From the Moderator
The highlight of my month has definitely been attending the birth of my wee grand-daughter, Juliette. She was born at home in Auckland on 10 September, bringing much joy to all her family.
My visit to Auckland Presbytery gave me a new experience of our Church (like most of us who live beyond the Bombay Hills, my views on the big city have been formed by questionable assumptions). I appreciated the warmth of my welcome in the big city, especially among our Pacific Island and Asian congregations. It is a large presbytery with 55 parishes, but it shows the rest of us the way by forming regions within the whole. Currently most of these parishes are the conventional suburban parish model, but the presbytery is very aware of the challenges to provide real, effective inner city ministry and also of planting new ventures in the ever-expanding subdivisions. More than anywhere in New Zealand, in Auckland our huge assets of church buildings and land need to be utilised for growth in our mission.
Making heard the public voice of the church has taken some time and energy this month. First I met in Wellington with the Church leaders and then a week later, some of the group (those with social service arms like our Presbyterian Support) went to meet the Prime Minister and members of her cabinet. We were warmly welcomed and our views heard and engaged with. While in Auckland I met with the Mayor, Dick Hubbard and heard about the style of Auckland from his point of view. Aware that he is now facing an election campaign, I told him we would be praying for a good campaign, based on policy rather than personalities. I explained that as a Christ-centred, community-facing church shalom
My Christ-centred community-facing stories for this month are rather varied
- Firstly, well done to the parish of Devonport , who over the years have secured local support and community funding and put their backs into clearing the local town cemetery to make this sacred space beautiful again. They have honored their ancestors and respected our nation’s history in the process.
- And secondly it was good to see Christchurch minister, the Rev Lapana Faletolu, fronting up on TV in the Campaign against Violence: It’s not OK.
- And then there is the enthusiastic work of the Rev Mahendran Nair, who with the support of the Auckland Presbytery has formed a Parish Development Unit for Fijian Indians in Auckland.
Early in October, I will host the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Sheilagh Kesting and her Chaplain, the Very Rev Sheila Maxey, (a past Moderator of the United Reformed Church in the UK). They will meet with folk in Auckland, in Wellington and in Dunedin. Later in the month I am invited to Southern Africa as the chaplain and Bible study leader for a CWM team, visiting the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, addressing issues of women ministry and gender equity. It will be a challenging time!
Finally let me refresh your mission with the text from Jeremiah 29 I have been using as a basis for my message as Moderator.
The Lord says, “Seek the shalom of the city where I have sent you, and pray for it, for in it’s shalom you will find your own…….”
May you and your place know God’s shalom in this next month.
Assembly Office update
Warm spring greetings.
The lawn needs mowing and my old Victa 2 stroke has just given up. What am I going to do? In parish life, planning starts shifting toward Christmas and those various end of year events are being scheduled. At Assembly Office the financial audit has just been completed and the annual accounts are being approved by the Council and will be distributed shortly.
It is a time to thank you again for your support of the Assembly Assessment. Parishes sacrificially gave over $4m to the national work and mission of our church – supporting work that we only ever could do by working together.
The Church’s engagement with social issues
Thank you to the people who have written to me expressing concerns about the processes involved in our decision to withdraw from CASI. I have tried to provide as much detail as I can in response to the questions that have been raised and have expressed the Council’s desire to find the best and most effective ways to address matters of public concern. Thanks too to those who have made some very positive suggestions and offered help as we seek to engage, as Christians, with national and international public issues.
This is the action we are taking:
- We have committed to provide, on a regular basis, a study and discussion guide focusing on a particular area of social concern. Our hope is that these guides will not only be of use to local congregations but may also provide opportunities to invite other in the wider community to discussions that have a basis in Christian faith and Biblical teaching.
- We are developing on our website a section that will highlight what congregations around New Zealand are doing in terms of engaging with their local communities in witnessing to the healing, hope, justice and peace at the heart of Jesus’ teachings. The site will also proved resources developed by CASI, the Bioethics Council and Christian groups actively engaged in research and developing responses to social issues.
- We are supporting our Moderator as she engages in meaningful dialogue with our nation’s political leaders.
We are also looking at ways to develop submissions relating to proposed Government legislation. I am aware that on almost any topic there is a breadth of opinion represented by the membership of our Church. However, there may be some areas where we could assume a broad support base – for example with gambling, alcohol and smoking legislation, and matters relating to the reduction of violence and the safety of children and young people.
