Handbook for Board of Managers serving through St Johns Papatoetoe.
Presented by Rev Timothy Rose
Welcome to this series of episodes introducing you to your role as a Manager. In this episode we will look at the biblical background to managers as stewards.
In this episode we will look at the courts of the Church and related financial obligations. But let’s clarify by what we mean when we say “courts” of the Church.
The government of The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) is made up of several courts. The word “court” is used in the sense of a legislative court, as distinct from a civil court. In other words, “court” in the Church context is about creating and enforcing rules and regulations, not putting people on trial. The board of managers deals with the Session more than with any other court of PCANZ, but knowing the structure of the denomination will help us understand who we are.
The General Assembly
The General Assembly is the highest court of our denomination. It sets the policy and the direction of the church as a whole, as well as approving the various regulations that help the church to operate as an effective organisation. The General Assembly normally meets once every two years.
The General Assembly is the court of last resort. This means it is the final court of appeal regarding matters of doctrine, polity or discipline.
The General Assembly Council provides a quarterly report of all news and information related to General Assembly matters. You view these on the website or sign up to receive the information by email.
Ministers are determined by the General Assembly and supervised by the presbytery.
- National Ordained Ministry (NOM) – a person ordained by a presbytery to the ministry of word and sacrament and is eligible for call or appointment throughout the Church.
- Local Ordained Ministry (LOM) – a person is ordained by a presbytery to the ministry of word and sacrament in a particular context for a particular period of time and is not normally eligible for call to appointment to any other position within the Church.
- Local Ministry Team (LMT) – ministry roles are shared among members of the team. Within the team a person or persons may be recognised by Presbytery for training, ordination and induction to the ministry of word and sacrament.
- Amorangi Ministry – self-supporting ministry in Te Aka Puaho
All of that means that St Johns Papatoetoe is responsible to pay stipend and allowance to ministers serving them who are recognised by the General Assembly.
Every month the General Assembly publishes Bush Telegraph which includes all names of ministers added or removed from the roll and recognises change in status when in between ministries.
Stipends and Allowances
The basic minimum stipend and travel allowances for ministers of the word and sacrament are found under “Stipend and Allowance” in the Conditions of Service Manuel (CSM) a supplement to the Book of Order. Note that a parish may choose to exceed the basic stipend by up to 20% without the approval of the Presbytery. (The Presbytery, however, must be informed that this has been done). The stipend is pro-rated for part-time appointments on the basis of the units worked. (CSM 2.5.5)
Obviously money is an important part of the Manager’s role, including not only payment to its ministers, but to the General Assembly. Why do they do with the money we send them?
- The General Assembly oversees the ministry of our denomination. Such work includes international mission staff—ministers, teachers, development professionals, and seminary professors.
- Through Global Mission we also provide grants for leadership development and evangelism initiatives with some of these mission partners.
- Closer to home, our contributions via Assembly Assessment support congregational renewal and development as well as specialized ministries working with Maori, Pacifica, Children & Families, Youth, and Rural Ministry.
- Assembly Assessment we provide support for our national church office, including financial services (which, among many other services, invests funds for many congregations) and oversight of the minister’s pension plan and benefits plan.
- Last, but certainly not least, Assembly Assessment makes possible the annual meeting of the General Assembly and its committees, as well as the office of the General Assembly, which provides support for sessions, presbyteries and synods.
Assembly Assessment makes possible our existence as a church denomination in New Zealand. We can think of this as an opportunity to give back and to participate in ministry together with others in our particular family of faith—The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Funding for Assembly
Congregational giving toward Assembly Assessment is based on recommended allocations prepared at the national office. Suggested allocations are based on the revenue of a congregation. A formula approved by the General Assembly is applied to this figure, resulting in the suggested allocation for each congregation.
It is the session’s responsibility to ensure that this recommended allocation is brought to the church’s congregational meeting, where a vote is taken to set the amount for the year. That amount is called the congregation’s “accepted allocation” for Assembly Assessment. This figure is reported to presbytery and to the national office. Roughly, the levy is $1 per member per week.
At St Johns Papatoetoe, we use a unified budget and therefore do not have a line for Assembly Assessment on our offering envelopes. However, education of the levy at our AGM (in the least) would be beneficial. It is important to maintain congregational support for the mission and ministry we do together nationally.
Synod is the level of church government between the General Assembly and the presbytery. The recent restructuring undergone by PCANZ, however, removes this level of church government for St Johns Papatoetoe.
Because the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand is the result of a union between Northern and Southern churches in 1901, the Synod of Otago and Southland still exist and play a special role in supporting churches in that part of the country.
Since the Church wants to reflect a partnership relationship between the settler church and Maori, a Maori Synod was established – now known as Te Aka Puaho (The Glowing Vine). It has responsibility for Maori parishes, known as pastorates, throughout the country.
