From the Moderator
Christmas - A time to be thankful
Christmas is a time to be thankful: for family, for the year that is coming to an end, for life and of course for the most wonderful gift of all – the babe of Bethlehem, the Saviour of the world.
Being thankful is an interesting concept and at times, I wonder if it is a fading value in modern society.
A counsellor Craig Lounsbrough writes: "Let's be frank, being thankful doesn't change the reality of what we're facing, it simply places the emphasis on what we have rather than what we don't have. It focuses us on the possibilities, not the liabilities. It's not about making anything different. It's about seeing things differently. When we see things differently, we engage those things differently.”
Entitlement is a value that seems to be increasing at the same rate that thankfulness is decreasing. Being thankful is entirely contrary to a sense of entitlement. The two don't do well with one another. In some ways, our modern society grooms us to believe that life owes us – “If I’m entitled, there is no need to be thankful. If I’m owed something and it's legitimately mine, why should I be thankful for it? Much less, if it's mine to begin with, why would the thought of thankfulness even cross my mind in the first place?”
Comfort and wealth are not seen as, "the result of a by-product of hard work, or undeserving blessing, or costly sacrifice, or unrelenting commitment to a goal or dream. It is seen simply as the product of our entitlement. If this is the case, then where is the need for thankfulness?"
Can I suggest that this is one key area where the Christian faith is very counter-culture. The God we worship behaves in the exact opposite way and calls us to do the same. Think for a moment of some of the great values of the Christian faith that we speak of and honour at Christmas time:
- Love (agape) – choosing to love even the unlovable – “God so loved the world that he gave…”
- Grace – God giving us what we have not earned or worked for
- Mercy – God not giving what we do deserve!
- Joy – “good news of great joy that will be for all the people”
- Saviour – someone doing for us what is impossible for us to do ourselves
- Peace – to all people on whom his favour rests
- Out of the least (Bethlehem) comes the greatest (King of all kings)
For these values, and many more we should be thankful.
This Christmas, let us be thankful for what we have. Someone might say, "That is easy for you. You don't know my situation". I understand that many people don’t have a lot and struggle under the pressure of Christmas. But thanksgiving is an attitude that can change our perspective on life. It might even open a door to inner peace when we thank God for the blessings we have. Maybe what we think is a right is actually a privilege. Blessings are everywhere if we look for them. That's called increasing your thanksgiving capacity. This Christmas, let us increase our thanksgiving capacity.
God Bless You,
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
A few years ago now, on Christmas Day, after the service, as our wider families gathered to share presents, food and drink, we heard an announcement that changed a lot of things – perceptions, knowledge, relationships. A curious, joyous and confused moment as one of those gathered announced that there was another son in the family, that none, apart from the announcer, knew had existed. To incarnate the announcement, a car pulled up outside, a little boy got out, was embraced and brought inside to meet his rather startled grandparents, nephews, nieces, cousins uncles and aunts.
Presents and presence coalesce. Histories are reviewed, futures re-calculated, wills rewritten. That’s what a baby does. Especially one that comes as a surprise. The relevancy of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ is displaced by the living flesh and blood of the new creation of this young child. For those contented beneficiaries, the child might be a disturbing confrontation; for those who long for some hopeful new beginning, the child means something else.
Over the next few weeks, thousands will come to our churches. Many will be longing for some words of hope and some act of kindness. What a wonderful opportunity we have to witness to the Good News.
General Assembly evaluation
Thank you to all those who completed evaluations. Miki Seifert from our office has done a great job in collating all the findings.
In the summary of her report she writes:
“The good news about GA12 is that almost all of the participants (92%), if given the opportunity, would most likely attend another General Assembly. Further, more than half (55%) felt that overall it was a positive experience, with another 43% finding it to be a mixture of good and not so good moments. Not surprisingly, the “not so good” moments coalesced around the too full agenda and long hours, and the sexuality debate.
Respondents overwhelming found the opening at Te Maungarongo Marae an amazing and inspiring experience, despite some logistical issues. For 56%, it was the first time to the national marae. Some wished that there had been time allocated to visit the wharenui and see the carvings about which Ray Coster had spoken in his speech.
There was great satisfaction expressed regarding the quality of the speakers and the hospitality, food and accommodation. Around 70% found the worship and venue satisfying, though a variety of suggestions for improvement were offered. The quality of discussion and debate had the lowest rating with 40% finding it below expectations.
What everyone liked best about the Assembly was also what they had the least amount of time for: fellowship. Time and time again, respondents mentioned that the opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues, as well as to meet and build relationships with new ones, gave them a sense of belonging, of being part of the greater body of the Church. Through hearing about what is happening in other areas of the country and in other contexts, they felt connected to the wider Church and could see the many different cultures that are part of the PCANZ. This was especially true for those from smaller and rural congregations.”
