From the Moderator
Christmas is the time set apart for us to celebrate the birth not of a principle, but a person – Jesus. Jesus is, according to Paul, God’s indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9: 15) The world in which we live – with all its joys and sorrows – is the world God stepped into to embrace us with his love and to redeem us from our sin.
People on every continent and in every age have sought to understand the spiritual dimension of life. They have gazed upon the image of God in nature and creation and been impressed, but never satisfied. As people we long for relationship, not just ideas. Christmas reminds us that God is relational – he comes to us where we are.
Part of the wonder of God’s love in this “indescribable gift” of Christmas is the strangeness of the story. Jesus’ birth was unusual; all the people in Nazareth would have been aware of that. It was obvious to all who knew Mary that she conceived before she was married. The evil-minded always love to direct their darts at those who have a reputation for purity – and none was more pure than Mary. What gossip did she sustain? What jibes did Jesus receive as a boy in the town as he grew up?
Has something happened, or did you do something in the past that you now regret? Always remember that you are not your past mistakes. We must never allow ourselves to be labelled by a time and place when something bad or unfortunate happened. Christmas is a message about new hope and a fresh beginning.
Consider also Jesus’ genealogy. He had tainted lineage. His family tree was nothing to boast about. There were some famous names on it, but also some infamous names. David is there, but so is Bathsheba. Ruth is there, but so is Rahab the prostitute or the promiscuous woman.
Does your ancestry give you concern? Then no one understands you better than Jesus. Always remember that you are not your family tree! There is a huge distance between your roots and the branch of the tree where you live growing now.
Perhaps you feel as though you have been at a disadvantage in life because you lost a parent or someone very special early in your life. There is a tradition in the Church that Jesus lost his father Joseph when he was still very young. If so, then his early years and working life in Nazareth would not have been easy for him. He threw himself into life as a carpenter and refused to become a victim of circumstances.
As well as being a wonderful family celebration, Christmas can also highlight for many of us the difficulties and problems of life that we live with and face daily. For those who are struggling this Christmas, I encourage you to consider that Jesus is worthy of your confidence. He knows and understands. Christmas reminds us that Christianity is all about a person who loves and embraces us. Christianity is not just about doctrines and teachings, ideas and philosophies. Christmas reminds us of the presence of One who had so much against him in life; the One who comes to give us a fresh start and a new chance.
May this Christmas be for all in the Presbyterian Church a celebration of Jesus’ living relationship with us offering new hope, fresh beginning and loving embrace.
A Christmas Prayer: Lord, thank you for reminding me that you have worn my flesh, measured its frailty and know just how I feel. Help me to lean in even closer to you for comfort, assurance and help as the world once again celebrates your birth. Amen
God bless you
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
Dear Friends and Colleagues
I think some of the most inspiring words for this season of Advent can be found in Pope Francis’s speech last week. He said that “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security”.
Reuters reported that the Pope called unfettered capitalism a “new tyranny”. Francis urged politicians to ‘attack the structural causes of inequality’.” He also called on rich people to share their wealth: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life,” he said, “today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills”.
I really want to be part of a Church that celebrates a fulfilment of hope which comes from the experience of God’s radical grace and hospitality. It is hard, I know, as we are all drawn into the kind of events that happily see us sometimes spending and eating a great deal more than what is good for us and our planet. But what a contrast: the Christian message stands in comparison to a society that measures its success and fulfilment in how much we can consume.
Farewell to Yvonne Wilkie
I would like to take the opportunity to honour the contribution of Yvonne Wilkie, director of the Presbyterian Archives, who is retiring after 20 years service.
Yvonne’s dedication and passion for her role is well known and was seen in the commitment and energy she bought to her responsibilities. Yvonne was the driving force behind modernisation of the Church’s archival facilities, which has ensured the Church’s treasures will be safe for generations to come. Yvonne has left a lasting legacy and will be greatly missed.
Voting for the Moderator-elect, 2016: Stage 1 – deadline Friday 7 February 2014
As the first stage in the election process, all presbyteries, the Pacific Islands Synod and Te Aka Puaho are asked to nominate one person each to enter the voting process coordinated by the Nominating Committee.
This person will become the Moderator at the 2016 General Assembly. The outcome of this voting process will be announced at the 2014 General Assembly.
Church councils may suggest names for consideration by a meeting of their presbytery, Synod or Te Aka Puaho. Each presbytery, Synod and Te Aka Puaho should send one name to the convenor of the Nominating Committee, the Rev Mary Jane Konings, 347 Wai iti Road, Timaru 7910 or by email: email@example.com
The nomination needs to be with Mary-Jane by Friday, 7 February 2014.
