Uniting Church NSW/ACT Synod – October 2017
15 members of Riverina Presbytery attended the NSW/ACT Uniting Church Synod held over 4 days at Knox Grammar School during the recent school holidays. We were represented by both young and old, experienced and new attendees.
Rev. Simon Hansford, a minister with many years’ experience in rural ministry, was installed as Moderator for the next 3 years and Rev. Jane Fry inducted as General Secretary for the next 5 years – the first time a woman has held that position. Under their leadership the Synod is in good hands and ready to meet the challenges of the current day.
The Synod meeting went well; those attending – the total representation from the 14 Presbyteries was more than 300 – heard about two new programmes: PULSE has a focus on connection to young people, it will be resourced with a number of dedicated people and will gradually extend throughout the whole NSW/ACT Synod. The PATHWAYS project, with the assistance of funding from Uniting, has been initiated in two Presbyteries so far and involves discussions with congregations on vision and mission. This programme will be rolled out to other Presbyteries; their focus is similar to the work being carried out currently in Riverina Presbytery by Rev Carolyn and Pastor Andrew Thornley. SALTBUSH, with its focus on rural and remote Presbyteries, continues under the leadership of Rev Mark Faulkner. His theme is “Uniting the Scattered Communities”; he has only been in his job 9 weeks and will shortly visit the Riverina Presbytery for consultations with Carolyn and Andrew.
Three Discernment Group Sessions were held, ranging over a wide number of topics, from finances to social justice. Of particular interest were the issues of Marriage, Sovereignty and Treaties in relation to the First Peoples and new forms of Stewardship Contribution across the Synod. On the first two matters no resolutions were asked for but a summary of the conversations was passed on to the Synod Executive for future reference. One resolution that was welcomed by the Uniting Aboriginal Congress representatives was the handing over of some Presbytery powers to the NSW/ACT Congress, giving it greater self-determination in church matters. On the subject of stewardship contributions, Synod is phasing out the Living is Giving programme (almost 40% of congregations have withdrawn from this programme) and it will be replaced by an across-all-congregations’ scheme, to be introduced during 2018.
Read now the reflections of our youngest attendee at Synod, Henry Moffitt, in Year 5 at Primary School.
I enjoyed the youth in the church at Synod and seeing that we are a larger church because the church I come from in the Riverina Presbytery only has 12 people on a good day and I am the only child in the congregation.
What I found interesting was all the different opinions and all the different programs aka Saltbush, Pathways and Pulse and why couldn’t they all work together. I also found interesting how divided the discernment groups were , like some said that evangelizing was the way to get youth into the church and some people said you should bring your grandkids to church.
Thank you to Henry.
[The 15 members who attended were: Rev Paul Cosier, Liam Elliott-Rudder, Rev Hawea Jackson, Janice Jackson, Paul Creek, Dorothy Creek, Paul Ballard, Janet Ballard, Rev Keunil Ko, Rev Tony Shumack, Kyle Moffitt, Annie Moffitt, Henry Moffitt, Carolyn and Andrew Thornley.]