Please use these quick links to navigate to the various sections of Bush Telegraph, or simply scroll down to read the magazine from top to bottom. Happy reading!
From the Moderator
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
Presbyterian Youth Ministry
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Presbyterian Research Centre
From the Moderator
Moderator’s white paper
I've just started processing the feedback from the white paper. I've had just on 90 submissions totalling 63,000 words! The level of engagement has been astonishing.
I'm deeply moved as I read this material; it’s both inspiring and despairing at the same time.
It is a huge privilege to have so many people share their heart with me. It's also sad because somewhere along the road we stopped listening to one another.
The responsibility of listening to what you've had to say is huge. I will do my very best to be faithful to your voice.
If you haven't already, you may like to have a look at some of my reports on some of the visits to our International partners this year. In every case I've listened carefully to hear what they might have to say to us in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. Read the reports on my blog
As we struggle to respond to events of global violence and terrorism the Christmas narrative has significant relevance, and my Advent prayer letter reflects on this. Read here
In the meantime, every blessing for the Christmas season and for the holidays ahead.
Nga mihi nui
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Turakina Maori Girl’s College
I am writing this on the day of the public announcement by the Minister of Education that Turakina will close its doors after serving and educating for 110 years. Many have supported and contributed and benefited from the school over the years. This is a rich and strong history.
Since the Minister announced a consultation about the school's future in August, many people have worked hard to provide a strong case why the school should remain open; they have sought to address the key issues that were raised. The Minister of Education has decided to close the school due to concerns regarding its falling roll and the financial position that this places the school in. I draw your attention to the pastoral email from the Convener of the Council concerning this.
At this very difficult time, I know that your ongoing prayers for the staff, students and whanau of Turakina, together with all of Te Aka Puaho, are deeply valued.
Around the world
Over recent months I wonder if you, like me, have been saddened by news of people who have been attacked, killed and injured in acts of terror? Others have had their lives turned upside down and are now refugees. At a time of the year when we celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, I encourage you and the church you are a part of to remember this, and pray and work for justice for all.
Council of Assembly matters
The Council met in November and the Council News is now available online. Read the Council News
I wrote to all church councils last month outlining the process for the moderator election. Church councils are encouraged to submit names to their presbytery clerk by 9 March 2016.
Assembly Office is closed over Christmas
The Assembly Office will be closed from 5pm on Wednesday, 23 December 2015 and will reopen again at 8.30am on Monday, 11 January 2016. For urgent matters over this time, please contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 027 569 1971.
Our thanks to you all
On behalf of the whole Assembly Office team, thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement and support during the year. We wish you a happy and Christ-centred Christmas and look forward to serving and supporting you in 2016.
Looking back with thanks
I’m writing this from Birmingham in the UK where I’m sharing at a Council for World Mission (CWM) conference with European partner churches. I relish these opportunities to share, inspire and be inspired with like-hearted and minded leaders from a range of cultures and contexts.
CWM has been an immense blessing to my ministry and to our church. This organisation funded the research (Attracting New Zealanders to Spiritual Life, AC Nielsen 2002) and the subsequent pilot of Kids Friendly with eight churches in 2004 and 2005. The success of the pilot inspired us to seek further funding to share Kids Friendly nationally. Again this was possible because of generous funders (Presbyterian Savings and Development Society, the Presbyterian Foundation and Presbyteries in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland) who caught the vision and supported my work nationally.
The stories of success, revival and the desire of our churches to embrace the Kids Friendly vision and ethos resulted in this ministry being included in the Assembly budget in 2009 and the Synod of Otago and Southland budget in 2011.
On the first afternoon of the conference delegates introduced themselves and their ministry highlights. I was both delighted and humbled to hear how four of the CWM member churches had been inspired by the Kids Friendly story, resources and ethos and are adapting them for their own context. Needless to say there have been lots of late night discussions and questions from these church leaders as they seek to inspire a Kids Friendly vision in their churches. I feel like the blessed matriarch encouraging her progeny!
Being Kids Friendly has become such an inherent value for so many of our churches that we take it for granted. Recently a children’s ministry leader who moved to Australia contacted me to say: “I didn’t realise how fortunate I was to be ministering in a Kids Friendly church until I joined my new church. I’m fighting a battle to change the font of the name badges so older members can read the children’s names and vice versa,” she said. “This is something that never would happen in my previous Kids Friendly church!”