Pago Pago Meeting of the Pacific Conference of Churches
The presence of members of Te Aka Puaho and the Pacific Island Synod meant that we were well represented at this meeting of over 200 church leaders from a range of pacific churches – including the Catholic Church. The meeting highlights concerns from around the region. Of particular concern were matters to do with climate change (even a small rise in ocean levels will bring the physical existence of some low lying pacific nations to an end) the civil unrest experience in many nations in the region and the threat of HIV/Aids which is posing an ever increasing problem to many of our pacific neighbours.
While different for New Zealand and Australia, in almost all other Pacific nations, churches provide the most important non government infrastructure supporting the social, cultural and educational activities of these nations.
The Board overseeing the transition from the School of Ministry to the Knox Centre for Christian Leadership continues to meet about every three months. The sale of Church houses in Opoho has begun, plans for the remodelling of the Hewitson Wing are being developed and interviews are being carried out this month for the Auckland-based Centre appointment. The first students to engage in the internship training programme will begin their work at the beginning of next year.
Prayers for October
As we begin the process of identifying the Moderator for the 2010 General Assembly, we pray for God’s guidance and discernment.
The interview panel that seeks make decisions concerning the appointment of the new staff member for the Knox Centre.
Our brothers and sisters in the Pacific as we seek together to celebrate the blessings and to meet the challenges faced by those who live in this part of the world.
Presbyterian Investment Fund Security
The Church Property Trustees have issued a statement to all depositors in the Presbyterian Investment Fund regarding the safety of funds in the wake of recent, high profile failures of some finance companies.
To reiterate, PIF investments are rated ‘Investment Grade’ and are not of the type chosen by the failed companies. Trustees are very mindful of the safety of funds entrusted to them and to minimize risk have a policy of investment in secure, NZ-based organisations. Currently over 90 percent of investments are in NZ-registered banks under the supervision of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
Change in Interest rate on PIF Deposits
I have been advised by the Church Property Trustees that the interest rate on Presbyterian Investment Fund Deposits has increased by 0.25% to 7.75% from 1 July. This is in line with market movements on interest rates.
A reminder that Parish statistics forms are now overdue. Thank you to Parishes who have completed the forms and returned them to Presbyteries. Please action if you have not already done so. I am aware the finance form is not particularly user friendly and will endeavour to simplify for next year. You will note there are some changes to last year’s version to allow for expenses and income that is now exempt from accessible income. (refer items 12-15). I included an explanation of these items in the August Newsletter but am still receiving some queries. Please contact me if the instruction is not clear.
Invoices for 2007/08 insurance premiums have been sent to Parishes and are due by 27 September. Please pay by that date in order to receive the prompt payment discount. This year a loyalty discount has also been applied to the charge. This discount is possible due to less-than-anticipated claims expense in the year to August 2006.
General Assembly Annual Accounts
Our auditors Ernst and Young have completed their audit of the General Assembly accounts to 30 June 2007 and have agreed them with the Audit Committee. These have been signed off by the Council of Assembly and will shortly be distributed.
Global Mission update
Myanmar - a pilgrimage of pain and hope
Having just returned from Myanmar, the latest news reports of the marches for democracy have had me glued to the media; check out the latest news at some of the news websites.
There are several websites on the topic of the plight of Burma. Given the complexity of the situation, it is not surprising that there are conflicting opinions.
Clearly the country is on a knife-edge right now. The military junta are probably the most unpredictable and draconian rulers in the world. They have just enforced a dusk-to-dawn curfew and soldiers are on the streets of the capital, Yangon. In response, the US government plans to tighten sanctions and have called on the UK and EU governments to do the same. But is this the best we can do? What does all this mean for us as we seek to build a relationship with the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM)? Do we stop too?
My call is for the exact opposite. The situation in Kalaymyo-Tahan, where the Assembly Office is located, is critical and the Church is struggling with serious constraints. We were hosted with grace and extravagance despite the close attentions of the police and military to our every move. The “out-dated” notebook computers than Andrew and Angela Norton carried in as a gift for the Church were received with great joy. The opportunity exists for us to make a significant difference to the capacity of our partner Church to spread the Gospel through love in action. The PCM have decided that projects that alleviate the oppressive poverty being experienced daily by the population are their best means of evangelism in this profoundly Buddhist nation. Our Moderator, Pamela, has agreed that I extend her special Moderator’s Appeal for Myanmar for another year as well as expand its scope.
