The Council of Assembly met from 12-14 November in Dunedin. Council was a guest of the Synod of Otago and Southland.
The Council paused in its business to welcome new Principal of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership the Rev Dr Steve Taylor, who addressed the Council. Council also farewelled Anne Jackman, Director of the Presbyterian Research Centre who is moving on to take up a new role with Archives New Zealand.
On the Thursday evening, Council were updated by members of the Synod staff and conveners who gave presentations on their work.
The Right Rev Andrew Norton presented his report to the Council, which included an update on the gathering of presbytery moderators and administrators on 11 November. He highlighted aspects of his visits to Korea, to Australia for the Uniting Church Assembly, and to the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan.
Rev Wayne Te Kaawa, Moderator of Te Aka Puaho, updated council on the Opohe Marae upgrade and proposed Marae reopening. He also advised he had resigned as director of Amorangi training. He spoke at length about the challenges being faced by Turakina Maori Girls’ College.
The Rev Wayne Matheson reported on an invitation from Alpine Presbytery to host the 2018 General Assembly which Council warmly accepted. He also drew attention to the work of Rev Dr Kevin Ward who served as Acting Principal of KCML from January to October. He updated Council on the progress of advertising for a new Director for the Presbyterian Research Centre and advised that Yvonne Wilkie had agreed to an interim part-time appointment to cover the current vacancy.
Council discussed the invitation to be part of the newly formed National Dialogue on Unity and agreed that the Presbyterian Church seek observer status at this point.
Matters referred from 2014 Assembly: The AES reported to Council on voting under our Special Legislation. He noted four presbyteries and 185 church councils had responded, but not all had responded to all the questions. Voting figures will be reported to the 2016 Assembly and he advised he would move pro forma that each motion be adopted as a final decision.
The Rev Diane Gilliam-Weeks presented her report. It was noted that it is 20 years since the Healthy Congregations framework was developed and adopted and the Council agreed to a review of this. It was highlighted that a 2002 decision of Assembly to recognise the Pacific Theological College as a foundation studies provider had not been followed up and the Moderator was asked to write to the Principal offering an apology for the Church’s failure to implement that decision.
It was also agreed that when the Presbyterian Church creates manuals and guidelines that care needs to be taken to ensure appropriate ethnic input. Council agreed to a review of the Terms of Reference and operating guidelines for the Nominating Committee in the light of our cross-cultural commitments.
Council also encourages all parts of the Church to self-monitor to ensure our communication with and about one another is respectful, and to avoid labelling, stereotyping and ridicule.
Convenor, Anne Edgar, presented her report. She highlighted the high standard of reporting to the Committee by the Financial Services Manager and AES and noted the very high registration under the Charities Act by congregations.
Council received a report from the workgroup. This was a comprehensive follow-up report highlighting areas that had been further investigated since the report to the last Council meeting. Council agreed to a series of recommendations that will form part of a report to the 2016 Assembly.
Very Rev Ray Coster reported on the implementation process and Council approved the implementation of the Fund. Council thanked and discharged Ray for his work as Convenor of the Task Group.
Rev Ere Talagi-Ikitoelagi presented a report highlighting aspects of the Synod’s annual meeting and also the role of Fonos in the life of the Synod.
David Richardson gave an update and highlighted an encouraging year at both colleges; there are excellent collaborative working relationships between the heads of both colleges and positive signs for the year ahead.
Moderator Right Rev Andrew Norton updated the Council on the revised Terms of Reference for Press Go. Following discussion, and proposed changes, these were agreed to.
Moderator-designate Rev Richard Dawson updated Council on preparations for the next General Assembly. The dates are 16-20 November 2016 inclusive, with a training day on 15 November.
The Council’s next meeting will be 10-12 March 2016 at Ohope Marae.
The Rev Dr Colin Marshall
Convener - Council of Assembly
Mrs Jenny Flett
Deputy Convener - Council of Assembly