Talking through the issues that matter
During Synod we asked people how they found some of the new initiatives at the meeting, like the Discernment Groups, the debrief from the groups and how they felt about Synod 2016.
How have you found the Discernment Groups and Synod 2016 so far?
“I think they [the Discernment Groups] have gone very well actually. I think we were able to get a good cross-section of feeling and understanding, but also to share information that people were not always aware of. To be able to that in a smaller group was far more accommodating than trying to do it on the floor of Synod. There are about 20 facilitators of groups and we found the debrief sessions very helpful. It has been helpful for facilitators to share discernment from across their groups which then focussed back into [the debrief process] to be able to feedback to the authors of any proposals. In that sense it was a good refining process, which also avoided the issue of individuals dominating the floor of Synod. It did facilitate the opportunity for people to have their say in a safe and secure environment.”
Neil Menger, Parramatta-Nepean Presbytery – Discernment Group Facilitator.
“I think Synod has gone really really well. There has been a lot of debate and emotion shared. I think it has been held in the spirit of grace. It’s always easier to share in a smaller group, and even the process of facilitation and making sure everybody had a chance to share, even the quieter people has been great.”
Beverly Matthews – Burwood/Croydon Uniting Church
“Discernment Groups have been more than helpful. It has allowed us as individuals to share with each other how we feel, because not everyone gets that opportunity in the larger group. I find it has its rewards and good to get an understanding about how we can cooperate with one another. It is building my understanding and educating me about how the Church works from a broader perspective. I am a quieter person so it has been great. I love the worship!”
Queenie Speeding – Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
“The Discernment Group process has been really helpful. What happened in my group was a group came in on a particular issue with people thinking one way, someone spoke into that space and it completely changed the conversation, into the fact that it did matter and it mattered enough for us to be concerned about how that proposal is then shaped. The Discernment Group enabled that group to engage in a way that they wouldn’t have on the floor. People are engaging positively, there isn’t the cynicism that we have had at other times. The worship is brilliant. It’s been gentle, engaging, challenging and honest, and I have really enjoyed it.
Kath Merrifield – Executive Director, Uniting Mission and Education
“I have found Synod so far to be very different. The worship is beautiful and the music is phenomenal. In Discernment Groups I found that it gave the Next Gen more of an opportunity to share our ideas and thoughts of those big issues in a more safe and intimate environment. We are not intimidated and have to get up in front of 300 odd people and feel like we are making a fool of ourselves. Those who are involved in the Discernment Groups are very welcoming and reassuring that questions we ask aren’t silly. It has been a great opportunity for Next Gen to be exposed to other perspectives of particular issues. Groups have been productive and we collate our responses with other groups and are able to bring it to the wider Synod floor for productive discussion.”
Malia Puna – Sydney Presbytery, Tonga Parish (Ashfield)
“So far Synod has been really great. I have found the Discernment Group times really productive, that we able to talk through the issues in a smaller group and we can consolidate thoughts and feelings and discern together, instead of just bringing our own ideas to 300 odd people. I find moving off the table and moving into the intentional new space really helpful. We had a diversity of views instead of just the people we wanted to talk to.”
Emma Parr – Burwood/Croydon Uniting Church
“I think the Discernment Groups have been a space where more conversation and a more participation can happen. In the bigger group during Synod you won’t get that opportunity. Whether or not we will need a little more time, but how much time do you ask for. Perhaps though if you need more time it’s been meaningful and helpful. I’ve been emotionally moved in a couple of the worship times, that was a bit of a surprise. I have felt this wonderful sense of Spirit here, so I have been very appreciative of that sense of being surrounded by other faithful people in a space where the Holy Spirit is moving.”
Salessi Faupula – Jannalli Uniting Church, Georges River Presbytery
“My Discernment group have been very agreeable, we have all been pretty much of the same opinion. We have had some good discussion, but not overly long. I was timer on the last Discernment Group and no one went over their time. The Discernment debrief is helpful. I wouldn’t like to be the person putting it all together and I think it has been helpful and a couple of times things we have said has been fed back to the whole group, so I thought well they are listening to what we are saying. Synod has been very capably led by our Moderator. Worship has been good. It varies, there is something for everyone.”
Paul Creek – Riverina Presbytery
“My Discernment Group has developed a really good relationship between the people. We have had some people with differing points of view but they have been expressed in a way that has really been encouraging. We’ve tended to come to agreement mostly in the topic that we are dealing with. This is the first Synod I have been to since the inaugural Synod, so it’s very different to what it was then. I have enjoyed being able to be a part of it. I also like the opportunity to talk to people in breaks. I think that personal interaction and getting to know other people is helpful coming from the rural scene you can put faces to names and I think that is really good.” Dorothy
Dorothy Creek – Riverina Presbytery
“I think the Discernment Groups are pretty good. I think we are used to doing it, getting a group of people together, chew the fat and then relay back. I think that’s a good way of getting peoples’ insights without taking impossible lengths of time. The problem with the old method of talking from the floor is that there are some people who are really good and some who don’t feel as comfortable, so this I think will get more insights from more people. Synod’s good, I have been in India and so I have been trying to catch up with as many people as possible quickly and this has been excellent for doing that. In any conference the most important part is this, interacting with people. The formal procedures are necessary but I think it’s the personal relationships that are the most important.”
David Reichardt – Co-opted member, MOW between placement