The Council of Assembly met in Auckland on 13-14 June.
The Right Rev Ray Coster presented his final report to the Council. He outlined highlights of his time as Moderator, and also reflected on the Council’s achievements. Ray made suggestions about where the Council might focus in the future and spoke of his new role representing New Zealand churches on the World Council of Churches executive.
Warm appreciation was expressed for Ray’s leadership and pastoral skills during his moderatorial term, both internationally and within the Presbyterian Church.
The Rev Mitch Jaram gave a report on the work of Te Aka Puaho. He spoke about positive moves within some areas, and reported on progress with the Ohope rebuilding project.
Mrs Mikyung Kim provided a report on behalf of the Asian Council.
After a significant discussion around the present and future challenges of the Church’s mission to those diverse groups of immigrants and multi-generational people whose ancestors have come from one of a number of Asian countries, the Council of Assembly agreed to form a task group.
The task group will develop terms of reference and a structure for a “Cross-cultural Asian Council” that has the capacity to deal with a wide range of issues that face immigrant and ethnically diverse peoples within the Presbyterian Church from Asian nations.
In the interim, the Council of Assembly agreed to appoint the Rev Johannes Suwatinka to act as convenor of the Asian Council, with power to co-opt members as necessary.
The Rev Wayne Matheson provided an overview of his work as convener. It was noted that this was his final Council meeting, and appreciation was expressed for Wayne’s extensive work in this role. There was discussion about reviewing the expectations of the role of convenor, and on noting that there was no formal “job description”, it was decided that the AES and convenor would work on developing one.
Synod Moderator, the Rev Ere Talagi-Ikitoelagi, presented the report of the Synod.
She raised concerns about a decrease in the funding available to the Synod from General Assembly. She proposed a strategy that would allow the Synod to further develop its mission and focus. It was agreed that the convenor of the Resource Committee, Jenny Flett, would meet with the Synod for further discussions.
The Rev Martin Baker reported on presbytery changes, national initiatives, and staffing changes.
The Rev Diane Gilliam-Weeks presented her report. She highlighted a meeting with Pacific Islands Synod representatives to hear observations and concerns relevant to the Leadership Sub-committee, and she reported on steps being taken to address these.
Diane advised that LSC’s priority concern is to identify existing models of leadership that are bearing fruit appropriate for their context, and to enable the rest of the Church to learn from them.
Ray indicated that Press Go would be willing to work with LSC on proposed team leadership initiatives.
Convenor, Jenny Flett, introduced the Church’s Financial Services Director Brendan Sweeney to the meeting.
Jenny presented the report of the Sub-Committee, which focused on a draft budget for 2014/15. Brendan made a presentation on the proposed budget and the process used in setting it. He noted that a manageable overall deficit was projected, but he did not consider this to be a material concern.
After receiving a legal opinion, Jenny advised that charities registration will now need to be done at congregation level. Jenny outlined the proposed assistance to be provided to congregations during the transition process.
The Council agreed that the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand charities registration be decentralised as from 1 July 2015, with each congregation assuming responsibility for its own registration. (More information on this process will be provided over the coming months to all treasurers by Brendan.)
Moderator-Designate, the Rev Andrew Norton, reported on the planning for Assembly Week. The event will be open to our whole Church and focus on support, resourcing and celebration of our life together as well as providing for the business of the Church.
Andrew also commented on feedback from the presbyteries gathering on how Assembly business should be conducted. He indicated that there was strong support for mission proposals being the only subjects of dialogue groups.
Wayne added that the presbyteries gathering had no major concerns about the proposed AES job description. The Council agreed on the appointment of a selection panel and process to appoint the AES-designate.
Dr John Kernohan, the Very Rev Dr Graham Redding and Mr David Richardson were welcomed to the meeting. John and Graham and David provided an update on the commission’s work.
The Council of Assembly convener thanked John and the commission for their time and commitment to this work.
The Council heard from the Very Rev Bruce Hansen who had been commissioned to conduct an internal investigation into a serious road accident earlier this year near Waimate, involving Asian and Taiwanese students travelling as guests of our Church. He found that the situation was responded to appropriately, and made recommendations, which were accepted.
The Council has agreed to establish a work group to develop safety and risk management protocols and procedures for groups coming to and departing from New Zealand under the umbrella of the Presbyterian Church.
Martin Baker reported that the Rev Mary-Jane Konings had resigned as convenor of the Nominating Committee, and that a replacement was required. It was noted that Mr Neil Walker was the committee’s deputy convenor, and that it was standard practice for the deputy to succeed the convenor. The Council has appointed Neil to this role. Martin will work with Neil and the executive to ensure they have sufficient support to fulfil their functions.
Retiring Council members Martin Stewart and Wayne Matheson were thanked by acclamation. The Right Rev Ray Coster’s last attendance as Moderator was also noted, and his contribution to the work of the Council was also acknowledged by acclamation.
The Council’s next meeting will be on the 14-15 November.
The Rev Wayne Matheson
Council of Assembly
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall
Council of Assembly