Synod challenged to fund ambitious renewal program

Synod challenged to fund ambitious renewal program

The NSW and ACT Synod General Secretary, Rev. Jane Fry, has urged the church to think differently in order to properly resource an ambitious change strategy.

“This Synod, probably like all other Synods, has a poor track record in funding new initiatives … business as usual always trumps all else and as a result we don’t fund new things,” Rev. Fry said.

Synod 2021 was presented with a Future Directions Resourcing Framework to fund the 10 year Future Directions renewal program that was affirmed in the April session of Synod.

The framework proposes that the church liberates $30m each year, or around 0.3 percent of our property and financial assets, by redeveloping and sharing the income from approximately 20 of our 2500 properties over the next 10 years.

Property redevelopments would primarily involve commercial buildings. They would exclude buildings such as dedicated worship centres, Ministers’ residences, schools, and cemeteries. To maximise the income raised through each redevelopment, the developments would generally be large, multi-storey buildings.

The Congregation (through the Church) would continue to be the responsible body for the buildings and would rent out sections of the new buildings for ongoing income. This income would be shared with the wider Church to enable Future Directions. Areas in the new building would also be set aside for the Congregation’s and the wider Church’s mission and ministry activities, such as with the Parramatta Mission redevelopment.

The paper also proposes a consultative process with Congregations and church entities who are currently receiving income from past redevelopments that exceeds their needs to open the opportunity to share their income with the wider Church to enable Future Directions.

“By better using our property assets and income, we can resource Future Directions and continue to grow to be a Church that finds its mission in the world through Jesus Christ,” the paper says.

Future Directions renews the Uniting Church’s commitment to:

  • Rural and regional ministry,
  • Ministry with people in the first third of their lives,
  • Walking together with First Peoples and to the covenant with Congress
  • Stewardship of the earth
  • Working with Presbyteries to organise ourselves to promote growth within and through our congregations

Synod also heard that for Future Directions to succeed and for the Church to continue to grow and finds its mission in the world through Jesus Christ, we will need:

  • People with the vision, skills and experience to grow the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Programs that help our witness to Jesus Christ flourish
  • Money to pay for the people, property, and programs
  • Property that supports the delivery of mission and ministry.

The Resourcing Framework paper states: “We propose that the Church commits to our shared sense of purpose as a living Church in mission together and commits to sharing and using our resources to strengthen the Church, as a whole and as individual Congregations, to enable us to continue to bear our unique and transformative witness of the gospel.”

The Framework was sent to discernment groups for discussion.

Watch the Future Directions Resourcing Framework explainer video here.

Martin Thomas

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