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From the Moderator
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services
Presbyterian Youth Ministry
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Presbyterian Research Centre
Just a thought…
We tend to get a little down about the Church from time-to-time and this is, no doubt, with some justification. But a little bit of positive thinking is not a bad thing. I received this from a ministry colleague and friend Alan Vink a few days ago and it’s worthwhile taking on board, I reckon.
1 percent conversion rate is doable. Yes… you read that right… 1 percent… just 1 percent annual conversion rate.
This week, I want to create a realistic scenario. Please hang in with me for a few moments.
Let’s imagine that as gospel-believing churches in Aotearoa we agree to a corporate goal of reaching 1 percent of Kiwis next year and every year thereafter. The calculation will look something like this:
As I write this morning, NZ’s resident population is 4,799,986 to be exact. Let’s round it up to 5,000,000 men, women and children for easy reckoning (and which it probably will be in January next year). 1 percent of 5 million is 50,000 people.
Let’s assume there are 3000 gospel-believing churches in New Zealand. Therefore, if every church “owned” the corporate goal of 1 percent conversion rate, that would mean every church would need to see 16.6 people on average reached next year (trust me, I used to be a Maths teacher!) But it is not quite as simple as that.
If we spread our 50,000 new Christians over our 3000 churches we would need to factor in current church size to make this goal “fair”. A small church would try and reach 7-8 people next year, a medium-size church (150-250 attendance) about 17 people, and a large church, 25 or more people. And that’s saying nothing about the superb effort many para-church ministries are contributing to this goal as well, which would be over and above. It seems to me that this is doable, doesn’t it?
According to missiologists and sociologists, a 1 percent of conversion rate every year (after 10 years this would equate to a 10 percent increase and so on), would make a significant impact on our nation.
But the most beautiful thing of all is that at least another 50,000 people will be in God’s family and Christ followers, and that would be so very good, wouldn’t it?’
Why don’t we think like this? At the very worst we’d learn what not to do, and who knows how this might affect our churches?
I say: “Think positive, ” and let’s try it!
Moderator Presbyterian Church Aotearoa New Zealand
I write this, grateful for the opportunity to have an insight into the work of the Assembly Executive Secretary and glad to be able to “hand it back” to Wayne Matheson when he returns to the Assembly office on 31 July after eight weeks overseas.
A real highlight for this month has been visiting Connect, our annual youth leaders gathering, in Waikanae. I felt very grateful for the energy and vitality of our church represented in that gathering and for the commitment of both our national PYM staff and other leaders and those who give so much of themselves in their local congregation to youth ministry.
Connect is one of many events to nurture leaders of all ages within our Church. There is a Transformers - Raising Up Young Leaders camp, run by Kids Friendly, coming up in September; in November is the Presbyterian Women-led Women's Assembly; and early in the New Year, the Avalon Ministries and Clevedon Presbyterian Choosing Change: Believing Your Congregation Can Flourish leadership conference is on. Read more about these and other events on the Church's website.
Resources for congregations for the upcoming election
As you reflect on issues for the upcoming general election, a reminder of the “We say Yes” statement, which is available on our website. Download or view the “We Say Yes” statement
Update your office bearer contacts
We use electronic communication to share information, update on important matters and pass on other news. Our office’s ability to do this is dependent on church councils advising updates to key contact people, changes in email etc. Please pass on any changes to Lynne from our office, so that we can ensure we are communicating with the appropriate office bearers.
Assembly minutes and matters for consideration by presbyteries and church councils
Assembly minutes have been posted online. Read or download Assembly minutes here. Other matters for consideration have been sent out to church councils and presbyteries for consideration, including proposed changes to our Book of Order.
Calling a newly trained minister
This year five people will complete their training as interns. They represent a range of backgrounds and experiences. All are eager to commit themselves to ministry within the life of a congregation. Profiles for each of them will shortly be available from the Rev Allister Lane who coordinates introductions and discussions between final-year interns and ministry settlement boards. For more information, please contact Allister.
Thanks for your engagement in God’s mission.
Sharon Ross Ensor
Acting Assembly Executive Secretary
Reforming and transforming
Are you commemorating the Reformation with the children of your faith community? We’ve created lots of resources for use in the church service and children’s programme to help you do this. Robin has written an intergenerational worship service including prayers, talks, activities, stories, psalms and songs. Check out these intergenerational Reformation resources on our website and please share your resources and ideas too.