Would it be outrageous to set a target of NZ$100,000 in one year?
It isn’t when you see their pain. It isn’t when you consider that would work out at about $250 per parish! Or $3 per member? It isn’t when one witnesses the hopefulness that springs to life simply by the fact that we were willing to travel all the way to Kalaymyo and not stop in Yangon. It isn’t when one considers how much we have to give. If Myanmar ministers earn a stipend, it is rarely more than a US$1 a day. What would happen if each of our ministers “tithed” a stipend a month from the recent increase we all received? Teachers earn 50c a day. The theological lecturers at Tahan Theological College are not being paid regularly - but they continue to teach the 175 young, vibrant students for the ministry. Come on Church, our partners have opened their arms in welcome. Consider just some of the opportunities:
Capacity building for healthy communities
Imagine a largely subsistence community where money is not really in circulation. So projects must be small. Think in cents. A street sweeper working 12 hours a day, seven days a week earns 30c a day.
Chicken house - We have already established a pilot chicken house that has “meat chicken” on one floor and “egg chicken” on another. Potential profit is at least US$300 in six months (even after the church community have consumed some of the produce). It costs NZ$3000 to set up a house and put in the first stock of chicks. Restocking and feed cost NZ$500.
Water buffalo and carts - Not only do they increase the people’s capacity to work the paddy fields and transport goods, but they can be hired out and they calve. A team of two buffalo and a cart cost up to NZ$1000 per team (depending on the season).
Meat - A beast called a mithun (a breed of bison related to water buffalo) are indigenous to the Chin Hills. They are highly prized for their high quality, organic meat which can be sold in India. The profit is approximately US$300 per beast and the grazing costs very low.
Vegetables - The few packets of seed we sent last year all grew and produced a crop. What if somebody who “knows seeds” was to go and identify the best crop to plant?
Andrew Colgan and his friends from St Luke’s, Remuera, have established a micro-enterprise fund called Aotearoa Development Cooperative. They plan to return to Kalaymyo in December to train individuals in this special brand of development. The fund needs capital in order to be able to make micro loans.
Visiting the clinic reduced the three of us to tears. It was awful to see rubber gloves being washed. The labour ward and operating theatre were horrible. Where do we start?
Beds - wooden slats are not the best way to rest when you are sick. Hospital beds can be purchased in India for NZ$500 each.
Air conditioning - they want to air-condition one ward for the critically ill. It will cost NZ$1000.
Medical supplies - the basic essentials are non-existent. Any good ideas?
Theological students - there is a deep desire for post-graduate study outside Myanmar. The cost is NZ$5000 per year. It is highly unlikely that young women will be nominated for a scholarship - unless of course - it was specifically for young women! The GMO sponsors two theological scholarships a year - but there is a real desire for more.
Notebook computers - the lag in the introduction of technology is considerable. So what are out-dated caste-offs for us, as very valuable in Myanmar. But let’s send the best we can. Must have Windows and software. Battery life is also critical as power supply is intermittent.
Flash-drive/memory stick - call it what you will, I bet your youth group could find 20 lying in drawers that they no longer use since they bought themselves an iPod. These are like gold for theological students needing to store their work done on borrowed computers.
Digital cameras - You know that cheap 2 Meg one you don’t use any more?
And I haven’t even got to the Children’s Home yet. There are eight Synods in which we need to replicate the capacity building and computer technology.
Zo Synod - We have already made significant progress through the Moderator’s Appeal and have five buffalo and two carts in operation and have just released the funding for a second chicken house. They have also received two notebook computers.
Tedim Synod Church Centre and Manse - Since this burnt to the ground, the people have nowhere to gather for worship and the minister is without a home. We have released US$3000 for the first phase of the rebuild. But we still need funding to achieve the target of US$10,000 to finish the rebuild.
Lairam Synod - has been identified by the PCM as the next Synod to benefit from our friendship. If you want to be part of the project from the beginning - this is your chance.
It is impossible to find the words to adequately describe the experience. But Andrew Norton, Angela Norton and I are willing to try if you make contact.
