Finding our way in the wilderness
39th Synod NSW.ACT Meeting opens online, asks where the wild God is?
From Parramatta, Burramatagal land of the Darug Nation, the Moderator Rev. Simon Hansford, officially opened the 39th Synod NSW & ACT meeting and welcomed participants in a new way from the comfort of their homes across the state and territory on Wednesday.
The Synod meeting is doing away with its usual once-every-18-months face-to-face sessions in favour of six sessions over six months. Proposals are being put forward on three Wednesday nights between April and August, and discernment will happen on the Saturday mornings after each Wednesday session.
Synod General Secretary Rev. Jane Fry proposed the General Secretary Report which was noted with consensus. Unsurprisingly, the report acknowledges COVID-19 as impeding efforts in many areas. Yet it also credits Zoom meetings during the pandemic for helping to strengthen relationships across the church and encourage deep reflections and conversations about the future. “’What is God doing? Where is God going and what is God asking of the church?’ In the wilderness these are questions we need to pay attention to,” Rev Fry said. “We will run the risk of losing our way in the wilderness when we lose sight of those founding commitments,” she said in regard to the Uniting Church foundational texts such as The Basis of Union and the Statement to the Nation.
The General Secretary also presented the Synod Standing Committee Report alongside SSC Members. The Committee report mentions substantive decisions made since last Synod, including the South West Sector School – Due Diligence Evaluation; Synod Structure Review; Safe Church Unit Policies and Guidelines; Future directions for the People of God on the Way and Walking Together proposals.
As a direct result of the 2019 Synod meeting decision, the Synod launched an online campaign this year (click here to take the simple action) to support the Statement from the Heart. The Walking Together proposal put to Synod on Wednesday outlines continued support for the aspirations of First Nations Peoples as expressed in the Statement from the Heart and lists practical and measurable ways in which Synod, UME, Presbyteries and Congregations can support the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) in NSW/ACT. Nathan Tyson, Synod NSW.ACT Manager, First Peoples Strategy and Engagement introduced the document and explained how it came about before welcoming Mark Kickett Acting Chair of the UAICC. Pastor Kickett spoke on behalf of the UAICC and acknowledged Nathan’s dedication and efforts in creating the detailed action plan put to Synod. “Nathan’s done a phenomenal amount of work in regard to the Walking Together action plan. We just want to express a real sense of oneness as we journey this document with you,” Pastor Kickett said.
Dr Denise Wood from the Synod Business Committee then explained how the discernment groups would run before almost 200 participants broke away into discernment groups and the session was closed for worship. The next session 1B will be held on Saturday 10 April from 9am-1pm. To find out more visit the Synod 2021 page on the Synod website.