Sometimes we need to look back (with thanks) to see just how far we’ve come.
Kids Friendly Coach
This year many churches have asked me for help with strategic or mission plans. It’s easy to over-complicate planning, but it is a powerful tool that can help energise, encourage and refocus your congregation.
There are many forms of strategic planning, but what it is important to remember is that planning is a process – not a result. The journey and who accompanies you on the journey is more important than the destination.
Over the next few issues of Bush Telegraph I’ll give you my take on Planning 101!
Who should be involved in the planning process? The short answer is “whoever wants to be”. The long answer is: initially primarily the governing body (session, church council, board of managers, deacon’s court), staff and key leaders, and then moving quickly to involve and inform the whole congregation. I will refer to this initial collection of people as the “leadership group”.
It is good to engage the congregation at an early stage, by seeking their focused comments. This can be done in a parish-wide planning day, or through questionnaires that are worked on in people’s own time and then collated. This becomes a resource for the leadership group.
However, to gather useful comment, leaders must start the thinking process by talking about the importance of personal perceptions and views. Encouraging the congregation to dream the big dream of what might be possible is also important. During worship services, in newsletters and in small groups, two or three of the following questions should be in front of people:
- What does this congregation do well? (strengths)
- What would we like to do better? (opportunities)
- How can we offer care and compassion to our community? (strategy)
- What are the needs in the community around us? (opportunities)
- What talents and resources has God gifted us with to enable us to meet these needs? (strengths)
- What are we called to do? (discernment of mission)
Within this mass of data, particular themes will emerge. This is a helpful prompt to early discussion in the smaller leadership group. Next time: what is a mission statement and do you need one?
Press Go Catalyst
Presbyterian Youth Ministry
Going Further - in Discipleship
On 7-13 Feb 2016, we’ll be heading to Great Barrier Island for Going Further. In 2015 our national discipleship camp at Orama sold out. Because of this demand, we’re offering a camping option to allow for additional participants. Costs vary from $329 to $399 depending on accommodation options. The camp is also a whole day longer this year.
We continue to hear how this camp has sparked a new impetus of faith in young adults who have attended. If you have young adults who would benefit from taking a week out from life, career or study to explore where God fits in their life, please invite them. More info at Going Further
Once again on from 18-25 Dec, we’ll be running our Christmas text message service. This year the script has been written by the young people at Calvin Community Church in Gore. 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. To follow Kiwiadvent, subscribe by sending the word “TEXT” to 8987.
It has been exciting to witness the PYM internship programme gaining traction this year as more churches become aware of it, and as our current interns grow theologically through their training. We are now accepting applications for 2016. [Full info]
National Youth Manager
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
On Wednesday, 2 December, 7:30pm at St Columba Presbyterian Church (Botany Downs, Auckland) we will be celebrating the graduation of eight ministry interns.
Those who are graduating are Michael Frost , Roxy Gahegan, Carlton Johnstone, David Kim, Jin Sook Kim, Jordan Redding, John Schoneveld and Mose Taumaoe. We would love to see you there. These graduation services are always a beautiful milestone moment in our life as a national church.
Also, at our December block course we are very excited to welcome into the programme our new interns: Michael Coutts (Kaimai), Sage Harris (Alpine), Mike Kirkby-Sing (Kaimai), Paula Levy (Central), Mark Maney (Northern) and Annie-Kate Williams (Southern).
Later in December, the KCML team will be having a two-day retreat to focus on course design for the internship programme. Please pray as we reflect, revise and envision the shape of training for this part of our work. Also over summer, staff are working on creating material in response to the invitation to present workshops for leaders and elders in various places in 2016.
Dean of Studies
Thank you to all those who expressed an interest, or who sent in a written application to be considered as a member of the Presbyterian Women Aotearoa New Zealand delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) at the United Nations in New York in March 2016.
The high quality of each written application and the sincere and thoughtful manner in which the questions were answered will be helpful in the selection process. Those who indicated their interest, but who did not formally apply cannot now be included in the delegation for March next year. The United Nations has requested that numbers be limited due to the considerable number of women from the United Nations signatory countries wishing to attend CSW60. Last year 9,000 women and girls came to New York.
CSW59 was a call to action to governments and civil society organisations to fully implement gender equality and to empower women and girls. This year will be crucial as goals are refined. It will be interesting to measure our own Church's progress against these goals and plans for the empowerment of women and girls.
