As the term of Moderator Rev David Baker nears conclusion, a Service of Worship was held to mark the occasion with a distinctly COVID-19 safe approach to proceedings. James O’Callaghan reports.
A closing Service of Worship for any moderator is a significant event in the life of the church.
But in the COVID-19 safe era of physical distancing, gathering limitations, hand sanitiser and face masks, the Queensland Synod was presented with numerous logistical challenges to ensure the event was a fitting tribute for Rev David Baker’s farewell whilst still adhering to COVID-19 best practice safety measures.
The service—held in the Rollie Busch Chapel at the Queensland Synod office on 16 September 2020—was attended by 35 physically distanced people who were ushered to their seats which were 1.5 metres (or a pool noodle) apart.
While the service comprised a number of traditional elements including hymns, prayers, a sermon and a presentation of gifts from each of the seven presbyteries, a number of adjustments were also made to accommodate COVID-19 safety precautions: tea and coffee were not served and those in attendance were unable to socially mingle after the service had concluded.
To conclude the service, a special surprise video was played featuring tributes from those who were unable to attend the service in person. Those appearing in the video included Assembly President Dr Deidre Palmer and Bishop P.K. Samantaroy from the Diocese of Amritsar who spoke of David’s contribution to the church.
Live streamed via Facebook so that members of the broader Uniting Church could participate in the special occasion, it was the first time a service of this type had been live streamed from the Synod office, and a test run for the virtual 35th Synod in Session in October, which will also be broadcast online from the Synod office in Auchenflower.
As David takes on a new position, Queensland Synod General Secretary Rev Heather den Houting said it was important to acknowledge his contribution over the past six years.
“David has made a significant impact upon the life of the church and the community we serve over the six years he has been in this role,” said Heather. “His next calling at Queensland Churches Together, continues to reflect his passion for all to find their strength and purpose in Jesus Christ, well beyond our denomination.
“Our church is definitely better for his work and we look forward to seeing his continuing impact as he moves onto his next calling. While it would have been fantastic to have hundreds of people in attendance, I’m pleased that we were able to give David the tribute he deserves within the COVID-19 environment.”
David officially concludes his term as moderator on 22 October 2020, at which time Rev Andrew Gunton will be inducted as the new moderator of the Queensland Synod. David will commence his new role as CEO of Queensland Churches Together in January 2021.