The 29th Synod meeting of The Uniting Church in Queensland began on Friday 7 October 2011 with a celebration service and the induction of new Moderator, Rev Kaye Ronalds, at Unity College in Caloundra.
Around 700 hundred people gathered with songs of praise in a celebration of the diversity of the Church in Queensland and to induct Queensland’s first female Moderator.
An Indigenous Elder of the Kabi Kabi people, the local indigenous people of the Sunshine Coast, brought the Welcome to Country. It was a sad day for the Kabi Kabi people as one of their Elders was buried the previous day, but some still travelled to the Synod celebration to bring a greeting and blessing that is thousands of years old praising our Creator God.
Two musical ensembles (one made up of Unity College students and staff, the other the Synod worship band) helped the congregation raise their voices in many languages throughout the celebration.
Outgoing Moderator, Rev Bruce Johnson, welcomed the congregation and called new Moderator, Rev Kaye Ronalds, to take up the challenge and privilege of the role. “You are called to be a servant and a shepherd in this Synod,” he said.
The declaration of Ms Ronalds as Moderator was greeted with enthusiastic acclamation from those gathered and the newly inducted Moderator was presented with a moderatorial stole and cross, and signed the synod Bible.
Greetings were brought by Rev Dr Chris Walker from the Uniting Church Assembly, the Right Rev Dr Jonathan Holland, Bishop of the Northern Region of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane, and Rev Paul Smith, Vice President of the Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland District. Queensland Churches Together (QCT) President, the Rev Cannon Richard Tutin, said he looked forward to continuing the great relationship between the Uniting Church in Queensland and QCT and to Ms Ronalds’ participation in ecumenical endeavours.
Rev Peter Woodward brought a prayer for the Church and Moderator’s Chaplain, Sharon Kirk, brought prayers for the new Moderator and her family.
The congregation was treated to vibrant Bible readings from Rev Norma Spear (Isaiah 12:1-6), Shirley Doyle (Romans 12:9-21), and Rev Rob Evans (Luke 4: 14-21(22-30)).
Ms Ronalds address those gathered, reflected on the Church in Queensland’s Vision 2020 (Together on the way, enriching community) and asked the question, “Are we there yet?”
“We are a long way out from 2020 but in some respects we are making useful progress on the road trip to get there. Already, many of you are Uniting in Christ, acting with love, living with hope, witnessing in faith, and working for justice. We are part the way there, but we need to find ways to enrich our communities even when there isn’t a disaster,” she said.
“We need to become better at working together and remembering that there are many kinds of disadvantage in our communities and many opportunities for transforming lives.”
She encouraged people to be open to conversations about faith in all parts of their life.
Ms Ronalds said she didn’t want to underplay the significance of being the first female Moderator of the Queensland Synod. “I count it a great privilege,” she said. “I have been very fortunate to have had a mentor like Rev Norma Spear and to have been influenced by many capable women of faith. By the same token I recognise that I am a white, Western woman who has had the benefit of an education and the many advantages of growing up in Australia. For many women in the world, life is very hard and much harder than my worst day as Moderator could ever be.”
Ms Ronalds also thanked the many people involved in organising the celebration, particularly organiser Megan Thompson and all who assisted her and Unity College, a joint Catholic and Uniting Church school in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.
She invited the members of the 29th Synod to leave preoccupations behind them and join her on the “pilgrimage to follow Jesus and experience the kingdom of God at hand”.
The congregation joined in celebrating the Lord’s Supper and were sent forth singing the song “Dare to discover”.
Visit the Journey photo gallery to see photos from the 29th Synod celebration and induction.
Photo : Past Moderator, Rev Bruce Johnson, General Secretary, Dr Shirley Coulson, and Moderator\\\’s Chaplain, Sharon Kirk, join the congregation of the 29th Synod celebration to pray for new Moderator, Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo by Osker Lau