Uniting for Christmas
Boldly go where no one has gone before.
I once read an interesting little book titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek”. In the book, it discusses the importance for a business to have a good Mission Statement. In the case of “Star Trek”, theirs’ ticks all the boxes.
For one thing, it’s memorable. The mission of the starship Enterprise finishes with …… “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” Anyone on the Enterprise who ends up on a “strange new world” knows exactly what to do – explore. They know what they’re looking for because their mission includes this: “to seek out new life and new civilisations”.
UFS doesn’t have a mission quite as out there as that of Star Trek, but I think it’s also a great summary of what we’re on about. Our mission is: “Disciplined ethical investment with a heart for the Church’s mission.”
All that we do is done with a clear focus on supporting our church partners to play their part in the mission of reaching our communities for Christ.
The financial surplus from our activities enables UFS to pay a distribution to the Synod, so that mission can be resourced, through funding ministry formation and theological training.
The returns we generate provide income that helps our investors to be the Church in their corner of the world. (It’s getting harder with low-interest rates, but our goal is to provide competitive returns and financial products across the risk spectrum to suit the diverse range of needs among our partners.)
We do this in a committed ethical framework, which means that our investments become an expression of the Christian values of the Uniting Church. From the beginning, the Church has sought to holistically integrate beliefs and investment decision-making. It’s not just about excluding unethical activities, but investing in businesses that have a positive impact on people’s lives or the environment.
Our Mission Statement means that UFS is in mission together with all of you, our Church partners.
Wishing you every blessing this Christmas and for a New Year full of fruitful mission and many lives reached in the name of Christ.
Executive Director, Uniting Financial Services
How quickly the perspective of the future can change.
We seem to have sped through 2019 and now need to take a breath and remember to celebrate Christ’s birth. Let’s not allow this to lost in the rush to finish project deliverables, get the last round of approvals from committees before they shut down for two months and try to fit parties and shopping around ever fuller diaries.
This time last year I was very new in the role of Synod Chief Operating Officer. Whilst, I had a range of different congregation experiences and historical participation in country presbyteries, my understanding of the role of Synod, plus the depth of activities and life occurring across the Synod was limited.
What a difference 12 months makes and how quickly the perspective of the future can change!
We have achieved a lot, but there is still more to do.
Wow, what a year 2019 has been:
– Synod 2019 was a landmark and hope-filled event. Turning our view toward being a Living Church where we are all in mission together; deliberately choosing to focus on growth through discipleship, impact and numbers; enhancing our formation processes to develop leaders across the Church; and taking the voice of the Church to the world through our advocacy activities – just to name a few,
– The Synod debt was cleared thanks to the work of several congregations, presbyteries and Uniting and established the foundations of an investment fund to support growing ministry across the church,
– Strong relationships are building across the Synod team and presbyteries as we work together to support and enable mission and ministry in congregations. This has provided me with the opportunity to develop working relationships with leaders in all the presbyteries and visit a range of presbytery meetings and congregations across the state.
Looking ahead to 2020:
– During 2020 communication and change programs will start rolling out to support all of us in the more effective use of our resources, this will include more robust governance and a focus on how we equip congregations and communities to develop disciples.
– Our focus is to support all areas of the church with property, insurance and other services. Our specific focus will be to provide support to Presbyteries.
So, what does 2020 look like? Even busier and more fulfilling in Christ as we prioritise all we do as a Synod that is in mission together.
May you have a blessed and holy Christmas and New Year, speak boldly and courageously of the saving and renewing love of the Lord Jesus.
Executive Director, Uniting Resources
Christmas is a time of celebrating unconditional love
What does it mean to celebrate Christmas? The Uniting Early Learning team, under the guidance of Dr Cathie Harrison, have been exploring the importance of celebrations in how we form learning communities. One of the centre Directors remarked on the wisdom found in Dr Seuss. She flicked to the following passage: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
This got the group discussing the different ways Christmas is and could be celebrated within our Early Learning communities. One Congregation hosted a Christmas BBQ for the Early Learning Centre where the Minister dressed up as Santa. Another took a group of kids to a Uniting Aged Care Centre to perform for the residents and share an afternoon tea. Another centre collected and made gifts to be given to the Parramatta, Exodus, and Wayside Parish Missions.
Hearing these inspiring stories got me thinking about how we as the Uniting Church celebrate the spirit of Christmas – in thousands of ways small and large, obvious and obscure.
For many, Christmas is a time of celebrating unconditional love, the importance of families, and the embodiment of a promise made through the birth of a baby born in a cave over two thousand years ago. However, for many others, Christmas is not a time of celebration but of grief; not a time of family but of isolation; not a time of promises fulfilled but of disappointment. Ultimately, the ministry of the unlikely Christ-child demonstrates who we are called to be in solidarity with –the dispossessed and the lost. This is the purpose of Uniting every day of the year: to love parents as they work to be reunited with their children, to provide a high quality of life for those in retirement, and to develop the next generation of Australians.
As we approach the end of this year, I hope that the story of Jesus’ birth will remind us in our belief in renewal and the importance of living out a mission where Christmas is so much more than a store.
Best wishes from all of us at Uniting.
In the busy-ness and commercial hype, we can create moments of hospitality and respite
At this time of year, we remind ourselves that God puts on human flesh and moves into the neighbourhood. Christmas races towards us and our attention turn to the amazing story of incarnation. It is understandable that we might focus on what the story means for us and use the holiday season to invest in family and friends, to worship and to relax.
Uniting Mission and Education (UME) is charged with using strategy, research, education and theological insight to resource mission, leadership and discipleship in this Synod. While we celebrate Christmas and commemorate the arrival of Jesus – or perhaps indulge in some consumerism and time with loved ones – let’s not forget the people that Jesus came to save. At Christmas time, many people are feeling a bit lost.
Christmas is not just for us and our families. People are looking for connection at Christmas time. They are looking for meaning, purpose, and community.
In the busy-ness and commercial hype, we can create moments of hospitality and respite. A free cuppa, an invitation to dinner, or promote a Parish Mission’s Christmas dinner for those in need of God’s hospitality?
Our Moderator, our advocacy agendas, and our active young people have made the Uniting Church visible in 2019. People are noticing the Uniting Church at work.
Let me encourage you to look for ways to include the outsider as we choose songs or hymns and decide whether to bother with morning tea. Use Christmas as an opportunity to invite friends, family and neighbours to a special event.
From all of us at Uniting Mission and Education, have a happy and holy Christmas.
Glen Powell, Executive Director Uniting Mission and Education