Below is the brief summary of the Synod Standing Committee meeting—held on Thursday 3 September 2020—to inform the wider Queensland Synod community of the discussions, deliberations and decisions arising from that meeting. This meeting was held by video conference due to COVID-19 restrictions.
As we approach Synod in Session, the Synod Standing Committee endorsed and recommended the latest Project Plenty material to be circulated across the Queensland Synod.
Shared life. Flourishing communities. is about to be released across the life of the church to provide inspiration and hope, acknowledging we are blessed with so many opportunities for witness and service. Shared life. Flourishing communities. will also offer members of the 35th Synod particular pathways that the church might take in responding to God’s call on our lives together. This is a true milestone in Project Plenty and we thank everyone across the life of the church for their involvement and support.
Hearing from presbyteries
The Moreton Rivers and Central Queensland Presbyteries reported on the work and witness of their ministries. The Committee was heartened to hear of the extraordinary reach and capacity of the ministries in these different contexts.
Central Queensland’s approach over the past six months has been to build connection, improve communication, build collaborative teams and listen with (and provide) compassionate care. We heard how they have moved into a time of transition in early 2020 with the leadership of Rev Suzy Sitton as intentional Supply Presbytery Minister, and rejoiced as they prepare to welcome their incoming Presbytery Minister Rev Scott Ballment.
Cyclones, fire and drought have impacted their communities but they recognise the important and deep resources available through the church community. A highlight has been their adoption of technology through weekly meetings via Zoom and, as part of Project Connect, communities have received a camera and speaker package to enable connection to streamed services and video conferencing connections.
Moreton Rivers reported on their Let it Flow plan: key focuses are about developing healthy ministers, church councils and congregations, and expanding their capacity in leadership with a focus on young people and young adults, strategic mission and property development. The Committee heard that while COVID-19 had affected planning around these areas, it has also provided the opportunity to innovate, adapt and iterate their online worship resources.
Reports from boards and committees
Reports were shared from the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) and the Board for Christian Formation (BCF).
ARC Chairperson Ralph Collins reported on the ongoing work around the Safe Ministry with Children Congregation Audit Report 2019, the Synod’s Risk Appetite Statement (approved at the 2 July 2020 SSC meeting) and a deep dive into fraud risk controls, criteria and awareness.
BCF Chairperson Rev Peter Armstrong reported on increased student and candidate numbers, plans for the formation program and the way BCF and Trinity College Queensland had adapted to COVID-19 restrictions.
Reports from the Moderator and the General Secretary
The report from Moderator Rev David Baker included an update on ecumenical and interfaith discussions around the COVID-19 Industry Plan for Places of Worship and an update on Religious Instruction in state schools with government stakeholder meetings occurring in the lead up to the state election.
General Secretary Rev Heather den Houting provided an update on the Synod’s response to COVID-19 and the wonderful and immediate responses of our congregations in making decisions about gatherings. The General Secretary also updated on the nomination process for the 16th Assembly, to be held at the Alexandra Park Conference Centre in 2021.
The Moderator thanked members for their perseverance in doing things differently due to COVID-19.
Congratulations to those who received extensions or nominations to positions within several Synod boards, commissions and committees. The ongoing service of these members to the mission of the church is gratefully acknowledged.
The Committee continued to pray for and support the work of the Presbytery of Central Queensland in its work to provide assistance in resourcing communities under pressure.
The Committee approved minor changes to the Charter of the BCF.
The Synod Standing Committee will next meet on Thursday 1 October 2020.