After three days of structured business, the 31st Synod is moving to a time of open space to discuss the question, “Our church is on life support; what’s our call now?”
The open space discussions come after a sobering report from Mission Engagement Project officer Scott Guyatt which indicated that if current trends continue, the Uniting Church in Queensland will cease to exist within 35 years.
The agenda for the day is set by the members of Synod themselves, who raise topics for small group discussion within sessions that have only loose start and finish times. Members can join or leave the small groups however they feel led. Notes from the discussions will be fed back to a central online system and be collated overnight for more formal discussion tomorrow, which will then drive the priorities of the Synod moving forward.
Some topics raised for open discussion by members of Synod include “All ministry as chaplaincy in 2020”, “Church planting”, “Are we too tied to property?”, “Sex” “One presbytery, one synod”, “Supporting veterans who disagree with our theology”, “The authority of scripture”, “Crisis and identity within the Uniting Church” and “Is our worship style causing the flatline?”
There is a buzz on the Synod floor and members are talking animatedly in their groups.
Open space discussion will happen all day, with formal business temporarily resuming this evening.