Council News July 2008

Council met between 10-11 July at Island Bay Presbyterian Church in Wellington. This was the final full meeting of the current Council; those members who had completed their four-year term were thanked for their service. These were John Trainor, Jane Prichard, David Dransfield, Neil Walker, the Rev Ma’afala Koko and the Rev Peter Cheyne, and the meeting was also the Right Rev Pamela Tankersley’s last as Moderator.

Much of the meeting was concerned with discussing proposals that will be put before General Assembly 2008, which is from 2-6 October in Wellington.

Te Aka Puaho

The Rev Wayne Te Kaawa spoke about a significant upcoming weekend for Te Aka Puaho, which will see the opening of an exhibition of taonga at Whakatane museum and the premiere in Auckland of Vincent Ward’s film The Rain of the Children, which has strong connections to Te Aka Puaho. Wayne also spoke about discussions underway and planned in Northland, Gisborne and Invercargill about growing Te Aka Puaho’s presence in these areas.

Moderator Millie Te Kaawa discussed progress in talks about developing the Ohope campsite in partnership with the presbytery and local church. Millie also talked about the strength of amorangi training this year in terms of numbers involved and the quality of students, which is having a positive flow-on effect in terms of leadership and eldership in Te Aka Puaho.

Pacific Island Synod

Olinda Woodroffe talked about the need for moves to clarify Pacific Island Synod membership guidelines. Council agreed that Council Convenor the Rev Rhys Pearson and AES the Rev Martin Baker will work with Olinda to develop a proposal on this for GA08. Olinda also spoke about the work the Pacific Island Synod is doing with several parishes in difficulty, and about the practice of nurturing new parishes through a development unit model.

Council of Asian Congregations

Council encouraged the Council of Asian Congregations to proceed with a refocusing on youth, and discussed acknowledging the contribution of the Rev Paul Kim, who is about to retire as Asian Liaison Officer.

Parish Development Units

Council discussed the way in which this term is being applied. The Leadership subcommittee is working on regulations in this area but there is no authority for any form of parish development unit in the Book of Order. Council agreed that any parish or presbytery seeking to apply this model must first seek the advice of the Assembly Executive Secretary.

Council also agreed that any initiatives by any synod or council to designate congregations “development units” must come under the auspices of presbytery, rather than just the synod or council. Any such unit must be seeking to become a Presbyterian congregation and must fit within the missional strategies of the presbytery.


The Council discussed meetings concerning the future of Uniting congregations. The significant value added to the Presbyterian Church by parishes in ecumenical partnerships was recognised as a way of expressing the unity we find in Christ. Council expressed regret that speculation had occurred about the future of our cooperating ventures and assured these congregations, UCANZ and our partner Churches that no moves would be taken without proper consultation as outlined in the Act of Commitment and the Guide to Procedures on Cooperative Ventures. Council reiterated its commitment to consultation on all matters that affect parishes and ministry. There are issues with cooperative ventures concerning property and governance that need addressing and while the UCANZ partners consider the path ahead, the Council is not in a position to encourage Presbyterian congregations to formally unite in new cooperating ventures.

Council discussed the statement on religious diversity and agreed that Pamela and the Rev Dr Graham Redding would work on a section to append to the statement reflecting the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand’s point of view. Council would consider this by teleconference with a view to submitting the statement to GA08 for endorsement.

Council discussed its composition and agreed to write to the nominating committee emphasising the importance of governance skills in prospective members.

Presbyteries task group

The Very Rev Garry Marquand presented the latest version of the task group’s paper, the implications of which were discussed by Council, including ensuring that any recommendation brought to GA08 comply with the Church Property Act. Council approved the task group taking its recommendations to GA08, and thanked Garry and his group for their work.

Ecological task group

Council discussed the task group’s report to be presented to GA08 and did not support its recommendation for a carbon audit of GA08. Council suggested instead that the group look at ways of resourcing parishes to conduct their own environmental audits. The group had developed a declaration on caring for creation, which was discussed and amended by Council and which will come before GA08 for approval.

Press Go growth strategy

Martin presented the report on this strategy that will go before GA08. Council agreed to recommend the Press Go strategy to GA08, as well as the release of up to $2 million of Laughton House funds for the project and that Assembly encourage congregations and presbyteries to provide a 1 percent return on their investment assets. More information about this project is available from

Approval of property transactions

Council agreed to recommend to GA08 changes in guidelines around parish property purchases, sales and major alterations and the release of monies held in capital funds. These guidelines are to be taken into account by both presbyteries and the Church Property Trustees when considering parish proposals. Council agreed that all property transactions and moneys drawn from capital funds should serve the purpose of church growth, and also that criteria to allow the gifting of funds between parishes should be developed.

Focal Identity Statement

Difficulties encountered by the task group, including significant negative feedback on the latest version of the Focal Identity Statement, were discussed. Council accepted the group’s suggestion that a statement not be brought to GA08 for approval. Council encouraged the group to continue in its work, and also to help the Church understand what is meant by a subordinate standard, while affirming that the Bible is our supreme standard. A presentation on the work in progress will be made to GA08.

Resource sub-committee

John Trainor spoke about the 2008/2009 General Assembly Budget, which has been distributed to parishes. He noted that the budget was “very much a good news story” and had met the 10 percent target that was discussed by GA06. Council discussed the funding of the proposed redevelopment of the Hewitson Wing at the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin. Council agreed that $250,000 be made available from Assembly reserves, subject to a number of conditions.

Leadership sub-committee

Convenor the Rev Ian Guy spoke about feedback received on the ministry development review proposal. Council agreed that the proposals be presented to GA08 for approval.

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership

Principal the Rev Dr Graham Redding discussed staffing matters, including the recent appointment of the Rev Mark Johnston to the Auckland coordinator position. Council approved the appointment of the Rev Jason Goroncy as lecturer at the Centre. The need for an advisory board to oversee the Centre was discussed by Council, which agreed its formation and that it would report to the Leadership sub-committee rather than Council itself.

Graham reported that eight interns will start ministry training in 2009, with the finalising of placements well underway.

Other matters

Council agreed to bring a recommendation to GA08 that the Church express its support for the Global Mission Office and that this should be reflected through support from the Church’s collective resources.

Council requested the Book of Order and Judicial committee develop regulations to allow flexibility in the ratio of elders and ministers in presbyteries where a shortage of ordained ministers can create an imbalance.

Next meeting

General Assembly is being held from 2-6 October. The next full council meeting will be from 21-22 November. As always, we welcome your feedback or comments. Please contact the Council via

Yours in Christ,

Rhys Pearson