James O’Callaghan reports on the first day of the 35th Synod in Session.
The 35th Synod in Session of the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod commenced on 23 October 2020.
The session was opened by Rev Andrew Gunton—who was inducted as Moderator of the Queensland Synod on 22 October 2020—before Gaja Kerry, Traditional Owner, Jaggera/Turrubal Lands performed a Welcome to Country.
In calling the meeting of the 35th Synod in Session to business, Andrew welcomed Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer and National Assembly General Secretary Colleen Geyer as well as thanking major sponsor Wesley Mission Queensland for their valued support of Synod in Session over the years.
“We hope this partnership will continue well into the future,” said Andrew.
Members of the Synod then participated in an opening worship service, where Andrew spoke of the theme for the 35th Synod in Session “grow” and how the church has changed as a result of COVID-19.
For the first time in the history of the Queensland Synod, the 35th Synod in Session was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.
To help members navigate the platform, Queensland Synod General Secretary Rev Heather den Houting provided a short explanation of what members could expect and how ballots and proposals would be facilitated.
The immediate-past Moderator Rev David Baker addressed the members of the Synod, introducing the Moderator’s report, Synod Ecumenical Relations Committee report and the Synod Inter-faith Relations Committee report, all of which were received by members.
As part of his address, David raised a minute of appreciation for Rev Clive Ayre for his service to the Queensland Synod, particularly as Secretary of the Synod Ecumenical Relations Committee.
Associate General Secretary Rev John Ruhle joined Scott Guyatt and Liz Henderson to present the outcomes of Project Plenty with the “Shared life. Flourishing communities.” report.
The work as part of Project Plenty was undertaken at the request of the 34th Synod in Session.
“Can I say firstly thank you to all who have joined a Project Plenty consultation session either in person or online,” said John.
“In our Basis of Union, we pray that we may be ready to confess fresh words and deeds. Project Plenty may well become our fresh words and deeds.”
“The outcomes of Project Plenty are not an operational plan nor a strategic plan. They invite us to agree on our mission priorities and the directions that we will take for the next five years and beyond.”
“We commend the report into your hands as a voice of wisdom and discernment on behalf of the church,” said John.
Scott Guyatt, who has been part of the Project Plenty journey over the course of the last 18 months, said as part of the process an ambition statement was developed.
“We are one church active in every Queensland community, bearers of Christ’s offer of life in all its fullness. Through our shared life we are committed to a flourishing future for church and community,” said Scott.
“This ambition statement is coupled with four mission priorities and 11 invitational initiatives.”
After hearing the Project Plenty proposal and a proposal regarding the development and resourcing of youth, children and families ministry, members of Synod broke into small groups for discussion and discernment. Deliberation on the proposals will occur on the second day of Synod in Session before a decision is made on the third day of Synod in Session.
As part of the first day’s business, the dates for the 36th Synod in Session were endorsed as 13-17 May 2022.