Click here to download a donation form
Kids Friendly update
the latest issue of hands on is now available; click here to download
Youth Ministry update
It is with great pleasure that I can report that our national PYM team is now fully functional. With the recent addition of Steve Millward to the team we now have our fantastic four.
The team consists of:
Stephanie Redhead (Team Leader)
Judy Te Whiu
The team are working together using a strength-based approach rather than geographical areas, however Steve and Judy are looking after the North Island and Stephanie and Robyn are taking care of the South.
The mission statement for Presbyterian Youth Ministry is “making Jesus Christ known,” and the national team are passionate about helping youth leaders and youth ministries do that. We are able to assist you and your churches by providing networking, training, resourcing and advocacy.
To get in touch with anyone on the team or find out what is happening with PYM contact:
The PYM Office
03 208 6076
25 Robertson Street
Email addresses of Assembly Office staff
We have standardised email addresses for Assembly Office staff in order to simplify email set-up and administration.
Everyone working for General Assembly has the address firstname(at)presbyterian.org.nz. This includes staff at Assembly Office in Wellington as well as those working for Presbyterian Youth Ministry and other national staff.
Emails sent to our @pcanz.org.nz addresses will continue to be received, but replies will now come from our @presbyterian.org.nz addresses.
Help build a better future – support the CWS Christmas Appeal
The resource kit for this year’s Christmas Appeal has been sent to all parishes. In it you will find a range of information to help plan Advent services and promote the annual appeal. Resource orders – including Pacific and Asian language posters, service sheets, PowerPoint presentation on the theme and appeal envelopes – are due 6 October. A short DVD/video spot, “help build a better future”, will be available at the end of October. Please order now. Thanks for your ongoing support. It is only with YOUR help that CWS can fund its overseas partners in their efforts to overcome poverty and build a better future. Email cws(at)cws.org.nz or phone 0800 74 73 72 if you have not received your kit or if you require further information.
Hurricane Felix struck the isolated northern Caribbean coast of Nicaragua on 4 September with wind speeds of up to 260 km/hr. 7,795 houses have been destroyed and another 8,848 damaged. Almost 50,000 people have been affected. CWS partner, CEPAD, with 25 years experience working in the area, is providing assistance. The long-term impact will be significant in a region where an estimated 200,000 people live in poverty. Agriculture and fruit trees, on which much of the population depends for sustenance, have been severely damaged. CWS is appealing for donations to support the recovery work. Donate online at www.cws.org.nz, phone 0800 74 73 72 or post to CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8142. CEPAD executive director Dámaris Albuquerque, who was in New Zealand this time last year, has sent her thanks for the prayers, solidarity and funding.
Trade Week of Action
As part of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance’s Trade Week of Action,14-21 October, CWS is asking people to take action on New Zealand's role on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER). A letter to persuade the Minister of Trade, Mr Phil Goff, to stop putting unfair pressure on Pacific countries to adopt an agreement that is most favourable to Australia and New Zealand and will disadvantage Pacific countries can be downloaded from the CWS website along with background information on PACER. Other information, worship and action ideas including for World Food Day on 16 October are also available. Follow the link on www.cws.org.nz or contact cws(at)cws.org.nz/phone 0800 74 73 72. CWS sees this week as a significant opportunity for churches and concerned people to learn more about how current international trade rules keep poor people in poverty and to support global actions to ensure the right to food for all people.
Don’t forget to order your 2008 CWS Calendar
The new CWS calendar is a smaller-than-usual square format and retails for $6.00. It features “People at Work” in CWS partner projects. A great gift. Order your copies with payment to CWS PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8142. For more information: email- cws(at)cws.org.nz or visit- www.cws.org.nz
Churches' Agency on Social Issues
Availability of resources
With the coming closure of CASI, we have been looking at ways to ensure that resources on social issues are still available to churches. The Uniting Congregations of Aotearoa New Zealand (UCANZ) Office have indicated that they are willing to take responsibility for the remaining stocks of CASI publications. We will publish a list of what is available, and the contact details in the final issue of Broadsheet which will come out in November.
For a place to find out about current issues we recommend the Rural Bulletin, published monthly by Rural Women New Zealand. www.ruralwomen.org/ruralbulletin.htm). The first section of this is always a list of current issues that are open to public submissions, with details of how and when to make a submission.
