Media release: Presbyterian Church has 5th woman leader in 122 years

27 Sept 2023

The Right Rev Rose Luxford of Oamaru is the new Moderator, or elected spiritual leader, of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. She will begin her two-year term from the evening of Wednesday 27 September 2023.

She is the fifth woman leader of the Presbyterian Church in 122 years, which she says was a surprising honour.

Rose was installed as Moderator at Saint Kentigern College, Auckland, which is currently hosting the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly. 

Born in Dunedin and raised in Milton, she has a BA and a Bachelor of Divinity from Otago. She studied at the Presbyterian Theological Hall in Dunedin from 1995 to 1997, and ministered at Iona Presbyterian Church, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland for 12 years, and then for the past 13 years at her current church St Paul's Maheno-Otepopo Presbyterian Church in Oamaru.

Married in 1980, it was following the death of her husband that she returned to formal study and trained to become a minister. Her ongoing study has included, 'Insights into questions about death, and ministers and grief'.

During her term as Moderator, Rose will focus on the importance for those in the Church to be “our hopeful authentic selves, to be true to who we are in our ministry contexts in order to flourish”.

She says that being authentic is also about being realistic about the challenges and anxieties that we face, “Yet undergirding all of this is the fact that we are people of hope. We are ‘in Christ’, the one who grounds us and gives us a sense of hope in our living.”

The challenges of work life balance are something that Rose has experienced, having had a full working life before becoming a minister. She has been an apple grader, a grape picker, and after secretarial studies at Otago Polytechnic had a number of jobs at the University of Otago including short-hand typist Department of Medicine, secretarial work Department of Zoology, and administrative assistant Division of Sciences. Rose also worked secretarial jobs in Whanganui and Hawke’s Bay. 

Rose has served the Presbyterian Church in several leadership roles, including as Moderator of Auckland Presbytery, Moderator of the Southern Presbytery, as a Ministry Development reviewer, and as a former Convener of the Ministry Work Group and director of the Beneficiary Fund Trustee Company.   

She enjoys and values her family connections immensely, she has a close and supportive family network, including siblings, siblings-in-law, nephews, nieces, and also great nephews and nieces. 


Notes to the reporter:
•    Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
The Moderator is the elected spiritual head or leader of the Presbyterian Church. The Moderator serves a two-year term and speaks on behalf of the Presbyterian Church. The Moderator can choose a theme on which to focus during their term.
•    General Assembly:
General Assembly is the Presbyterian Church’s national decision-making body that usually meets every two-years over four to five days. Parishes may send representatives to Assembly. These representatives discuss and vote on recommendations brought to Assembly. This year, the General Assembly meets at Saint Kentigern College, Auckland, from 27 Sept – 1 Oct 2023.