Coping with a shortage of ministers: Four Presbyterian
parishes, almost a third of those in South Canterbury, are
without ministers. However, the parishes have not suffered
unduly, the newly appointed moderator for the Presbyterian
Church in South Canterbury, the Rev Ian Hyslop, of
The Presbyterian Church in South Canterbury has been
labelled courageous and innovative by the church's national
leader as it adopts a team approach to overcome a shortage of
full-time, ordained Presbyterian ministers in the
The ministries have become vacant through natural attrition.
Four parishes, almost a third of those in South Canterbury,
are without ministers - Trinity, St Stephen's, Chalmer's and
St Paul's, all in Timaru.
However, the parishes have not suffered unduly, the newly
appointed moderator for the Presbyterian Church in South
Canterbury, the Rev Ian Hyslop, of Geraldine, says.
There were a variety of ways to offer ministry, he said.
That view was shared by the moderator of the Presbyterian
Church of Aotearoa-New Zealand, the Right Rev Pamela
Tankersley, of Palmerston North, who visited the district in
‘‘South Canterbury was a presbytery with courage,'' she said.
‘‘It was taking innovative measures to minister wisely and
effectively, facilitating creative ministries by working
Mr Hyslop said it had been an opportunity to review needs,
function and ministry context in the four affected parishes
and, indeed, for the wider church.
Mr Hyslop was appointed South Canterbury moderator in March
this year, taking over from Bill Penno, who had held the
position for three years. It was a significant step for Mr
Hyslop after 20 years in the ministry, which began at
Edendale in Southland. For the past 12 years he has been the
minister at St Andrew's Parish in Geraldine.
The South Canterbury Presbytery incorporates 13 parishes from
as far afield as Twizel and Waihao.
Mr Hyslop said the four parishes without ministers remained
relevant to the faith nevertheless.
‘‘These days there are a variety of ways to offer ministry.
The transitional team approach is one model and it works well
in South Canterbury.
‘‘Churches led by teams of people, for example, also included
St David's, the Pukaki Presbyterian Church of Twizel, and the
Waihao Co-operating Parish. They were all competent
ministries,'' Mr Hyslop said.
Options within the transitional team concept included a mix
of visiting ordained and lay preachers, and parishioners.
He said it was one model of ministry that had served the
‘‘The way forward does not necessarily rest in any one model,
but in a tailored resource that encompasses a variety of
approaches. Teams supported by the wider church resource were
An example of teamwork was the establishment of ministry
settlement boards in each of the four parishes without
full-time ordained ministers. These boards had been asked to
produce parish profiles which included buildings, finances,
and specific needs.
‘‘The opportunity for such review is valuable and helps the
church remain relevant.''
Mr Hyslop was positive about the Presbyterian Church's future
in South Canterbury.
‘‘I am very confident of the future provision of ministry in
‘‘The big heartbeat is for mission - in all sorts of ways.
Mission can include teams and teams can include a mix of
ordained and lay preachers and parishioners,'' Mr Hyslop
But were there going to be enough ordained ministers for the
future needs of the church?
‘‘Well, actually, I put that very question to the national
church body recently.
‘‘The answer I got back was yes, for four reasons.
‘‘One, the number of ordained ministers we had now; two, the
number of new ministers presently being trained; three, the
number of ministers joining the church from other
denominations, and four, the number of overseas ministers
wanting to come to New Zealand.''
However, it would be a very different future, he said.
‘‘That's the challenge of the church. We must communicate the
faith with whatever tools are available.''
He said churches generally were grappling with change in
‘‘In the Presbyterian Church I bat strongly for the creative
approach, using the fabric and resources of society for
‘‘An example of such support is our very own Presbyterian
Support South Canterbury. This is an organisation providing a
wonderful resource to the district in care.''
Mr Hyslop said to remain relevant, a church needed to move
with the times. He had embraced technology in delivering his
key messages of faith.
‘‘In one of my recent church services, for example, we showed
a DVD clip. We have electronic presentation equipment for the
‘‘We also send emails of support and encouragement every week
to tertiary students we know of around the world.''