The 36th Synod of the Uniting Church in Queensland has drawn to a close after four days of worship, community, business, and some fun. Relationships across the church have been renewed or established as we have lived the community. The Synod this morning reflected once again on the overall theme of Daring Hope and, for today, dipped into what it means for us to be ‘fit for purpose’.
Bible Study with Mr Peter James
Rev Peter Armstrong hosted SU Queensland CEO Peter James for this morning’s bible study. Mr James unpacked the topic of ‘Fit for Purpose’ through Acts 6:1-7, particularly reminding the Synod that preaching the word and acts of service to meet community needs are two sides of the same coin. When we think about being fit for purpose, Mr James outlined, we shouldn’t separate those two callings.
The Synod completed its deliberations with one general business proposal and several other business matters.
After an extended discussion, the Synod moved to formal meeting mode to adopt general proposal five by simple majority. This proposal seeks to address long-term systemic and unconscious gender bias in selecting members of the Synod Standing Committee. From the 37th Synod, the decision ensures that at least 50% of members elected to the Standing Committee will be women at any given meeting of the Synod. At several points in the discussion, the complexities of this discussion and the pain of lived experience were acknowledged.
Those who have served God through the specified ministries and either retired or passed since the 35th Synod were named and honoured. The Synod adopted Memorial and retirement minutes. The celebration of ministries service streamed Sunday evening remains available via the Synod website.
The Synod empowered the Moderator to extend greetings to governments on behalf of the church, naming the issues that we are committed to exploring and responding to for the benefit of our wider community.
Finally, the Synod acknowledges with thanks the hard work of the team responsible for the organisation of the Synod. Those who have led worship, organised and coordinated the meeting, the back-office teams, IT and tech crew, and Alexandra Park’s staff were thanked for their hard work. Synod members, particularly those participating online after being caught in flooding or pandemic and unable to travel, were thanked for their work of discernment over the last four days.
The Synod closed with worship and communion, reflecting one final time on the theme of Daring Hope as the Moderator; Rev Andrew Gunton drew on scripture used across the whole Synod, including John 21:15-17, 19b, Luke 10:25-28, John 4:21-26, Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 6:2-4.
“I think we have been dared, over this past four days of the meeting, firstly to hear the words of Jesus to his disciples on the beach, and we’ve been dared to go out. We’ve been dared to be a people of discipleship, called to come with our whole being to belong to Christ.” Rev Gunton said, reflecting on the whole Synod meeting.
“We’ve been dared to be transforming communities. We’ve heard the dare that we might speak into this wonderful world about climate, about injustices we’re perceiving.”
“We were challenged and dared to continue to walk together.”
“We were dared to think about our structure…to always look at what it means to be fit for purpose.”
“We made some big decisions together, daring to hope for something different.”
“Christ is daring us. Christ is daring us to go.”
“Christ promises us he will be on the journey with us…loving us, supporting us, upholding us. And drawing us time and time again back to Him.”
“Christ is our guide and sustenance…the One who will lead us into his future.”
“Hear the call of Christ anew to us: ‘Follow me.’”
The song Daring to Hope, written this week by Dominic Tran, particularly for this 36th Synod, was a highlight of worship throughout the gathering. Thank you to Dominic, Radhika Sukumar-White, and Steve Drinkal for performing the song.
The 37the Synod will be held at Alexandra Park from October 20 – 24, 2023.