From the Moderator
In late October I took up an invitation from the Council for World Mission to be part of a team visiting the Uniting Congregational Church of Southern Africa. All of the churches who belong to CWM (including our Church) have committed themselves to work towards equal partnership between men and women, and the task of the team I joined was to affirm, encourage, and monitor the host church (the UCCSA) on this journey.
The UCCSA is a transnational church, with synods in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia. To meet with as many people in as many of these countries as possible, in 2½ weeks we traveled an exhausting 3000 km, in a kombi van with dubious suspension and no air-conditioning.
The issues for this church are huge: abiding race tensions, deep poverty, political instability, recovery from colonial rule, independence from missionary authoritarianism, HIV/Aids pandemic, and violence against the most vulnerable. One might have thought that gender justice was the last and least concern, in the face of such struggles. But we found that all the above issues are also gender issues, and both women and men welcomed our teaching and encouragement. We also found unexpected resilience, hope and joy that kept us humble and aware that we were meeting Christ in this vast land.
Personally it was time of great learning for me, and a new appreciation of the comparative safety and beneficence that is ours in New Zealand, as well as of the secularity and cynicism that is too evident in our society. We should never take for granted the privilege of living in a nation like ours: with so many blessings go many privileges.
As I was leaving for Africa, the story was breaking about police incursion into Ruatoki, to investigate what was quickly labelled by the media as “terrorist activity”. Thank you for your prayer for the ministers and people of Ruatoki. Thank you too, to those who wrote asking that we hold the police in our prayers as well. Our attitude has been that we want to be part of the solution to the conflict that has surrounded these recent events. In that spirit we have offered the “common ground” of our Presbyterian Marae at Ohope as a place where dialogue between local residents and police might happen to bring about renewed trust and reconciliation.
It was great to see how many folk are participating in the Ministry of Social Developments and Families Commission Campaign to reduce violence in families, and the white ribbon appeal. To my surprise, some folk were concerned about this being “only” about violence against women and children. I can assure you we are condemning violence of all kinds.
Have you made plans to use the study booklet “Coming of Age: Bring on the Baby Boomers?” The next in our series of studies on public issues will be distributed in December: it deals with the questions of Youth Wellness
In this past month, 10 ordinands have finished their training and are negotiating placement in parishes. We congratulate them on their graduation from the School of Ministry. As they are ordained, we welcome them to their new standing as Ministers of Word and Sacrament in our Church and pray that their ministries may be deeply blessed.
Wellington Presbytery welcomed me to its celebration of 150 years as a presbytery at St John’s in the City on 24 November. It was wonderful to see the variety of ways in which parishes took up the challenge to mark the celebration with an environmental project.
I also presented in Wellington a workshop on Tools for Mission
And so we come to another Advent and Christmas: it’s predictable to be “Christ-centred” at this time of the year, to remember the “reason for the season,” in the presence of the baby in the manger. But will we be able to challenge the prevailing sentimentality and look beyond the shopping? This year’s CWS appeal is “help build a better future”. The birth of the child is a sign of hope for a community; a sign of the possibility of a different future. The birth of the Christ Child at Christmas is a sign for all generations of God’s desire for a better world. But all too often we in the Church have been slow to translate that sign into tangible and real hope: rather we have indulged in wishful thinking and self-centred optimism for our own little world.
The CWS Christmas Appeal is an opportunity for us to help in creating a better future with our partners in places where hope is a scarce commodity. With our gifts to the Appeal we can help build a better world, where every child that is born will have hope of peace and prosperity. I ask you to give generously this year.
So may the Spirit of Christ be with us this Christmas.
Assembly Office update
Christmas is Coming
It is a delight to witness how creative our congregations have been in reclaiming, reforming or contributing to public events which have Christian origins or references. I’ve read recently of congregations providing wonderful, positive celebrations for children as an alternative to the growing observance of Halloween in New Zealand. Another has chosen to lead a seminar of the religious tensions and concerns that form the background to Guy Fawkes’ activities. With tens of thousands of New Zealanders now attending ANZAC day celebrations, people are working to help present the Gospel in ways that speak to those who gather.
