, where she currently serves as a judge, was declined. Jesse Barrett did not respond to voicemail or email sent through his law firm in South Bend. People of Praise spokesman Sean Connolly declined to discuss the Barretts or their affiliation with the group. "Like most religious communities, the People of Praise leaves it up to its members to decide whether to publicly disclose their involvement in our community," Connolly said by email. "And like most religious communities, we do not publish a membership list." Advertisement Several people familiar with the group told AP that, unlike some other charismatic movements, People of Praise has a strong commitment to intellectualism, evidenced in part by the schools they have established, which have a reputation for intellectual rigor. On the GOP agenda before Election Day: Confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.Can they do it in 36 days? Well, they’re certainly going to try. pic.twitter.com/4EyiyFNQo6 — The Recount (@therecount) September 28, 2020 Barrett's father, Michael Coney snr, has served as the principal leader of People of Praise's New Orleans branch and was on the group's all-male Board of Governor's as recently as 2017. Her mother, Linda Coney, has served in the branch as a "handmaid," a female leader assigned to help guide other women, according to documents reviewed by AP. "One of the key principles of People of Praise is freedom, the exercise of our own freedom in following the Lord and in following our own – what we believe, what we think is right," Michael Coney, 75, said in an interview with AP. Americans by a nearly 20-point margin say the next Supreme Court justice should be left to the winner of the presidential election and a Senate vote next year, a new @ABC News/WaPo poll found. https://t.co/cv45wUm6O4 — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 28, 2020 Joannah Clark, 47, grew up in People of Praise and became a member as an adult. She acknowledged that the board of governors consists of all men, but said that is not a reflection on the "worth or ability of women," but rather the approach the group has chosen for that level of leadership. "In a marriage, we look at the husband as the head of the family. And that's consistent with New Testament teaching," said Clark, who is the head of Trinity Academy in Portland, Oregon. Advertisement "This role of the husband as the head of the family is not a position of power or domination. It's really quite the opposite. It's a position of care and service and responsibility. Men are looking out for the good and well-being of their families." Clark said she had previously served as a "handmaid." The term was a reference to Jesus' mother Mary, who called herself 'the handmaid of the Lord.' The organisation recently changed the terminology to "woman leader" because it had newly negative connotations after Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel A Handmaid's Tale was turned into a popular television show. Republicans in Pennsylvania have asked the Supreme Court to halt a major state court ruling that extended the deadlines for mail-in ballots to several days after the election.https://t.co/BX3PaoyZEd — Axios (@axios) September 28, 2020 Clark said the woman leaders in People of Praise do things like provide pastoral care and organise help for community members, such as when people are sick or need other help. "They're also in a role of advising, so the men will ask the women leaders' advice on issues that affect the patterns of life within the community, certainly issues that affect women and families," Clark said. Advertisement Barrett, in accepting Trump's nomination at the White House, put particular emphasis on the equality of her own marriage, saying she expected from the start the she and her husband would run their household as partners. "As it has turned out, Jesse does far more than his share of the work," she said. "To my chagrin, I learned at dinner recently that my children consider him to be the better cook." Though People of Praise opposes abortion, those familiar with the group said it would be a mistake to pigeonhole their politics as either left or right. While socially conservative in their understanding of family and gender, some members are deeply committed to social justice in matters of race and economics, they said. Barrett's parents are both registered Democrats, according to Louisiana voter registration records. Mitch McConnell has said there's precedent for the speedy Supreme Court confirmation process Republicans are planning for Amy Coney Barrett.But that data skips over 45 years of recent history.https://t.co/7DWNHme9hA — BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 28, 2020 Tax records and other documents show that as recently as 2017 Barrett sat on the board of Trinity Schools, a campus of which was recently designated by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as a National Blue Ribbon School. The schools are coed, but most classes are segregated by gender. Advertisement The school's website says the group sees men and women "created by God equal in dignity but distinct from one another." "We seek to uphold both that equality and appropriate distinction in our culture," it goes on. Similarly, People of Praise meetings are often segregated by gender. And as they become adults, members frequently live together in same-gender communal houses sometimes owned by the group, or they are invited to live