General Ass…

Anne and I are off to the Presbyterian General Assembly tomorrow – we are looking forward to the powhiri and opening of the Assembly at Te Maungarongo marae – our PCANZ national marae at Ohope.
Rev Ray Coster is being installed as our new Moderator.  He is a great choice for the church – he has the unique combination of warmth, robust faith, enthusiasm for the church, and an ability to, and passion for, relating to a wide-range of people.  I am sure he will serve us well.  When Ray began his ministry in Timaru I was a weedy teenager, and I valued his wise mentorship.  I have enjoyed his friendship in the years since.
As for the content of the Assembly itself, I hope that it provides a positive inspirational role in the life of our Presbyterian Church.  Personally I think that our General Assemblies take themselves too seriously.  I do not rate national meetings as being especially useful when they seek to dictate – top down – the life of the Presbyteries and congregations.  Resourcing and encouraging – yes, – yes please! Prescribing the fine detail of the faith and doctrine and management from a distant place removed from the life of the congregations – no.
But there are systems at work and people within them that will try to do this, behaviour that I feel is totally inappropriate in this day and age when we are needing to be less institutional and more relational in our way of being in the kind of society we have.  I find the whole ‘westminister style’ of governance increasingly out of step with the way most of our churches function on a week by week basis.  That style leads to dominance by the more articulate, the disenfranchising of those who cannot be there, an adverserial approach to issues, and an unhelpful polarisation of the church where our differences are accentuated a way out of proportion to our commonality.  Our strong commonality, experienced at virtually every other level of the church’s life, rarely seems to get a good look in when we meet nationally.  I hope and pray that the Assembly doesn’t make an ass of itself!

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One thought on “General Ass…

  1. And then there is the question of proscribing the decisions of ministers regarding what they might or might not do – there is where we might make a real ass of ourselves!

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