From the Moderator
Following the General Assembly, my first job as Moderator was to accompany Doreen Riddell and Andrew Bell to Jagadhri in North India. Doreen was the founding Principal of St Thomas School. The current principal is Kamla Singh. The school grounds back on to the Christian Hospital, of which Dr Cecil Harrison is the Director.
Mrs Singh and Dr Harrison were among the North Indian delegation that attended our General Assembly to mark 100 years of mission by the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand in the Punjab area. Ours was a reciprocal visit. It coincided with the General Assembly of the Church of North India, which was held in Pathankot, about eight hours drive from Jagadhri.
The North Indian mission began in 1908 when Dr William Porteous established a medical mission in the Punjab area on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand.
Nowadays our involvement in this mission is not to send personnel but rather to offer prayer and financial support for the work of the Christian Hospital and St Thomas School. The Global Mission Office, the Association of Presbyterian Women and the Friends of Jagadhri have played a significant role in this regard over the years. The gift of an operating microscope in 2008, for example, has enabled the hospital to perform hundreds of cataract surgeries with intraocular implants.
The Christian Hospital has plans to establish a hospice, develop courses in Medical Laboratory Technology and upgrade their nursing course to BSc level, as required by the Government. St Thomas School has plans to extend and upgrade its facilities. I was impressed by the strong Christian ethos of both school and hospital and by their profile in the community. Mrs Singh and Dr Harrison provide outstanding leadership. People’s health and educational needs are tended to regardless of their faith or social status.
It is not always easy being a Christian in Indian society, as recent outbursts of communal violence in places like Orissa have shown. At the Church of North India’s General Assembly we heard a moving testimony from a survivor of the Orissa violence. He had been struck down with an axe-blow to the neck and left for dead. Thousands of Christians have been displaced and their homes destroyed.
Even when there is no violence, Christians often suffer from discrimination, and their pleas for assistance from the authorities often fall on deaf ears.
How can we help?
We can pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Church of North India. We can pray for both the victims and perpetrators of religious violence. We can give thanks for peacemakers, and for the positive Christian witness provided by the likes of the Christian Hospital and St Thomas School in Jagadhri.
We can also give generously to support their work. For the next two years I am making this historical mission the focus of a Moderator’s Special Appeal. This is being done in consultation with the Global Mission Office. The Appeal was launched at the Sunday morning communion service at the General Assembly, where over $2,700 was received from Assembly commissioners. This was a great start towards our goal of raising $100,000.
If you and/or your church would like to get on board with this Appeal, please contact either myself or the Global Mission Office. We would love to hear from you.
With warm regards in Christ,
Assembly Office update
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Our General Assembly has been and gone. I have a sense of real gratitude for the enormous job that was done by the local arrangements team, our staff, the Business Work Group and all those who worked behind the scenes to make it happen. Thank you to all of you.
Assembly feed back
The Business Work Group is having an assessment and debrief meeting in a couple of weeks time. If you have any further comments or suggestions to make regarding things at the General Assembly you valued, or the areas in which we could improve, please email me and I will bring your comments to the discussion.
General Assembly decisions
A summary of decisions made at the General Assembly which may have a direct impact on congregations and Presbyteries has been sent out, and can also be downloaded. You will note that there are two matters which need to be dealt with under the special legislative procedure. The General Assembly minutes will be available on the Church web site later this month.
Council of Assembly
The first meeting of the new Council of Assembly will be held in late November in Wellington.
The Council meets three times per year, in March, July and November, as well as holding conference calls to deal with matters requiring immediate attention.
The November meeting will include an orientation for new members, and a presentation on the role and meaning of governance. We will be picking up on the issues that the General Assembly asked the Council to respond to. Among other things, we will be looking at a proposal to strengthen out ministry to young people by both building on the achievements and activities of the past; and taking seriously the challenge of addressing the situation of an increasing number of congregations who have few or no young people in their midst.
Council for World Mission
We are one of the 31 member churches, from 25 different countries, that make up CWM. It is our most significant international mission partnership. Once every three years the General Secretaries of these churches hold a meeting to discuss and reflect on the work of their respective churches, and to look for opportunities to enhance cooperation and share ideas. I have just returned from a CWM meeting held in Cape Town. CWM provides each of our churches with resources to fund innovative mission projects. But perhaps the greatest opportunities CWM provides are for people to have exposure to, and participate in, the mission work of member churches. You can find out more about the mission and training opportunities provided by CWM by contacting Andrew Bell or find out more by checking the CWM web site, and the GMO website. It was so encouraging hearing how CWM churches, in the developing nations especially, are at the forefront of mission and outreach to people with HIV/Aids, and addressing issues of interracial violence and human trafficking.
We give thanks to God for the General Assembly, for the work of those who organised and ran the event, and for the opportunities for worship, hospitality and the sharing of experiences and resources that it created.
We pray for our new Moderator, and for those who attending for the first time Leadership Sub-committee, Resource Sub-committee and Council of Assembly meetings in November.
We give thanks for our membership in CWM, and for the wonderful mission and ministry work carried out by member churches.
Kids Friendly update
Visit the Kids Friendly website
Are we reaching the next generation?
Integral to my role as Kids Friendly Coach is the sharing of uplifting stories of the way our churches are ministering to, and with, children. “Hands On”, our Kids Friendly newsletter (download a copy of the latest “Hands On”) is a forum for sharing our churches’ successes. My presentations to presbyteries and churches, is another opportunity for me to tell encouraging stories. I love to share these stories, I believe they truly motivate others to try new ways of “being church” for their communities of children and families.
In my work I’ve been lovingly teased about my passion and enthusiasm and called names like “passionate Presbyterian” and “joy germ”. They are labels I like. They keep me appearing positive even when I’m not feeling it. However, a recent request from Rev Dr Kevin Ward for statistics on how many churches have “more than a handful” of children in church got me thinking about my “Pollyanna” approach. I don’t actually have the statistics. I presume they are to be found somewhere in the computers of the Church, and I’d love someone to offer to produce a summary for Kids Friendly, I don’t have the time for this.
But Kevin’s question prompted me to face a reality, namely that when I share the Kids Friendly vision at a presbytery, the uptake is about 10 percent. On average more than half the churches say they are not interested in meeting with me because they don’t have children. There are also some presbyteries who have not invited me to share Kids Friendly because none of their churches have children.
Kevin’s probing made me question my strategy. While I still think motivating, inspiring and equipping churches is valid, maybe I also need to challenge our Church more overtly to embrace the most, “critical factor in stopping the rot” as Kevin Ward put it in his September 2008 Candour article.
Current American statistics indicate that nearly half of all people who accept Jesus Christ do so before reaching the age of 13, and that two out of three Christians made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday. Can we apply these statistics to our secular New Zealand society? I don’t know, but I do know that when I present to groups of church goers, 90 percent tell me they came to church as children and now bring their children.
At General Assembly I would have loved to share a powerful DVD “Next Generation”, produced by the Australian Children’s Ministry Network, but this was not possible. I urge you to view it and share it with your church. It can be viewed at www.cmn.org.au (click on “Next Generation DVD” top left, this will bring up options for downloading).
And please don’t just show it. Explain that after viewing the DVD there will be two minutes silence to listen to what God is saying. This is a powerful tool that I hope will inspire and challenge you in your ministry with, and to, children.
Global Mission update
Visit the Global Mission website
The toll of anti-Christian violence in Orissa, from 24 August to 29 September, 2008:
- Districts hit - 14
- Villages destroyed - 300
- Houses burnt - 4,300
- Homeless - 50,000
- People murdered - 57
- Fathers, pastors/nuns injured - 10
- Women gang raped - 2
- Men, women, children injured - 18,000
- Christian schools and colleges destroyed – 13
Hasn’t the persecution of Christians finished? Those who stand strong in their faith have the right to speak freely, don’t they?
Well, if the above figures are correct we need to re-examine our beliefs on the issue of Christian persecution. It is not only a biblical and historical phenomenon but something that is happening right now, this very moment as you read this text.
I am drawn back to a recent conversation I had with our General Assembly guests from India. They had received information from their families concerning violence against their home churches. Talking to them, I became aware how we as brothers and sisters in Christ, cry when they cry and weep when they weep. We are inexpressibly tied together in Christ; their suffering must affect us, and vice-versa.
Jesus, when he entered Jerusalem, wept for his people; he knew about the suffering to come. He wept for the people who would later have him crucified. How much should we weep for our “relations in Christ” who are suffering so much? How should we as a Christian church, a Church involved in God’s mission, react to the persecution of our brothers and sisters around the world, and in our own back yard?
Mission is not only the preaching of the Gospel, it is not only the action of aid and development; I believe it is also the Church as representatives of Christ; the walking along side each other, the carrying on the shoulders, in both times of joy and times of pain.
As the Church here in New Zealand, we could write letters of encouragement and issue cries of outrage at the atrocities we are hearing via the media. We no longer have to be a Church that says little in light of such mistreatment of our fellow Christians. We can as God’s children stand up and be counted and be bright lights on a hill rather than lights hidden under a bushel. We can nurture the relationships we have with churches around the world, and carry them on our shoulders when they are weak, just as they would when we are frail and tired.
Some of our relationships around the world
St Thomas School: Support the school by contributing to the Principals salary, or providing scholarship funds for students.
Christian Hospital: Provide funds for hospital equipment, or sponsor a student nurse.
Hope House: “Sinethemba” is the Xhosa word for “We have hope”. This project was set up to provide hope and help to troubled young people and their families.
Marapyane Christian Fellowship: This Church was established in November 2004 in South Africa and carries out a ministry in the area of AIDS.
Trinity Fellowship in Kenya: A rural training school providing life skills to school leavers.
Messiah Ministries in Zambia: A ministry for orphans, street children and widows; provides education, skills training, shelter, health, spiritual guidance and reintegration.
Livingstone Youth Centre: Providing support for youth in Livingston, Zambia.
Garden Presbyterian Church: Runs programmes to assist people with micro-enterprise projects e.g. tie-dying, sewing and knitting.
Mtendere Presbyterian Mission School: The School was established to provide education for the most disadvantaged children, in an atmosphere of love and spiritual care.
Chilenje Presbyterian Church in Zambia: A Tailoring training school for widows; they make school uniforms for vulnerable children.
The Akany Avoko in Madagascar: A refuge for young girls who would otherwise be in prison, awaiting trial to prove their innocence against allegations of petty crime.
Ebule Urban & Rural Workshops: These two training facilities provide practical skills such as agriculture, mechanics and carpentry.
Talua Ministry Training School: The Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu’s ministry training college with over one hundred students.
Onesua Presbyterian School & Tata Primary School: Partner with these schools and provide much needed equipment and teaching resources
Kathryn McDaniel: Kathryn has spent many years in Thailand working and ministering to prisoners in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok prisons.
Nightlight: A ministry in urban Bangkok, which reaches out to women and children working on the street. Their vision is to share the “light of the world”, in both word and deed, to those who live in darkness.
Child trafficking: The Church of Christ in Thailand is running an organisation to help prostitutes leave their trade, and to prevent vulnerable children falling into prostitution.
National Mission update
Visit the National Mission website
Susan Jones has presented an overview of reviews to the Gisborne/Hawkes Bay Presbytery (Susan and John Daniel facilitated a review process through one of the local churches in that presbytery). For further information about the ministry development programme, contact Juliette Bowater, personnel advisor.
Church Life Survey
You may remember that last year presbyteries received information about a “Church Life Survey”. Some 1100 people from the Presbyterian Church responded by filling in the questionnaire and sending it in. The collated information has finally become available via the CLS committee, in the next fortnight an overview of this will be in the National Mission section of the Church website.
It is anticipated that a programme for training supervisors will start early in 2009. A recent survey done in the Otago Southland area indicated that most ministers receive supervision. However, the feedback also indicated that there are only a few pastorally-focused supervisors available. More information on the course, costs and localities will be available before the end of this year.
Youth Ministry update
Visit the Youth Ministry website
Come as you are
One of the big key things highlighted during my discussions and research on “Best Practise Youth Ministry” is the significance of young people involvement in all-age worship. If we want our young people to be lifelong followers of Christ, then attendance at the Friday night youth programme isn’t going to be enough. Our young people need to be involved in the life of the Church, and in particular, experience integrated all-age worship. The big question is: how can this be done well?
The stories I am sharing with you this month illustrate the point that if integrated all-age worship is going to work, we need to accept young people where they are at, and ensure we send them the message, “You are welcome here, come as you are”.
One regular Friday night youth programme attendee decided to come to a Sunday morning service with some of her regular church going friends. This was her first time at a church service so she was a little nervous but looking forward to it. Her mother went out and brought pantyhose for her to wear and she made sure her nice clothes were clean and ironed. When she arrived at church she was surprised to see her friends wearing their normal clothes, like jeans and hoodies. After the service talking to her youth leader she exclaimed, “I’m wearing pantyhose, I never wear pantyhose! I didn’t know you could wear normal clothes to church”. Her youth leader wisely responded, “You can just come as you are”. I am very pleased to report that this young lady now comes to church regularly in her “normal clothes”, and just last week brought her Mum to church for the first time. Praise God.
