An artful exit: Rod Pattenden eyes February retirement
After decades in ministry, Rev. Dr Rod Pattenden will retire in February 2022.
“I’ve had a long career in the church doing creative things,” he said.
Rev. Dr Pattenden told Insights he will hand over Adamstown Uniting Church’s unique ministry. He believes that this has grown to the point that it is no longer “dependent on a minister.”
Rev. Dr Pattenden said that Adamstown’s arts ministry, Adamstown Arts, had brought people from beyond the church community. Adamstown Arts’ work has included using the church building as a space for performances and exhibitions.
“One woman told me, ‘I don’t go to church, but I find this to be a space of joy,’” he recalled.
“Her perception was that this was a place where joy was cultured.”
“People have drifted into the congregation because they found that joy.”
According to Rev. Dr Pattenden, Adamstown Arts has been a way for the congregation to “express generosity.”
“We’re concerned about what you’re concerned about… climate change, the common good.”
“We’re celebrating life: that doxological part of our faith.”
From April 2020, Rev. Dr Pattenden took some leave to devote time to his art work, something that he plans on delving into more once his retirement starts.
He said that the process of putting time aside during the pandemic to focus on his art was a practice in moving away from being “agenda-driven.”
After spending time toiling away in solitude, he was able to put on an exhibition featuring his work, and that of a few other artists.
“You put it out there, and you have a terrifying moment when you have an opening,” Rev. Dr Pattenden said.
“People have been very appreciative of the work.”
Some of the results of this are work that he is featuring on his new website.
As well as galleries of his paintings, the site features some of his written work, where he reviews and showcases other artists’ work.
While Rev. Dr Pattenden looks forward to the change of pace, he said that he will miss his congregation and his current ministry.
“There’s an interesting bunch of people here,” he said.
He pointed to the layout of the church itself as embodying that the church is open to everyone. This, he said, started with the rainbow staircase leading into the building.
Rev. Dr Pattenden said that he expects that his absence will not hurt Adamstown Uniting Church.
“It’s not dependent on me,” he said.
“This is a highly engaged community that will thrive.”
An experienced art critic, Rev. Dr Pattenden, was previously the Blake Prize for Religious Art chair from 1990 until 2017. He was also the minister at Paddington Uniting Church and the Chaplain at Macquarie University.
Rev. Dr Rod Pattenden’s website is available here.