The second day of business at the 29th Synod meeting of the Uniting Church in Queensland (Sunday 9 October) closed with a celebration of ministries.
Since the 28th Synod meeting, in 2008, nine ministers retired, 14 passed away, 11 were ordained, and one youth worker was commissioned.
Minutes of Appreciation were given to retirees Rev David Bernard, Rev Dr Robert Bos, Rev Dr Apichart Branjerdporn, Rev Peter Clark, Rev Ray Herrmann, Rev Lesley Holt, Rev Douglas L Jones, Rev Jan Reid, and Rev Rosalyn Smaill.
General Secretary, Dr Shirley Coulson, lead an enthusiastic acknowledgment of the work of the retirees.
Memorial Minutes were given to those in ministry who had passed away since the 28th Synod. Those include Rev Roland Barnes, Rev Robert Fulcher, Rev Frank Harmon, Deaconess Margaret Henderson, Rev Colin Kay, Rev Noel Kidd, Rev Laumua Kofe, Rev Roderick Lugton, Rev Dr Scott McPheat, Rev Dr Charles Noller, Pastor Ralph Swain, Rev John Thiesfield, Rev Carl Thompson, Rev Leslie (Les) Wyer.
Those present heard of the great work of those who had passed away. It was clear that the Church has been greatly blessed by the work of these men and women.
Since the 28th Synod, nine ministers of the Word were received by ordination. They were Lin Chew, Narelle Collas, Joanne Nottle, Dona Spencer, Leonie Gaffel, Suzie Castle, Suzy Sitton, Harlee Cooper, and Victor Wolfgramm. Ministers of the Word, Dave Thomas and Dennis Cousens, were received by ordination (transitional phase) and youth worker, Faye Talatonu, was commissioned.
Rev Peter Clark spoke on behalf of the retires and said the transition to retirement is a challenging process.
He noted that the group of retiring ministers had a wide range of skills and experience which they brought to their ministry.
“This calling has led us to all points of the compass,” he said. “It has meant being involved in multicultural ministry and caring ministries of all kinds in prisons, hospitals and schools.
“It taught us to be good listeners and the need to be ready to forgive and forget.
“One constant in life is change. Looking back as newly retired ministers we are very aware that this applies to the Church.”
He noted the changes from hymn books to video screens as one example of this change.
“There is one thing we can be sure of: the message we share of Christ.”
He said they were grateful to the lay leadership of the church and their families. He said retirement was time for these men and women to explore new aspects of themselves and their experience of ministry.
“It is time, once again, that we embrace the Vision of our Church.”
Rev Harlee Cooper responded on behalf of those who were newly ordained and said to journey to ordination was similar to his recent journey of becoming a new dad.
“When it came around there was a familiar feeling of being in way over my head and not knowing what to do,” he said. “In spite of that I am here today because of the love and support of those who have travelled with me on my journey to ordination.
“Each of us have arrived here today on a different path, but I am certain that the one common element of our stories would be the insistence that we did not make it here on our own.
“It is a great encouragement to be here today with those retiring from ministry. It is a privilege to share with you in this day.
“We are aware that there are many who have gone before us and that there is much for us to learn. The faithfulness of these retiring ministers is not just a gift to the Church. It is a great encouragement to those of us who are only just beginning our journey.
“I’d also like to thank the Church for your willingness to affirm in each one of us the call God has placed on our lives. By God’s grace may we be worthy of such a call.”
The members of the 29th Synod joined in worship to celebrate and thank all those called into ministry across the life of the Church in Queensland.
Minutes of Appreciation and Personal Reflections of retirees and the Memorial Minutes for those who have passed away are available in the 29th Synod papers available at http://www.ucaqld.com.au/files/file/29Synod/APPENDIX%20III%2029th%20Synod%20Celebration%20of%20Ministry%20Booklet.pdf
Photo : New minister, Rev Harlee Cooper, and Moderator, Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo by Osker Lau