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Synod in session experience – Gemma Ward

What prompted you to nominate for Synod? How did you find the nomination process?

I first found out about the Synod after I had my first experience of being in ‘a room full of Christians’ – I was amazed, there were at least sixty people! And we were all praying and chatting and learning together! A lady at my church laughed and said “If you thought that was fun, you should go to Synod”. I was doing a Period of Discernment at the time when the 2017 Synod happened, so everyone was quite supportive in getting me to go. I didn’t actually have to do much myself – our church council and Bremer Presbytery did most of the work. They even paid for me to attend, and have done again this year too. I stayed on-site at Alex Park, and everything was laid on for us. It was all pretty smooth sailing!What were some of the highlights from your Synod experience?

The highlight for me will always be the worship and the conversations. My home church is quite small, and seeing an auditorium full of Christians from all over Queensland – all singing and enjoying and hanging out – was pretty special. It was one big family gathering. I particularly enjoyed the heavy multicultural aspect of the worship. The business meetings were very encouraging, and we all learnt a lot about what each area was doing, from new church plants to organisations like Uniting Care. Each one had the hand of God on their work. It was a special thing to be able to take part in a celebration of that! There were some decisions to make, and I think we all handled the discussions with respect. The very best part was the down-time (and the food), where you got to meet and hang out with a whole bunch of amazing Christians (and eat the amazing food).

  • What did you take away from the event?

I took away a greater understanding of what the Uniting Church is doing in Queensland, and an appreciation for the scope and diversity of our community in Christ. It was also a great networking opportunity, particularly for me. I’m the youngest at my church by twenty years, so to meet and connect with other young adults – it was really rewarding. I’m normally quite shy, but there’s something special about Alex Park and the whole dynamic of the Synod which opens up paths for conversation.

  • Why is it important for young people to put their hand up and nominate?

I think most young people think ‘oh, Synod is for oldies’ – or they don’t think they are allowed to come, or just don’t understand what it is. Which is why it’s important to get some exposure to it – we’ll be the oldies one day! We need an understanding of how to meet, work and communicate together as the Uniting Church, on a wider scope than just our local area. Besides that, it’s an excellent chance to see if God is calling you toward a new pathway for service – or just brand new friendships, which is what I certainly found.

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