We’re currently planning our 12th Transformers – Raising Up Young Leaders camp. These camps are made possible by the generous funding of Presbyterian Savings and Development Society who have supported us for the nine years of Transformers RUYL camps. Hundreds of young people have participated in these camps, committed their lives to living and leading like Jesus and been mentored and encouraged by an adult(s) in their churches. The stories we hear back from the kids and their mentors are very encouraging. More about RUYL camps
Rev Brett Johnstone (Somervell Presbyterian) says: “Transformers has been the best thing to happen in our church in the last 5 years”. The exciting progression of this initiative is that now we have past Transformers LITs (Leaders in Training) returning to run the camps – a dream come true.
Joanna Laxon from Somervell Presbyterian says: “I first attended a Transformers – Raising Up Young Leaders camp when I was 10. I loved it and kept going back. At 14 I was invited to be a junior leader of a small group. This meant I could apply what I had learned and pass it on to the younger participants. I grew in faith and became a more committed Christian. I also developed skills to work with young people of different cultures and contexts. I’ve found it hugely rewarding contributing in this way. I’m now a senior leader at Transformers. I love feeling like I know what I am doing. It’s given me so much confidence.”
Our next camp is at Ngaruawahia from 8 – 10 September. Find out more on our website.
Kids Friendly Coach
The election is looming! Our Church is committed to reducing economic inequality. So what can we look for in party manifestos? Through our involvement in the NZCCSS, the Presbyterian Church has helped shape the New Zealand Equality Network’s policy framework for the elections, which says to counter economic inequality three areas must be targeted: income inequality, wealth inequality, and long-term drivers of inequality.
Income inequality is about imbalances in salaries or benefits. To reduce this kind of inequality, policies are needed to:
- recognise the monetary value of currently unpaid work, such as bringing up children
- provide skills training for access good, high-paying jobs
- raise lower wages and curb excessive executive pay
- increase benefits and child support payments
- increasing income tax rates for those most able to contribute more.
Wealth inequality is about imbalances in assets (things people own or have saved, such as houses, cars, cash in the bank and investments). In this area policies are need to:
- ensure more employees benefit if the company they work for grows in value
- provide a tax on wealth either annually or when assets are sold
- redistribute tax to families currently unable to build up wealth stakes
- fund Government building affordable housing to boost the wealth of poorer families.
Long-term drivers of inequality include inability to access quality health and education, negative social attitudes, and people’s inability to empathise with different communities. Policies are needed to:
- invest more in healthcare so all kiwis can access quality support
- invest more in education so all children and young people can reach their full potential
- limit donations to political parties to prevent the wealthy gaining undue influence
- increase public awareness of inequality issues through high-quality broadcasting that serves the public interest
- bring diverse communities together to increase empathy and understanding.
To find about more about the Equality Network and its more than 40 member organisations go to www.equalitynetwork.org.nz.
Presbyterian representative on NZCCSS
Our work in Vanuatu
Several congregational groups have been in Vanuatu recently including youth-focused Going Global programmes and a church construction project. More details will be published in the Nambawan newsletter which will be published later in the year.
Neville and Gloria Jones and Martyn and Annette Vincent offer hospitality and back-up support to our teams, as well as giving them an insight into the breadth of our involvement in Vanuatu. All teams return home grateful for the support they have received from these couples. You can read the Jones’ and Vincents’ blogs about their service in Vanuatu here: http://jonesvanuatu.blogspot.co.nz/ and http://vincentsinvanuatu.blogspot.co.nz/.
I love Taiwan
Mark Jane has just returned from the two-week long “I Love Taiwan” programme. Mark is a member of the Waiuku and Districts Combined Church and had a great time being hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (PCT). This annual programme hosts large numbers of young adults, inviting them to share in the life, culture and mission of the PCT.
A Going Global programme will be held in Myanmar in November and December of this year. The team of young adults will spend time in training and preparation before participating in outreach programmes of the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. Please contact me if you are interested in being part of an all-age team to travel to Myanmar next year to help build our partnership.
Pray for new Vanuatu President
Some exciting news from Vanuatu in the past month was the election of the Rev Obed Moses as their new President. Obed is a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu and was active in ministry until the day of his election, as pastor of the large Paton Memorial Church in Port Vila. One report stated that he was chosen due to his reputation “as a man of impeccable moral character”. Please pray for him as he assumes the responsibility of this important new role.
As always, you are welcome to contact me to learn about how you, your congregation or young adults can become involved in our Global Mission work; or invite me to speak at your church, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Mission co-ordinator
Wow, what an incredible weekend we have just had! What an awesome Church we belong to! With nearly 200 youth leaders descending on Waikanae, the weekend was filled with worship to God led by Tokoroa PIC, with Bible readings and prayer in Maori, English, many different Pacific Island languages, Korean and sign language.
The weekend included four keynote training sessions, 30 workshops, spiritual direction, intentional conversations, networking, a Laidlaw scholarship giveaway and much, much more.
