Property for a Pilgrim People
the next steps
04 From the General Secretaryâ€™s Desk 05
Rev. Niall Reid
Before we begin
08 A process of discussion and recovery 09 What you told us 10 Coming together for the Common Good 30 The next steps
2 Insights special issue 2014
Foreword from the Moderator Keeping our focus where it truly belongs
n a recent Insights edition on stewardship, I observed that “Stewardship is sometimes about how we protect, conserve and use our resources. At other times it is about giving that does not count the cost”. For example, it is common biblical practice to commit a regular amount to God’s work in the local Congregation and beyond in proportion to one’s income and circumstance. At other times, a person may hear an impassioned plea for help from a deserving source, and make a ‘spur of the moment’ contribution of the note of largest denomination in their wallet.
Rev. Dr Brian Brown Moderator
The Moderator is elected to give general and pastoral leadership to the Synod, assisting and encouraging expression and fulfilment of faith, and the witness of the church.
A similar principle applies to our properties. We do well to provide and maintain a comfortable, welcoming sacred space for our Congregations and communities. We also need to have the faith, courage, creativity and generosity of spirit to do something completely different when necessity demands and the Spirit moves. I am particularly encouraged to hear such a wide range of voices speaking in this second special property edition of Insights. Your thoughtful responses to the challenge to assess our use of property and other resources as part of our mission takes us a step closer to a new day of generosity and compassion. There are two Bible stories that particularly relate to our current reevaluation of our use of resources in the face of numerically declining Congregations and financial challenges. The first is the story of Gideon, famous for leading the vastly outnumbered Israelites to a resounding victory over the seething hordes of marauding Midianites and their allies (Judges chapters 6 and 7). Gideon assembles an army of 22,000 from the Israelite tribes, to which God responds: “You have too
many!” When the numbers are culled to half, God tells Gideon, “There are still too many”. All bar 300 are sent home. Just 1.36% of the original army remains. Gideon then devises a strategy whereby the 300 create havoc in the sleeping Midianite camp, resulting in a decisive military victory.
The use of creative strategy to overcome seemingly impossible odds The pertinent point for us in this ancient story is not about resolving conflict by violence, but rather in noting the following key elements: Gideon’s faith and obedience to the voice of God, the courage of the remnant army, and the use of creative strategy to overcome seemingly impossible odds. Another relevant story is the ‘Feeding of the 5,000’ from Matthew Chapter 14. In the light of the apparent scarcity of food, the disciples want to send the hungry people away to fend for themselves. What they come to discover is that in Jesus’ hands, five loaves and two fishes are more than enough to feed the gathered and expectant crowds. These stories remind us to keep our focus where it truly belongs — on the abundant life of Jesus at the centre of our Church, our faith and our community life. As we face the reality of current challenges, let’s keep the experience within the crucible of our faith in God, our courage to follow, and our nous that is quite capable of making plans that work.
You can follow the Moderator on Twitter @BrianBrownUCA Insights Special Issue 2014 3
From the General Secretary’s desk On a journey together for the Common Good
that these three streams now need to converge so we can find a way forward on all of the issues being raised.
The first stream is the work of the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) in setting strategic directions and priorities for the coming period. This has been an ongoing discussion in the SSC since the end of last year. We now feel ready to present a proposal to Synod, which we hope will give us some direction for our future work.
This is the reason we have been asking for Presbytery feedback, sponsoring discussions and consulting widely on all of these issues. The Church must act together if we are to move together into the future that God wants.
hank you everyone for the feedback you have given during the Synod’s process of gathering information about property issues confronting the life of the Church at this time. Your responses are partly collated in this edition, but form part of a wider discussion which is taking place. It seems to me that there are three streams of discussion.
Rev. Dr Andrew Williams General Secretary The General Secretary is appointed by the Synod to provide leadership to the Church by actively engaging in strategic thinking about the life, direction, vision and mission of the Church.
The second stream has been a discussion about the budget. By now most of you will know that we are facing a deficit budget, which is completely unsustainable beyond about three years. We are working hard to find ways to shore up our resources as a Synod and become more efficient in the work that we do. It certainly means facing hard decisions, but we will do that based on the priorities we have set in the exercise mentioned above.
Synod certainly has to grapple with some of these realities, but the work will be ongoing. I do, however, want to make it clear that from my perspective these tasks are urgent. We do not have unlimited time. We cannot continue to run with the budget as it is and that means decisions must be made now!
Thank you for taking the time to wrestle with these issues because they are at the heart of what it means for us to be a Church responding to God’s faithful love and moving into the future that God has for us. More than ever, it is time for us to live up to our calling to be a Church that’s uniting for the Common Good.
The third stream is the work that Rev. Niall Reid and the Property Team of Uniting Resources have been undertaking — thinking through the issues surrounding property in the life of the Church. These issues were widely canvassed in the first special edition of Insights: Property for Pilgrim People, and elicited plenty of feedback. Four property workshops were then held to get further feedback, much of which is reflected in this edition. What is clear to me, as a participant in each of these three discussion streams, is that the topics intersect at many points. Indeed it might be seen
4 Insights Special Issue 2014
A word from the Rev. Niall Reid
Becoming the Church Christ commissioned us to be
he previous special edition of Insights: Property for a Pilgrim People, meetings in Presbyteries, and the property workshops held in June and July have created opportunities and promoted conversations around the Church’s wealth of property and how we should ‘use’ it. However, what is given expression to in different ways time and again is that we first need to respond to Christ’s call to be the Church he has commissioned us to be. As a member of the Church, I hope you feel you have been engaged and listened to. This is not a top-down process, but a collaborative one.
Rev. Niall Reid
It is also hoped that you will get a sense of the complexity of the issue, in coming up with creative ways forward in an environment where there is a wide range of views on what are the relevant issues facing the Church and the solutions to those issues. It is my hope that the process will have given you an understanding that difficult decisions have to be made and not everyone will agree or be happy with them. I want this to be part of a process of rebuilding trust and I would like that to come through the pages of this publication. That is why I do not want to end with definitive proposals that Uniting Resources or Standing Committee will bring to Synod. But rather, to suggest that the Church needs to grapple with rising up from the deliberations of the people of God over this past year, recognising that the Synod is one of the places where decisions will need to be made. Any decisions that we make cannot simply be about redistributing wealth. They must focus on providing the means of growing capacity to engage and influence society with the vision of God.
There is a recognition that we need to change the way we deal with one another; that we need to work together across the councils of the Church; and that we need to create a culture of trust. The question is: Do we have the will to do so? Can we put aside old wounds for the sake of new life? Can we break out of the silos we have created? Can we resist the temptation to return to a culture of complain and blame? Within the polity and the regulations of the Uniting Church there is the flexibility and the capacity to achieve many, if not all, the changes and goals that have been proposed in the course of the conversations across the Synod. The discussions in Presbyteries and the workshops across the Synod have identified some of the issues that members of the Church believe we need to address as we have reflected on the property of the Church. The Synod at its meeting will have a responsibility to agree on some principles and set direction and the Standing Committee will have responsibility to develop policies in light of those principles and directions in consultation with Presbyteries. We all have the capacity to contribute to this ongoing process as we participate in the Councils of the Church. In the pages of this special edition there is the opportunity to read what people have said, to see the suggestions that have arisen and the suggestions that have been drafted, and to then reflect on whether we can be the Church Christ has commissioned us to be. If we can accomplish this, we will start to think differently about our property, we will have a different attitude to sharing, and we will discover a culture of generosity.
