The 2008-2010 Council met together for the first time from Friday 21 to Saturday 22 November, at St John’s in the City, Wellington. Unfortunately Convenor the Rev Rhys Pearson was unable to attend due to recent ill health, so the meeting was chaired by incoming deputy convenor the Rev Emma Keown.
Emma welcomed new Council members as of General Assembly 2008, which in addition to herself include: Zona Pearce, the Rev Pauline Stewart, the Rev Peter Dunn, the Very Rev Bruce Hansen (Church Property Trustees), the Rev Hyeeun Kim (Council of Asian Congregations) and Cunny Atchison (Resource subcommittee). A full list of Council members for 2008-2010 is available .
A highlight of this Council meeting was a presentation on governance by Alistair Sheriff, who is a solicitor with ties to the Presbyterian Church. Alistair’s presentation asked Council to consider the nuances of our role, and what we must ensure we take responsibility for.
Matters arising from General Assembly 2008
Council discussed the need to make the service team and their work more visible at Assembly. In a general discussion about the way in which Assemblies are held, their cost and the numbers attending, Council affirmed the value of the Church gathering together every two years in General Assembly. Council processed the recommendations put to it by GA08 and assigned them to a relevant body or person for action.
Martin outlined recent thinking and consultation on the Church’s youth policy. Council talked about the importance of cultural change within churches so that young people feel welcome. We discussed different models, such as whether there should be regional youth workers or a focus at the national level. Issues of transition from Kids Friendly, to youth work, to student-focused ministry (such as Studentsoul) were also canvassed. Council acknowledged the importance of including and listening to the younger generation through our leadership structures, such as church councils.
Council affirmed the policy work and asked that it be developed further to include intentional integration with other age-group ministries, the Global Mission Office, and linkages with youth-ministry models and ordained ministry training.
Council asked Martin to develop job descriptions for a role focused on fostering culture change in terms of churches’ attitudes to young people; and for a secondary role focused on national administrative functions. Council also encouraged the new enlarged presbyteries to engage regional youth advisors.
Lisa Wells presented the report requested by the previous Council on the funding of chaplaincy. Council agreed that the grant funding of external chaplaincy organisations such as ICTCC or ICHC would not be resumed. Council expressed support for ICHC in terms of lobbying government for increased funding for hospital chaplaincy.
Assembly Executive Secretary
Martin discussed the significant contributions made by staff during GA08. He outlined recent work on identifying people for the Press Go advisory board and the sending out of Press Go criteria for presbyteries to provide feedback. In response to a query from Martin, Council affirmed that all associates on Church committees should have their costs covered by that committee.
The Right Rev Dr Graham Redding talked about his recent visit to the Church of North India Assembly, which coincided with the persecution of Christians in Orissa. Graham also discussed the changing face of ecumenism in New Zealand in relation to recent meetings of church leaders.
Convenor Ian Guy presented the subcommittee’s report. Council discussed the concept of a moratorium on receiving ministers from overseas but decided it was not necessary at this point, after advice from Graham (in his role as principal of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership). Ian reported that the subcommittee was working on implementing ministry reviews, with up to 30 reviewers to be trained at the Church’s expense.
Convenor Cunny Atchison presented the accounts for the year to date, which show the Church in a positive financial position. Cunny warned of the substantial negative impact that declining interest rates will have on General Assembly income. There was some discussion of the way in which national responsibilities will be managed under the new presbyteries model, and Cunny agreed to communicate his subcommittee’s feedback to the presbyteries task group.
Te Aka Puaho
Te Aka Puaho has invited the Council to consider holding General Assembly 2012 in the Whakatane/Ohope area. Council asked Martin to investigate the practicalities of the proposal and report back to our next meeting.
Pacific Island Synod
In response to questions from Olinda Woodroffe, Council clarified that all reports to council are confidential unless Council specifically deems them otherwise.
Council agreed that the Leadership subcommittee would consider issues raised by Olinda around membership of the Pacific Island Synod and its constitution. The subcommittee will undertake consultation with the view to finding a way forward, and report back to Council.
Council of Asian Congregations
The Rev Hyeeun Kim reported that after the retirement of the Rev Paul Kim, the Council of Asian Congregations was considering employing a youth worker to target the 1.5 generation (young people of Asian heritage who have done most of their growing up in the New Zealand context). The Council of Asian Congregations will work with Martin to bring a proposal to the next Council meeting.
Council discussed again the issue of how to bring Asian congregations into membership of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and asked Hyeeun to circulate some written information and to continue discussions with the Resource and Leadership subcommittees, the AES and Auckland Presbytery. Council encouraged the work that was underway.
National Mission Enabler
The Rev John Daniel reported that Studentsoul would start next year at Auckland University in association with the Maclaurin Chapel, thanks to financial support from a generous benefactor. St Andrew’s will act as the host congregation and Auckland presbytery is also involved in the project. John also outlined how demographic information relating to the Pacific Island and Asian people had been circulated to the respective groups. He spoke about his intention to progress work on ministers’ wellness next year during study leave.
Our next meeting will be Thursday 26 to Friday 27 March in Wellington. As always, we welcome your feedback or comments. Please contact the Council via firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in Christ,