Opening worship was led by Rev. Radhika Sukumar-White, with a reflection led by Rev. Ken Day. Worship was moving, vibrant and full of soul. In fact, it was quite a soulful meeting (more on this later).
UNITING INTRODUCTIONS & 'HATS FOR THE HOMELESS' PROJECT
As is custom, our hosts took a moment to say hello and walk the Presbytery through a snap shot of their life and mission. Susan Cann facilitated the presentation, introducing her colleagues from Uniting's Sydney Central Regional Team -including Jean Shannon, Brian Woodhouse, Tash Holmes, Clare Brockett and Craig Corby.
Brian Woodhouse also spoke, announcing the 'Hats for the Homeless' Project; it is an invitation for members, using prepared resources, to make woollen hats for those in need. A number of Presbytery Members indicated their interest in assisting in this project. And since the meeting, numerous hats have been made!
CONCLUSION OF PERIOD OF DISCERNMENT
Nadine Newell then shared about the Period of Discernment (PoD) process, inviting all to participate. The Presbytery was thrilled to witness the presentation of Viliami Ma’umalanga's Certificate of Completion and his story of discerning Gods call.
LIFE & WITNESS CONSULTATIONS RESOURCES PRESENTATION
Graham Anson invited the meeting's attendees to reflect upon the valuable work that is done by those who are part of Life and Witness Consultations. There are new resources and training provided by Synod to assist members present as well as members of our congregations whom we think could assist another congregation in their Life and Witness Consultations. This new process has been used in our Presbytery with great feedback received on its success.
WELCOMING ANDREW MCCLOUD AS TERTIARY MINISTRY ORGANISER
Kent Crawford introduced Andrew McCloud as the new tertiary Ministry Organiser. Since the de-funding of Tertiary Chaplaincy, Sydney Presbytery has remained committed to Tertiary Chaplaincy. It is noted that the average age of a Uniting Church attendee is 20 younger than other presbyteries and two major influences is the strong CALD Communities of faith and also, the active support of Tertiary Chaplaincy.
TOWARDS OUR NEXT STRATEGIC PLAN 2019-22
The primary focal point of the meeting was on the next Presbytery strategic plan, which has a 3-year lifespan. Rev. Kent Crawford started by walking through the ongoing Church Council Engagement Strategy, highlighting that 20 Church Councils have been visited thus far.
Some headline stats:
13 strongly affirm the Presbytery’s Mission, Passion, Areas of Focus & their experience of Presbytery staff and committees.
3 felt neutral about their experience of Presbytery staff & committees.
4 named elements of frustration with the Presbytery and/or NSW.ACT Synod and/or the national Assembly.
Those that reported neutral or negative experiences did not disagree with the naming of our Mission, Passion & Areas of Focus.
As part of the engagement strategy, Presbytery staff sought affirmation on the top-line aspects of the existing strategic plan.
AFFIRMED: Our Mission: Leading the Church to Life
AFFIRMED: Our Passion: Thriving, well-resourced, missional churches
AFFIRMED: Our Four Areas of Focus:
Kent then unpacked paragraph 3 of the Basis of Union (from where we understand our Purpose as a Presbytery), reminding the Presbytery that the Church is:
A fellowship (of reconciliation)
A body (within which diverse gifts build up the whole)
An instrument (through which Christ works)
From here, the Presbytery meeting took a soulful turn, as we sung an African American gospel song - 'Come and Go to that Land'. The song was used an audible example of working together (in harmony).
The song started like this...
Come and Go to that Land
Come and Go to that Land
Come and Go to that Land – where I'm bound
I have to say, with no practice, prompting or forewarning, the group sounded wonderful.