The Council of Assembly met at the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin from Thursday 10 November to Saturday the 12 November. Council members were especially appreciative of the generosity and welcome shown by the hosts for the meeting, the Synod of Otago and Southland.
The meeting began with a tour by the Very Rev Dr Graham Redding of the Hewitson Library, Archives and the Knox Centre. Hewitson librarian John Timmins and Archives’ Andrew McPherson spoke to the Council about their work.
Martin Stewart provided the Council with an update on the work being undertaken to support Christchurch congregations and their ministry to those affected by the earthquake. Significant conversations are taking place within the Presbyterian Church and between our Church and others regarding the shape of ministry and witness in the future. Martin acknowledged especially support from PSDS in helping fund the work of the Rev Daryl Tempero as he provides support to ministers and congregations engaged in ministry within this challenging, post-earthquake context.
Te Aka Puaho
The Rev Wayne Te Kaawa reported on his work in the joint roles of Te Ahorangi and moderator of Te Aka Puaho. Of particular focus were developments in the changing structure of Te Aka Puaho with a number of committees being brought together to form a council, and also the completing of plans to begin the development work for our national marae at Ohope.
The Rev Hyeeun Kim reported on the development of the Asian Council (the new name for the Asian Advisory Group), and the sub group of Korean ministers and leaders working to support the development of mission and ministry among our Asian congregations. We are all awaiting the finalisation of an agreement which will see the Presbyterian Church of Korea, our Church and CWM jointly support the work of a minister from the PCK to work here for three years to help strengthen the ministry of our Asian congregations.
The Right Rev Peter Cheyne provided an overview of his work among presbyteries and congregations. Peter brought a number of proposals and suggestions regarding the development of closer relationships with organisations working to support mission and witness in the wider community. He also provided an update of current ecumenical endeavours.
Martin Baker updated the Council on a range of national activities and the work of the service team. He presented papers regarding the strategic implications for the changing nature of ministry in the Church, and a discussion document on some possibilities regarding the role of the General Assembly. He also reported on developments relating to the 2010 General Assembly directive to investigate the establishment of a Auckland-based centre or “hub”. He will be undertaking further work on this over the next few months.
The Rev Helen Harray reported on the work of the Leadership subcommittee. The challenges of leadership and ministry become more complex in an increasingly diverse Church seeking to support mission in a broad and changing range of contexts. The Council asked the AES to develop terms of reference which will help us both gain a better understanding of the changing context of ministry within our increasingly diverse cultures and language groups, and examine how we may most effectively provide structure and support for their present and future leadership needs.
The Council has also instigated a process to fulfil the 2010 General Assembly requirement that we review the Ministry Development Programme.
Cunny Atchison, the Convenor of the Resource Committee, provided a very helpful overview of our current work to engage with the complexities around building insurance as a result of the Christchurch earthquakes. A subcommittee is undertaking a review of the provision of church building insurance and will be reporting to the Council prior to the General Assembly.
Review of Hewitson Library and Archives
Professor Linda Holloway and her team have now completed a review of the structure and functions of the Hewitson Library and Archives. There are a number of implications from the review which the Council will be working through over the next few months.
Council strategy of national functions
The Council has been working on a strategy to guide the work of the Church’s national functions. The Council will be seeking further comment on this document from presbyteries.
The Moderator-elect, the Rev Ray Coster, provided a report on the work of Press Go which is currently supporting around eight different growth-focused mission projects in our Church. The innovation and growth these activities represent provided real encouragement for the Council.
The Council have endorsed a proposal to continue the role of the Global Mission coordinator beyond the current fixed-term contract being fulfilled by the Very Rev Pamela Tankersley. While Pamela will formally “retire” from this role mid-way through 2012 she will continue to assist the national office in the organisation of the General Assembly and in other activities. The new Global Mission role will be advertised in approximately March 2012.
The Council has greatly valued the work of the Very Rev Garry Marquand and his team in providing leadership for the Presbytery Reform processes agreed upon at the 2008 and 2010 General Assemblies. While different presbyteries are at different stages in this process, Council planning is based on an assumption of the establishment of several large presbyteries working to fulfil the vision for congregational support and resourcing articulated in the Presbytery Reform documents.
The Council self-review
Council Convenor Emma Keown coordinated a self-review of the Council’s own function. One of the outcomes of this will be to increase Council meetings from three too four times per year. The Council has also completed a thorough review of its governance policies and has redeveloped these to reflect a more contemporary understanding of governance processes.
The Council will meet again in March 2012 in Auckland.