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From the editorial team – August 2008

It’s Sunday afternoon, you’ve had lunch and settled on the couch, feet up with Journey.

We’ll be spending the next three editions together, so allow me to introduce myself.

I’m helping hold the fort while Bruce Mullan takes a break and Mardi Lumsden takes the wheel.

My CV: husband and father, UCA member, journalist and broadcaster, occasional elephant hunter.

Rather than the ‘elephant in the room’, let’s turn our sights on ‘pachyderms in the pew’, and take aim this month at an endangered species: men.

Read through Uniting Church calendars and web sites. Look at ‘what’s on’.

Notice special celebrations to mark International Women’s Day, ministry to/with seniors and camps for young people.

We have an entire unit to provide Youth and Children’s ministry and they do it very well.

If you’ve still got this week’s pew bulletin handy, is there anything specifically intended for men, designed to engage them in congregational life and build their experience of faith?

Don’t show me the mowing roster!

Most congregations can confirm what national and global research has found.

With the possible exception of the orthodox churches, men are disappearing at an alarming rate.

In Australia only 39% of congregational members are male and the age is skewed to 55-plus.

Up to 25% of married women who worship regularly do so without their husbands.

Who teaches Sunday School, leads the worship (or the music team), visits the sick, and hosts home groups?

The answer is generally women.

Perhaps stemming from an era when most women didn’t have paid daily work commitments, they provide the bulk of energy and volunteerism in our congregations.

That usually includes the musical influence, the worship style, and the décor.

And maybe that’s partly why blokes go fishing on Sunday or stay home to wash the car.

There’s been a perception that men dominate the church.

It’s true of the clergy, although the majority of students studying at Trinity Theological College this year are women.

But in the life of our congregations men are missing in action and that has serious ramifications.

I look forward to your letters.

Phil Smith
Guest writer