Immediate past moderator Rev Kaye Ronalds addressed the 31st Synod on 11 October to reflect on her three-year term.
When Kaye began as moderator she asked the question: “Are we there yet?” On reflection she could now ask: will we ever be “there”?
Kaye spoke of the privilege of representing the Uniting Church at a huge variety of events, both church and government.
“Together we have gathered and scattered, celebrated and prayed, mourned and lamented, worked and worried and wondered,” she said.
While there were many celebrations for Kaye, she also has ongoing concerns. One of which was how the people of the Queensland Synod strengthen their relationships with the Calvary Presbytery, the Queensland presbytery of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
“Last year, with the support of the synod, I was able to help Calvary Presbytery to conduct a review of its life and mission. Although there is still much to be done it was a practical expression of the covenant with Congress in Queensland,” she said.
“Your gifts to the Mission and Service Fund provide most of the stipends and operational costs for Calvary Presbytery. There remains a huge amount of work to bring the church buildings and church houses into a better state of repair and to clarify relationships with local councils and land use agreements.
“I would encourage each presbytery to make a link with one of the congregations and have faith and culture exchanges and to join the campaign to recognise the First People of our nation in our national constitution.”
Kaye’s ongoing concerns include the need to reshape the ministerial placements process and address the length of time some congregations are without someone in specified ministry, the difficulty filling presbytery leadership roles and the challenge of growing the church.
“Offering oversight of the mission and ministry of the Church is difficult, especially when there is not a shared view of the way the church should operate and not enough respect for people who step up to be office bearers.”
Kaye celebrated the establishment of the Disaster Response Committee, re-introducing the retreat for ministers in their early ministry years, the extensive work of the Uniting Church’s community services and the renewed energy for providing a safe environment for all our people, especially children and other vulnerable people, that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has prompted.
“It costs money to run the church, but we do great work. Let us not be afraid to invite others to contribute. Uniting Church people are amongst the most generous people in Australia, but very often they support other organisations instead of the Uniting Church. Please support our church and our projects,” she said.
As the first female moderator of the Queensland Synod Kaye quoted former Prime Minister Julia Gillard saying, “Gender doesn’t explain everything, but it doesn’t explain nothing”.
“I have been fortunate to have served in a church where leadership is shared between men and women, lay and clergy, young and older people,” said Kaye.
“It has been an honour to be the first female moderator in Queensland and I hope that I have been able to inspire and encourage those who will come after me, just as people like Rev Dr Norma Spear and Mrs Val Braithwaite inspired me.
“I seek your forgiveness for the times when I have not met your expectations or not resolved matters to your satisfaction.”
The past moderator’s report was received with consensus and former moderator Rev Bruce Johnson brought a minute of appreciation to the Synod.
“Kaye has led the church with dignity and grace,” said Bruce. “Her careful listening, compassionate and generous spirit, and her deep love of Christ and the church have been evident in all that Kaye has done. Kaye’s gifts of hospitality and encouragement have created space for others to share insights, gifts and skills.
“Kaye, the church thanks you for your ministry in this past three years. We give glory to God whose spirit has led and sustained you and we pray that God will bless you richly in the next season of your life and work.”
Synod members stood to show their appreciation of Kaye’s service as moderator. She will now move to a placement in the Granite Belt, west of Brisbane.