The Presbytery of the Riverina is one of thirteen Regional Areas established by the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT across its Area for the purposes of Oversight and Support of Congregations and Ministry, including placements, and to help implement and manage programes, either in individual locations or across the Region.
It is centred along the Murrumbidgee River Valley from below Burrinjuck Dam to beyond Hay, and also includes the Murray Tributaries areas to the North of that River, and the Lower Lachlan and its Southern Tributaries; is bounded by Towns such as Lake Cargelligo and Hillston in the North-West, Deniliquin and Tocumwal in the South-West, Young and Boorowa in the North-East and the Peaks of the Snowy Mountains (including Tumut and Tumbarumba) in the South-East.
The Total Area of the Presbytery is approximately 110,000 square kilometres, and its Total Population around 210,000. In broad terms, the Entire Area is dependent on Agricultural Pursuits, but with topography ranging from mountainous in the east to very flat in the west, cattle and/or sheep grazing is the only almost universal one across the Region. Great diversity, however, exists in a variety of locations, including Softwood Plantations in the High Country, Irrigation Crops (including fruit, rice and cotton) to the West and specialised Dryland Fruits in the North-East.
Wagga Wagga and Griffith are the only two Cities in the Region; and whilst both have substantial Industrial Bases, much of that has grown out of Agricultural Production and Servicing. There are also two key Defence Establishments (Army and RAAF) located near Wagga (with a Uniting Church Chaplain at the RAAF one). Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga is the principal Tertiary Establishment in the Region, but also operates a Regional University Study Centre in Griffith. Many CSU Students are drawn from both other parts of the Nation and Overseas, and the Uniting Church provides a part-time Chaplaincy Service at the Wagga Wagga Campus. The two Cities (and larger Towns) also have TAFE Colleges, but many only offer specialized training, and students frequently need to travel long distances or relocate in order to obtain training in their chosen field.
The Region is primarily reliant upon Road Transport. The Hume Highway passes through the eastern side of the Region, and the Sturt Highway traverses it from east to west. The Sydney-Melbourne rail line also passes through the eastern side of the Region, but most days only see two trains in each direction; with road coaches then providing connections to almost all centres. Unfortunately, many of these coach connections are so timed that overnight stays are often required. Airports at Wagga, Griffith and Narrandera have limited commercial flights connecting with Sydney, but these are not within the financial capacity of many travellers.
The Presbytery comprises 28 separate Congregational (Governance) Groups, some with multiple Preaching Places (a total of 51 across the Presbytery). Only three of those Congregations have a full-time Minister in Placement, and another two Congregations share a further Minister. Even in those locations there is considerable reliance on Lay Ministry, and almost total reliance in the remainder.