Please note that the presbyteries eligible to nominate a person, are those presbyteries and UDCs that existed at the conclusion of our last General Assembly in October 2012. The Moderator’s appointment remains as a two-year term.
Deadline for reports, proposals and recommendations to the 2014 General Assembly
After consultation with presbyteries and the Assembly Business Work Group, a deadline has been set for receiving all reports and proposals for next year’s General Assembly. All material must be received by 31 March 2014.
This timeframe will enable us to facilitate a consultative process with presbyteries prior to the Assembly. In this way, we will be able to fulfil the 2012 Assembly’s decision supporting presbyteries’ participation in the setting of the Assembly agenda.
Feedback from discussions
We have distributed to all presbyteries and church councils our second round of discussion documents seeking responses in preparation for the 2014 General Assembly. Please send your responses to our office by 31 March 2014.
Use of buildings and the Human Rights Act
Please find here the Human Rights Commission response to a letter from our Church requesting further information on the use of church buildings. If you have further queries about their response, please write to them directly and send a copy of your letter and their response to me.
Calling all song writers, poets and writers of prayers!
Submissions are invited for a resource of prayers for the gathering of the General Assembly in 2014.
Themes to be covered: collects, blessings, cries for help, truth telling, wonder, illumination, gratitude and sent.
Examples of the style of prayers can be found in the writings of John O’Donohue Benedictus; Walter Brueggmann’s Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth and Malcolm Guite’s Sounding The Seasons, Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year.
An editorial team will review all submissions and have this resource available at the next Assembly.
Submissions can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 March 2014.
Assembly Office is closed over Christmas
The Assembly Office will be closed from 5pm on Friday 20 December 2013 and will reopen again at 8am on Monday 6 January 2014. For any urgent matters over this time, please contact me by email email@example.com or phone 027 4452521 or 09 4290279.
Our thanks to you all
On behalf of all those who serve our Church as employees of the General Assembly, I would like to extend to you our thanks and gratitude for your support over this year and wish you the peace and joy of the Christmas season.
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Knox Centre Theology Study Grants
Will you be studying theology in 2014? If so, don’t forget to apply for a Knox Centre Theology Study Grant.
The Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership is offering a limited number of scholarships in 2014, to Presbyterians doing part-time or full-time theological studies through Otago University, Auckland University, Laidlaw College, Carey Baptist College and the Ecumenical Institute of Distance Theological Studies.
If you know of anyone who might benefit from such a grant, please encourage them to apply. They should send a letter of application detailing their course of study (and costs), and what church they’re involved in. They should also include a brief letter of support from someone in their church (preferably their minister, so we can discuss their church involvement and the course of study).
The deadline for applications is 31 March 2014. Letters should be sent to the Principal, Very Rev Dr Graham Redding, at Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Knox College, Arden Street, Opoho, Dunedin 9010 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The amounts awarded are dependent on the number of applications received and the amount of trust funds available. The number of theology papers being taken and previous amounts awarded are also taken into consideration.
Catherine van Dorp
Registrar, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Since July, the Presbyterian Church has been hosting the Council for World Mission programme, Training in Mission. There are nine TIM participants from CWM member countries, including Petra Malcolm from New Zealand, and after three months in Aotearoa, they completed their time on the programme in Fiji, after spending nearly a month in Kiribati. I would like to express my gratitude to Angela Norton and Rowan Cant for their contribution as coordinators for this programme, which required a significant commitment over several months. Their efforts ensured that each of the participants enjoyed a stimulating experience, extending and broadening their concept of mission and challenging them to think deeply about their response to God’s call on their lives. Applications for next year’s programme, which begins in Taiwan in March, are still open, and can be downloaded here.
Members of St Alban’s Church in Chartwell, Hamilton, have been supporting mission in Vanuatu for several years. This has led to them hosting the Talua Theological College’s pre-school teacher, Sasa Josef, who is in Hamilton for a few weeks observing and learning about pre-school teaching practice and techniques. This has been an excellent conclusion to the kindy project and sincere thanks are extended to the people of St Albans for their ongoing commitment to mission in Vanuatu, and for all the work that has enabled us to bring Sasa to New Zealand.
Early in December a team of young adults will be departing for the Global Mission/PYM Going Global programme in Myanmar. We will spend just under two weeks being hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar, visiting projects and participating in the Christmas activities at Tahan Theological College. Another team led by the Ricebowl Mission will also be visiting Myanmar in January. These trips are sure to be a fantastic experience for those on both teams and will continue to strengthen our partnership with the PCM.
It is has been a full and busy year engaging with our church partners and helping individuals and congregations get connected in mission. I would like 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. Please contact me if you would like your congregation to learn more about our Global Mission partnerships.
May grace and truth be with you and among you, as you celebrate Christmas and enjoy the summer break.