It is perhaps the time leading up to Christmas that provides the greatest opportunity to communicate the Good News in some significant and contemporary way to the many who gather at one of the multitude of carol and Christmas services held in our churches or within our communities.
One year I attempted to use the themes “declined” or “accepted” to compare that moment of credit card judgment with the Good-News story we find proclaimed by God in the Incarnation. Making those kind of connections seemed to touch on a lot of people’s pre Christmas experiences. Another year we put up a huge sign in front of the church saying “It’s a Boy”! The sign did act as something of a circuit breaker and drew a slightly alarming diversity of responses.
Creation, as the primary act of God’s love, provides a powerful incentive for us as we once again seek creative ways ourselves to proclaim the truth and reality of the Incarnation for our communities.
Council of Assembly
You will have already received news of our November Council meeting. It was great to receive the endorsement to continue with the development of the strategy to support and resource new congregational growth and development. The idea is simple: to find a way to unite our Church in a shared commitment to support the leaders and facilities needed to grow and extend our Church and its ministry and mission. At present we have virtually no unencumbered funds to support entrepreneurial congregations or presbyteries or even the stipend of a gifted new minister whose calling is to develop new faith communities on a campus for example or in a rapidly growing suburban development. No one wants to pour money down some black hole, but the costs of doing this work are now getting well beyond the means of even our largest congregations (or groups of congregations) to afford. We need to find ways that enables us to make a collective response to these challenges, sharing a sense of responsibility to support solutions and to celebrate together as we witness God working through our Church and its mission leaders.
Ministers and Presbytery Membership
By now Presbytery Clerks will have received information relating to the application of the new rules for Presbytery membership contained in Chapter 8 of the Book of Order. There has been some complication in this process as the Book of Order did not provide guidance in terms of categories for ministers who are not members of presbytery.
Among other things the categories of “Associate Member”, “Minister Within the Bounds” and “Lodged Certificate” have all come to an end. Ministers who are members of Presbytery will be listed in our yearbook as “Members of Presbytery”. Ministers who are neither retired nor members of Presbytery under the new regulations will be listed as “Recognized Ministers" (please note the name change from “Resident Ministers”) The yearbook will also separately list Retired Ministers.
It was with sadness that we heard of the death of the Very Rev Dr James Gunn Matheson. Dr Matheson was the Minister at Knox Church Dunedin from 1951 through to1961. He fulfilled a very significant ministry locally and nationally during his time in New Zealand. Dr Matheson’s funeral was held at the Parish Church of Portree, Isle of Skye, on Friday 1 November. I know that many have conveyed our prayers and support for Peter at this time. We were fortunate to have the Rev Barrie Keenan present in the UK and able to represent our Church at the funeral.
Last week I learned of the death of Ken Matthews (brother of the Rev Robert Matthews). Ken was a well known Elder in Auckland and until just a few weeks ago Parish Clerk of St Giles Mt Roskill. We offer our prayers of thanksgiving and support for Robert and for Ken’s family.
"Standing out in your community" workshops
You will have received brochures about these workshops and associated resources in the post and inside your December sPanz magazines. Please contact Assembly Office if you would like more brochures or more information.
You may have read in the newspaper that those using Xtra as their internet service provider have been having some difficulty in recovering their emails. We have discovered that Xtra and possibly one or two other ISPs have been filtering out email from the Assembly Office. We always endeavour to respond to all email inquires promptly - so if you have not had a reply from me or someone else in the office, please check your filter settings and your filter mail box and please contact us so that we can inform the ISP of the problem.
The meeting I had last week with our six most senior staff reminded me again how blessed we are to have such dedicated and gifted people serving our Church at a national level. Graham Redding, John Daniel, Amanda Wells, Yvonne Wilkie, Brendan Sweeney, and Andrew Bell are all doing a terrific job.
On their behalf and on behalf of all those who serve our Church through our Assembly Office, I want to thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement and to convey to you and your families our prayers for God’s blessings for you over the Christmas season.
Assembly Office Closure
The office will close on Friday December 21 and reopen on Monday 7 January. For any urgent matters over this time ring me on 027 445-2521 or (09) 429-0279.
