As I begin my reasonably short period as Moderator of the PCANZ I want to make a few things clear to whomever might read this blog and wonder about the job and the title.
It seems to me that for those looking in from the outside a title such as the Moderator of the General assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand is not only a mouthful but is also somewhat pretentious. While I agree with the first opinion I don’t with the second. This job like so many others in the church is a highly pragmatic one which is dominated largely by the need to make decisions about real life situations and real people. It begins, at present, with the running of a key meeting in our church, the General Assembly and this is a meeting which can either encourage or discourage a lot of people if it’s not done well.
It continues with the development of key relationships within the National Office and with key stakeholders around the church and it demands a knowledge of the wider Church as well as the need to represent the church within the regional and global family arises.
On top of this one must deal with the day to day concerns of those within our church who have or are experiencing something quite shattering – a loss, a disease, a mistake, a very bad decision… the consequences of which are causing them and their families and friends significant pain. A significant part of the Moderator’s job is to be at least the voice of the Church’s care and concern for its leaders and its people. A classic example of this is the Kaikoura earthquake and all the downstream consequences for people’s lives and livelihoods in that area of the country.
Then there’s the important task of representing the Church in numerous roles and relationships from those with our neighbouring denominations to interfaith meetings and worldwide communions – all of which keep us both informed and resourced in many ways.
These and a myriad of other duties make the role a full-time one if not an over-full-time one. It is certainly not merely a ‘figurehead’ role and it provides an important conduit of relations both within and without the Church.
Finally I believe the Moderator should bring to the Church something of the special work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. In short, the Moderator should be able to help the Church focus on some important part of the mission of God which they themselves have been developing in response to the work and call of God’s Spirit in their lives.
This is certainly what I will be committing to over the next 18 months or so and I hope that in doing so I will help the whole Church rediscover something of the great hope upon which it is founded and through which it can bring hope into an often dark and hopeless world.