The 34th Synod in Session was held at the Alexandra Park Conference Centre earlier this month, and from my perspective, there were some real positive takeaways.
The bible studies and the Norman and Mary Millar lecture, delivered by Professor Anne Tiernan lifted my frame of reference, and provided me with renewed imagination and a vison of creativity.
Anne’s message about how the church can be a part of the rebuilding of the quality of the communities in which we live, by listening to what’s happening, and collaborating with others struck a chord.
Synod in Session was also important with Project Plenty kicking off in earnest. This is an incredibly important body of work for a number of reasons.
It will provide us with improved alignment throughout the entire church with discussions on a few common questions, “how do we help Queensland a better place?” and “how do we bear witness to the love and faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ in the lived experience of Queenslanders in their local context.”
UnitingCare’s decision to do small breakout groups that encouraged collaboration was a fantastic example of this alignment that I hope will continue over the next eighteen months.
The Celebration of Ministries is always a highlight for me; hearing the stories of women and men who stepped out, served and led, sometimes with great challenges is good for us all.
Immediately after Synod in Session, the presbytery ministers, the general secretary and I spent time on the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba visiting congregations like Highfields Community Church and Lifeworks Uniting Church. These are all new expressions of church that are growing disciples, growing in service and facing their future with clarity and purpose. It is a model that has been adopted not only by The Presbytery of The Downs, but by all eight presbyteries across the Synod.
After leaving Synod in Session, I’m feeling encouraged and challenged to move in faith and trust, to address the challenges and opportunities that are before us. I believe God called the Uniting Church into being. It is in God’s faithfulness to us, to His calling on us to be His People that we can utterly rely upon. We have the Scriptures, we have one another, we have the Spirit, “in order that we may not lose the way”. The ball’s in our court!
I’m looking forward to continuing the strong progress we have made in the religious instruction space, to helping the Christian denominations in Queensland collaborate more deeply, and to the Dostana trip to the Amristar Diocese of the Church of North India in September. I’m also looking forward to welcoming Rev Andrew Gunton as Moderator-elect and helping him prepare to take up the new role to which the Synod called him.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the 34th Synod, and who gave constructive feedback to help make our synod meetings available, participatory, and discerning.