Dear Presbytery Friends and Colleagues,
It’s past time to wish you a happy new year, and hope you had some sort of refreshing break over the summer, etc. It’s well past the long weekend, and the paper-shuffling few days before February, when work must begin in earnest.
Yes, I did, thank you for asking. A few weeks of ‘staycation’ around North Narrabeen, walking past our very own local caravan park to the ocean pool or the surf, reading, some home pottering, hobbies, movies and an afternoon glass of wine. Now it’s back to gym, and quitting sugar and midweek beer. And it’s not even Lent yet.
Two major changes for me: 1) our son Michael left this week for an International Studies Year in Italy, so Michele and I are ‘home alone’. Pray for her. 2) I have been relieved of my role as Acting Chair of UME and replaced by a very competent person with the time to give to that role. I am therefore also expelled from my seat on Synod Standing Committee which was tied to UME. So much free time, whatever shall I do?
If you are in ministry in the Sydney Central Coast Presbytery, you will already know the answer to that question. You understand that the Presbytery Minister’s life ambition consists of nothing more than desiring each minstry agent’s health, happiness and personal fulfilment, while gently squeezing every last drop of excellent ministry juice from your body, mind and soul.
To that end, I am (we all are!) busy planning all kinds of excellence-inducing, missionally-growing, pastorally-caring, Lord Jesus-serving enterprises for your vocational enrichment. These include:
- Positive pastoral conversations: Formal (Vital Ministry) or Informal (I’ll buy you a coffee). My practice is to continue meet with groups of ministers around the Zones; my goal is to meet with each ministry agent after reading your Annual Report, which provides the juicy detail to reflect upon; and then when we meet ‘informally’ at other times I have a much better idea of what is going on for you. You can call me anytime for unburdening of loads, free advice, or sharing good news.
- Vocational assistance: I am the Presbytery’s rep on the Placements Committee. ACOMP is exploring how it might be more strategically focused on finding the right ministers for significant and strategic ministries, including more intentional team ministries. Let me know what is going on for you and I can be an effective advocate and contact between your vocational leadings and learnings, and emerging ministry opportunities.
- Education for ministry and mission: The one key part of my Presbytery Minister role which has been only barely touched on since the formation of SCCP is the development of learning and training opportunities for lay and ordained ministers together. We have been able to tap into UME courses, but now PDO Fiona and I are keen to really foster programs within SCCP, to resource vital and growing congregational life, assist lay workers and pastors to establish a longer-term vocational trajectory, and enable ministers to learn with their church members the skills which make for sustainable church life and vigorous growth. We want to put a particular (but not exclusive) emphasis on creating a supportive cohort of youth and children’s workers through the Presbytery Young People’s Project (PYPP). Sounds too good to be true, huh? Talk to us and let’s get this started.
- Shaping the future of the Uniting Church where we are, and everywhere else: This is an Assembly year. I will join a number of other SCC members at the 15th Assembly in Melbourne in July to explore where we have got to and where we might be going in our 42nd year of grace. This will be (again) a time of delicate and impassioned debate as we discuss, among other things, the UC’s response to Australia’s recent institution of Equality in Marriage. I have some views on how the church is likely to handle this, which I am planning to write about in the near future. Meanwhile I have been encouraged to help the Presbytery to set up some opportunities for information and discussion in the lead-up to Assembly. I am very keen to find helpful, safe, respectful ways to do this, but as I write there is still no new resource material from the Assembly, nor yet an indication of what proposals might be brought and how we might address them, so I am taking some advice on this. If you have advice for me, please don’t be shy about posting it.
I am pretty sure there was more I was going to say but that will do for now. I promise to write REAL SOON on the issue above and offer some resources for that conversation. Meanwhile, brothers and sisters, let us encourage one another to love and good works, even more as we see the day approaching. Look busy. God Bless.