Global Mission Coordinator
Building faith communities
It’s pageant time. All around the country, leaders, parents and kids are building and painting sets, ironing costumes, rehearsing age-old songs and learning lines. The excitement is building and sometimes the busyness of it all threatens to overwhelm, but there’s one time-tested surety “it will be right on the night” or morning, as is mostly the case. Why? Because when we come together as a community of all ages to share one of the most hopeful stories of our faith, we can’t help but be uplifted and inspired.
It’s human to yearn for community and some of the most successful stories coming from our churches are about building all age communities.
Hilltop Family Church (a Fresh Expression led by a team from Flagstaff) promoted the Dunedin city “Light Party” to their new congregation. “A few showed interest,” says Cheryl Harray one of the leaders and Kids Friendly advisor, “but when we decided to hire a bus and go as a church they ALL wanted to come. Families reported loving the experience of doing this together more than the actual event”.
And community is key to building sustainable (sticky) faith. Fuller Youth Institute’s “Sticky Faith” survey on sustainable faith found that, small, family-based (community) churches are more likely to produce sustainable faith in people, while dynamic youth and children’s ministries with large numbers of participants do not necessarily grow Christians for life.
Intergenerational relationships are fostered in churches such as Hilltop, as all ages explore faith together.
In Christianity Today’s 2011 book of the year Almost Christian, Kenda Creasy Dean explores what faithful teens had in common. One of the things they shared was that they “belonged to a community” where they learnt how to be a Christian. Jesus was all about growing a community. He and his disciples prayed, ate and lived together as they grew in their understanding of God. If we are to grow Christians, we must place children and youth in community with other Christians who can show them the way.
Dean says: “Awakening faith in young people does not depend on how hard we press young people to love God, but on how much we show them that we do”.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas.
Kids Friendly Coach
Presbyterian Research Centre
Yvonne Wilkie, director of the Presbyterian Archives, is retiring after 20 years at the helm of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Archives Research Centre.
We wish to acknowledge her vision, determination and very hard work, building the Presbyterian Archives into one of New Zealand’s foremost archival repositories. It has grown from small beginnings in the basement of the Knox College Hewitson Wing, to a Centre fit for purpose on the ground and first floors of the same. Its reputation stands alongside like institutions, and researchers from all walks of life use its treasures.
Thank you, Yvonne, and now it is your turn to follow the many research paths you have been working on over the years. We look forward to seeing the results.
Anne Jackman, Director, Presbyterian Research Centre
Myself and a few of our women were guests of the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and his wife Lady Janine Mateparae at a reception at Government House recently. His Excellency’s theme for 2013 – Celebrating New Zealand Women – was chosen in recognition of the 120th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. In his closing remarks Sir Jerry encouraged guests to “continue to be true to yourselves as we all, women and men, continue to make our society a better one for those that follow after us”.
Next year a few of our national committee members will complete their term, so we will be looking for a treasurer, Pacific island representative and communications convenor. Please pray for these positions and step up to come and work with us.
Manawatu/Wanganui Presbyterial women support the Women’s Refuge/Prisoners’ Aid with gifts for Christmas. Many families are in distress due to the circumstances their families find themselves in at this time of year and providing gifts – nothing expensive – like a surprise a toy for a child, sweets, soap and flannel or hand towel, a wee dish or a small Christmas plate means a lot to them. This is one of many groups of Presbyterian women who will be doing similar projects this Christmas that will make a difference for families – especially children – struggling in these difficult times. Keep up the good work ladies and well done; this is our calling and our mission.
Isaiah 9: 6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
The most important celebration of all is the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and as we wind up for the year – we stop, pause, breathe and reflect - wow it’s been quite a year! Thanks be to God for his love and guidance. When all is said and done “We are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty”. (Luke 17:10) May the love, joy and peace of the baby of Christmas be with us all this Christmas.
Lafulafu Vanila Ekenasio
Philippines typhoon appeal
CWS has launched an appeal for Filipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan. CWS is working with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, which is one of six members of the coordinated ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance response. ACT Alliance is appealing for US$14.1 million to help those affected across the region. The first truckloads of food aid packed by local people in Manila have been delivered in more remote areas on Samar. Read more about the response.
Please continue to pray for Filipinos who have been affected, the National Council of Churches and the ACT Alliance as they help. Please, also pray that the right kind of aid reaches those who need it in time.
CWS is grateful for donations flooding into the Christchurch office. CWS has received a $100,000 matching grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for this work. Filipinos need help now. Please donate to the Philippines Typhoon Appeal.
