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From the Moderator
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
Presbyterian Youth Ministry
Presbyterian Research Centre
Salt and light (Matt 5:13-16)
Where is the place of Christianity today? For that matter where should it be in societies of the 21st century? This is an important question, both because the answer will form certain basic expectations for the Church and because it will need to address certain assumptions which a free society will make concerning religion.
It is taken for granted these days that the “great days” of Christendom are behind us.
The rights and wrongs of this have been debated ad infinitum elsewhere and I don’t want to repeat that. The question I want to raise is this: what should we expect from the state in terms of our place in society now – what is a biblical expectation?
My contention is this: any kind of hope or ambition for a return to the political power the Church once had, while possible, is both highly unlikely and unbiblical. Now this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t attempt to raise our point of view and to have it heard as a good citizen of the state. We have a duty, I believe, to both live and preach morally because this is the first duty of every Christian. And who knows, this may win the day politically and be reflected in the laws and ethics of society.
Morality is an aspect of this which I suspect we’ve gotten wrong over many years.
To act and to preach “morally”, as I understand it, is to act in accordance with scripture and, in this case scripture has some important things to say to us about the place of the Church.
My point is a simple one. The operative nouns in the passage above from Matthew 5 are “salt” and “light” (specifically a light under a bushel). They have one thing in common – they constitute only a tiny percentage of the whole – they are small compared to the thing they are influencing. It is likely that the Church’s proper place or, at least, the place which it will normally hold, is small compared to the peoples, states and regions which it can influence.
It’s not that it is wrong to command a greater place. I don’t think this can be adduced from scripture. It’s just that it’s uncommon and unlikely given the state of humankind. Furthermore, even when it did command such a place, such as during the Middle Ages in Europe, that power led to greater corruption of the Church and the gospel it preached than perhaps at any other time.
Is it not a good thing to have the ultimate moral book at the centre of political life? Some might point to the early theocracy of Israel in the Bible and say that this was and is, in fact, God’s plan.
However, we know power corrupts even the most godly of people and institutions and we should not think that the Church is any different. It is still a very human institution.
There is an important reason why the Church is at its best when it is not counted amongst the powerful and it is this: the Church’s true influence is always as a witness to the One who holds all power and yet remains uncorrupted. The act of being a witness to power is not the same as having power. The whole of Christian mission is predicated on this strategy: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth," says Christ.
Of course, power is promised here but it is power to witness, power to proclaim, power to heal, power to love. Again, at times, we may receive power and we may be asked to use it responsibly, but this is not the primary act of the Church. The primary act is to witness Christ in and through our weakness.
Dear colleagues and friends
Where I live we enjoy the wonder and beauty of many native birds. Sitting outside we can watch and listen to tui, fantail, bellbird and keruru. During winter we wait to see if the birds will come back and ask whether the chicks will survive. At this time of year we also look and wonder what the pohutukawa blossoms will be like.
As we move into December we have a season that might be summed up in two words – waiting and expectation. Waiting does different things to different people. Reading the scriptures I find that waiting can be a key component in a number of places. Perhaps that is the reason scripture also includes many verses reassuring us not to be afraid? Waiting and not being afraid at the same time seems to be a big ask. If it is to be good news we proclaim this Christmas, it still has to be good news to all – to those worried about putting food on the table, their job, their children, their health, the planet on which we live and the list goes on. Maybe that is why I continually find myself drawn to the opening of John’s Gospel… and in particular to “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.
Asian Ministry Co-ordinator
Since March 2012, the Church has benefited from the Council for World Mission Partners in Mission programme which has seen Rev Kyoung Han working as our Asian Ministry Co-ordinator. This is a fixed term programme, which is renewed every three years. As such, it produces some challenges regarding visas. In the light of this and considering the future, Rev Han has advised he will not be seeking a final extension and so will complete his term and return to Korea – as required by the terms of the programme.
There will be time to express our thanks to him a little later, but I wanted to alert you to this change. I would also invite you to join with me in prayer for Kyoung, his wife Jennifer and their sons as they enter a season of waiting and seeking God as to what lies ahead.
We will review this area and in the light of the Council of Assembly’s wider strategic work within the context of our other national activities, plan accordingly.
The Council of Assembly met in Auckland from 27 to 28 October. Read Council News here
Mark: Illustated Gospel Project
The Mark: Illustrated Gospel Project is a resource to enrich the worshipping life of congregations, and follows on from the successful "Luke" project launched in 2015. Built on a fresh, contextual and complete paraphrase of the whole gospel of Mark, the project gathers poetry and prayers, images and songs that have sprung from over 40 artists and writers. Chapters 13 and 14 are available now, and more material will be added to the website in coming weeks. A hard copy of the resource will be available free to each parish in the New Year. Order your parish's copy from Rev Malcolm Gordon and additional copies are available for a fee.
Kids Friendly are looking for a new team member
We are seeking an administrative assistant to support the Kids Friendly team. Applications for the role close at midday on Wed, 13 December. Learn more about the job requirements and applying for this role here.
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. As many of these changes are often linked to AGMs, please pass on any changes to Lynne from our office, so that we can ensure we are communicating with the appropriate office bearers.
Assembly Office is closed over Christmas
Assembly Office will be closed from Thursday, 21 December 2017 and will reopen again at 8.30am on Monday, 8 January 2017. For urgent matters over this time, please contact me by email.
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 2018.
Global Mission in Myanmar
The young adults Going Global team has just departed for their programme in Myanmar. They will be there from 29 Nov – 12 Dec, hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. Members of the team are from St Columba at Botany Downs and Forrest Hill Presbyterian. It has been great to have the support of these two congregations.
Read the November edition of our Ricebowl Mission newsletter, Mingalaba, with news about our partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. Let me know if you would like to subscribe to this or our other Global Mission newsletters.
We are continuing to hope for a positive outcome for our Partners in Mission application to the Council for World Mission for Wayne and Helen Harray to serve in Myanmar. The arrangements have taken much longer than we had hoped – so we need to keep praying and working for a positive outcome. We hope to have news of this by the next edition of Bush Telegraph.
Our Global Mission personnel in Vanuatu have returned to New Zealand for the summer after another great year of service with the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu. Martyn and Annette Vincent and Neville and Gloria Jones have done wonderful work, and have been of great assistance to the teams and individuals who have travelled to Vanuatu for projects throughout 2017. Both couples are assessing their options for next year, and in the meantime are going to enjoy a well-earned break back in New Zealand.
There are positive signs that we will have an English teacher in place at Talua Theological College in Vanuatu next year, and I will be able to confirm this in the next edition of Bush Telegraph in early 2018.
Thank you to all those who have supported the work of Global Mission throughout the year. I extend my best wishes to you for a meaningful Advent and Christmas season as you participate in your Christmas worship and celebrate with your families and friends.
Global Mission Coordinator
Join the Presbyterian Women delegation CSW62 in March 2018
Applications are invited from those interested in attending the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12-23 March 2018.
Do you have a passion for social justice, gender equity and the empowerment of women? Applications to be a self-funded member of the delegation to attend CSW have been open for the past month. The deadline for applications is meant to be mid-December 2017, but allowances could perhaps be made for exceptional reasons.
- The priority theme will be: Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls;
- The review theme will be: Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women.
PWANZ has the privilege of being one of the few organisations in New Zealand to have Special Consultative Status at the United Nations. We can be proud of the contribution we make to empowering women and girls, promoting gender equity, and speaking out against violence and injustice.
If you are interested at in applying at this late stage to be a self-funded member of the delegation please send a brief CV and cover letter (ASAP) with answers to the following:
- Why do you hope to be a member of the 2018 Presbyterian Women of Aotearoa New Zealand delegation?
- What aspects of gender justice, gender equality or the empowerment of women and girls are you particularly interested in?
- On your return how do you intend to share the knowledge gained in practical ways with other women and girls and the good men who support the empowerment of women?
Email your CV and cover letter to PWANZ United Nations Convenors:
AnneMarie Tangney or phone Annemarie on 021 0696953
Mavis Duncanson or phone Mavis on 022 028 7005
Youth commissioners programme - GA2018
We were greatly encouraged by the way young adult commissioners engaged in General Assembly last year. So after the successful pilot, the PYM team is officially launching the PYM youth commissioner programme.
