December 2023

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From the Moderator
From the Assembly Executive Secretary
Global Mission
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Presbyterian Children and Families
Presbyterian Church Schools
Presbyterian Research Centre
CWS Notices
Church Register
Social Media
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From the Moderator

Tena koutou katoa


Two months into my time as Moderator I am finding there is plenty to keep me occupied! I enjoyed being able to attend the induction of the Rev Charissa Nichol as principal of Columba College in Dunedin. It was a significant occasion held in Knox Church, and was good to meet with some of the school board and staff and have that connection with one of our Presbyterian Church schools.


I have recently been in Gisborne to celebrate with the people there the 150th anniversary of Presbyterianism in Tairawhiti.  The area has a family connection for me as my mother spent some of her childhood years in Patutahi when my granddad was headmaster of the school there. I was able to spend some time with people from each of the parishes in Gisborne; it was interesting to hear what has been happening in their context and their hopes for the future.  On the Saturday we had a special service of remembrance to commemorate the 155th anniversary of the Matawhero Tragedy. This was such a significant event in the district’s history, and I found the sharing of stories powerful, informative, and sobering. Then on the Sunday there was a service at St Andrew’s to celebrate 150 years – a time to look back and give thanks, and an opportunity to look to the future. 

Many dates are being marked into my diary for 2024 with church events, retreats, and gatherings around the country and I look forward to meeting up with you.


As we enter the season of Advent and the journey towards Christmas it seems a very poignant time. As we speak of hope, love, joy and peace, we look at a world where so many places do not experience many or any of those things. There is much injustice, oppression, and hatred, and it is heart-breaking.  We continue to pray for justice and for peace in Ukraine, in the Holy Land, and in all the troubled areas around the world. 

Wishing you all a blessed Advent and Christmas as we take this time to reflect on, and celebrate, the coming of the Christ child.

Holy God, in this season draw us deeper into you,
to hear afresh the story of the coming of the Christ child 
and find renewal in our life and witness. 
This we pray. 

Kia tau te rangimārie / Let peace be here among us

Right Rev Rose Luxford

From the Assembly Executive Secretary

Dear friends and colleagues

Images from places like Syria, Myanmar, Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine invade our TV and online media – yet countries such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan are all currently experiencing civil wars that seem to pass us by, as if lives in these places are less important. How can that be? The opening words of U2 song Peace on Earth ring loudly for me – “Heaven on Earth / We need it now” – and remind me of what I should be both praying, and doing.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a presentation that included the results from a survey, Exploring the Spiritual Landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand, by the Wilberforce Foundation. The survey explored our attitudes toward religion and spirituality across the breadth of our nation. A summary can be found here.

The second part was a presentation, in summary form, of the Church Life Survey. The results are informative, and I encourage you to read the summary here.

There are many things I could note, one is that Presbyterian parishes had a median age of 70. Compare this with the 2018 census which shows the average age for those over 15 as 44. Yet what are the key points for our conversations, prayer and discernment?

We are grateful to Margaret Gault – our representative on the Church Life Survey committee – who has provided a summary of key findings from Presbyterian churches that took part. She notes, among others:

  • Our people are aging at a rapid rate - also true for other mainline denominations.
  • Our parishes have experienced a decline in attendance by older members.
  • The decline in new members over the Covid period may lead to fewer members inviting people to come to church with them, unless we can persuade older members to do this more often.
  • Our members value sermons and teaching.
  • There has been a significant decline in member’s satisfaction with the programmes offered for children and youth.
  • Disengagement is higher for our youth.
  • Our members desire both Belief and Belonging.
  • Our members highly value both having their faith journey supported and their sense of belonging.
  • The proportion who report they have experienced ‘much spiritual growth’ is rising over time.
  • Reporting ‘much spiritual growth’ is highly correlated with personal devotions, however, our people report lower levels of these than in many denominations.

Numbers, data, surveys, census.

Luke [2:1-20] writes, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken in the Roman world”. Maybe this is the time of year to be seriously engaging with this!

And as we do, may the words of John [1:14] from the Message be what we reflect upon:

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

Share and invite others. “Come along and see for yourself”, especially at this time, and especially at this time of year. Heaven on earth, we need it now.

From the Assembly Office team

On behalf of the whole Assembly Office team, thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement and support during the year. May you have a blessed Christmas, and we look forward to serving and supporting you in 2024.

