It is reported on the blog GA Junkie that a trend for campaigning for the position of Moderator has spread from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The trend is interesting. The Moderator of the General Assembly in a Presbyterian Church acts as the speaker of the national court of the church, he or she moderates the discussion of the General Assembly, and outside that court acts as speaker of the church to the society of which it is a part. In New Zealand General Assembly meets once every two years so the holder of the position changes when the next General Assembly meets.

It has been raised on the New Zealand Presbyterian List and some discussion has begun. It is not politic for me as a member of the Archives staff to advance an opinion in that forum. This is my own blog and here I’m wearing my own hat. (Actually I’m wearing earphones and I’m listening to O Mensch by Mahler, what a beautiful piece of music!)

For a generation in the New Zealand church there has been a gentleman’s contract that if balanced the appointment of a moderator from one faction in the church for one term with the appointment of a moderator from the other faction in the next. The church has gone into generational change with the numerical decline especially in one faction. Now there is a trend for the moderator to come from the evangelical wing of the church which is dominant.

The New Zealand church does not have the numbers of people or area of the churches in North America. New Zealanders have also proven to be enthusiastic adopters of internet technology and communication. It may be a matter of time before a similar trend of campaigning for the moderator’s position appears among New Zealand Presbyterians. If many of us are already watching blogs, twitter and facebook then what’s to prevent it. We already have a moderator’s blog which is not alone in representing a Presbyterian identity. Especially if it makes the appointment of a new moderator a more open process. It could be allowed to be a positive move, if ‘what is said in the back-room is shouted from the roof-tops’. Also if Presbyteries continue to get bigger through mergers and parishes become more parochial in their world-views then greater communication needs to be encouraged.

I await to see further developments.

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