Uniting Church Minister appointed to strengthen presence of Reformed Church in Rome
Uniting Church minister Rev. Tara Curlewis will be moving to Rome and serving in two roles: as the new minister of St Andrew’s Church and as the Reformed Ecumenical Officer for the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
The role is intended to strengthen the presence of the Reformed Churches relating to the Vatican and other ecumenical bodies in Rome. Rev. Curlewis will also provide spiritual leadership to the Church of Scotland’s congregation in the Italian capital.
She said she was looking forward to taking up a calling that is grounded in an international and multicultural congregation and “exercising ministry in an exciting ecumenical setting”.
Rev. Curlewis said ecumenism is in her DNA and churches are, “at their best when their voices unite to advocate for shared concerns together.”
The Reformed Ecumenical Officer role will see her develop dialogue, engagement and joint action for peace and justice with ecumenical partners and give momentum to Reformed initiatives in the ecumenical setting.
Rev. Curlewis will act as a liaison to support cooperation amongst the WCRC and its member churches, the Waldensian Church, and the Church of Scotland with the Roman Catholic Church, particularly with the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Employed by the Church of Scotland as a Mission Partner on a fixed-term four-year contract, the Uniting Church of Australia minister will also cooperate with the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, Conference of European Churches and World Council of Churches.
She will also engage with the British and Australian Ambassadors to the Holy See and other members of the diplomatic corps.
St Andrew’s Church was established in Rome 161 years ago.
Its congregation today comes from all the continents and is diverse and international.
In addition to serving the diverse international congregation as a Minister of Word and Sacrament, Rev. Curlewis will act as an ambassador for the Church of Scotland.
She is expected to support the congregation’s commitment to participating within the wider ecumenical community in Rome, to engage with the work of Churches Together in Rome and strengthen collaboration with Mediterranean Hope, the refugee and migrant programme of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy.
Rev. Curlewis will lead worship and offer the sacraments in the Reformed tradition, sensitive to the international nature of the congregation, including a variety of worship styles, provide pastoral support and encourage people to take services.
She was ordained in 1994 as a Uniting Church minister.
She has served congregations in rural and urban locations in New South Wales (NSW) and served as the president of the NSW Ecumenical Council and also as General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA).
“Ecumenism has always been in my DNA and engaging ecumenically is always at the forefront of ministry for me,” Rev. Curlewis said.
“When I am in the ecumenical spaces, I am filled with an inner stirring of God’s perichoresis and have a sense of that same stirring as I prepare to take up the role of Mission Partner in Rome, which provides strategic opportunities to uphold and promote the concerns of the reformed churches.
“During my time as the General Secretary of the NCCA, I developed connections and friendships with many ecumenical partners around the globe and look forward to working with friends and colleagues in this role.”
Rev. Curlewis said her previous experience provided her with many opportunities to develop worship that is culturally and linguistically inclusive and raise the concerns of the churches with political and civil society leaders.
Rev. Ian Alexander leads on International Partnerships for the Church of Scotland.
“The cooperation with WCRC and the Waldensian Church in appointing a Reformed Ecumenical Officer is a significant step for the Church of Scotland and the broader Reformed movement,” he said.
“Tara Curlewis brings to the role a history of engagement and action within the Uniting Church of Australia and the National Council of Churches of Australia in building relationships with international ecumenical bodies.”
Rev. Curlewis is expected to take up her post in November.
The WCRC and the Waldensian Church will cover the costs of running a new Reformed Ecumenical Office which will be supported in its work by an Advisory Board, appointed by WCRC, the Waldensian Church and the Church of Scotland.
The WCRC is comprised of 100 million Christians in Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting, and Waldensian churches.