Moderator calls for prayer as Synod meets
The Moderator of the Uniting Church’s Synod of New South Wales and the ACT has said people’s prayers were crucial for what lay ahead in the 2013 meeting of the Synod and in the life of the church.
The Moderator, the Rev. Dr Brown, was speaking at a prayer gathering before the opening service of the Synod meeting at Knox Grammar School on April 13.
He said the Synod theme, Uniting for the Common Good, borrowed from the church’s delegation to the Sydney Alliance, recognised that “we as a church are connected to our wider community, both in fellowship and in service as we together seek the flourishing of all”.
He said, “In this wider community we recognise that we have both a pastoral and prophetic role, following the way of Jesus Christ.
“The social issues that demand Christian response are multiple and complex, They include our treatment of refugees, the disparity between rich and poor, and, perhaps the most important of all, climate change and global warming due to human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuel.”
He said, “In Sydney itself, we are working as part of the Alliance to address issues of social cohesion, community health and transport.
Dr Brown said the church recognised the realities facing presbyteries and congregations: numbers continued to decline and the average age continued to rise; there was loss, and for some groups the death, of all that was comforting and familiar.”
At the same time, he said, fresh expressions of mission were rife across the Synod, and gave hope “that the God who promises to walk with us every step of the way is doing a new and Pentecostal thing in our midst”.
He said, “All of this means that we need to be organised in such a way as to be effective in the ways and places that our mission takes us.”
The matter of resourcing the church for mission would be an important issue at the Synod meeting, as the Synod faced a temporary deficit of funds for various programs.
“There have been a number of structural changes since the last Synod to enable us to work more efficiently and effectively. When such changes have coincided with the financial stresses there has been pain for some and as a Community of Faith we recognise that in this gathering of Synod.”
He said, “It is obvious but needs to be said that if we are to be effective in serving the Common Good in responding to the big issues of our day, we need to be Uniting for the Common Good in our own gathering.
“It is my fervent prayer that this spirit will pervade the coming meetings, that we will be willing and able to sometimes question our personal agendas and ask the question, “What is the common good in this situation? How would Christ have us decide and act for the flourishing of all, including our natural environment?”
He said that was a big call and people had limits when it came to acting for the good of others “and we need both inspiration and community solidarity to carry us past the roadblocks of self-interest and make Christ-like decisions. We rely on the Grace of God, the example and teaching of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us be the best that we can be.”
Prayers were crucial, not just for what was said and thought “here and now but how we carry that prayerful spirit from here and into the meetings to follow”.