The Council of Assembly met in Wellington from 7 to 8 March 2014.
Council Convenor, the Rev Wayne Matheson, welcomed Mikyung Kim, an elder of Browns Bay Presbyterian Church, as the new representative from the Asian Council.
The Moderator, the Right Rev Ray Coster, provided an overview of his recent work. Ray acknowledged the service to the Church of the late Rev Catherine Hollister-Jones. Ray also acknowledged the wide-support from our churches for the young adults who visited us from churches in Taiwan and Korea and were unfortunately injured in a road accident during a tour of our southern churches.
Ray spoke about a discussion paper prepared by a number of contributors and circulated by the New Christian Network focusing on the significance of the 2014 Bicentenary of the Christian Gospel in New Zealand. Ray also sought feedback on issues that should be raised at the Central Committee of World Council of Churches meeting that he is to attend later this year.
The Rev Mitch Jaram reported on a visit by King Tuheitia, the Māori King, and Te Aka Puaho’s participation at both the Waitangi and Ratana celebrations. Mitch spoke about developments at Te Maungarongo, our Church’s national marae, and about building work there that is soon to begin. There was discussion about the challenges faced by Turakina Maori Girl’s College and an acknowledgement of the lead that Dr Kathie Irwin, a member of the Board of Proprietors, is taking in support of the College. The Council later endorsed a proposal to recognise Kathie as the PCANZ’s commissioner in this work. The Council plans to appoint a commission to provide support to Kathie and the development plan she is leading.
Synod Moderator, the Rev Ere Talagi-Ikitoelagi, presented the report of the Synod. She advised there are currently 10 congregations within the Synod. She spoke of new initiatives arising from the establishment of the Synod as a presbytery, particularly in relation to young people. She outlined the significance of children’s ministries within the fonos, and indicated that the Synod is seeking to enhance this work. She noted the assistance of the Ministry of Education, the pending appointment of a director for the long-planned Reflection Centre, and the conclusion of the Pasifika Missionare position.
The Rev Martin Baker reported on presbytery changes, national initiatives, and staffing changes.
Martin also presented a planning document supporting the strategic directions previously adopted by the Council. The document affirmed historical initiatives in the life of our Church supporting Church planting and renewal, identified major trends in our current life together, and also suggested solutions and pathways that are available to the Church and its presbyteries and congregations to address current challenges.
It was decided that the document would become a working document of the Council, for presentation at its forthcoming meeting with presbyteries.
Later in the meeting the Council supported a proposal to invite congregations to support the initiatives anticipated in the planning document.
The Council expressed its appreciation for the work of Assembly staff and the value they place on receiving reports from our Church’s key national employees.
Convenor, the Rev Diane Gilliam-Weeks, spoke to the Council about the work of the committee and gained Council support for a proposal to invite presbyteries to implement mentoring to support newly ordained ministers. The Council supported a proposal that the committee work with the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership (KCML) to identity and support people who have the ability to provide the kind of transformational leadership that will support new life and vitality among our congregations and also plant new faith communities.
Convenor Jenny Flett spoke about new reporting requirements from the Charities Commission and new financial reporting standards. She indicated that the committee is seeking legal advice on whether a single report will need to be provided which consolidates each set of congregation’s accounts into a single entity, or whether congregations will be able to file individually, with decentralised registration. Jenny indicated that there may be significant difficulties for some congregations in complying with the new requirements.
The Council’s Deputy Convenor, the Rev Dr Colin Marshall, reported on work undertaken on behalf of the Council Review Group, which was appointed at the previous Council meeting.
Colin outlined some proposed objectives for the Council. A draft operational flow chart was considered, and modifications were suggested. In order to enhance and strengthen the relationship between the Council, the Assembly and presbyteries, the Council agreed to support a number of initiative’s including:
Further work is being done by the Council sub-committee on finding ways to increase Council and national staff responsiveness and availability to presbyteries as we increasingly work together in mission.
The Council has agreed to bring a proposal to the Assembly which would support a transition over the next two years of having Council representatives nominated by, and representing, each of the newly reformed presbyteries.
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. The work done by Andrew and his local arrangements team was commended.
Press Go Convenor, the Rev Andrew Norton, spoke to his written report. He noted the change of focus for Press Go and reported on the support Press Go is providing to two recent mission initiatives.
Andrew’s involvement in multiple areas of the life of our Church was noted, and appreciation was expressed for his parish in releasing him for national work.
The Council was reminded that they along with all national committees and presbyteries need to have their General Assembly reports and recommendations completed by 31 March 2014. These reports will then be circulated to presbyteries for their feedback and response before being included in the papers presented to the Assembly.
The Council’s next meeting will be held in Auckland on 13 and 14 June 2014.
The Rev Wayne Matheson
Council of Assembly
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall
Council of Assembly