Act2: In Response to God’s Call
The third report of the Uniting Church Assembly’s Act2 Project, Act2: In Response to God’s Call, was received at Synod 2023.
The Synod Standing Committee delivered a response to the report, delivered by Rev. Dr Rob McFarlane.
The Synod commended the Standing Committee for its work in considering the report. An amendment called for the Synod Standing Committee to respond back to the Act 2 steering committee, noting its support and passing along feedback from the discernment groups.
The report is the result of one of the most comprehensive and ambitious direct consultation processes the Assembly has undertaken and brings together theological reflections and possible future directions for the church.
“Earlier this year, Act2 moved through the Explore phase where the team intentionally went out to our church and listened to what you had to say…. We heard about the hopes people have for the future of our church and the fears about the burdens and the complexities of our responsibilities,” President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev. Sharon Hollis said.
“We heard about the opportunities that are springing up when we open ourselves to God’s call in the communities in which we serve and the faithfulness of people to act on that call and how that desire to act can be impacted by insufficient resourcing or unhelpful structures.”
“We are now in the phase where we are focused on the collective discernment phase of Act 2. We are God’s people and God’s church. And as we look to the future, we have to do so with hearts open to where God is leading us with joy as we see the opportunities that will come, as we are inspired by the Spirit and with the intentional honesty to admit where we are and how we find ourselves as a church in the current moment,” Rev. Hollis said.
Discernment Groups considered the report during the Synod Meeting’s second day.
One of the comments commended the Act 2 process: “I am glad that there are good people doing the work. It is important, lots in the system that’s broken and there is a need to simplify structures. Decluttering needs to happen. The models in the report strengthen the area councils. The work is heading in the right direction.”
One question asked to consider how the Act 2 process might fit with the Synod’s other work, including the Presbytery Project.
Presbytery Project Minister Rev. Rob McFarlane said that addressing this concern required the church’s councils to continue communicating while addressing their own work.
“If any one body waits for another, we’ll wait forever. It’s about keeping communication alive,” Rev. McFarlane said.
“All four councils are working through their own stuff…We all swim in our lane, but we’re in the same swimming pool.”
Another point of feedback suggested that the church should reconsider priorities: “Fighting over who does what sucks the energy from mission. Can we bias our work toward mission, discipleship and less toward structures?”
Assembly will continue to engage with stakeholders about the report and its options until the end of November 2023.
For more information and to view a copy of all the reports visit the Act 2 website here.
Jo Maloney and Jonathan Foye