Assembly Report Highlights Joy and Encourages Participation

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Dr Deidre Palmer, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, and Rev Rob Floyd, Acting General Secretary of the Uniting Church in Australia, gave a verbal report from the National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia, to the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA.

Deidre shared some of her experiences at the National Young Adult Leaders’ Conference (NYALC), and a walk on country that preceded it. She has also recently taken part in President Roundtable conversations with young people.

The first roundtable was conducted in Canberra in July, and she plans to hold 12 more around Australia, including two in Western Australia.

“Working with Amos Washington, the UN Youth Ambassador for Australia in 2018 and a member of the Uniting Church, and other Uniting Church young adult leaders, we have developed a listening tour where we listen to the voices of Uniting Church youth and young adults around a series of key areas and questions regarding their journey with Christ and their Christian discipleship, and what sustains them and encourages them in living the Gospel of Christ in their daily lives,” Deidre said.

“We will listen to their views on how the church might be engaged in the public space and their hopes for who we are and are becoming as the Uniting Church.”

Deidre recently led the President’s Conference in Fiji, which addressed themes from the Assembly Statement for the Whole Creation, Christian leadership and discipleship, women in leadership, gender equality and the impact of climate change in the Pacific.

Participants shared time with the local Methodist Church, and released a statement which is available on the Assembly website.

“One of our expressions of solidarity with our Pacific neighbours is our participation as a church in the Global Climate Action this Friday, 20 September,” she said. “It’s an exciting movement across the world that we are part of.”

The next President’s Conference will be held in Adelaide from 2 to 5 October 2020, with the theme ‘Called by God’.

Rev Rob Floyd continued with the report, highlighting the Assembly’s work in the development of the Uniting Justice statement, Our Vision for a Just Australia, and the mapping of their work against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. They have also identified Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress initiatives that they could partner with, arising out of their current Strategic Plan.

The Assembly is also working in the area of climate change advocacy.

“Work is underway to prepare a National Climate Action Plan and Reporting Framework and supporting educational and theological materials to resource us all to take action on climate change,” Rob said.

“I want to acknowledge the collaboration of many members of Synod in this field.”

He then highlighted a new resource from UnitingWorld, for collaboration with our international partners in the Pacific, A Theology of Disaster Resilience in a Changing Climate. 

“This resource and the training that accompanies it will be vital as our partners face an uncertain and challenging future.”

Education and theological materials referring to the 15thAssembly statement responding to the issue of family and domestic violence are also being developed, as are Disability Access Guidelines, which will be available early next year. A liturgical resource in this area, developed by the Transforming Worship Circle of Interest, is available online here.

There are seven Assembly Circles of Interest that anyone is welcome to join. Rob said that members receive updates on an area of work that they are interested in, with encouragement to share the information wider in the church.

Rob encouraged everyone to join a circle.

“Advocates appointed to each circle nurture and encourage activity, conversation and input from circle members,” he said. “Circles will also be supported by panel members identified and appointed as people with particular gifts and expertise in that area.

“I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to think about which circle you will join.”

More information on the Assembly Circles on Interest are available here.

Dr Deidre Palmer closed the Assembly report highlighting her joy at participating in and representing the Uniting Church at national and international conferences, as well as sharing some of her hopes for the future: strengthening evangelism, focussing on young leaders, building intergenerational Christian communities, acting for justice, exploring Jesus’ Gospel to embody good news to the poor, and staying connected in a global communion of churches.

“I invite you to pray for the reconciliation, renewal and unity that is Christ’s call to us,” she said. “I pray that the Holy Spirit will empower us with courage to embody the boundless grace, justice and hope that is Christ’s gift to the whole world and creation.”

Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, closed the session in prayer.

“God we give you thanks for the Uniting Church as it shares its life across this nation in so many different ways,” he said.

“Thank you for calling Deidre to the role of President. We’re mindful of the huge number of roles that she fills; in so many ways she serves us faithfully.

“We know that this work is demanding and tiring. We pray that you continue to give her strength.”

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