It’s hard not to be excited about 2014 having begun it in the company of that great crowd of passionate young Christians who gathered at Yuróra, the 2014 National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in Parramatta. Their love of Jesus and each other, their commitment to discipleship and excitement about ministry is infectious and inspiring. So what does the year ahead look like?
There are two core events in March that will set the compass. One is the national week of prayer and fasting for justice for Aboriginal Australians—A Destiny Together. Information is being distributed widely and I encourage every Uniting Church congregation and member to take part. It’s a key moment in the history of the church and the nation for us to truly be the body of Christ together.
The other key event in March is the national conference on mission and evangelism—A Clear Call. The initiative for this conference came from the National Young Adult Leaders Conference (NYALC) in 2012. They saw the need to give priority to sharing our faith; giving our neighbours opportunities to know Jesus and the transforming love of God for themselves and our world. They felt under-equipped for evangelism and asked for help. In response, their seniors admitted they felt just the same, so we’re going to work on this together. Not everyone can participate in the conference but we will all be encouraged and resourced by it.
But the event I’m most looking forward to in 2014 is the national ministers’ conference I’m holding in Charleville. I’ll also be holding the conference in Sydney and Jerusalem—which are significant too!—but Charleville is special to me. I was born in Charleville and grew up there until my family moved to Brisbane when I was seven. I’ve never been back, yet I’ve come to recognise over the years that Charleville made me the person I am today. You know the saying, “Give me the boy until he’s seven and I’ll give you the man”.
So this is a pilgrimage for me—a return to my roots. I hope many ministers will choose to come with me on this journey and find in the conference an opportunity to return to the roots of their own calling to ministry; to be encouraged, renewed and refocused for their next season of service and leadership.
There are so many opportunities for the Uniting Church to grow our faith in 2014. Come join with me in the journey ahead.
Rev Dr Andrew Dutney
President of the Uniting Church in Australia
Moderator, Rev Kaye Ronalds, is on holiday this month. Her usual column will return in March.