Report on the 2012 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria (Australia)
Report on the 2012 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria (Australia) October 24, 2012
The Presbyterian Church of Victoria (Australia)General Assembly Report 2012 WorshipAs customary when it meets in Melbourne, the General Assembly began with the worship of God in The Scots’ Church. The service was well attended; the singing was warm, enthusiastic and uplifting, the prayers were heartfelt and edifying, and the newly appointed Moderator, Rt Rev David Palmer, warmed our hearts and inspired us to praise and rejoicing by preaching a sermon entitled “Grace beyond measure.” Assemblies are mostly about business — but the Assembly’s business is God’s business, to be done in God’s way, by his Word and Spirit — and so there was preaching and prayer each day of the Assembly. Tuesday began with the Assembly Communion Service. The Moderator led the service, following the order of service for the Lord’s Supper used by John Calvin in Geneva. “Union with Christ” was the theme of the Assembly appointed by the Moderator, and so the Rev John Wilson proclaimed the Word of God from Romans 8:1-11, “Union with Christ: experienced through the indwelling Spirit.” Traditionally, Assembly days begin with members of the Assembly meeting early for prayer. This year it was encouraging that more came to pray after we were reminded of the importance of prayer. We needed that reminder; how easy it is to forget that too often we do not have, because we do not ask God. The Assembly was harmonious not simply because of the excellent work of the Moderator in leading and guiding the Assembly in its business, but because we prayed, and the Lord heard and answered. The Lord also blessed the Assembly because it sets aside time to hear God’s word preached. This year the Clerk of the Assembly, Rev John Wilson, was also the Assembly Expositor, and his preaching from Romans 8, both in the Communion Service and in the Assembly, was a definite highlight of the Assembly, and a real blessing to us all, as he helped us understand what it means for us as Christians that we are not wanderers or vagrants, but that we have an address: we are always to be found “in Christ.” These addresses may be heard from the website: http://www.reservoirpc.org.au/ under ‘Sermon List’. Jubilees· Very Rev Dr Allan Harman has celebrated 50 years since ordination, having been ordained on 21 March 1962 in the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia, Geelong.· Elder Linton Mills has celebrated 41 years an elder. He was inducted into the Boort Charge of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria on 10 October 1971 and continues in that position today.Deaths· Rev Walter Bruce Nixon, minister of the PCA at Deepdene, Koo Wee Rup, Mt Evelyn and as Associate to Dr Max Putnam of Scots Church, 1977 – 1979, 8 Sep 2012, aged 77 years.· Very Rev Murray Ramage, Moderator General 1992-1995, (4Oct 2012)· Rev Dr Alex Stephens, (10 Oct 2012).CommitteesAn important part of every Assembly is the reports and recommendations it receives from its Committees. Assemblies are like the fabled town of Brigadoon — they appear from time to time, and then they are no more until the next time! But the work of the Assembly goes on, because in between Assemblies it continues through its committees. So here are a few tit-bits from the Committees, more or less in the order they came to the Assembly:Church and Nation§ Copies of government submissions and other helpful materials may be found at the committee’s website www.yourCaN.org.§ Is planning a second Religion in the Public Square in August 2013 (Rev Dr Mark Durie and Hon John Anderson, keynote speakers).§ Wants invitations from presbyteries and sessions to speak on Church and Nation matters.State News§ Encourages contributions of articles and news for publication in fellow workers.Church Planting§ Gives thanks to God for the progress of the Valley Church plant, and for church plants beginning in Thornbury (Aaron Boyd), Point Cook (Peter Owen) and South East Bendigo (Russ Grinter).Social Services§ The Assembly approved its spending $6.5m over 2 years to build 12 one and two bedroom units, a new administration centre and relocation of maintenance sheds at Kirkbrae, Kilsyth.Archive§ The Assembly thanked Mary and Helen Gillan, for their generous gift of a restored glass photographic portrait of their great grandfather, Rev John G Paton, pioneer missionary to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu).Health and Community Chaplaincy§ Asks for much prayer for its work, its chaplains, and for the recruitment and training of more chaplains to take advantage of the many opportunities in sports chaplaincy.Defence Force Chaplaincy§ Urges prayer for military chaplains as they minister in the name of Christ to ADF personnel.Christian Education and Nurture§ Miss Joy Venning spoke of the encouraging work of the PYV; Rev Brian Harvey on his work as Youth Ministries Director and Mrs Anne Harvey, on women’s ministries in the PCV.§ Initiated a review of Breaking the Silence (protection of children) to ensure that it is up to date.Theological Education§ Gave thanks for Principal Peter Hastie (an answer to prayer; in 2010 prayer was urged for the provision of a principal).§ Acknowledged 11 years of valued service to PTC and wider church by Rev Dr Greg Goswell and Mrs Mignon Goswell (Greg is taking up a position with PTC NSW early 2013).§ Urges prayer to the Lord Jesus for the provision of gifted pastors and teachers for his people.Other MattersFederal Vision Theology: in response to an overture by members, the Assembly appointed a committee under the leadership of Rev Dr Douglas Milne to investigate and report to next year’s Assembly on this teaching for the guidance and protection of the Church from error.APWM Mission Lunch: Paul Denness, MAF pilot, gave an illustrated presentation, tracing the history of The Australian Family Denness from wartime Europe to missionary service in Pakistan, and to the present continuing commitment to missionary service in this generation. It was great!PWMU: Mrs Eileen Blythe, President, reported on the work, and spoke of new initiatives to connect with younger women in the church, and to engage them in the task of missionary support, and managed to persuade the Moderator to pose in a knitted pineapple beanie! Seriously, PWMU’s work is important, even core ministry, as a serious commitment to the Great Commission, and it deserves our support.PIM – Rev Keith and Mrs Jenny Bell: PIM announced that it has appointed Keith to the position of Church Planter in Alice Springs, a daunting missionary challenge; they will move to Alice Springs April 2013.PRESaid: Rev Bob Thomas reported on the amazing generosity of Presbyterians in supporting this work, and on what has been achieved in building churches in Africa; the Assembly resolved to commend the 2012 PresAID Christmas Day Appeal to the Church.ACCESS Ministries: Mr Justin Simpson (Director, CRE) emphasised the importance of Christian Religious Education in schools for a generation of children largely ignorant of the Bible and the Christian Faith, and urged support for this work from the whole Church.Presbyterian Schools: The Assembly received written reports from all the schools, and Mrs Elaine Collin, Principal of PLC, gave a very encouraging address to the Assembly on the life and work of PLC.
We thank God for the unity in truth and love of this General Assembly; may its blessings be long remembered. To him alone be the glory!