Saturday, 10 August, 2019

Opening worship set the scene for the day. Rev Viniana Ravetali led the Presbytery through the Acknowledgment of Country and the Call to Worship.

Brodie Teoh from Church in the Market Place led the musical components with Rev Radhika Sukumar-White from Leichhardt Uniting.

The Presbytery’s Pastoral Relations Minister, Rev Jenny Ducker, read a moving and thought provoking story titled Two Seas written by Bruce Barton, which is really worth a look.

As a bridge into the rest of the meeting, a clip from United Theological College Principal, Rev Peter Walker’s first Living Church – Synod 2019 Bible study was shown. To view the full Bible study series click 'HERE'. 

Life & Mission of Church in the Market Place.

Paul Mulroney from Church in the Market Place (CMP) gave the Presbytery an insightful overview of the congregation’s history, which started as a Methodist Church in the 1860s. Paul also noted the demographics of the area, which means CMP enjoy an extremely diverse and vibrant membership based.

To highlight the CMP’s areas of ministry, a fantastic video was shown featuring a set of outreach activities. These included; Friday Nights for Youth, Playgroups, community outreach via the Connect Team and much more.

The Congregation also participates in No Interest Loans (NILS) and has assisted 158 people. They run a Men’s Shed, which is a popular activity and a great community builder. Alongside of these activities, CMP run opportunities for English language learning with international students.

For more info on Church in the Market Place, please visit their site here:

The next section of the meeting focused on the recently resolved Synod debt, the Presbytery’s Mission + Resource Strategy, the Strategic Plan for 2019-22 and the accompanying budget.

Interview with the Moderator.

A few days before the Saturday Presbytery meeting, Rev Kent Crawford met up with Rev Simon Hansford, Moderator of NSW.ACT Synod, to have a conversation about the once looming debt being resolved and what that means for Church. The conversation was filmed so it could be shown as part of the meeting.

In the video, which will be made available via the Sydney Presbytery website, Simon and Kent discussed the different ways the debt was responded to within the church; the impact it had within our Presbytery; the idea that we need to continue to shift our thinking about what’s missional and the fact that money should follow mission, rather than control it.

Mission + Resource Strategy.

Craig Corby delivered the Mission + Resource Strategy presentation. Craig reminded the Presbytery that although the initial focus and rationale for the strategy was in response to the Synod debt, because the Presbytery placed mission at the centre (and not a quick buck) we are well placed for the resourcing of mission into the future.

Craig described the process in detail, highlighting that properties were assessed in the context of missional priority to determine how/if a property could be renovated, developed or sold. As Simon said in his discussion with Kent, in these types of situations, one could simply sell a slew of properties to create significant sales proceeds, but this is the wrong approach and in the long run would cost the Church a great deal in missional potential.

This mission-focused approach guided the sale of the Redfern Church site. This site was sold; and the sales were used to rehome the Hepisipa congregation at Marrickville, a significant sum was donated to Lismore Uniting Church for their rebuilding efforts after the catastrophic flood, and a portion was also contributed to the Synod debt. The sale followed a thorough process of discernment.

Craig then went onto to say that there are currently two projects in the works in South Strathfield and Rose Bay. The South Strathfield site is being designed around the creation of affordable housing opportunities. The project at Rose Bay has had numerous setbacks to do with local council laying on last minute heritage claims. After significant efforts and a win in Land and Environment Court, the redevelopment is moving forward.

Strategic Plan for 2019-22.

Rev Viniana Ravetali facilitated the presentation on the Strategic Plan, walking the Presbytery through the rigorous discernment and planning process that took place involving the Presbytery Standing Committee (PSC) and Presbytery staff.

The new Strategic Plan has evolved from the former, with a particular emphasis on a fresh set of Strategic Initiatives.The new plan incorporated feedback from the Church Council Engagement Strategy that the PSC and staff undertook in Spring and Summer 2018-19. Additionally, information from Pathways and Presbytery Committees informed the new strategy.

Following Vini’s presentation, Kent facilitated table group work to engage members of Presbytery on the newly formed Strategic Initiatives.

Presbytery Budget. 

Ian Goff walked the Presbytery through the Presbytery budget which is separated into two key areas – Main Operations and Tertiary Ministry.