Assembly Office holiday closure

The office will close on Thursday 21 December 2023 and reopen on Monday, 8 January 2024. For any urgent matters over this time, please contact me on my mobile.

Iti noa ana he pito mata / There is potential in the smallest bud, hold hope
Meri Kirihimete 

Wayne Matheson
Assembly Executive Secretary

Presbyterian Church Schools

Te Whāiti Nui Ā Toi scholarship: reciprocity

Over the last few months my articles have been focussing on how our Presbyterian schools demonstrate ‘service’. I want to finish the series with a somewhat tangential story.

When I was at our national marae at Ohope recently a question arose on why the Presbyterian Church doesn’t have Māori-focussed schools such as Te Aute and Hukarere. Rev Dr Wayne Te Kaawa then told the story of Turakina Girls and its sad demise, and as an aside mentioned the Te Whāiti Nui Ā Toi scholarship. This scholarship exemplifies the reciprocity that true service develops, which is why I want to share the story.

In 1937, based on the deep relationship between the Presbyterian Church and the Tuhoe people, a farm school was opened in Te Whāiti. Sadly, in 1968 it closed but the farm remained viable. The Māori Synod (the precursor to Te Aka Puaho), decided to use the profits to fund scholarships. As Lindisfarne was the only Presbyterian boarding school on the East Coast, and because their new rector, Jim Pine, had already lamented the lack of Māori at the school, a deal was made. A joint committee was set up to choose suitable boys to attend Lindisfarne. The first students arrived in 1972.

This scholarship was to have an enormous impact on the boys selected, on the College, and on everyone involved. Jim Pine recalls, “It was for us an introduction to a different culture with a wider sharing and caring and with a great sense of fun [Te Whāiti Nui Ā Toi Scholarship – Back to the Beginning].

The school learnt much from the kaumatua involved on the committee, and from the students chosen. Those students went on to contribute to the wider community, Sir Joe Williams (Supreme Court judge) and Israel Dagg (All Black) being the most well-known.

Stephanie Wells (Rev) 
Director of Presbyterian Church Schools Resource Office

Presbyterian Children and Families

Kia Ora


We are in the season of Advent, a time of waiting expectantly for the arrival of the Messiah. It is a busy time, with Nativity services, school break ups, Christmas parties, and preparations for holidays. But I pray that you would all know the presence of God amongst the chaos.

I marvel at the story of Christ’s birth. God, in his mercy, chose to bring a Son into the world in the most unexpected way, and invited the most unexpected people to bear witness. It is a reminder that Christ’s love is for all, and that we are all invited to participate in God’s big story. And it begs the question, where might God be calling us to include the youngest members of our church whānau into God’s story in 2024? 

Year of change and year ahead

It feels like 2023 has been a busy year for all of us. It has been a year of change and adaptation for me as I transitioned to the role of director, as well as PCFM shifting to be part of the KCML team. Navigating change isn’t always easy, but I praise God that I have been able to do so well. Thank you to those who uphold PCFM in prayer, and for those who have reached out with words of encouragement, have contributed to the work of PCFM, or have cheered me on in this role!

For Children and Families Ministry volunteers and workers, there is a sense of relief as we reach the end of the year, and anticipation for what God may do in the year ahead. But I trust that, in between, there would be an opportunity for deep rest and restoration for those of you who undertake the important task of leading Children and Family ministries. 

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou / Season’s greetings for Christmas and the New Year

Karo Wilson
Presbyterian Children and Families Ministry

Global Mission

2023 has been a year of reconnecting with our partners as Global Mission has emerged out of the loss of momentum brought about by Covid-19. One of the partner churches we have enjoyed good activity with is Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. Three of our young adults attended the I Love Taiwan programme in July, and since then PCANZ has hosted groups from the PCT here on three separate occasions. This has led to good interaction at congregational and presbytery level. 


Church schools and congregations have resumed project work in Vanuatu, and we have hosted several members from the PCV throughout 2023 - activities which will build and grow next year. 
You can read about our work with the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu in the recently published Nambawan newsletter.


Sadly, there has been no improvement in the situation in Myanmar and the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar and its members continue to endure ongoing suffering. As mentioned last month, church leaders are hoping to try and broker a peace agreement between the military and peoples’ defense forces but as yet there has been no word of any developments with this. Please uphold the people of Myanmar in your prayers. Read the latest version of Mingalaba, the newsletter dedicated to our Ricebowl Mission partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. 


