Worship highlights common good
To the haunting sound of clapping sticks, the swish of gum leaves and a seed shaker, indigenous elders from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and other Uniting Church leaders processed in to the great hall at Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga, to begin the meeting of the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT on April 13.
More than 400 Synod members and other guests, including the Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. Barry O’Farrell, took part in the Synod’s opening worship, which highlighted the Synod meeting’s theme Uniting for the Common Good.
The Moderator, the Rev. Dr Brian Brown, presided at the service which incorporated musical contributions from the MLC Orchestra, the Gabriel Vocal Group, the Indonesian Malingkay Singers and the house band drawn from One Heart and Quakers Hill Filipino Uniting Church.
Prayers and intercessions in words and images included:
- Giving thanks for the inspiration of ecumenical leaders, the diversity of cultures and traditions which now compromise the church;
- Calling on God to help the church achieve equality for all Australians, especially indigenous people; and
- Supplication for partner agencies in Africa, Asia and the Pacific who strive to build relationships of trust that can help achieve a greater quality of life for the marginalised in those regions and in our unequal world.
The Premier, Mr O’Farrell, welcomed Synod members to his electorate and acknowledged the contribution the Uniting Church had made to this state and nation since its inception.
Mr O’Farrell promised to listen and heed the Uniting Church voice, as one of many, as it spoke out on social, moral and political issues.
He also said there was good reason in these times to come together to consider the common good.
“Just as government of New South Wales is under the microscope by an investigatory body … so, too, are churches and other institutions under investigation for certain past practices,” he said.
Questioning authority was a healthy aspect of Australian tradition, he said, and this “ensures that when such events occur we don’t too easily seek to ascribe to current members and institutions the flaws and fallibilities of past practices”.
Mr Peter Roach, Deputy Chairman of Knox Grammar School Council, said the primary responsibility of Knox Grammar School was to make the school stronger physically and spiritually and this was being done hand-in-hand with the Uniting Church.
“As Knox approaches its 90th year,” he said, “we can’t help but feel humbled in the knowledge that this great school came into being, survived and prospered only by the determined efforts, resolute faith and the unshakable convictions of our founders and all those who followed them.”
Mr Roach said the relationship between the Uniting Church and Knox Grammar School allowed the school’s boys and teachers to flourish in a caring Christian environment. He also noted examples of the tangible and intangible benefits of the relationship between the Uniting Church and the school.
The intangibles included the overarching interest in the spiritual development of the boys, the unobtrusive yet instructive assistance in governance matters and the ever-present Uniting Church ethos.
The President of the Uniting Church, the Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney, preached with reference to texts from Nehemiah 2:17 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. He called the Synod to lay down all unnecessary baggage and to build its future as a fellowship of reconciliation sustained through the reading and preaching of the Word, prayer and fasting and Christian fellowship, in celebrating the sacraments and through works of mercy.
The Synod of the New South Wales and the ACT will meet from April 13 to16 to consider matters affecting the church’s life and mission.
Images from Synod can be found on Insights’ Facebook page.
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