with a family within the community. Articles in the People of Praise magazine frequently note when young single members get married to each other. Multiple birth announcements often follow. The group's magazine also offers insights into the group's views on marriage, community and members' finances. A 2007 issue discusses how the 17 single women who live together in a household, called the Sisterhood, had their pay direct deposited into a single bank account. One member said she had "no idea" what the amount of her pay was. Advertisement The pooled money was managed by one woman, who budgeted for everyone's clothing and other expenses, including US$36 weekly per person for food and basics like toilet paper. All women were expected to give 10 per cent of their pay to People of Praise, another 1 per cent to the South Bend branch and additional tithes to their churches. Married couples and their children also often share multi-family homes or cluster in neighbourhoods designated for "city building" by the group's leaders, where they can easily socialise and walk to each other's houses. 36 days until election.How long it took to confirm:RBG 50Gorsuch 66Roberts 72Sotomayor 72Breyer 77Kagan 87Kavanaugh 89Alito 92Thomas 106The average confirmation time for a Supreme Court nominee, from 1975 to present, is 70 days (per CRS). — ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 28, 2020 As part of spiritual meetings, members often relay divine prophecies and are encouraged to pray in tongues, where participants make vocal utterances thought to carry direct teachings and instructions from God. Those utterances are then "interpreted" by senior male leaders and relayed back to the wider group. A 1969 book by Kevin Ranaghan, a co-founder of People of Praise, dedicates a chapter to praying in tongues, which he describes as a gift from God. "The gift of tongues is one of the word-gifts, an utterance of the Spirit through man," Ranaghan wrote in Catholic Pentecostals. "Alone, the gift of tongues is used for prayer and praise. Coupled with the gift of interpretation it can edify the unbeliever and strengthen, console, enlighten or move the community of faith." Advertisement In a blog entry on the group's website from March of this year, a mother described taking her children to pray in tongues as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. The GOP strategy is to turn Amy Coney Barrett into a vessel for their base's feelings of victimhood, so they have to invent a fictitious anti-Catholic campaign against her: https://t.co/J6OSnVqOie — Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) September 28, 2020 While People of Praise portrays itself as a tightknit family of families, former members paint a darker picture of that closeness. Coral Anika Theill joined People of Praise's branch in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1979, when she was a 24-year-old mother of 6-month-old twins. "My husband at the time was very drawn to it because of the structure of the submission of women," recounted Theill, who is now 65. Theill, who converted to Catholicism after getting married, said in her People of Praise community women were expected to live in "total submission" not only to their husbands, but also the other male "heads" within the group. In a book she wrote about her experience, Theill recounts that in People of Praise every consequential personal decision – whether to take a new job, buy a particular model car or choose where to live – went through the hierarchy of male leadership. Advertisement Members of the group who worked outside the community had to turn over their paystubs to church leaders to confirm they were tithing correctly, she said. Theill says her "handmaid," to whom she was supposed to confide her innermost thoughts and emotions, then repeated what she said to the male heads, who would consult her husband on the proper correction. "There'd be open meetings where you just have to stand for the group and they'd tell you all that was wrong with you," Theill recounted to AP last week. "And I would ask questions. I was a critical thinker." When she told her husband she wanted to wait to have more children, Theill said, he accompanied her to gynecological appointments to ensure she couldn't get birth control. "I was basically treated like a brood mare," she said, using the term for a female horse used for breeding. During her 20-year marriage, Theill had eight children from 11 pregnancies. Theill, who says she declined to take the covenant, described being dominated and eventually shunned because of the doubts she expressed about the group. Advertisement Clark, a current member in Oregon, said she had never heard of members being shunned. "At any point, a community member can decide to leave and is free to do so," Clark said. She said she has friends who have left the community. "These are people I've maintained a good friendship with and people who've maintained friendships with other people in community." But Theill isn't the only former member to describe forced subjugation of women within People of Praise or shunning of former members. Among People of Praise's very first members in South Bend were Adrian Reimers and his wife, Marie. The couple was active for more than a dozen years before he said he became disillusioned and was "dismissed" from the group in the mid-1980s. Reimers, who teaches philosophy at Notre Dame, went on to write detailed academic examinations