SYNOD 2014 REPORT
Your Synod Reps – Inez Cooper and Bob Delbridge – attended Synod in Hamilton during the last weekend of September. This years Synod was supposed to be held in Taranaki but because of an international rugby match in New Plymouth, there was no accommodation available, so late in the piece it was transferred to Hamilton. This caused some problems too because all of the usual venues were unavailable. So, Friday night was held in the Cathedral with a Eucharist and the Bishops’ Charge. Saturday and Sunday were held in a lecture theatre at the University but because there was no kitchen there, catering for morning & afternoon teas and lunch posed a problem. However the Parish volunteers did a great job under the circumstances. The Saturday night dinner was held in the Chartwell Parish Hall.
Business was mainly centered around the recent and ongoing Diocesan reorganization. It became obvious that for some time the Diocesan Administration had not been working effectively and that the Governance and Management of the Diocese needed to be re-focused. A Working Group conducted a review and came up with many recommendations, some of which have already been implemented.
We know about the new management and administrative positions at the Diocesan Office which caused the redundancy of most of the staff. A new Diocesan Manager is due to start work on 6th October. We also know about the outsourcing of the financial management of the Diocese to Trust Management Ltd. which caused us so many headaches. However, Standing Committee and the Diocesan Trust Board also needed some changes to make them more effective and this can only be done by altering the Statutes. Thus there were Bills which altered the make-up of Standing Committee – to reduce it’s size and the ability to appoint members so that the necessary skills are available.
A very good presentation was given by Trust Management Ltd. This company was set up by the Auckland Diocese to manage the assets and finance of the Diocese. It has grown to be a financial manager for many charities and also other church denominations and employs a staff of 25 .
It wasn’t said in so many words, but the financial recording of both Parishes and the Diocese were a real mess and it has taken a huge effort to get them sorted out. For the Diocese they had to trawl back for 10 years through audited accounts to find and correct mistakes! I wonder why they recommended that we sack the auditors! They have just produced the final accounts for 2013 and they are yet to be audited! This has left a deficit for the Diocese of $112,000. This can be funded from reserves but it leaves the reserves in a very shaky position.
Other Bills included the Earthquake Risk Assessment Bill which will increase Parish assessments by 1% to set up a fund which will help smaller Parishes cover the cost of an earthquake risk assessment on buildings which will probably be required under new legislation. This is a temporary fund which will cease in 2018. Another Bill was to change the statutes regarding Archdeaconries. There will no longer be four fixed Archdeaconries in the Diocese. The Bishops now have the power to set up,
alter or add to Archdeaconries as they see fit.
There were three Motions of interest. Two were passed which urged ministry units and individuals to oppose any proposed liberalisation of the abortion and euthanasia laws.
The other was Motion 2 which requested General Synod to hold a referendum across all Parishes to gauge support or opposition to Motion 30 of General Synod which set up a working group to look at the churches future legislation regarding same gender relationships. This motion was lost.
The main reason for the loss was that it was emphasized, at this stage, nothing has changed. A working group has been set up to make recommendations to the next General Synod. At that stage it will be put before Dioceses and Parishes for discussion and for submissions to be made. It is thought that this stage, where something concrete is being proposed, is the best time for Parishes & Parishioners to make their feelings known. After General Synod has digested this they will draw up legislation which then must be ratified by each individual Diocese. So….it will take several years for change, if any, to be made and there will be plenty of time to support or oppose it.