REPORT to ROCKINGHAM CONGREGATION on the PRESBYTERY MEETING held on 16th June at Tranby College

Rev Toby Keva and Peter Ogden attended the meeting as reps from this Congregation, and Rockingham’s musicians and singers provided leadership during the opening Worship conducted by Rev Toby. There would have been at least 100 representatives from metropolitan and country Congregations.

Following Worship, the meeting, with Presbytery Chairperson, Rev Lorraine Stokes, consisted of Reports from the various Presbytery Committees, occasionally with Proposals to be considered and voted on, and with opportunities for questions.

The Presbytery Standing Committee report was given by the Chairperson, and in my opinion, it set the tone for the meeting. It commenced: “The journey to becoming a separate council within our inter-conciliar church is a complex one. Many people within the Presbytery and the Church Office are still not sure of what a Presbytery is. The Standing Committee has encountered many difficulties as it seeks to establish a Presbytery which is itself a unified body of congregations working together to achieve the mission objectives adopted by the Synod and the Presbytery. We have more committees in our Presbytery than any other presbytery in Australia. There is a real concern that we are too siloed in our thinking having so many small and diverse committees.”

Various steps are in progress to bring focus and change to the situation but solutions are many months away.

The Strategy and Mission Planning Committee

“The purpose of the Committee is to serve the Presbytery by:
providing inspiration, resourcing, oversight and guidance to the Uniting Church in WA in order to enable and encourage the Presbytery, congregations, faith communities and other church bodies to discern theologically and engage strategically in the Mission of God in their communities.”

It seeks at all levels to: develop a culture of open communication, promote a culture of faith formation and sharing,develop and promote relevant training and leadership development resources, increase the church’s capacity for community engagement.

To these ends we were reminded of 2 unanimous decisions which were made at the February Presbytery meeting concerning mission focussed goals and which related to

1. commencing all Congregation committee meeting agendas with ways in which they might:

    a. develop Fresh Expressions of Church,

    b. make deliberate, wise and prayerful mission planning and community outreach,

    c. work to be part of and create Collaborative Networks of Faith Communities.

2. promoting training courses and encouraging folk to be involved.

The Committee hopes to be able to provide funds in the future to assist church members to be able to undergo such training.

We were advised that a new Mission Planner has been appointed. She is Rev Alison Gilchrist, an Anglican who is very experienced and energetic.

Commission for Education, Discipleship and Leadership

CEDAL is responsible for providing education and training which equips members and leaders (both lay and ordained) for mission and ministry within the Uniting Church in Western Australia.

This was a comprehensive report listing a host of activities and venues through which education and training and support are provided.

We were also advised that:
In mid-2017 the Presbytery of WA gave 12 month’s notice of its intention to withdraw from the Perth College of Divinity. This decision was endorsed by a Special Presbytery Meeting in August 2017. As we will no longer be part of PCD, this means we are no longer part of their partnership with Murdoch University. PTH has already moved its offices from Murdoch to the Synod of WA offices in East Perth and has over the last year been using a range of locations for educational programs. We are this year a “pilgrim people” with the plan to establish a new base for both staff and educational programs in 2019.

Congregational Community Services Committee

The CCSC acts for the Presbytery by supporting and exercising oversight of congregational community service activities.

The work of the CCSC Consultant, Ian Passmore, has provided high level support, advice and assistance at the local congregational level to Church Councils, local Boards, staff and volunteers.

The report lists over 60 Congregation based outreach activities or services.

Candidates for Ministries Committee

  • Responsible for promoting the call to specified ministries.

  • Anyone responding to a call enters a Period of Discernment for from 12 to 18 months – there are currently 11 people doing so.

  • There are currently 2 people doing studies at PTH to become Ministers of theWord and in the past 12 months, 1 Deacon and 2 Ministers were ordained.

  • There are 2 Lay Preacher candidates.

Pastoral Relations Committee

The Committee provides pastoral oversight and works with congregations in Life and Witness consultations, reviews congregational and minister profiles, oversees Joint Nominating Committees and prepares reports for the ongoing streamlining and updating of ministry.

Proposal: that existing Congregations with less than a total of 16 confirmed members and members-in-association be designated as a Faith Community.

This was passed with slight change.

Rural Ministry Committee

“A mandarin is not a failed orange!”

A moving and hope filled report on behalf of the growing number of small rural congregations.

Proposal: That the Presbytery approves:

  1. the placement of two extra FT equivalent ministry agent positions (making a total of    three FT equivalent placements) to work with rural and small communities to assist those communities in their missional life and outreach;

  2. the funding for these positions to be made available from the start of 2019 for an initial 5 year period and;

  3. that the Rural Ministry Committee, in communication with other Presbytery bodies, put together job descriptions for the new positions;

  4. these were not passed in that form as finance hinges on budget issues which is primarily a Synod function.

(Report prepared by Peter Ogden - Congregation Representative)