Change is hard, uncomfortable and disruptive – but needed
In his message to gathered members, The General Secretary Rev. Dr Andrew Williams spoke about how difficult change would and can be, but encouraged members that change could happen, with God’s mission identified and a serious look at the governance of the Church.
“Change is hard,uncomfortable and disruptive,” noted Rev. Dr Williams, but he stressed that, “we need a collective of leadership courageous enough to look forward, set bold new directions, connect people at the deepest level at their hopes and aspirations, believe the transformation that is possible, and embrace a fresh collective purpose and way of doing things.”
“It’s clear that as a Church we do a good job of building a system of checks and balances, to assure that no one can tell us what to do. We have developed a system of leadership that is shared rather than being the province of a single person. At the same time we long for leaders and feel that we are in a crisis because of a lack of leadership in our Church today, in our local congregations, in our presbyteries and in the broader Church.”
“This hunger for leadership is intense in our local Congregations as well as in our Presbytery, Synod and Assembly offices. In congregation after congregation there is a deeply felt need for spiritual and numerical growth for renewal and for a strong witness to the community and the world.
“There is a hunger for leaders who can empower that renewal, and there is a growing sense that we don’t always have the leaders that we need. We struggle to find such leadership and we struggle to develop and find an agreeable form of governance to deliver us a Church that is described in the Basis Of Union and which we talk about in the Synod Mission Plan.
“I have often heard people remark that Churches don’t like change, that they provide a refuge from change or that they resist change. I may have even made these comments once or twice. But in the end I can’t figure this out, in the New Testament Jesus asks everyone to change. With the exception of children, Jesus insists that every person he meets do something and change.
“The whole message of the Christian scripture is based on the idea of ‘metanoia’, the change of heart when we meet God face to face. Even a cursory knowledge of history reveals that Christianity is about change, the Christian faith always changes even when its adherents don’t.
The General Secretary explained that release from the burden of over-governance has been faced by the United Church of Canada and the Protestant Church of the Netherlands (both union churches of similar make up to our own) who are looking for a simplified structure of governance which empowers and releases from the burden of over governance. Coversations on governance in our Church will continue and be informed by the work that has been and will be done. The General Secretary urged the meeting that governance needs to change in the Uniting Church and that we “need the courage that allows us to change for the good of God’s mission.”
Boards then reported across the organisation from Uniting Mission and Education, Uniting, Uniting Resources and Uniting Financial Services and took questions from the floor.