I have come to the conclusion that there are some really basic questions that we need to grapple with, and that church members need to understand clearly, if we are to be an effective church.
Four such questions are:
1. What is the gospel?
Is it about personal salvation only? Or is it about God redeeming the whole of creation? Do our people know which message they are meant to be proclaiming?
2. What is the mission of the Church?
Is it making disciples or is it much broader? How biblical is our understanding? How biblical is our practice? I have been troubled by what appear to be our priorities in practice.
3. What is discipleship?
What did Jesus say about discipleship? How many of our members measure up? Does that matter?
4. How can we make disciples?
Even if we conclude that our mission is broader, making disciples remains central. Do we know how to nurture Christ-likeness in our people?
Maybe you can answer “yes” but I worry that many in our Church wouldn’t have a clue.
We are not alone. These questions are the subject of current debate and books. After 2000 years we don’t know! But maybe every generation needs to answer for itself. Asking the questions is not bad if it reveals answers. There are few things more fundamental to the life of the Church than, for example, knowing what the gospel is and what our mission is.
Where do we Presbyterians grapple with these types of questions? Do we assume ministers are doing it and are helping their elders do it? Would the evidence support that? Are presbyteries providing this sort of stimulation and resourcing the discussion? Do we need our best leaders to write articles as the basis for discussion?
I think we could have an invigorating conversation and the Church could be healthier for it. In fact, I think we must.
Dear Friends and Colleagues
We should be enormously encouraged by the quality of skills, gifts and enthusiasm of those who are currently training for the ordained ministry in our Church. If you had been able to join with me in meeting the interns who have just completed a block course at the Knox Centre, I am sure you would have also come away with a sense of how blessed our Church is to have such a wonderful group of people commit themselves to the demands of our training programme as they seek to fulfill the hopes and dreams they have of serving our Church in the coming years.
The Going Further training event, for some of our more senior young leaders, held in early February, also reinforced a strong sense of hopefulness embodied in the commitment of these younger people. Some of you will also be aware of the Transformer camps, supported by Kids Friendly, which do a great job in providing mentoring and encouragement for some of our very young leaders.
The Nominating Committee have received the names of five nominees who are prepared to be considered for the role of Moderator-designate. Shortly, presbyteries, UDCs and Te Aka Puaho will receive information about each of these five people.
All presbyteries, UDCs and Te Aka Puaho are asked to nominate one of these people and to send that name to the Convenor of the Nominating Committee, the Rev Ian Hyslop, 10 Cox Street, Geraldine 7930 - firstname.lastname@example.org. The nomination must be with Ian by Tuesday 15 May 2012.
The Assembly will open at our national marae at Ohope on the morning of Thursday 4 October 2012 and continue from there to Rotorua Boys’ High School from Thursday afternoon till its conclusion on Sunday 7 October. Any proposals for legislation or any other matter that a church council or presbytery might like to bring to the General Assembly will need to be at the Assembly Office by 1 June 2012.
It is not too early to begin the task of commissioning elders and ministers to attend the General Assembly in October. The earlier we can do this, the less expensive will be the travel costs. Every presbytery must ensure that each congregation shall have as its commissioner either a minister or elder. Please follow the process outlined in Chapter 8:17 of the Book of Order. More detailed information will be sent to presbytery clerks. We expect the cost of sending a commissioner to the Assembly will be similar to the 2010 Assembly, around $700. This amount includes a travel subsidy as well as most meals, but does not include the cost of accommodation. Details of accommodation options will be sent to commissioners.
In November of this year seven well trained, enthusiastic and committed students will be available to be called to a ministry. These students bring with them a range of experience, skills and gifts. Several of them have many years of church ministry experience and all draw from a range of backgrounds which will contribute to the richness of their ministry and leadership.
We are currently compiling a portfolio detailing the background, qualification, interests and experience of these students. We will shortly provide brief profiles of each of these students on the Church website. If you are the convenor of a Ministry Settlement Board and would like more details about the students who are completing their training this year, please contact the Assembly Office.
