The Council of Assembly met at the Mary Mckillop Centre, Mission Bay in Auckland on 15-16 March. Convenor, the Rev Wayne Matheson opened the meeting.
The Right Rev Ray Coster provided an update of his work. He reported on some of his media engagements relating to decisions made at last year’s General Assembly. Ray spoke about the positive signs of growth in our Church and especially mentioned the three new or renovated churches that he has recently dedicated. Ray is extremely active in his visits to presbyteries and congregations and also represented our Church, along with Te aka Puaho, at Waitangi Day.
Te Aka Puaho
Te Aka Puaho Moderator the Rev Wayne Te Kaawa spoke about the development of a new council structure within Te Aka Puaho, which has taken the place of a number of standing committees. Wayne talked about the planned upgrade to the national marae, the continuing number of people undertaking Amorangi training and about Te Aka Puaho’s work in reaching out to members who now live in Australia. Wayne had just returned from a Pacific Conference of Church Assembly in the Solomon Islands which he attended with delegates from the Pacific Islands Synod as part of the work of Komiti Moananui.
Pacific Islands Synod
Synod Moderator the Rev Ere Talagi-Ikitoelangi spoke about the Synod’s work and especially the challenges during this time of transition as the Synod takes on the functions of a presbytery. Ere talked about the work of the Pasifika Misionare and the development of the Pacific Islands Reflection Centre in Auckland.
The Rev James Lee from the Asian Council was joined by the Rev Dr Stuart Vogel and the Rev Kyoung-Gyun Han in the presentation of the Asian Council’s report. Of special interest are the implications of understanding the Church within a cross-cultural understanding and how this relates to our understanding of multi culturalism.
The Asian Council is establishing a work group to develop a discussion document focused on these challenges. The document will be circulated to presbyteries and church councils.
Assembly Executive Secretary
Martin Baker provided the Council with an overview of his work. Main discussion focused on developing a process of further aligning the national budget with the Council’s strategic directions. The Council is also mindful of the need to be responsive to the financial challenges faced by many of our congregations. To this end, the Council has agreed to establish a small workgroup to review the draft 2013-14 budget prior to its consideration by the Resource Committee and the full Council of Assembly.
The Council also talked about the draft discussions document which covers various matters that GA12 decided should be referred to presbyteries and church councils for discussion and feedback. The Council want to allow for two rounds of consultation on the matters prior to the 2014 General Assembly.
Dr John Kernohan, who chairs the commission, reported on the appointment of the new master for Knox College, the Rev Dr Selwyn Yeoman and on the opening of the renovated Knox and Salmond College. The Council congratulated John and the commission for the extraordinary work they have been doing, and especially the achievement of completing the extensive renovations for Knox and Salmond over the Christmas holidays.
Convenor the Rev Diane Gilliam Weeks reported on the work of the committee. The committee is currently undertaking a number of tasks, including the review of regulations in relation to lay preachers. The committee has an interest in ensuring that they base any future discussion on lay ministry on sound theological grounds. Diane reported on very positive development within the internship model of training for the ordained ministry and on progress with the ministry development reviews. The Leadership Sub-committee is also going through a review process of its own terms of reference.
Convenor Jenny Flett presented the report of the committee. Jenny reported that our overall income and expenditure are within budget expectations. There are a few congregations who have fallen well behind in paying the Assembly Assessment and the committee are looking at ways to engage positively with them. Overall though, congregations have been generous in their support of the work of the Church’s national activities.
Jenny reminded the Council that there is a strong likelihood of a change in the compliance standards around financial reporting by congregations, which is going to place further demands on treasurers and finance committees. Final details will not be known until next year.
Jenny reported that while few congregations provide any kind of regular support to the work of Press Go, all the mission projects supported by Press Go are growing and flourishing. The Press Go board is looking at ways of enhancing and focusing their work, but without the support of congregations and presbyteries, the resources available to support new and innovative mission via Press Go will continue to diminish.
Insurance Task Group
Convenor, Mr Geoff Foster reported on the work of this group, which was established to engage with the multiple challenges associated with the provision of insurance for church properties. The current group who coordinated purchasing and administering insurance on behalf of congregations, the Presbyterian Insurance Group, is undergoing changes that will lead to a more formally constituted entity.
Geoff also reported on the work of the Northern Presbyteries Transition Manager, and the need to continue to support this role for a further two-year period.
Churches in a time of change
The Rev Mark Johnston, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership’s (KCML) northern coordinator, spoke to the council about the way churches engage with a changing missional context. He advised that KCML was developing resources to equip church leaders to develop new practices and habits in order to meet the changed environment.
The Council’s meeting concluded on the afternoon of Saturday 16 March, and will meet again on the 5-6 July in Auckland.
The Rev Wayne Matheson
Council of Assembly
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall
Council of Assembly