The Council of Assembly met in Wellington on 13-15 November.
The Council welcomed Mrs Jenny Flett to the role of Deputy Convenor; Mrs Anne Edgar to Convener of the Resource Sub-committee; Rev Nathan Pedro as Moderator of the Pacific Island Synod; Rev Richard McLean to the Council and new Assembly Executive Secretary Rev Wayne Matheson.
The Council spent a day in a workshop-style gathering examining three key areas; issues around governance – in particular assisting the Council in distinguishing the grey areas between governance and management; Council functions and operations – looking particularly at the Council’s policy document and the Book of Order; the Council and Strategic Directions.
Following from this the Council reviewed the budget setting process – acknowledging that its task is to set priorities.
The Right Rev Andrew Norton presented his first report to the Council. He commented on Presbyterian Support’s commitment to work with him as he communicates on issues of child abuse and poverty. He also noted the very positive feedback from General Assembly and plans for a series of Inspiring Mission gatherings to be held around the country.
The Rev Wayne Matheson paid tribute to St Kentigern College’s wonderful hosting of General Assembly together with the local arrangements team, Northern Presbytery and St Columba Church. He also updated the Council on a number of matters that pose a risk to the Church.
The minutes from session seven of the General Assembly were approved and various matters noted to be referred to presbyteries. Task groups have been established to review the Beneficiary Fund and establish the Mission Enterprise Fund in line with Assembly decisions.
The Rev Diane Gilliam-Weeks presented her report. The Council agreed to reinforce to presbyteries the benefits of external congregational reviews in planning for mission and growth.
Convener, Anne Edgar presented her first report. She highlighted the work that is being prepared and will be undertaken later this month and into next year by Financial Manager Brendan Sweeney to support congregations to understand the impact of new Financial Reporting Standards and assume responsibility for their own charities registration. In addition, she outlined work being done concerning a risk management framework.
As agreed by General Assembly, a review of the Beneficiary Fund will be undertaken in conjunction with the Church Property Trustees. Council appointed Jenny Flett, Anne Edgar and the AES to its team to undertake the review.
Terms of reference for the establishment of a task group were tabled as per the General Assembly decision. After choosing a convener, other members will be appointed.
Synod Moderator, the Rev Nathan Pedro, presented the report of the Synod. He noted the employment of Rev Don Ikitoelagi as Director of the Pacific Islands Theological and Reflection Centre. Council asked the AES to liaise with the Synod, in consultation with the Fonos, to develop terms of reference for a task group to consider matters raised in the Synod’s report.
Rev Johannes Suwantika updated the Council and noted the decision of General Assembly and asked how best to achieve the cross-cultural objectives of Assembly. It was acknowledged that the way forward would require the formal dissolving of the Asian Council and the eventual need for a replacement body to have appropriate authority and presence. Council also noted the work of Rev Dr Stuart Vogel over many years in bringing Asian issues to the fore and formally agreed to thank him for his contribution. The AES was directed to follow up and liaise appropriately and report to the Council in March 2015.
The Council formally concluded the work of the Asian Council and has clarified that the Rev Kyoung Gyan Han (Asian Ministries Officer) will be part of the National Service Team reporting to the AES. He will have responsibility for assisting our various Asian congregations and the wider Church in developing a platform for effective cross and multi-cultural ministry. It was noted that Rev Han is an expert in this field supported by the CWM and it will take some time to develop this critical mission area in consultation with presbyteries, the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership and parishes.
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall provided an overview of his work as convener. He highlighted a number of fruitful meetings that will assist the Council in its work. He sees working at ensuring good relationships and transparent communication between individuals and our various organisations is critical to the success of our work.
Dr John Kernohan provided an update on the Commission’s work. He highlighted the appointment of the new Master for Knox College. He also outlined the plan for the Commission to be replaced by a Board that would fulfil the vision for the Colleges. Council affirmed this direction and approved various work streams to be undertaken and reported back to Council in March 2015. The Council of Assembly convener thanked John and the Commission for their time and commitment to this work.
Chair of the Trustees, Mr Paul Westbury joined the meeting and reported on various matters, including the important role presbyteries play in the missional perspective of property matters. He also updated on insurance. The AES was asked to facilitate a three-way dialogue between the Council, Church Property Trustees and the Synod of Otago and Southland to review the current earthquake resilience policy in light of the Assembly decision around this.
It was noted that following Assembly, the work of this group was concluded. Council agreed to thank and discharge the group and to express its sincere thanks to the Convener – Very Rev Gary Marquand – and to the members for the leadership and guidance they provided to this work.
Moderator Andrew Norton updated the Council on the expansion of the work of Press Go Board that arises from the Assembly decisions. Council agreed to appoint Mrs Jenny Flett to the Board.
The Council’s next meeting will be 20-21 March 2015.
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall
Council of Assembly
Mrs Jenny Flett
Council of Assembly