This month we will be asking treasurers, presbytery clerks, session clerks and Te Aka Puaho to take part in a survey to help us to find ways we can better support congregations in the management of financial and human resources. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated in gathering this information. The results of this survey will help us to identify and focus on your priorities and how we can help you meet these.
The survey will be mailed to every parish in the first week of March and we ask that you return it before 6 April. We will be phoning parishes in the second week of April for your feedback on the survey.
If you are in need of any human resource advice, please do contact Margaret Fawcett at Assembly Office, email email@example.com or phone (04) 381 8291.
In order for ministers to retain their certificate of good standing, it is essential that they participate in the Ministry Development Programme and complete their first ministry review by October 2013. Many have already benefited from the review process. Ministers will not be in good standing if they do not have a review that is less than two years old as at October 2013. This does not apply to retired ministers, unless they are in, or plan to return to, some active, recognised ministry role. Full details here.
The Rev Wayne Te Kaawa, moderator of Te Aka Puaho, has made available to us a Maori translation of Kupu Whakapono (Confession of Faith). Please download it from the Church website here.
The next meeting of the Council of Assembly is in Auckland on 23 and 24 March. All correspondence to the Council should be sent to the Assembly office by 8 March.
Thank you again for your generous support and for all the ways your help our Church and its mission.
Applications are now invited for our annual theology scholarships, music scholarships and ministers’ study grants. Details about these can be found on our website and in the notices section of this Bush Telegraph.
Towards the end of 2011, the Knox Centre produced a Leadership Handbook, which follows the Eldership Handbook produced earlier in the year. Copies of the Leadership Handbook can be purchased for $5 a copy or downloaded for free here.
The 2010 General Assembly asked the Knox Centre to produce a study resource on inclusive language in worship. We are pleased to announce that this resource has been completed and can be purchased for $5 a copy or downloaded from the Knox Centre website here.
Next week I head off to New York, representing Presbyterian Women (as an NGO) at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The priority theme this year is ‘The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges’. New Zealand has much to offer on this theme, but we are also mindful that the voice of our Pacific neighbours is not so easily heard, so Presbyterian Women will be focusing on attending sessions where we can support our partner churches in their efforts to empower their women.
In early March, Global Mission will host a Council for World Mission Pacific Region women’s empowerment training event for 12 women from the CWM partner churches in the Pacific. This is a course in basic information technology and in project management, but we expect to share the outcomes from the Commission on the Status of Women with these women.
Next month Global Mission is supporting a team from Wairau Parish in Marlborough as they repair and refurbish Sutherland House, the short term accommodation flats owned by the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, in Port Vila. Many of our mission workers have used Sutherland House on their way to other locations in Vanuatu, and we are delighted to be able to put some effort into keeping it operational.
We have had good interest in our programme for training in mission. We are delighted that a grant from the Presbyterian Foundation has enabled us to commission an online training resource. This will be trialed with the team that will go to Lenakel High School on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, in July, and will also be available for use by youth groups and school groups making mission trips. We have had lots of interest for the July trip, but there are still a couple of places available. Click here to read more.
In February, the General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, the Rev Dr Henriette Hutabaret Lebang, accompanied by the Rev Tara Curlewis of the National Council of Churches in Australia, visited the churches in Christchurch to convey the compassion and care of the Asian Churches for those most affected by the earthquakes.
Global Mission coordinator
Going Further was a fantastic week. Participants have provided enthusiastic feedback, some declaring it to be the best week of their lives. They have also commented on what they have taken away from the week that they can use back in their own faith community. Helping them to think through and discuss what it means to belong to a church community is an important focus of the week. A number of participants are in a stage of transition as they head off to university, some to new cities. This is where the PYM network and presbytality comes into its own as we link young adults moving on with youth workers and ministers in their place of destination.
I began the Lenten season with a delicious pancake breakfast on Shrove Tuesday with my faith community at St John's in the City Presbyterian, Wellington.
PYM has created a text-based experience of Easter in real time, called Kiwieaster. This covers the dramatic last week of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection through a series of text messages. You can sign up for this at http://www.kiwieaster.org.nz/. Please advertise this in your church newsletter.
