During his report to the 32nd Synod, moderator Rev David Baker highlighted the importance of relationships, leadership and vision as the church seeks to respond to the challenges of the last 40 years.
He called the church to return to those ways of being “that have been life-giving since the church was formed”, quoting Jesus’ instruction to Peter to “feed my sheep”.
“Sometimes I think that the work of a shepherd is to make people hungry, and to make ourselves hungry as shepherds,” said David. “Our only work really is growing people, calling them into the fellowship of Christ’s suffering.”
David outlined some of ways in which Synod is assisting in the development of healthy relationships between the different parts of the church, including the challenges around goals, roles, and boundaries.
He pointed to the committee established three years ago to bring together presbytery representatives, Synod staff, chaplains and UnitingCare.
“This group has grown in its ability to work collaboratively together deciding issues around presbytery budgets and together deciding where we invest funds. This is a robust space of frank and open conversation.”
The moderator also pointed to the One in Christ prayer initiative as an important tool for building relationships between churches.
“My sense is if we are going to start being uniting we need to start praying for our brother and sister communities in our local area… let’s start in that space where our hearts can be opened anew. Who knows what the spirit would do?”
He reminded the Synod that Paul needed a vision to push him out of his comfort zone.
“For all his heroics he needed that vision to call him into more challenging ministry and maybe we need in the space where our communities gather, a picture of Macedonia to remind us all to go out and look beyond ourselves.
“If there is one thing we do, let’s go out as communities of faith finding people that are unlovely in our community and love them—and let them discover and be converted to the Jesus who comes to us through them.”