While New Zealanders voted in government elections on the weekend of October 17 to 18, 219 delegates from the North New Zealand Conference (NNZC) met in Auckland for their 92nd constituency session to elect a new leadership team for the next quadquennium.
Pastor Bob Larsen was elected as the new NNZC president. He will serve alongside Rosalie McFarlane as general secretary and Kheir Boutros as chief financial officer.
Pastor Larsen is currently serving as the general secretary for the Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) and was unable to attend the session due to travel restrictions. Having served 14 years in the Pacific, Pastor Larsen says he is looking forward to returning to New Zealand, where he served previously for 11 years.
“When the call came to serve and lead NNZC, I was truly humbled,” he said. “During [my years at NNZC] I learned a lot under the leadership of Pastor Eddie Tupa’i, Pastor Ben Timothy and other leaders, from their vision for Healthy Adventist Churches and outreach into the communities.
“I look forward to working with the new leaders, Rosalie McFarlane and Kheir Boutros. I plan to work closely with the regional pastors as they are key leaders in their area and have a wealth of experience and wisdom which I greatly value.”
Ms McFarlane is the first female to be elected as general secretary for NNZC, and is currently serving as NZPUC education director. Mr Boutrous has worked as CFO in the New Caledonia Mission and as an accountant for NNZC, and most recently served in the Middle East Africa Union (MENA).
The session ran throughout Sabbath afternoon until 11pm, and then again on Sunday. Prior to discussing business, delegates enjoyed Sabbath worship led by Pastor Erickson Fabian and featuring choir and group performances. Former conference president Pastor Ben Timothy preached on the importance of keeping Jesus at the centre of our Church.
“We try to fix and change the Church, when what we need to do is recalibrate and go back to Christ. Because Jesus is all we need. When the glory is all His, then the mission is inspired and completed,” he said.
Once Sabbath closed, former general secretary Pastor Hugh Heegan shared his report, including the happy news that Conference membership has—for the first time—surpassed 11,000. Two new churches were legally welcomed into the fellowship: Bethany Tongan Church and the Brazilian Adventist Community Church Further statistics were also shared, including the fact that there is 1 Adventist for every 341 people in the North Island.
NZPUC secretary and CFO—and in recent times also NNZC CFO—Graeme Drinkall reported that during COVID lockdowns, finances had stabilised. He encouraged delegates to strengthen their e-giving, and challenged churches to learn how to be flexible and do church differently during COVID.
In his capacity as chair of the nominating committee, NZPUC president Pastor Eddie Tupa’i brought forth the nomination of Pastor Bob Larsen. Time was given for delegates to react and comment directly to the chairperson about the nomination, while regional reports were presented. The evening meeting concluded past 11pm.
The Sunday session saw the general secretary and CFO appointed, as well as an almost-new executive committee. Session concluded Sunday afternoon and after voting through the constitution’s edits and changes, the pastors gathered around outgoing leaders, Pastor Ben Timothy and Pastor Hugh Heenan, and prayed over them.
Pastor Ben Timothy said:
North NZ Conference Family,
Thank you for the honour of serving in the role of president for the last two years. It was a privilege I undertook with humility and awe. I am certain God will continue to achieve His purposes through our new president Pastor Bob Larsen and the incoming leadership team. I wish them His richest blessings in this new term of mission.
Sincerely in Christ,