Uniting more with mission and service
Uniting plays an important role in supporting the social justice, community services and chaplaincy work of the Uniting Church of Australia within the Synod of NSW and the ACT.
Since 2009, regional boards across NSW and the ACT supported the work of Uniting. Recently, Uniting introduced one NSW/ACT board. While regional boards remain, they are called Uniting Councils.
This revamp of the Uniting Councils will help them to better facilitate collaboration and engagement, especially between Uniting and leaders within Presbyteries and Congregations. These close connections aim to enhance the ways our Church serves and contributes within local communities.
One example of a successful partnership is the Healthy Living for Seniors (HLFS) centre at Seaforth, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The Uniting Council Sydney North partnered with the Balgowlah Uniting Church Congregation, and the Uniting HLFS Chatswood team. Together, they revitalised a run-down Church hall into a five-day-per-week service for older community members.
As explained by Uniting Council Sydney North chair Robyn Brown, the councils act as an important contributor to the “Uniting for A Common Good” strategy of the Uniting Church NSW/ACT. “Our role now is to actively engage and involve as many Congregations as possible with the work of Uniting and to help them achieve their own missional goals,” says Robyn.
“Your Council is there to help you get to know more about the range of services and assistance Uniting provides into the community, which may assist the missional work you are doing or planning to do.”
Uniting Council Mid North and Far North Coast chair Alan Hoskins agrees. “It is an exciting time to be part of the councils … Our roles are expanding, and we are actively supported by the Board.”
The councils administer the Uniting Grants program. While this involves supporting Congregations with missional activities, it also enables Councils to advocate for local communities and provide a community voice to Uniting.
Showing how Congregations can be involved through Uniting, in existing opportunities for mission, is the developing partnership between the Lismore Regional Mission and St Vincent De Paul, to enlarge and improve access to a “Food Pantry”.
“What we do is determined by our skills and the needs in the community,” says Alan.
There are six established Councils — and two new Councils in process — with their areas aligning with the current Presbyteries. The activities they are involved with also include supporting social justice initiatives, as well as providing guidance and support for volunteers in Uniting programs.
With the recent changes to Uniting Councils comes the need to bring in new people to play pivotal leadership roles in our Church and community.
Uniting is interested to hear from people associated with our Uniting Church, and have a strong interest and connection with their local communities.