Council News March 2009

The Council met on 26-27 March at St Christopher’s Presbyterian Church, in Seatoun, Wellington. The meeting was convened by the acting Convenor, the Rev Emma Keown.

A feature of this Council meeting was discussion on how to ensure that the voices and concerns of particularly the Pacific Island Synod, but also the Council of Asian Congregations and Te Aka Puaho, are heard in all aspects of Council policy- and decision-making.

Matters arising from General Assembly 2008

GA08 decided that the group working on the Focal Identity Statement needed to better represent the Church’s theological diversity. Council discussed nominations to this group from the Nominating Committee, with two new members of the group appointed and one unfilled position remaining.

The Council supported one of its members, the Rev Peter Dunn, to undertake discussion with our ecumenical partners on the development of future directions and policy relating to Uniting congregations.

Youth focus

As a continuing development of decisions at the November Council meeting, the Council was informed Carlton Johnstone had been appointed to support the Church’s engagement with young people and develop resources.  Council also agreed to replace Stephanie Redhead, who recently resigned from her role supporting those involved in youth leadership.  

Assembly Executive Secretary

AES the Rev Martin Baker spoke about his recent Council of World Mission Pacific region meeting and the importance of this relationship for our Church. He reported that we are one of the 31 member churches, whose resources are shared between five regions. On behalf of the nine member churches of the Pacific region, Martin is developing a job description for the role of Pacific Mission facilitator. This role will focus on the coordination of mission initiatives between member churches and help develop a five-year strategy for CWM’s commitment to support partnership between Churches in the Pacific. 

Martin also presented some research that indicates that the strongest predictor of a congregation’s growth relates to a commitment by its leadership to engage in significant ways with the wider community. Factors such as high population density or the congregation’s financial well being did not necessarily correlate with a congregation’s size or growth.


The Right Rev Dr Graham Redding reported on his recent visits to a number of presbyteries and his work in supporting congregations facing times of upheaval and change. Graham spoke about meeting with other national Church leaders and the work done at an ecumenical level to engage with significant overseas and national issues, such as the global economic crisis. He also tabled a set of protocols to support the Council in its functional and decision-making processes.

Report from Murray Robertson

Murray, previously senior pastor of Christchurch’s Spreydon Baptist Church, is leading a new training centre for those in Church leadership. He had been invited by the Council to provide a review of the way the Church fulfils its commitment to support local and overseas mission. His report had two focal points: the relationship between national and global mission; and the relationship between mission enabling and leadership development. The Council received Murray’s report and formed a small steering group, convened by the Moderator, to engage in further consultation, focusing especially on the views of Te Aka Puaho, the Pacific Island Synod and the Council of Asian Congregations. 

Leadership subcommittee

Convenor the Rev Ian Guy presented the subcommittee’s report. Ian provided an update on the work of the Knox Centre advisory board and the ministry review programme. The training of reviewers is planned for the middle of the year.

Resource subcommittee

Convenor Cunny Atchison presented the accounts for the year to date, which show the Church in a positive financial position, and he discussed the decline in interest rates over the past year and possible outcomes for the budget. He reported that Ernst and Young will continue as our auditors. Parishes’ statistical forms are being redeveloped so that congregations find them more straightforward to complete. Cunny reported about the preliminary budget planning for the next financial year.

Nominating Committee

The Council is in discussion with the Nominating Committee in regard to the processes of bringing recommendations to the Council for the position of Convenor, following the recent resignation of the Rev Rhys Pearson. 

Te Aka Puaho

Te Aka Puaho reported on a recent Commission led by the AES in relation to the functionality of the Te Aka Puaho office in Whakatane. Te Aka Puaho had responded to a number of recommendations made by the Commission, especially in relation to administrative support and support for the Rev Wayne Te Kaawa as he leads Amorangi training and theological education. Te Aka Puaho reported on a series of significant national engagements, as well as the strengthening of their work supporting congregations and leadership.  Members of Te Aka Puaho are involved in an ecumenical project devoted to developing a contemporary Maori translation of the Bible.

Pacific Island Synod

Olinda Woodroffe, the Synod representative on the Council, reported on how much the Synod executive had appreciated the recent visit by the Moderator, who was accompanied by the moderator of Te Aka Puaho, Millie Te Kaawa, and the director of Te Wananga a Rangi, the Rev Wayne Te Kaawa. Plans are well underway for the Council to meet the Synod executive in May. Olinda reported on developments relating to the establishment of the Synod office and a resource centre for Pacific people, as well as discussing ways to enhance the representation of Pacific people on the Council. She reported on the work of Komiti Moana Nui in representing the Church on the Pacific Conference of Churches.

Council of Asian Congregations

The Rev Hyeeun Kim provided some background information on the situation facing Asian ministries. She told the Council that much Asian migration to New Zealand is now coming from the Philippines and India, where English is widely spoken. She spoke about the challenge of supporting ministry to the “1.5 generation” (the children of Asian immigrants) and about opportunities for the Asian Council to work closely with the Auckland presbytery.

Next meeting

Our next meeting will be Friday 24 to Saturday 25 July in Auckland. As always, we welcome your feedback or comments. Please contact the Council via

Yours in Christ,

Emma Keown
Deputy convenor