Synod 2023: What to expect
The first in-person NSW and ACT Synod meeting since the COVID pandemic began will take place from 15 to 18 September. The meeting will be held at the Katoomba Christian Convention Centre.
The growth agenda will be a major theme for the meeting. In 2019, the Synod agreed to prioritise growth in impact, number, and discipleship, and the 2023 meeting will seek to renew this commitment.
The Synod meeting will consider eight proposals from various sectors of the church. Topics range from gambling reform to raising the age of criminal responsibility from 14 years old as is currently the case in NSW and the ACT.
The Synod’s Director of Mission Glen Spencer will introduce a paper about church planting. According to Rev. Spencer, the paper will invite the Uniting Church to increase efforts in encouraging, supporting, and resourcing church panting across NSW and the ACT.
“Church planting as such is not the work of an organisation, it is the work of the Spirit,” he previously wrote.
“However, God invites those of us who are called to serve the organisational life of the church, through its various inter-related councils, to prayerfully and proactively join in God’s mission to create the organisational culture and practical pathways, systems, and resources by which new expressions of the church can be seeded, take root, and ultimately flourish.”
Among other things, the proposal calls for four to five new churches to be planted in key growth areas. This will include ministry teams (rather than solo planters) looking to grow an expression of worship, witness and service within these areas.
“There has been a growing sense that looking to resource a single new congregation each year is simply not going to provide the momentum required to catalyse a culture of Church Planting and revitalisation within the Uniting Church,” Rev. Spencer said.
“The working group are convinced that what is required is a cohort of Strategic New Congregations that are clear in their call to become Resourcing Congregations for the wider church.”
Rev. Alimoni Taumopeau will introduce another proposal.
“We are proposing for the Synod to commit to live cross culturally as a multicultural and intercultural church,” Rev. Taumopeau said.
“Living cross-culturally as a multicultural and intercultural church can contribute significantly to building a contemporary, courageous, and growing church in several ways.”
“By living cross-culturally as a multicultural and intercultural church, you create an environment that embraces diversity, promotes inclusivity, fosters unity, and connects with the wider community. These qualities contribute to the growth of the church by attracting new members, promoting understanding, and empowering individuals to make a positive difference in the world.”
Rev. Dr Rob McFarlane will present a report on the Presbytery Project.
He told Insights that the report has three parts, “A look in the mirror. A gaze in the crystal ball. A path forward.”
“The mirror shows us who our presbyteries are, in all their diversity, including strengths and challenges,” he said.
“The crystal ball gives us some ideas of models of presbyteries across NSW and the ACT. The path helps us engage in a year of discernment through 2024 to find our preferred future for mission-focussed, disciple-making, heathy, and sustainable presbyteries into the future.”
Uniting Creative will showcase some of the songs from their upcoming album, which will be officially launched in October.
The Synod meeting will be the first one with Rev. Mata Havea Hiliau as Moderator. Rev. Hiliau will be installed into the role the day before the Synod meeting begins on Thursday, 14 September. The installation service will take place at St Stephen’s Uniting Church at 197 Macquarie Street.
Previous Moderator Rev. Simon Hansford’s tenure was extended at the 2019 Synod meeting.
Mark McCrindle will deliver a keynote address about Generation Alpha and the future of the church. Mr McCrindle is a best-selling author, social commentator, TEDx speaker, and the Principal of McCrindle Research.
Uniting Theological College’s Rev. Dr Seforosia Carroll and Dr Alexandra Robinson will deliver daily Bible studies.
Some parts of the meeting will stream online, including Mark McCrindle’s keynote address, and the report from General Secretary Rev. Jane Fry.
The 2023 Synod meeting will take place at the Katoomba Christian Convention Centre from 15 to 17 September. Insights will have full coverage on our website. The next print edition will also feature some coverage.