The Council of Assembly met in Auckland on 20-21 March.
The Rt Rev Andrew Norton presented his report to Council. He circulated his prayer letter and tabled a copy of the message he gave at Waitangi on Waitangi Day. He spoke of the significance of Waitangi for him personally and for the Church. He also spoke of the visit that he and Global Mission co-ordinator Rev Phil King will make to Vanuatu next month in the wake of the cyclone Pam. Andrew also discussed a social issues resource that he has been working on with Presbyterian Support, which is planned for release on Pentecost Sunday.
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall provided an overview of his work as convener. He highlighted the ongoing need to strategically improve our internal and external relationships and to ensure work, including that of our workgroups and national staff, aligns with the Strategic Directions document, now widely distributed. Among the points highlighted to Council were that good communication leads to the Church functioning well, and if we are to expect creative excellence from our leadership then we must work to create positive, supportive and solid foundations from which to confidently step out in ministry at every level of our organisation.
The Rev Wayne Matheson presented his report. Council was updated about various work streams including policy development, staff reviews and compliance matters. Wayne noted that he is liaising with presbyteries about the church’s work as a way of maintaining good working relationships and developing improved transparency.
Mr Geoff Foster, a member of the Resource Sub-committee joined the meeting to present a paper on risk management and noted the work undertaken by the AES in this area. At the meeting, Council adopted both a risk management policy, and a draft risk management register.
The Rev Diane Gilliam-Weeks presented her report. She noted that the committee valued the statistical analysis provided Margaret Gault and highlighted the need to focus the Church’s resources – attention, energy and personnel – in areas that are most productive. She also advised Council that the reduction in tertiary theological education providers may impact on students’ ability to fulfil the foundational studies requirements of the Church.
Convener, Anne Edgar presented her report. While commenting on the very high level of support for Assembly Assessment, she highlighted the risk of non-compliance and disengagement of a small number of churches. She also noted the work of Financial Manager Brendan Sweeney to support congregations to understand the impact of new Financial Reporting Standards and assume responsibility for their own charities registration.
A brief report was received by this workgroup with a full report will come to the June Council meeting.
A preliminary report from the Very Rev Ray Coster was tabled for information. A final report with the proposed terms and conditions for the Fund will come to the June Council meeting.
Synod Moderator, the Rev Nathan Pedro, presented their report. The Synod asked the Council to support the establishment of a workgroup to review the mission and ministry of Pasifika people within our Church. Following discussion, this was agreed and the first report will be in March 2016.
Dr John Kernohan provided his final report on the Commission’s work. He noted the induction of the new Master at Knox College; the reduction in student numbers and paid tribute to all those who had served on the Commission over the last three years.
The Council received the resignation of Dr Royden Somerville and retirement of Mr Stuart McLaughlin from the Council of Knox College and Salmond College, effective from 31 March 2015. Council paid tribute to their contribution, and noted the outstanding service Dr Somerville, in particular, had given both to the Colleges and to the wider Church.
Council agreed to a new constitution for Knox College and Salmond College, which will come into effect from 1 April 2015. This decision will be sent to the next General Assembly for ratification. A new board was appointed under the chair of Mr David Richardson.
The Council of Assembly convener thanked John and the Commission for their time and commitment to this work. Council noted the significance of the work John had undertaken and his leadership of the Commission and farewelled him from his role.
Council thanked and discharged the Commission, as at 1 April 2015.
Moderator Andrew Norton updated the Council on the expansion of the work of Press Go and in particular of the work of Catalyst, Lisa Wells.
The Council’s next meeting will be 12-13 June, in Auckland.
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall
Convener - Council of Assembly