Synod challenged to liberate money to fund renewal
The General Secretary of the Uniting Church (NSW and ACT), the Rev. Jane Fry, has warned that the Future Directions Resourcing Framework is potentially the most challenging item on the agenda of Synod 2021.
Rev. Fry said that while simply passing the proposal will not be hard, it will be challenging to living up to all that the proposal entails in terms liberating resources to give life to a modern, courageous, and growing church.
“I’m aware that potentially the Future Directions Synod Resourcing Framework is the most challenging thing on the agenda. The real challenge is if we commit to working together to liberate the funds to bring Future Directions to life,” said Rev. Fry of the proposal.
“I remembered that wealth, money and property is a constantly hot topic in the scriptures. In a book by Walter Bruggeman called Money and Possessions, when he reflects on the nature of wealth from Genesis to Revelation.
“Bruggeman distils six theses from this that I wanted to highlight from the book. His first thesis is that all our wealth and possessions are a gift from God. The second thesis is that money and possessions are received as a reward for obedience. The way that we live together and the resources we have is something God is not indifferent to, but something God cares about. All that we have will always belong to God. And they are only held together in trusts by human beings living together in community.
“Money and possessions are to be shared in a neighbourly way to serve the common good. That’s the first four of Bruggeman’s thesis and perhaps we can all agree on these.
“The fifth thesis is however that money and possessions are sources of social injustice. We know this because of the way that wealth and possessions work in the world that we inhabit, because we see the gaps between rich and poor growing daily. His final thesis is that money and possessions are seductions that lead to idolatry. We know that too.
“Bruggeman is talking about money and wealth in human communities generally and the church is never exempt from that.
“Future Directions is the Synod’s response to the Growth Proposal from 2019. Reorganising for growth means that we can be a courageous and contemporary Church, worshipping, witnessing and servicing the God who has claimed us and called us.”
Synod 2021 was presented with a Future Directions Resourcing Framework in June, the framework is designed to fund the 10 year Future Directions renewal program that was affirmed in the April session of Synod. The Proposal was then amended due to significant feedback from Discernment Groups and is being presented for endorsement during the August meeting.
Growth to enable worship, witness and service
The Future Directions Synod Resourcing Framework is designed to enable the growth of the Church’s witness to Jesus Christ by providing greater resources for ministry in and with rural and regional areas, young people, First Peoples, those who act for climate justice, and the renewal of discipleship in and through our congregations.
This Future Directions Resourcing Framework will therefore provide resources for mission across the whole Church.
The Synod Office is developing a roadmap of how our resources can be used to implement Future Directions.
The resourcing decisions will be guided by five key principles:
- Resourcing should respond to God’s call to mission in the world
- Resources should ‘work harder’ and ‘achieve more’
- Resources should support the flourishing of healthy congregations, the development of vital ministry, and engagement with the community in transformative ways.
- Resources should be used for the common good of the Church and enable the whole of the Church to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Congregations, Presbyteries, and the Synod will work together to determine priorities, define tasks and responsibilities, within the polity of the Church.
“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 to promote growth within and through our congregations
The Future Directions Synod Resourcing Framework paper states: “Through Future Directions, we have renewed our commitment to become a church of the future for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a renewed commitment to share our hope in the Gospel with the communities of NSW and the ACT through worship, witness and service.”
The Framework was sent to discernment groups for discussion.