What better way to commemorate International Women’s Day than to hear from our all female ModSquad. For those who don’t know the moderators who represent each Synod in Uniting Church in Australia happen to be inspiring women who have made it their mission to share and serve God’s word.
At Yurora 2017 all four moderators and former South Australian moderator, Dr Deidre Palmer, came together for a memorable panel discussion on leadership and more specifically female leadership.
The following is an excerpt from the Crosslight feature by Penny Mulvey who attended the panel and interviewed the ModSquad:
At this moment in time the Uniting Church in Australia has four female moderators and a female president elect. These leaders capture the face of the Uniting Church.
The Rev Myung Hwa Park, of the NSW/ACT synod, is Korean. Rev Thresi (pronounced Tracey) Mauboy Wohangara, moderator of the Northern synod, is Indonesian. Rev Sue Ellis from South Australia is a country woman who was ordained later in life and Rev Sharon Hollis of VicTas, felt God’s call as a 21 year old.
Dr Deidre Palmer, former SA moderator and president elect has a Master of Religious Education, a Master of Social Work and a Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Education and Theology.
At the panel, each moderator was asked to share a little about themselves and what they understood the role of moderator to be.
Myung Hwa spoke about how uncanny life can be but that nothing surprises God.
“God has planned, God has prepared everything in my life,” the NSW/ACT moderator said. “God uses the small to share the big.”
She urged the young audience to consider discerning God’s will through Biblical study.
A ‘shepherd’ is how Myung Hwa described the moderator role. “The shepherd is just a humble person who considered the animal’s life more important than their own.”
Thresi undertook her initial theological training in Indonesia and was ordained as a Minister of the Word in the GMIT (Evangelical Church of West Timor) church in Soe West Timor in 1992. Three years later she moved to Darwin to be with her husband, and initially learnt English watching Sesame Street and the Wiggles with her young son Liusem.
The invitation extended to Thresi to consider offering for moderator was an absolute bolt out of the blue, but her guiding motto in life is “I don’t pray for an opportunity but pray that I will be ready when the opportunity comes”.
Thresi’s key leadership tip for the delegates was ‘be who you are’. “I come to serve, not to be served,” she reminded them of Jesus’ words.
The wisdom kept tumbling out.
Sue had three tips:
- Know Jesus. It is His life that is in us.
- Know yourself. Know who’s you are and know yourself. God has chosen you. You are not here by accident.
- Know your church. Know what the church values. It values men and women in leadership together.
Myung Hwa said as a leader it is important to know when to pray and understanding the importance of prayer. She gently spoke of the added difficulties which come up as a non-Anglo leader. While she didn’t want to dwell on some of the blockages she has encountered such as rudeness and failure to recognise her role, she did say that being different gives her an added perspective.
And she broadened my understanding of theology when she said “the Word became flesh – that is a cross-cultural experience”.
She and Thresi were in agreement about the important role cross-cultural leaders play as they are teaching each other to appreciate and value difference.
Sharon stressed that struggle is part of the human condition.
“Tough stuff happens to us. God is with us in that and we have to accept the reality of it. As part of dealing with the struggles and demands, it is important to know when to replenish and what gives you life. This will be different for everyone,” said Sharon.
They also have a shared view of the future of the Uniting Church. They cannot predict what the church will look like in 10 years’ time. The gathered young people were urged to be bold and to remember that they are part of a hopeful faith.
As Sharon reminded Yurora participants: “The Church is in good hands, because it is in the hands of God.”
Pictured: (From left) Rev Sue Ellis (SA), Rev Sharon Hollis (VicTas), Rev Myung Hwa Park (NSW/ACT), Rev Thresi (NT) and Dr Deidre Palmer.