Council of Assembly were warmly hosted by Te Aka Puaho for their meeting from 17-19 June 2021 at the Te Maungarongo Marae in Ohope.
Meeting and connection with Te Aka Puaho
Fifteen members of Council attended the meeting. Honey Thrupp was welcomed as the new Te Aka Puaho representative.
Thursday afternoon began with a welcoming powhiri, followed by afternoon tea. After dinner a number of Te Aka Puaho members joined Council for an informal conversation where highlights and challenges within Te Aka Puaho were shared. This was an important and meaningful time of connection.
Staying on the marae allowed for many opportunities for casual interaction, and relationships were established and renewed during this time.
Council was able to personally express condolences on the loss of Rev Tukua Tuwairua in late March; Tukua was the clerk of Te Aka Puaho and represented Te Aka Puaho on Council at the time of her death.
The Moderator of Te Aka Puaho, Marina Rakuraku, shared a verbal report with Council, this included the status of progress regarding conversations with presbyteries concerning a Te Reo Commissioner. It was noted that the Turakina Ngā Hara Trust (formerly the Turakina Māori Girls' College) has been wound up and the assets transferred to the PCANZ. Council agreed to bring a recommendation to General Assembly to transfer the balance of funds to Te Aka Puaho.
Six Council members, including the Moderator, Convenor, Deputy Convenor and AES joined Te Aka Puaho in a service of worship on the marae on Sunday morning, 20 June 2021. It was a privilege to be hosted by Te Aka Puaho and the visit provided Council with a wonderful opportunity to give tangible expression to our bicultural partnership.
Fakaofo Kaio spoke to his written report, highlighting aspects of his time as Moderator of the General Assembly, and describing it as having been a “most wonderful journey with God and with people”. Council expressed appreciation for the Moderator’s work as he prepared to conclude his role in September.
Hamish Galloway spoke to his report, outlining planning and preparations being undertaken for Assembly, including a ministers’ training day.
Council expressed concern about a developing pattern of declining attendance at Assembly, and the AES was asked to raise this concern with presbyteries (who oversee the appointment of Commissioners to Assembly).
Convenor Craig Donaldson joined the meeting via Zoom to present his report. He voiced concern that some congregations had failed to comply with the consolidation requirements, and his committee members are planning to make direct personal contact to follow-up with these compliance issues. He also expressed concern about the high cost of legal processes and suggested less expensive ways for dealing with complaints be considered.
Co-convenor Ryhan Prasad presented the committee’s report to Council and its report to Assembly. Council approved the updated Supervision Guidelines as well as the revised Terms of Reference for the Personnel Work Group. Council agreed that a minister’s Certificate of Good Standing will be confirmed annually through a process of self-declaration which is managed by the national Church.
Assembly Executive Secretary
The Assembly Executive Secretary’s report included matters such as the background to sale of property and joint venture recommendations, a report on the recent Emergency Assembly, planning for the 2021 Assembly, staff matters, interactions with the Moderator, various committees and presbyteries, and external organisations. Council were updated on current disciplinary and legal matters. Council were advised that the documentation for joint ownership in a limited liability company with the Anglican Diocese of Wellington was now ready for signing, and Council authorised the Convenor to sign the documentation on Council’s behalf.
Council Convenor Richard McLean commented briefly on his report which included some administrative matters and a draft Council report to Assembly. Council members made comments regarding the report, which will form part of the Assembly papers.
Theological Education and Leadership Training Task Group (TELT)
Convenor Simon McLeay and Task Group member Sharon Searle presented in person an update to their proposed report to Assembly and explained the context and process of this evolving body of work. Council expressed appreciation to the members of this Task Group for the work involved in compiling this report for Assembly.
Theology of Property and Money Task Group (Sharing Resources)
Convenor Jenny Flett joined the meeting by phone to present the report. Council members offered positive feedback to the Convenor on the report and agreed to endorse the Task Group’s report to Assembly.
Te Mahi Tahi I Te Roopu Mahi – Working Together Task Group
Task Group Co-convenors Martin Stewart and Sharon Ross-Ensor joined the meeting by phone to present the report. The group had been asked by the Council to propose a discussion paper with a possible framework to go to Assembly that informs and promotes discernment about a strategic direction for the Presbyterian Church. Council was supportive of the paper which is intended to generate meaningful discussion in Assembly dialogue groups.
Statement of Service Performance (SSP) Task Group
A report from this Task Group was received. The New Zealand Accounting Standards Board have introduced a requirement to be met as part of the Annual Report produced by the PCANZ. The Task Group have considered which elements would need to be part of the PCANZ Statement of Service Performance Report to meet the Public Benefit Entities Financial Reporting Standard, and a draft template of questions was presented to Council. Council agreed in principle to the suggested data gathering and reporting process. A set of questions to be used to obtain relevant information will be trialled with a small sample of parishes before being finalised and circulated to all concerned parties.
Concern was voiced by Council about the current high level of non-compliance in submitting annual statistics returns (estimated at around a third of congregations).
Council agreed that the Rev Professor Murray Rae be appointed as the incoming Chair of the Board of Knox College and Salmond College as from May 2022. It was noted that a new Head had been appointed for Knox College.
Council expressed support for the revised earthquake policy timetable as provided by the Church Property Trustees, and received correspondence concerning the finalisation of the Mt Eden PIC property sale.
A letter from Presbytery Central’s Council concerning UCANZ funding was received and responded to.
The Convenor was asked to respond to PressGo concerning some questions raised in their report to Council.
Retiring Council members
Council noted the following members are soon to complete their terms on Council: Fakaofo Kaio (Moderator), Richard McLean (Convenor, Council Associate to Church Property Trustees), Anne Edgar (Deputy Convenor), Jaco Reyneke (Kaimai Presbytery), Chris Elliot (Church Property Trustees Associate) and Karima Fai’ai (Moderator – Pacific Presbytery). The retiring members were invited to reflect briefly on their time on Council, and thanks was expressed for their time and contribution on Council.
The next meeting of Council is scheduled to take place from 18-20 November 2021 in Dunedin.
Richard McLean Anne Edgar
Convener Deputy Convener
Council of Assembly Council of Assembly