The Synod 2016 meeting is at an end, and there has been consistently positive feedback happening from those in attendance. You can read all about it at the Insights website, on Facebook, or you can go through the reports and proposals and all the details from the meeting itself here.
It’s rare that a 4 day-long meeting garners such praise, but a number of factors, in my opinion, have contributed to this.
Our Moderator, Rev. Myung Hwa Park, crafted a prayer that was the theme for the meeting: Come Holy Spirit – Renew Our Hearts. All aspects of the meeting were shaped around this plaintive prayer – that God would renew us through the renewing of our hearts, the renewal of the Church and the renewal of all creation.
Our Moderator-elect, who will take up the role from the outset of the next Synod meeting in 18 months’ time is Rev. Simon Hansford. You can read a bit more about him here. I’ve always found Simon to be a consistently positive and hopeful leader with a deep faith and a love for the people he has been called to serve. Let’s keep Simon and Fiona and their 2 daughters in our prayers, and the community of Tamworth Southside Uniting Church who will begin the process of preparing to farewell their Minister in order that he may take up his calling to serve the whole Uniting Church across NSW and the ACT.
This Synod saw the debut of the use of Open Space Technology which took up the best part of 2 days of the meeting. If you haven’t heard of this meeting methodology that promotes lifelong learning and collaborative problem solving you can read more here. This methodology relies upon the passion and responsibility of the participants in the meeting to shape an agenda for ongoing cooperation.
There are a thousand other things that went into making Synod 2016 the kind of meeting people are speaking positively about, but I reserve my greatest thanks for our sisters and brothers from Hope Uniting Church who were in charge of leading the whole people of God in worship each day, at numerous points in each day’s Agenda. Bec Lindsay and Andrew Johnson, ministers in placement at Hope, and their faithful, talented and dedicated crew of musicians, artisans and liturgists curated worship that set the tone for a meeting that became a community. With various friends and partners their skills in leading worship were employed to enable us to rediscover who and whose we are as the people of God. I’m sure most of them are hibernating in a dark cave right now restoring energy levels that must surely be significantly depleted given the careful preparation and consistent leadership the task brought out in them. Enabling hundreds of people to enter fully into worship, especially given the great diversity of forms and approaches to worship throughout the Uniting Church, is no mean feat, and I pay tribute to the ways in which their gifts were used so transparently to make space for the Holy Spirit to do the renewing in our midst.
One last link you might find interesting, and that is to the poem – Church is a Verb, by Godfrey Rust. It was used by keynote speaker Fr Stephen Bevans on Day 1 and has come lovely imagery and worthy challenges to our thinking about church.
May we continue to church together in the Spirit’s power.