Living Church Synod 2019: An opportunity for great change

Living Church Synod 2019: An opportunity for great change

The Living Church Synod 2019 represents a pivotal opportunity for the church to stop looking backwards, to determine it wants to grow and to seek the unique role God has for the future of the church, the General Secretary of the Synod of NSW and ACT, Jane Fry, said today.

Rev. Fry said Synod 2017 had generated a mood of ‘courage and hopeful’ conviction that set a foundation for significant change. She said this was an acknowledgment that tomorrow’s church may look very different from the church of yesterday or even today.

“Since the last Synod, a number of experiences have demonstrated that we can collaborate effectively, we can work to make real change and we can do this in the interests of a living, growing church,” she said.

“Along the way, there were lots of OMG moments, when the mountain in front of us seemed insurmountable. But along the way as well – and most surprisingly – there have been as many, if not more, moments of blessing when the spirit of Synod 2017 erupted again in words of encouragement and signs of enthusiasm.”

Rev. Fry said this work meant that Synod 2019 comes at a time when a number of longstanding difficulties have been resolved. The process of addressing a ‘structural misalignment’ that had previously led to a reluctance or inability to collaborate across the councils and entities of Synod is underway.

“This Synod promises to be very different. We have had an amazing response with 364 people attending, the biggest ever. Of these 105 people are new, attending a Synod gathering for the first time and of the delegates 60 people are under the age of 35,” Rev. Fry said.

“Normally Synod is reactive, but today we have the opportunity to discern what God is calling us into for the future. It is why we have new voices at Synod to challenge us.”

Rev. Fry said Synod speakers included Wayside Chapel’s Jon Owen, who would look at the church’s role among the marginalised in our communities: Joshua Owen who would address both the advocacy and the grass-roots work the church needs to take on Climate Action and author Karina Kreminski who will focus on the church’s mission in the local neighbourhood.

“These provocative voices will address the critical issues of the world and the church’s role in bringing hope and life in our communities. They will provide the context to organise ourselves, to bear witness in a world crying out for good news,” Rev. Fry said.

“In the past we have never been able to have a productive debate about growth. I believe growth is a deliberate decision. We need to choose to grow.”

Rev. Fry said the Uniting church’s commitment to inclusive theology and its focus on social justice meant it had a critical role to play in society today.

“In a world compromised by climate change, challenged by inequity, insecurity and injustice, a Living Church is hopefully and practically committed to the wellbeing of creation; compassionately dedicated to the flourishing of human beings and human communities; and is creative, disruptive and daring in its witness.

“A Living Church dares to live by a different narrative — to make a Jesus-shaped difference in the world.”

Rev. Fry closed with a challenge to Synod. “Now we need to take up the challenge of organising and equipping ourselves to join God’s work in the world – living church, living witness, living hope for the sake of Jesus Christ. We’re all in this together – let’s do it.”

Martin Thomas

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