December 2019

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From the Moderator
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
Global Mission
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Presbyterian Youth Ministry
Church Property Trustees
Presbyterian Research Centre
Christian World Service
Church Register

From the Moderator

Finish well

"We make plans, but God has the last word." (Proverbs 16:8)

What a truly extraordinary and infinitely incredible year. The highs and lows were extreme. We yearned for tranquility and calmness. It seemed that we were facing common adversity. Nationally, regionally and locally we were confronted and experienced grief, anxiety and loss.

The massacre in Christchurch; attacks on women and the elderly; the vulnerability of children and the plight of the homeless. It appeared as though the "land of milk and honey" had become a place of turmoil.  

And on a personal front was the experience of losing loving family members and dear colleagues. It has been a surreal year. Losing the Rugby World Cup did not even cause me to blink. It seemed destined.

The words of wisdom from Proverbs, tell us that we each have plans and high hopes for everything, including for ourselves. We plan realistically and positively for the best. Sometimes it does not pan out as we had hoped. Even with a well-thought out plan, everything can turn to custard. A complete disaster is always possible.

The encouragement for us, is to keep the faith and trust in the Lord. Commit your plans to God. Keep your plans in prayer and be at peace with yourself with your efforts. "I know the plans I have for you," (Jeremiah 29:11) declares the Lord God.
Do not be dismayed or downhearted. We walk through the valley of the shadow of death, every day with our Lord Jesus.

Conclude well, to the best of your ability. Be at peace with your plans. Have a breather in the festive days and put together your plans for 2020. Your best is good enough. In fact, it is all that you can do. Treat yourself. Reward yourself for the concluding of yet another year.

May Christmas Day, the season, and the New Year be a blessed and peaceful time for you and for your loved ones. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I leave with you the words of our Lord Jesus: "You did not choose me, but I choose you and appointed you that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last". (John 15:16)


From the Assembly Executive Secretary

A number of years ago (2001) a book - Skipping Christmas by John Grisham - caught my eye. It is not his usual subject matter, and I was drawn in. Imagine a year without Christmas, no crowded malls, no fruitcake and no unwanted presents! It offers a look at the chaos and frenzy that we call tradition. Grisham stated he lamented the commercialisation of Christmas - and while skipping Christmas entirely isn't the answer - wondered if we could celebrate it better.
I found that very thought fact I still do.

Maybe this year could be the year to imagine something different; to break free from the chaos and frenzy and model a “better celebration”... I wonder what that could mean or look-like? Maybe sitting more intensely with the Biblical infancy narratives; less time watching those incessant TV ads and more time in prayer and acting justly; loving mercy walking humbly with our God might be a place for me...I wonder if you have space to consider what that might look like for you?

Kevin Ward retirement
I would like to take the opportunity to honour the contribution of Rev Dr Kevin Ward, senior lecturer at the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. Kevin joined what was then the School of Ministry in 2003. Kevin's dedication, passion for the Church and the God it serves is well known. His wisdom, care, energy and commitment to people will leave a lasting legacy. On behalf of the wider Presbyterian family - happy retirement Kevin.

First round of voting for Moderator-designate
Early in the New Year, parish councils will receive information concerning the new process for electing the Moderator-designate.

Deadlines for reports, proposals and recommendations to 2020 General Assembly
Following consultation with the Assembly business work group convener, a deadline has been set for receiving all reports and proposals that will be considered by next year’s General Assembly. All material must be received by Friday, 19 June 2020. This timeframe will enable us to facilitate a consultative process with presbyteries prior to Assembly. In this way, we will be able to fulfil the 2012 Assembly’s decision supporting presbytery participation in setting of the Assembly agenda.

From the Assembly Office team
On behalf of the whole Assembly Office team, thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement and support during the year. We wish you a happy and Christ-centred Christmas and look forward to serving and supporting you in 2020.

Assembly Office closure
The office will close on Friday, 20 December 2019 and reopen on Monday, 13 January 2020. For any urgent matters over this time, please contact me on my mobile.

Ngā mihi nui

Global Mission

The year is drawing to a close, but activity continues within in our Global Mission partnerships.

Team heading to Tahan in January
A team from Leith Valley Church in Dunedin is preparing for a January visit to Tahan Theological College in Myanmar, where they will spend time with staff and students, and support the work of Wayne and Helen Harray.

New teachers for Talua
In December, I will attend a commissioning service for our new teachers who will be serving at Talua Theological Training Institute in Vanuatu. Brian and Ally Mackay are members of Knox Presbyterian Church in Dannevirke, and will be leaving for Vanuatu in early February. Ally will teach English, and Brian will teach IT and provide support with administration.