In another program there was a young man who identified himself as agnostic. He has been a “regular” now for about two years. Recently the youth group held their annual spring camp and he attended. During camp there were many opportunities for the young people to spend quiet time with God, which he participated in, and he did the activities. After camp was over the youth leader sent each young person a card, in this young man’s card the comment was simply: “I know this whole God thing isn’t always your thing but if you want to talk at any stage and ask questions then don’t be afraid to. We love having you as part of us”. This reply came back from him: “Thank you so much, I feel accepted, and I really appreciated the card. Thank you very much”! I am happy to say in this case, as with the one above, the young man has kept coming to youth group and has asked some really great questions of the leaders.
My challenge to you all this month is to put some serious thought into the messages that you are putting out to young people through your services. Are your services a place where people of all ages can “come as they are” and find their place? Once again, I’d love to hear from churches who are doing this well. Please contact me with your stories and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the APW website
APW and the Global Mission Office partner in Christian response to HIV/AIDS
APW is very pleased to report that the 2008 General Assembly unanimously supported the following recommendations:
- That the Assembly acknowledges the serious challenge HIV/AIDS poses to health in New Zealand and the Pacific and commits the Presbyterian Church to address issues of poverty and gender equality which are the major factors in the spread of HIV/AIDS.
- That Assembly supports the initiative of the Association of Presbyterian Women and the Global Mission Office to increase understanding and awareness of HIV/AIDS, among church members and the wider community in New Zealand and the Pacific.
This year, in conjunction with the Global Mission Office, a revised HIV/AIDS brochure has been printed and copies will be distributed to all APW groups. This brochure has already been distributed in the latest Global Mission Gazette, and will be in the upcoming SPANZ magazine. Copies have been sent to Ecumenical Women in New York, of which APW is a member, and to other contacts made through the work of APW at the Commission on the Status of Women. The intention is for the brochure to be used as widely as possible in our churches, community organisations and any other areas of interest. Please make yourself familiar with the brochure, and distribute it to, and use it within, your own network of connections.
HIV/AIDS infection rates have increased in Oceania and the potential for epidemic growth in the Pacific is very real. The Christian church in NZ and the Pacific has an important role in responding to the pandemic and preventing further spread of the virus. The world needs Christians to be the people of God providing compassion, love, belonging and hope to sufferers, their families and carers.
For copies of the HIV/AIDS brochure please contact: Mary McIntyre, APW United Nations Convener, 18 Hall Road, Bannockburn, RD 2. Cromwell 9384. Email: email@example.com
Best Travel Fund
The deadline to apply to the Best Travel Fund has been extended this year to Wednesday 12 November 2008 (it is normally 31 October). This is due to the General Assembly. The 2009 deadline will still be 31 October. Information on the fund is available
Opoho Presbyterian Church
Celebrating 100 years of Presbyterian life and witness on Signal Hill
Labour Weekend, 2009
Plan your 2009 holidays so you can be there!
Please contact Philip Somerville, Parish Clerk, if you would like to receive detailed information about the centennial celebrations:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone: 03 473 8862.
Synod of Otago & Southland to host
Cariboo Presbyterian Church, British Columbia
The Synod of Otago and Southland will host the founders of the Cariboo Presbyterian Church, David and Linda Webber, in June 2009. They will be guest speakers at the conference for Rural Parishes.
The Cariboo Presbyterian Church parish is 80,000 square kilometres, the size of Otago and Southland.
- It was planted 20 years ago.
- They use a house church model.
- They plant congregations where no other church goes.
- They work with Canadian First Nations People.
- They have a paid staff of four.
- They see themselves as missionaries.
- They travel 2500 kilometres a week.
- It’s a mission of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.
If you would like to host David and Linda Webber in your part of the country, to hear their story and learn from their experience, please contact:
Bruce Fraser, Synod’s Mission Advisor:
Email email@example.com or phone 03 477 7362.
GA08 Lost & Found Property
A couple of items of property were found at the General Assembly have been handed into the Assembly Office. If you lost something at General Assembly, please call during working hours, phone 04 801 6000.