A summary of expenses includes: staffing and programs, office administration and running costs, consultation fees, Synod and Congregation expenses and property maintenance.

The budget supports and aligns with the Strategic Plan and undergoes a similarly rigorous review process and is ultimately sign-off by the Presbytery Standing Committee (PSC).

‘Help, Hope and Hallelujah’ Video Report.

Rev Graham Long shared that the event's focus was to celebrate four unique stories from within the Presbytery. Graham also remarked that it is not often that you go to a church meeting or event with no ask other than to enjoy each other’s company. Handmade candles were provided as a gift for each congregation with a delightful message and the motto of the event: Drawn by the Future and not driven by the Past. Another highlight was the gift of Mascot Wesley Youth Choir who sung throughout the night.

The celebration took place at the Heart Café at Wayside Bondi, and featured a story from Marike Jago about Messy Church at Woollahra-Double Bay; Liuanga Palu and Moala Manoa spoke of the enlivening experience of Hepisipa congregation moving to Marrickville; Rev Stephen Matthews passionately told the gathering about the focus on lay training and leadership development at Burwood-Croydon and finally Rev Graham Anson shared his reflections on Wayside Bondi and the inspiring work of Heart Café (Bondi’s first social enterprise eatery).

The next section of the meeting looked at a few key resolutions that were passed at Living Church – Synod 2019.

Synod 2019 – Growth Resolution.

Kent updated the Presbytery on a few key resolutions and pieces of work that took place at Living Church. These included, the Climate Action Plan, Uluru Statement from the Heart, extension of the term of our Moderator, a renewed vision for Formation and a proposal called Focus on Growth.

In regard to the Growth Proposal, the following was affirmed at Synod: that the Synod commit, over the next 3 years, to organise and orientate ourselves towards growth and request that Presbyteries to so organise themselves, to prioritise, promote and enable growth in discipleship, in relationship, in number and in impact within and through our Congregations.

What does “growth” mean in this context? Three methods of growth formulated the proposal:

  1. to orient our life and work together towards enabling flourishing within and through our congregations.
  2. our congregations are the means through which "God in Christ draws men and women to himself by Word and Sacrament in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit." (Davis McCaughey).
  3. so that people of all ages grow into their proclamation and participation in God's reconciliation and renewal of all things through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-20).

Kent noted that the Church will not grow from working harder,, but working “heartier” - being alive, authentic, expressing our joy in Jesus Christ in life, words and deeds. We seek to intentionally and deliberately focus our life and witness toward growing in discipleship, relationship, number and impact.

Synod 2019 – Formation.

Rev Jenny Ducker shared that the Renewed Vision for Formation proposal was brought to and affirmed by the Synod. Jenny explained that formation is a lifelong journey and is a process of forming and reforming.

There are four phases of formation, which Jenny unpacked: Phase One is Discernment; Phase Two is Candidacy; Phase Three is first three years of ministry and Phase Four is everything after the first three years. It has been suggested that a Phase Five of retirement be added.

Part of the rationale for the proposal is that far more flexibility is required and acknowledgment that ministry is more than about institutional education (though this is of course fundamentally important).

A focus on Formation is more than preparing people for ordained ministry; Jenny asked: how do we encourage schools, congregations, agencies, to be communities of formation?

Three questions were put to table groups to discern:

1. ) What help is needed to inspire and equip in your Congregation/Agency/School to discover, develop and use their gifts?

2.) What does your Congregation/Agency/School currently do to encourage members to grow in spiritual maturity, discipleship and evangelism? What else would be helpful?

3.) What would you like to see our Presbytery do to prioritise, promote and enable growth in these areas in your Congregation/Agency/School?

Synod 2019 – Climate Action Plan.

After lunch, 15 members of Christian Students Uniting (CSU) addressed the Presbytery and shared three powerful stories about the impact of climate change and why they are participating in the September 20Global Climate Strike.

The members challenged the Presbytery to name a turn-out coordinator for each congregation to encourage their congregation strike for climate action. There was an incredible commitment of 250 people from Sydney Presbytery congregations for the March.

Will you join CSU on September 20th? Sign-up here: