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Presbytery & Synod Meeting // UC e-Update

Adelaide West Uniting Church // Thursday 23 - Saturday 25 November, 2017

UC e-Updates are designed to ensure members of the Uniting Church SA are informed of the various decisions made and information shared during Presbytery and Synod meetings.

Thursday 23 November

In this update:

  • Opening worship
  • Decision-making processes
  • Opening business & In Memoriam
  • CEO/General Secretary Report & Standing Committee Report
  • Conversation on marriage
  • Proposals 7 & 10
  • Protestant Reformation
  • Detention of refugees on Manus Island
  • Resources presentation
  • Intergenerational Team presentation
  • Ordination proposals
  • Congress presentation
  • Prayer points

Opening worship

The Presbytery and Synod meeting opened with a time of worship and prayer, and a Welcome to Country from Sean Weetra. The worship team from Seeds Uniting Church led the gathered members in song, before readings from Philippians 2:1-13 and Matthew 8:23-27.

Uniting Church Moderator Rev Sue Ellis shared a message on “Nurture: Intentional Discipleship”, which is the focus of her second year as Moderator. Drawing on her own experiences and reflecting on relationships, Sue invited members to be part of a Church that nurtures and matures, where people seek to live the life of Jesus. She encouraged members to imitate Jesus’ humility, to never stop learning and growing, and to focus on what draws us together, rather than on what divides us.

The Seeds band again led the gathering in song before members were invited to share in Holy Communion.

Decision-making processes

Rev Sue Ellis gave an Acknowledgement of Country, and welcomed the Assembly President, General Secretary and President-Elect, as well as new members.

Rev Prof Andrew Dutney spoke about what it means to be theologically reflective in decision-making. He emphasised the importance of dicerning the word of God, and how the Church uses scripture, tradition, reason and experience in this discernment. “We are called to be open to the Spirit and open to one another,” he concluded. Read more about this topic on Andrew's blog here.

Malcolm Wilson spoke about the logistics of the meeting, and gave an explanation of nominations, election processes and working groups.

Opening business & In Memoriam

Proposal 1 was presented by Uniting Church SA CEO/General Secretary Rev Nigel Rogers. The proposal was passed by consensus.

Rev Sue Ellis presented Proposal 8, which acknowledged the ministry of the following ministers who have passed away since the last meeting: Claude Cotton, Donald Hayden, Maurice Lind, George Martin, Frank Measday, Janet Murchland, Rosslyn Read, Craig Scott and Albert Patrizi. Members stood in silence to recognise the contributions of these ministers.

CEO/General Secretary Report & Standing Committee Report

Rev Nigel Rogers presented the CEO/General Secretary's Report, highlighting the budget and preparations for the new Strategic Plan. He spoke about the importance of state events, resourcing congregations, regeneration and church plants, and leadership opportunities that are being offered. 

Nigel remained at the microphone for the Standing Committee Report, and thanked the members of Standing Committee for their significant service.

Conversation on marriage


Rev Sue Ellis introduced Assembly General Secretary Colleen Geyer (pictured right) to outline how the Uniting Church will continue to have conversations about marriage. 

Colleen spoke about the pastoral statement released by the President and Moderators prior to the announcement of the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, the public debate that has been happening on this topic, and the work the Church has already done in conversations around same-gender* relationships. She detailed the processes and conversations that have been taking place, and how these will inform a report being prepared by the Doctrine Working Group for the 2018 Assembly meeting. Emphasis was placed on the need for culturally appropriate conversations, and the importance of the feedback provided by members of the SA Synod.

*Same-gender marriage is the term used by the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, a decision made in response to the difficulties of translating the more common term of same-sex marriage for some Indigenous and CALD communities. Please see 3.2 in the Assembly Report here.

Working groups

Working groups met at different locations across Adelaide West Uniting Church and Uniting College for Leadership & Theology to engage in conversations about marriage. The groups were asked to address three topics/questions to provide feedback to Assembly:

1. Share your hopes and concerns about our conversation on marriage.
2. In what mutually respectful ways could we move together as a Church that reflects the breadth of who we are as the Uniting Church in Australia?
3. What matters would you like the Assembly Standing Committee to consider as it prepares for a discussion on this matter at the 15th Assembly?

Each group was led by a facilitator and were provided with a feedback form to be sent to Assembly. A summary of the feedback from working groups will be presented during the Saturday meeting session.

Proposals 7 & 10

Proposal 7, dealing with stipends and allowances, was passed by consensus.

Proposal 10, related to Property Trust and Resources Board appointments, was also passed by consensus.

Protestant Reformation

Rev Murray Earl and Rev Andrew Everson presented Proposal 12, which relates to the Protestant Reformation. They emphasised the importance of the Reformation to the Uniting Church, and encouraged members to engage with the proposal. The proposal asks the Presbytery and Synod to recognise and celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and requests that each member reads at least one book on this topic within the next 12 months.

Members were invited to ask further questions about Proposal 12. After some discussion, the proposal passed by consensus. 

MediaCom promotion

Rev Dr Ian Price spoke to the gathered members about a number of exciting new books and helpful resources available through MediaCom. For more information, please visit the MediaCom website here.

Detention of refugees on Manus Island

Rev Sandy Boyce presented Proposal 22 on the detention of refugees on Manus Island. Sandy spoke about the situation facing those refugees who have remained in the detention centre on Manus Island since its official closure. She commended the statement issued by Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan earlier this month (read Stuart's statement here).

Sandy recognised the escalation of the situation today, with PNG police entering the centre to remove the remaining refugees (read more here). In light of this news, she suggested several changes to the proposal. 

After a time of questions from the floor, the Moderator led the gathering in a prayer. Further discussion and deliberation on this proposal will occur later in the meeting.

Resources presentation

Peter Battersby (Executive Officer, Resources) presented the Resources Board Report. He provided a brief update on key projects - the Brooklyn Park refurbishment (including Uniting College and Emmaus Christian College) and Uniting Venues SA developments. Peter also provided an operational update on the Resources ministry centre, before presenting part 1 of Proposal 4, which relates to the adoption of financial reports. This point passed by consensus.

Astrid Kuivasaari (General Manager, Resources) presented the proposed Mission & Service Fund Budget (read the report here), which would see a balanced budget for 2018. Astrid detailed the income and expenses projected for the year, and the various factors taken into account when preparing the budget. She presented Proposal 5, approving the break even operating budget and the capital expenditure budget for 2018. The proposal was passed by consensus.

Wayne Booth (WHS Coordinator) spoke about risk management and compliancy with Work Health & Safety regulations. He highlighted several common property and insurance issues that people in churches may need to deal with in order to keep people safe. Read more about Work, Health & Safety and the Uniting Church SA here.

Peter concluded the session by thanking members of various boards related to Resources. He presented point 2 of Proposal 4, which asks the Presbytery and Synod to place on record its appreciation for the contributions of Wayne Abbott and Peter Pledge. This point also passed by consensus.

Intergenerational Team presentation

Intergenerational Discipleship Developers Melissa Neumann and Mike Wardrop gave a presentation on intergenerational ministry. They provided an explanation of intentionally intergenerational ministry and its connection to lifelong discipleship for people of all ages. Members were invited to play a special version of rock, paper, scissors to demonstrate the ease with which people can engage with one another across generations.

They shared ways the Intergen Team can resource congregations to be intergenerational. These included church consultations, Remind Refresh Resource days, supporting and promoting local church events, and resources (books, digital resources, etc.).

Mel and Mike guided members through the intergenerational ministry resources available on the Uniting Church SA website here, also highlighting intergenerational events and programs. 

An Intern Year participant, Rob Cartridge, provided some insight into his own journey, his call to mission, and the challenges and rewards of the Intern Year program.

Mel and Mike concluded by sharing updates on the 2017 KCO and SAYCO events, and the theme for KCO 2018.

Ordination proposals

After dinner, members gathered for the ordination proposals, which asked that the Presbytery resolve to ordain Jesse Size as a Deacon in the Uniting Church (Proposal 2) and Mark Schultz as a Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church (Proposal 3). Both proposals passed by consensus. Rev Sue Ellis led the gathering in prayer for Jesse and Mark.

Congress presentation

Several members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (Congress) took the stage to share stories from 2017 and speak to a number of proposals.

Rev Denise Champion emphasised the importance of young people stepping into leadership roles, and announced that Sean Weetra is now the Chair of Congress Regional Council SA. She spoke about the significance of a 2017 trip to Canada to take part in a Reconciliation Dialogue with the United Church in Canada (read more about this trip here).

Sean Weetra (pictured right) and Candace Champion (pictured left) then shared their experiences as Congress interns. Sean also spoke about the launch of the Marion Congress faith community earlier in 2017, and his experience leading a Walking on Country. Candace shared stories from working with young people at Oodnadatta. 

Julia Lennon spoke about the challenges of ministry and worship in Oodnadatta, particularly the difficulties posed by the remote location, extreme weather and lack of a church building. She asked for church members to think about the work they are doing through the Oodnadatta faith community and to pray for them.

Rev Dean Whittaker presented Proposal 14, which relates to Aboriginal Imprisonment and Black Deaths in Custody, and invited Caroline Andersen to speak. Caroline is the mother of Wayne Morrison, who died in custody in December 2016. She spoke movingly about Wayne, his death in custody, and her own Christian faith. Victor Wilson also shared stories of his own and his family's experiences. The decision had been made to remove one point of the proposal before it was presented and other minor changes were made; the proposal passed by consensus. The minutes will include the details of the changes, and will be made available online here in the coming weeks.

Sean Weetra presented Proposal 15, which relates to the Tjilbruke Spring site at Kingston Park. After some questions from the floor, the meeting concluded for the night. Further discussion on this proposal will take place later in the meeting.

Prayer Points

We pray for:

  • Jesse Size and Mark Schultz - for God's leading as they move into ordained ministry
  • Candace Champion and Sean Weetra - for God's leading in their spiritual journey as their internship comes to an end and new opportunities arise
  • the friends and family of those who have recently lost loved ones - for those related to the ministers who passed away this year and for those whose loved ones have died in custody
  • for refugees on Manus Island - for their safety and well-being during this uncertain time
  • the Presbytery and Synod meeting tomorrow - for patience and grace as we listen to one another, discuss reports and consider proposals
  • community - that all will have a sense of community throughout meeting times and during breaks

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