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Let’s be reminded of our past
ne day the disciples went out in their boats. As always, they had a plan to fish. They fished through the day and night but caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus approached them on the shore and said “Friends, haven’t you any fish? Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” They had tried all night and were tired, but when they tried again, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. What a catch! But this was not about fishing. They pulled their boats up on the shore, ate with Jesus and reaffirmed their conviction to follow Him. Nothing was ever the same again. As a Church, life has been going on as normal. We’re doing things as we have always done. But there seems to be little
to show for it even though we have been working hard and many of us are tired. Now someone comes along and tells us to use our property more effectively. We drag ourselves along to workshops and Presbytery meetings and discover we have a wealth of property resources, but come to the realisation that it is not about the property.
body, no Jesus. Just a couple of guys in shiny clothes spruiking a line that Jesus was not dead. The spices were forgotten, the tomb left behind, the disciples had to be told, but the disciples did not believe them saying they were talking a whole lot of nonsense.
We are being asked to follow Jesus into a world where the Church has not been before. To have the courage to leave much of what we have known behind and discover a whole new way of being Church.
We are accepting that the Church Jesus called into being is dead and that we just need to give it a good burial. But some, with less than conclusive evidence, dare to believe differently, even as others believe such hope is foolish nonsense. As with the women of the Gospel, we are being called to remember…remember that three denominations died with the promise of new life. The day has come for that new Church to rise.
One day Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and some other women took spices they had prepared to the tomb of Jesus. They were just doing what anyone would do for a loved one who had died. But things did not turn out as expected. There was no
As followers of Jesus we have become somewhat disillusioned.
A process of discussion and discovery F
ollowing a process that began at the end of 2012, the special edition of Insights: Property for a Pilgrim People was distributed in 2014 to provide a platform for a Synod-wide discussion about property. Based on the responses received, incidental conversations and the participation of Presbyteries, it is evident that there has been significant engagement with this publication. This process of engagement has seen Rev. Niall Reid speak at the UAICC Regional Committee and attend meetings in the Presbyteries of Canberra Region, Georges River, Korean, Ku-ring-gai, Mid North Coast and Sydney; at Far North Coast Leadership Team, Illawarra Strategic Mission Committee, Parramatta Nepean Strategy/Standing Committee, Sydney North Presbytery and Standing Committee. Niall also travelled to the Macquarie Darling Joint Committees Meeting, visited the Riverina and held conversations with leaders, and
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attended a number of meetings with individuals and groups. While there were some instances where clashing diary commitments meant it was not possible to organise a meeting, it is fair to say that Presbyteries met and were engaged in the conversations even so.
much more challenging to come up with proposals to address those issues.
Throughout June and July, four property workshops were held at the Centre for Ministry in North Parramatta, Shalom House of Prayer, Carcoar (SW of Bathurst), Grafton Uniting Church and Tamworth Southside Uniting Church. More than 160 people participated in these workshops.
This issue of Insights is intended to provide feedback to those unable to attend a workshop or a Presbytery meeting, and to continue engaging members across the Church in this conversation. We want to encourage your participation in the ongoing decision-making processes of the Church.
In table groups, participants were asked to identify the three main property-related issues that the Synod needed to consider and then develop proposals that would enable the Synod to address those issues. It was the view of many that there were governance and structural issues that, if addressed first, would enable some of the property issues to be dealt with more effectively. Most groups had little problem in identifying the issues, but found it
Feedback on the issues raised at the four workshops, together with potential proposals arising out of the work of the table groups, were provided to all the participants.
We hope you will gain an insight into the breadth of issues considered and the proposals that could address those issues. Some of the proposals conflict, and some may prove to be unsustainable or need further work for one reason or another. One purpose of this issue is to provide the first steps towards developing proposals that will gain widespread support and enable the mission of the Church. insights.uca.org.au
What you told us Your responses to Property for a Pilgrim People
ere are some of the things we heard in letters, from table groups at property workshops and in conversations. We recognise some may want to challenge or debate these comments, but their inclusion here is to provide an indication of what members of the Church are saying and help everyone to reflect on appropriate responses and what needs to be done to enable us to move forward together. One point that came through strongly was how challenging it is for those who do not have English as their first language to engage in the complex issues surrounding property. Furthermore, for some cultures the process of consultation and lively discussion is alien. It requires more extensive interaction to unpack the issues and to understand the different perspectives and challenges facing Congregations from multicultural backgrounds. It was also noted that what may be appropriate for Congregations in decline may not be relevant to Pacific Island and Korean Congregations, which are the growing edges of the Church. “Jesu “Jesus owned no property and had no cash. His resources wereno his s owned noonly property and had disciples. Andresources yet in threewere shorthis years, cash. His only He changed FOREVER! disciples. Andthis yetplanet, in 3 short years, He I feel very strongly that the current changed this planet, FOREVER! I feel debate is much than just very strongly thatbroader the current debate is property.” much broader than just property.” “Ownership of all UCA property vests in Synod and I therefore consider that the question should not be to what extent a Congregation should retain proceeds of a sale, but rather a decision should be made by Synod as to what to do with proceeds, albeit in discussion with the selling Church Congregation.” “If“Ifall energy allthe themoney, money, time time and and energy that has been spent on battles over that has been spent on battles over finances, power and property had been finances, power and property had been spent on the administrative support spent on the administrative support ofofCongregations, Church Congregations, the the Uniting Uniting Church would be well placed to cope with WHS, would be well placed to cope with WHS, the coming taxing of religions and the the coming taxing of religions and the removal of the legal exemptions from removal of the legal exemptions from aa variety varietyofoflaws, laws,etc.” etc.”
“I belong to a small Congregation that shares a minister with two other Congregations in a Resource Ministry. All three Congregations are small and none can afford a full-time minister.” “My concern at the moment, however, is cultural. If I keep to my “My concern at the moment, however, culture and tradition, I would not isrespond cultural.toIf this, I keep to my culture but I have learnt and tradition, I would not respond this, that someone needs to speaktoup, but I have learnt that someone needs otherwise decisions are made without toreal speak up, otherwise decisions are conversations, or only with one made without real conversations, or way conversations.” only with one way conversations.” “The problem with the UCA discussion surrounding Church property is that they are ignoring the fact that Aboriginal people should be considered in every area of discussion around land tenure. We are not! And that is the problem.” “It will surely serve the purpose “It will surely serve the purpose of of engaging Congregations in engaging Congregations in intentional intentional and deliberative and deliberative discussion and discussion and hopefully, action.” hopefully, action.” “It is encouraging that Synod has now begun to tackle the problem of assets, in particular, property. It is also exciting that there is a recognition of the changing times and the questioning about the future of the Christian Church and its mission to contemporary society.” “Although we are now past the trials and tribulations of bringing “Although we are the trials together what wasnow thenpast three and tribulations of bringing together separate Churches within this Parish, what then three Churches and was as one who wasseparate deeply involved within this Parish, and as one who was in the process, I still hold the greatest deeply involved in the process, I still sympathy for those who are tasked to hold theout greatest sympathy for those carry this work.” who are tasked to carry out this work.” “What concerns me is the way in which it is presented, which I believe is emotive. My own personal views on this issue are that we should keep these valuable assets…, whilst recognising that this is not always practical. I also think that the exploring different uses, which meet the needs of the community is fantastic.”
