The Council of Assembly met at the Mary Mckillop Centre, Mission Bay, in Auckland on 5 and 6 of July.
Convenor, the Rev Wayne Matheson opened the meeting.
The Right Rev Ray Coster congratulated council member Marie Burgess on being awarded a Queen’s honour.
He praised the work of the Presbyterian Support boards, and noted their desire for a closer relationship with the Church.
Ray raised a number of issues around the challenges churches are facing, especially in provincial areas, and spoke of signs of new hope and vitality.
Convenor the Rev Wayne Matheson paid tribute to Ray’s work within the wider-Church, and also expressed appreciation of the willingness of Ray’s congregation (St Andrew’s Mt Maunganui) to release him for this work.
The Rev Mitch Jaram presented the report of Te Aka Puaho. He noted a revitalisation of ministry in the Piopio area, and reported that work on the rebuilding of the Ohope Marae had not yet resumed but it is hoped that work will get underway following upcoming meetings with a new architect.
There was discussion about the Church’s support of Turakina Maori Girl’s College. Te Aka Puaho Moderator, the Rev Wayne Te Kaawa, is closely involved with supporting the school’s leadership at this time.
Consideration of a proposed application for funding for the Council for World Mission to host the 2018 General Assembly of the Pacific Conference of Churches was raised and will be discussed on a later occasion.
The Rev Asora Amosa presented the report of the Synod. He discussed how the Synod was pursuing the possibility of establishing a mission partner to work with it in building its capacity as a Synod within the PCANZ.
The Pacific Islands Synod executive joined the meeting to support proposals relating to membership of the new presbytery Synod: the Rev Maafala Koko, the Rev Uea Tuleia, the Very Rev Dr Graham Redding, and Mr Jonathon Eouli-Lefale were introduced to the meeting.
Asora reported on matters relating to the transition and decision making process for Pacific congregations and the challenges around gaining greater clarity for this process.
The Council affirmed the leadership of the Pacific Islands Synod executive and
the date for the inauguration of the Pacific Islands Synod - 27 July 2013.
The Council invited the Moderator to engage in conversations with Pacific Island communities regarding the development of the Pacific Islands Synod. The Council will also invite the former Moderator, the Very Rev Dr Graham Redding, to work with the Synod in a support and mentoring role.
The Council endorsed the Synod pursuing the possibility of the establishment of a Council for World Mission partnership.
The Rev Dr Stuart Vogel, secretary of the Asian Advisory Council and the Rev Kyoung Gyan Han, Asian Mission and Ministries coordinator, were welcomed to the meeting.
Stuart emphasised that a key strategy of the Asian Council is to encourage the “1.5 generation” as it is envisaged that future leaders will come from this group.
Kyoung reported on his activities in working with presbyteries to encourage networks and partnerships. He explained the development of ministry training programmes for people from a number of Asian nations.
The best ways to support and identify new and emerging congregations were discussed. Assembly Executive Secretary, the Rev Martin Baker, undertook to liaise with the various groups involved and to collate responses.
Martin gave feedback on the first national meeting of presbytery leaders. Martin also commented on planning for next year’s General Assembly. The Moderator and Convenor reported on a recent initial planning meeting for Assembly week. They indicated that there would be various streams of activity, which would be open to members of the wider-Church.
The Council was warmly appreciative of an invitation from the Synod of Otago and Southland, celebrating its 150th Anniversary in 2016, to host Assembly in that year.
Martin reported on early feedback from proposals from the 2012 Assembly sent to presbyteries and congregations. Collation of this feedback and the process of reporting to presbyteries were considered. It was decided that once the material had been received and analysed, Council would hold a special meeting to consider this information and decide how to proceed.
PCANZ Communications Manager Angela Singer was welcomed to the meeting. Angela gave a presentation on a proposed social media strategy for the Church. She suggested that, if the Church wished to stay relevant, it needed to consider using a variety of social media platforms in order to engage with congregations and the wider community, and suggested that congregations may need training support to learn how to use social media to connect with their communities.
The Rev Dr Allan Davidson, the Church’s representative on the Marsden Cross Trust Board, was welcomed to the meeting. He outlined the significance of the coming Marsden bicentenary - the first proclamation of the Christian gospel in New Zealand - and plans to celebrate it throughout 2014. Allan was advised that the Council had, on behalf of the Presbyterian Church, agreed in 2012 to give $40,000 towards the cost of a land purchase at Oihi, Bay of Islands for a heritage centre. The total cost is being shared by many New Zealand churches and denominations. The Moderator was invited to commend the project appeal to congregations.
Convenor of the Commission, Dr John Kernohan, provided an update on the work of the commission. The Council agreed to replace two retiring commission members with Mr David Richardson and Ms Hilary Halba. The Convenor expressed the deep thanks of the Council to Dr Kernohan for his ongoing work with Knox and Salmond colleges.
Jenny Flett presented the report of the sub-committee. She noted there were significant pressures on the budget and signaled potential difficulties for parishes with future financial compliance requirements.
Jenny noted the sub-committee’s concerns regarding the need to develop a risk management policy framework. The Council discussed how to best support the training of ministry interns. The AES will hold further discussions with the Principal of Knox and the leadership sub-committee.
The Moderator presented a strategic framework paper from Press Go. He highlighted aspects of the report, and explained how Press Go operates. He noted that Press Go’s goal is to provide professional leadership to help and build capacity for mission. The Council affirmed the work of Press Go and noted the encouragement from the Synod of Otago and Southland, the Church Property Trustees and PSDS.
The Council’s meeting concluded on Saturday afternoon. Council will meet again in Wellington for a special meeting in late August to reflect on presbytery and congregational responses to the discussions documents. The Council intends to circulate a second version of these documents to presbyteries and congregations by the end of September. The next regular meeting of the Council will be in Dunedin in November.
The Rev Wayne Matheson
Council of Assembly
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall
Council of Assembly