The twenty-seventh Synod of the Uniting Church Queensland Synod opened with a celebration of worship and the induction of the new Moderator Rev Bruce Johnson.
The six hundred-strong crowd filled the Alexandra Park auditorium with the songs of praise and the sounds of laughter as a cast of Wizard of Oz characters painted a picture of the church at mission in the world.
Dorothy, the tin man and others were on a journey along the yellow brick road looking for a way to interface with the community and attend to the issues that are confronting the church and community.
“We are looking to be a generous, courageous and effective church all in one,” Dorothy said.
“God knows we are a work in progress – we’re just ordinary people struggling to get there.”
To the incoming Moderator, Retiring Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman said, “We rejoice that God has called you by the voice of the church to serve in this way.”
“A great adventure is about to begin.”
The declaration was greeted with enthusiastic acclamation from the gathered congregation and the newly inducted Moderator was presented with a moderatorial scarf and cross, and signed the synod Bible.
President of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev Gregor Henderson brought the greetings of the National Church and the five Moderators of the other Australian Synods and the Moderators of partner churches in New Zealand with whom the Uniting Church has an increasingly close relationship.
Mr Henderson also paid tribute to the Retiring Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman for his great contribution to the national life of the church as well as his work in the Queensland Synod. “We thank you David, and we will miss you.”
Mr Johnson paid tribute to two women in his life: his mother who set in train his journey of faith, and to his wife Heather who had encouraged and put up with him throughout his training and his ministry.
Mr Johnson referred to symbols of reconciliation and talked of his visits to Coventry Cathedral in UK and the Japanese Garden in Cowra.
He claimed the story of the Choir of Hard Knocks was a metaphor for the kind of reconciliation spoken of in the Gospels.
Mr Johnson said the mission of the church is not building the church but to be engaged in a ministry of reconciliation.
“We started out as a group of pilgrims on the way but have been seduced into being the kind of denomination we wanted to leave behind.”
“Why does God need a Uniting Church in Australia? Ours was to be a ministry of reconciliation.
“If we’re not doing that we should just join one of the denominations that best fits the way we think things should be.”
Mr Johnson said whenever the followers of Christ “forget about their own ambitions and unite in humility and love, we too become a powerful living witness to God’s reconciling work in this world.
“This is the ministry that has been entrusted to us.
“We must not lose sight of that calling, no matter how tough or how satisfying that journey becomes.”
Photo : The retiring Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman prays for incoming moderator Rev Bruce Johnson