It is sad, even though it’s understandable in light of the happenings of the past nearly-two years, to see some people in our country becoming less tolerant, more frustrated, less hopeful, more angry, less considerate, and generally unsettled - behaving outside of the ‘Kiwi character’. As people of God and the Body of Christ, it is important that we continue to treat each other with respect, love and grace, as that is part of our witness to the salvation we received through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us heed the call to each of us through Colossians 3:12-14:
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (New Living Translation)
Through this newsletter Council of Assembly like to share with you core aspects of the work we have been doing.
Council has welcomed a number of new members: from Northern Presbytery, Rev Dr Colin Marshall; from Kaimai Presbytery, Dr Marion Sanders; and from Asia Congregations, Mr Felix Kim. Council is also pleased to have as Associates: Mr Mark Heslip representing the Synod of Otago; Rev Dr Ron Mills, the current chair of the Church Property Trustees; and the new Moderator of the Pacific Presbytery, Rev Fieta Ikitoelagi-Faitala.
Council has devoted time to upskilling itself on matters of orientation, on the background and context of the Council, and on governance training. It is vital Council understands its role and function and attends to those matters that sit within its brief. We are grateful for the assistance provided; this sets us up well for our work going forward.
Council of Assembly has met three times, via zoom, since the online Assembly. We tended to, amongst other business, the following:
This year has been challenging as we all have been required to adjust to various alert levels or traffic light colours. Council notes, in particular, the extended lockdown - especially affecting those in parts of the Northern Presbytery. Back in September, in recognition of this, Council offered parishes in the extended lockdown area an invitation to apply for a Assembly Assessment holiday of a month. A total of 34 parishes applied and the amount of this initiative was $29,983.74 excluding GST.
We are grateful for the information provided from the Assembly Office to assist church councils, ministers, and others, as the Government announced various changes to COVID restrictions and policy during the year.
The change to the COVID-19 Protection Framework (the traffic light system) has required additional adjustments - and new guidelines and government policy to understand and apply. Linked to this has been the requirement church councils consider if they will require vaccine certificates for gatherings, and how they will provide care and support for all within their communities. Council acknowledges that in many congregations (and communities) there are a range of views on this subject and notes the call to prayer by our Moderator earlier this month. Council recognises these are never easy decisions and taking time to gather and understand information, listen, seek understanding of the views of others, prayer and the seeking of God, have all played a part in each church council decision.
The Assembly Office has produced a number of resources and guides to assist church councils in their considerations and decision making. For a full list of these and other resources please see our website.
The Council has endorsed an Assembly Office staff COVID-19 vaccination policy, developed by the Assembly Executive Secretary.
Council was updated on the work of our Moderator Rt Rev Hamish Galloway and we commend him to your prayers as he serves us in this role. Hamish shared with Council his early observations of the life of the Church, and with Council encouragement, called the Church to prayer for our nation. His call - that we pray for courage, empathy, hope and grace – remains important for us and our communities now and in the days that lie ahead.
Council confirmed the minutes of the 2021 online Assembly. These can be found on our website.
From the Nominating Committee
The Nominating Committee had a number of positions on committees to fill post-Assembly and Council received recommendations from them, it confirms the following appointments:
- Rev Nathan Parry and Mrs Lois Robertson to the Personnel Work Group.
- Rev Roxy Gahegan to the Leadership Sub-committee.
Appointment of Complaints and Disputes Manager
Following the changes agreed to at the online Assembly, Council was required to appoint a Complaints and Disputes Manager under the agreed to changes to the Book of Order, Chapter 15. Council is pleased to advise it appointed Mrs Anne Edgar to this role. Should you wish to contact Anne, email her or phone 0800 244 357.
Te Reo Commissioner conversation
Following GA18, Council – in conjunction with Te Aka Puaho - was charged with advancing the Te Reo Commissioner concept. In conversation with Te Aka Puaho, it was reported to Council that Te Aka Puaho desire that folk: come and experience Te Maungarongo Ohope Marae, become familiar with the place, learn or relearn the history, and most importantly, experience the people of Te Aka Puaho. The desire was for each presbytery to send folk to a gathering at Ohope, to learn together and take back and share with people in their presbytery.
Several attempts at holding such an event were put in place, due to COVID restrictions these gatherings were postponed.
A way forward, and maybe a fresh start of conversations between the Moderator of the General Assembly and the Moderator of Te Aka Puaho on how we can fulfil the Assembly recommendation, are to be explored.
Synod of Otago and Southland dialogue with Council
Back in 2018, Council received an invitation from the Executive of the Synod of Otago and Southland to enter into a working dialogue. Synod proposed this include three people from the Synod and three from Council. Council responded and affirmed its willingness to actively participate. For a number of reasons – mainly due to the unavailability of members of the Synod team – no meetings have taken place. In June 2021, a request was received for this to be started by Synod and Council, with a change in personnel, and to be held-over until the new Council was in place. Council has appointed its representatives on this group: the Convenor; the Convenor of the Leadership Sub-Committee; and the Convenor of the Resource Sub-Committee.
