Presbytery of Western Australia chairperson, Bob Hunt presented the Presbytery report to the 44th Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA on Saturday 12 September at Wesley College highlighting three issues, post COVID-19, finances and property.
The information provided for the “Vision – What does the church look like in 2030” session shows the concerning state of the Uniting Church WA as it currently stands.
Bob said, “There needs to be a radical change in the way we conduct the work of the church or the Uniting Church will disappear. COVID-19 has forced us to do church differently.
“Greater use is being made of online/digital means such as live streaming, zoom and video. It has enabled us to reach out with God’s message to a wider audience. There are others engaging with worship who have had little or no previous connection with the church.
“It has also highlighted a new class of member: the virtual member that “attends” worship services and other activities online in their own time. It raises many issues such as how does the church connect with and care for these virtual attendees.”
Bob challenged the Synod and Presbytery to continue the process of creating a ‘new normal’. A ‘new normal’ focused on Christian communities grounded in worship, witness and service using a mixture of online digital, bricks and mortar, groups of members based at a location and others floating in virtual locations.
“All councils of the church, Synod, Presbytery, congregations and faith communities need to work together to enable us to craft a new normal,” said Bob.
“The message of God is timeless, it is the means of sharing this message that needs to be continually reviewed and updated. Our new normal needs to be flexible and agile.”
Bob urged us personally and collectively to pray for God’ guidance, to strengthen our mission in the local community through the mission planning process, to grow our faith and share it to become missionaries in our own communities.
“It will involve us getting out of our comfort zones. It will involve significant changes for us all. It means focusing on the future, not the past and focussing on what we can give, not what we want. If we don’t make changes, now, if we don’t make sacrifices, now, we don’t have a future,” said Bob
The Presbytery cannot continue with the existing number of congregations and the number of church buildings in the metropolitan area and needs to find new ways to spread the message of Christ within rural areas.
“We need a radical new way of operating; the existing model belongs to the last century and will not last very much longer,” said Bob.
Presbytery’s full written report is available https://unitingchurchwa-startdigital.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Presbytery-of-WA.pdf.