Council of Assembly met at the Mary MacKillop Centre, Mission Bay, Auckland on 14 and 15 June.
The meeting agenda was a full one and the reports before Council represented huge amounts of time, energy and wisdom from the many people who serve the Church in a variety of capacities.
In the absence of Convenor Rev Richard McLean, Deputy Convenor Anne Edgar chaired the meeting. Council noted that the Moderator of Te Aka Puaho was unable to attend due to a fall and prayed for her.
A regular pattern for Council meetings is that following the presentation of a report, discussion and decision, the chair invites a member of Council to pray for that area of our life together. It reminds Council of our interconnectedness and our reliance on God in all matters.
Right Rev Fakaofo Kaio spoke about his desire to build on relationships by visiting presbyteries as often as possible to make pastoral connections, particularly with parishes “who are hurting”. He expressed appreciation for the logistical support of the Assembly Office. He noted the value of leaders sharing experiences.
Draft Budget and Resource Sub-committee
Finance Manager Sandra Kennerley joined the meeting to present the draft budget for the 2019-2020 year. She outlined the process undertaken, and noted the “wide and appreciated consultation”. The draft budget was agreed to and, with this, a 2 percent increase of Assembly Assessment.
In a wide-ranging discussion on a provision in the Book of Order (5.10) which requires presbyteries to review congregations, Council wondered about the capacity for all presbyteries to carry out this work. In the current context, and for the future aspirations of the Church, Council will appoint a small group to investigate this and report back.
Theology of Property and Money Task Group
An interim report from the Theology of Property and Money Task Group (Sharing Resources) was received on its proposed work plan, together with information and question papers. There was enthusiastic affirmation of the task group’s work to date, and Council voiced support for its approach.
Mission Enterprise Fund
Noting the decision at the General Assembly in 2018, Council received a request from Knox Presbyterian Church, Lower Hutt for a grant from the Mission Enterprise Fund equivalent to the contribution made on the sale of the parish’s property in Naenae. This was agreed.
Anne Edgar, as convenor of the PressGo Review Work Group, presented the group’s report. Following discussion, where it was agreed Council supported both the direction of the report and the principals that underlie it, Council determined an executive summary including recommendations be referred to the PressGo Board and to presbytery councils for comment before they make decisions on the recommendations.
James Palmer, CEO of Christian Savings Ltd, was welcomed to the meeting and gave a presentation. He outlined the history of Christian Savings and how its current structure evolved. He reported a recent credit rating upgrade and an increase in both deposits and lending. He identified Presbyterian entities as the biggest proportion of new lending. James also spoke about new developments Christian Savings is funding. He encouraged the Council to consider how best the PCANZ and Christian Savings might work together in the future.
Phase Two Change (Review of National Church Operations)
Council appointed to lead the Phase Two Change process Rev Dr Jaco Reyneke (convenor), Rev Richard McLean and Ms Kirsty McLaren - partner in the firm McLaren and Associates. This is a follow-on from the work undertaken last year in reviewing our national operations. They have begun by seeking feedback from staff on a draft proposal being prepared for Council approval. A final report is anticipated being presented to Council and staff in August.
Code of Ethics Training Task Group
Rev Nikki Watkin and Rev Brett Johnstone, members of the Code of Ethics Training Task Group, presented their report and outlined the background to the research they had undertaken to identify gaps in the understanding of the Code of Ethics. They identified that there needs to be a more detailed understanding and training at both parish and presbytery level. The report noted different options for training. They suggested that the single page Code be translated into the additional languages used within the PCANZ. They made a series of recommendations, which were all agreed en bloc. These will be rolled out over the next few months.
Board of Knox College & Salmond College
Board Chair David Richardson was welcomed to the meeting. He outlined the historical background relating to the appointment of the Board. He presented the 2018 annual report of the Board, and reported that Knox College, Dunedin, was now in a healthy position.
The Council approved amendments to the Constitution of the Board of Knox College & Salmond College Incorporated. These changes will need to be ratified at the 2020 General Assembly.
Mr Richardson explained the steps the Board had taken in response to media articles about historical incidents of alleged sexual misconduct at Knox College, which included appointment of two independent lawyers to receive any complaints or concerns from students, past students or parents on these matters. The Council also received information on the newly released sexual misconduct policy (and regulations) for the University of Otago.
The Council resolved to record its appreciation for the work and contributions to the Church of Mr Richardson and the Master of Knox College, Very Rev Dr Graham Redding.
[Note: In March, Council of Assembly retained two women lawyers to assist any past residents of Knox College affected by the type of behaviour and culture described in recent media reports. The lawyers are independent of Knox College and will explore how the Council of Assembly can help and provide support if required. This service remains in place.]
Church Property Trustees
The Council noted the pending retirements of Kos van Lier and Pat Griffin, the Church Property Trustees Executive Officer and Administrator respectively, and expressed appreciation for their service to the Church. Council extended a welcome to Russell Garrett, the new Executive Officer for the Church Property Trustees from 1 July 2019.
Change Consultation – National Presbyteries
Dr Rod Watts, Northern Presbytery Executive Officer, spoke on behalf of his fellow presbytery executive officers and outlined their proposal to bring recommendations to the 2020 Assembly for structural changes to the Council of Assembly. He noted they are seeking feedback to shape the proposal. There was a period on in-depth discussion and further feedback, post Council meeting, will be provided.
The Council supported a recommendation, in a report from the Nominating committee, that the Rev Dr Darryl Tempero be appointed Deputy Convenor of the Leadership Sub-committee.
Personnel Work Group
A recommendation, received from Personnel Work Group, to reinstate the Rev Bonnie Robinson to the Ministerial Roll was agreed.
Crisis Management Policy
Council agreed to receive a draft Crisis Management high-end policy document from a small Council work group appointed to the task. It referred this document to the Audit and Risk Committee for comment prior to the formation of a national Crisis Response Committee.
Mrs Anne Edgar