Daily news of violence and suffering in Gaza and elsewhere confronts our ability to embrace the spirit of Christmas. At a recent meeting I attended someone led devotions with a video of children singing a song, Instruments of Your Peace, based on the prayer of St. Francis. 

Thinking of the children who are suffering in numerous conflicts, the song led to the shedding of some quiet tears of grief. Sometimes all we have left is hope – despite everything, let us pray we can hold on to hope, and be part of the solution, however long it takes.

May God restore your hope as you journey through the season of Advent to the stable of the peace child.

Phil King
Global Mission Director

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership

Our planning for 2024 is well underway as we continue to firm up training events throughout the motu in all the presbyteries. We are working on a wide suite of topics which were generated by elders from around the presbyteries, and which presbyteries in turn have selected their top choices.
Our attention also begins to lean towards preparation for the Summer Block course for NOM interns and LOM probationers.

Begg Dickie Scholarship – Applications Invited

Applications for study funds for ministers and also for the Begg Dickie Scholarship are being called for. Applications are invited which enhance the diversity and mission of the PCANZ. Details can be found here. The deadline for applications is Thursday 28 March 2024.

Thank you

It has been a big year for KCML. We began the year still to appoint a number of permanent faculty and we now end the year as a very different looking and expanded team with Rev Steve Jourdain (MDP/NAW administrator), Karo Wilson (PCFM), Rev Dr Andew Nicol, Rev Seb Murrihy, Rev Dr Darryl Tempero, Matt Chamberlin (PYM), and Susan Peters (registrar). Rev Ivan Martinez commences on 8 January 2024.

Thank you all for your warmth and care of KCML over this year. It is deeply appreciated. As you enter into Advent and all that promises, may you experience Immanuel in new ways always.


Rev Dr Geoff New
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership

Presbyterian Research Centre

Hewitson Library has recently added several titles, across the three subject areas below, that you might be interested in. Please click on those respective links to have a look at these new book lists.

  1. Pastoral resources: Need help with a sermon?  Worried about relationships within the congregation?  Looking for a new way to reach out?  Check these out here.
  2. The problem of violence: Why is there always fighting and wars?  How are some texts in the Bible complicit with this?  What do you say when God takes vengeance?  Have a look here.
  3. Women and the church: What were New Testament women really like?  Who was Argula von Grumback?  How does a feminist read the Bible?  Find out more here.

You may look at these catalogue records and order any of the respective books, right from there. Some are eBooks, which you can download. Any questions, please email us.

Jay Robinson
Presbyterian Research Centre 

CWS Notices

Share Food this Christmas

The story of Somawathie, a small scale farmer in Sri Lanka, lies at the heart of this year’s Christmas Appeal, Share Food this Christmas.  She speaks for people worried by the deepening climate crisis and what it will mean for others and the wild elephants.  Please take time to pray and think of others who do not have enough food during Advent and Christmas.  CWS is sharing worship resources for Advent and Christmas.  Posters are available in 10 languages. If you need envelopes please contact 0800 74 73 72 or email us. We value your prayers and support for this.

Supporters’ Council

CWS held its annual Supporters’ Council in November.  The video of National Director Rev Dr Tim Pratt, the presentation from Dr Nicola Hoggard Creegan on Christians and Climate Change, the video Sinharaja produced and the Annual Review are available.

Gifts of Love

Gifts of love are an opportunity to buy big gifts and small.  From an elephant to some seeds, there is a gift for everyone.  Take a look at Gifted and see how many you can give!  Each gift supports a CWS programme and you can choose a beautiful card or ecard.

Gaza Palestine Appeal

Thanks for your prayers and generous donations. Local partner the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches writes, “DSPR is deeply grateful to our longstanding partners for their generous and prompt response to our urgent appeal following the Gaza war. We sincerely thank all who have pledged their support so far. We appreciate the many others who have reached out, expressing their unwavering commitment and outlining plans to address this unprecedented and massive crisis. Your dedication is invaluable, and we are humbled by the solidarity demonstrated. We are still able to communicate with some of the staff and volunteers, especially those in the churches; we try to reach them at least once a day, but not always successful. It’s becoming harder to feed more than 800 in the churches.” Please pray for the end of the violence, release of the captives, and for peace. Please support the Gaza Palestine Emergency Appeal if you can. 


