Andrew Johnson to depart Hope Uniting Church for Newtown Mission
After thirteen years in the dual role of Hope Uniting Church Ministry Leader and UNSW Chaplain, Rev. Andrew Johnson is finishing up in January 2021. From February, he will be the new Senior Minister at Newtown Mission, a role that he says he is “nervous and excited” about. Insights spoke to Rev. Johnson about this new chapter in his ministry.
Located at Maroubra Junction in Sydney’s east, Hope Uniting Church is a diverse community. It is linked to the tertiary ministry at the nearby University of New South Wales (UNSW). Since 2008, Rev. Johnson has held the role of Ministry Leader and Chaplain.
“Whether it’s the UNSW bible studies spending time exploring theological rabbit holes with students, the Wednesday morning hymn singing, or the BBQ Sundays – it’s the time with such faithful friends that I will miss,” Rev. Johnson said.
“Similarly, the shared journeying with the Hope Ministry team over many years has been an ongoing source of support and friendship. Who knew Bec Lindsay could survive sharing an office with me for nearly eight years and still remain such a valued friend and colleague?
“In all of these places and groups, it’s been the sharing of our stories, our doubts and hopes, and the constant suspicion that God has been in the midst of things that has been so lifegiving.”
“Hope Uniting has some big dreams about mission and engagement with this south eastern part of Sydney. Yet throughout the swings and roundabouts of strategies and property planning, they’ve grown into an incredibly gentle and diverse community.”
Rev. Johnson described the Hope Uniting Church community as one that is, “multi-generational, different theologies, and quietly committed to listening to one another.”
“In my experience that’s both valuable and rare. Wherever these strategies lead, this gentle, diverse graciousness will be a foundation stone for the Hope community.”
Rev. Johnson told Insights he is looking forward to his new role.
“Newtown Mission is a large canvas that crackles with energy and creativity. The swirling mix of the Jordan Cafe serving people on King St, The Creative Arts Centre in Annandale, the Tongan community, and throughout each of these the many, many people engaged in exploring Christian discipleship makes for a rich and diverse community. There’s a real sense of faithfulness that wonders, “What’s the next season that we’re entering into with God?”
“I’m very lucky to be joining that mix and that journey next year. What does it mean to be a community of faithful discernment? How can we listen to the movement of the Spirit within the church, and throughout the local community? I’m excited to continue exploring these questions with the church in Newtown.”
Tertiary chaplaincy, “one of the furnaces for faith to be tested”
While Rev. Johnson is departing tertiary chaplaincy, which he has been involved in since his own undergraduate studies, he remains a passionate advocate for what he considers to be a cutting edge ministry.
“Tertiary Chaplaincy has been a central part of my life since 1996, and I am so grateful that the Uniting Church has been invested in this ministry,” he said.
“The opportunity to be involved in faith formation with staff and students is both a privilege for me personally, but also a core responsibility for the church as a whole. It’s not only about the formation of future leadership for the church, as crucial as that is.
“Tertiary chaplaincy is one of the furnaces for faith to be tested in conversation with biomedical engineering, Australian law and international development, and the constantly unfolding climate crisis amongst many other fields. We should never be afraid of being questioned and challenged.”
“As a church we should continue to be ready to step up to the plate of tertiary ministry (and our funding should match this commitment!)”