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General Secretary focusses on ministry where it is needed

Synod General Secretary, Dr Shirley Coulson. Photo: Holly Jewell

Queensland Synod General Secretary, Dr Shirley Coulson, addressed members of the 30th Synod calling them to continue to live out the Vision 2020.

Dr Coulson's report told a story of the Church in Queensland on its own discipleship journey, defining the best way to use our valuable resources and the importance of exploring "how we provide resourcing models that provide ministry where it is needed, rather than where it can be afforded".

A lot of work has been done around budget processes, with valuable involvement from presbytery ministers, to focus on strategic projects to enable mission.

Dr Coulson spoke of the President's call to the NSW/ACT Synod recently to discern where the Spirit is leading us in our journey as the Uniting Church.

In Queensland, it is clear that people are living out the Vision 2020 and the Synod-wide Priority Directions in their own way.

Two key responsibilities of the General Secretary are to ensure the implementation of key directional, strategic and missional imperatives and initiatives of the Synod; and to undertake change management processes and practices which enable the Church's members to participate in and engage with those imperatives and initiatives.

The last 18 months have been a time of reviewing processes and focussing on getting organised for mission.

Some of the key initiatives include the employment of project officers in Christian Formation and Mission Engagement, the research officer position in Uniting Communications, continuing the Monday Midday Prayer initiative, the formation of the Synod office as one team and eliminating duplication, and significant work around enhancing our decision making and reporting processes.

Dr Coulson said the Synod has been intentionally focussing on building capacity, engage in critical reflection on practice, the commitment to release and activate resources and succession planning and mentoring.

There has been considerable work on reviewing the way we do things as a Synod.

"Together on the way, enriching community is being recognised as our collective journey and is supported in many different ways across a range of contexts," said Dr Coulson as she reflected on key achievements of the past 18 months.

Another key achievement was facilitating the governance changes to the Synod Standing Committee and Governance Nomination and Remuneration Committee and developing appropriate resourcing models to be more sustainably organised for mission.

There are still significant challenges.

"There is still a tendency to misunderstand our polity and the apparent high level of 'individualism' demonstrated by a few congregations and ministry agents has the potential to undermine efforts to develop sustainable mission-oriented organisation (way of being) for the whole of the church in Queensland," said Dr Coulson.

"Ensuring that as we consider different ways of doing and being the church in Queensland that time and space is provided for discernment.

"Our policy is based in relationship and fostering cultural change to support the structural changes will be an on-going challenge."

Dr Coulson finished her report by reminding people of the President's call at the recent NSW / ACT Synod meeting: "We are being invited and resourced afresh to share in God's mission today."

Read the full report.

Photo : Synod General Secretary, Dr Shirley Coulson. Photo: Holly Jewell