Global Mission update
Christmas is upon us once again. Once again we have an opportunity to reflect on the coming of a missionary God who sought to be amongst us. A missionary God who did not arrive in power, but was born in a stable. He was a child who deserved to be worshipped by all humankind as God incarnate. Instead he was born the child of poor parents. Instead of being hosted as royalty in the capital city, he was born in a conquered backwater town. It is this same missionary God who still calls us to serve people everywhere. There is still not much that is glamorous about mission. It is still usually carried out in weakness, to the marginalised and oppressed in out of the way places. Its purpose is still to use all means to convince people that God is with us. Christmas is a great celebration of mission. Please be sure to include it as an essential part of your celebrations.
Kathryn McDaniel in Thailand
Paul Prestidge from St James, New Plymouth wrote recently in an email:
I wanted to report back on a fabulous visit Fiona and I had with Kathryn in Chiang Mai. We were so impressed with her sense of call and commitment to the prison visiting ministry. We went to the prison with her one morning and were blown away by the impact of her work. Even more, we were so impressed by Kathryn herself as we sat for a couple of hours (and began to) understand what a gem she is. Certainly I had no idea just how impressive it all was until we went. Kathryn and her ministry certainly deserve all the publicity and support we can muster through the Church. So good on the GMO (and its predecessor) for backing Kathryn – especially after she was widowed.
I could not have said it better myself. Many individuals and congregations still support Kathryn regularly, which the GMO adds to the support we send to her as part of our commitment. But she certainly needs all the support she can get as Paul and Fiona can testify. Maybe your congregation would like to take up a special offering to support Kathryn.
Cyclone devastates Papua New Guinea
Tropical Cyclone Guba hit PNG on about the 23 November 2007 and brought with it torrential rain over several days. This has resulted in extensive flooding in Oro Province. The PNG Government estimates that 150,000 people have been affected by the flooding. There is extensive damage to infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges. But more importantly, clean water supplies have been severely affected.
Once again Christmas is marked by natural disaster. No doubt there will be others over the festive season. We continually call for donations to our Disaster Relief Fund so that we can respond immediately in such situations. Please consider making a collection for our friends in PNG or for victims of disaster in general as part of your Christmas celebrations.
Giving of Gifts
Gift giving usually dominates our celebration of Christmas. But the gift we can give all year round is the gift of ourselves. The word “mission” has been used so much that it has almost lost its meaning. I think “friendship” is a good alternative. Committing ourselves to give of ourselves in friendship to another person or group of people is a significant gift. The response to our commitment to our friends in Myanmar is really gaining impetus and gifts towards the target of $100,000 by GA08 have reached about $10,000. So there is still a way for us to go to reach the target. But at $250 per congregation, it should be really easy. One donation has been received from one of our ministers to support a minister for a whole year. Please remember Andrew, Geoff, Sarah and Hannah from St Luke’s, Remuera, who will be travelling to Myanmar in December to spend Christmas with our friends and present a series of workshops on micro-enterprise projects and management of community projects.
As the year draws to a close we also have to say a big “thank you” to the Rev Jon and Viv Parkes (and family) and Rob and Barbara Meier. Both couples have represented us and served the people in the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu with what can only be described as unconditional friendship. Both couples have done far more than was originally asked of them. Both couples have carried considerable cost themselves. It certainly has not been easy. But they return knowing that the gift they have given has been greatly valued.
We also bid a sad farewell to Atitala Ah Yek who has been working part-time in the GMO for two years. Atitala was the GMO project manager and she did a variety of tasks. Of particular note was Atitala’s work in intermediate schools using her abilities in the creative arts to engage the students in the origins and meanings of cultural art forms. As part of the programme, the students fund raised for projects in Vanuatu. Atitala has secured a full-time role at Whirinaki Services as an art therapist.
Emily Broughton has given a year of her life as our Global Mission intern. Emily has been quite outstanding in this role and we will really miss her. Emily has enrolled to read for a BSc at Otago University.
National Mission update
Mission Possible in the flow of God’s love to the world:
- That every day our nation , every region and community, every Church (in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand) and every leader be prayed for.
- That our national Church leaders be guided in preparation for General Assembly 2008.
Catherine Hollister-Jones, John Daniel and Heather Simpson are the vision makers behind a new prayer initiative that is destined to guide Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand to become the “spearhead for the nation”. It is the desire of these leaders that our church be a praying church, and people of passion are being sought throughout the country to enhance Mission Possible.
