Christian Students Uniting Opens Its Doors
Tertiary Ministry in Sydney Presbytery
For over 20 years, Tertiary Ministry within the Presbytery of Sydney, has been a vitalising force in the renewal of the Uniting Church. What was once called the ‘Uniting Church in Australia Tertiary Student Association’ (UCATSA), is now called ‘Christian Students Uniting’ (CSU).
In Sydney Presbytery, CSU has student groups at New South Wales University, University of Technology Sydney, the University of Sydney, and the Conservatorium of Music, with groups in other Presbyteries including at the Macquarie University and the University of Newcastle.
The purpose of Christian Students Uniting is to help create future leaders of the Uniting Church and community with a solid theological foundation and a social justice focus. CSU’s motto, ‘Keeping Faith, Doing Justice and Building Community’, works hand-in-hand with its commitment to building up our UCA congregations.
Through on-campus confessional Bible study, together with public engagement around issues of social justice and through participation in intentional community and congregational life –Tertiary Ministry has been able to harness the enthusiasm of cohorts of young adults.
As CSU has grown and evolved over the years – the Tertiary Ministry team is now discerning how Christ is calling them to evolve into future. Part of this process has required asking some hard questions. For instance, what is CSU’s value and relevance to the whole church?
How We Understand Tertiary Ministry
Tertiary Ministry, through its evangelism and discipleship formation on campus and through gatherings like the annual ‘School of Discipleship’, has played a key (and somewhat mischievous) role in the lives hundreds of young adults – challenging their assumptions and enabling them to find their God given calling in service and ministry within the church and wider community.
In fact, 13 Uniting Church Ministers have been formed, at least in part, by CSU’s Tertiary Ministry programs. Further to this, CSU’s former (and current) students have gone into diverse vocational areas – while remaining committed to the building-up of ‘the whole church’; demonstrated by the way its staff, students and grads have served throughout the congregations, councils and agencies of the UCA as well as in other denominations.
For 20 plus years, Tertiary Ministry within the Presbytery of Sydney has been providing a solid biblical and justice orientated foundation upon which our graduates have decided to be Christ-followers and world-changers in whatever they do.
Over the years, Tertiary Ministry has been continually blessed with extraordinary Chaplains, Mission Workers and students who have contributed to this strong, radical history, with Christ at the centre.
The Tertiary Resource Oversight Committee (TROC), has been working to increase the visibility, understanding and relevance of CSU and Tertiary Ministry within Sydney Presbytery and across the Synod. This has required a process of discernment and the space to reimage this ministry. The Committee is asking itself questions like; how is Christ calling us to evolve into the future? And what could Tertiary Ministry look like if it was truly a ministry of the whole church?
Through this process of reflection, the notion that this ministry requires more than the participation of a few committed congregations – that it actually requires a clearer ‘seeing’ and ‘understanding’ among all congregations within and beyond Sydney Presbytery has become core to what the future holds.
At times, like much of the church, CSU has found itself in ‘competition’, rather than in ‘community’ – for funding, for bums-on-seats, for attention and for relevancy. Given this, vital opportunities to grow and to lead the church to life, have been missed. The hard truth is, CSU has not made it its mission to participate outside of its own silos. Consequently, it has not created enough avenues for wider church and community engagement.
The model of Tertiary Ministry that exists within Sydney Presbytery, cannot continue to be the concern of a few congregations – to succeed it must become a ministry of the whole church. The task in front of the CSU team, is to ensure that the future of Tertiary Ministry has a vibrant and on-going tradition of broad-based congregational participation – one that is mutually beneficial and relevant.
The first step for CSU is to open its doors. To this end, Christian Students Uniting is thrilled to invite you to the first ‘Open Door Fortnight’. As the name suggests, over the next fortnight – CSU’s doors are open to you. From 21 May to 3 June, you are invited to take part in the weekly Bible studies, worship services and social events of Christian Students Uniting. This is your invitation to participate – to see and understand who CSU is and what this ministry is all about.
The CSU Tertiary Ministry team is committed to ensuring that this campaign is the beginning of something fresh and vital – a more open and more inclusive way of doing university ministry.
The CSU Open Door Fortnight runs from 21 May to 3 June. Learn more or RSVP for an event here
Jono Hirt is the Communications Manager for Sydney Presbytery