The Council of Assembly met at Capital House in Wellington on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 November.
The Council welcomed four new members: the Rev Martin Stewart, Marie Burgess from Gisborne, the Rev Helen Harry, convenor of the Leadership sub-committee, and the Rev Toko Ine, Moderator of the Pacific Island Synod.
Te Aka Puaho
The Council received a very encouraging report from our Te Ahorangi, the Rev Wayne Te Kaawa. The report detailed positive developments around the growth, outreach and mission of Te Aka Puaho. More elders and Amorangi are being trained; the Rev Hariata Haumate has been appointed in the role of providing mission resources, training and encouragement to those working within Te Aka Puaho; and there are a number of initiatives supporting ministry to children and young people. Plans are well underway for building developments at our national marae in Ohope.
We celebrated the many years of service that the current Moderator, Millie Te Kaawa, has given to the Council. Her leadership has been greatly valued by a succession of Council convenors and members. Millie will conclude her Council role when she steps down as Moderator in February.
National Mission Resourcing Task Group
In July, we established an independent review committee to examine the most appropriate and effective ways for the national Church to support local ministry and mission. This committee carried out extensive consultation before developing its final report, which was presented at this meeting.
Council affirmed that the Church's national focus should be supporting the work of presbyteries in resourcing congregational mission. This view reflects the focus at the General Assembly and the work of the presbytery review team in supporting the development of larger presbyteries. The Council will be working through the implications of this direction over the coming year.
The Council made the difficult decision that the work of the National Mission Enabler, and the functions of the Dunedin-based mission office, will come to an end at the conclusion of the current term of the National Mission Enabler in March 2011. In making this decision, the Council were very conscious of the impact of this decision on the Rev John Daniel and his team of Mike Crowl and Heather Simpson. Mike has been working on a fixed term project supported by CWM funding that concludes early next year and Heather will be completing her final year as a ministry intern in 2012.
We thank John, Mike and Heather for the effort and energy they have put into their roles, and the way in which they have championed mission.
The independent review committee made a number of recommendations about how some of the work of the National Mission Office can be maintained with the support of the Knox Centre and the Assembly Office.
Convenor the Rev Helen Harray reported on new members welcomed to the sub-committee after GA10, and on her desire to promote a greater sense of spiritual leadership.
A successful day for the training and development of ministry reviewers was held in Auckland last month; there are now 32 reviewers trained.
Helen spoke of a need to develop an overall picture of leadership, including regard to the number of ministers trained and the criteria for selection of ordinands.
Convenor Cunningham Atcheson reported a greater than expected surplus in General Assembly accounts for the first three months of the financial year, which he explained was partially due to timing issues. The sub-committee is to undertake research into reserves held that cannot currently be accessed due to the terms under which they were provided; and into the way in which parishes are charged Beneficiary Fund contributions. He also reported on the costs of the development underway at Ohope marae, and Council agreed that there should be a direct national appeal to parishes to help support this project.
Support for Christchurch Presbytery.
The Council discussed a report prepared by the AES in response to a request from Christchurch Presbytery.
The September earthquake was a traumatic event that caused significant damage for a number of churches in the Christchurch area. Christchurch Presbytery is now working through a process to coordinate a comprehensive development and rebuilding plan that takes account of the future mission of the presbytery. Rather than simply accessing insurance money to rebuild what existed before the earthquake, the presbytery is wanting to focus on future challenges and opportunities. This process is being led by a small team. To facilitate this critical work, the Council agreed to provide funding that will enable the moderator of the presbytery, the Rev Martin Stewart, to be released from some of his parish duties during the next six months.
Martin reported on his visit to Korea and the opportunities associated with enhancing our relationships with both Churches in Korea and the Korean community in New Zealand. He discussed with Council the opportunity that has arisen to work more closely with Presbyterian Support’s national Family Works campaign. Later in the meeting, he sought the Council’s approval to further support the development of the Kids Friendly movement so that it could be shared in a more effective way with other churches.
Pacific Island Synod development
The Council discussed the direction given by GA10 to begin work on proposals relating to the possible establishment of a Pacific Island presbytery. The Council will be inviting the Nominating Committee to identify suitable people to lead this work.
The Council spent some time processing the various tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly. The Council also welcomed Margie Apa from the Assembly Business Work Group, who led a discussion on how best to prepare and plan the business coming to Assembly.
The Council discussed a comprehensive strategy plan and proposal that had been prepared by the group leading the transition process that will see the four northern presbyteries, including Churches Together in Northland, join together. The Council was conscious that this area will not only represent numerically the largest presbytery, with around 25 percent of our Church’s membership, but is also culturally its most diverse.
After considerable discussion the Council agreed to support a request from the Northern Presbytery transition team to allocate funds to support the role of a full-time transitional facilitator for two years. While the Council have agreed in principal to underwrite this position, there will be further work done to identify possible funding sources.
This position will be advertised shortly, with the hope that the appointment will be made in time for the establishment of the Northern Presbytery in February 2011.
The next Council meeting will be held in Auckland in March 2011.