Jackie Pearse will succeed Robin Nairn as general secretary of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia when he retires in 2007, a provincial news released announced.
Pearse, 47, brings a wealth of professional experience and knowledge of the Anglican Church to her new position.
Her first career was in health -- she was a nursing and midwifery tutor, and helped launch degree courses in those disciplines at the Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, New Zealand.
In the early 1990s she changed direction, and in 1995 she qualified, with honors, as a lawyer. "I loved the law because it was about people," she says. "Every case is about someone's life, and something major happening in that life. And good lawyers can make such a difference."
Pearse then served for nine years as the National Legal Advisor for the New Zealand College of Midwives, frequently being called to defend midwives in court and tribunal cases where births had been unexpectedly complicated.
She also researched and published papers and contributed to journals and text books in the field of health care and the law, and completed a masters' degree in health law and bioethics.
In 2004, when her husband, Major Lemuel Pearse, was appointed as a chaplain at Waiouru military camp , Jackie changed career for a third time. She became a Human Resources and Training Advisor and Manager for Transfield Services, an international company which provides facilities maintenance at Waiouru.
Jackie, who was born in Bluff, and grew up in rural Southland, chose a personal bicultural partnership when she married Lem, who is from Hawkes Bay, and who has Ngati Kahungunu ties.
Then, in the early nineties, when she saw how the Anglican Church had reshaped itself so that Pakeha Anglicans now share equally with their Maori and Polynesian Tikanga partners, Jackie decided to make a deeper Anglican commitment.
"I really prayed about that," she says, "and I felt that this was the church that the Lord wanted me to be part of, to grow in, and to contribute to."
Jackie Pearse has served on many top Anglican committees and commissions, including (with Pip Colgan and Amy Chambers), the Commission to Review the Achievements in the Principles of Partnership, a group set up to review the Three Tikanga church.
She is also the chairperson of the St John's College Trust Board Scholarship Committee – which, each year, disperses grants of around $400,000, and she has served the Pihopatanga, or Maori Anglican Church, in a wide variety of roles: For example, she's represented the Pihopatanga on the Standing Committee of the General Synod and acted as its Legal Advisor and Chancellor.
But it's not all heavy-duty stuff: Jackie has also enjoyed being a Sunday School teacher in Auckland and Waiouru, and says her Sunday School children are teaching her another vital life-skill – how to catch koura, or fresh-water crayfish.
Archbishop Brown Turei, the Primate of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, says he is "truly delighted" with Jackie's appointment.
"She is quite special: Jackie brings a wealth of qualifications to the task – as well as her own wairua. She comes with good spirit."
Jackie is reluctant, for now at least, to be drawn on her vision for how she will tackle the General Secretary's task.
"At this point," she says, "what I would really prefer to do is acknowledge the huge contribution that Robin Nairn has made.
"I marvel at his patience, his humility, his kindness – and how well he has served this church. I can't even think about filling his shoes.
"I just hope that God will use me to help with the next chapter."
On Robin Nairn's retirement, the General Secretary's office will be relocated from Hastings to Auckland. Jackie will be based there.
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