The Council of Assembly met at Te Maungarono Marae, Ohope from 15 to 17 March as the guests of Te Aka Puaho.
We acknowledged the specialness of the place and were warmly welcomed by Te Aka Puaho. It is a huge privilege to spend time here; to revisit the history; to talk afresh about partnership and to be reminded we are better together.
We acknowledged the passing of a number of people since we were last there – in particular former Moderator Millie Te Kaawa. At the conclusion of our meeting we expressed our thanks to Te Aka Puaho and sang together in a final act of worship prior to our departure.
This is an area Council had identified as a priority for its work. Following on from our last meeting, Council spent time brainstorming on some of the biggest roadblocks for Council and the Church nationally and what were the desired outcomes. This was passed on to the Strategy Workgroup to assist them in their work.
Rt Rev Richard Dawson spoke of the many commitments he has had since Council last met. He outlined his personal views on the role of the Moderator.
Te Aka Puaho
Te Aka Puaho Moderator Marina Rakuraku spoke about her first year as Moderator. She referred to some of the struggles that both she and Te Aka Puaho face. She reported parishes were growing. She advised Council that the sale of the former Turakina Maori Girls College property had been completed and settlement would be next month. She acknowledged that this was the end of an era.
Pacific Islands Synod
Having read the report and listened to the presentation, Council agreed that the remaining balance of funds held in the Presbyterian Investment Fund, representing an historic Council for World Mission grant, be released to the Synod to further its work. Synod members expressed appreciation to the Council for this decision.
Convener Anne Edgar presented the report. She advised that the 2016-17 Audited Accounts and Report had been filed with Charities Services. While we have received an exemption for the current financial year on the need to consolidate parishes, presbyteries and synods within the General Assembly Financial Statements, this will not be on-going and Council agreed to explore an avenue to create greater clarity moving forward. Council asked the Committee to initiate a review of the Audit Committee, to help bring greater clarity and robustness to their work and responsibilities.
She noted and outlined the difficulties faced by the Assembly Assessment Review Group in undertaking its work and Council agreed that this group be thanked and discharged.
Council agreed to include in the report to Assembly the recommendation to change the wording relating to the Mission Enterprise Fund creating a wider exemption on sale proceeds.
Various workgroups reported and updated Council on their work. These included: the Strategy Work Group; the Moderator’s Review Group; the Pacific Islands Synod Work Group; the Child Safety Work Group; the Social Voice Work Group and the Code of Ethics Work Group. Many of these will be finalising their work and reporting to Assembly in October.
Council received a report and that the following people be appointed to Assembly work groups: Introductions Work Group - Rev Paul Prestidge (Central) as Convenor; Church Architecture Work Group (Alpine) - Rob Overly (Kaikoura) as member; Assembly Business Work Group - Rev Alistair McBride (Kaimai) as Deputy Convenor.
Book of Order Advisory Committee
A comprehensive report was received. The report advised that the Conditions of Service Manual had required urgent updating to comply with various regulatory matters to comply with changing legislation. Council agreed to issue the revised Manual. This will be available on the Church website.
Council noted that this does not include the Code of Ethics – at the recommendation of the Committee. So, Council has agreed to issue a new Supplementary Provision that will include the Code of Ethics as recommended by the Code of Ethics Work Group. This will also be made available on the Church website.
It was noted that the Committee is working on a review of Chapter 15 of the Book of Order, taking into account the matters raised by the Discipline Review Group that reported to Council at its last meeting. These changes will be brought to Assembly.
Council acknowledged the work of Rev Kyoung Han as our Partner in Mission with the Council for World Mission, serving as our Asian Ministry Co-ordinator. His term concluded at the end of February. It was noted that he and his family have returned to Korea and he has recently been appointed as the Ecumenical Secretary for the Presbyterian Church of Korea.
The Council also acknowledged the work of Brendan Sweeney, who finished at the end of January, having served 12 years as Finance Manager. It was reported that a new Finance Manager has been appointed, Sandra Kennerley, who will start in early April.
Council heard from Moderator elect Rev Taimoanaifakaofo (Fakaofo) Kaio about some of his hopes for Assembly and that he is looking forward to working with Assembly staff, the local arrangements team and the Assembly Business Workgroup.
Council appreciates the ongoing strong relationships with presbyteries and the wider Church as it serves. Our and your prayerful support for our work is the basis from which we operate.
The Council will meet next at the Mary MacKillop Centre in Auckland from 15 to 16June, 2018.
Jenny Flett, Convenor Council of Assembly
Rev Richard McLean, Deputy Convenor Council of Assembly