Connecting the church
Thirty years of Insights, the magazine that has stitched together stories and images from across the church to inspire, challenge and connect the Uniting Church in this Synod. It’s changed over time as we all have; it’s no longer the only communication ‘channel’ for the Synod, but it still has a very faithful readership and is valued across the Synod. Numerous people have been the custodians of Insights over its thirty year life span and they’ve all put their own stamp on the magazine.
Its production is currently in the hands of the Synod Communications Team – Jonathan Foye (Editor and Content Producer), Rana Moawad (Senior Graphic Designer), and Angela Cadena (Communications Manager), under the management of Adrian Drayton who is an incredibly faithful, thoughtful leader of the Synod communications team and has been a member of the team since 1994!
The creativity, energy and wisdom that Adrian always brings to all the communication needs and challenges of the church is exemplary and, aside from the slightly hectic look in the eye that appears when deadlines aren’t met by Moderators or General Secretaries, can be absolutely relied on to be calm and constructive whatever the circumstances. And that’s all before we take Synod meetings into account! This year, thanks to the pandemic, communications for Synod 2021 have taken on the even greater challenges presented by an online meeting environment.
Communications has changed enormously over the lifespan of the Insights magazine. The channels now include various websites, social media, video, and weekly e-news all directed towards keeping the church connected across the different geographies and generations.
Although the communications landscape has become much more complex, the fundamental task is the same – like the collection of writings that make up the New Testament, witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ, encouraging and resourcing participation in the mission of God, and sharing the ups and downs of the discipleship journey is a constant joy and challenge for the church. This is the story that needs to be told in new ways for every age with tools that are relevant for the times.
Lately, I’ve been re-reading a book by John V. Taylor that I first read in the 1980s. The book is called The Go-Between God: the Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission and was first published in the 1960s. John Taylor was Bishop of Winchester and a CMS missionary in Uganda for many years. Coincidentally, it appears that a new edition has been published in 2021.
This was a startling book when I first read it. It alerted me to the activity of the Holy Spirit working ‘in-between’ to enliven and connect not just in and through Scripture and tradition but also through the beauty of the world, through our intuitions and dreams and all our relationships to sense the joyful liveliness of God within everything. The work of the Spirit is to bring Jesus to our attention so that all our decisions and choices are made with reference to him. This awareness might have had something to do with why I found the Uniting Church Basis of Union call to be a ‘fellowship of reconciliation’ so attractive when the Anglican church and I finally came to a parting of the ways.
It’s also why relationship is nourished by story-sharing, between individuals and in communities. It’s also how we’re connected as church throughout the Synod. The communication channels that we have are not just the means for the ‘Synod’ to download news and information, but are now much more interactive, inclusive and accessible enabling greater connection and, hopefully, growth in discipleship and relationship.
Happy birthday, Insights!