“Out of the Box” Missional Conference Highlights

14 Aug 2022 by Rev Andrew Smith in: Letters, Thoughts, News

Highlights from the 2022 “Out of the Box” Missional Conference

From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures

Over a Friday evening and the following Saturday in July, twenty-six people from across the Presbytery participated in the 2022 “Out of the Box” Missional Conference organised by Uniting Mission and Education of the Synod. Most of this number connected in via zoom, while a handful attended in person at the Centre for Ministry in North Parramatta.

The keynote speakers for the conference were Rev Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah Australia, and Rev Ellie Elia from Glenbrook UC. There were also master class electives in Mission in a Warming World, with Dr Byron Smith; Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World, with Rev Grace Ji-Sun Kim; The Creative Imagination Workshop, with Tash Homes; Pioneering: Missional Church Leadership for Community Impact, with Rev Dr Karina Kreminski and Dr Armen Gakavian; and Digital Connections Transforming Community, with Josh Wyatt.

Here are some of the highlights for participants in the conference.

There were so many highlights, speakers who ‘spoke to me;’ gifted people with holy insights to share.  It was a truly special experience!  Thank you and everybody!

Maybe, besides the opening by Tim Costello, I found Rev. Ellie Elia’s ‘lecture’ the very best. “Into the Deep” – surrendering all, we follow God’s call a summation of who we are as Christian Community.

I loved the way art brought people together – from the painted wooden spoons, to the Easter Art Exhibition.  Great to observe people experimenting with different ways of being welcoming, inclusive, and bringing people together.

Maxine Gray, Elder at Tuggeranong Uniting
“It was time for the first elective session. I headed down the corridor with Ellie Elia's quote from Mary Oliver ringing in my ears “Rules for life- pay attention; be astonished; tell about it!” 
Turning into the room I said “Is this the climate change session?” “No this is the session on creativity - but you’re welcome to stay.” I backed out with embarrassed apologies but only got 2 or 3 steps down the corridor before my subconscious said “hang on, you’ve done lots on climate change - take a risk and try creativity.” 
So I did!

It was a wonderful session. It used the “Out of the Box” title to challenge us to use creativity to help this process. One thing which stuck with me was the thought that “the church needs to really inhabit the areas outside the 4 walls, not just visit them!” I was reminded of Bonhoeffer - “The church is only the church when it exists for others!”

The Holy Spirit leading? Who knows? All I know is that I changed my mind, took a risk and reaped the benefit of it.

Simon Clarke, St Margaret’s Hackett.
There were quite a number of highlights from the “Out of the Box’ conference. From inspirational speeches, to practical ‘how tos’ there was broad spectrum of subjects and practical advice. For me attending both of Dr Byron Smith’s electives on climate change was important, as I believe the Uniting Church could become even more involved in this area than it already is. In the first elective, Byron talked about climate change, the risk it poses and acknowledged the grief and anxiety that this can generate. The second session posed a variety of questions for the church, designed to inspire greater action on our part to pressure politicians and corporations to change damaging policies and fuels. Byron emphasised that the church needs to understand why our current political and economic systems resist change, and that we needed to show kindness and courage and do what is right to disrupt business as usual and avert the full threat climate change represents to our world.
Rev Elizabeth Raine, Tuggeranong Uniting

Next week will include even more highlights from the conference. “Out of the Box” is an annual Missional Conference. Hopefully, these highlights inspire you to be part of it in 2023!