The 36th Synod of the Uniting Church in Queensland is underway. Members have gathered today at Alexandra Park, sharing stories of travel challenges faced to overcome widespread rain and flooding, but determined to be together to explore the Synod’s theme of Daring Hope.
After a flood-related delayed start, the Synod knuckled down to work today, beginning in worship, discerning a new moderator-elect, reflecting on the progress of Project Plenty, hearing about the 2022 winners of the Spirit of Synod Award and Moderator’s Medals and sharing in a bible study on today’s Discipleship theme with Dr Rachel Krohn. The evening finished with the Synod being addressed by Dr Ruth Powell for the Norman and Mary Millar Lecture.
Opening Worship: A Daring Hope
In gathering the community in worship, Moderator Rev Andrew Gunton welcomed the Synod, reflecting that there are those caught up in flooding or COVID quarantine and unable to travel and physically join the meeting. He called the Synod to pray for those impacted.
Rev Gunton reflected on the theme of Daring Hope through the lens of scripture from John 21:1-19 and Romans 8:18-25. He noted that in the gospel reading, Jesus tends to the needs of the disciples, feeding and caring for them, but then “called them off the beach, out of their comfort zone and into a daring hope of His making, called them into a life of discipleship, a life of following Him.”
“We are called just like those disciples”, he continued “, to be the people of hope. We are called to a world looking for hope, for solutions to hard problems, a world that unfortunately too often turns to its own problems.”
Rev Gunton closed by asking if our church is up to the challenge: “Are we prepared to feed Christ’s sheep? Are we prepared to take on the challenge just like those disciples did? To go out in daring hope? To leave some of the comfortable behind and find new and bold ways to be God’s people?”
Moderator-Elect: Rev Bruce Moore
UnitingCare Queensland Director of Mission Rev Bruce Moore has been declared Moderator-elect of the Uniting Church in Australia Queensland Synod. Mr Moore will be inducted as Moderator at the 37th Synod in October 2023.
Rev Moore brings a breadth of experience, having served in UnitingCare, Youth ministry roles at local, state and national levels, planted churches and served wider community organisations such as Mercy Community Services. He is the current Director of Mission for UnitingCare Queensland and a member of the leadership community for Newlife Church.
The Synod acknowledged with gratitude the willingness of Rev Linda Hanson and Rev Peter Armstrong to also be considered for appointment to the role of Moderator-elect.
Spirit of Synod and Moderator’s Medals
Robyn Cooley has been awarded the 2022 Spirit of the Synod award. Serving the Presbytery of Carpentaria, and her central Queensland congregation of Mackay Northside, Robyn’s expertise, attention to detail, deep faith, kind and thoughtful nature, and selfless contribution to the church locally and regionally were warmly appreciated.
Moderator Rev Andrew Gunton also announced recipients of the 2022 Moderator’s Medal. Hailing from all corners of the state, recipients are Heather Opekar (Alexandra Hills), Trevor Murray (Gatton), Margaret Green (Toowoomba), Doug Core (Emerald), Susan Dann (Ingham), and Jennifer Hill (St Andrews War Memorial Hospital). The Moderator will present the medals at local ceremonies over the coming months.
Plenty: State of Play
General Secretary Rev Heather den Houting led the Synod through an update of the Plenty strategic initiative. Celebrating the many achievements and active involvement from across the church, Rev den Houting reminded the Synod of the four pillars of discipleship, transforming community, fit for purpose and life together that underpin the work. State-wide working groups covering each of these areas are actively developing exciting new approaches and resources for the church. Members of Synod were reminded that the invitation to continued involvement in these working groups remains open.
Discipleship Bible Study: Dr Rachel Krohn
Trinity College Queensland lecturer Dr Rachel Krohn delivered a powerful, stirring bible study exploring the key topic of discipleship. Dr Krohn reminded the Synod that “things that are true are seldom new or fresh” and challenged the church to hold fast to God through attending to scripture.
Drawing on Luke 10:25-28 and the source scripture material from Deuteronomy and Leviticus that Jesus quotes in that gospel text, Dr Krohn noted that in the Old Testament, decline is most usually associated with a failure to attend to scripture.
“Discipleship is not complicated”, Dr Krohn observed while calling the church back to scripture, “but it is all-consuming. It requires effort and sacrifice.”
Norman and Mary Millar Lecture: Dr Ruth Powell
Dr Ruth Powell leads the National Church Life Survey, a world-leading longitudinal church survey that has amassed a 30-year data set for the Christian church across Australia. Drawing on an early analysis of Queensland Uniting Church data fresh from the 2021 NCLS, Dr Powell offered encouragement and challenge to the Synod.
“What have we heard through the survey?” she asked, “We have seen evidence for a daring hope. People in Uniting Church congregations in Queensland appear to be finding their footing in changing times and are more open to innovation than ever before.”
The challenge, Dr Powell noted, is whether the Queensland Uniting Church will “move from the potential that this data indicates, to the actual future” that a daring hope calls us to. Dr Powell finished with an invitation to listen to prophetic voices within the church, to pay attention when such voices “point to the world as it should be.”
Uniting Church Queensland NCLS data will be available in the coming months. Congregations can still participate in this survey to contribute to an even more complete picture of the church in Queensland.
The Synod continues Sunday, with a focus theme of Transforming Community.