Serving our living church

Insights asked leadership across Uniting Financial Services, Uniting, Uniting Resources and Uniting Mission and Education to reflect on the year that was and the year that will be. Together they hope that Christmas will be a time of blessing and renewal. This time, hear from Uniting Resources – Chief Operating Officer, Albert Olley

Advent, what a great time to reflect on service and what it means for the staff of Uniting Resources to be in service for our church.

Mark 10:42 – 45: So Jesus called them and said to them:

“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognise as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Working in a shared service environment, particularly in the church, provides great opportunities to live out the words of Mark to serve our communities.  However, we do not strive to be first amongst anyone but to serve our living church and support those in ministry and mission.

For a shared service to truly serve our communities there needs to be collaboration, communication, shared expectation of the outcome and a shared respect. As one of my team explained:

“The success and focus of 2018 was about really taking the time to understand what drives our people and congregations and what our people and congregations need in order to be and feel safe.”

Uniting Resources plays a pivotal role in the life of the church across the NSW and ACT Synods, assisting congregations, presbyteries, missions and agencies fulfil their mission and ministries to the communities they serve.  This is a relational role. At times in these relationships, it might seem like the ‘cart is before the horse’ and at other times like we are walking on the beach hand-in-hand celebrating how we together achieve God’s work.

Most people who interact with the Uniting Resources team do so through either a property transaction, an insurance claim, are employed in one of the 90+ payrolls we process or are looking for legal guidance on a church matter. These are the housekeeping and hygiene aspects of doing the business of the church that allows mission and ministry to occur.

What you may not be aware of is the way the team stand beside and support congregations through difficult and challenging situations.

“This is the second church council meeting I have attended in a month to discuss highly sensitive and difficult issues relating to persons of concern. Often the answer is not simple and is definitely not one conversation.  It is a long, drawn out process that is the cause of quite a bit of pain and trauma for congregations. This evening demonstrated the importance of spending time with people, listening to them and really seeking to understand what they need in order to feel comfortable and safe.” – Nicole, Head of Compliance and Legal.

Here are some more reflections from team members to highlight our priorities this year:

“A reflection from a Synod Risk Oversight Committee meeting where we discussed how at our heart, the Church is a benevolent organisation that exists for the support of our people and our communities.  This sits at the heart of what I feel the Risk team has achieved this year. We have worked hard to build relationships within Presbyteries and Congregations, with our agencies and with our counter-parts working with the other Boards to support each other. As we are a people centred organisation, the building of relationships takes time and I often have to remind myself that we are on a journey together and not treat it as a race to the end!” – Brigid, Risk Operations Manager.

“For me, 2018 has been far more than just activities, projects and programs – although there was a lot done, noticeably introducing a new system of Speak Out, building a Safe Church Unit, implementing and monitoring a person of concern register and processes, building a risk team, improving responses to survivors, keeping congregations safe and focusing on tools, resources and support for congregations rather than just policies and training. These were all worthwhile and necessary activities.” – Nicole, Head of Compliance and Legal.

“I am proud of the many committed and engaged people and groups that make up the Uniting Church, and especially of our Synod staff and leadership who work very hard and with great passion to support the many and varied activities of the church.” – Roxanne, Human Resources Manager.

“When we look amidst all our Uniting Church entities, we find our wonderful Schools who day-in and day-out pursue excellence in education, mission and ministry works for the next generation of Australians. This 2018 has been a notable for being able to work with five of our schools who reached out to build closer relationships with the Church and at the same time looking to improve on their entity structure and what best practice governance should look like into the future.” – Bradley, Project Manager Schools Incorporation.

“We have streamlined and improved the experience of the many people using our church Venues (conference centres) to service the needs of the wider church.  In all we do, we always remember our core purpose as part of the churches mission as we care for our 30,000+ guests.” – Daniel, Uniting Venues Manager.

As we wrap up 2018, our desire this Christmas is for people to embrace the acceptance of others and to show respect for people’s beliefs and choices. We are all proud of the many committed and engaged people and groups that make up our Church. As a new COO, I have been especially moved by the Synod staff and leadership team who work passionately, enthusiastically and diligently to support the many and varied activities of the church.

Looking to 2019 the aspirations of myself and my team include:

  • Improving the way we facilitate and support mission and ministry across the church through improving efficiency and our responsiveness.
  • Building a servant leadership and service culture that focusses on service and, where possible, problem solving
  • Equipping and supporting healthy congregations through strong trusted relationships and the gifts and talents of the team
  • Participating as part of the whole of church team building vibrant communities
  • Celebrating as part of God’s team working as one, without barriers and boundaries, where we allow the gifts of God’s spirit to flow and our church to be the church of reconciliation and renewal

We are excited about continuing to spend time in 2019 with the wider Church community, meeting more people and sharing more stories.

As you celebrate Advent and Christmas, may this time of year be a time of reconciliation, renewal and rejuvenation; and may the words from the Angel to the Shepherds in Luke 2: 10 – 11 energise each one of us in service of our Lord as we live out his calling on each of our lives and we are sent in service filled with the holy spirit, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”




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