The gifts of our women leaders

25 Jul 2021 by Rev Dr John Squires in: Letters, Thoughts, News

The gifts of our women leaders

From Rev Dr John Squires
Presbytery Minister - Wellbeing

Andrew and Judy have written about their experience at the National Assembly of the Uniting Church last weekend. It is good that the Assembly has installed the Rev. Sharon Hollis as President of the Assembly for the next three years (2021–24). It is noteworthy that at the same meeting (being held online because of the COVID pandemic), members of the Assembly have elected a female President-Elect, the Rev. Charissa Suli. She will serve as President-Elect for three years, and then take up the position of President in July 2024.

The UCA employs a system where the current President, the immediate former President, and the President-Elect all serve as ex officio members of the Assembly Standing Committee, the body that oversees the church during the three years in between National Assembly meetings.

For the next three years, the President, the Past President, and the President-Elect will all be females: the Rev. Sharon Hollis, Dr Deidre Palmer, and the Rev. Charissa Suli, respectively. In addition, the current General Secretary of the Assembly is also female: Colleen Geyer. Her term has just been extended by the current Assembly. It is a striking symbol, when considering the national leadership of Christian churches across Australia. All of our key leadership (pictured below) are female.

That reflects a central feature of our church: a commitment to equality of the sexes and to the mutuality of male and female in ministry, as well as in life more generally. Because of last weekend’s election, I did some research into our leadership over the past 44 years, which resulted in this blog:

The first Moderator of the NSW Synod was Mrs Lilian Wells; the second Moderator of the Victorian Synod was Mrs Ethel Mitchell; the fifth Moderator of the South Australian Synod was Mrs Elizabeth Finnegan; and the seventh Moderator of the Tasmanian Synod was Dr Jill Tabart (pictured below: Moderators Lilian Wells and Ethel Mitchell, top; Elizabeth and Paddy Finnegan, and Jill Tabart, below).