PCFM Family Faith Moments for Advent 

An early present from Presbyterian Children and Families Ministry… new Advent Family Faith Moments. Perfect for families to use in the lead up to Christmas. Download the four PDFs – Advent 1: Hope, Advent 2: Peace, Advent 3: Joy, Advent 4: Love - from the PCFM website here.  

Study Theology at Otago 2024: on-campus or distance

The Theology Programme at the University of Otago offers opportunities for the study of Christian Theology, both on-campus and through their successful distance study programme. Subjects include: Old Testament and New Testament Studies, Church History, Systematic Theology, Māori Theology, Ethics, Practical Theology and Ministry (including Chaplaincy Studies), and Biblical languages (Hebrew and New Testament Greek). They also have a Centre for Theology and Public Issues, offering papers with a strong social justice focus on contemporary issues. Enrolments for Semester 1, 2024 are now open. Course details here.

Presbyterian Investment Fund

The interest rate paid on the PIF On Call Fund will increase from 5.25% p.a. (where it has been since 1 September 2023) to 5.50% p.a. from 1 January 2024. A reminder to please provide advance notice (of at least 3 days) for major (>$100,000) withdrawals. The interest rate on the PIF Long-Term Fund remains at 3.0% pa plus inflation. Rates are subject to change. The PIF is open to parishes, but not to individuals. For details on the Long Term Fund or further information, email the Trustees’ Executive Officer, Russell Garrett.

CPT Annual Reports

The Trustees’ 2023 Annual Report, the annual PIF Newsletter, and the Beneficiary Fund Annual Report are now available on the PCANZ website – as is our final newsletter of the year.

Book now for first term holiday in Hawke’s Bay: Glen Innis 

Summer is now fully booked. Maud Hooper house is available for either week of the first term holiday 2024 so get your booking in early! Those with school aged children are urged to book soon for the 2024 school holidays. See the Glen Innis page for available dates in the first half of December 2023, and from late February to late March 2024, plus see the booking criteria and other details.

Laidlaw: The Trauma Informed Church, Lecture, 1 Dec

Historically the Sturt Lectures focused on conversations between Counselling and Theology, however considering the upcoming release of the final report from the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry the conversation has expanded to engage Christian leaders as they grapple with the effects of abuse and trauma. Venue: Waitakere Chambers, 6 Henderson Valley Road, Auckland. 1 Dec, 9am - 4pm. Book here.

Apply for WCC Programme Executive: Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation – Geneva

The World Council of Churches seeks an Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation Programme Executive to strengthen the WCC’s convening role for bilateral and multi-lateral dialogue with partners of other faiths at international level towards transformative empowerment, dialogue, and collaboration i.e., toward inter-religious solidarity. Role is based in Geneva, Switzerland and starts 15 Feb 2024. Applications close 17 Dec. See more here.

CPT holiday close

The Trustees and team wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. The office will close at 4pm on Thursday 21 December and re-open again at 9am on Monday 8 January 2024.

Need advice? email e-Minister a real, ordained PCANZ minister

Got questions concerning faith and personal life issues? Not ready to go to worship or approach a minister in person? Email e-Minister, a real, ordained Presbyterian minister who is bound by professional ethics to respect confidentiality. e-Minister will endeavour to reply within 48 - 72 hours. See more here.

Church Register

For any queries concerning the Church register, contact Kate Wilson. 

Non-PCANZ Ministers in PCANZ Parish Stated Supply

Rev Shelley Alexander (Uniting Church in Australia), stated supply minister Palmerston North – Pathways Presbyterian Church, 19 October 2023.


Rev Tekura Wilding, minister Central Southland Presbyterian Parish to Minister Emeritus, Southern Presbytery, 27 November 2023.

Resignations from the PCANZ roll

Rev Thomas Kauie, local ordained minister Parnell – Knox Presbyterian Church, Pacific Presbytery, 1 January 2023 (called to Niue, now on the roll of Ekalesia Kirisiano Niue).


Rev Martin Cleland, Minister Emeritus, Alpine Presbytery, 8 November 2023.

Social Media

Check out in one handy place the links to the social media of the Presbyterian Church and its ministries including websites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and video.


Check out details about upcoming events including training workshops, opportunities to serve and more. Learn more


Check out our job vacancies page and the ministerial vacancies table and featured ministerial vacancies for the latest vacancies available in Aotearoa and around the globe.

Subscribe to publications

Self-subscribe to Bush Telegraph, Council News and to PCANZ ministries publications – see details here.