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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.

Saturday 25 November

In this update:

  • Opening devotions and Bible study
  • Recommendations and decisions for ordination (continued)
  • Tjilbruke Spring site at Kingston Park (continued)
  • Conversation on Presbytery and Synod structure
  • Proposed nuclear dump in South Australia
  • Lunch gatherings and Encounter Church video
  • Conversation on marriage (continued)
  • APY Lands General Manager appointment
  • Eco-theology
  • Declaration of ballots
  • Closing remarks and Holy Communion
  • Prayer points

Opening devotions and Bible study

Collecting ballot papers on their way in, members gathered for the last day of the Presbytery and Synod meeting. Rev Amel Manyon offered a reading from Philippians 2:1-11 and a short message on the importance of discipleship and generosity.

Craig Mitchell again led members in a lively Bible study, and read from Acts 2:42-47. He spoke about intentional Christian community, abiding with Jesus' followers, characteristics of the early Church and practices of fruitful congregations. 

Uniting Church SA Moderator Rev Sue Ellis thanked Craig for the insightful Bible studies he shared over the past two days. She then offered a prayer on non-violence, reconciliation and peace, reflecting on the recent attack at a mosque in Egypt that killed at least 235 people.

Recommendations and decisions for ordination (continued)

In yesterday's update, it was noted that Proposal 25, related to recommendations and decisions for ordination, would not be discussed further at this meeting. This was incorrect.

Rev Prof Andrew Dutney again took the stage to talk about this proposal, detailing conversations he had with members after initially presenting the proposal. Following a time of questions and sharing from the floor, Proposal 25 was passed by agreement.

Tjilbruke Spring site at Kingston Park (continued)

Sean Weetra again spoke about Proposal 15, regarding the Tjilbruke Spring site at Kingston Park. This proposal was originally brought forward during the Congress presentation that took place on Thursday evening. 

Sean outlined some changes to the proposal, and further alterations were suggested by members from the floor. Sean and other members joined together over lunch to determine the exact wording, taking into account the feedback received. The proposal was passed by consensus.

The final version of the proposal, including the changes, will be detailed in the minutes, which will be available online here in the coming weeks.

Conversation on Presbytery and Synod structure

Uniting Church SA CEO/General Secretary Rev Nigel Rogers introduced the conversation about Presbytery and Synod structures (a resourcing document about this conversation is available here). He emphasised that this is just the beginning of this future-focussed conversation. He showed members a video titled "Who is the Real Uniting Church?", which is available to view online here.

Members broke into table groups to discuss the resourcing document and write responses on a form provided. This feedback will be collated to inform ongoing conversations at Standing Committee and discussions at the next Presbytery and Synod meeting.

Proposed nuclear dump in South Australia

Rev Dean Whittaker and Candace Champion presented Proposal 18, which asks the Presbytery and Synod to call on the SA Government to enforce the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 to prevent a nuclear waste dump being established in South Australia. Candace shared the concerns of the Adnyamathanha people about the possibility of a nuclear waste facility being established close to a significant cultural site.

Questions and comments were taken from the floor and several suggestions were made regarding the wording and scope of the proposal. Changes were made over lunch and a revised version was presented to the members. The proposal was passed by agreement. The changes to the proposal will be noted in the minutes and made available here in the coming weeks.

Lunch gatherings and Encounter Church video

Some members of the Presbytery and Synod chose to wear red for today's session of the meeting to express their concern for the health and welfare of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island. They gathered together at the beginning of lunch time to talk and get a photo together.

Other members joined together for a White Ribbon lunch, marking the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November). The session was facilitated by Uniting Communities' Peter McDonald and featured a White Ribbon speaker.

After returning from lunch, members watched a video from Encounter Church, a church plant that has been established through the Generate 2021 program. The video is available on the November Presbytery and Synod meeting page here.

Conversation on marriage (continued)

Feedback Group Report

Rev Rob Brown and Dianne Holden presented the Feedback Group Report, which detailed common themes from the feedback supplied by working groups during the earlier conversation on marriage sessions. 

The responses reflected the theological diversity of the Synod, and a common theme of upholding scripture. In most of the feedback, there was a clear, deep desire and overarching hope for unity. 

There were some directions that members wished to send to Assembly Standing Committee, particularly seeking further information about processes. There was a strong call for transparent and clear processes within the Assembly Standing Committee. Many also asked how members in the life of the Church can provide feedback.

There was an urge to consider more intently the marriage traditions of First Peoples and CALD communities, and the ways any decision made by the Church may affect ecumenical relationships.

It was felt that the feedback to the questions clearly expressed who we are as the Presbytery and Synod. There was a strong feeling that the Assembly needs a clear resolution on this issue, and a clear process to communicate this resolution.

APY Lands General Manager appointment

Rev Dean Whittaker presented Proposal 19, which relates to concerns about the recently appointed General Manager of the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands. Dean outlined concerns about processes used to appoint this person, and his behaviour in this role. The proposal requests that the SA Government address these concerns. It was passed by consensus.


Rev Sarah Williamson and Rev Liellie McLaughlin presented Proposal 26, which asks that the Synod acknowledge and thank Uniting College for their present work in the area of eco-theology, and encourage the College to continue to reinforce eco-theology as core to ministry training. The proposal passed by consensus.

Declaration of ballots

Malcolm Wilson shared the results of the ballots. They are as follows:

Presbytery and Synod Standing Committee: Pam Bartholomaeus, Ken Burt, Leanne Davis, Peter Gunn, Elizabeth Megaw, Bronte Wilson, Sean Weetra and Alison Whish.

Placements Committee: Sue Page, Christine Secombe and Bronte Wilson.

Parkin Mission/Parkin Trust: Robyn Caldicott, Tom Adams and Carol Davidson.

Chairperson of Placements Committee: no nominations received. Standing Committee will attend to this vacancy.

Assembly: Rev Sue Ellis and Rev Nigel Rogers (Ex officio), Mr Sean Weetra, Rev Naomi Duke, Mr Jesse Size, Ms Nicole Mugford, Troy Kammermann, Mr Tim Littleford, Ms Louise Davis, Dr Pam Bartholomaeus, Rev (John) Andrew Everson, Ms Kerry Wilson, Ms Marian Wicks, Ms Steph Teh, Ms Georgia Symonds, Rev Dr Vicki Balabanski, Rev Dr Ian Price, Rev (Deacon) Sandy Boyce, Rev Andy Hogarth, Rev Benji Callen, Ms Candace Champion, Rev Sean Gilbert, Rev Jennifer (Jenni) Hughes, Rev David Hoffman, Rev Christa Megaw, Rev Dean Whittaker, Rev Rob Brown, Rev John Hughes, Rev Simon Dent, Mr Tim Molineux, Mr Ian Dempster, Mr Mark Schultz, Ms Susan Burt, Mrs Christine Secombe.

Property Trust and Resources Board: as per proposal 10.

Synod Committee for Discipline: John Steele.

Synod Committee for Counselling: Peter Ryan, Christine Manning and Robyn Caldicott.

Advisers: Gwenda Kerley.

Thanks to Chris Jaensch, Bev Freeman, Tim Molineux, Anne Wilson (Chief Scrutineer), Peter Wilson, Sonya Wilson, Matthew Heath, Michael Parker, Warwick Jarrett, Chris May, all nominees, and members of the Presbytery and Synod who returned ballots.

Closing remarks and Holy Communion

The Novermber Presbytery and Synod meeting concluded with a time of worship and a message from Shane Rayner, the Youth and Young Adults Pastor at Seeds Uniting Church. Members closed with Holy Communion and a final song from the Seeds worship band.

Rev Sue Ellis' opening sermon, which she shared at the opening of the Thursday session of the meeting, is now available to read online here.

Prayer Points

We pray for:

  • the Northern Suburbs Dinka-Speaking Faith Community - for Rev Amel Manyon's leadership and for strong support for the whole community
  • people affected by the recent attack in Egypt - for their friends and family, that there may be peace and reconciliation
  • those who have been elected and appointed at the meeting - that they may be supported and equipped as they undertake new responsibilities
  • the Uniting Church SA - that we will find ways to continue to intentionally nurture discipleship
  • people travelling - for their safety as they return home

We give thanks for God's presence and leading during this meeting.

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