We are looking for young adults aged 18-30, who are self-assured and have a mature Christian faith. These successful candidates will be expected to engage in the Church’s national, regional and local courts from February 2018-September 2020 attending:
- Online training (see example video)
- At least four of their church’s session or church council meetings before and after GA (eight meetings in total)
- At least two presbytery gatherings (where possible) before and after GA (four gatherings in total)
- The entire GA 2018 conference (3-7 October 2018).
Recommend any suitable potential youth commissioners to your regional youth coordinator. Each presbytery has six positions available for youth commissioners for next year’s General Assembly.
Going Further discipleship camp
The camp is open to young adults aged between 17 and 30. The 2018 camp will be held 6-12 February and is based on stunning Ponui Island, which is situated just south of Waiheke Island. The main speaker this year is the awesome Darryl Tempero from Kiwi Church.
Full information can be found at www.goingfurther.org.nz
National Youth Manager
“And a little child shall lead them…”
“What’s that noise, Mama?” This is the newest line of questioning from my two-year-old daughter. There are so many “noises” experienced in any given day, you can only imagine how many times I am being asked this question! In my daughter’s voice I hear deep curiosity, a bit of alarm, and sheer wonder all rolled into one beautiful query. However, more than curiosity, alarm, and wonder is my daughter’s underlying attentiveness to what is happening in the world around her. She is beginning to notice more fully what is going on around her, even if she doesn’t yet have words for the things she is hearing. She is attentive, she is expectant.
In this holy season of Advent, may we all exhibit a good dose of “toddler attentiveness”; as we listen for the “noises” of our world and as we receive and share the deep peace of Jesus Christ. And along the way, may we be more fully attentive to the little ones among us who always have much to both ask and to teach us.
“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isa 11:6)
Rev Robin Humphreys
Kids Friendly Coach
We have recently published our 2017 Annual Report, which shares highlights from our work this year and details Presbyterian Foundation and PressGo grants that have been allocated.
The Report also highlights some of the key projects supported including the Tu Taurahere Whatumanawa initiative working with low-income families in Taneatua, and the Bethlehem Community Church building for the future project. Read about these and other initiatives in the PressGo Annual Report 2017
The Council of Assembly, in conjunction with PressGo, is calling for expressions of interest from those interested in being nominated as a PressGo Board member.
We have two vacancies and are looking for people who are excited about the mission of God and encouraging new initiatives and expressions of church. Board members are appointed by the COA and have specific areas of expertise such as: knowledge of the church, governance, business development, fundraising, marketing, communication, finance and entrepreneurship.
These are voluntary positions and involve three meetings each year, usually in Wellington, as well as participation in teleconferences and email discussions. In addition to evaluating complex projects and making funding decisions, contributing to the board’s strategic work is also a priority. Your expression of interest should make clear what you will bring to the life and work of PressGo. If you have previously expressed interest in nomination, please feel free to re-submit your details.
Please send your expression of interest addressing what you will contribute as a Board member, a personal profile and details of your relevant experience and skills. Please email this to the PressGo Board c/o Rev Sharon Ross Ensor at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions, please contact Sharon on 027 810 4358.
All expressions of interest need to be received by 5.00pm Monday, 8 January and are for a term of four years commencing February 2018.
PressGo Mission Catalyst
The Ng New Zealand Chinese Heritage Collection held by the Presbyterian Research Centre has been inscribed on the UNESCO New Zealand Memory of the World Register.
Presbyterian missionary, Rev Alexander Don, ministered to Otago’s Chinese gold-seekers from 1879. Chinese were the second-largest group of Otago goldminers, with a population of over 3700. In over 35 years of diligent and detailed documentation, Don created an unsurpassed record of more than 3500 Chinese individuals, recording their names, occupations, place of origin, health, families and other social details. Don’s Roll of Chinese and his four handwritten diaries together reflect the changing nature and lives of the Chinese community in New Zealand and their relationship to China.