Training in Mission
This is a seven-month long mission formation programme for young adults aged 18-30 supported by Council for World Mission. Next year it will take place in New Zealand, Fiji, South Korea and Jamaica. Applications close 10 January. Find information and application forms

Council for World Mission is inviting applications from theological students interested in learning about the challenges of life in the Middle East. This is a month-long programme in April and May next year, and explores some of the stark realities of life in Palestine. Applications close at the end of January. Download the programme brief and application form here

Read about Karo Wilson’s experience on this programme, and other Global Mission stories, in the latest edition of Spanz. Read stories in Spanz

Thank you
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters and wish everyone a happy and fulfilled Christmas and New Year. Here in New Zealand we have been faced with some very challenging and distressing moments in 2019. Let us take a moment to remember those who have suffered, and pray for a growing spirit of love, goodwill and acceptance of others to be at the forefront of our national life, not just at Christmas but woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.

Phil King
Global Mission Coordinator

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership

Farewell, Kevin
Rev Dr Kevin Ward has announced the conclusion of his ministry at Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership at the end of 2019. This represents over 17 years of service, teaching, researching and serving the Presbyterian Church. An evening to “Come Together” in celebration of the many dimensions of Kevin’s ministry is planned for the evening of Friday November 29, 2019, 7:30pm in the Cameron Hall, Knox College. Learn more

Second-year interns graduate with a special service at First Presbyterian Church of Otago, Moray Place, Dunedin at 7:30pm, Wednesday, 4 December. Our graduates are Annie-Kate Williams, Kalele Moresi, Gab Hawker, Tom Mepham, Seb Murrihy, Hayden Luke and Donald Gordon.

Kevin Ward will preach, and Rev Mo Morgan will lead the service.

Summer 2020 intensive: A Practical Theology of Mental Health
The need to think theologically about mental health in the practice of ministry is vital. John Swinton is professor in practical theology and pastoral care at the University of Aberdeen. He is the founder and director of the Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability at the University. The summer intensive runs from Monday, 27 January to Friday, 31 January and is jointly offered by the University of Otago and Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. Learn more about the course

Geoff New
Dean of Studies

Presbyterian Youth Ministry

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas from the PYM team. It is a busy time of year, especially for us in Church circles. We encourage you to take some time to talk one-on-one with young people in your community and ask about their highlights of the year, their encounters with God and how they have grown in faith.

The PYM internship
Our Church desperately needs theologically trained, skilled youth workers. 

People need to be invited and challenged to consider setting themselves apart for ministry and preparing for this process. The PYM Internship offers fantastic support for anyone wanting to pursue a calling to minister with young people through a Bachelor, Diploma or Certificate level training pathway. 

Young adult commissioners at GA2020
Please recommend any suitable potential young adult commissioners (aged 18-30) to your regional youth coordinator or presbytery. Each presbytery has six positions available for youth commissioners to General Assembly. The PYM team has a comprehensive youth commissioner training and engagement process, which ideally starts nine months out from Assembly and includes:

  • online training (see example video)  
  • at least two of their church’s session or church council meetings before and after GA (four in total)
  • at least one presbytery gathering (where possible) before and after GA (two in total)
  • orientation afternoon on the first day of GA
  • daily catch-ups during the GA 2018 conference (7-11 October 2020)

So, now is the time to invite young adults in your church to consider participating in GA2020.

Gordon Fitch
National Youth Manager

Church Property Trustees

The Trustees administer a number of Trusts with the purpose of providing assistance to ministers. Here’s a reminder of a few ways that we can help:

Burnett loans
Ministers are able to call on the Olive Burnett Loan Fund for loan assistance. The Fund provides eligible ministers with low interest loans of up to $12,000. Loans have been used by ministers to pay back more expensive loans, purchase vehicles, meet school fees, and pay travel costs for special or emergency events. More about Burnett loans

Benevolent Fund grants
The Fund is available for grants to ministers in a variety of circumstances, including sickness and disability, retirement support (as a result of the wind-up of the Defined Benefit section of the Beneficiary Fund) and in cases of special need. For example, special needs grants (of up to $5,000) have been paid to ministers to meet their medical costs or those of family members. More about Benevolent Fund grants

Beneficiary Fund
All ministers in receipt of a stipend must join and contribute to the Beneficiary Fund. The Fund principally provides retirement benefits, but members can access some funds prior to retirement in limited circumstances (eg significant hardship, serious illness, and 1st home purchase). Once in retirement, members can leave their savings in the Fund and arrange a regular withdrawal to meet living costs, or make lump sum withdrawals whenever they want. Learn more about the Beneficiary Fund

Holidays at Glen Innis
Free holiday accommodation is available to ministers (in active service or retired) at Glen Innis Station in Central Hawkes Bay (near Waipukurau). Handy to wineries, beaches, Hastings and Napier, the comfortable cottage and homestead are self-contained and recently renovated. Enjoy farm walks, tennis court, swimming pool, trampoline, and games room - or a good book by the Kent fire.