of the group's inner workings and theological underpinnings. Advertisement In a 1997 book about People of Praise and other covenant communities, Reimers wrote that fundamental principle of the group was St Paul's stipulation from the Bible that the husband is the "head" of his wife and that the wife is to "submit in all things." "A married woman is expected always to reflect the fact that she is under her husband's authority," Reimers wrote. "This goes beyond an acknowledgment that the husband is 'head of the home' or head of the family; he is, in fact, her personal pastoral head. Whatever she does requires at least his tacit approval. He is responsible for her formation and growth in the Christian life." The good news for Trump is that he’s been able to change the conversation from the coronavirus to the Supreme Court (at least before that tax story).The bad news: He's once again on the wrong side of public opinion https://t.co/FgI5n8x7tM — Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) September 28, 2020 Though women are allowed to serve in some administrative roles within the community, Reimers wrote that no woman is allowed to hold a pastoral position of leadership in which she would oversee or instruct men. "People who leave these communities are often shunned by other members and are spoken of as no longer brothers and sisters in Christ or even no longer Christian," he wrote. Reimers declined to expand on his experience with People of Praise, saying he doesn't know Amy Barrett and didn't want to get drawn into a political fight. But he said he stands by his prior account. "To quote Pontius Pilate, 'What I have written, I have written,'" he said last week, referring to the Roman official in the Bible who signed the order condemning Jesus to be crucified. Advertisement Lisa Williams said her parents joined the Minnesota branch of People of Praise in the late 1970s, when she was a fourth grader. She chronicled her experience in a blog called "Exorcism and Pound Cake," a reference to how she knew as a child that it was a meeting night because of the smell of baked goods coming from the kitchen. "I remember my mother saying a wife could never deny sex to her husband, because it was his right and her duty," said Williams, 56. "Sex is not for pleasure. It's for as many babies as God chooses to give you. ... Women had to be obedient. They had to be subservient." Corporal punishment of children was common, Williams told AP. When she was insufficiently obedient to her father, she was beaten with a belt and then required to kneel and ask forgiveness from both him and God, she said. She recalled People of Praise meetings held in her parent's living room where members prayed in tongues to cast out demons from a person writhing on the floor, rituals she described as exorcisms. When her parents, from whom she is now estranged, decided to leave People of Praise when she was a junior in high school, she remembers the leaders said her family would be doomed to hell and they were shunned. "Nobody would talk to you," she recalled. Steven Hassan, a psychologist who counsels people who have left fundamentalist authoritarian religious groups, said the culture within People of Praise as described by Theill and Williams, including the practice of shunning former members, creates fear so that people are dependent and obedient. Advertisement "A person who is in one of these groups has to suppress their own thoughts, feelings, desires that doesn't align with the dogma," Hassan said. He cautioned, however, that Theill's and Williams' experiences were from decades ago and not necessarily illustrative of how the group now operates. And current members of People of Praise interviewed by AP strongly disputed those characterisations. "There's a high value on personal freedom," said Clark, the Trinity School director in Oregon. She said she had never heard of some of the practices the former members detailed to AP, such as micromanaging finances or handing over pay. She grew emotional when she recounted the sacrifices people in the group make for each other as part of their covenant, like the case of a man known for helping his fellow members move, who was in turn cared for by group members as he died. Advertisement "I've never been asked to do anything against my own free will," said Clark, a member of the group for 25 years. "I have never been dominated or controlled by a man." Thomas Csordas, an anthropology professor at University of California San Diego, has studied the religious movement that includes People of Praise. He said such communities are conservative, authoritarian, hierarchical and patriarchal. But, he said in his view, the group's leaders are unlikely to exert influence over Barrett's judicial decisions. Coney, Barrett's father, said the culture of female submission described by some former members was based on misunderstandings of the group's teachings. "I can't comment on why they believe that. But it is certainly not a correct interpretation of our life," he said. "We're people who love each other and support each other in their Christian life, trying to follow the Lord." And, as a lawyer himself, he rejected the notion that his daughter's religious beliefs will unduly influence her opinions if she is confirmed to the high court. Advertisement "I think she's a super lawyer and she will apply the law as opposed to any of her beliefs," he said. "She will follow the law." - AP
read more
Back To Top