Because the Church recognises that people from Pacific island backgrounds should have more say about the way they organise church life, it formed Pacific Presbytery to make that possible.
The Council of Asian Congregations was established to provide opportunities for combined worship and fellowship, witness, and a place in which Asians members can speak to and interact with the wider Church.
The Synod of Otago and Southland covers the area south of the Waitaki River.
St Johns Papatoetoe does not belong to any Synod.
Presbytery is the regional court in subjection to the General Assembly. A presbytery or presbytery council has the power to hear appeals and conduct reviews (BOO 8.4(2)).
Each parish is represented on the presbytery by their minister and another elder. The presbytery has responsibility for all the parishes and other ministries in its area. Its job is to coordinate mission, look after personnel matters and make sure parishes are functioning well.
The presbytery is responsible for the worship, life, and mission of the Church. It provides the link between congregations and the General Assembly, facilitating and overseeing the worship, life, and mission amongst the congregations for which it has responsibility. Its task is to provide resources for the congregations for which it has responsibility and to cultivate a sense of community amongst those congregations (BOO 8.1).
Presbytery is comprised of ordained ministers including chaplains. There are an equal number of elders—one from each congregation or charge within the region covered by the presbytery. Retired ministers are normally included in the appendix to the constituent roll of presbytery. An elder elected by a church council as that council’s commissioner to presbytery must be a member of the church council (BOO 7.23(1)).
This is a key principle of Presbyterianism—the principle of equal representation of clergy and lay people on all courts of the church.
Ministers and elders serving as members of presbytery are commissioners and not representatives and must vote in accordance with their own consciences under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (BOO 7.22).
The minister is a member of presbytery, not the congregation. The presbytery sets and approves the terms of a minister’s call, including stipend and housing, and provides oversight for the teaching, character and conduct of the minister. Complaints made by members of the church concerning the minister must not be dealt with by the session or any congregational body. Only the presbytery, as a court, is competent to consider such complaints.
Changes to the terms of a call to ministers, such as manse and housing allowance, must be approved by presbytery. Presbytery may set an honorarium for interim moderators. Presbyteries set assessments to be paid by congregations for the cost of presbytery meetings and programs.
Regarding major capital expenditures by congregations: all arrangements for selling, mortgaging or otherwise contracting debt on the security of church property require presbytery approval.
A congregation may undertake capital expenditures without presbytery’s approval when they do not require borrowing money or mortgaging property. A major capital expenditure is any amount in estimated costs equal to or exceeding the total normal expenditures for that congregation as reported in the A&P of the preceding year.
The session is the church court at the congregational level. Its members are called elders—lay people are called ruling elders and clergy are called teaching elders. Ruling elders are members of the congregation and are elected by the congregation. Teaching elders are members of presbytery, not of the congregation.
Ruling elders are ordained for life and, in most cases, serve for life unless the session has instituted term service. Also, there is nothing in the Book of Order that prohibits an elder retiring from the session or taking a brief leave of absence (e.g., six months) for a specific purpose, with the approval of session.
It is the session’s responsibility to watch over all the interests of the congregation. This includes matters pertaining to the board of managers. The session may, for instance, require any board, committee or society in the congregation to report its proceedings from time to time.
Maintaining good relations between board and session is essential for the health of the congregation. Sometimes confusion over responsibilities and overlapping concerns cause strain between session and board. It is helpful to have clear communication between these two bodies. Some congregations have a liaison—an elder who is also an active member of the board. Joint meetings between the board and session— perhaps two or three times a year—also make for better communication and understanding.
In one church where such joint meetings had not been the custom, one of the managers occasionally referred to session members in less than flattering terms. Poor communication was the culprit. The board would make a decision and tell the session about it, without giving much background or the reasoning behind it. The session would often send it back with suggestions for revision, again without explaining why it was making such suggestions. After a few years passed, the one with the strong opinions about the session was elected an elder. He confessed, rather ruefully, “I guess I’m one of ‘them’ now.” But by that time the communication problem was resolved with regular, shared meetings.
Committee of Finance
It should be noted that the session has an option of establishing a session committee of ﬁnance and maintenance to replace a board of managers. The committee would be responsible for the work associated with the board. It would be formed like any other session committee, and would be expected to report regularly to the session. While session members would need to be part of this committee, it is permissible and encouraged that other members of the congregation, especially those with gifts for ﬁnance and maintenance, would be appointed by the session to this committee.
Being a manager at St Johns Papatoetoe means you are part of a large team. Your part is to assist the Session with the practical aspect of ministry. That means you handle the money and maintain the property under the direction and instruction from Session.
Thank you for your part in this exciting ministry that not only affects Papatoetoe, but reaches beyond Auckland, throughout New Zealand, and into other parts of the world.
That’s all for now. Next time, we are going to look at the relationships affected by your role. Until next time, “let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40).