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Conference 2023 Update

Ady Shannon —

Over the past several months General Secretary Rev Tara Tautari and her personal assistant Lucille Havenga, ably supported by a large team of tech savvy volunteers, and a dedicated organisational committee, have been busy preparing for the online Conference 2023.

Scheduled to take place from Tuesday 7 November to Saturday 11 November, a core team will gather at the Hastings Wesley Community Centre and connect online with the 222 delegates registered for the event.

MCNZ President Rev Peter Taylor has drawn on a verse from Romans 15-13 to inspire the theme of this year’s Conference, God our Source of Hope. In a message to delegates, he elaborated on his hopes for Conference 2023.

“Faith, hope, love – these three remain, but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13.13). Faith is our foundation, and love is our action, but so often hope gets squeezed out of our journey with God. It is time to put this right. If we have lost our hope we have become estranged from God, from each other and from our world.

Hope does not look to ourselves, our church, our systems or traditions, but to God alone. Hope is not optimism nor is it based on the progress of humanity. Hope begins with looking back at what God has done in the past (and thus links with last year’s Conference theme - He hokinga mahara. He haere whakamua. Reflecting on our past and moving forward).

Hope then sees the present with all its contradictions and injustices. But Hope also glimpses the better realities promised by God’s future. It is this Hope that impels us forward as a church.

I call upon Te Hāhi Weteriana o Aotearoa, the Methodist Church of New Zealand, to grasp not just our foundation in faith, and our activity of love, but also this hope that will drive us forward.”

Rev Tara Tautari reiterated the call for prayers from the wider connexion to ensure consensus decisions are reached with consideration, and discernment and that the outcomes from Conference contribute to the work and mission of MCNZ in Aotearoa and beyond. There are two key areas that will be discussed over the course of five days of prerecorded presentations, worship, reflection, reports and discussions.

The first major focus will be reflecting on findings from the first year of the decade of climate justice, titled Rekindle the Vā of Papatuānuku. Many church organisations and entities have included reports on initiatives they have undertaken that are dedicated to climate justice. A highlight will be the launch of new online and printed ministry resources by Rev Siosifa Pole, chair of the Climate Justice Working Group.

At Conference last year it was decided that a review of the scope of work, composition and role of Mission Resourcing would be undertaken. Much effort has gone into extensive consultation with the wider Connexion to determine a path forward. The results of those discussions and recommendations will be presented to Conference.

As we gather next week to debate, discern and determine the direction of Te Hāhi Weteriana o Aotearoa, we welcome your prayers as we look forward, and back, with hope, love and faith.

All services will be live-streamed and links will be available to view the ceremonies at any time. There is no requirement to register to view the services. For up to date Conference information and links to the services, check the MCNZ website. Click Here.

A full report on the outcomes and decisions of Conference will be included in the December issue of Touchstone.