Sydney Presbytery Paves the Way for Rural and Regional Ministry Growth
Sydney Presbytery, a vital part of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT, has stepped up to significantly bolster the work of rural and regional ministry. This act of generosity aligns perfectly with the Uniting Church’s Future Directions strategic commitment, emphasising the importance of serving the community and promoting unity among its members.
Following the sale of a property in Petersham, Sydney Presbytery, known for its strong commitment to social justice and serving local communities, entered into a process of discernment with the Synod around the use of the sales proceeds.
There was a clear sense from Sydney Presbytery that they wanted to share a portion of the proceeds to invest in mission and ministry beyond themselves and it was decided in June this year to contribute $1.7m towards rural and regional ministry initiatives through the Synod Growth Fund, ensuring that vital ministry and mission continues to flourish and positively impact rural communities.
Empowering Rural and Regional Communities
The funds from Sydney Presbytery will contribute to recent Growth Fund grants to Dubbo Uniting Church and Macquarie Darling Presbytery to support ministry to emerging generations. Rural and regional ministry initiatives play a crucial role in supporting vulnerable communities, providing assistance to those in need, and promoting inclusivity. Whether it’s supporting families in drought-affected regions, providing pastoral care in remote areas, or offering ministry opportunities in communities, these programs will be instrumental in uplifting lives and communities.
“This project brings together our Dubbo Project and the Macquarie Darling Presbytery Project, ensuring that the work of the two projects is collaborative, and that the best use of resourcing and opportunity happens,” said Deacon, Rev. Mel Graham of the funding which has supported three positions across Dubbo and Macquarie Darling Presbytery.
The part-time Music Director position at Dubbo Uniting Church is focused on the emerging generation and intergenerational ministry to build up a larger healthier and younger congregation in Dubbo Uniting Church.
The Emerging Generations worker will facilitate strategic planning, update digital presence and ability, build resources, facilitate events, and enable the development of discipleship and leadership pathways. The Emerging Generations worker will help Dubbo Uniting Church grow younger, through having the ability to plan events, disciple a younger generation and grow leadership pathways by training leadership, supporting youth focused ministry and their leaders, mentoring and guiding, building resources to support this ministry, planning and implementing events aimed at youth, taking seriously the discipleship of the first thirds people, and be a prophetic voice to the congregation, church, and community.
“As the First Nations community is inside our church and on our door step we hope both ministries together with our Deacon Rev Mel and the congregation will focus time to build good lasting, authentic relationships in our community,” said Rev. Graham.
“Dubbo Uniting Church is so very very grateful for these generous grants and the faithfulness of the wider church to invest in the resurrection of young rural ministry today and in the future. So very grateful!”
With the generous backing from the Sydney Presbytery, ministry with youth and young people within the Macquarie Darling region can now grow in capacity, and, most importantly, continue to bring hope and strength to those communities.
“As the Presbytery Minister of Sydney Presbytery, I am deeply moved by our commitment to Leading the Church to Life and reaching out to rural communities;” says Rev. Charissa Suli.
“This generous act of sharing reflects the essence of our faith—a unity that transcends geographical boundaries and a compassion that knows no limits. Together, we are not only supporting vulnerable communities but also lighting the path towards a brighter and more unified future for the entire Uniting Church especially in rural and regional areas”.
All in this Together
Director of Mission, Rev. Glen Spencer was deeply encouraged by the generous and collaborative nature throughout the inter-conciliar conversations: “The process reflected a genuine sense of discernment: listening deeply to the Spirit and each other about how to best use the common wealth of the church to serve the mission of God in this instance. There was a recognition of the differing needs and resources across the breadth of this Synod and a commitment to being all in this together.”
Ian Goff, is Sydney Presbytery General Manager.
“This has been a wonderful project to work on and see the rewards of good and faithful work,” he said.
“Many years ago, the Congregation came to the Presbytery saying their worship site did not suit their purpose and was hindering their mission. They needed a larger space, and together with the Presbytery the plan was to sell this site and renovate an alternative one with any excess funds after project costs; to be considered for wider church sharing.
“An alternate UCA site was renovated, and post-sale not only were we able to set up the Congregation with a 10-year sinking fund, there was also significant value to be shared across the wider church with gifts freely given to the UAICC, Synod Operations and Rural Ministry.”
A Vision of Unity and Growth
The Uniting Church’s Future Directions strategic commitment is a forward-thinking vision that underscores the church’s commitment to First Peoples, rural and remote ministry, people in the first third of their lives, stewardship of the earth, growth in and through Congregations and Presbyteries and living as a multi-cultural, cross-cultural and inter-cultural Church. These commitments aren’t confined to the urban centres, but extend deep into rural and regional areas, where the challenges are often unique and the resources scarce.
Sydney Presbytery, driven by these same commitments, recognises the importance of bridging the urban-rural divide and promoting a sense of unity among its members across different regions. To realise this vision, they have pledged their support to rural and regional ministry efforts.
“This was a remarkable demonstration of our Church’s collective strength, with three Councils working together for a common goal. The Congregation collaborated with their Presbytery, and together with our Synod, they turned the dreams and vision of the Congregation into reality,” said Ian Goff of the process and outcome.
A Testament to Unity and Compassion
The Uniting Church, through the Sydney Presbytery’s commitment to rural and regional ministry, is demonstrating the values of unity, compassion, and social justice. This initiative serves as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the Church and its members to build stronger communities, bridge gaps, and support one another, regardless of geographical boundaries.
As Sydney Presbytery paves the way for rural and regional ministry growth through this financial support, they not only embody the worship, witness and service of the Uniting Church, but also inspire others in their generosity, supporting this crucial area of ministry in rural and remote areas of NSW.