Mount Maunganui's long-serving Presbyterian minister, the Reverend Ray Coster, has been elected the next leader of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Rev Coster was elected Moderator Designate by the church's General Assembly in Christchurch at the weekend.
The senior pastor of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Dee St will take up the role of moderator in two years.
Born in Southland, he studied at Otago University and the Presbyterian Theological Hall. After completing his training in 1976, he ministered at Timaru's Trinity parish until 1985 when he shifted to the Mount. Rev Coster said he felt a strong calling to parish ministry.
"I know how rewarding and yet how difficult parish ministry can be. I look for ways to encourage and help others in ministry."
He is married to Judy and has four adult children.
Rev Coster is a former member of the Council of the Assembly and chairs the Press Go board, which is overseeing a new approach to growing the church. Press Go distributes funds donated to promising church-growth projects.
There are 415 Presbyterian churches in New Zealand with 30,000 churchgoers.