There is a sense that, after 40 years or so of “drought”, it is time for the Church to re-seek His blessing. This year, 2007, sees us in an entirely different place with a new emphasis emerging on Mission. However, the fundamental need for prayer is a pre-requisite to becoming a truly healthy mission-orientated church. It is time to wait on God, to seek His face, to hear His voice, to be still so that we might discern His will.
In preparation for that some questions arise:
- Do we have the faith to move forward knowing there are giants in the land?
- Are there mountains in our own lives, and in the life of the Church that need to be overcome?
- Are we willing for God to open our hearts to be receiving His gift of repentance?
- Are there people of passion with praying hearts, willing to build on the mountains that help us to be God focused and God worshipping in all of life?
“See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not
perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams
in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
Zona Pearce (Presbytery Clerk, Southland)
National Mission Enabler John Daniel will be unavailable during December and January. The National Mission office will still be open and you may contact Heather at (03) 4777 948 or 027 2433-233, or via email jckd(at)maxnet.co.nz .
Youth Ministry update
PYM is humming along nicely, with our next edition of Fuel currently at the printers and soon to be in your hot little hands! If you haven’t received one by Christmas and want one, that means you are not on our database and need to be, so contact the PYM office to sort that out.
The National PYM Team have been working hard with Steve running the “Faithfest Road Show” in Auckland recently, which was a great success, and he is now getting ready for the Beach Mission happening in Mount Maunganui over the New Year period. Judy has been spending time with our friends at Te Aka Puaho and is also establishing some great music and drama work up in the North. Robyn is loving working with ministers and youth leaders in Christchurch. She has been working hard to make connections with the various churches in the area and is also working closely with a new initiative called 24-7 that involves getting youth workers into local schools as a new way of ministry. Contact Robyn for more information on 24-7. Steph has been working on Fuel and other administration and communication tasks. She has also been networking with the National Youth Workers Network of Aotearoa who are pioneering this exciting new venture of youth workers working together on a national scale.
Some key things you all need to know about…..
PYM are organising a group for Parachute Festival 08 held in Hamilton 25-28 January. Check out www.parachutemusic.com/festival to find out more about the event. If you or anyone you know would like to register with PYM for the reduced price of $124 then contact the PYM office before 10 December. To find out more about this deal check out the youth ministry page of the our PCANZ website.
Faithfest South is happening at Lake Waihola 15-17 Feb 08.
Faithfest North is happening at Mangatangi, Waikato 22-24 Feb 08
A great way to kick off the year for your youth group. Contact the PYM office for more info on either of these great camps.
If you have young people moving away for work or tertiary study then contact the PYM office and find out how you can get them connected to a youth leader in their new city.
Bangladesh Cyclone Appeal
CWS partners in Bangladesh say further assistance is urgently needed in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr. The cyclone struck on November 15 and has affected 6.8 million people. The death toll is over 3000, with 1,180 people missing and 34,508 injured. 366,000 homes have been destroyed and a further 845,000 houses partially damaged. Food shortages are an ongoing concern with 1.7 million acres of crops damaged and 465,000 livestock killed.
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International is providing water, medicines, oral re-hydration salts, and emergency food supplies including rice, pulses, salt and oil. They are targeting particularly vulnerable groups of people including widows, children, the elderly, disabled and those without land. Longer-term relief will include housing and livelihood programmes. To support their efforts please give generously to the CWS Bangladesh Cyclone Appeal: Donate online at www.cws.org.nz, phone 0800 74 73 72 or post to CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8142.
The 63rd CWS Christmas Gift Appeal is underway, launched on Sunday 2 December. Advent is a time to reflect on and support the work of CWS partners in poor communities around the world. Your donations to the Christmas Appeal enable CWS to continue funding projects for water, food, income opportunities, health, education, peace and so much more. Please continue supporting this New Zealand church tradition. Resources can be downloaded from www.cws.org.nz
Looking for Christmas gifts with a difference? Want a gift that really keeps on giving?
