In a little less than a month (September 10-11) we will gather together at Scotch College for the 40th Synod of the Uniting Church in Western Australia. We have some interesting things to discuss and important decisions to make.
Starting on the evening of Friday 9 September at 7pm, we will gather at Penrhos College for the Opening Worship Service. Our speaker will be Sue Ash OA, CEO of UnitingCare West. UnitingCare West have recently celebrated their 10th anniversary and it will be good to hear of the work they have done, the lives they have transformed and their plans for the future. During the service each person will also have the opportunity to write down their prayer or hope for the Synod of Western Australia. If you could ask God anything for our Synod, for what would you pray? After the service we will celebrate our multi-cultural nature with a shared supper. Please bring a plate from your culture – I’ve heard some interesting options around the Uniting Church Centre. As a South African, I plan to bring some biltong and dried wors.
In the past we have held combined Synod and Presbytery meetings and there has been some blurring between the two councils. (Briefly, Presbytery is responsible for the oversight of ministers and congregations while Synod is responsible for the promotion and encouragement of the mission of the church, theological education and property; Synod also includes our agencies and schools.) From this year, Synod (September) and Presbytery (May and November) will meet separately. There are several other changes related to this which will come to the Synod meeting. Having said that, we will have a brief and celebratory Presbytery meeting on Saturday morning, to receive the Samoan congregation into the Uniting Church.
On Saturday we will have two Bible Studies on healing by Rev Dr Chris Walker, National Consultant on Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship, and in the evening we will have Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll, Manager, Church Partnerships – Pacific, Uniting World, who will address us on environment and women’s issues in that area. The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan and Assembly General Secretary, Colleen Geyer will also be present at Synod.
There are two major matters coming to Synod this year. The first is the election of a new Moderator for the next triennial of Synod. This is always an exciting process. Each three years we elect a Moderator who serves as Moderator Elect for a year before taking up office. The Moderatorial Nominating Committee will bring their report at lunch time on Saturday.
The second relates to the separation of Synod and Presbytery and the related bodies. There are a number of new By Laws but essentially they bring us back to the requirements of UCA regulations. The new By Laws will only take effect at the Presbytery meeting in November but need to be passed at Synod in September. The change comes out of the possibility of establishing a Congress Presbytery and/or a second Presbytery. Presbytery will elect a Chair in a volunteer role and the Deputy General Secretary will take up the role of Presbytery Secretary. If approved this will also change the composition of some of our commissions and committees.
UnitingWorld and Social Justice Board will also have proposals relating to their work.
Finally, on Sunday morning we invite Synod members to attend worship services around the Perth Metro area to bring news of Synod to the congregation. Following the services, Synod members will gather back at Scotch College for lunch and the last items of business, including a report back on their visits to the congregations, and the recognition of ministry (including former Associate General Secretary Rosemary Hudson Miller).
Rev David de Kock
General Secretary, Uniting Church WA