It is encouraging to hear of a number of churches that have new youth workers starting this year in a paid capacity. We have free copies of the Supervision Scrapbook for youth leaders that you can request. They hopefully have received a PYM welcome pack from us if you have notified us about having employed someone. Do notify us if there is a change in your key youth leader so we can get in touch with them and link them into the PYM network.
As you are aware it is a General Assembly year. Please be thinking about young people (18-30) that you could nominate to be the youth delegates for your presbytery.
Youth Ministry Development leader
I love listening to podcasts. It’s a multi-tasker’s dream to be able to vacuum the house and learn at the same time! Yesterday I was listening to a podcast on mindfulness (living in the now) and the speaker talked about the importance of not allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by despair. He shared this story:
“If there are trees that are dying in your garden, you must be aware of this so you can do something to save future trees, but at the same time you should pay attention to the trees that are not dying. They are robust and full of life. Embrace their beauty and allow yourself to be uplifted and nurtured by them. Don’t allow the dead trees to overwhelm you and make you feel hopeless. Don’t get caught up on worrying whether your garden will have trees in the future. Ask yourself, ‘today what can I do to make a difference to the trees in my garden?’.”
It hit me as a wonderful metaphor for our churches that are sometimes overwhelmed by the lack of children in their midst. May I urge you to notice and nurture the children who are there? Please take time to learn their names, to get to know something about them, to invite them to contribute to worship and to be their friend in Christ.
Recently I shared the Kids Friendly vision with a large group of Presbyterian and Methodist women and challenged them to find a way to make a difference to the children in their midst. Many of them came to talk to me at lunchtime saying they felt the Holy Spirit prompt them to share Christ with the children in their lives.
Let’s give up “despair” this Lent and replace it with the hope of a resurrected Christ, alive in our churches and in our mission.
Kids Friendly national coach
The 2012 South Island Ministry Conference will be held on 8-10 May at East Taieri Church in Dunedin. The theme is, “The Leader Within”, and keynote speaker is Dr Rod Wilson, president of Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. Registration forms will be available soon at www.etchurch.co.nz/ministry-conference. Dr Rod Wilson has been involved in the field of counselling and consulting for over 30 years. He has served as the teaching pastor of a growing church in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of many books, including Counseling and Community and How Do I Help a Hurting Friend?
To order a copy of John Hunt’s collection of short dramas The drama of Good Friday email John at John.firstname.lastname@example.org. The collections costs $20. A great resource for Easter. Each drama is centred on one of the crucifixion people and reveals the hurts, regrets, longings and loves we all have.
For sale, 30 copies of the With One Voice hymn book (pew edition). $35 each (incl GST). Enquiries to: Mornington Presbyterian Church, PO Box 7108, Mornington, Dunedin. Phone (03) 453 5357 or email email@example.com.
Author Keith Newman is seeking stories about missionaries who worked with Maori during the period 1860-1930 for the follow-up to his 2010 book Bible & Treaty – Missionaries Among the Maori which will tentatively be titled Beyond Betrayal - Shaping a Shared Future. The author is seeking to uncover stories, materials, photographs etc of some of the unsung heroes of the faith who had an influence during this period. If you can assist, contact Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knox Church in Dunedin is hosting a screening of This Prison Where I Live, a feature length documentary about Burma's greatest living comic Zarganar on Sunday 18 March (2pm, 4pm and 8.15pm). Relentlessly victimised by the Burmese military junta, Zarganar is now in prison. The film is about this courageous man, who describes himself as the "loudspeaker" for the Burmese people, and it investigates humour under dictatorship. The screening will take place at the Gathering Area, Knox Church, cnr George and Pitt Streets, Dunedin. Admission by donation (proceeds to the Rice Bowl Fund and to the film director). Seating is limited so please contact the Knox Church Office to book 03 4770229 Mon-Fri, 9-12.
Wellington 29-30 March 2012
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) invites you to its upcoming biennial conference ‘Nuku Tahi – Hikoi Tahi – Maranga Tahi Moving Forward Together’. If you are in leadership, management or service provision, this is the place to build your skills and networks. For more info and registration details see here.
