I would like to briefly touch on my experience at General Assembly 2014.
Friday 3rd October was the ministers’ day which was organized and facilitated by the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. It was an opportunity for many clergy to make reconnections with colleagues as well as hearing of the good and challenging realities of ministry. I particularly appreciated the
honesty with which ministers shared about their struggles, but also of the hopeful spirit trusting in how God uses the often inadequate and broken vessels for the work of the gospel. I was very proud of how well our ministry intern Jin Sook Kim reported back to the main group of the small group discussions.
The dialogue group discussions were also very interesting. My group was very diverse ethnically and so the topic of being a cross-cultural church generated much sharing. I didn’t realise that we had a significant number of South African people in the PCANZ and therefore I found their experiences from South Africa and within New Zealand to be very insightful. We all agreed that as New Zealand increasingly becomes ethnically and culturally diverse through the growing number of Christian immigrants, it will have huge implications for the composition of our faith communities and the way we do mission. I found that those in my dialogue group were very open and positive to the changes and challenges that cross-cultural relations might bring to congregations with PCANZ.
Overall, I found General Assembly 2014 very encouraging and productive. I think our Moderator the Right Rev Andrew Norton set the tone for Assembly with his opening address on the “Spacious love of God.” Drawing from Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:17-19; Andrew’s prayer was also: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Despite some very difficult and divisive issues we face as a church, exercising the points raised about the spacious love of God enabled people to speak and treat others with respect. Andrew’s message was also extremely encouraging in light of his theme for General Assembly “Inspiring Mission.”
I left Assembly feeling hopeful and enthused about PCANZ as well for us here at First Church of Otago.