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New Presbyterian Principal

More colour in church institutions and expressions of faith is one of the key aims of the new Presbyterian School of Ministry principal, the Rev Neville Emslie.

The Rev Emslie, a former Baptist minister, was today appointed to the historic Presbyterian college for training ministers and lay leaders.

“ Church institutions tend to be perceived as grey and brick, “ Mr Emslie said. “ One of my aims is help produce dynamic and colourful ministers, in the sense of lively, cultured expressive people who are fully engaged with society.”

Mr Emslie said he wanted to combine the best of Presbyterian tradition with new ways for the church to relate to contemporary society. This could include things such as café style worship, use of lighting and visual material and more interactive styles of church with less emphasis on one person standing up the front preaching.

Mr Emslie’s interests include rugby refereeing, cricket, poetry and reading for leisure. He was born and educated in Auckland and worked as Chief Chemist at Oxyplast (NZ) Ltd in Auckland before becoming a minister in the 1980s. His first parish was Orakei Baptist Church, Auckland from 1985 to 1995, before he moved to North East Valley Baptist Church in Dunedin. He is also a teaching fellow (New Testament) at Otago University and has been on the administrative board of Carey Baptist College.

Commenting on the appointment of a former Baptist to a Presbyterian position, the Rev Shirley Fergusson convenor of the Council of Assembly, said Mr Emslie was appointed after a national and international advertising search.

“Neville resigned from his Baptist Pastorate before applying for this position. His attention to issues of social justice and the inclusiveness of ministry are consistent with those in the Presbyterian Church,” Mrs Fergusson said.

Presbyterian theological training for ministers began in Dunedin before the turn of the 20th century with Knox College opening in 1909. The present School of Ministry offers a two year post graduate course which prepares students to be ordained as Presbyterian ministers and also provides training to equip lay people for their particular ministries.


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