The November Council meeting was hosted by the Synod of Otago and Southland and held at Knox College in Dunedin from 19-21 November.
A feature of the Council meeting was a presentation by the Synod on Friday night and Saturday morning detailing the range of innovative and mission-focused work it supports with funding from the Otago Foundation Trust Board. Council members found enormous encouragement in the stories of people and congregations supported by the Synod who had led significant growth, outreach and engagement with their communities. The Council affirmed its appreciation of the generous support provided by the Synod for the funding of the Knox Centre and other activities which directly or indirectly helped the mission and ministry of our whole Church.
The Council also enjoyed great southern hospitality in the new facilities built with Synod’s support at North Taieri Presbyterian Church in Mosgiel.
Te Aka Puaho
The Rev Wayne Te Kaawa reported on the ministry he is leading as our Church Ahorangi and the increasing number of Amorangi and other members of Te Aka Puaho who are engaging in tertiary theological study. Te Aka Puaho has strengthened its engagement with the National Council of Maori Churches and is represented at a range of national education and civic events. Parish numbers have increased from 12 to 14.
Asian Advisory Group
The Rev Hyeeun Kim reported that an Asian advisory group has been established under the oversight of Auckland Presbytery.
The Assembly has allocated funds to support Asian ministry and it is envisaged that these funds will be used by the advisory group in ways most likely to enhance and support the witness and mission of our Asian communities. A particular focus will be the support of children born to new immigrants.
Plans are underway to host a seminar in Auckland on February 20th for all Korean ministers and senior Korean elders leading congregations in New Zealand linked to various Presbyterian churches in Korea who may have an interest in joining our Church.
The Council discussed at length the commitment of our Church to overseas mission. The Council was helped in its thinking by discussions with the Rev Andrew Bell who attended the meeting on Thursday afternoon. The resignations by the three staff at the Global Mission Office mean some changes to ensure the continuation of our commitment. Core activities of the GMO will be maintained by the national office, with the help of a staff person contracted to help during this transition time, while a strategic planning group coordinated by Council member the Rev Wayne Matheson will initiate a wide consultation on the place of overseas mission in the life of our Church. The Council were adamant about their commitment to uphold the historic overseas relationship we have maintained with churches in the Pacific and Asia and will look for opportunities to enhance and build on these relationships in the future.
Council has prepared some questions and answers about the GMO decision that you can download.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Wayne is coordinating the work of a small sub group to develop a strategic plan that will look at the bigger picture of how our national functions integrate with presbytery and congregational mission and growth. Progress on the draft plan will be a focus for the March Council meeting, with the intention of establishing a broad consultative process prior to the 2010 General Assembly.
The National Mission Enabler spent time with the Council on the Friday morning of our meeting. John spoke about some of the highlights of the work of the NME and provided the Council with an overview of the activities of the office. The NME office has been involved in the development of the parish review process, supporting the development of student soul church plants, and providing tools and support for ministry and mission planning.
Neil Walker has led the formation of a broad representative group to examine a range of issues relating especially to the membership of national committees and the way that church members are recruited or nominated to these committees and leadership positions. It is anticipated that this comprehensive report will be discussed at the 2010 General Assembly.
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Our moderator, the Rev Dr Graham Redding reported on developments at the Knox Centre. The Archives are now reestablished in their new facilities. Stage 2 of the developments, involving substantial refurbishment of the ground floor of the Hewitson wing, will be completed within the next few months. Stage 2 provides for lecture rooms and offices for staff and students at the Knox Centre.
It was heartening to hear of the many congregations who have welcomed the opportunity to support ministry interns. However with a larger intake class next year there has been more pressure to find placements.
The Council were encouraged to hear of the on-going and generous support of congregations for the Assembly Assessment. Resource is supporting a very active approach in engaging with congregations finding it difficult to pay their Assembly Assessment with their interest and involvement being helpful for all concerned.
The first 22 Ministry Reviewers have begun their work. The Committee acknowledged the work of Amanda Guy who has recently resigned as Convener of the Introduction Workgroup. The Council adopted the recommendation that Knox Centre lecturer the Rev Jason Goroncy be received on the ministerial roll of our Church.
The Council received with regret the resignation of Olinda Woodroffe as the Pacific Island Synod representative on the Council. Council members are keen to hold further discussions with the Synod and will look for an opportunity next year to hold an extended Council meeting in Auckland which will provide for this.
Our next meeting will be Friday 19 March to Saturday 20 March 2010.
Yours in Christ,