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This is the supreme court of the Church and in the nation, and consists of Ministers and Elders. Elders are chosen by their Sessions, and Ministers chosen by their Presbyteries make up the Assembly. At present one-third of Ministers are chosen, together with Elders from one-third of the congregations.
Synod of Otago and Southland :
When in 1862 the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand was formed, the Southern area, south of the Waitaki River did not join in. It was 1901 before they were united with the Northern Church, and until then they were ruled by the Synod of Otago & Southland.
This is a regional body that covers several Presbyteries. There is one regional Synod in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Synod of Otago and Southland, which continues to meet yearly to allocate funding for mission and education within its boundaries. Currently it does not act as a district court over the Presbyteries within its area. The Presbyterian Church has two non-territorial synods that act as Presbyteries within its national body: Te Aka Puaho, formerly Maori Synod, which supervises the Maori Pastorates, and the Pacific Island Synod which supervises Pacific Island Churches. The Council of Asian Congregations is recognised without synodical authority.
This is the district court of the Church consisting of Ministers in the district, one Elder from each congregation, and extra elders appointed to make the number of Ministers and elders equal.
When a student has satisfactorily completed the studies required of a Minister, he is 'taken on trial' by the Presbytery. If these trials are satisfactory he/she are licensed, and is then available for a Call to a congregation.
A student who has been licensed by the Presbytery is known as a probationer.
When a person has been licensed and is called to a congregation, he/she is then ordained to the Ministry, and inducted to that Parish. Ordination is the setting apart of a person for the service of God. A Minister is ordained only once, but is inducted to each subsequent Parish.
When a new Minister comes to a charge he is installed at a service of Induction.
Church Extension :
Areas not able fully to support a Minister are assisted to do so by grants from central funds. Such assisted charges were earlier known as Church Extension Charges, and in very early times central funds for this purpose were augmented by grants made annually by British Presbyterian Churches. The British Churches, when they sent a man to New Zealand, also paid the travel costs for him and his family.
Home Mission Stations :
In earlier times very small congregations were ministered to by Home Missionaries, and their support was assisted from central funds. Home Missionaries were capable laymen, appointed by the Home Mission Committee, and who undertook correspondence study ministering to the congregation. Some were later trained in the Theological Hall and became full Ministers. the Home Mission Scheme was later phased out.
Senior Minister :
This term is not used today, but in earlier times a Senior Minister was a Minister who was retired but still associated with his previous congregation, who paid him a retiring allowance in addition to paying their current Minister. this no longer occurs, because the Beneficiary Fund was established to provide adequately for Ministers in retirement, and to provide for widows and children.
The council of a Parish that oversees spiritual matters and promotes the religious interests of a Parish. It consists of the minister, who acts as Moderator of the Session and the elders of the Parish. One person is appointed to act as Session Clerk to take care of minutes and correspondence. Around the early 1970s the combined group of the Session with the Deacons' Court or Board of Managers, was introduced initially in Union Parishes, then became popular throughout the Presbyterian Church. The Deacons' Court or Board of Managers deals with the property and finance of the Parish.
When a Minister leaves a Parish for a position not under the Church, and wishes to remain a Minister eligible to return later, he resigns from his Parish and withdraws. If he resigns from the Ministry as well as from the Parish, he is no longer recognized as a Minister, and is unable to resume Ministerial duties until he has been reinstated by Assembly.