The Council of Assembly met in Auckland from 27 to 28 October. The day prior Moderators and clerks/executive officers of presbyteries met. In all this we were reminded of the Church we serve, and as the AES wrote in the November Bush Telegraph, “He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata”.
Our meeting had a very full agenda and by the time the meeting concluded not all the matters were able to be attended to. This means some will be actioned via email and others will require a teleconference during the next month.
Kids Friendly Coach
Council welcomed outgoing Kids Friendly Coach Jill Kayser to the meeting. Jill’s outstanding contribution made over the past 14 years in developing the Church’s national Kids’ Friendly ministry was warmly acknowledged and individual members of the Council paid tribute to her work.
Jill gave an illustrated overview of the growth and impact of Kids Friendly. Jill was formally thanked on behalf of the Church and Moderator Right Rev Richard Dawson prayed for Jill.
In June this year, following the withdrawal of the Very Rev Andrew Norton as Moderator Designate for the 2018 General Assembly, a Commission was appointed to oversee the process to bring a nomination to the Assembly of a person to be elected as Moderator. The AES referred Council to the communication from the Commission, and reported the Commission is pleased to inform the Church that it will be bringing the name of the Rev Taimoanaifakaofo (Fakaofo) Kaio to the General Assembly in October 2018 for election as Moderator of the Assembly. Fakaofo would be Moderator for a period of two years from the 2018 General Assembly through to the 2020 General Assembly.
The Rev Fakaofo and Mrs Ruth Kaio were welcomed to the meeting. Council members were introduced to Mr Kaio, who spoke. He shared his sense of honour and humbleness in accepting the nomination. He shared his personal background and looked forward to working with the Council and serving the whole Church. The Council prayed for them both.
This is an area Council had identified as a priority for its work. Council Convener Jenny Flett led the Council in an evaluation of the Five Faces of Mission statement. Responses were wide ranging. The general consensus was that the sentiment behind the mission statement was still relevant but it needed a human face, the language should be updated, and it should be kept simple.
Council then worked through three major strategic documents which have been adopted by GA since 1995. Council then took a “birds eye view” of the current organisational charts of the Church, asking questions about the relationships between governance and management and between the various departments that make-up the National Service Team. Council considered if this was serving the national Church’s missional objectives well. Council members worked in small groups to ‘redraw’ the organisational chart from fresh, conceptual “big picture” perspectives as an exercise to get them thinking strategically. This was followed by robust discussion, focusing on questions such as why does the National Service Team exist? What is its role in relation to presbyteries and parishes? Who is responsible for mission? Council appointed a Strategic Focus Work Group to be led by Rev Hamish Galloway and Deborah Bower who will bring an interim report to the March Council meeting.
Richard spoke of the many commitments he had had since Council last met, including attending the World Communion of Reformed Churches Council and the Asian Mission Conference, which was part of the Diamond Jubilee of the Christian Conference of Asia meeting.
Council acknowledged the appointment of Hannah North to the Central Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
Richard outlined the joys and concerns of the Church he sees as he fulfils the role of Moderator.
Te Aka Puaho
Te Aka Puaho Moderator Marina Rakuraku spoke noting that the organisational restructuring of Te Aka Puaho had both positive and negative outcomes. She highlighted initiatives undertaken and attempts made to find ways to bridge the ‘generation gap’. She expressed concern about a sense of complacency amongst her people, and the need to rejuvenate pastorates. Marina urged greater consultation and collaboration between the wider Church and Te Aka Puaho.
Convener Deborah Bower presented the report. She noted that Paul Ramsay, co-convenor of the Leadership Sub-committee, had stepped down. Council noted the contribution Paul had made and thanked him for his work.
The current reporting structure for the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership is seen as unnecessarily complex and best practice would see this both simplified and strengthened. Council agreed to review this.
Convener Anne Edgar presented the report. Noting the points covered, Council established a work group to develop an Investment Policy for PCANZ Funds, and they will report to Council’s March 2018 meeting with recommendations.
Noting its responsibilities to General Assembly, Council voted to establish terms of reference for a work group and appoint that group to undertake a review of Press Go and report to Council by its June 2018 meeting. Council in turn, having made any decisions, would bring any recommendations as part of its Report to GA18.
Church Property Trustees
Church Property Trustees chair Roger Gyles and Investment Committee chair Ian Russon were welcomed to the meeting. They updated Council on a number of matters, including the wind up of the Defined Benefit Section of the Beneficiary Fund; and the current insurance renewals. Gyles advised that the Trustees were aware that the Presbyterian Investment Fund (PIF) in its current format is not meeting the needs of parishes. A brief update was provided and this is a continuing work-stream for the Trustees.
Council appreciates the ongoing strong relationships with presbyteries and the wider Church it serves. Your, and our, prayerful support for our work is the basis from which we operate.
The Council will meet next at Ohope Marae from March 15-17 2018.
Jenny Flett, Convenor Council of Assembly
Rev Richard McLean, Deputy Convenor Council of Assembly