The 33rd Synod in Session of the Uniting Church in Queensland began with a First People’s Welcome from Brent Miller, a member of the Gubbi Gubbi people—the traditional custodians of the land at Alexandra Headland.
Opening worship testified to the multicultural and multigenerational richness of the church of the Uniting Church in Queensland with lively worship music from Ami Pole Illchays and a band of young people from a variety of congregations and dance from the Tongan community.
A video produced by Newlife Uniting Church (Robina) reflected on the church’s 40 years of life and what lies ahead as the baton is passed to future generations. It challenged the congregation to imagine a church that truly embraces “the wisdom of old and the passion of the young”.
Phil Smith read from Exodus 3:1–15 and Luke 10:1–12.
General secretary Rev Heather den Houting and past moderator Rev Kaye Ronalds re-inducted Rev David Baker as moderator for another three years; a first for the Queensland Synod.
“David, the Synod has called you again to be its moderator, being aware of your gifts, your faith in God our Creator, your devotion to Christ our Redeemer, your willingness to be led by the Spirit our Advocate and your service as a member of the church,” said Kaye.
In his sermon, moderator Rev David Baker said the passage of the calling of Moses had been on his heart for some time.
“There is an anxiety of the vitality of the church … things do need to change,” he said.
“I think it is time not to learn to speak; it is time to learn to listen.
“Where God says to Moses, ‘I have heard the cries of my people …’, for me that is the thing that we need to attend to. To hear, to see and to know.”
The moderator called the congregation to listen more deeply.
“To be a listener isn’t about passivity; it’s not about sitting back in some comfortable space with peaked fingers, or holding the jaw; brow furrowed; to be a deep listener is to be fired up about the gospel. Without the gospel in us, we can’t listen, see, or know properly.
“Moses got fired up. Through being intrigued by this burning bush, the God of Abraham and Sarah, the God of the Story, reclaimed this failed social justice campaigner—this formerly privileged male—and placed him in a story that completely transformed him: the revelation of a bunch of slaves as the people of God. Are we ready to be transformed?
“Will we be curious enough to go out of our familiar?
“Will we dare to believe this story is true for ourselves and others?”
He spoke of the Emmaus story, of hearts being fired up.
“After the death of expectations of winning without cost; of achieving at the cost of another; the death of a false hope of an easy victory and riding on the coat tails, of a new, nationalistic messiah, after all that, the risen Christ reinterpreted the story and revealed himself to those dejected disciples; as they listened, their hearts were fired up; as he broke bread, they saw him anew; they ran back to Jerusalem on the strength of the experience.”
David asked those present, “Are we ready to be fired up anew; to empty ourselves of pretentions and assumptions about the faith that are simply our projections.
“Are we ready to be fired up for something other than our own ambitions? Something other than meeting our own need for happiness.”
The congregation was transported by Craig Hindman and Ashleigh Robinson’s rendition of “Covenant Prayer” as they sung: “I am yours, Lord”.
Prayers for others were spoken by Moses Leth (in Nuer language) and Louisa Yu (in Mandarin) and Chris Crause (in English and Afrikaans).
The congregation shared Holy Communion and was sent out ready to begin four days of meeting, discerning, celebrating and growing.