Audit and Risk Committee
Council appointed Mrs Bronwyn Miller from the Resource Sub-Committee to serve on the Audit and Risk Committee. The other members are the independent chair – Mr Ian Lothian and Mr Craig Donaldson.
Council was updated on the work of the Financial Consolidation process we are required to undertake as part of the Financial Reporting Standards. This is a huge project and will be required to be completed annually. External compliance requirements are a part of our landscape, and we will do all we can to operate and report appropriately. Council notes with compliance comes cost and possible recommendations from our Auditors to attend to.
With the possibility of boarder restrictions changing, Council endorsed changes to our international travel policy, and the Assembly Executive Secretary developed and put in place a policy to cover staff and others invited to represent the Presbyterian Church overseas. Contact the AES directly for more details.
Special Assembly 2022
The online Assembly agreed that business not attended to by the online Assembly would be dealt with by a Special Assembly in 2022. Council has considered the current environment and on-going COVID developments. In order to provide surety and direction, Council agreed:
“That, given there are exceptional circumstance which will make it impractical for some Commissioners to meet in person, the Council of Assembly determines that the 2022 Special Assembly will be held by electronic means.”
Commissioners will be advised of this decision, and arrangements relating to the Special Assembly will communicated in the New Year.
Our Assembly Executive Secretary currently has some health challenges. Following consultation, Council believes it is important we allow Wayne to focus on his health and have thus appointed Ms Heather McKenzie as Acting Clerk of the Assembly until further notice. Commissioners and others who have questions related to the Special Assembly, please contact Heather direct via email or by phone 027 455 0124.
Acting Assembly Executive Secretary
As mentioned, the Assembly Executive Secretary will require some time out to focus on his health in the New Year. In addition, Wayne is due for study leave. Following any sick leave, Wayne will take study leave. Council has appointed Rev Phil King to be the Acting Assembly Executive Secretary while Wayne is away in 2022. The date Phil will assume this role will be advised in due course.
As this year draws to a close, Council acknowledges the challenges that 2021 has confronted us with. It has left many of us tired, weary and drained. The extra demands have stretched us. We are reminded again of our Moderator’s call to prayer – for courage, empathy, hope and grace. May we all experience these and offer these to others.
We end with these words from the Gospel of John which remind us that Jesus has come among us, and that grace upon grace has been given:
I whakakikokikoa te Kupu, a noho ana i a matou, i kite ano matou i tona kororia he kororia e rite ana ki to te Tama kotahi a te Matua, ki tonu i te aroha noa, i te pono. I korerotia ia e Hoani; i karanga tera, i mea, Ko ia tenei i korerotia ra e ahau, Ko ia e haere mai ana i muri i ahau e meinga ana ki mua i ahau: no mua hoki ia i ahau. Kua riro hoki i a tatou katoa tetahi wahi o tona raneatanga, te aroha noa hono iho ki te aroha noa. Na Mohi hoki i homai te ture; ko te aroha noa me te pono i ahu mai i a Ihu Karaiti. Kahore ano he tangata i kite noa i te Atua; ko te Tama kotahi, kei te uma nei o te Matua, nana ia i whakapuaki.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”’) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:14-18)
Have a grace and joy filled Christmas and enter 2022 in faith, with hope and the peace that is beyond human understanding.
Rev Dr Jaco Reyneke Mrs Kat Solomona
Convener Deputy Convener
Council of Assembly Council of Assembly
We look forward to working together and serving the wider Church in these roles. Please feel free to contact us.
“We have been living in beautiful Tauranga since arriving in New Zealand from South Africa in 2003. Anel and I have three adult children. After serving St Paul’s Cooperating Church Papamoa for 14 years - while also being involved with various Afrikaans ministries in Tauranga, Taupo, Whakatane and Rotorua - St Enoch’s Tauranga called me three years ago. It is a privilege to work alongside people as we engage in God’s mission.
I have been the Kaimai Presbytery representative on COA for five years before being appointed as Convenor. Apart from my ministry training, I have a Master of Theology degree in Clinical Pastoral Care and a PhD.”
“Talofa lava and thank you for the opportunity to serve our beloved Church on COA. My roots are from the beautiful island of Samoa and blessed to be serving with my husband Mose at St Martins in Papatoetoe under Northern Presbytery. God led my path with a BA in Education and Māori Studies, and a PGDip in Counselling Theory from the University of Auckland. My career journey is mainly in the local and central government area for 28 years. In way of appreciation and giving back, I volunteered and served on a NGO Board in South Auckland. Before joining COA, it was an honour and a privileged to share the Co-Convenor role on the Leadership Sub-Committee.”