Council of Assembly met for the first time since General Assembly 2018 on 15-16 November 2018. We were the guests of the Synod of Otago and Southland and, as part of the gathering, we were updated on some work streams of the Synod. We thank them for the opportunity to meet in Dunedin. Each day of our meeting began with devotions and prayer.
Convenor Rev Richard McLean and Deputy Convenor Mrs Anne Edgar welcomed returning members and gave a special welcome to new members: Mrs Diana Baird (Resource Sub-committee convenor), Rev Andrew Harrex (Southern Presbytery), Mrs Charissa Nicol (Alpine Presbytery), Rev Tukua Tuwairua (Te Aka Puaho). A welcome was also extended to new associate members: Rev Toko Ine (Moderator, Pacific Presbytery), and Rev Chris Elliot (Chair, Church Property Trustees).
Very Rev Dr Graham Redding, Master of Knox College, welcomed the Council to the College. He gave an overview of its history and ethos, student life and the College’s relationship to the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership.
Council was joined by members of the Leadership Sub-committee for an extended period of governance training. This covered the operational structure of national Church management and lines of accountability were explained. A summary was given of the responsibilities of Resource and Leadership Sub-committees. An organisational chart for the governance of the Church was provided and several interrelationships explained.
An overview of the national operations restructuring which had been undertaken earlier this year was also shared. Two key documents for the Council - the new Code of Ethics and the Council of Assembly Handbook - were also explained.
Council noted issues such as: declaring an interest in a matter which is about to be discussed, meeting in private, supporting council/committee decisions once they have been made, and the importance of confidentiality.
Council was also updated on an overview of the disciplinary complaints process.
The Assembly Executive Secretary updated the Council on existing and continuing work streams as part of the orientation for returning and new council members.
Council noted early feedback on the General Assembly meeting in Christchurch was very warm and positive. The Moderator, Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio, indicated that those involved had universally found Assembly to be a positive and affirming experience.
In his report the Assembly Executive Secretary, Rev Wayne Matheson, updated Council on the recent announcement by Government that the Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse in State care has been expanded to include faith-based organisations. It was noted and affirmed that the Presbyterian Church would be a willing and engaged participant in this matter. The AES will ensure the Church files a pro forma pre-registration and then the Church will await further information from the Commission's secretariat or the Commission itself as to how, when and where the Commission considers the Presbyterian Church participation will fit into the inquiry.
As a separate matter, the AES outlined the process undertaken to develop a PCANZ national Child Protection Policy. The draft policy was received and feedback given, which has been shared with the Book of Order Advisory Committee so that any updating and/or changes can be made. A copy will be referred back to Council for approval. This will be included in our Supplementary Provisions and advised to the whole Church in due course.
Matters from the Assembly
The AES advised Council of a number of matters arising from the Assembly that required Council to undertake various actions.
Council agreed to the Terms of Reference for the Sharing Resources Framework Task Group – which was agreed by the Assembly. Members were appointed – subject to their consent and availability.
Council also agreed to the Terms of Reference for the Code of Ethics Engagement Task Group – again arising from an Assembly decision. Members of this Task Group were also appointed subject to their consent and availability.
Council appointed a work group to bring recommendations relating to the appointment of a Te Reo commissioner.
The Council instructed the AES to engage in conversations with Presbyterian Support at a national level and bring recommendation/s to Council relating to funding of PresCare for the next three years.
Council referred an Assembly decision to the finance manager and Resource Sub-committee for consideration in 2019-20 budget preparation. This decision [18.098] was that the General Assembly ask the Council of Assembly, presbyteries and church councils to explore ways to contribute financially to palliative care, hospice services, mental health, care of the disabled and care of the elderly, and that the Government be urged to do likewise.
General Assembly minutes
The minutes of the 2018 General Assembly were approved. These can now be found on the Church website.
Pacific Conference of Churches
A brief report on the recent Pacific Conference of Churches Assembly was received. A letter from Rev Wayne Te Kaawa inviting the Council to establish a work group to review PCANZ representation on Pacific Conference of Churches was warmly received and agreed to.
Audit & Risk Committee
The Council approved draft Terms of Reference for the new Audit and Risk Committee. A search is now underway for suitability qualified people to serve on this group. They will be appointed by the Council.
The Council received from the PressGo Board a recommendation and approved the appointment of the Rev Mose Taumaoe to the Board.
Noting the Terms of Reference of the PressGo Board call for a five yearly review of their work by the Council, the AES recommended and Council approved the terms of reference for the review of PressGo. Council also agreed to the appointment of members to this review group subject to their consent and availability.
Noting this was the first face-to-face meeting of the Council since the receipt of the generous gift from Presbyterian Development Society enabled the purchase of a shareholding in Christian Savings, Council followed up on the suggestion of appointing a liaison person/people (subject to their approval) in Auckland to continue to build and support this relationship.
Council affirmed the recommendation from the Nominating Committee that the Rev Stephanie Wells be appointed as the Presbyterian representative on the Standing Committee of the Uniting Congregations of Aotearoa New Zealand (UCANZ) for a term of four years.
National Church operations review
Council received a draft report relating to the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership and the Presbyterian Research Centre. Additional information was requested. Via the Convenor of the Council, communication with KCML and PRC staff followed noting a draft review paper was tabled, and that further work needs to be done, and that an update will be provided before 31 January 2019.
Council received written and verbal reports from The Moderator, Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio; Te Aka Puaho Moderator, Mrs Marina Rukuruku; the Leadership Sub-committee Convenor Dr Deborah Bower; Resource Sub-committee Convenor Mrs Diana Baird; Council Convenor Rev Richard McLean; and Church Property Trustees chair Rev Chris Elliot.
Council will next meet in March 2019, in Auckland.
Rev Richard McLean Mrs Anne Edgar
Convener Deputy Convener