This is a unique opportunity to sit with Bill Hybels and be part of a conversation about all things leadership. The event will be held at Greenlane Christian Centre, 17 Marewa Street, Auckland on Tuesday 6 March. For more information and registration details visit http://willowcreek.org.nz/.
In response to many requests to have the Church Yearbook in a downloadable format, the 2012 Yearbook will be available on the Church Website for download from mid-March. This will allow the information in the Yearbook to be accessed and used more easily. For those who do not have access to the internet the Yearbook will also be available in photocopied format from Assembly Office.
Bay of Islands Uniting Parish is grateful for the support of Methodist and Presbyterian friends who have stayed in its holiday homes at Paihia during the last year or two. This income has given a significant boost to their capacity to provide free ‘time out’ for many families under stress. They are looking for someone to live in their one-bedroom unit and assist with modest host/hospitality duties in Totara House and Serenity Cottage. Enquiries to email@example.com.
Each year the Knox Centre offers six music scholarships. The deadline for applications is 30 April 2012. The purpose of the music scholarships is to encourage and equip young musicians in the conduct of public worship. Each scholarship consists of an expenses-paid two-day workshop on music and worship at the Knox Centre, plus a cash grant. Applicants must be under 30 years of age. Applications close on 30 April 2012. Enquiries can be directed to the Principal of the Knox Centre. To apply for the scholarships, write a letter of application to the Principal detailing the nature of your involvement in music and worship, and include with your letter a reference from your minister.
The Church Property Trustees advise that the interest rate paid on Presbyterian Investment Fund deposits remains at 5 percent. This rate became effective from 1 February 2012. The Fund is open to parishes, but not to individuals. For further information, email the Secretary to the Trustees, Heather McKenzie.
Please note that Glen Innis accommodation is only available to ministers. The following dates are available:
March 19 - 26 Cottage
March 26 - April 2 Homestead/Cottage
April 2 - 9 Cottage
April 23 - 30 Homestead
May 7 - 14 Homestead
For all the latest acquisitions, click here.
Christian World Service has launched an appeal to provide immediate assistance for those who live in Fiji’s informal settlements affected by severe flooding. The Fiji government has declared parts of the Western District an emergency.
Donations can be made on line at: http://www.cws.org.nz/node/546 or sent to PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140.
Mr Andrew John Harrex, Intern, Highgate Church Dunedin, to Licentiate, Southern Presbytery, 1 December 2011.
Rev Dr Blair Stirling, Christchurch Presbytery, to Licentiate, Christchurch Presbytery, 12 February 2012.
Mr Martin Peter van’t Wout, Intern, Southern Presbytery, to Licentiate, Southern Presbytery, 1 December. 2011.
Rev Ian Guy, National Ordained Minister, was inducted into the Wakatipu Parish, Southern Presbytery, 2 February 2012.
Rev Andrew John Harrex, Licentiate, Southern Presbytery, to National Ordained Minister, Lawrence Waitahuna, Southern Presbytery, 25 January 2012.
Rev Nyalle Gordon Paris, Licentiate, Southern Presbytery, to National Ordained Minister, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Invercargill, Southern Presbytery, 15 December 2011.
Rev Ryhan Prasad, Wellington Presbytery, to National Ordained Minister, Khandallah Presbyterian Church, Wellington Presbytery, 24 January 2012.
Rev Marie Ropeti-Apisaloma, Member, Northern Presbytery, to Stated Supply Ministry, Grey Lynn Presbyterian, Northern Presbytery, 23 February 2012.
Rev Dr Blair Stirling, Licentiate, Christchurch Presbytery, to National Ordained Minister, Hornby Presbyterian Church, Christchurch Presbytery, 12 February 2012.
Rev Martin Peter van’t Wout, Licentiate, Southern Presbytery, to National Ordained Minister, Knapdale Waikaka Parish, Southern Presbytery, 22 December 2011.
Rev Ken Irwin completed his term of Stated Supply at Khandallah Presbyterian Church, Wellington Presbytery, and will remain in Wellington Presbytery as Other Recognised Minister.
Rev Donald Feist, National Ordained Minister, died in Dunedin, 22 February 2012.
Check out our listing of national and regional events.