Council met over the weekend 4-6 April at St Alban’s Presbyterian Church in Palmerston North.
Rhys Pearson reported on an April meeting that he had attended on the future of cooperating and Uniting churches. Consultation is occurring with these churches about their desires for their future. Council discussed that the formation of new cooperative ventures should not be encouraged while this process was underway, with the Methodist, Anglican, Christian Churches in NZ (Churches of Christ) and Congregational churches all seeking a moratorium on new CVs while we work though plans for the future.
Pamela Tankersley reported on her visit to Waitangi and said that the way she has attended events with Te Aka Puaho moderator Millie Te Kaawa is proving a positive and commented-on model of biculturalism in action. She talked about the way in which she is building the public voice of the Church by commenting on key social issues. She also outlined her discussions with leaders of political parties about the concerns the Church has, and the combined Church leaders’ visit to Parliament. Council commended Te Aka Puaho for its work in raising its profile in the church, in Maoridom and in the nation. Council affirmed its support for working with the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services and other churches to produce resources on relevant social issues. Council accepted the invitation of the Methodist Church to participate in information conversation about cooperation between the major Churches in New Zealand.
Te Aka Puaho
Wayne Te Kaawa was present at the meeting and reported on a number of positive developments in Te Aka Puaho, including an invitation to the Presbyterian Church to participant in the Waitangi Day service every year. He spoke about plans for the redevelopment of Ohope marae and the strengthening of Te Aka Puaho’s relationship with the Bay of Plenty presbytery. Discussions are underway with the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership about the nature of the Amorangi programme and the possible inclusion of university study. A youth arm, Te Puawaitanga o Te Aka Puaho, has recently been formed by nine people passionate about working with young people. Te Aka Puaho has also opened a new office complex in which the Moderator, Clerk and Ahorangi will be based.
Pacific Island Synod
Olinda Woodroffe talked about progress on the Reflection Centre for the Pacific Island Synod, with office space now leased in Auckland. She talked of the synod’s desire to be a court of the church, but it was observed it would not be possible to consider this process until all Pacific Island congregations were part of the synod. Council affirmed that only members of the Presbyterian Church can belong to the synod and/or hold office within it.
Council of Asian Congregations report
Martin Baker spoke about the outcome of discussions with Asian congregations wishing to join the Presbyterian Church, with difficulties posed by the requirement to eventually contribute financially to Assembly services at the same level as other congregations. These difficulties appear to mean it will not be viable for these churches to join the Church, although discussions are ongoing.
Presbyteries task group
Council discussed the report that has gone out for consultation. John Trainor offered to take a submission from Resource about issues in the proposal to task group convenor Garry Marquand.
Ecological task group
The report of the group was received and work of the task group was acknowledged, with a workshop now planned.
Church Property Trustees
When asked about the potential downturn and its effect on funds held by the Church, John Kernohan commented that because interest rates are strong, the PIF is performing very well. All PIF funds are held in fixed interest investments. The Beneficiary Fund has a portfolio of investments, but because of the Trustees’ conservative investment strategy, there is less exposure to market volatility than comparable funds in the sector. John reported that all presbyteries have registered under the Charities Act.
Proposal to restructure the Beneficiary Fund
John Kernohan reported that this is still in progress. This work began because as a defined benefit scheme, there is a risk that parishes will have to contribute more to the fund in the future. This risk does not exist with a defined contribution scheme. Council approved the establishment of a Kiwisaver-compliant section of the Beneficiary Fund, and directed the CPT and the Beneficiary Fund committee to develop details of the additional section for new and existing members. Details of the Compliant Fund will be confirmed by Council when they are finalised, and this material will then be distributed to presbyteries for approval before confirmation by GA08. Council decided that the Beneficiary Fund tax credit would be split 50/50 between the Fund and parishes as a reduction on Assembly Assessment.
Council agreed that 10 percent of average parish assessable income be set as a target for Assembly Assessment collection, to be achieved as and when possible. Convenor John Trainor reported that he expected to be able to recommend a significant cut in the amount raised by Assembly Assessment in 2008/09, bringing the Council closer to its target.
Council affirmed the previous decision of General Assembly that Assembly Assessment is a compulsory levy, but also noted that satisfactory settlements have been negotiated by Resource with parishes unable to pay. Council acknowledged that there exists a limited number of parishes that have not met their Assembly Assessment in full or reached a satisfactory settlement with Resource, despite attempts over many years to engage with them. Council asks that presbyteries respond to these parishes in the following ways: by engaging with them and providing advice to the Resource subcommittee; by implementing the General Assembly resolution that ministry not be commissioned for parishes who have not paid Assembly Assessment or reached a settlement with Resource; by declining permission to build if a parish has debts to the national church and is not attempting to meet them; by recommending to the CPT that these parishes not be able to draw funds from their capital reserve. Council requested that the AES write to presbyteries explaining this request and its context.
Convenor Ian Guy outlined progress on the ministry development programme, which has included the proposal of a practising certificate. Council affirmed the work and encouraged its continued development, including consultation with presbyteries and ministers prior to the proposal being presented at Assembly.
Assembly Executive Secretary
Council affirmed the focus of Martin’s work on the growth and resources strategy.
Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
Principal Graham Redding outlined the memorandum of understanding that has been agreed between the Centre and Knox College. Council approved the memorandum with some minor changes and also approved its signing, as well as acknowledging the significance of outlining the relationship between the Centre and the College in writing for the first time. Graham reported on scoping of the redevelopment of the Hewitson wing, which Council approved subject to finance being available. Graham reported on other developments at the centre, including the offering of workshops during this year and the relationship with the Amorangi training programme.
National Mission Enabler
John Daniel outlined mission projects bearing fruit in a number of areas of the church, including Blue Lagoon in Dunedin’s North East Valley. He also spoke about the progress made with the Mission Possible team during its three years of operation.
Council discussed the role of National Mission Enabler as part of a review of the position.
The next council meeting will be from 10-12 July. General Assembly is being held from 2-6 October.
As always, we welcome your feedback or comments. Please contact the Council via firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in Christ,