Since our last Council News in June 2020, Council of Assembly have continued to meet via Zoom. We have met six times since our last report back , the latest meeting being a six-hour meeting on 20 November 2020. Most of our meetings have been between 90 and 120 minutes in duration.
The transition to Zoom meetings has gone well, although some members have been unable to engage regularly due to the technological requirements of this forum and the additional calls on their time. Council also uses the Boardable meeting application software, and several matters of business have also been attended to through this feature. Meeting agendas and accompanying papers are made available to Council members through Boardable, as are a number of important reference documents.
Although we have attended to our tasks efficiently through Zoom, it is creating additional work for the AES, the Convenor and Deputy Convenor, as well as other Council members. Council recognises the importance of meeting face-to-face at times, and we plan to meet at least once in-person during each financial year. Our next in-person meeting will be from 11-13 March 2021 at the Blue Skies conference centre in Kaiapoi, Christchurch.
The following is an update on various matters since our meeting on 12 June 2020:
Moderator and Moderator Designate
Council acknowledges the impact that the postponement of General Assembly has had on both the Moderator and Moderator Designate. Council is thankful for the ongoing commitment of Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio to the role, and amongst other things has noted the positive impact of his weekly online devotions which have reached many people far and wide. Council is thankful for the prayer and consideration that Rev Hamish Galloway is putting into his preparations for his moderatorial term and theme.
The consolidation process is ongoing, with satisfactory progress being made. Most congregations are willing to co-operate with the Finance Team, which makes the task so much easier. Software is being developed to assist with the process of consolidation in a joint venture between the Presbyterian Church and the Wellington Anglican Diocese. A task group is being set up to address new Service Performance Reporting obligations, which are required to be fulfilled from 1 July 2023.
The Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2020 was adopted and Council expressed appreciation and thanks to the members of the Finance team for their work in preparing the Annual Financial Statements. The Audit and Risk Committee affirmed that the work was of a high standard. The annual Audit has been completed and signed off by Council.
Council worked with the Church Property Trustees to make limited capital funds available to congregations impacted by Covid-19, should they wish. Council asked Rev Hamish Galloway to look into the issue of Frustrated Trusts and other trusts that are no longer fulfilling their original purpose. Following his report, the Legal and Compliance Director has been asked to oversee a process which will lead to determining if any of the funds in these trusts are able to be made available to the Church for appropriate use (in co-operation with Church Property Trustees who also oversee several frustrated trusts).
The Presbyterian Church is a shareholder in Christian Savings and Council approved amendments to the Constitution and Shareholders Agreement of Christian Savings.
Budget and Staff Appointments
It was reported in June that Council agreed that any national staffing positions required Council approval before being advertised as we prepared to address the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Council agreed to a number of positions being advertised and filled, and in October agreed to lift this restriction from 1 November due to the progress that has been made in the response to the pandemic.
Council noted a number of staff changes over this time – including the resignation of Rev Dr Steve Taylor as Principal of the Knox Centre; Julie Penno as Children and Families Co-Director and Jose Reader as Communications Associate Manager. We express our thanks for their service to the wider Presbyterian Church. We also welcome Rev Dr Geoff New as Acting Principal of KCML as well as continuing as Dean of Studies; Rev Dr Paul Prestidge as Ministry Formation Co-ordinator; Rev Dr Darryl Tempero as Management Support Officer (Darryl has been seconded by Alpine Presbytery for the length of this fixed term appointment); and Diane McKinstry as Children & Families Associate Director.
Beneficiary Fund Membership
Council established a Task Group to consider whether there are any valid grounds to apply an exemption from the Beneficiary Fund for a minister (the Deed states that membership is compulsory for Nationally Ordained Ministers). This Task Group reported back with a list of possible reasons – identifying which ones seemed reasonable to allow and which were not. Council adopted these in principle and are currently consulting with various parties to ascertain whether they are feasible to implement, and whether any recommendations are required to bring to GA21.
Strategic Direction and Council Self-evaluation
Council has spent considerable time this year determining how best to address the issue of discerning and developing an appropriate and effective strategic direction for the PCANZ. In October, Terms of Reference for the Te mahi tahi te roopu mahi (Working Together) Task Group were approved and the members of the Task Group were confirmed in early November. Their task is to develop a discussion paper for presentation at GA21.
Members of Council participated in a self-evaluation exercise in September (this is normally a biennial exercise undertaken just before a General Assembly is held). Feedback has been summarised and shared with members, and key learnings are being identified and discussed, as Council endeavours to learn, upskill and develop best practice in our governance duties and responsibilities.
AES Position Description
Council approved an updated Position Description for the Assembly Executive Secretary, which reflects changes brought about by the recent restructuring and implementation of the Core Leadership Team and National Service Team staff structure.
Council noted that the LSC will be circulating a draft Local Ministry Team Handbook to the wider Church for feedback.
Council approved an updated Terms of Reference for the RSC.
Council adopted an updated Terms of Reference for the PressGo Board following a review in late 2019.
Appointments to Assessor and Discipline and Judicial Panels
This year we have seen a record number of complaints and appeals. Council has needed to add people who serve us in these important places and expresses thanks for all who serve in this way.
Theological Education and Leadership Training Task Group
Council received in November a brief update from the group on their work and will receive a more fully detailed report at its meeting in March.
Theology of Property and Money Task Group
Council has received a progress update for this group and will be presented with a full report at its March meeting.
InterChurch Hospital Chaplaincy Board
Council acknowledged with thanks Rev Alistair McBride’s service as the Presbyterian representative on the ICHC Board, and approved the appointment of Mr Stephen Packer as his replacement.
General Assembly 2021
Council noted the decision reached by the Moderator and Clerk of Assembly for the 2021 General Assembly to be held from 29 September to 3 October 2021 in Christchurch.
Members of Council Changes
In August, Council received the resignation of Mrs Diana Baird as the Convenor of Resource Sub-Committee. In September, Mr Craig Donaldson was appointed RSC Convenor until GA21, and Council acknowledged the resignation of Dr Rod Watts as a member of Council. In October, we farewelled Mr Wayne Ogden who has completed his four-year term as a member of Council. Due to the postponement of General Assembly, the Nominating Committee extended the term of appointment on Council until GA21 for Rev Jaco Reyneke and Mr Leilua Winston Timaloa. In October, we also farewelled Rev Toko Ine, who has stepped down as Moderator of Pacific Presbytery, and welcomed Rev Karima Fai’ai (acting Moderator of Pacific Presbytery) as an associate member on Council.
Council acknowledges with thanks the contribution made to Council by all those members who have concluded their roles on Council.
Being a representative on Council, subcommittees, task and work groups etc requires a significant contribution, and at times considerable stress. Covid-19 has not only disrupted our Church life and service but also our personal and professional lives, and the calls on our time. Please continue to pray regularly for the staff, management and governance arms of our Church at both national and presbytery level as we all seek to bring Christ into communion with our community.
Rev Richard McLean Mrs Anne Edgar
Convenor Deputy Convenor