Connect is not possible with the help of our Connect planning team, sponsors, workshop presenters, spiritual directors, worship team, the Church and many other youth leaders. Thank you to all who made it possible.
Here is some of the feedback:
- “I enjoyed every minute – the worship; the style; the atmosphere; the engagement with people so genuinely at whatever level they are at; the heart for God. I loved the workshops, the keynotes, and – well, really, everything about it.”
- “The people who ran the workshops had great resources and knowledge of the content.”
- “Thanks for taking on the big topics.”
- “Such an uplifting fellowship coming together; the diverse participation from our other cultures.”
- “For me it was a challenge as I did not know anyone when I first came, but quickly discovered that I had stepped into an incredibly open and welcoming community that has only encouraged me to strive for the same heart in my own community.”
- “I now feel a deeper connection with God.”
- “I learned a lot of new things, things we can apply to ministry at home.”
Key Leader Retreat (27-29 Nov)
As a new initiative, PYM is inviting one key youth leader per church, who attended Connect 2017 (or agrees to attend Connect 2018) to join us at the Key Leaders Retreat in Queenstown on 27-29 November for free. Key youth leaders who have not attended Connect 2017 can still attend the retreat for $149.
National Youth Manager
We are delighted to welcome Sashika Hendry to the team for the next few months. Sashika is a third-year history student undertaking a semester-long Humanities internship course through the University of Otago, and will be working with us for eight hours per week on a themed project.
Although still in the early stages, her project will involve some aspect of the Punjab Indian Mission which ran from 1907 to 1969. Sashika’s project will bring together relevant resources from within the Hewitson Library and the Presbyterian Archives and will involve scanning photographs, describing archival material and identifying relevant publications. Ultimately she will create an online resource that we can share on our website. Sashika will occasionally share updates on our Facebook page and blog.
This Internship programme is a new initiative created by the University to give Humanities students some hands-on experience in the cultural sector. We look forward to working with Sashika, the University and future interns.
Kevin Ward and I will be in Christchurch for a colloquium for ministry interns in the Alpine and Central presbyteries. A range of leadership and pastoral case studies will be presented by six interns. Various meetings will be held including arrangements for the next block course and graduation, which will be held in Christchurch this year.
For Malcolm Gordon, momentum is gathering on the next Illustrated Gospel Project – this time centred on the Gospel of Mark. Malcolm will be at Presbytery Central’s gathering in August to lead and teach on creative worship.
Steve Taylor will be in Whanganui speaking at an all churches event (9 August), in Wellington for the Presbyterian Church Schools' conference (10 August) and in Vanuatu (12 – 23 August) to deliver 10 talks at Talua Ministry Training Centre.
The KCML team are talking with churches and incoming interns concerning potential placements. We have eight incoming interns for 2018.
I will be co-leading (with Rev Mary Petersen) a training day for Local Ministry Teams for Southern Presbytery on 19 August in Invercargill. On 26 August I will be conducting a preaching workshop in Northern Presbytery and preaching at Greenlane Presbyterian Church. Along with Steve, I am looking at structuring and streamlining processes for our LOM applications/probationers and training. We are enjoying a marked increase in LOM activity this year.
Presbyterian Schools Conference
Sharon Ross-Ensor will be at the 2017 Presbyterian Church Schools' conference at Scots College, Wellington on 10-11 August.
The theme of the conference is: “Shalom - pathways to wholeness| Pai Marie – Nga huarahi ki te Ora”. This year a parallel Students Gathering is also being held at Te Aka Puaho’s Te Kakano o te Aroha marae in Lower Hutt. Each secondary school in the Presbyterian Schools' network has been invited to send two Year 12 students to the gathering which will be exploring themes of shalom, justice and action, with a particular focus on child poverty and family violence.
The Students Gathering is a partnership between the Presbyterian Schools' Resource Office and Presbyterian Support under the PresCare banner and has been funded by a grant from the Green Trust. The students will be welcomed to the main conference on Friday morning where they will share their learning and reflections.
The Presbyterian Church Schools’ Resource Office has a website www.presschools.org.nz with many resources which could be of use for youth groups, home groups or sermon preparation.
Dean of Studies
Women’s Assembly in November
On 3-5 November 2017, we will host our first Women’s Assembly in Dunedin. This is a gathering at which we hope to encourage and empower women of all ages. Supported by the Council of World Mission and run by PWANZ, this Women’s Assembly is for all women! Can I encourage you to read the details in our latest Bush Fire?
Dr Deborah Bower is opening the scriptures for us, and we have sessions on making a positive impact in our local communities led by Double Denim and MP Metira Turei. Author Joy Cowley is also speaking, and we have creative sessions to engage mind and body.
