Prioritising growth

Prioritising growth

The 2019 Synod meeting has heard a proposal to organise the church to prioritise growth.

The wide ranging proposal aims to facilitate the Uniting Church to grow in a number of ways, “to prioritise, promote, and enable growth in discipleship, in relationship, in number, and in impact.”

It “would seek ways to focus on growing the impact being made by our hundreds of congregations in NSW/ACT in their local communities.

“We suggest that we have a strong track-record to leverage, coverage in communities right across our territory and state that can legitimise our voice in the public sphere, and an approach to the way we go about things that is warmly received by the wider Australian community.”

NSW ACT General Secretary Rev. Jane Fry told Insights that the proposal asks “us to think deeply about whether as church, as Uniting Church with a particular understanding of the call of God, we have anything to contribute to the big (really, really big) issues that the world is grappling with and which will likely become more and more challenging the longer we (the human community) put off dealing with them.”

“The only reason to grow as a church is because we believe we are called by the living God to be part of bringing God’s purposes to life and we are committed to and organised towards doing that in hopeful and helpful ways.”

“I’ve been in this church for a long time,” Rev. Fry told the Synod meeting in a prior session. “We struggle to talk about growth.”

The Synod proposal was introduced by Georges River Presbytery’s Rev. Tammy Holland, Sydney Presbytery’s Rev. Kent Crawford, Parramatta Nepean Presbytery’s Rev. Dr Rob McFarlane and Geoff Stevenson, and UME’s David Cornford.

Speaking to the proposal, Rev. Holland said that the proposal was an “outworking” from a process of consultation with presbyteries.

Sharing her own experience of stopping attending church, Rev. Holland began attending a Uniting Church so as to find a potential church for children.

“Through the people at this Uniting Church plant…I experienced personal discipleship growth.

“It set me on the path through specified ministry.”

“Growth is not limited to church plant. Growth can be part of any congregation.”

Growth, the session reminded, is not focused entirely on attendance, but also encompasses impact and discipleship.

Rev. Crawford called for people to imagine being at Synod in 2029. The session then involved people acting out what growth would be like ten years from now if the church embraced a focus on growth. Liuanga Halaifonua Palu played the part of Moderator in 2029.

The proposal will be considered by discernment groups.

For all the resolutions from Synod 2019: Living Church visit the Uniting Church in NSW and ACT website.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor

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