With CWS Just Gifts you can give more than just a gift – you can give hope and change. Choose from goats, seedlings, water, bicycles and small businesses. Not only are they fun and meaningful for recipients, Just Gifts support the life-changing work of CWS partners as local people work to overcome poverty and injustice in their own communities. They give water, food, income and opportunities to people in need of a better life. Check out the catalogue at www.cws.org.nz or phone 0800 74 73 72 for details.
A documentary on CWS partner, House of Passage in Brazil, will be available in the new year. House of Passage works with at-risk girls from the streets and slums of Recife, offering them educational support, health care, counselling, food and a safe refuge. House of Passage is featured in the APW special project for 07/08.
CWS is also producing a video/DVD on women’s development in the Solomon Islands and the challenges of logging and other environmental threats. This will be available with study notes in mid February.
Don’t forget a short DVD/video spot, “help build a better future”, is now available to help promote the Christmas Appeal.
Contact cws(at)cws.org.nz /phone 0800 74 73 72 for video/DVD orders.
The staff of CWS would like to thank you for your support and partnership during the year, your promotion of the Christmas Appeal and your contributions towards the inspiring work of our partners as they take action to end poverty and injustice. Our best wishes for a Christmas filled with peace and joy.
A message from studentsoul to parish ministers and youth leaders
If you have students heading down to Dunedin to study in 2008, if they are agreeable it can be helpful to give us their details.
We can send a text to welcome them and invite them our events, offer some help with getting to know Dunedin and generally facilitate that transition time.
Please send an email to Helen Harray at hmharray(at)paradise.net.nz and I will follow these contacts up.
What does it mean to be Presbyterian?
Each year the Ecumenical Institute of Distance Theological Studies (EIDTS) offers a distance learning course in Presbyterian (Reformed) Studies designed for youth workers, elders, ministers (including those who have transferred to the Presbyterian Church) and others who want a deeper understanding the heritage of our church and who want to connect to the needs of the church today. The tutor is John Roxborogh at the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership.
In 2008 the course runs for three 10-week modules of five topics each. We follow the school terms and commence on Monday 4 February and conclude on 26 September. The cost of the course is $330.00.
Please enrol by contacting Bruce Hansen bahansen(at)xtra.co.nz as soon as possible. There is further information on http://www.roxborogh.com/CHC2052/ or contact John Roxborogh by email john(at)schoolofministry.ac.nz or cell phone on 021 64 77 39.
Students need reasonable access to the Internet and reliable email. A Reader is supplied. Students are required to respond online to answer a set question based on the fortnightly readings and to engage in discussion with other students online. There are three written assignments to be completed in the course of the year. There is no exam.
Wellington Presbytery 150th celebration
A book of stories about the life of Presbyterian and Uniting Parishes in the Wellington Presbytery is now available. “Our church in our Communities; stories of the life of parishes in the Wellington Presbytery since 1840”, compiled and edited by David Ross, 190 A4pages, costs $15 plus $1.50 postage. All parishes have their story included. To see or buy a copy contact David Ross, (04) 971-6024 diross(at)paradise.net.nz Delivery of bulk parish orders to avoid postage charges can be arranged by telephoning David Ross with the details.
Review of Easter Trading and Holidays Legislation
The Ministry of Justice and the Department of Labour are introducing yet another review of Easter Trading provisions. Despite repeated rejection by Parliament of Easter Trading legislation (see CASI submissions on this on our website http://www.casi.org.nz/issues/economy/eastertrade06.htm) this is one that keeps coming back up. The Department of Labour website has a discussion document, and they are calling for submissions (See http://www.dol.govt.nz/consultation/shoptrading/index.asp). Submissions are due by 14 December as preparation for a review that will take place next year.
CASI has fought this one every time it has come up. This time CASI will not be around to do it. Making a response to this will be the task of each of the CASI partner churches, and more importantly of every parish. Check out what has been said before on the CASI website, and then have your say either through the Department of Labour website response form, or by writing to:
Workplace Policy Group
Department of Labour
PO Box 3705
There are still a lot of questions unanswered around the police anti-terrorism raids back in October, and around the Suppression of Terrorism Act. There are concerns here that will impact both the community and the Police for many years to come. The Government has pushed through the amendments to the Act despite concerns that were expressed. The police raids, far from confirming the need for the Act and its amendments, have underlined the inadequacies of the Act and confirmed the concerns that were expressed in submissions regarding the potential erosion of civil liberties. The leaking of police evidence to the media was a blatant attempt to justify their actions. While the evidence can certainly be read to support some level of concern, the Solicitor-General was undoubtedly correct in his ruling that it was not actionable under the terms of the Suppression of Terrorism Act. The leaking of the evidence raises still more questions about the security of police processes, and how those arrested will be able to get a fair hearing.
