Bradon French has concluded his work as the youth consultant for the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and the ACT after six years in the role.
Bradon’s leadership, discipleship and contributions were celebrated in a Closure of Ministry Service held at North Rocks Community Church on Tuesday, 10 April. His Closure of Ministry service was attended by many from all areas of his ministry. Auburn Uniting Church’s choir acknowledged in song thanks for the discipleship and mentoring he has offered them in the six years he has worked for Uniting Mission and Education (UME), first as the Next Gen consultant, and more recently as the Pulse Consultant.
Interim Executive Director of UME, Rev. Tara Curlewis opened the service with thanks for Bradon’s many gifts and concluded it with a heartfelt send-off.
One of his many areas of responsibility was spearheading the introduction of Pulse, a project which plans to identify “and grow vital Christian communities where emerging generations thrive” which was introduced and passed at Synod 2017.
Rev. Duncan Macleod described Bradon’s work as reshaping NCYC into Yurora, and galvanising the ministry and mission of migrant communities to be leaders giving “shape and vision to where God is at work amongst the younger members of the UCA.”
“We have been blessed by the faithful exercising of your gifts for ministry, your infectious sense of humour and your ability to inspire and encourage the young and the old,” Duncan said.
“You have a gift of gently challenging long held practices and exposing inconsistencies in our actions and we are better for it.”
The Rev. Charissa Suli preached the sermon. She recalled meeting Bradon in the early 2000s and having her impression of him change over time.
“My first impression of Bradon early 2000’s during his time at Balgowlah he was the weird white guy who walked barefoot at church events to the white guy who has a stunning wife and how did that happen to the guy you wanted to hang out with and get to know because he was on to something,” Rev. Suli recalled.
“He was courageous, he was different, he always thought outside the box, a little extra, challenging the status quo, breaking down barriers, willing to walk unfamiliar territory, bridging gaps between cultural groups, generations and councils of our church and be the first person to say “I don’t know and I’m not going to pretend to know but I am willing to learn and walk alongside you.”
“God is doing a new thing”
Rev. Suli preached from Luke 5:36-39, “The Parable of the Wineskins”. This parable explores the tension between old and new.
The sermon was a passionate call on the Synod to trust in what God had in store for the Church.
“You simply can’t fit new experiences of God, of the kingdom, of joy, into old expectations and frameworks,” Rev. Suli said during her sermon.
“Jesus, the new vision of the Kingdom challenges and threatens old paradigms to the point where the keepers of those paradigms would rather get rid of Jesus in order to preserve their old expectation than entertain a new idea.
“In short, Jesus ushers in a new era in which God seeks to be in relationship with us in a new way.”
“Now it all sounds good, doesn’t it? Yes, but it’s also a little ominous. Torn cloaks and bursting skins isn’t something anyone wants, but that’s what’s bound to happen because we find it difficult, incredibly difficult, to give up the old for the new.”
Rev. Suli related this tension to the Synod’s loss of Bradon. She referred to trepidation many would no doubt experience, as new people will now have to step up in his absence.
“Although Bradon’s ministry ends here in this place, in this season, and in this time, in this Synod, the Spirit of God continues to move,” she said.
“Bradon is testifying to us tonight that it is time for new wine to be poured into new wineskins. There are times in our ministry when it’s ok to have old wineskins burst, so that we can sharpen our hearing just a little bit better so that we can hear the voice of Jesus and refocus our mission to ensure that, yes, we are still following… Jesus Christ.”
Bradon will now move into a role with the Priorities, Focus and Advocacy team in the Vic/Tas Synod, commencing on 30 April.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor