Thought For The Week 14 October 2018
Last week I had the privilege of attending the General Assembly in Christchurch, which is only the third time I’ve been to such a gathering. The General Assembly gathers every 2 years and is the highest court of our church responsible for setting the rules and guidelines under which member churches and presbyteries operate. It has a reputation for showing the church at its worse with acrimonious debates on contentious issues, highlighting our divisions rather than our unity.
But I’m happy to say this Assembly was very positive and the moderator, Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio, did a splendid job of injecting humanity, humour and spirit into the proceedings. He would end each session by breaking into singing well known gospel choruses which helped to keep our eyes focused on God.
Highlights of decisions made were: (a full summary can be found at www.presbyterian.org.nz)
- Rev Hamish Galloway (Hope, ChCh) was announced as the next moderator 2020-22. Hamish’s first parish was our own St Stephen’s.
- It was agreed to keep the Moderator’s term at 2 years after consultation with presbyteries around extending this to 4 years. Moderator’s will be ineligible to serve a second term.
- Assembly committed to reducing our impact on the environment, acknowledging the important role Christians play in being stewards of God’s creation.
- General Assembly declared it does not support provision for euthanasia and assisted suicide as proposed in the End of Life Choice Bill.
Another positive aspect to Assembly was hearing from the other presbyteries of good things that are happening. In our Alpine presbytery we are seeing much growth and renewal coming out of the destruction of the earthquakes- at least 3 new churches formed in that time, and all over the country there are stories of churches doing well amid the usual challenges we all face.
Thank you for releasing me to attend this assembly- it was a real treat!