Auditorium filled for Hunter local’s start as church head
State and Federal MPs, ecumenical guests and Uniting Church people, including its President, the Rev. Alistair Macrae, filled the auditorium at the Newcastle Conservatorium to take part in the opening service and installation of the new Moderator of the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT on September 23.
The Rev. Dr Brian Brown, who has been ministering at Hamilton Broadmeadow Uniting Church in Newcastle since 2000, will serve the Synod as its 26th Moderator for the next three years.
The Synod’s theme in 2011 is “On new and risky paths” — a theme Dr Brown believes will help the church to stay true to its prophetic calling to hold spirituality and social justice together.
The “paths” imagery featured throughout all parts of the opening service’s liturgy.
“I give you these clapping sticks to accompany you on the journey and a Coolamon to give you refreshment,” said Dianne Torrens, Chairperson of the Synod’s Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
Those gifts were complemented by the more conventional ministry symbols of Bible, stole and a cross.
The Lord’s Prayer was spoken in the Awabakal dialect by Gwenda Bromnell and Howard Amery. As traditional owners of the land in the region, the Awabakal people were also acknowledged.
“May the road rise to meet you,” sang New Lambton Uniting Church A Capella Group as Dr Brown knelt to be prayed for by the immediate past Moderator, the Rev. Niall Reid.
Jennifer Barnes sang “The Galilee Song”, the refrain of which tells of leaving familiar shores behind in order chart deeper waters to follow God.
The words of a hymn written by the Synod’s General Secretary, the Rev. Dr Andrew Williams, included references to being on a road that leads to wholeness, a road to understanding, and a road which all may travel.
Walk with Jesus
In his address, Dr Brown said each day Synod members would explore an aspect of the theme: Following God; Walking with Jesus; Led by the Spirit; and Going out … on new and risky paths.
The Hunter Presbytery is hosting the Synod meeting, which runs from Friday September 23 until Tuesday September 27 at the University of Newcastle.
As well as daily business sessions, table discussions, Bible studies and worship, Synod members and others will take part in fun and informative electives:
- Saturday September 24 includes a beach picnic, a concert at Adamstown Uniting Church.
- Sunday September 25 includes a “Feast of Stories”, a cross-cultural worship and meal and sessions of eco worship and being a church through a fair trade café.
- Tuesday September 27 includes free 8 am breakfast outside the Great Hall — with vegan, vegetarian and meat options available.