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A convocation of bare feet and empty hands

Rev Dave Baker shares a joke with Moderator-Elect Rev Dr David Pitman

An invitation to "leave your shoes at the door" was the first invitation to ministers attending the Convocation of Ministries held prior to the 25th Synod of the Uniting Church in Queensland.

Youth workers, deacons, pastors and ministers of the word symbolically left their concerns and pressing needs at the door as they prepared to spend the day affirming their call to ministry and affirming their passion for ministry.

Moderator-Elect Revd Dr David Pitman commenced the day by acknowledging his sadness at the loss of those who had recently left the ministry of the Uniting Church; naming them and sharing the feelings in prayer.

"We and the whole church are poorer because they are no longer part of our fellowship," he said.

Dr Pitman shared how he found his call to ministry which didn’t come on a high mountain but through his experience of a loving community of faith which picked up his family and drove them to church each Sunday and entrusted him to be on the preaching plan at 16 years of age.

"Like Paul I acknowledge that every time I think of them I do so with thanksgiving," he said.

Dr Pitman said that ministers have experienced a call which has been confirmed by the church through its processes and training but that all know what it means to feel weary and what that does to our relationships.

"We are also conscious of the divisions and conflicts among us and how tiring and exhausting that has been."

Dr Pitman called ministers to remember the irresistible attraction to Jesus and the ministry they reflect in his name, "Mysterium tremendum et fascinans augustum".

"Taking off our shoes is not just a symbolic action, but a reminder of the call to be the servants of God and our declaration of to whom we belong, and to whom we have given our allegiance.

"Today is about the renewing and refreshing of that call," he said sharing the story of the Pharisee and tax collector in prayer at the temple.

Dr Pitman reminded the convocation that the Pharisee came to God with closed hands, self-satisfied with his own actions and resources.

"The tax collector has no illusions about himself as he goes through life friendless. We do not know what prompted him to go to the temple to pray perhaps he had reached the end of his resources.

"What we do know is that the prayed with open hands making no claims and offering no excuses but throwing himself at the mercy and grace of God."

He invited the convocation to open their hands and their hearts to the God "who is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for or think of".

You can read the full text of Dr Pitman’s opening address to the convocation here.

Photo : Rev Dave Baker shares a joke with Moderator-Elect Rev Dr David Pitman