Synod receives General Secretary’s report

Synod receives General Secretary’s report

The General Secretary’s report has brought to the opening of the 39th NSW and ACT Synod Meeting.

General Secretary Rev. Jane Fry introduced the report, which updates the Synod members on matters not covered elsewhere in the meeting agenda as well as updates on Synod 2019 commitments to enable growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic was acknowledged as impeding efforts in many areas, yet aged care provider Uniting’s dedication during this difficult time was duly recognised.

Rev. Fry said that the pandemic had brought up questions for people, such as where God was and what the church was doing.

“Those questions are sharpened for us when put alongside the commitments we have already made,” Rev. Fry said.

The Church’s COVID response

The COVID-19 Response Working Group also shared its key learnings from the global shutdown, and the need to;

  • prioritise staff, congregations, and wider community wellbeing
  • embrace new ways of working, especially technology
  • be agile in decision-making
  • have clear, whole-of-church, communication lines
  • care about the whole Church through resource sharing
  • maintain an alert risk awareness.

Zoom meetings set up in response to the pandemic have been credited for strengthening relationships across the church and encouraging deep reflections and conversations about the future.

Serving the Church to make a Jesus-shaped difference

The Synod Leadership Team (SLT) and its involvement in the Synod Culture and Values Program also gets a mention as the collaborative process gave birth to the new Synod office purpose statement:

Serving the church to make a Jesus-shaped difference in the world based on the values of Compassion, Respect, Integrity and Collaboration.

Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress

The report details how a National Congress review resulted in the disbanding of the NSW Regional Committee. A Task Group incorporating leaders from the NSW Congress ministry centres (Wellington, Condobolin and Broken Hill) and members of the Congress National Executive alongside Nathan Tyson (NSW Aboriginal person – Anaiwon/Gomeroi), who was seconded from Uniting’s Aboriginal Strategy and Engagement Group have been supporting and reinvigorating the Synod’s commitment to First People, the UCA Covenant with the UAICC.  This has resulted in the development of a Synod Walking Together Action Plan, a separate paper to also be presented for discernment and decision at Synod 2021.

Presbyteries across the Synod

The report acknowledges the significance of the presbytery responsibility in tending the faith and unity, health and vitality – growth – of the church. It presents the presbytery situation in NSW and ACT as:

Schools Relationship Agreement

A key resource for the success of the Relationship Agreement – developed as part of the move to incorporate schools – has been the creation of a Director of Mission and the appointment of Rev. Stuart Bollom to that role.

The report also notes that “all parts of the church should recognise that the National Redress Scheme will operate for at least the next 10 years and continue to have a significant impact on the church’s resources.”

In September, 2020, a Synod wide Risk Management Framework was approved to help the church maintain a safe and sustainable mission environment. It lists the main risks as;

  • Synod Insurance Fund sustainability
  • Church long-term sustainability
  • The Safe Church Framework and system effectiveness
  • Synod liability for an uninsured event or litigation
  • Synod response to Royal Commission findings
  • Presbytery governance and viability
  • Financial sustainability of entities: oversight and support
  • Capital works program scope
  • Synod systems and programs to manage cyber-security

Meanwhile, a detailed Synod operational report will be available for the August session of Synod 2021.

Read the General Secretary’s report in full here.

Ashley Donnelly


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