This is my first update on our blog for 2017, and I hope that everyone has had a great and joyous start to the year.
For the past couple of months, I have been working with several people on developing a Strategic Plan for the Synod of Western Australia. Interestingly, a similar exercise has been taking place in the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia. The Assembly also collated a list of the Strategic Plans of the other Synods (which saved us from having to undertake that work ourselves).
The results of all the work so far is revealing: possibly because we are referencing the same or similar source documents and almost certainly because, as a Christian community across Australia, we have a common bond of faith, a desire to be an embracing community and a concern for the oppressed.
Our common source documents are the Bible, The Basis of Union, the Constitution, and the Declaration to the Nation made in the founding of this movement which is the Uniting Church in Australia. The Assembly also conducted a nationwide survey on perceptions of the Uniting Church, an understanding of its responsibilities and a review of its strengths and weaknesses.
From all of this background we have provisionally identified the following as our Core Values.
- To follow Jesus through life, death and resurrection;
- Being community which safely embraces people beyond gender, cultural, economic, national and racial boundaries;
- To act with God alongside the oppressed, the hurting and the poor;
- To encourage wisdom and faithfulness in the use of the finite resources of the earth;
- To exercise wisdom and faithfulness in the use of God-given gifts, talents and skills; and
- To live a creative, adventurous life of faith, characterised by openness, flexibility, hope and joy.
Following Jesus is at the core of our being. It is for this reason that we gather and move forward as a pilgrim community, joined together on this journey through life, death and resurrection.
We are also a community which values the life and faith which we share. We are not bound by the things which so easily divide us in the secular sense. In our journey we support each other, encourage one another and lead one another.
But our focus is not on us alone. We also have concerns for the oppressed, the hurting and the poor. And we seek to be wise stewards of the earth’s resources.
In our journey we also recognise that we each have different gifts. No man is an island, and we seek to use our individual gifts, talents and skills to serve God, each other and the world with all wisdom and faithfulness.
CELEBRATING OUR 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Finally, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia this year, we reflect on the 40 year journey of the pilgrim people of God from Egypt to the Promised Land. That journey was often hard, frequently troublesome and spiced with conflict within and without.
We do not want our journey as the Uniting Church in Western Australia to be like that – core to our being is that we will be creative and adventurous in our life of faith, always open with each other, flexible in circumstances and full of hope and joy!
In my next post, I will share our provisional mission statement.