Moderator the Right Rev Ray Coster has been minister of St Andrew’s Presbyterian in Mount Maunganui since 1985. Prior to that he was the minister of Trinity Presbyterian in Timaru.
Ray became Moderator at General Assembly 2012 in Rotorua.
Having studied at the University of Otago and the Presbyterian Theological Hall, Ray completed his training in 1976. He is married to Judy and has four adult children.
Ray says his theme of “Reviving the Flame” is about acknowledging that the Church is in need of revival, a new spark to make its flame burn brighter.
“I love the word revive. It speaks to me about God never giving up on God’s people. In some ways I feel as though our Presbyterian Church has been in a wilderness for many years. We are all now aware of our Church’s downward statistics. We have moved from a denomination of about 130,000 people at weekly worship in the early 1960s to around 30,000 today. It could be very easy to become despondent about this, give up and feel like we are failing. But the desert or wilderness is a place of meeting and restoration. That’s where revival, refreshment and restoration begin.”
Helping the Church to develop a new mindset will be a focus of Ray’s during his two-year term as Moderator.
“I have met a number of people in our Church who live with a pre-cross mind-set. They still feel, or see themselves as, unworthy sinners. This can strangulate our mission. We should live with a resurrection mind-set. We are an Easter people who are called to live our faith with resurrection excitement and conviction.
Ray says his overall focus as Moderator will be to help and encourage the Church in mission.
“I will primarily work with presbyteries; our Church has been working through a process of reforming our presbytery structure so it’s important that I work in this new context. In times past, when we had many more presbyteries, the Moderator tended to visit each once. I would hope that under the new structure I might be able to visit each two or three times.
During his visits Ray hopes to honour the past as well as celebrate the future. “I have great respect for our retired ministers and elders who have served our Church so well through many hard years. I would very much like to acknowledge their service.”
Strengthening the Church’s ecumenical relationships is something that Ray is looking forward to. “It has been a real joy to represent our Church on the 2014 Gospel Bicentenary planning committee, working with the leaders of other denominations. I look forward to many more opportunities for us to work together.”
Ray has served the Church in various capacities at local, regional and national levels. He has served on the Council of Assembly (the body that governs the Church between General Assemblies), and has chaired the Press Go Board, which oversees a radical new approach to growing the Church through distributing funds donated by Presbyterian churches to promising church growth projects.
As the former chair of Press Go, Ray says he has seen a number of wonderful examples of God reviving the Church. “I hope my theme will inspire and encourage the Church to believe what it believes and see that there is always hope with God.”
“The mission we do is God's mission. It’s all about God; God’s incredibly great love for the world and the people who live on this planet.”
A high resolution image of the Moderator the Right Rev Ray Coster is available to download here.