As we get further from the shock and horror of the October raids, and the media hype that went with them, the time is coming for some cool headed assessment of the whole situation. Both the police and the affected communities need the chance to rebuild confidence in each other. The Act clearly has to be rewritten. The removal of hard won civil liberties is a victory only to the real terrorists. An open society, marked by clear freedoms, is something that we have been justifiably proud of. Abuse of that freedom by some is not a good enough reason for retreating from what has been achieved. Christ’s answer to terrorism is not in creating restrictions and more fear.
CASI’s submissions on the Act and its amendments can be seen at: http://www.casi.org.nz/submissions/smTerrorismReview07.htm
The final issue of CASI’s newsletter, Broadsheetwww.casi.org.nz/broadsheet/<//a> . This is a double issue celebrating something of what CASI has set out to be and do over the past years. What was CASI’s commission, and what are the challenges that face the partner churches as they now look to do their own statements on social justice issues? What are the issues that we see as heading to be important in 2008? Have a look in this issue of Broadsheet
The Church Register lists additions to, deletions from, and changes in status on the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand Ministerial Roll as advised by Presbytery Clerks as at 23 Nov 2007
Please amend the roll in your yearbook accordingly.
Ordinations & Inductions:
Rev Alofa Lale, Stated Supply, Otago Peninsula Presbyterian Parish, Dunedin Presbytery, to Minister Otago Peninsula Presbyterian Parish, Dunedin Presbytery, 18 October 2007.
Transfers and Change of Status:
Rev Crawford Madill, Minister Emeritus, Southland Presbytery, transferred to Dunedin Presbytery, 1 November 2007.
Rev Neville Burns, Minister Emeritus, Southland Presbytery, transferred to Christchurch Presbytery 1 November 2007.
Rev Graham Ng, Minister Chinese Church of Christ the King, Auckland Presbytery, will transfer to Resident Minister, North Shore Presbytery, 29 December 2007.
Rev Henry Yau, Minister Auckland Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, Auckland Presbytery, to Resident Minister, Auckland Presbytery, 2 November 2007.
Rev William Earle, Minister Emeritus, Waikato Presbytery, transferred to Wellington Presbytery, 30 October 2007.
Changes in Co-Operative Venture Ministries:
Translations & Appointments:
Ms Andrina Hunter, was commissioned to the Local Ministry Team, Pukerau – Waikaka Valley Parish, Mataura Presbytery, 6 November 2007.
Mr George Morrison was commissioned to the Local Ministry Team, Pukerau – Waikaka Valley Parish, Mataura Presbytery, 6 November 2007.
Mr Alistair Price, was commissioned to the Local Ministry Team, Pukerau – Waikaka Valley Parish, Mataura Presbytery, 6 November 2007.
Rev Dr Alan Kerr, Minister Knapdale – Waikaka and Pukerau – Waikaka Parishes, Mataura Presbytery completed his appointment at Pukerau – Waikaka Parish, and returned to Knapdale – Waikaka Parish full time, Mataura Presbytery, 7 November 2007.
Short Term Appointments:
Rev James McKinlay, Resident Minister, Southland Presbytery, to Minister Emeritus, Central Otago Presbytery, 1 November 2007.
Rev Dr Susan Werstein, Lecturer School of Ministry, to Minister Emerita, Dunedin Presbytery, 31 December 2007.
Rev Peter Wishart, Minister Timaru – Chalmers Presbyterian Church, South Canterbury Presbytery, will retire to Dunedin Presbytery, 2 December 2007.
Removal from the Roll:
Rev David Sage, Minister Emeritus, North Shore Presbytery, died 29 October 2007.
Rev Frank Ross, Minister Emeritus, South Canterbury Presbytery, died 13 October 2007.
Click here to see the full table of vacancies