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UCA President reflects on term

Rev Gregor Henderson

A few reflections after three years

Serving as President of the Uniting Church has been an immense privilege and blessing. Visiting the church in (almost) every corner of the country, working with church leaders and other churches on issues facing church and nation, representing the church’s views to community and political leaders, learning of the life and witness of our overseas partner churches, meeting with countless church members as they worship and witness and serve – these are the regular activities of a Uniting Church President and they provide lots of encouragement and inspiration.

I now feel very confident of our church’s future, for I have seen many congregations living with great faithfulness, imagination and persistence, and I have seen that the next generation of church leadership is emerging strongly. While our current estimates are that only 30% of our congregations are growing numerically, there are many more congregations where worship and mission programs bring assurance for the future. I have visited scores of congregations during my term as President and been uplifted and encouraged by nearly every one of them.

Alongside that I have seen first-hand the high regard of community leaders for the Uniting Church. They cite our constant readiness to assist the community, our huge network of UnitingCare services, the extraordinary ministries of Frontier Services, our tackling of tough and controversial issues, and our willingness to speak out for what we believe to be right and just. As a church we are very much trusted by the community and by our governments.

I’ve also learnt that our overseas partners are always keen to work closely with us, and some of them depend on us very significantly for assistance, for solidarity and for ongoing advocacy – especially in places like Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, West Papua and Zimbabwe.

And I’ve been reminded repeatedly of the power of prayer. So many people and congregations pray regularly for the President! When my wife, Alison, was dying, back in 2007, the support we received by way of messages and prayers and phone calls was enormous. The deep caring and the persistent prayerfulness of the church are beautiful in themselves, but they have also brought the love and the peace of God to me in very personal ways.

Thank you to all of you who are part of the President’s Table. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting with you when the opportunity has arisen, and I apologise to those where we have failed to create an opportunity. May God’s grace and peace continue always to sustain and guide us in and through the family of Christ.

Rev Gregor Henderson is the President of the The Uniting Church in Australia

Photo : Rev Gregor Henderson