Carol Grant, United Nations Convenor
Moving forward! Transition team update
We have had three women apply for the position of administrator/finance. The voting for this position will be completed by 30 November. We received no applications for the position of transition team coordinator. This is an important role, and the right person could inspire us to find another path to take us into the future. Please would you:
- Be prayerful in considering who can lead us forward.
- Be proactive in searching for and asking women who could fill this position.
PWANZ Advisory Group
Presbyterian Research Centre
As Wayne Matheson noted in last month’s Bush Telegraph, by the time you read this I will have finished up in my role as Director of the Presbyterian Research Centre. The Centre will be running as much as possible under business-as-usual conditions, with former archivist Yvonne Wilkie keeping a part-time eye on its work until the new Research Centre director is in place.
The Library will be doing all its usual things – contact email@example.com or phone 03 473 0771 for assistance; and for the Archive, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03 473 0777 if you have any queries.
Thank you for your support as the Centre grew into its new place within the Church.
2015 Christmas appeal
In a year marked by disaster, war and refugees, we need your support this Christmas to Help Rebuild Lives. Worship resources prepared by Rev Dr Geoff King, partner stories and more are available for you to use this Advent. You can order posters in 10 languages, service sheets and more envelopes from Emma on 0800 74 73 72. The Appeal is endorsed by Rt Rev Andrew Norton. We ask for your prayers and support for our 70th appeal, so that we can feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, provide clothes to those with none and welcome the refugees.
New videos available
CWS encourages you to watch messages from partners and friends on our 70th anniversary. Please share them with so that people can hear for themselves how much our partners appreciate your support. John Nduna of ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) and Helen Clark from the United Nations Development Programme contribute messages. There is also a video showing 70 years of visual history.
Give water or goats
It's never too late to buy a virtual gift. Water is popular as we raise funds for 630 more water tanks for HIV/AIDS widows and their families in Uganda. Cards and e-cards can be found on Gifted.
Your donations to the Syria Appeal were matched by a $70,000 grant from the NZ government. Thanks for your gifts that mean more refugees get help. Please keep refugees and staff of DSPR in your prayers.
Afghanistan Pakistan earthquake appeal
CWS launched an appeal after October's magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Local partner Community World Service is delivering food and winterisation kits to affected families, while its mobile health clinic has already provided care to thousands of people.
Presbyterian Investment Fund – reduction in interest rate paid on deposits
The Church Property Trustees advise that the interest rate paid on Presbyterian Investment Fund deposits will reduce from 4.00% to 3.75% per annum effective from the 1 December 2015. The Fund is open to parishes, but not to individuals. For further information, email the Trustees’ Executive Officer, Kos van Lier.
Graduation service for KCML interns
You are invited to the special service to mark the graduation of the Presbyterian Church’s newest ministers. The service will be held on Wed, 2 December at 7:30pm at St Columba Botany Downs (Auckland). All are welcome. RSVP to email@example.com
Calling Bible Class students
A Facebook group has been established for former members of Presbyterian Bible Classes from throughout New Zealand. The aim of the group, says co-ordinator Allan Little, is to invite, connect with and encourage the 'Bible Class' generation to continue their growing caring and sharing together in these different times. To join the group or for more info: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BibleClassEndures/
Children’s books: The Chronicles of Paki
The second set in series of children's books called The Chronicles of Paki - NZ's Untold Story has recently been launched. The most recent additions to the series tells the story of influence of Christianity in New Zealand from the 1830s through both Maori and Pakeha missionaries. Find out more at www.bigbookpublishing.co.nz
NZ Hymnbook Trust vacancy
A part-time manager is being sought to oversee the Trust’s activities. Applications close Feb 2016. For more information, click here
Practical Theology of Disability and Mental Health course, 1-5 Feb, 2016
Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago, and the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership invite you to enrol for a course on A Practical Theology of Disability and Mental Health by Professor John Swinton, 1-5 Feb, 2016. Download full details
Glen Innis vacancies
Ministers are entitled to one week’s free accommodation at Glen Innis every year. There are still a few slots available during the busy summer holiday period of Dec-Feb. Check out the vacancies here
Changes to the ministerial roll will be published in the next edition of Bush Telegraph (February 2016).
Check out our listing of national and regional events.