The Council of Assembly’s July meeting was held from July 22-24 at Mission Bay in Auckland. With just two months to go before the General Assembly, much of the Council’s work focused on finalising details of the reports to be sent out to commissioners.
The Council also acknowledged the work of the Rev Ian Guy, who has resigned as convenor of the Leadership Sub-committee, and Neil Walker and the Rev Richard Dawson, who have both completed their terms. Council convenor the Rev Emma Keown also acknowledged the significant contribution made by the Moderator, the Right Rev Dr Graham Redding, to the work of the Council over the past two years.
Emma reported on the work of the Council and the range of recommendations and papers supported by the Council for consideration by the General Assembly. The Assembly is going to be asked to consider a number of matters ranging from the Church’s view on alcohol regulation through to new legislation associated with the evaluation of congregations.
The Moderator reported on his activities over the past four months and highlighted development within the Uniting Congregations of Aotearoa New Zealand, the work of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services and the success of our recent Connect youth conference.
Assembly Executive Secretary
AES the Rev Martin Baker reported on a range of issues and provided further analysis of significant trends affecting the life of our Church. While congregations engage with the challenges of reaching out to an increasingly diverse community, there are now more than 150 fewer active ministers supported by stipends in the Church than there were 20 years ago. Martin reported that there are some very positive opportunities associated with enhancing relationships with Church schools, Presbyterian Savings and Development Society and Presbyterian Support regions.
Focal Identity Statement (FIS)
The Council were very encouraged to hear a report from the Rev Richard Dawson about the achievements of the FIS Workgroup. Discussion around the Confession of Faith, Kupu Whakapono, and its commentary, will be a highlight of this year’s General Assembly.
The Rev Ian Guy provided an update of the Ministry Development Programme and the training being currently provided for the Parish Review process. Ian also reported on the work being done to identify new mission initiatives, the review of Local Ordained Ministry training, new rules guiding the work of the Personnel Work Group and the completion of extensive new regulations for the selection and training of ministers.
Convenor Cunny Atchison reported on the positive result of a year-end deficit far smaller than was budgeted for. The Council were also encouraged to hear of the committed support of congregations for Assembly Assessment. The Council approved the 2010-11 budget, noting a significantly reduced budget deficit for this financial year. There is also the intention to discuss at the General Assembly potential Church support for the redevelopment of some of the facilities at our Marae in Ohope.
Asian Advisory Group
The Council were interested to hear about the work of this Auckland-based national advisory group. A focus of their work has been to engage with Korean communities from a number of different Presbyterian churches in Korea. Members of the group, along with the AES, plan to travel to Korea to attend a range of meetings intended to finalise a mutual recognition of ministries agreement allowing for the movement of Korean and other ministers to serve in churches here and in Korea.
The Very Rev Garry Marquand joined the Council meeting to report on the progress being made in the reform of presbyteries. Some very positive progress is happening and the General Assembly will provide an opportunity to celebrate the inauguration of our two newest presbyteries. Garry’s report provided further clarification on the different roles that larger presbyteries would fulfil and expectations about the functions of the national Church.
The Rev Wayne Matheson, Lisa Wells and the Rev Peter Dunn reported on their work consulting presbyteries and various groups about priorities for the future. Their work revealed some quite clear trends that will be further discussed at the General Assembly, through a discussion paper to be put to dialogue groups.
Nominating Committee Review
Neil Walker reported on the work done to support and clarify the work of the Nominating Committee and expectations associated with membership of Assembly committees and the Council. Much of this work clarifies and supplements guidelines contained in the Book of Order and supplementary regulations.
The Council discussed documents prepared by those working on the reform of presbyteries in the Auckland region and Northland. The Council were reminded not only of the size and particular diversity of this area, but also of the need to support and resource the kind of leadership that will help fulfil the vision of reformed presbyteries committed to supporting the growth and mission of our Church.
Pacific Island Synod
On the Friday night of their meeting, Council members enjoyed the hospitality provided by the Synod at their Annual General Meeting in Otara. The Council were privileged to be present for a ceremony celebrating the ministry of the Very Rev Kenape Faletoese. An address to the Synod by the Council convenor was followed by a time of discussion between Council and Synod members.
Service Team Leaders provided an update to the Council of their work. Of particular note was the completion of the building developments associated with the Knox Centre and the Archives, the development of Kids Friendly, and the work being done by our national youth leaders.