General Assembly decisions
Special Assembly 2022
Supported the recommendations that the Council of Assembly:
a) Establish a working group for an initial period of six years to:
i) promote initiatives to help the various part of the Presbyterian Church reduce carbon emissions by 5% per annum
ii) report to the General Assembly regarding how the Church is progressing in reducing carbon emissions
iii) in due course recommend to the General Assembly steps that could be taken to further the objective beyond the six years.
b) Adopt a framework to monitor carbon emissions of Assembly operations, make best endeavours to reduce carbon emissions of Assembly operations by 5% per annum, monitor progress in achieving that objective and report progress to each General Assembly until 2030, taking advice from the work group if it is deemed helpful.
Supported the proposal that the Presbyterian Church become a denominational partner of Eco Church NZ and that individual presbyteries and parishes be encouraged to join Eco Church. Eco Church NZ was launched in 2020 by A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand as a network and resource centre for churches engaged with caring for creation. It began in the United Kingdom and is thriving in many parts of the world. Eco Church is free to register. All that is required is a statement of intent. Among the benefits of joining is a self-review process for mission planning, a subsidised programme for zero waste, networking events and resources for engaging with children and youth on ecology and biodiversity projects.
- Passed a motion that all ministry units within the Presbyterian Church undertake the A Rocha Eco Church survey www.ecochurch.org.nz/self-assessment-worksheet and choose one action point from each suggested area to complete over the coming year. The suggested areas are: worship and teaching, church buildings, church land, community engagement and sustainable living.
General Assembly 2018
Made a decision about responsible stewardship of God's creation.
Assembly decided to commit to reducing our impact on the environment, acknowledging the important role we as Christians play in being stewards of God’s creation. Further, Assembly endorsed a list of achievable and measurable actions aimed at reducing our collective impact on the environment. Assembly agreed that this expanded list of actions be sent to every congregation, Church schools, and social service agencies with a connection to the Church to report on their progress of implementation. Read the full report to Assembly here.
a. Eliminate the use of disposable, single use items such as Styrofoam cups and plastic straws, cups, and cutlery. Encourage the use of resources already owned by the congregations, church schools, and social service agencies, such as crockery and cutlery.
b. Adopt the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, soaps and dishwashing liquids.
c. Make recycling bins readily available, clearly labelling what can and cannot be recycled.
5. Further possible changes:
a. Commit to purchasing Fair Trade and other ethically, and sustainably sourced goods, such as tea, coffee, and sugar.
b. Establish a culture of composting.
c. Explore sustainable alternatives to hand towels. E.g. hand dryers in churches, schools, and social agencies with the appropriate facilities.
d. Compare different power companies and where they source their electricity. Discuss the possibility of moving to 100% renewable energy.
e. reduce transport related atmospheric carbon inputs by encouraging participation in local congregations and sharing together in the revitalisation of congregations,
f. promotion of cycling by the public provision of cycle stands,
g. use church land (or make it available to community groups) for community gardens and/or restoration plantings.
General Assembly 2016
Adopted the “We Say Yes” statement, which includes reference to the Church's beliefs about caring for creation:
We say yes to a sustainable and zero carbon economy: we say no to policies and practices that contribute to unsustainable growth such as dependence on fossil fuels and excessive lifestyles. Therefore we advocate movement towards clean and sustainable energy and action to limit destructive human impacts on the environment.
General Assembly 2014
Made a decision that the Presbyterian Church was to consider divestment of fossil fuels.
General Assembly agreed to request that the Church’s Property Trustees, who manage the major funds of the Church, divest from fossil fuel investments. The General Assembly also encouraged all congregations and members of the Church to seriously consider the same action in relation to their own investments. The Church declared investment in the fossil fuel industry to be unethical, socially irresponsible and contrary to the Church’s mission of “caring for creation”. Read more.
General Assembly 2008
Accepted a declaration on the climate and environment prepared by the Church's Ecological Task Group. Read in full here.
[08.079] “3. Declaration on Climate Change and the Environment...
We commit ourselves in Christ to care for God’s creation.
We recognise that we have lost a right relationship with creation through sinful actions and economic systems that encourage unsustainable use of resources.
We commit ourselves to help reduce the threat of climate change through actions in our own lives speaking prophetically to Governments and industries and standing in solidarity with those most affected by climate change.”
[08.032] That the General Assembly encourage parishes to audit their environmental footprints.
[08.033] That the Presbyterian Church endorses the Declaration on ClimateChange and the Environment.
[08.034] That congregations and presbyteries study the issues of climate change and the environment, and take practical action.
2015 submission - New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target
Read the Church's submission regarding setting New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target (2015). Read the submission
Spanz magazine has ceased production. It included stories that demonstrate the many ways Presbyterian churches throughout New Zealand are responding to complex environmental challenges, examples include:
- Power to the People project (Summer 2018)
- Young Presbyterians advocating for our earth (Autumn 2016)
- Climate change hot topic at WCC Auckland summit (Summer 2015)
- Church speaks out on climate change (Spring 2015)
- The ecological crisis: a Christian response (Summer 2012)
- The sustainable church (Sep 2008)
Neighbours Day 2019, 2020, 2021
For Neighbours Day 2019 and Neighbours Day 2020 and Neighbours Day 2021, the Church gave away seeds to its parishes - native trees, vegetables and flowers. Moderator Right Rev Fakaofo Kaio wrote to parishes in 2019:
"This year will you consider something a bit different and show your neighbourhood our Church’s commitment to Caring for Creation? For those of you caring for green spaces in your community, the Church will send you free seeds - these are all native seeds to encourage our native plants to thrive in Aotearoa and provide food and homes to our glorious native birds and insects. I think Lent a good season to consider how we are being good neighbours to God’s creation. In observing our own connection to our faith, we could reflect on how we might do more to care for the green spaces of our church, home and neighbourhood." Read more on the links above.
Caring for Creation: A Presbyterian Church study guide for congregations (2009).
Caring for Creation examines how as stewards of Creation we can recognise what environmental issues we face; what impact these have – globally, nationally, locally and personally; and what action can we take both individually and as a congregation.
Other reports and materials for study can be found here.