‘Focus on the future’ for national church

Shifting priorities

2005. The Presbyterian Church is consulting with parishes and presbyteries to decide on the priorities for the church’s national tasks.

Focus on the Future is a series of meetings with parishioners being held in the North and South Island and encourages written submissions.

Presbyterian Church communications adviser Amanda Wells says Focus on the Future is a strategy exercise aimed at generating a consensus on what national tasks are most important to Presbyterians.

Parishioners have been urged to consider Presbyterian identity and inter-church relatedness in their submissions.

General Assembly Executive Secretary Rev Dr Kerry Enright says the response has been very positive and encouraging.

“We are pleased with the level of feedback that we are receiving. There have been some excellent contributions. It has been a really good turn-out so far.”

In 2004 the General Assembly decided that the Council of Assembly must engage in focused conversation with parishes and presbyteries.

Ms Wells says the process will likely lead to looking at resource reallocation.

In reflecting on the church’s priorities for the future, parishes are encouraged to consider key mission opportunities, key relationships and responsibilities, the impact on presbyteries and congregations of changes to services provided nationally, financial and organizational risk to not providing some tasks, and additional costs such as those covered in the Charities Act.

General Assembly’s stated purpose – to make Jesus Christ known – is central to discussion and where the focus includes:

∙ Whether the church’s current priorities are the best focus for achieving the church’s objectives.

∙ Deciding on national tasks which would best help local congregations engage in mission.

Five meetings in the South Island last month were attended by about 200 people.

The church website notes that attendees have reminded the council that they are interested in seeing changes result from the conversations. Feedback from meetings and written submissions will be collated and considered by the council, which will return results and outcomes in mid-June.

Consultation with the wider church in previous years has led to the establishment of the global mission office and national mission enabler position, and provision of distance learning at the School of Ministry.

By Peter Veugelaers

Published 2005, Challenge Weekly

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