Often forgotten in sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Romans is his finale. After 15 chapters of deep theology and important practical life lessons, the list of cheerios that Paul sends to his mates in Rome in chapter 16 can seem like an anti-climax.  

It isn’t. Paul was never about theology for its own sake. His passion was for people to know God and when he saw that happening he was effusive in his acknowledgement of them. Read Romans 16 carefully and imagine you were one of those people – what an encouragement it would be for the apostle Paul to say those things of you! I’d be more than happy with an epitaph that said ‘Warren worked hard in the Lord’, or that I ‘stood the test’.   

Hearing about real people bringing their abilities and passion to the task of serving God’s people is never anti-climactic. That’s why, following on from my last piece that mentioned some of the people who’ve made money matter for the Uniting Church in the past, in this article I want to acknowledge some of my colleagues and friends at Uniting Financial Services (UFS) today.

These are the current crew of leaders within UFS who are working passionately to ensure that UFS continues to serve the Church in 2021. I can honestly say that the people I’m about to tell you about make up the best leadership team I’ve ever worked with – and I’ve worked in some excellent, dynamic, successful companies over the years.   

I’ll start with the longest serving individual, our Head of Ethical Investments, Matthew Moore. Matthew is one of the world’s most experienced ethical investment professionals. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this field and is one of the pioneers of the Australian funds management industry’s take-up of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Matt could walk into a senior role at any investment firm in the world that takes ethics seriously, but we’re privileged to have had him with us for the last 20 years, championing the Church’s ethical approach. His zeal does not flag for this important aspect of what we do at UFS. 

Known to many of you, especially congregational treasurers, is Linda Johnson. As Head of Partner Solutions and Support, Linda manages the UFS team that handles all our church relationships, helping you to solve issues with your investments with or your loans from us. An experienced banker before joining UFS – including  a decade or so managing various bank branches – Linda’s technical knowledge, commitment to service and people management skills have helped us to navigate a tough couple of years. Look no further than the way her team has hardly skipped a beat since we shifted to working remotely when COVID hit to see the value that the Church gets from having Linda with us. Linda’s team have often told me what a great leader and supportive person they find her to be and we hear back from some of you quite often thanking her and the team for their assistance. So it’s now my turn to say ‘thank you’ to Linda for bringing her heart and mind to work each day in service of the Uniting Church. 

Two of the relatively more recent additions to the UFS leadership group are our Chief Finance Officer, Ian Perry, and our Chief Risk Officer, Michael Noakes. These two each had high calibre careers in funds management and banking before joining UFS just over three years ago. Michael’s a very experienced commercial banker who set up the risk function for a well-known bank in his former life, while Ian left one of Australia’s most successful fund management firms to come to UFS. Both have brought not only their talent and experience to the table in their respective areas, but an energy and enthusiasm to help UFS and the Church succeed.  And they’re both just outstanding people, with a compassionate and collaborative approach to everything they do. It’s wonderful to have them on our team. 

Finally, but by no means least of all, is my 2IC John McComb. Having worked for most of his career in the capital markets areas of Tier 1 banks or start-up fund managers, John has devoted the last 10 years to applying his financial expertise to Christian church organisations, the last five with UFS. John has a roving brief to roll up his sleeves and help to solve problems and run projects within any part of UFS that needs his guidance, while also supporting me with strategic thinking and implementation. He’s a great professional support for me, as well as being a true Christian friend, a man of prayer and discernment. 

Did you know that, in the last couple of years, UFS has made a distribution of $9 million per annum towards the activities of the Synod? Activities such as the great work of the Communications team which produces Insights, but also the full range of services and support to the Church such as training and placing ministers, funding the Moderator and General Secretary, property support services, IT support, etc. 

This happens because people like Matthew, Linda, Ian, Michael, and John, along with the members of their teams, bring skill and dedication to their work at UFS. They are a real blessing. They all want to help UFS to manage the Church’s pooled assets and the funds entrusted to us by other investors in a way that benefits us all and that grows the financial resources available to the Church to make a Jesus shaped difference in the world. Like me – and like Roy and Ed and many others before us – they want to make money matter. Will you please pray for me and for them, that the Lord will prosper us in that endeavour?  

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