In 1959 Dr James Ng, a leading Chinese New Zealander, began to collect documents and other information relating to the heritage of the New Zealand Chinese community, including Don's Roll and diaries. These items, along with Dr Ng’s research notes for his four-volume publication Windows on a Chinese Past, also include papers, unpublished Chinese community newsletters, books and at least 300 letters in Cantonese and English. This remarkable and unique collection, together with Eva Ng’s oral history recordings, photographs, and published material relating to Chinese New Zealanders, forms the Ng New Zealand Chinese Heritage Collection, now held by the Presbyterian Research Centre.
Being inscribed on the UNESCO New Zealand Memory of the World Register is a great honour, and recognises the importance of this collection to our nation’s history and society today, and highlights the significant contribution made to the historical record by Presbyterian mission activities.
Director – Presbyterian Research Centre
Rev Alofe Lale, reinstated to the roll as other recognised minister, Southern Presbytery 20 October 2017.
Rev Brian Thom, reinstated to the roll as other recognised minister, Southern Presbytery 20 October 2017.
Changes in Status
Rev John Daniels, minister Kaikourai Presbyterian Church to other recognised minister, Southern Presbytery, 26 September 2017.
Rev Lester Reid, minister emeritus, Presbytery Central – Nukuhau Tapu died 27 October 2017.
St Lukes Union Church changed its name to CrossWay Church Masterton, Presbytery Central – Nukuhau Tapu, 8 November 17.
Make Hope Our Christmas Story
The face of this year’s Christmas Appeal is a young refugee from Syria. The image captures a moment that could be in any New Zealand classroom – a student wanting to answer a maths problem. With an education, a refugee has options for the future. Sadly, too many are missing out.
Christian World Service is asking for your support so local partners can run schools and homework classes, education programmes for people of all ages and provide accredited vocational training. In Lebanon for example, this assists refugees and in South India, the poorest communities benefit through training given to women presidents of panchayats or local councils.
These programmes are stories of hope. Women presidents from the poorest Dalit community are installing community water taps and street lighting so lives are safer and healthier. In Uganda, HIV and AIDS orphans freed from lengthy walks to collect water, enjoy the chance to go to school. In global forums and local communities, the Pacific Conference of Churches is campaigning to stop climate change and violence in communities.
We ask for your prayers for those who are hungry, homeless and live in fear for their lives. You can find stories and worship resources or make a donation at: http://christmasappeal.org.nz. Order resources including posters, envelopes and service sheets online.
Please give generously to the 2017 Christmas Appeal so that vulnerable people have food, water, dignity and justice. Working together, we can make hope our Christmas story!
Thank you for your support during 2017.
P.S. Our office closes at noon on Friday, 22 December and reopens 9 am Wednesday, 3 January. It is cyclone season in the Pacific so follow us on Facebook or Twitter in case of an emergency where people need help. We will post appeals on our website.
Mark: The Illustrated Gospel Project lectionary resource available now
This creative resource is the work of more than 40 artists from around New Zealand and features a complete paraphrase of Mark's Gospel, accompanied with artwork, poetry, music along with liturgical resources and suggestions. The first chapters of the resource have been published online in time for the start of Advent. View Mark: The Illustrated Gospel Printed copies will be available in the New Year. Each congregation of the Church is entitled to a free copy. Orders can be sent to email@example.com
Bioethics and Christian Theology course
The Department of Theology and Religion and the Bioethics Centre at Otago are jointly offering a Summer School paper on Bioethics and Christian Theology. Summer School runs from 8 Jan - 16 Feb 2018 and the paper is available both on campus and via distance. More information is available here
2017/18 lectionary and calendar available
The new lectionary (Year B - Mark) will commence 3 December 2017. Download lectionary and calendar for 2017-2018
Read about the religious and social history of New Zealand
Historian Peter Lineham’s latest book - Sunday Best : How Religion Shaped New Zealand and How New Zealand Shaped Religion – is now available. The book examines Christianity in New Zealand through the lens of cultural development. Copies are available from all good bookstores or www.masseypress.ac.nz
Wanting to study theology and religion?
The University of Otago offers many opportunities for the study of Christian theology, both on-campus and through its successful distance study programme. Enrolments for Semester 1, 2018 are now open. For details of papers go to www.otago.ac.nz/theology/study.
Presbyterian Investment Fund
The Church Property Trustees advise that the interest rate paid on Presbyterian Investment Fund remains at 3.50% percent per annum. This rate became effective on 1 September 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