Share water, share life
The 68th Christmas Appeal will be launched on Advent Sunday. Christian World Service is asking for your support so that more communities can escape poverty and injustice. In a world when clean, safe water is becoming more precious, CWS partners are doing what they can to make sure poor people have enough for what they need. Read stories of what has been achieved and why water justice is needed. All materials can be downloaded or ordered on disk. Posters can be downloaded or ordered in 10 languages. For resources call Emma at: 0800 74 73 72. Please promote the appeal in your parish.
Gifts that help
CWS has something to suit everyone: from compost to animals to legal training — available as cards/magnets or e-cards. Choose something fun or serious and know it will help. Check out the Gifted range.
Volunteers needed for parenting helpline
Are you passionate about parenting? Our helpline, supporting families with parenting concerns, is looking for volunteer telephone support workers. To find out more about Parent Help and the training provided we invite you to an information session on Wednesday 4 December 7-8.30pm at the Parent Help offices, level 4, 173 Victoria Street, Wellington. Register to attend on 04 802 5767 or email us at email@example.com
Parachute music festival
Held at Mystery Creek in Hamilton on 24-26 January 2014, you can find out more about the full line-up, including how to get hold of tickets at www.parachutefestival.com. If you haven’t been before and want to know what you’re getting yourself in for, check out this Parachute video.
Contact Parachute if you would like a pack with posters and stickers for your church. (Make sure you tell them how many you would like.)
Electric organ for sale
A Farfisa brand electric organ, assembled by Wellard Industries, is available for sale in Christchurch. The organ has two manuals and a one octave pedal board. It is in good condition and is about fourteen years old. Our church organist has played it and indicates that it is in good condition. Viewing strictly by appointment in Cromwell, and carriage would be the responsibility of the purchaser.
Offers to Tony Bishop, 13 Barry Avenue, Cromwell. Phone 03 445 4566 or cell: 021 213 3145
World Vision is hosting a Just Church event on 20-22 March 2014 in South Auckland. Through the Just Church conversation World Vision New Zealand seeks to resource the Church in New Zealand to engage holistically and sustainably with injustice both globally and locally. For more information, visit www.worldvision.org.nz/justchurch.
Presbyterian Investment Fund
The Church Property Trustees advise that the interest rate paid on Presbyterian Investment Fund deposits remains at 5.0 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.
Wise Response, a group of leading academics, environmentalists, business people and lawyers launched the Wise Response Appeal, has initiated a petition calling for the government to undertake a wide-ranging environmental risk assessment that takes into account ecological security, economic security, energy and climate security, business continuity and genuine well-being. For more information or to sign the petition, visit www.wiseresponse.org.nz
Make a submission on the review of Burial & Cremation in New Zealand
The Government has released a Review of the Legal Framework for Burial and Cremation in New Zealand. The Law Commission is consulting with Kiwis about the report. You can make a submission or comment, but it must be received by 20 December 2013. Use the online form at www.lawcom.govt.nz or email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to: Burial Review, Law Commission, PO Box 2590, Wellington 6011, DX SP 23534. More info >
Boys Brigade ICONZ appeals for support
In order to continue, Boys Brigade including ICONZ, needs urgent prayer, practical and financial support. More information on this appeal can be found on the Church website.
Invitation to join the 7th Bridgebuilders International Consultation
The 7th Bridgebuilders International Consultation will be held in Auckland on 4-8 April 2014 at the St Francis Retreat Centre, 50 Hillsborough Road, Mt Roskill. To register or for more information check out www.bridgebuilders.org.nz
Glen Innis Vacancies
For vacancies during the month of February, check out the Glen Innis section of our website.
Presbyterian Church Yearbook 2013
The Church’s 2013 Yearbook information has been updated to include recent changes to contact details. Please download changes up to November here using the username and password emailed to you in April 2013.
Removals from roll (inactive in ordained ministry within the Presbyterian Church 10.32B)
Rev Fa'avae Karamelu Le'aupepe removed from the roll 15 October 2013.
Rev John RP Hodgson removed from the roll 19 November 2013.
Removals from roll
Rev Ock Youn Jang (David) removed from the Ministerial Roll of the Presbyterian Church 6 September 2013 (under section 561 Old Book of Order).
Rev Karl Lamb removed from the Ministerial Roll of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, 23 October 2013 under the Book of Order 15.27 (n).
Correction: St Giles, Wellington Presbytery, was dissolved on 15 October 2013.
Lakeside Church dissolved the pastoral tie of the Reverend Karl Lamb on 23 October 2013 under Book of Order 15.27(m).
Homestead Community Church changed its name to Point Chevalier Homestead Community Church on 14 November 2013.
Epsom Presbyterian Church and Community Centre was dissolved 7 November 2013.
Ordination and inductions
Philip Charles Warner, Locally Ordained Minister Probationary, St Andrew’s Marton, Central Presbytery, 24 November 2013.
Check out our listing of national and regional events.