Synod hears new school proposal
A proposal to start a new Uniting Church school, and linked congregation in Western Sydney, has been introduced to the Synod meeting.
The NSW and ACT Synod’s General Secretary Rev. Jane Fry introduced the proposal.
“There are many members of Parramatta-Nepean Presbytery that have been contemplating the same reality…the population explosion in Western Sydney,” Rev. Fry said.
“This proposal is absolutely aligned with the Synod’s future directions.”
“Undoubtedly, this is an ambitious proposal,” Rev. Fry said.
Rev. Fry named Vicki Waters, David Sexton, Glen Powell, and Albert Olley as “four Musketeers that played a role in developing this proposal.”
“You will hear hope and excitement,” Rev. Fry said.
In an accompanying video, Moderator Simon Hansford outlined the proposal. He said that it was informed by, “[A] very strong conviction that the Uniting Church has a strong and unique faith perspective to share.”
“Together the congregation and school will grow as the community grows.”
The Moderator said that over 70 fulltime scholarships and bursaries would help meet the Uniting Church’s social justice ethos.
The school would be a K-12 co-educational school alongside a new church congregation. The plan would also include a community hub for the area’s use.
“To be able to connect in with this missional opportunity is just wonderful,” Rev. Christine Bayliss-Kelly said. Rev. Bayliss-Kelly has worked in Penrith since the beginning of 2021.
“Here’s a chance to be church differently.”
The proposal involves the schools taking on loans to Uniting Financial Services (UFS).
A formal due diligence process considered timing, building, curriculum design, key measures, and loan structures for investment at various stages.
Questions regarding the proposal included what the exact geography of the proposal’s strategy would include. The team behind the proposal confirmed that the Greater Western Sydney region was the target, an area that expanded out from the initial plan’s focus on Southwest Sydney.
The proposal will head to the discernment groups for further consideration and questions.
The Moderator encouraged people to engage with the project and to debate it as they felt necessary.
The motion will seek consensus during the next meeting on Saturday, 5 June. Insights will have full coverage.