“We “Wethink thinkififthe theChurch Churchwants wants to to take seriously the covenanting take seriously the covenanting process process between betweenthe theSynod Synodand andthe the UAICC UAICC then itthen needs to consider the UAICC when it needs to consider the UAICC speaking about property and all matters when speaking about property and all pertaining to issues affecting Aboriginal matters pertaining to issues affecting people in the UCA.”in the UCA.” Aboriginal people “The first is the use of the phrase ‘Pilgrim People’. I think there is a danger that this important phrase from the Basis of Union has become a weapon, a way to beat up or cajole those who have more attachment to their property than some people would like; a way of making people feel guilty because they are not as flexible as others.” “Although the Synod’s property “Although property review maythe be Synod’s perceived as a threat, review may be perceived as a threat, it is in fact a God-given opportunity itto is search in fact aour God-given to hearts toopportunity see if we are search our hearts to see if we are really really disciples of Jesus.” disciples of Jesus.” “For some, maybe many, the concept of mission is sending a minister to a Pacific Island. Much theological education of ministers and Congregations is needed to address this first so we have a shared meaning of mission in the conversation.” “There is clearly a need for a “There is to clearly a need a Congress indicate whatfor it means Congress to indicate what it means in a in a practical way for land to be practical way for land to be Aboriginal Aboriginal land, but the first step is for land, but theto first for the the Church sit step downisand talk Church with tothe sit Congress down andabout talk with the Congress these matters.” about these matters.” “The complexity of working out a property policy seems to take our breath away. But it needs to be sorted before people of goodwill, like ourselves, are prepared to commit to anything in terms of divesting ourselves of the property bind.” “We call ourselves a Pilgrim People call Pilgrim People but“We seem to ourselves be waitingaon God to tell us but seem to be waiting on God toas an the way. I would rather think of us tell us the way. with I would think Evolving People the rather responsibility of us as an Evolving People with for our future squarely on our ownthe responsibility for our future squarely shoulders.” on our own shoulders.”
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Coming together for the common good Workshopping the issue
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n the previous special edition of Insights: Property for a Pilgrim People, we spoke of the need for a broad consultation process to better understand the depth and breadth of issues that need be addressed.
What are we here for?
We encouraged participants to speak openly and honestly and to work collaboratively. It wasn’t about being right or wrong, but instead facilitating a rigorous discussion. We were not necessarily looking for consensus, but we were optimistic that a number of suggestions would emerge.
Who sets the priorities?
An enormous amount of information was gleaned, some reflecting sentimental attachments; some simply rational, but all relevant and valuable. At the end of each day it was clear that broad themes and proposals were emerging. The following pages cover the suggestions that have been developed. These suggestions were not debated or agreed to but reflect the different approaches to the issues developed by different groups and are included here to stimulate thinking. At the end of this section, there are suggestions not specifically related to property. However, those who attended the property workshops raised them as contextual or prior issues that needed to be addressed concurrently with or before the Church can adequately address the issues surrounding property.
Vision, Mission and Ministry The issues you identified When considering change for the future, it can be helpful to reflect on the past. Where we are going is affected by where we have been. The Uniting Church is called to carry forward the work Jesus Christ began in all aspects of people’s lives. Our mission is to be a living presence of God in the community and to follow the example of Christ so God’s transforming love may be experienced by all. As an institution, have we lost our missional perspective? Where is God leading us, and how do we view ourselves as people of God? Only by defining who we are and developing a clear vision for the future can we start to grow. Through the workshops, more questions than answers were raised. What do we want to be? Who are we? insights.uca.org.au
Who do we connect with? H ow do we make decisions (Congregations, Presbyteries, Synod)? Do we have sufficient information? H ow do we foster a sense of belonging? How do we create presence? Is our mission supporting our property or is our property supporting our mission?
That Synod Direct the Advisory Committee on Ministerial Placements (ACOMP) to engage Presbytery Pastoral Relations Committees (PRC) in conversations about: 1. the advantages of making all placements within a Presbytery; Presbytery placements with defined responsibilities both to a Congregation(s) and the Presbytery; and with PRCs implement an agreed plan for Presbytery placement of ministers
How do we get the ‘right’ person in the ‘right’ (in need) place?
2. intentionally engaging all ministry agents as part of a resourcing team(s) for the Presbytery in providing for worship, mission, community development and ecclesial training with support from the Education Network.
How can property be used to help our mission?
Worship, witness and service of Congregations
What is the Synod’s strategy and how does it relate to the local Congregations?
The issues you identified
How do we help Congregations move to new ways of Church?
Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod In seeking to mobilise the Church into missional action with a common understanding of mission, direct Uniting Mission and Education (UME) to develop a process that: 1. leads and facilitates a Church-wide conversation to arrive at a statement that is readily understood by the average person starting with an initial statement: “Mission is…” 2. provides tools for Congregations to engage feedback. That Synod Direct UME to: 1. develop a discussion paper for comment across the Synod addressing how UTC, conference centres, aged care centres, Uniting Church Schools represent the Church's mission. 2. bring a report to the 2016 meeting of Synod together with any proposals as appropriate arising out of the feedback given. That Synod Request the Assembly to set up a task group to engage all Synods in a conversation with a view to providing theological education for the training of Ministry agents through one entity even if the delivery is in different places or through distance education.
There were various suggestions concerning the role of Congregations. While most do not focus on property, they could have an impact on how Congregations view and use their property. Strong themes coming through the workshops were that Church: is about people, relationships or community and not the building is a mission centre not just a worship centre should be community focused. There was also reference to the worship, witness and service needing to be contextual; looking to the needs of the community and building partnerships. Some did comment on the Church being a visual presence in the community as a significant element of the witness of the Church. One suggestion was that this would be better in a shop front than in properties that the Church often holds. In different ways there was acknowledgment that property as it is currently configured does not serve us well.” Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod 1. invite Congregations to identify where they will be in ten years’ time, categorising their future as one of the following: (a) a lighthouse Congregation offering ministry across a region (b) a small group Church/home group Insights Special Issue 2014 11
(c) a multicultural community that is resourcing our continuity (d) an ecumenical worship centre for a community/ village/ area (e) a centre hosting a community chaplaincy (f) some other form of church. 2. request Congregations, in consultation with Presbyteries, to use this information in the development of their mission plan, including the ministry and property resources required 3. direct UME to provide a resource enabling Congregations to understand and consider the different possibilities in point 1. That Synod Direct UME to develop resources for Congregations that: 1. identify different models of worship to those traditionally experienced, which engage members of the Congregation 2. help Congregations discover ministry in their wider community.
Property The issues you identified A wide range of suggestions were made around: the best use of property in the local context the need to identify underutilised property and develop a plan for it the importance of including all Church property in any proposed deliberations providing pastoral assistance and mentoring through change and closure Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod Identify people who can assist Congregations come to terms with closure and loss of property. That Synod 1. request all Presbyteries conduct a Mission Audit of all properties in their Presbytery to determine which should be kept, which should be disposed of (surplus to need) and which need to be repurposed 2. direct Uniting Resources, in conjunction with Presbyteries, to develop an inventory of all property held by the Church within the bounds of the Synod 12 Insights Special Issue 2014
3. in consultation with each Presbytery develop a plan for the orderly disposal of excess properties That Synod Direct Standing Committee to commission a report on Uniting Church Conference Centres to: 1. assess whether they are effective in serving the mission of the Church 2. make recommendations as to their future and, in response to the report, take such action as it thinks fit including the sale of property. That Synod Direct Uniting Resources to provide risk management workshops for the benefit of Presbyteries and Congregations. That Synod Direct Uniting Resources to identify properties that have the potential to achieve commercial returns. Further, that UR initiate conversations with relevant Presbyteries and Congregations to develop plans to maximise the commercial potential with a view to maximising the missional potential of the Congregation.
Heritage The issues you identified It was clear that heritage properties, their maintenance and upkeep posed significant problems for Congregations. Sometimes the heritage nature of the building is a real impediment to the mission of the Congregation. Congregations with heritage properties often do not have the resources to fulfil their responsibilities and look for guidance as to appropriate alternative uses possible. Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod Direct Uniting Resources to: 1. develop guidelines for how Congregations can use and develop properties (particularly in relation to heritage listed properties) 2. provide a list of grants that might be available to Congregations and what processes involved in applying for these grants 3. develop a database of case studies on how Congregations have altered and reused their buildings in innovative and creative ways.
The Sales Proceeds Policy The issues you identified We have a sales proceeds policy, which was approved by the Synod Standing Committee on 28 August 2010. As with any policy, it needs to be regularly reviewed and be flexible enough to change with changing times. Generally, there is agreement that we need some form of a Sales Proceeds Policy (SPP). There was considerable support for the current policy with further clarification around how to implement it. Some amendments were also offered. There was also support for the idea that the Policy should enable resources to be distributed across the Synod rather than simply in the context of the Congregation or Presbytery with beneficial stewardship. Others suggested that the relevant Congregation should be involved in consultations with Presbytery and Synod when determining how best to use Sales Proceeds under their beneficial Stewardship. The following proposals reflect the various suggestions raised in the workshops. Suggestions addressing the issue That Synod Affirm the current Sales Proceeds Policy (SPP) with the following amendments: (a) The SPP should apply to all councils of the Church (b) If within 2 years of receiving sales proceeds the receiving body cannot demonstrate an anticipated mission use of sales funds, the Presbytery will develop a plan for the use of the funds (c) Prayerful consideration That Synod Determine that the implementation of the SPP facilitate and encourage the resourcing of ministry/mission extension. That Synod Noting regulation 4.8 – Application of Proceeds of Sale – amend the SPP so that on the sale of any Congregational property, where there is no identified use under a mission plan approved by the Presbytery the proceeds will be divided as follows: insights.uca.org.au
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1. 80% to Synod
1. a higher return on investment
2. 10% to Presbytery
2. a benefit to both Synod and Congregations.
3. 10% to Congregation Note: While not explicitly stated, the intent of this proposal was not that the 80% be for the Synod Office. Rather, the 80% would be distributed strategically across the geographic Synod to grow and develop the mission of the Church in local contexts. The other 20% would be for the Presbytery and Congregation to use as they saw fit. Any proposal along these lines would need to spell out how the sales proceeds are to be used. That Synod Determine that the SPP applies to Presbyteries. Note: It was not suggested, however, it could be appropriate to add â€˜Synodâ€™. That Synod 1. Affirm the current SPP with the following amendments: (a) Congregations be able to apply up to 20% or $100,000 (whichever is the least) of sales proceeds at its sole discretion (b) Sales proceeds to be invested in a fund achieving high returns for the Congregation with half the income to be reinvested, 25% be made available to the Congregation and 25% be directed into a fund to resource Presbyteries (c) That the Presbytery review unused sales proceeds under clause 2.6 of the policy at least every five years instead of every 3 years 2. Direct UR to provide clear and consistent guidelines as to the range of ways in which sales proceeds can be used. That Synod Direct the Standing Committee to develop an SPP that ensures a more equitable and strategic distribution of wealth across the Synod and, in particular: 1. provide a means of funding more placements in rural Presbyteries 2. funding new and innovative mission and ministry projects with real potential to grow the Church locally and beyond That Synod Direct Uniting Resources to develop a proposal to be approved by Standing Committee for the better use of sales proceeds accumulated at the time of the 2014 Synod providing: insights.uca.org.au
That Synod Amend the SPP to allow: 1. for maintenance and repairs to be done before major urgent maintenance is required 2. for the case to be put and, where appropriate, be agreed to that use of proceeds for maintenance and repairs are necessary to bring a Church up to missional use, e.g. carpet, paint roof, change pews to chairs, etc. 3. sales proceeds to be used where there are potential safety issues (e.g. repair of guttering or electrical power boxes) That Synod Direct the Executive Directors of UME and UR to engage with representatives of Presbyteries to develop a process whereby a Congregation can participate in the decision making process for the use of sales proceeds for the wider work of the Church.
MINISTERS' RESIDENCES A minister's residence (commonly referred to as a manse) is intended to provide a home for the minister in placement in a Congregation and is not intended to be an income source for a Congregation. Some Congregations have ministers' residences and no minister; other Congregations have a minister and no minister's residence. Some Congregations exist purely because they rent out significant Church assets, which may be under the beneficial stewardship of a small number of people. A minister's residence should foremost be used for ministry/missional purposes. In Sydney Presbytery has a policy that speaks to this preference for our ministers' residences. This is a great start but does not address the issue of rental of ministers' residences or other residences. When a Congregation that has beneficial stewardship of a residence makes the residence available for use by a minister not linked to that Congregation, a significant rent on that property may be charged. In Sydney, this amount is often many times higher than the maximum housing allowance which is paid to a minister who lives in his/
her own home and the amount charged by the Congregation who has beneficial stewardship of the residence is not regulated by the Church. The cost of a minister to a Congregation therefore varies according to whether the Congregation has a minister's residence or not or whether the minister lives in his/her own home and in Sydney the rental costs are high, so this can dramatically affect the cost of having a minister. If a Congregation has a minister's residence the cost of the minister is the cost of the stipend plus property maintenance, rates and insurance. If a minister lives in his/her own home, the cost of a minister to that Congregation is the cost of the stipend plus the housing allowance. If a Congregation does not have its own minister's residence and is located near the city the cost of a minister is the stipend plus a conservative average of $30,000 p/a rent, paid to another Church in the same Presbytery or much higher if market rent has to be paid. The cost of a minister should be the same for all Congregations. The reason behind a common stipend is so that all ministers have equal pay. The housing of the minister should be treated the same â€” the maximum housing allowance should be the benchmark to be applied in respect of ministers' residences. The same benchmark should be applied to all residences under the beneficial stewardship of Congregations. As a result of union, and the decreasing number of Uniting Church members and Congregations, there are many Congregations that have beneficial stewardship of more than one residence and there are many residences that are rented at market rent. Residences that are no longer required for ministry purposes by a Congregation should be used for the good of the wider Church as these residences were never intended to provide income for the Congregation. We are all beneficial stewards of the resources God gives us and we should not take this responsibility lightly. It is recognised that this change may cause hardship for some Congregations who have come to rely on rental income rather than just offerings and Presbyteries will need to work with these Congregations to arrive at a transitional arrangement that supports their needs Insights Special Issue 2014 15
and explores options with them. It is not intended that any Congregation that has a vital and growing ministry would be disempowered by this policy but rather that there be equity in the use of common resources throughout Presbyteries. Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod Implement a policy as follows: All residences under the beneficial stewardship of Congregations will be made available for use as a residence in the following priority: (a) by a minister in placement in the congregation (b) by a minister in placement in the Presbytery or elsewhere in the Synod (c) other Presbytery approved missional use or, and this is only if the residence cannot be used for one of the above (d) rental for market rent If a residence is used under 1(b) or (c) the Congregation will only be entitled to ‘rent’ equivalent to the maximum minister’s housing allowance. If a residence is used under 1(d) the rent paid by the tenant must be market rent as approved by the Presbytery and that market rent shall be shared as follows: (a) the Congregation shall receive the equivalent of the minister’s maximum housing allowance; and (b) the Presbytery shall receive the balance In all cases, the Congregation will be responsible for payment of rates, insurance premium and maintenance/ repairs on the residence. In the event that the residence is used under 1 (b), (c) or (d), the Congregation will be in receipt of the equivalent of the maximum minister’s housing allowance which shall be held in a separate account and can only be used for payment of rates, insurance, maintenance, repairs and refurbishment of the residence as required (unless otherwise approved by the presbytery).
Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) In response to the special edition of Insights, the UAICC requested a meeting to raise their concern that an Aboriginal understanding of the land and property was not referred to in the publication. On the 18th of June a meeting with the Regional Committee of the UAICC was held in Lismore to listen to what they had to offer to the conversation. The issues they raise are set out below. The issues you identified According to Congress, this is and always will be Aboriginal land, and Aboriginal people have never given away their claim of custodianship of this land. This land was given to Aboriginal people by God, and there is nothing in the claims and justifications of those who occupied this land that convinces Aboriginal Christian people that God has handed this land to someone else. For this reason this land can only be seen as ‘stolen land’, and the land the Church ‘owns’ and worships on is stolen land. Note: There is no suggestion that present members of the Church are guilty of stealing land. The issue is that the Church has inherited land that was stolen. But Congress does not want to make Church people nervous about the land on which they live and worship, nor does Congress wish to be seen as either a ‘problem’ or as a body always looking for funding. Congress wants to have a seat around the table and a voice in the conversation (while recognising that, as a relatively small group this may put a fair bit of strain on their ability to be involved in everything). Congress wants to overcome a situation where, to reflect the story in Acts 6, they have been neglected in the daily distribution. So the question becomes: how are First Peoples able to have a voice and involvement in the custodianship of land so God’s story can be told and they can be a continuing part of God’s story, and can live well socially and economically? SUGGESTIONS MADE BY UAICC Regional Committee and others That Synod Direct Standing Committee to enter a conversation around the suggestions of the UAICC Regional Committee outlined below:
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1. As a symbolic acknowledgement that our Churches are built on stolen land, and as a ‘jubilee-like’ action, the suggestion is that all Congregations and Agencies of the Church (including schools) be required to pay rent. Congress members believe that the fairest way for this to happen is not with a set amount but a set percentage – 1% - of the annual income of all bodies in the Church. This money would go into a special trust account or capital fund for ministry and not for administration costs (i.e. Synod could not simply stop its support because other funds had become available for ministry expansion). It was also suggested that consideration be given to alternative language to ‘pay rent’ 2. That the Synod suggest to all Presbyteries that they implement a policy similar to that of MacquarieDarling Presbytery, viz: that if there is a property which is surplus to the needs of the Congregations in the Presbytery that the property be first of all offered to Congress for ministry (not simply to have and sell). If Congress does not want the property for its ministry that the property can be sold, and the proceeds subject to the tithe mentioned below 3. That Synod explore the most appropriate way in which a tithe can be made to Congress from property sales, maybe something like 5% of all sales 4. That there be an exploration of the possibility of Congress having its own property trust. That Synod Direct UME to set up a task group with the UAICC and the Far North Coast Presbytery to investigate the possibility of: 1. providing a ‘home’ for the UAICC that is culturally appropriate 2. acquiring a site at Coraki or some other appropriate place 3. identifying property sales proceeds and/or government grants that could be directed towards this project: the design, developing and building of a suitable structure(s) and surrounds; 4. with a view to bringing proposals to the Standing Committee for action. That Synod Direct Standing Committee to work with representatives of UAICC to address the ministry or property needs of Aboriginal Congregations with the proviso insights.uca.org.au
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that any proposals in relation to property do not fall outside the current structures of Synod Property Trust. To put the proposals in relation to the UAICC in context it is important to be reminded of the Covenant between the Uniting Church and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. The Convenanting Statement is produced here for your reflection.
Covenanting Statement: 1994 This Covenant Statement was read by the President of the Uniting Church Assembly to the Chairperson, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress on Sunday 10 July, 1994. We meet in the presence of God who through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God and to one another in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our unity "transcends cultural, economic, national and racial boundaries" (Basis of Union, Paragraph 2). In this sharing of bread and wine we recall God's gracious covenant with us and the whole creation, and anticipate the joyful celebration of the fulfilment of God's rule of love and justice among us. In the meantime, as people who share in this covenant, we are called to carry out faithfully Christ's command to love one another and to order our life in the Church in truth and justice. We who are non-aboriginal members of the Seventh Assembly, representing all members of the Church, make this covenanting statement. Long before my people came to this land your people were here. You were nurtured by your traditions, by the land, and by the Mystery that surrounds us all and binds all creation together. My people did not hear you when you shared your understanding and your Dreaming. In our zeal to share with you the Good News of Jesus Christ, we were closed to your spirituality and your wisdom. In recent years we non-Aboriginal members of the Uniting Church in Australia have had the privilege of journeying with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and with other Aboriginal people. We have become more aware of the sad impact that in earlier times the Church and our culture had on your people. So on the one hand, we give thanks with you for those of our people who insights.uca.org.au
have lived among your people bearing faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ which brings hope and liberation to all. We give thanks to God who has empowered and encouraged your people to stand firm and exercise moral leadership throughout these two centuries. But on the other hand, we who are nonAboriginal members of our Church grieve with you, our Aboriginal and Islander brothers and sisters. We grieve that the way in which our people often brought the Gospel to your people belittled and harmed much of your culture, and confused the Gospel with western ways. As a result you and we are the poorer and the image of God in us all is twisted and blurred, and we are not what God meant us to be.
It is our desire to work in solidarity with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress for the advancement of God's kingdom of justice and righteousness in this land... We lament that our people took your land from you as if it were land belonging to nobody, and often responded with great violence to the resistance of your people; our people took from you your means of livelihood, and desecrated many sacred places. Our justice system discriminated against you, and the high incarceration rate of your people and the number of Black deaths in custody show that the denial of justice continues today. Your people were prevented from caring for this land as you believe God required of you, and our failure to care for the land appropriately has brought many problems for all of us. We regret that our Churches cooperated with governments in implementing racist and paternalistic policies. By providing foster-homes for Aboriginal children, our Churches in reality lent their support to the government practice of taking children from their mothers and families, causing
great suffering and loss of cultural identity. Our Churches cooperated with governments in moving people away from their land and resettling them in other places without their agreement. I apologise on behalf of the Assembly for all those wrongs done knowingly or unknowingly to your people by the Church, and seek your forgiveness. I ask you to help us discover ways to make amends. In 1988, the Heads of Churches called for a secure land base for dispossessed Aboriginal people, an assured place in the political process for Indigenous people and an openness to get to know one another and learn from each other's culture and values. We commit ourselves to those objectives. We rejoice in the promotion of understanding and commitment to change engendered by the Reconciliation Process and the High Court's native title decision and subsequent Commonwealth legislation. In the words of the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples, these changes presage: `A New Partnership'. We recognise, as was declared in the Assembly's 1988 Statement to the Nation, that the Australian people and this Church continue to benefit from the injustices done to your people over the past 2 centuries. We believe it is right for the Uniting Church to make reparations to you for land taken from your people and used by the Churches which became part of this Church. The Church has already made transfers of property to Aboriginal people in recognition of our history. At this meeting the Assembly will determine its response to the specific request from the Congress for the transfer of a proportion of the Church's assets to the Congress as reparation and as a means of supporting the Congress in its mission and service programs. In 1988 you invited us non-Aboriginal members of this Church to enter a covenant with the members of the Congress. We seek to journey together in the true spirit of Christ as we discover what it means to be bound to one another in a covenant. Christ has bound us each to himself, giving himself for us, and he has bound us to each other with his commandment `Love one another as I have loved you'. It is our desire to work in solidarity with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress for the advancement of God's kingdom of justice and Insights Special Issue 2014 19
righteousness in this land, and we reaffirm the commitment made at the 1985 Assembly to do so. We want to bring discrimination to an end, so that your people are no longer gaoled in disproportionate numbers, and so that equal housing, health, education and employment opportunities are available for your people as for ours. To that end we commit ourselves to work with you towards national and state policy changes. We commit ourselves to build understanding between your people and ours in every locality, and to build relationships which respect the right of your people to self-determination in the Church and in the wider society. We acknowledge that no matter how great our intentions however, we will not succeed in our efforts for reconciliation without Christ's redeeming grace and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit at work in both your people and ours. I pray that this covenant will unite us in a multi-racial bond of fellowship which will be a witness to God's love for us all and a constant challenge to the continuing racism which oppresses you and separates us in this land. I pray that it will thus help us all to move towards a united Australia which respects this land in which we live, values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and provides justice and equity for all. Response to Covenant Statement When God created the heavens and the earth He gave humankind his habitation and placed him within his bounds. When He did this He gave humankind stewardship over the bounds of his habitation. We are also told in the Bible that when God had finished creating it was good. For many thousands of years aboriginal people moved in harmony with creation and subdued it as necessary by hunting, fishing and gathering thus respecting God's command and allowing the earth to sustain us. Our laws were developed by our relationship with the land our intricate system of inter-tribal government. Trade was established which has never been acknowledged or understood appropriately by European researchers. In 1788 this relation with creation was violently disrupted by the invasion of the European which robbed us of our stewardship of the land which God gave to us. Your ancestors came to us in different ways and we saw little of our caring 20 Insights Special Issue 2014
God in them. They did not come to us as God's will would dictate, but to dispossess us, take our children, rape our women, kill our men and boys and destroy our culture, reject our values and beliefs and ultimately claim our lands as their own. As a direct result of this violent dispossession, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lived as strangers and outcasts in their own land. Whilst the Church attempted to stem the decimation of our people and culture by providing missions and sanctuaries, in very many instances it did not attempt to understand our ways, our laws or social and economic structures.
I pray that this covenant will unite us in a multi-racial bond of fellowship which will be a witness to God's love for us all and a constant challenge to the continuing racism which oppresses you and separates us in this land. We agree with you that the Church, which had a responsibility to be the conscience of the invaders, in many instances relinquished this responsibility and joined with the invaders in a great many atrocities by smoothing the pillow for what was believed to be a dying race. Many of our people look upon the Church in our country as condoning what was happening and watched the Church stand by as our future was slowly being shortened by westernisation, assimilation and policies of prejudice. Along with the past governments of Australia, the Church is held accountable in our society for the injustices/atrocities inflicted on our people. Contrary to the belief of the invaders that they had a divine right to take possession of this land as their own, the God of righteousness, truth and justice has sustained us with the belief
that one day we would be recognised as the true stewards of this land. This has come to pass through the High Court decision which was handed down in the Mabo case. It is good and right that the Church should repent of any of its actions in support of a policy that violently discriminated against and oppressed God's stewards of this land. The UAICC believes it is just for the Uniting Church, as a result of its enlightened understanding of the Gospel implications of creating new community, to offer a practical response to the past history of dispossession and resulting disenfranchisement of Aboriginal and Islander people from their social, economic and spiritual development of Australia, by taking action to empower the UAICC ministry by offering to share the assets of the Uniting Church. It is difficult for us again, to recall the atrocities of the past and agree to walk towards you and offer forgiveness because many of our people feel your position of influence in our present society reminds us of who committed these great offences. As a result of the violent dispossession and resulting isolation from economic empowerment in Australia, within a great number of our people there has developed a deep anger and resentment of European people. Therefore it would be wrong to just say "I forgive", without reaching a commitment to work together to lay a new foundation upon which we may build a more just future together by ensuring that the Uniting Church plays an active role in providing adequate resources to address the present disadvantages caused by the past injustices and dispossession by the invasion of this country. Your commitment to be practical in seeking to be united in this relationship will be assessed by your decisions to resource the Congress ministry and to be actively involved in ministry alongside and with Aboriginal and Islander people to change the present disadvantage. Because it is pleasing to God to love one another, and it is our commitment to do so, we invite you on behalf of Congress members to develop a new relationship by entering into the struggle of those issues that presently are the cause of continuing injustice resulting in broken relationships. You seek our forgiveness because your understanding has been enlightened by the Spirit of the living God to recognise insights.uca.org.au
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the failures and mistakes of the past and you desire to establish a new relationship based upon real recognition, justice and equality. We come to this covenanting table with our gifts of Aboriginal spirituality, our culture, our Aboriginal way of loving and caring, our instinctive concern and a willingness to share and teach our history and every good aspect about being Aboriginal and Islander. Our commitment to walk together with you as equals will be measured by our willingness to share with you our friendship and our love for God's creation. Our people have survived on the fruits of this country and have harvested from gardens as diverse as nature can offer. We give to you our foods, drinks, the flesh of our animals, the fish of our waters and birds of the air that have sustained our people for generations gone by. We pray that God will guide you together with us in developing a covenant to walk together practically so that the words of your statement may become a tangible expression of His justice and love for all creation. We ask you to remember this covenant by remembering that our land is now also sustaining your people by God's grace.
Governance structures and responsibilities The Basis of Union is clear that the Church will be flexible. However, the focus of any change in the Church should enable the people of God to be responsive to the call of God to fulfil the mission of the Church. It may seem that discussion around the issues of structure and governance are a departure from the conversation on property, however, many identified the need to address some issues of structure and governance in order to more effectively address the issues related to property. At the same time most groups recognised that it is important to address and focus on the use of property in the local context. This is particularly relevant during this time of enormous cultural shift in terms of the way we give expression to the faith through the Church and the Church’s place in society.
The issues you identified The topic of governance structures and responsibilities was prevalent in all discussions across all workshop groups. The need for strong, purposeful leadership and direction was highlighted as being imperative. Participants spoke of the need for a model for ‘being’ and ‘governing’ the Church that reflects our contemporary context; one that is smaller, leaner and more nimble; inclusive, flexible and adaptable. The role and purpose of Congregations, Presbyteries and Synod was examined in depth. Some participants felt our current structures – Synod, Presbyteries and Congregations – are holding back the sharing and deployment of property to support mission. In various ways it was indicated that some of the responsibilities of Presbyteries should be referred to Synod, particularly matters around compliance, property, discipline and some ministerial and placement matters and possibly some of the Synod responsibilities be delegated to Presbyteries around education and training. This streamlining of responsibilities is achievable within the current regulations. Some proposed Uniting Resources be called in to help Congregations discern best use of property and resources to support, facilitate and resource the mission in the local Church. Although others identified this as a Presbytery responsibility, it may be more appropriately a responsibility of Uniting Ministry and Education. Through table discussions, it was evident that there was strong support for an understanding that the Congregation is the council of the Church, which has the primary, although not the sole, responsibility for engaging in the mission of the Church, and Synod and Presbyteries have a primary responsibility for overseeing, resourcing and facilitating the mission of Congregations. Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod Direct the Standing Committee to continue to review the structures of the Synod with a view to achieving a flatter, more collaborative, cohesive and responsive organisation.
That Synod Request the Moderator to convene a two – three day workshop in the first six months of 2015: • t hree representatives from the Secretariat, Uniting Resources, UnitingCare, Uniting Mission and Education, all Presbyteries and UAICC •o ne representative from a selection of diverse congregations, including those with and without property; to enable a deep conversation where the Synod Boards hear the real issues facing Presbyteries and Congregations, and Presbyteries and Congregations listen to the issues confronting the boards; with a view to envisaging our future together as part of the wider Church in the midst of honest conversation. That Synod 1. direct the Standing Committee to develop a governance-style that is genuinely mutual and facilitates the Church’s mission direction as a Christian community: (a) by empowering and enabling Congregations and Presbyteries to have a greater voice in decision making and, in particular, how Uniting Resources uses the resources that belong to the whole Church (b) providing ways for Synod to be transparent and accountable to the Church (c) by encouraging people to participate in a variety of communities and councils more intimately and generously 2. direct Uniting Mission and Education to develop a booklet to reach every member on rethinking kingdom values of mission in terms of God given resources 3. direct the General Secretary to facilitate an honest conversation (two – three days) with representatives from all Boards, Presbyteries and Congregations 4. require all agencies of UCA to employ worshipping Christians 5. encourage a culture of active listening to all cultural contexts in the Church. That Synod 1. direct the General Secretary to engage the appropriate consultants to set up and cost a model of how the Insights Special Issue 2014 23
administrative functions of the Church, in terms of management and cost, might be most effectively distributed between the Synod, Presbytery and Congregations 2. direct the Standing Committee to implement changes as appropriate arising out of the modelling exercise. That Synod Direct the Synod Standing Committee to work with Presbyteries: 1. to refer the finance and administration functions of Presbyteries, e.g. stipends, allowances, insurance, property, and maintenance over $5,000, to the Synod as a first step 2. then consider whether there is any need to alter the bounds of Presbyteries. That Synod Does not support any proposal to reduce the number of Presbyteries in the Synod to one. That Synod Note: There were two proposals submitted with similar suggestions. The objective for each proposal was the same, how it could be executed was slightly different. To avoid repetition, the proposals have been presented here as Option 1 and Option 2. Under Option 2 the % under point 4 was not given an explicit number and could be more or less that that specified. The references to regulations have been added subsequent to the workshops. In light of the Mission Plan and in the interests of better communication, governance, sharing of resources and better equipping of Congregations, faith communities and agencies to fulfil their mission direct the Synod Standing Committee to: Option 1 Work with Presbyteries to dissolve all Presbyteries and create no more than half the number of new Presbyteries in accordance with Reg. 3.4.7 by the 2015 Synod: 1. with each Presbytery referring to Synod responsibilities under Regulation 3.1.3 (a) (i), (j) except for supervision of vacancies, (k) & (l); and related regulations referred to therein; 3.1.3 (n) (i), 3.7.3 (b) (vi) & (vii), 4.3.1 (b)(ii) & (iii) & (d) and the Synod delegating to the Presbyteries jointly or severally its responsibilities under 3.1.5 (a) (i) (ii) & (v)
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2. Any delegations to Presbyteries by Synod Property Board be revoked 3. Rural Presbyteries be paired with a metropolitan Presbytery 4. Where there is a proposal to sell any property under the beneficial stewardship of the Presbytery or a Congregation consultation with the UAICC and the partner Presbytery will be required and any decision for its use will be made jointly by those three parties 5. determine how the Presbyteries are configured 6. If possible, UnitingCare Regions be incorporated into the Presbyteries. Option 2
That Synod With reference to Synod Resolution 80/13S: (x) encourage Presbyteries to develop a framework to facilitate encouragement and support in ministry and mission through facilitated conversations that could enable missional partnerships or structural changes to Presbytery boundaries 1. set up with UFS a ‘combined Presbytery mission’ account to hold the financial resources of all Presbyteries, apart from one year’s running costs per Presbytery. (This would allow for running costs, but not necessarily the continued employment of Presbytery Ministers.) This account could be utilised in the following ways:
1. seek the consent of Presbyteries to refer to Synod their responsibilities under Regulations 3.1.3(a)(i),(j) except for supervision of vacancies, (k) & (l); and related regulations referred to therein; 3.1.3 (n) (i), 3.7.3(b)(vi) & (vii), 4.3.1 (b) (ii) & (iii) & (d)
(a) resource Ministers to be selected jointly by UME and Presbyteries. UME to be responsible for the administration associated with these placements
2. revoke all delegations to Presbyteries by the Synod Property Board
(c) Resource Ministers could identify people with particular skills who are willing to assist in other Presbyteries as/when the need arises. This does not limit the number or placement of Resource Ministers, from this account or from other funding sources
3. where there is a proposal to sell any property under the beneficial stewardship of the Synod, Presbytery or a Congregation consultation with the UAICC will be required to determine if the UAICC has need for property in that area to fulfil its mission 4. in any event, 0.1% of any Sales Proceeds will be paid into a fund, the income of which will provide for training and stipend support for UAICC ministries 5. determine that in the event of a Presbytery dissolving a Congregation, any property under the beneficial stewardship of the congregation will be held by the Synod with the benefit or income to be applied for the benefit of any Presbytery or Congregation within the Synod. The regulations in Options 1 and 2 refer to the Synod responsibilities relating to the promotion and encouragement of mission and the Presbytery responsibilities relating to: the counselling and disciplining of ministers and dealing with complaints filling of vacancies in pastoral charges designating appointments for the Ministry of Pastor
(b) to assist Presbyteries with fewer financial and property resources
(d) in the spirit of cooperation, any new capital/ sales proceeds held by Presbyteries would go into the combined account 2. Set up a joint Presbyteries property account requesting that: (a) buildings rented for more than one year be subject to a review by the Presbytery (c) any buildings which are surplus to current and future property requirements will be allocated to the joint property account (d) if there is the possibility the building has a missional use in the future, the rental income will go to the property account (e) all sales proceeds will be vested in the joint property account (f) interest from sales proceeds be allocated to property acquisition, or rental, in growth areas
dealing with applications in relation to property insights.uca.org.au
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Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod For the purpose of enabling effective intergenerational and cross-cultural participation: 1. determine appropriate times and frequency of meetings for the Synod Standing Committee 2. request that the Standing Committee develop its agenda so as it is accessible to people of different ages and cultural backgrounds 3. encourage Presbyteries to do likewise. That Synod Direct the General Secretary to initiate conversations with other denominational leaders to: 1. explore the possibility of sharing Church properties 2. consider selling current Church buildings and consolidating in one building shared by the different denominations 3. identify contexts where this would be feasible and desirable for the mission of the Church. That Synod 1. direct UR to develop a proposal to enable the provision small limited amounts of funding, as a loan for new projects in Congregations and Presbyteries 2. direct UME to develop a simple process with limited but specific criteria for congregations to access such funds. That Synod Direct UME and UR to engage Uniting Church Schools in a consultation about how the schools can contribute to the resourcing of the Church with the aim of achieving an agreed outcome, and in light of the consultation, formulate proposals for resolution by the Standing Committee. That Synod Direct the General Secretary to commission a research project to: 1. investigate what factors lead to growth within the Uniting Church 2. evaluate the decisions that have been made in the past with particular attention being paid to: (a) how many result in failure? (b) did more money result in more growth or did it seem to have a stultifying effect? insights.uca.org.au
3. Provide background papers to: (a) assist the Standing Committee in the strategic application of resources (b) develop appropriate workshops on working towards a shared missionary vision for the Uniting Church.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them Matthew 18:20 Communication The issues you identified While the issue of what and who we communicate is not unique to the broader topic of property, it was raised as an important point of consideration at all workshops. The issues raised can be summarised as follows: There is a need to: seek wider input for decision making develop an improved strategy for relationship communications address the problem of interpreting new regulations, and how information is disseminated better understand how the Church makes decisions — the process it undertakes and how it communicates these decisions at a grass roots level acknowledge and address an apparent lack of trust and/or understanding of the communications that arise from Congregation, Presbytery and Synod take greater accountability for what and how we communicate have more effective communication between Synod, Presbytery, and Congregations. Suggestions addressing the issues That Synod Request the Synod communications team to develop a communications strategy that: 1. streamlines how information is disseminated
2. limits duplication 3. enables office bearers in Congregations and Presbyteries to respond to recurring requests from the various sections of the Synod in a single document 4. provides easy access to information about events, workshops and resources available to Congregations 5. allows for additional ‘special editions’ of Insights, similar to Property for a Pilgrim People, with a clear but in-depth focus on a particular subject, i.e. set out both to inform and educate rather than presuming that all the ‘ins and outs’ of our processes are known to all. That Synod 1. provide opportunities for all councils of the Church to contribute to any discussion that leads to major decisions affecting the whole Church in a clear and easy-to-understand format 2. give Congregations and Presbyteries four to six months to deliberate on important documents and proposals 3. direct the Synod communications team to broadcast important issues for discussion via the Synod website and mail-outs.
The conversation continues We value your feedback and comments on this special issue as we seek to discern God's Will for the mission of the Church. Give us your feedback on Property For A Pilgrim People: The Next Steps by emailling email@example.com. In upcoming issues of Insights magazine, on the website at nswact.uca.org.au and Weekly E-News we will inform you of further issues, proposals and consultations as they arise from the Synod Meeting in September and subsequent Synod Standing Commitees. Insights Special Issue 2014 27
Community and sense of purpose
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The next steps: taking it to Synod 2014 A
framework will be offered at the September Synod Meeting 2014 to guide the development, communication and approval of a range of policy statements that will define how we use our property to support the mission of the Church. This will be communicated in subsequent Insights as we seek to finalise all policies by mid 2015. Your feedback suggests that Synod should have a significant discussion around: 1. the Sales Proceeds Policy 2. providing a mechanism for resources from Sales Proceeds to be available anywhere in the Synod 3. the UAICC proposal 4. the manse proposal 5. streamlining the roles of Presbyteries and Synod
What seems to be implicit in the feedback is that any of these discussions are only of value where they are about resourcing a growing, vital Church that serves the community with a prophetic voice and an inspiring faith. Those who attended workshops and members of Presbyteries have been encouraged to submit to the General Secretary for discussion at Synod any proposal arising out of the workshops or any of the conversations over the past year. The meeting of Synod has a responsibility to set directions and develop processes that enable the implementation of the decisions that are made. The meeting of Synod is not the end of the journey, but a turning point on the way. The decisions that Synod makes in 2014 will not solve all the issues that face the Church, but will have the potential to set us on the path that begins to change the way we see ourselves as Church; how we are called to give expression to our faith in Jesus Christ, and consequently how we exercise stewardship over our property. Decisions that change the world tend to arise in unexpected places and evolve over time and so it is in the life of the Church. For members and councils of the Church there will still be more work to be done, which will require continued collaboration, goodwill and a recognition that in the Uniting Church the Spirit works through all the councils of the Church as they work together and respect the roles they have and wisdom that flows from their responsibilities.
30 Insights Special Issue 2014
It’s about shared interest.
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Insights Special Issue Property for a Pilgrim People - The Next Steps outlines feedback from consultation across the Synod as we seek to dis...
Published on Sep 1, 2014
Insights Special Issue Property for a Pilgrim People - The Next Steps outlines feedback from consultation across the Synod as we seek to dis...