28th Moderator calls for church to reclaim its role in the community
Uniting Church members travelled from the far corners of the Synod of NSW and the ACT to celebrate the opening of Synod 2017 and the installation of The Rev. Simon Hansford as Moderator, at St Stephen’s Uniting Church.
Ex Moderator Rev. Myung Hwa Park acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and welcomed more than 300 members, friends and special ecumenical visitors, “As we gather we acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and we recognise that this land is sacred land.”
Rev. Hansford is the 28th Moderator of The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of New South Wales and the ACT and will serve the Church as Moderator until September 2020.
In his homily Rev. Simon Hansford spoke of the church becoming relegated to the sidelines and to the margins and of a community being increasingly fractured. He spoke of the role of the church and the need to reclaim its place in the community. He said, “In our worst moments we don’t say where is God, we know there is God, with us in our weakness and our most broken and the story reminds us that we are not left there, as Christ is not left there.
“But God’s love and forgiveness, justice and hope will always have the last word. Not death, not tyrants, not destruction but God’s love and hope in Jesus Christ.
“God is in the midst not because we manage or lead well, but because God is a God of grace.”
Rev. Hansford challenged members to consider in the coming days at the Synod meeting to consider, “Are we guardians of the past watching the world go by or are we witnesses of now, of a God who is with us now?
Acting General Secretary Rev. Jane Fry said, “We ask our Moderator to lead and encourage the church in God’s mission and our witness to the hope and love of God; to listen and articulate a vision for the future of the Church. The Moderator is called to be the pastor of the people of God and to remind us of whom we serve and who we are called to be.”
The Blessing and laying of hands on Rev. Simon Hansford was conducted by President Stuart McMillan and former Moderators Jim Mein and Rev. Niall Reid, Ex Moderator Rev. Myung Hwa Par, Rev. Ken Day, Rev. Jane Fry and Rev. John Thornton.
Rev. Hansford said he sees his time as Moderator as an opportunity for Uniting Church members in NSW and the ACT to articulate their experience of God, “It is not simply serving those in need, but sharing the living hope and compassion of Jesus Christ in whom we find ourselves made whole.