Last week, Presbytery Co-Chairs and Presbytery Ministers joined with leaders from Synod and the 12 other Presbyteries in our Synod, for the last in the regular monthly online meetings that have been held since early in 2021. These meetings have been invaluable for maintaining contact and support across the leadership of all Presbyteries during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We were asked to comment on three questions—and we thought we would share our responses with people across the Canberra Region Presbytery, as our final message for 2021. The three questions are: What are some things that have been celebrated in 2021? What are some things that have been learned in 2021? And What are some things that we are hopeful for 2022?
Here’s what we shared.
Some things we celebrated: We celebrated milestones in the lives of a number of Congregations: Goulburn 150 years, Weston Creek 50 years, Kippax 50 years, and Gungahlin 25 years; and we celebrated the establishment of two new congregations, Parkesbourne—Merrilla, and Woden Valley.
We celebrated the fact that Presbytery is drawing alongside Rise Ministries to support a fresh expression of church in a disused church building at St Aidan’s Narrabundah (now called Rise Sanctuary)
In other words, we celebrated faithful worship, witness and service in a number of locations, each quite different, across the Presbytery.
Some things we learned: We had two online presbytery meetings that were theme-focussed—one on advocacy, one on chaplaincy—and one in-person meeting with consideration of mission. These meetings provided stimulus and resourced the thinking of Presbytery members, and we hope that this will flow on into the discipleship of individuals and the mission of Congregations.
We also learned about ways we included folk who are spread over a wide distance in ministry training, Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct workshops, Sacraments Refresher sessions, Bible studies, Presbytery meetings, and other sessions, via ZOOM. The changed circumstances with restrictions on moving around or even gathering have opened up such opportunities, making these offerings more accessible across a wider audience.
Some things we are hopeful for in 2022: We are hopeful about the mission planning process for the Presbytery that will take place in 2022. We are also hopeful about what might emerge as we develop our work on how we use property to resource mission.
We are hopeful for growing interconnection, mutual support, sharing of resources and talents. We are hopeful for the future because of a more educated laity taking on leadership and seeing new ways of doing and being. We also sense that there is a changing feeling about letting go; more of us are willing to let go and embrace change in what is coming in the future.
We are thankful that through the concerns and challenges of 2021, we have seen the continuing faithfulness and grace of God amongst us. We are thankful for all those in ministry and congregations who have expressed their discipleship in acts of encouragement, kindness, generosity and care for others. Our prayer now is that the peace and joy of Christmas may be real to each one of you and that the amazing reality of God’s love for the world may be present for all.
As we move into the time of the year when things become hectic, pressures rise, and events multiply (as they do each and every year—not just during COVID!), may we know the abiding presence of the Spirit, the peace of the one whom God sent to proclaim peace, and the joy of the news that God is active and at work in our world!
Ross, Judy, Andrew, and John
Canberra Region Presbytery