Thanksgiving for fine work of two Synod boards now closed
The breadth and depth of the work of the Board of Mission and Board of Education and their staff were celebrated in a thanksgiving event at the meeting of the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT on September 25.
The event drew laughter and some tears of lament as it also marked the closure of two boards that had been significant in the life of the Synod.
The work of the two boards had touched countless lives and nearly every person present at the Synod meeting.
The latter fact was established as the Acting Director of Uniting Mission and Education, Tina Rendell, asked Synod members to stand as she read a comprehensive list of their many and varied programs and events.
The list included the work of Uniting Venues, United Theological College, NCYC Newcastle, Uniting Church schools, NCLS surveys, Sydney Alliance, Winter Camp, tertiary ministry, mission planning in congregations and presbyteries, the work of the ELM Centre and much more.
Speaking on behalf of the staff of the two boards, Ms Rendell said, “We hope we have sown some seeds and left a legacy to be grown and developed by you.
“Like many of you we have offered all we have for the sake of the gospel and we have done this because we believe that the love and grace of God can transform lives and communities.
“We are passionate about what we have done but not precious — use it, develop it, grow it, change it and shape it into the type of ministry God is calling each of us and our church to in this time and place. And do it with a spirit that is courageous, generous and inclusive.”
Minutes of Appreciation were published in booklet form to honour staff of the boards — some of whom would continue in new roles in Uniting Mission and Education and some who would not.
During the event, Ms Rendell was also relieved of her responsibilities as Acting Director of UME and thanked for this work and for her 11 years as Executive Director of the Board of Mission.
Her significant role over more than a decade in calling the church into the world around it was applauded. So too was her continued insistence that the church remain committed to multicultural ministry, evangelism, lay and ordained education, new expressions of church, rural, youth and tertiary ministry and other mission initiatives.
Ms Rendell said she and other staff had sought to call the Uniting Church to participate in the mission of God and to educate lay and ordained to grow in faith, develop as disciples and leaders and engage in God’s mission beyond the walls of the church into the world.
“We have pushed and pushed you to include those on the margins of the church — especially children, young people and those from other cultural backgrounds,” she said.
“We have kept repeating some concepts over and over again: What are we doing about equipping people for lay ministry and leadership? How much time and energy are we putting into discipleship programs? How do we grow leaders that will help us respond to different local contexts? How do we create space for something new to grow in our church? How are we training some leaders to grow new congregations and others to lead large regional churches?”
Ms Rendell thanked those who had supported and prayed for her and other staff, particularly over the past two years when times had been tough.
She said, “Please continue to pray for us as we are at various points of transition to a new way of being.”
The Synod also received the final report of the two boards as part of the thanksgiving event.
For further information about Uniting Mission and Education, which came into being on July 1, 2011, can be found here.