From Rev Dr John Squires
Presbytery Minister - Wellbeing
Last week, a number of members of the Canberra Region Presbytery took part in two sessions of the 2021 meeting of the Synod of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Because of uncertainties about the gathering of large numbers of people, even with COVID apparently under control, the Synod is meeting online this year.
There were two sessions last week—one on Wednesday evening, a second on Saturday morning. This pattern will be repeated twice more as the year proceeds, in June and in August. The new meeting hours have enabled many more younger people and working people to participate in the Synod meeting. We have been able to meet as a whole body, with “questions from the floor”, as well as in Discernment Groups of 6-8 people to discuss specific proposals.
We also met in Community Groups, to explore ideas raised in the Bible Studies led by Dr Sathianathan “Sathi” Clarke, Bishop Sundo Kim Chair in World Christianity and Professor of Theology, Culture, and Mission at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, who spoke on the Synod 2021 theme, “Where the wild God is”.
Three significant matters received attention, with specific proposals coming before the meeting for each matter: developing our future directions as a church, walking together with First Peoples, and taking action on climate.
Future Directions for the People of God on the Way
Members of Synod 2021 approved by consensus “a commitment to being a contemporary, courageous and growing church proclaiming Jesus Christ in worship, witness and service.” We agreed that this would mean that we reaffirm an exisiting set of future directions, covering ministry in rural and regional areas, with people in the first third of their lives, and in stewardship of the earth.
We also accepted renewed commitments to walking together with First Peoples, to the covenant with Congress, and to working with presbyteries to promote growth within and through our congregations. Further work in each of these areas is planned as the year proceeds.
The initial proposal can be read at https://nswact.uca.org.au/media/9996/future-directions-for-the-people-of-god-on-the-way.pdf and there is a 15-minute video on this proposal at https://vimeo.com/535155223
Walking Together Action Plan
Synod 2021 agreed by consensus to the Walking Together Action Plan that had been presented, discussed in small groups, and then debated within a plenary session. Members of Synod watched a video explaining the hopes associated with this plan at https://vimeo.com/535162945
The plan itself can be read at https://nswact.uca.org.au/media/9995/walking-together-action-plan-2021-2023.pdf
There is a strong commitment to work together on this plan and to support the work of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. What this will mean for Congregations will be developed through a series of specific proposals to be considered in later sessions of Synod, before beings communicated with Presbyteries for action.
We were reminded that Synod 2019 committed our church to:
• Advocate to all levels of government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
• Reduce our own emissions across all parts of the church
• Stand with young people in their advocacy on global warming
Synod 2021 received a detailed report on how these commitments have been pursued. You can read the report at
Please continue to pray for Synod 2021 as it meets in this different, innovative, and sometimes challenging, mode; for our Moderator, Simon Hansford; our General Secretary, Jane Fry; the Chief Operations Officer of Synod, Albert Olley; for the Business Committee, chaired by Kent Crawford, and the Discernment Group Committee, chaired by Denise Wood.
Please pray also for the Canberra Region Presbytery members of Synod: our Co-Chairs, Judy McKinlay and Ross Kingham, Presbytery Secretary Robbie Tulip, PRC Chair Elizabeth Raine, Presbytery Ministers Andrew Smith and John Squires, lay members Saane Touli, Amy Junor, James Ellis, Pauli Taufui, and Rachel Gilks, and ordained members Aimee Kent, Duncan McDiarmid, and Andrew Jago.
Rev Dr John Squires
Canberra Region Presbytery
Uniting Church in Australia
0408 024 642
blogs on ‘An Informed Faith’