Assembly minutes and matters for consideration by presbyteries and church councils
All Assembly minutes will be posted online soon, after being confirmed by the Council of Assembly at its meeting. Other matters for consideration will be sent out over the coming months.
Council of Assembly matters
The Council met in November and the Council News is now available online.
Ministry Development Programme
In order for ministers to retain their Certificate of Good Standing, it is essential that they participate in the Ministry Development Programme and complete their first ministry review by October 2013. Many have already benefited from the review process. A minister will not be in Good Standing if they do not have a review that is less than three years old as at October 2013. This does not apply to retired ministers, unless they are in, or plan to return to, some active, recognised ministry role. Full details here.
Certificates of Good standing are valid for six years with a review needed to be undertaken every three years.
Please note that the guidelines have been updated to take account of ministers serving overseas and active ministers who are not currently serving in parish or chaplaincy positions.
Assembly Office Christmas closing
The Assembly Office closes at 5pm on 21 December and opens again on Monday 7 January at 8.30am. For any urgent matters over this time call me on 0274452521 or 09 4290279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of our whole Assembly Office team, I would like to thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement and support over the last year. We wish you a happy and joy-filled Christmas and look forward to serving and supporting you in 2013.
It has been a time of consolidation for me after a first few busy weeks in this role; starting with a trip to Vanuatu, preparing for General Assembly, and then hosting members of the PCM as they visited the South Island after Assembly.
Things have settled into a new phase. I have done some preaching, which I have enjoyed, and I’ve spent time setting up parish projects and visits to Myanmar, India and Vanuatu next year. I had a good meeting with the Friends of Jagadhri in Hamilton gaining insight into their work and the time of transition they are in, as the mission in India undergoes a process of change.
I have also been liaising with Paula and Roger Levy, our staff at Talua College, Vanuatu, to arrange their summer break back in NZ before they return for another two-year appointment. They are spending several weeks here visiting churches that support them, as well as having a holiday with family and friends.
I have made some contact with PCANZ congregations who are involved in mission in different areas around the world. There are some very impressive projects being undertaken by a wide variety of people. I want to highlight a new link on the PCANZ website, which will enable our congregations to share the wider work of their members who serve overseas. You can visit the link here.
I also want to remind you that I am available to preach and meet with congregations around the country, to help build strong connections with the work of Global Mission. I have accepted several invitations for next year and look forward to adding a few more. Please contact me if you would like your congregation to engage with the work of the PCANZ Global Mission.
May grace and truth be with you and among you, as you celebrate Christmas and enjoy the summer break.
Global Mission Coordinator
Presbyterian Youth Ministry
Enrolments are still open for the Bachelor of Ministry PYM internship (formerly called the Diploma in Presbyterian Youth Ministry). We are changing the name so it is clearer that people receive the Church based award (Diploma) as part of doing a BMin at Laidlaw College. We have our first participants signing up for 2013, which is exciting and officially gets this training initiative off the ground. You can download a prospectus from here. And Laidlaw’s one can be downloaded here.
Registration for Going Further: in discipleship closes this month (20 December).
Here is a link to the programme: http://goingfurther.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/GF2012-programme2.pdf.
After all the positive feedback running Kiwieaster, we are doing it again for Christmas and are calling it Kiwiadvent. Subscribers to Kiwadvent will be able to follow the week leading up to the birth of Jesus through a series of messages delivered by text, Facebook or Twitter. This is thanks to a team of young adults from St John’s in the City, Wellington, who wrote the messages through the guidance of Rev Allister Lane. To follow Kiwiadvent, subscribe by sending the word ‘TEXT’ to 8987. On the website, there are posters, power points and a press release to help you advertise it to you congregation and local community. Full info can be found here.
PYM would like to thank those of you who work with young people, support those that do, and create space for them to participate and belong to your faith community. Gordon and I would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas and pray that you may know God’s leading in 2013 and have the courage to follow where he desires to take your faith community.
Youth Ministry Development leader
The shoots of the planting
I’ve been in children’s ministry all my life. First as a recipient and then, from the age of 14, as a “minister”. When I started working in children’s ministry at St Heliers Presbyterian 15 years ago, our wise minister, Rev Martin Baker, advised me not to try to quantify my effectiveness. Having come from a career in public relations, outcomes were very important to me. Over the years, I’ve learnt to “do my best and let God do the rest”, but I must admit I do get a thrill when I hear that Kids Friendly has helped churches find new life.
Last week I received this email: “We are now experiencing real positive results of being Kids Friendly for so long. Our minister is taking 11 baptisms this month and three confirmations. I want to let you know that the planting of Kids Friendly all those years ago was just what we needed. The shoots are the churches of the future.”