Think about the young women in your context and invite them to join with other women from around NZ for that weekend. Holding such a national event creates wonderful opportunities for us, but also produces obstacles. And for our young women the obstacle may be the cost of travel. If you or your church can help towards the travel expenses for any of our attendees, please get in touch with Sandra.
The executive of PWANZ is also looking for nominations for the role of UN Convenor and a communications convenor. The details of these positions can be found in the job vacancies section of this Bush Fire or by contacting Sandra. The closing date for these applications is 18 August. The executive are a group of passionate women charged with helping PWANZ empower women within our Church, within our local communities and to the ends of the earth. So, if you know of a “good” woman that may have something to offer the wider Church in these areas please encourage them to contact us asap.
Much Peace in Christ
Changes in status
Rev Philip Warner, local ordained minister, St Andrew’s Marton, Presbytery Central – Nukuhau Tapu, reduces to 67 percent from 1 July 2017.
Rev Sandra May Warner, minister Pt Chevalier Co-Operating Parish (Homestead Community Church), Northern Presbytery, to minister, Knox Presbyterian Church, Morrinsville, Kaimai Presbytery, 9 February 2017.
Rev David Gordon, minister, Trinity St Paul's Union Parish of Cambridge, Kaimai Presbytery, to minister emeritus, Presbytery Central – Nukuhau Tapu, 30 June 2017.
Rev Christine Harding, other recognised minister, Northern Presbytery, to other recognised minister Kaimai Presbytery, 1 June 2017.
Rev Peter McNeil, minister emeritus, Presbytery Central – Nukuhau Tapu, died 20 July 2017.
A special thank you to those who supported Operation Refugee 2017. More than $55,000 was raised by 140 participants who lived on refugee rations for two or five days. Participants said it was a great experience and found people very willing to help Syrian refugees. CWS partner, DSPR, is providing emergency food, education, healthcare and psychosocial support to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. Read the report.
CWS is preparing worship resources for Peace Sunday, this year on 6 August. Take time to remember the victims of the Hiroshima bomb with “Here a Just Cause, O Lord” available shortly. Information about the newly signed international treaty to ban nuclear weapons is included.
South Sudan Appeal
Poor rains across East Africa have left many more people hungry. The latest report from the Food and Agricultural Organisation says the number of people affected by food shortages has increased by 30 percent. CWS is focusing relief efforts on South Sudan. Please share information about this urgent appeal and pray for families facing starvation.
The War Refused to Leave Us tells the story of Fatima who fled Syria six years ago with her family. Now a volunteer health trainer with CWS partner, the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, in Jordan, she is more confident and has learnt many new skills. Your donations to the Syria Appeal have helped her and many others. Thank you.
Printed copies of the Winter Story can be ordered for your congregation from Pam.
World week of peace in Palestine and Israel
Please set aside 17-24 September to join international prayer and action for Israel and Palestine. The World Council of Churches is inviting 68 word prayers to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. CWS will share material from partners in the region.
Rev Mark Chapman established this ministry in February last year with the vision of nurturing and encouraging leaders in Christian ministry. Avalon Ministries aims to encourage ministers, ministry leaders and congregations via consultations, retreats, supervision/mentoring. Learn more about Avalon Ministries
Prayer Sunday for Korea reunification
The World Council of Churches and the World Communion of Reformed Churches are calling their member churches to observe, on 13 August 2017, a “Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.” Resources and more info are available here
Vaughan Park retreats
In the later half of 2017, Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat Centre (Auckland) is offering a variety of retreats, lectures and other activities that may be of interest. Check out the programme here
World week of peace in Palestine and Israel
The World Council of Churches is inviting members, including the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, on 17-24 September, to unite in in peaceful actions to create a common international public witness for just peace in Palestine and Israel. Read more
Parenting course (Wellington)
Island Bay Presbyterian Church is offering a six-week toolbox parenting course, focussing on the middle years (children aged 6-12). The course starts on Monday 21 August, 7:30-9:30pm. Find out more
500th anniversary of Reformation
Kids Friendly has prepared intergenerational worship resources to support parishes to engage with the younger people in their congregations about the Reformation. Download the intergenerational Reformation worship resource. View other Reformation resources
Presbyterian Investment Fund
The Church Property Trustees advise that the interest rate paid on Presbyterian Investment Fund deposits remains at 3.00% percent per annum. This rate became effective on 1 January 2017. The Fund is open to parishes, but not to individuals. For further information, email the Trustees’ Executive Officer, Kos van Lier.
Glen Innis vacancies
Ministers are entitled to one week’s free accommodation at Glen Innis every year. Check out vacancies over the next couple of months here
Check out the latest events from around our Church and from Christian organisations and partners. Read more