Who is the God we encounter in Jesus Christ? What is the purpose of the Church, and what is the good news we have to share with the world? Christian Churches around the world face these big questions anew as diverse global cultures challenge and change traditions and local communities. At the heart of the Christian faith is personal discipleship and faithful community at mission in the world, bringing peace and reconciliation.
I’m excited to begin soon as Synod Liaison Minister for Tasmania, and am really looking forward to working with Uniting Church networks in Tasmania including the staff team, ministers and local leaders, many of whom I already know and appreciate as colleagues and friends. This excitement comes with a deep sense of call to this role, a feeling something like the right role at the right time. Appointment to this role draws together many threads from the diverse roles I have fulfilled for the Uniting Church over the past twenty years and more.
The vision of the Presbytery of Tasmania for 2016 to 2018 has centred on transformative discipleship, with a strategic focus on communities of faithful followers of Jesus expecting to be transformed, and to be agents of transformation, through the grace of God. Now all presbyteries are invited to engage with the Synod Vision and Mission Principles, and these are displayed prominently in the new Presbytery and Synod office upstairs at Launceston Pilgrim. The three Strategic Priorities and four Areas of Focus provide guideposts for faithful followers of Jesus Christ in sharing good news.
The role of Synod Liaison Minister (SLM) includes leading the Presbytery Ministry Team and working collaboratively with the Councils of the Church to grow healthy communities of faith and to develop and form leaders for a missional church. This includes strategic planning in consultation with the Presbytery Standing Committee; coaching and mentoring communities of faith, leaders and potential leaders; and pastoral care of ministry workers in the Uniting Church in Tasmania.
The SLM also resources the Uniting Church in Tasmania by providing the principal link between the Synod offices in Tasmania and Victoria, managing the Synod and Presbytery office based at Launceston Pilgrim, and encouraging engagement with the Synod’s Vision and Mission Principles.
As global consumer culture continues to tell each person they are the most important person in the world (“buy more!”), as the global media cycle continues to fan the flames of terror and division (“fear more!”), and as both Royal Commissions and political shenanigans force us to question leadership and integrity (“they did what?!”), we continue to seek healthy communities of faith and safe places for all to grow and thrive. These are the gospel values we live everyday: embodying abundant love, barriers broken down, freedom from bondage, respect for difference and appreciation of diversity, deepening faith and confidence in sharing good news, care for the whole of God’s good creation.
As the Synod’s operations and ministries are reshaped to better support local churches and presbyteries across Tasmania and Victoria (including the new work unit equipping Leadership for Mission (eLM) under the leadership of Rev Dr Jennifer Byrnes), I look forward to working together in growing faithful followers of Jesus Christ at mission in local communities across Tasmania and the world. Rohan Pryor