The July Diocesan Council meeting was the first attended by Bishop Ellie in her episcopal role and we were delighted to welcome her to this and future meetings.
A key focus for discussion in the July meeting was a continuation of the work on Diocesan strategies. We approved a final document for inclusion into the Schedule of the Governance Canon and a communication on this will be sent to parishes and mission units. We recognised a number of challenges – not least the amount that leaders are being asked to do – and will now turn our attention to how these challenges can best be met.
There will be minor changes in the Strategies Schedule from year to year to reflect that our priorities and focus are likely to shift a little over time. For 2018 we are proposing to Synod that the priorities be:
- Child poverty – focus on housing
- Climate change – focus on reducing carbon emissions
- Last, lost and least – focus on “being sent”
As one example of the kind of idea that fits well with our priorities, the Council was pleased to affirm the initiative calling for more housing for low income people in the Hutt region by Archdeacon Martin Robinson and the Hutt Valley team. We noted with appreciation the positive results of this initiative. The Council also agreed to endorse the Zero Carbon Act (ZCA) campaign on behalf of the Diocese and encourages members of all mission units to support the initiative by signing the online petition at http://zerocarbonact.nz/
We also reviewed the report of the Structure and Function of Synod sub-committee and the draft Canon will be considered at the pre-Synod regional meetings. Among other things the draft now includes changes to Schedule 2 relating to representation at Synod, and an important underlying principle is that Synod Representatives need to be active in their parish or mission unit so that they can speak with authority about what is going on. We have asked the Synod steering committee to action training/empowerment opportunities for Synod Representatives at the beginning of Synod.
The Council canvassed developments in parishes and mission units, and noted that conversations in a number of cases were occurring about using land for housing project. While some parishes have their challenges, there are encouraging signs of growth and new life in a number of cases, and we agreed to focus on the process for rebirthing parishes in future meetings.
We canvassed the forthcoming pre-Synod regional meetings and noted that key items for discussion would include “The Way Forward” developments, the Mission Units Canon and the Structure and Function of Synod Report. We approved the draft Budget for presentation to the meetings.
Good progress is being made on health and safety issues and in particular on emergency procedures, and asbestos checking. We are looking at a free platform to support our asset and insurance programme. Property proposals from St Matthias (Karori), Ruapehu and Silverstream parishes were considered.
A replacement Deed for the Huntley School Board Trust was discussed and approved subject to a couple of proposed changes to be discussed with the Board.
The next meeting of the Council will be on Wednesday 9 August and Diocesan Council members will also attend the Combined Leadership Retreat at Ngatiawa from 17 to 19 August.