Tuesday, 15th May, 2018

Life & Mission of Strathfield Homebush Uniting Church.

Rev. Alimoni Taumoepeau, Tam Tali and Tiana Puniani kicked off the meeting with a fantastic presentation on the life and mission of Strathfield Homebush Uniting Church.

In particular, they shared a great video that highlighted much of the outreach and youth focused work of the congregation. Beyond than just the specifics of their ministry, the video underlined the vibrancy, the energy and the passion of a community working to lead the church to life.

One of the many highlights was the ecumenical Service of Lament, held at Strathfield UCA, that commemorated the 13 seasonal workers who died while labouring on Australian farms under the Australian Government’s Seasonal Workers Program. For more on the service, see Insights coverage, here.

Rev. Alimoni Taumoepeau, Tam Tali and Tiana Puniani presenting at Presbytery.

Rev. Alimoni Taumoepeau, Tam Tali and Tiana Puniani presenting at Presbytery.

Presentation of Period of Discernment Completion Certificates

Rev. Jenny Ducker, the Presbytery’s Pastoral Relations Minister, spoke about the importance of offering oneself for the intentional support within the process of the Period of Discernment.

The Period of Discernment aims to:

  • Develop the participant’s relationship with God and understanding of themselves as a disciple;
  • Give the participant opportunity to understand God’s ministry and mission in the church and the world, the variety of ministries within that ministry, and the nature, function and responsibilities of these ministries;
  • Recognize, affirm and build upon the skills, knowledge and experience that the participant brings to the Period of Discernment and ministry within the church;
  • Enable both the church and the participant to discern confidently the person’s gifts and graces for ministry, and the type of ministry in which these may be expressed in the life of the church and the wider community.

Jenny also presented a number of those who have been going through the process with certificates of competition. These folks included; Ryan Buesnel, Alison Forrest, Jon Owen and Emma Parr.

If any Presbytery members are interested in doing a Period of Discernment, or being a POD mentor, please email Jenny: jenny@sydneypresbytery.org.au

TERTIARY MINISTRY PRESENTATION

Jono Hirt, the Communications Manager at the Presbytery, spoke of the strong history of Tertiary Ministry that has spanned over 20 years. It was noted that 13 Uniting Church Ministers have been formed, at least in part, through the Presbytery’s Tertiary Ministry programs. Jono spoke of the recent work that has been going on to increase the visibility and understanding of Tertiary Ministry across the Synod.

Jono acknowledged that this important work needs greater congregational participation and wider church support. He went onto say that the Tertiary Ministry Oversight Committee (TROC) has been challenging itself to ensure the ministry is relevant to the ‘whole church’ and that congregations understand how they may participate moving forward. Finally, Jono launch a new campaign called the Christian Students Uniting ‘Open Door Fortnight’, which is designed to encourage congregational participation in the Bible studies, worship services and social events.

To learn more about this initiative, visit: www.csu.org.au/opendoor

CSU's 'Open Door Fortnight'

CSU's 'Open Door Fortnight'

APPLICATIONS TO CANDIDATE FOR ORDAINED MINISTRY

After the required closed session reports, discussion and ballots, it was a great joy that the Presbytery was able to recommend both Jon Owen and Allison Forrest’s applications to candidate for ordained ministry to the Synod Selection Panel.

Please hold Jon and Allison in your prayers as they continue to participate in this process.

SYNOD STEWARDSHIP CONTRIBUTIONS

Mr. Ian Goff, the Presbytery’s Business Manager, shared further on the Contributions System. The Synod has asked that Sydney Presbytery ensure $254,500 be raised. The headline points included:

  •  A separate giving to the NSW/ACT Synod
  •  Presbytery will continue to ask for their own contribution
  •  Both contributions will be invoiced each Quarter
  •  A Covenant Contribution Commitment to be recommended to Congregations
  •  Both Contributions to be determined by May 2018 to allow for effective budgeting

Ian explained that all congregations have received communications about the Covenant Contribution Commitment and 8 have been returned. Of these, 6 have met the suggested amount, whilst 2 have increased the amounts suggested.

Ian concluded up with some next steps:

  • Congregation to return Covenant letters by 25th of May
  • Congregations to cancel Living is Giving Direct Debits
  • Congregations will be invoiced for the Seeds of Growth contribution from Sydney Presbytery
  • Sydney Presbytery to forward a grand total quarterly to the Synod

MISSION + RESOURCE UPDATE

Rev. Kent Crawford updated the Presbytery on the latest developments as part of the Mission and Resource strategy. Kent explained that the plans at Rose Bay have been significantly halted due to local Council heritage concerns. The Presbytery is considering if legal recourse is the best way forward. The issue at Rose Bay is the latest in a longline of local Council heritage issues hindering redevelopments across the Presbytery.

PATHWAYS PROJECT

Kath Merrifield and Melanie Dicks from the Synod Pathways Project addressed the Presbytery with an overview of their recent finding. They explained that the Pathways project is a grass-roots planning process, seeking to gather the collective voice of the Church, to talk about things like; ‘why we do what we do’ and what it means to be a ‘fellowship of reconciliation’.

Pathways is developing processes that will enable us to listen to each other – to help congregations hear the stories of other congregations; to help Presbyteries hear stories of congregations within and beyond their bounds and of other Presbyteries; and to help the Synod hear a more comprehensive story of the church in NSW and the ACT.

The members of Presbytery were asked to workshop a number of questions that, when gathered together with responses across the region, will help inform Synod planning and resourcing. A summary of responses from across the Synod can be found below.

Why do we do what we do?

  • The majority of us do what we do as a response to God’s call - “Called by the Spirit of God to be a blessing to the world”
  • We also seek to love and care for our neighbour - “Compassion, moved by seeing need”
  • We also acknowledge we continue to do what we’ve always done - “It’s what we’ve always done”

Who are we? Who are we called to be? 

  • We are most inspired by social justice, inclusion and diversity - “We stand for social justice and with the marginalised”

What are our hopes and challenges?

  • Telling God’s story
  • Leadership
  • Resources – people, skills etc
  • How we work together across Councils of the church

 For more info on the Pathways Project, please visit: https://nswact.uca.org.au/pathways

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 2018

The final session of the meeting was led by Rev. Kent Crawford and looked at the major topics that will be up for consideration at National Assembly in July.

These topics include:

  • Marriage and same-gender relationships
  • Domestic and Family Violence
  • Voluntary Assisted Dying
  • For the Whole Creation
  • Recognition of Sovereignty
  • Royal Commission National Task Group
  • Voting on a President-Elect

For more detailed information on each proposal, please visit: https://uniting.church/proposals

Kent then addressed the Presbytery on the topic of Same Gendered Marriage, starting with a quote from Davis McCaughey – a key architect in the formation of the Uniting Church.

The Presbytery must know the congregations and love them. The councils of the church exist primarily to serve that basic unit, the congregation: to make sure that Word and Sacrament are available for Christ’s people, so that they can worship, witness and serve.

Kent went onto say;

As a Presbytery our core purpose as a council of the Uniting Church is not the determination of doctrine nor the formation of national policies. Our core purpose is the missional and pastoral unity of the people called by Jesus Christ to be partners in the reconciliation and renewal of the world in and through the work of our Congregations, Parish Missions, Faith Communities and Agencies.

The earliest churches often found themselves locked in serious and significant debate about various modes of practice and modes of thought. The apostle Paul encouraged the earliest Christian communities to bear with one another in love.  Love does not pretend there are not serious and significant differences between us. The exhortation to bear with one another in love, though, reminds us that each of us is called to a mighty purpose in Christ Jesus. Our unity has always been based not on any particular doctrine, but in our loyalty to a community of persons. The earliest Christian confession – Jesus is Lord – was big enough and strong enough to enable the biggest of differences to no longer be barriers but a cause for celebration that all are one in Christ.

Kent spoke about the value of allowing robust dialogue within an environment that is safe and respectful. Kent reminded the Presbytery that there are different perspectives within our church and listening to those differences is fundamental.

There will be a Marriage Forum at St Stephens Uniting Church (6:30pm to 9pm, Wednesday, June 6th) hosted by our Moderator. Presbytery staff will be in attendance.