E te Atua, kia tata mai, koe ki a mātou. E te Wairua Tapu, kia piri mai, koe ki a mātou.
Homai, ki a mātou, tō māramatanga, taiapatia ō mātou, ngākau ki ngā mea, e whai hōnore ai tō ingoa.
There is a lot happening in our Church, a lot of great things and a lot of things we could do differently or better. We are so proud of what we are wanting to do together for the betterment of God’s people across God’s beloved church.
We share a summary of our most recent meeting held online during August:
Te Aka Puaho
The Moderator of Te Aka Puaho Rev Tamiana Thrupp shared events in the life of Te Aka Puaho. This included his dream and vision for Te Aka Puaho. There has been signs of new life and renewed growth in the pastorates.
That said – there remains limited capacity in leadership at this time and so the need to provide training to expand this to meet the challenges of opportunities and ensure Te Aka Puaho is equipped for ministry and mission.
An initial conversation has taken place on the Council of Assembly initiated work-stream Tino Rangatiratanga and the Church’s commitment to a bicultural journey. This will be led by the Book of Order Advisory Committee. This set the scene for further conversations and from there to examine these matters further. Te Aka Puaho looks forward to these ongoing conversations and working with Mr Andrew Irwin from the Book of Oder Advisory Committee and the Assembly Executive Secretary.
The first Te Reo Commissioner event took place the second week of September. Te Aka Puaho will review and engage with Council about the first Te Reo Commissioner hui at our in-person meeting in November.
Our Moderator Right Rev Hamish Galloway reported on his work and initiatives. This was his final report to Council and we once again record on behalf of the Church our grateful thanks to Hamish for serving as our Moderator and invite us all to pray for him as he transitions back to parish ministry.
Budget 2023-24 and strategic priorities
As we reported in our June update, we face serious challenges in our budget. Recognising this, Council appointed a small work group to assist Council in its short-term decision making on strategic directions the Council should prioritise that impact on the budget.
This group reported back and noted the Assembly decision which led to the Te Haere Tonu workgroup being established by the Council of Assembly, with Terms of Reference to serve the continuing discernment on the nature and role of our national structures in resourcing and empowering the presbyteries. Their report is not due until Assembly in 2025. With this in mind, Council reaffirmed its commitment to see a return to a balanced budget which will mean that any vacancies currently, and any positions that become vacant, will require Council approval to fill; and that generally, positions vacant as at 1 July 2023 will not be filled unless there is a need or gap requiring reasons why a role must be filled immediately.
Council notes there is not the capacity to return to previous staffing levels, based on current and projected income streams, and at the same time comply with balanced budget timeline as previously agreed by COA.
Further, apart from essential administrative including financial services, Council determines that there is not capacity to add or absorb new or desired funding; projects and/or roles.
Alignment of services provided nationally and regionally, and the financial constraints each face, and robust and transparent conversations around priorities will produce realistic and sustainable options going forward. It needs to be stated and restated, past and or current staffing and services provided nationally is not an indication of future staffing and services.
Council is investigating how we might be able to secure additional funding options for some of our key strategic ministries – including Te Aka Puaho and the Knox Centre – to ensure future proofing funding for these areas of our life together.
Further, the Resource Sub Committee will review the current Assembly Assessment model and parameters and report to Council in March 2024.
As reported in June, Council reviewed the risks and need for succession planning for the AES role. Council recognised that the Te Haere Tonu Work Group report is expected to offer long-term solutions, but short-term steps are needed now.
Council agreed to a plan to provide support for the AES; clarifying some responsibilities for the Core Leadership Team, and some minor reporting line changes for some national office staff in order to give better support to the AES.
The minor reporting line changes:
- Director of the Presbyterian Research Centre and staff become part of the Mission Resourcing Team.
- Presbyterian Youth Ministry Director and Presbyterian Children and Families director be line managed by the Knox Centre principal.
Note: These are interim arrangements until the Te Haere Tonu Work Group report to Assembly, as well as the budget and strategic priorities, as noted above.
Council received the collated responses from the Council self-review. This self-review takes place every two-years and provides an opportunity to discern what is working well and also areas for the Council to improve. These results will provide the basis for ensuring the new Council has areas to work on and can set priorities in its work plan. The new Council will focus more on the areas we can improve, and areas we continue to nurture, when we meet in November in Dunedin.
Assembly will meet at Saint Kentigern College, Pakuranga, Auckland, from Wednesday 27 September to Sunday 1 October 2023. We invite the Church to prayerfully uphold Moderator Designate Rev Rose Luxford as she prepares for this role and for all those involved in the organisation and running of the Assembly.
Our special thanks
We acknowledge with very grateful thanks the dedication, commitment, time, wisdom and contribution of those who are stepping down from the Council: Rev Charissa Nicol (Alpine); Rev Andrew Harrex (Southern); and especially Convenor Rev Dr Jaco Reyneke for his outstanding leadership, mana, humility and grace during the past two years. Fa’afetai, fa’afetai tele lava.
Upcoming Council meetings
Council will most likely meet again once before General Assembly, electronically, and then in-person in Dunedin in late November to early December.
To sum up the last three months, I am reminded of the Samoan proverb:
‘O lupe sa vao ese’ese, ae ua fuifui faatasi’
[‘We are from different parts of the forest but connected in one cause’].
Wherever we are in our journey as a church, we are always connected together in one cause and that is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As we look ahead to where God will lead us as your Council of Assembly, we welcome your prayers because we cannot do this on our own. We need our wider whanau in order for us to mahi together in our Church.
The forest provides the wood to build the waka, however the waka cannot sail on its own, it requires he tangata and therefore our waka can only navigate with our people in it. We value your input as there is a lot happening across our Church. We appreciate your prayers as we navigate the difficult journey ahead; we welcome your feedback on how we can paddle the waka in unity and love. Please be patience with us, we will not always get it right and so we ask for your grace in all things.
Yours in Christ
Mrs Kat Solomona
Council of Assembly