It was an eye opener for me to attend Synod, as it gives me more of a sense of what the Uniting Church is doing and being inspired with those who have/are already involved in it for years. With my Tongan background I have been an observer ... it is a wow! as we have a lot of people who can help us. Christianity was taught to us Tongans by Missionaries....this is like stepping out of our comfort/traditional way of preaching and reach out to the communities, esp. those who are in need. I am so excited to learn more! Please keep our church in your prayers.
Saane Touli, To e Talatalanoa Congregation
Synod 2021 - who would have thought that we'd be online and still get through a substantial agenda?
I was thoroughly impressed by the portal and the ease of use and the way that an online meeting was able to be faithful to our manual for meetings and the consensus process. Frustrating at times, but working through each proposal and report is part of the responsibility we have as members of synod.
The future directions proposal and accompanying resourcing framework was one of the highlights for me, as well as the walking together report. Making an active decision to focus the Synod's resources on the four target areas really sends a message to the church and community about what is important to us. The task now is implementation.
One aspect of synod that was missing though was community - something that is a casualty of the COVID-era. Being able to network with colleagues, catch up with old friends and meet new over breaks is often what made attending a 4 day long meeting of the church worthwhile at the end of the day.
James Ellis, Tuggeranong Congregation
A few thoughts from the hilltop……
Last week, asked if I could write something about the highlights of Synod for this newsletter, I realized how difficult it is to distil five months of thought, prayer, conversation and engagement with the wider church into the inadequacy of words. Fortunately, John Squires provided a clear summary of key aspects, and the rest of the newsletter reminded me of the breadth of activity and opportunity that exists in the Uniting Church. If nothing else, with Assembly, Synod and Presbytery meetings coming in large Zoom doses this year, I have learned what an amazing lot of People on the Way God has gifted to this church. It has been both an encouraging and humbling experience to meet so many who are offering their natural abilities and spiritual gifts with a generosity that puts love of Christ and the needs of others first. It has been inspiring to see the ‘baton changing’ of generations, gender and cultures, that offers hope for new ways of thinking and being the Uniting Church.
But at the same time, there has been little chance to draw breath and ask “What do all these decisions, all these Future Directions, all these visions of a church that is ‘contemporary, courageous and growing’ actually mean for me and for our Presbytery? What do they mean and matter in the world we are in at this time?” It is difficult to bring together the vision and the realities.
From my home I look west to the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains, and east to the mountains that drop to the Bega Valley. Psalm 121 gives me no excuses. I spent time this week, amongst snowgums and birdsong, to reflect both on it and on Wordsworth’s The World is Too Much With Us. Amongst lots of thoughts and yet more questions, one simple, uncontestable and uncomfortable truth was clear: between vision and reality comes action.
And that, really, was the final call from Synod 2021. The words have all been spoken, the vision has been set and affirmed. We are here, individuals together in this Body of Christ on earth, for such a time as this. Discipleship that makes the vision reality demands action. Pray that we grow truly active in all the ways God is asking of us now.
Judy McKinlay, Presbytery Co-chair, Alpine Parish