Council of Assembly met at St Francis Retreat Centre in Auckland on 28-29 February 2020.
During our meeting the first confirmed case of COVID-19 virus was announced in Aotearoa New Zealand. Council spent some time discussing the impact of COVID-19; implications, risks, communication and related issues. As our first communication, a pastoral email was released on 2 March, with a further update on 10 March. Council paused to pray for everyone affected by this outbreak.
Part of the practice of Council in recent years has been to ensure prayer is a core part of our meetings. Following the presentation of each report, a different Council member is invited to pray for that area of our life together. It reminds us what is core and central to our work.
Te Aka Puaho
Council welcomed the news from the recent Te Aka Puaho hui that Marina Rakuraku has been elected for a further term as Moderator, and expressed its congratulations to her and prayed for the ongoing work of Te Aka Puaho.
Our Moderator, Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio spoke of his work over the past three months and described his experience of participating in the Waitangi Day services at the Treaty Grounds as a real highlight.
Theological Education and Leadership Training Task Group (TELT)
A good part of our meeting was spent hearing and receiving the draft report from the Theological Education and Leadership Training Task Group (TELT). TELT members Rev Simon McLeay (convenor), Mr Rob McIntosh, Rev Erin Pendreigh and Ms Sharon Searle, were welcomed to the meeting. The group members gave a presentation on their consultations across the Church on theological education and leadership training, and their findings. Following discussion and a time of questions and answers, Council agreed to provide written feedback to the task group and they will then liaise with the Knox Centre and Research Centre staff to find a date to make a presentation to them. Having considered their feedback, the TELT Task Group will complete their report so it can be shared with each of the presbyteries. The final report will then be drafted and presented at General Assembly.
Each time Council meets, each presbytery reports. The variability in level of information was noted. Several Council members gave feedback on interactions with their presbyteries. Council noted with interest the excellent work and reporting by Northern Presbytery and we encourage this report to be widely read. To further enhance relationships between Council and presbyteries, Council will trial inviting a presbytery representative to the meeting (via Zoom technology) to speak to their report, and to ask and be asked questions by the Council. The Council believes doing this for each of the regional presbyteries (as both Te Aka Puaho and Pacific Presbytery are already represented in person) would ensure all presbyteries have this opportunity in a two-year cycle.
Diana Baird, Resource Sub-committee convener presented their report. The main item was presenting an updated SIPO (Statement of Investment Policy and Objectives) following a two-year trial period. Council asked for more work to be undertaken and for it to be presented at the next Council meeting so that it can be reported to Assembly for adoption. Consideration of a review of national Church funding was deferred until the June Council meeting, pending input from the Theology of Money and Property Task Group.
Theology of Property and Money Task Group
Council noted the report from the Theology of Money and Property Work Group, and encouraged them in their ongoing work.
Convenor of the Leadership Sub-committee Dr Deborah Bower presented their report. She advised that the ministry development pilot programme was progressing well. She noted that the “Preaching & Plagiarism” paper written by Rev Dr Geoff New for Leadership Subcommittee, needs to be adopted as a policy by Council. It was agreed that the policy should also include music and images. Council agreed and will ask the Book of Order Advisory Committee to draft a supplementary provision for Preaching and Plagiarism, based on the Council’s policy, and to also include music and images.
Dr Bower explained some of the implications for ongoing Local Ordained Ministry support once the proposed new training process is developed. The Leadership Subcommittee will add to its work stream the development of a Code of Practice.
Dr Bower advised that she was stepping down as convenor of Leadership Sub-committee, effective from next week’s Leadership meeting. She noted that co-convenor Rev Dr Darryl Tempero will continue and that a new co-convenor will be appointed as part of the normal process via the nominating committee. The Council Convenor expressed appreciation for her work as LSC convenor, and her contributions to Council of Assembly. Other Council members endorsed this.
Synod of Otago and Southland
Mr John Willis is concluding his term as the Synod of Otago and Southland representative on Council, and he too was thanked for his contributions in our meetings.
Assembly Executive Secretary
Our Assembly Executive Secretary, Rev Wayne Matheson reported and highlighted a number of areas of our life. Council was delighted to receive the news that following advertising, shortlisting and interviewing – an appointment had been made for the Compliance Director role. Mr Matthew Hague will start on 4 May. Also, appointments were pending for the Compliance Support Officer and Office Administrator.
Council agreed that it would move to use Boardable management software for the use of Council meetings and for electronic storage of Council records. It also agreed that it would advise all sub-committees, work groups, task groups and standing committees of the Assembly that they must use the Boardable board and committee management software to ensure consistency in best practice and management of Church documents, effective no later than 30 September 2020.
Council affirmed the appointment of the Rev Bonnie Robinson as our representative to the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services.
Areas of our wider ecumenical relationships and partnerships were noted.
Rev Hamish Galloway, Moderator Designate, spoke about some of his planning for the 2020 Assembly, based on the theme of intergenerational connection.
The AES reported and provided an update on planning and logistics for the 2020 Assembly and reminded Council of the new nominating process for Moderator Designate. This information is already in the hands of sessions; parish councils and presbyteries.
It was reported that the PressGo Review outcomes agreed to at the last Council meeting had been forwarded to the PressGo Board. In response, the Board had submitted a draft implementation plan.
Council will meet again in June 2020.
We continue to invite the Church to pray for us and the work before us, for our Moderator and Moderator Designate, our sub-committees, task groups, work groups and other national church committees, and our national staff.
Rev Richard McLean Anne Edgar
Convenor Deputy Convenor