For ongoing information and discussion on issues of crime, punishment and law enforcement, we recommend the Rethinking website (www.rethinking.org.nz) which is sponsored by the Salvation Army and the Prison Fellowship of New Zealand. Again they have a regular emailed newsletter that you can subscribe to.
Vodafone Live sells ‘adult’ content
A recent Salvation Army newsletter brought to our attention the fact that Vodafone is now selling age-restricted content through its mobile network. This is a new policy for Vodafone New Zealand (the “Content Standards” page of their website still says that while Vodafone in some countries does offer age restricted material, it is not available in New Zealand. However Maxim magazine content “for the boys” is already listed as available in the Entertainment section of the NZ Vodafone Live directory).
CASI considers that this is an irresponsible move by Vodafone. They claim that this material will be age restricted, but they have no way of confirming the age of the person currently holding and using any particular internet-capable mobile phone, nor can they limit where that person resends the pictures. The responsibility is placed back on parents to ensure that phones used by their children are barred from accessing adult content. Many parents may not even be aware that this material is available on the phone that they have given their child!
Vodafone’s own reports make it clear that this is a move driven by a profit motive. “The adult mobile content market …. is forecast to grow from $400 million revenue in 2004 to $5 billion in 2010”. “Key benefits” listed in the report are an “increase in portfolio of content by providing more age-restricted content…” and “… if age-restricted content is clearly labelled and positioned … users will be able to find it more easily” (White paper on Content Standards prepared for Vodafone by fathom partners
CASI will be making a protest to Vodafone, and we suggest that this is something that churches or presbyteries may also want to follow through on.
School of Ministry Scholarships
Foundations continue to be laid for the launch of the new Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in 2008. Next year’s student body will consist of three people commencing their ministry formation under the new internship programme, six final-year ordination students in Dunedin, and four distance students. A lot of effort is being concentrated on curriculum development as we move from a semester-based system to a series of block courses.
A survey of ministry and leadership training needs around the country was conducted in July. The results of the survey are currently being collated, and will inform the development of regional training opportunities in 2008.
Unfortunately, Jeremy Begbie has had to withdraw from teaching the Summer School (21 to 25 January) on Theology in the Company of the Arts. We have been very fortunate, however, in finding a very able replacement in Trevor Hart. Professor Hart is Principal of St Mary’s College at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, as well as being Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and Arts (ITIA).
ITIA aims to advance and enrich an active conversation between Christian theology and the arts - bringing rigorous theological thinking to the arts, and bringing the resources of the arts to the enterprise of theology. As part of this, it seeks to explore the role of the imagination in the arts, as part of a wider theological interest in the imaginative aspects of our humanity.
The Summer School is run in partnership with the University of Otago. People can either enroll in the paper through the University (it is offered as part of the Master of Ministry programme) or they can audit the paper through us. This means sitting in on the lectures and receiving the course book, but not having to do the assignments. The cost of auditing the paper in this way is $600. Funding assistance may be applied for. Direct all enquiries to me at the School of Ministry.
Introduction Work Group
The IWG still has five students to place for 2007 so please could Settlement Boards consider engaging with an Ordinand from the School of Ministry. Contact Amanda Guy, Introduction Work Group Convener. Ph: (03) 476 6559.
The Introduction Work Group is still seeking viable parish profiles for the 2007 Ordination Studies Ordinands. Our Ordinands are of high calibre experienced in many areas of the national Church and are ready to serve you at the completion of their studies this year. Please email profiles to the Convenor Amanda Guy or phone for further information on (03) 476-6559.
The first in a series of four group study resources produced by Assembly Office is hot of the press.
Copies of Coming of Age: bring on the baby boomers will be available from your parish minister. Ageing is something that affects all of us. As you reflect on the issues raised in the resource – elder abuse, financial hardship – also consider what actions you and your congregation might take to make life better for ageing Kiwis in your community.
Look out for the next resource in the series (due out in December), which is on youth wellness.
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 25 June 2007 Please amend the roll in your yearbook accordingly.
Changes in Status
Rev. Richard Gray, Minister Within the Bounds, South Canterbury Presbytery, to Minister Within the Bounds, Wellington Presbytery on 21 August 2007.
Removal from the roll:
Mrs Beth Nichol, former librarian of the Hewitson Library, died 2 September 2007.
Click here to see the full table of vacancies