UME Board Report to Synod 2016
Synod has built its life around vision, theme, areas of discernment, objectives and initiatives. What in your Board’s opinion have you done that has made the greatest contribution to the achievement of the Synod areas of discernment? Name up to three and provide a brief rationale for each.
- Areas of Discernment: worship, discipleship, witness, leadership: Developed and improving an innovative and collaborative approach to education to equip the future life of the Church through one College and the Uniting Learning Network.
Strengthening the capacity of all God’s people is vital to the strengthening of our missional engagement. The quality of our leaders and their depth of faith, spiritual health and theological understanding are fundamental to our ability to equip, train and nurture disciples of Christ. The Uniting Learning Network provides a framework through which a wide variety of educational and missional opportunities can be explored and implemented.
- Area of Discernment: financial and physical resources: Developed sound business plans for each of the three Uniting Venues to provide enhanced missional opportunities and to create improved sustainable revenue generation for and on behalf of the Synod
The UME Board is committed to the wise stewardship of the resources entrusted to it. While our Venues have continued to offer Christ-centred hospitality to a wide range of guests, there is much more that can be done to improve our missional engagement with our guests and to develop a stronger income stream for the benefit of the Synod.
- Area of Discernment: growth: Reshaped planning for Yuróra 2017 (National Christian Youth Convention) to expand to more than 1000 young people from across Australia encouraging engagement in God’s mission, advocated on behalf of the tertiary ministry network and developed principles and policies for the Growth Fund.
Yuróra is the biggest gathering of Uniting Church young people in Australia and provides an opportunity for leadership development amongst the organisers and faith and discipleship for those who attend. Research tells us that large events are incredibly significant in the faith journeys of young people.
Tertiary ministries are the space where young people are actively engaged in exploring faith during a time of growth and learning at tertiary institutions. UME continues to advocate for, and to assist Presbyteries, in securing resources that can sustain these ministries.
The Synod Standing Committee included the development of a Growth Fund as a way to enable the Church to invest strategically in ministries that will grow the church. UME has facilitated the development of principles to guide the operation of the Fund and is working on developing policies and procedures.
What have you done as a specific response to directions from the 2014 Synod?
Life of the Church
- Reimagined and renewed collaborative approaches to education through the Uniting Learning Network, one College in NSW/ACT and collaborative initiatives with other Uniting Church theological colleges including, in particular, a partnership with Trinity Theological College Brisbane in conjunction with St Francis College (Qld)
- Refreshed core courses such as the Living our Faith series, the Bachelor of Theology, Master of Ministry, Master of Theology and the Doctor of Ministry ensuring that all learning is about deepening our discipleship and engaging in God’s mission in the world
- Developing opportunities for closer partnership with Charles Sturt University
- Developed partnership with Alan Walker College of Evangelism to enable a focussed commitment to evangelism, mission and leadership
- Developed collaborative approaches with congregations and presbyteries to assist them grow through dreaming, visioning and forming missional options (for example, assisting Macquarie Darling Presbytery in taking up responsibility for the Broken Hill Flying Patrol)
- Building capacity by resourcing presbyteries to engage with congregations in mission strategy and Life and Witness Consultations (for example, building capacity in helping congregations engage missionally with their local communities)
- Working with, and enabling the release of resources for, UAICC to develop a strategic plan and to develop capacity in leadership, including the allocation of a portion of sales proceeds from the sale of the Bonny Hills Conference Centre and developing capacity in indigenous theology
- Continued to make resources available through the Camden Theological Library and to improve library access to users, in particular to Korean-speaking students and church members and to church members from the Pacific Islands. Committed to implementing a new integrated library system, that supports access to the resources of Camden Theological library via mobile devices, provides easier access to a wider range of digital resources and is in close collaboration with Trinity Theological College Library, Brisbane.
Enabling the Church
- Improved operational efficiency and optimised activities to “do more with less”
- Undertook detailed review of Uniting Venues and developed a strategy to deliver stronger missional value while also contributing additionally to Synod revenues
- Commenced initiatives to improve positive engagement with Uniting Schools including intentional engagement with School Councils and leadership and facilitating gatherings for school chaplains. In particular, working with Margaret Jurd College to incorporate in a way that retains church connection and secures significant additional government funding.
- In collaboration with Uniting, developed strategic approaches to community engagement and ways that congregations might work with Uniting in developing new missional opportunities
- Improved access to Camden Theological Library collection
- Commenced strategic rethinking of Rural Ministry to develop a sustainable strategy for the next 5 – 10 years
What are the values, principles and priorities that you will use to set the course of your Board’s activities for the next 18 months that you want the Synod to affirm? These will provide a framework for you to report against in 18 months.
The UME Board will be guided by these values:
- Collaboration and development through partnerships and sharing of expertise
- Flexibility and agility – be prepared to respond to changing needs
- Be bold and courageous to challenge the status quo for future benefits
- Seek sustainability and stewardship for future generations
- Be respectful of others and value their opinions
UME Board priorities will be based upon several principles:
- Providing quality educational leadership which deepens discipleship and enables faithful participation in the mission of God
- Work with all Synod Boards (Uniting, Uniting Resources, Uniting Financial Services) to leverage respective strengths and capabilities
- Fiscally prudent balanced with supporting our core business of resourcing congregations, Presbyteries and Synod-wide activities in times of turbulent change
- Continue the development of a unified College as one of Australia’s leading Uniting Church theological educational bodies, integrated into the Uniting Learning Network
- Continue to develop well-educated, enthusiastic, energetic and grounded leaders
- Continue development of initiatives that revitalise the church’s understanding of, and commitment to, evangelism and mission and the renewal of all creation
- Develop a strong working partnership with Charles Sturt University including potential property development at Masons Drive
- Continue to support the development of multi-cultural and cross-cultural ministries and to support leaders in CALD communities
- Continue development of fiscally sound and operationally excellent ministry operations at Naamaroo and Elanora Venues as approved in the Uniting Venues Directions Paper which support the ethos and broader work of the Uniting Church in particular with young people (Elanora) and adults (Naamaroo)
- Develop a model and structure for Rural Ministry that meets the diverse needs of individuals and communities, balancing competing factors of geography, cost, time, support for and contributions from Presbyteries and congregations and other factors
- Improve collaborative relationships, governance and information sharing with Uniting Church Schools through a sub-committee of the UME Board which includes experienced and skilled external members.
- Synod to reconfirm UME’s governance responsibilities and accountabilities, reflecting UME’s expertise in mission, theological and lay education, resourcing support for presbyteries and congregations, and in assisting UAICC