My travels around the country yield wonderful stories too. I was recently inspired by the team at St Andrew’s Waipukurau who impact their community in such tangible ways. I was also excited to plan a new venture with St David’s in Palmerston North to launch a Sunday playgroup with Christian teaching as an addition to their already very successful playgroup ministry.
An important lesson I have learned in my years of ministry is that God works to germinate the seeds we plant in God’s time. I first shared the Kids Friendly vision with the Khandallah Presbyterian session six years ago and the congregation two years after that, so it was wonderful to meet with the new minister, Rev Ryhan Prasad, and children’s ministry leader, Nikki Hughes recently, and find a “Kids Friendly” church.
I spent a weekend in November with the people of Te Aka Puaho at Ohope marae. Being “Kids Friendly” was the focus of their Synod meeting. Again I was inspired by stories of new connections being made with children and families through holiday programmes at the marae, playgroups and child friendly Sunday worship.
Kids Friendly Coach
It was a pleasure to attend Rev Peter Cheyne’s induction as minister to the Mornington Parish, Dunedin and attend two Presbyterian church events.
The event in Ashburton attracted women from Christchurch to Dunedin. A leader from Riding for the Disabled, spoke to the group about how riding horses empowers disabled people. Our special project 2012 focuses on disabilities within the Church. Ashburton’s bring-and-buy stall raised over $150 for this project. Rev Sheena Dickson communicated her parish’s experience of the Christchurch earthquake and on-going ministry, saying she was overwhelmed with the generosity. “A Braided River of Faith” books sold out at the event.
The meeting in Levin called “Who is my Neighbour?” began with a local Neighbourhood Watch coordinator advising how to keep possessions safe. Rev Pamela Tankersley then asked participants where they thought women around the world were not safe. There were reports of women living with HIV Aids, women raped while collecting water from wells in South Sudan, women dying or injured because they had chosen as Christians to stay in the Middle East where Syria is under fire.
These are issues that will be discussed at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York. Pamela and our Pacific Island representative Fa’aolataga Leasi, will be attending in March 2013, to advocate for women in New Zealand and the Pacific. The theme is “Elimination and Prevention of all forms of Violence against Women and Girls”.
At the Levin meeting, Heather Tate also announced that six young bright-eyed women in Levin and Wanganui will be approached to assist Presbyterian Women in future planning.
“A Braided River of Faith” featuring 63 Presbyterian Women is a great Christmas gift for a friend or relative. To order call Rev Judy Bedford (06) 3235849.
We all wish you love, joy and peace at Christmas.
Presbyterian Investment Fund
The Church Property Trustees advise that the interest rate paid on Presbyterian Investment Fund deposits remains at five percent. This rate became effective from 1 February 2012. The Fund is open to parishes, but not to individuals. For further information, email the Trustees’ Executive Officer Kos van Lier.
Glen Innis vacancies
January 28 - February 4 Homestead/Cottage
February 18 - 25 Cottage
March 4 - 11 Homestead/Cottage
To the Ends of the Earth: Bibles in the Alexander Turnbull Library exhibition
A visually sumptuous exploration of religious texts from the Alexander Turnbull Library’s collections. It will be held until 19 January 2013, at Turnbull Gallery, 1st Floor, National Library building, Molesworth Street. As part of the exhibition, on 5 December, there will be an opportunity to hear international expert Professor David Norton talking about the King James Bible. He has written a history of the Bible as literature, has produced an edited version of the King James Bible, and has published a history of its text. For more information visit http://natlib.govt.nz/events.
International Volunteer Day Dec 5
On this day VNZ will be joined with community organisations around New Zealand and the world, to celebrate and give thanks to the countless hours that have been gifted by Volunteers in 2012. VNZ have created a promotional toolkit which you can implement in your organisation to recognise your Volunteer team. For more information visit http://www.volunteeringnz.org.nz/.
Musica Balkanica Choir presents Christmas in the Balkans
Christmas in the Balkans consists of a selection of beautiful carols from Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Hungary. The performance is an opportunity to discover what Christmas means to people from a different culture, and to gain a new appreciation of their musical diversity. When: Sun 9 Dec, 7pm at St Mark’s Presbyterian Church, 150 Withells Rd, Avonhead, Christchurch. Admission: Free (Koha/donation to cover costs).
Best Travel Fund
The Bill and Margaret Best Travel Fund now has two application deadlines - 30 April and 31 October. The purpose of the Fund is to assist ministers, elders and lay ministry staff to further develop their area of service to the Church. For more information, click here or contact Miki Seifert on (04) 381-8282 or email@example.com.
