In the third week of November, I attended the annual Synod of the Uniting Church as a representative of Westminster School; a three-day meeting of representatives of the 260 South Australian Uniting Church congregations and its 23 associated community service organisations, including schools.
The major item of agenda was a significant organisational re-structure currently taking place. This has been the Uniting Church’s agreed response to the diversity and difference that exists amongst our members, highlighted by varied stances taken in relation to the Australian Government’s same-sex marriage legislation passed last year. In those discussions, the Uniting Church has sought to balance our ever-changing social circumstances with what many perceive to be faithfulness to the words of the Bible. The resultant division into separate ‘Presbyteries’ has been drawn partly around contrasting theological understandings and part geography. Historically, of course, the development of Presbyteries is actually a return to a previous form of church governance.
Whilst these considerations, perhaps thankfully, are not of immediate and daily concern to us at Westminster, they do impinge on the wider context of which we are a part. Despite the apparent conflict and sometimes angst that surrounded the synod meeting, we should be pleased that the wider church of which we are a part is willing to engage in these issues. As our defining document, the Basis of Union (1977) states, “the Church is a pilgrim people, always on the way towards a promised goal.” We move. We change. We hope.
A reminder that we will be holding our own community Christmas Service in the chapel at 7.00 pm on Thursday 12 December, as Christmas Lights opens. All welcomed to reflect on the meanings of the story.
Rev Phil Hoffmann