CWS Christmas Appeal
A reminder that orders for CWS Christmas Appeal resources should now be with CWS to ensure all material reaches parishes in time for Advent Sunday, 30 November. If you have not yet ordered your resources, please send the form to CWS asap. You can post it to: PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8142, or fax 03 3652 919 or phone 0800 74 73 72 during office hours. The theme this year is “Keep Hope Alive” and focuses on CWS partners working with communities living in conflict. A short film spot is available in addition to PowerPoint presentations, appeal envelopes, service sheets, and posters. Please contact CWS to request a speaker: 0800 74 73 72 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Appeals for Darfur and Haiti are still open. Although both crises have dropped from media headlines, the situation for people remains desperate. Haiti has suffered from a series of hurricanes and storms, causing extensive damage throughout the country. The natural disasters come on top of escalating food prices and political instability that were already making it difficult for poor communities to survive. CWS is receiving donations for immediate relief and longer term rebuilding. In Darfur, 4 million people remain effected by five years of conflict. They are dependent on humanitarian aid for food, water, shelter, household necessities, health, education, and counselling. Please pray for the people of Haiti and Darfur. Donate online at www.cws.org.nz or phone 0800 74 73 72 to support the appeals. Cheques can be sent to Christian World Service, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8142.
CWS Calendar 2009
CWS’s 2009 calendar celebrates 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It features beautiful photos of CWS partners at work to ensure everyone enjoys the rights they deserve. In the popular 18cm x 18cm size, the calendar is available now for only $6.50. Phone 0800 74 73 72 to order.
Thinking about your Christmas shopping? CWS has a range of virtual gifts that bring hope and change to communities living in poverty. Including ducks, water, goats and gardens, CWS “Just Gifts” keep on giving. By donating to one of the CWS “Just Gift” partner programmes you will receive a card with an image of the virtual gift, a description of what it is and an explanation of how it helps families in need. So, give your family and friends a gift with a difference this year. Check out www.cws.org.nz/what-can-i-do or contact CWS for a catalogue on 0800 74 73 72.
Sweat free clothing
Another gift idea! Micah Clothing offers an affordable range of Fairtrade and certified organic cotton t-shirts, jeans and cardigans. Founded on the principles of Micah 6:8 to “Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly”, Micah Clothing is committed to helping improve the lives of those currently living in poverty, through Fairtrade. They will donate $5 to CWS when you add CWS to the comments box on their online order form. See www.micahclothing.co.nz
CWS asks for your continued prayers for the people of Zimbabwe. The country remains in crisis with fears growing about the threats of famine and fighting. See the CWS website/resources/topics for more information.
Hewitson Library latest acquisitions
Click here to see the new acquisitions list for September 2008.
Church Register Changes for Bush Telegraph as at 28 October 2008
Ordination and Inductions:
- Rev Sue Fenton, Licentiate, Wellington Presbytery, to Minister, Presbytery of Wellington Pioneer Mission Ministry Co-ordinator, Wellington Presbytery, 21 October 2008.
- Rev Heather Kennedy, Local Ministry Team, First Presbyterian Church, Southland Presbytery to Local Ordained Ministry, First Presbyterian Church, Southland Presbytery 25 September, 2008.
Re-instatement to the Roll (reg. 212):
Changes in Status:
- Rev Catriona Cairns, Minister, St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Wellington Presbytery, to Other Recognised Minister, 1 September 2008.
Changes in Co-Operative Venture Ministries:
- Rev Rhys Pearson, Minister, St Andrew’s Wanganui, Manawatu-Wanganui Presbytery, retired 8 September 2008, transfer to Bay of Plenty Presbytery.
- Rev Paul Kim, Asian Liaison Officer, Member North Shore Presbytery to Minister Emeriti North Shore Presbytery, 23 September 2008.
- Rev Desmond Turnbull, Minister Emeritus, Taranaki Presbytery, died 5 September 2008.
- Rev Harry Swadling, Minister Emeritus, Wellington Presbytery, died 2 October 2008.
Visit the Ministerial Vacancies page for a complete list of the latest regional vacancies in New Zealand.
The vacancies featured in Bush Telegraph are those that have been received within the previous month for listing on the Church’s website, General Vacancies.
If you would like to list your vacancy please email the Website Administrator.
- Youth Worker (20 Hours/week) – Geraldine
- Youth Worker - East Taieri Church,Mosgiel
- 2009 Internships – at Hornby Presbyterian Community Church
- Ordained minister – Auckland
- Mayfield - Minister Vacancy
- 2009 Internship at First Presbyterian Church - Papakura
- Kapiti Uniting Parish Minister
- Full Time Assistant Pastor - Tauranga
- Waimakariri shared ministry - Canterbury
- Kids Friendly Coach
- Youth Work (Hornby Presbyterian Community Church)
- Minister Vacancy - Kaikoura
Visit the Events page for upcoming events near you
PYM - Mission Trip to Nepal Nov-Dec 2008