United Nations Walk for Women 2012
UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand invites you to walk/run/bike individually or as a group to support development projects for women in the Pacific and progress toward Millennium Development Goal Three –‘To promote gender equality and empower women’. You set the date, the place and the pace. Have a quiet walk with a friend or organise a larger walk to show your solidarity for women in the Pacific with a suggested contribution of $5-$15 per person. To donate or for more information visit the website http://www.unwomen.org.nz/?p=44#more-44
Theological essay competition
An essay competition for theology students and young pastors is asking for a response to the concept of “Paradise” as a source of inspiration for the renewal of global social and economic structures. Theology students or pastors, 35 years of age or younger, are invited to submit essays in English, French, Spanish or German. Deadline for applications is 23 December 2012. Further information about the competition is available on the World Communion of Reformed Church’s website http://www.wcrc.ch.
New worship CD and workshops
Benji Carey-Smith, a theology student at The Shepherds Bible College in Hastings, is releasing an album of 12 church songs in December. From January, he and three other musicians are traveling around the upper North Island for three weeks, teaching some of the new songs, running workshops and leading services. At this stage, they have 8-9 churches lined up and still looking for others. For more information contact Benji on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 027 462 1271.
Study Leave Reports needed – now!
Have you undertaken study leave at any time during the past 10 years? Do you have a study leave report languishing on your desk or filed in your study, or almost completed on your computer? If so, NOW is the time to share it with the rest of the Church. Please find it, dust it off, give it last finishing touches if required and send it to us – we will be happy to accept them in whatever format you have them - paper copies or electronic versions. The reports can then be made available online, and will be a wonderful resource for many. We will also be interested to receive copies of relevant dissertations, theses and doctoral research. As is the current procedure, hard copies will continue to be filed with the Presbyterian Archives Research Centre. Study leave reports already filed with the Archives are listed here. The postal address is The Registrar, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Knox College, Arden Street, Opoho, Dunedin 9010. Email: email@example.com
PCANZ Yearbook 2012
The Church’s 2012 Yearbook information has been updated to include recent changes to contact details. Please download for December 2012 here using the username and password emailed to you in March.
“Earthquake theology” and “Greed Line”
Insights into “earthquake theology” and a glimpse into the idea of the “Greed Line” were two results of the Christchurch visit of the Asian Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev Dr Kim Dong Sung. The prominent Presbyterian minister visited Christchurch in November for a whirlwind visit of the Christchurch community and a tour of Christian World Service.
During his stay, he met with local Presbyterian clergy and other clergy in the hard hit eastern suburbs, to hear how they were coping with protracted demands on their material and spiritual resources.
In a public meeting at CWS, Rev Kim heard about the emergence of “earthquake theology” in Christchurch. He said that it was useful information to take back to the World Council of Churches, to help shape prayer advice for those praying for the city.
He also talked briefly about an idea from the World Council of Churches, to setup a “Greed Line” that would measure both economic and ecological needs and excesses.
“We have come to realise that our mission is not just about lifting people out of poverty, it’s about how we live together, and to do this we need to be willing to talk about sin and greed,’’ he said.
The "Greed Line" is due to be unveiled next year in Busan, South Korea, at the WCC General Assembly.
Ordination and Inductions:
Rev Ian Pittendreigh, Minister, Flagstaff Community Church, Southern Presbytery, to Minister, Tauranga-Bethlehem Community Church, Kaimai Presbytery, 8 November 2012.
Changes in status:
Rev Kenneth Baker, Minister, Coastal Unity Parish, Southern Presbytery, to Minister Emeritus, Southern Presbytery, 4 November 2012.
Rev Tom Etuata, Minister, Titahi Bay – St Timothy’s Presbyterian Church, Wellington Presbytery, to Minister Emeritus, Wellington Presbytery, 6 November 2012.
The Very Rev Pamela Tankersley, Global Mission Coordinator, Assembly Office, Wellington Presbytery, to Minister Emerita, Wellington Presbytery, 31 October 2012.
Changes in Co-Operative Venture Ministries:
Whangarei – St James Uniting Church, Northern Presbytery, is no longer a cooperative venture.
Rev Des Botting completed his term as Stated Supply at Otorohanga-St David’s Presbyterian Church, Kaimai Presbytery, 30 November 2012.
Rev John Cromarty, Minister Emeritus, Southern Presbytery, started an eight month term as 75% Stated Supply at Invercargill – St David’s Presbyterian Church, Southern Presbytery, on 4 November 2012.
Rev Paul Sinclair, Methodist Minister, Hamilton/Dinsdale – St Clare’s Cooperating Parish, Kaimai Presbytery, will completed his term on 6 January 2013.
Rev Dallas Ronald Clerk, Minister Emeritus, Northern Presbytery, died on 8 November 2012.
Hornby Presbyterian Church has changed its name to Hornby – Hope Presbyterian Church, 31/8/2012. Whangarei – St James Uniting Church, Northern Presbytery, has changed its name to Onerahi – St James Church, 7 October 2012.
Check out our listing of national and regional events.