Those traveling from the South Island are eligible for a subsidy on ferry fares every second year. Learn more about staying at Glen Innis

Russell Garrett

Presbyterian Research Centre

In mid-December, Lynley Trounson, Hewitson Library assistant is retiring after 23 years’ service. Her depth of knowledge, of both the library and its members, is greatly appreciated and she will be missed.

November has been a busy month with work continuing on the implementation of our new archives software, two tours by Hocken Library staff and a workshop with Knox Centre interns as part of their most recent block course.

Rachel Hurd and I presented at Dragons Tails 2019, the 6th Australasian conference on Chinese diaspora history, and heritage where we talked about the Alexander Don and the Ng Collections. Four of the other presenters, from both sides of the Tasman, have visited both the Library and Archives over the past few weeks, interested in both our Canton Villages Mission and Chinese goldmining resources.

We have been given a large bequest to support the continuing development of the Rita Mayne England Christianity & Cultures in Asia Collection, highlighting how highly this collection is regarded. This will enable us to purchase some of the more highly priced resources to add to the collection.

The Archive team has recently received several boxes of Indonesian photos from Rev Robert Paterson from his time at the Theological College of Eastern Indonesia during the 1970s and 80s.

If you are not on any of our mailing lists and would like to receive our emails about new books, events, project updates or blog articles please sign up here.

Jane Thomsen

CWS Notices

Give water this Christmas
Grandmother Farazia from Uganda is the cornerstone of the 74th Christmas Appeal. Now 78, she works hard to care for her grandchildren, orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Every day she prays for a rainwater tank – a gift that will transform their lives. We ask you to pray for her and everyone who needs safe water. Please give generously to our appeal for water, the essence of life.

You can watch the video, read stories, and find worship resources 0n the CWS website. If you need Christmas Appeal posters in 10 languages, envelopes or service sheets for your congregation, please contact Jordyn on 0800 747372.

(John 1:4) “In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”

Gifts of Joy
Giving Gifted can change lives. This year’s top seller is Bees supporting small farmers in Sri Lanka to establish new hives and grow better food. Fruit trees for families recovering from drought in the Philippines are also popular.

Gifted is a way to double your giving – once for family or a friend and once for a family looking for hope. Order today and CWS will send you an attractive card explaining the gift or you can opt for an e-card. Order cards by 16 December so that they arrive before Christmas. E-cards are available any time.

Our office will close at noon on Tuesday, 24 December and reopen on 3 January. It is cyclone season in the Pacific so follow us on Facebook or Twitter for any urgent news or appeals. 

We are thankful for your prayers and support through 2019. It has been a year of uncertainty, especially for those living on the frontlines of climate change and conflict. 

May the hope we find in celebrating the birth of Jesus be our inspiration in the year ahead.

Pauline McKay and CWS staff


2019/20 Lectionary
The new lectionary (Year A - Matthew) commences on 1 December 2019. Download lectionary and calendar for 2019-2020.

Live in Christian community for three months
The Board of Sister Eveleen Retreat Centre on Scarborough Hill in Christchurch is inviting applications from those interested in living in an intentional Christian Community for three months this summer. $100 per week shared twin room and self-catering. Enquiries to Applications close 5 Dec 2019.

Soweto Gospel Choir coming to NZ
The Soweto Gospel Choir are bringing their Freedom tour to New Zealand from 18-29 March 2020 in honour of Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s struggle for freedom. Learn more about the tour programme, including where to get tickets and other details.

The First Kiwi Christmas children’s book
A new children’s book, titled The First Kiwi Christmas has been released with the aim of making New Zealand’s early bicultural history more accessible to children. Targeting 4 to 7 year olds, this little-known story tells of the warm relationship that developed between Rev Samuel Marsden and two Ngāpuhi rangatira: Te Pahi and Ruatara. Learn more

Presbyterian Investment Fund
The Church Property Trustees wish to advise that the interest rate paid on Presbyterian Investment Fund remains at 2.5%. The Fund is open to parishes, but not to individuals. For further information, email the Trustees’ Executive Officer, Russell Garrett.

Spanz publication dates
There has been a change to the 2019/20 Spanz publication dates. The magazine has just been published (November 2019) and will be published once in 2020 (May). Learn more

Church Register

Updates to the Church Register will be published in the next edition of Bush Telegraph.


Check out details about upcoming events including training workshops, opportunities to serve and more. Learn more


Check out our job vacancies page and the ministerial vacancies table.