Synod Standing Committee - April 2020 update

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New Times Online features brief summaries of Synod Standing Committee meetings to inform the wider Uniting Church in SA community of the discussions, deliberations and decisions arising from each meeting.

This is the update from the meeting held on Friday 3 April 2020. Due to COVID-19 circumstances, the meeting was constituted using MS Teams video conferencing and electronic ballot (see Synod By-law 12.1.7).  The General Secretary declared the results of the electronic ballot on Tuesday 7 April 2020.  

The Draft Minutes of the meeting are available on the Synod Standing Committee webpage – see link below.

Due to the need to convene the meeting in this format, the business of the meeting was conducted differently and managed in a three part process: worship and pastoral care, managing the agenda, and proposals and decision-making. Worship and pastoral care was conducted using MS Teams video conferencing to listen to a devotion, for pastoral sharing between members. It was also used to gain approval for the agenda and processes.Reports and proposals were uploaded to MS Teams where members could comment and ask questions. Remote discussion, thoughts, opinions and discernments were an important part of the decision-making processes. Voting on the proposals via electronic poll closed on the next working day (Monday 6 April) and the declaration of the results followed.


Welcome – worship and pastoral caring through video conference

Mr Bronte Wilson, Uniting Church SA Moderator, welcomed the Synod Standing Committee meeting members with an Acknowledgement of Country. Bronte also acknowledged the change in meeting process due to physical distancing measures and the fact that decision-making would be completed using the electronic poll.

David Sigley let the devotion from Mark 2:1-12, a story of Jesus forgiving and healing a paralysed man. Especially during this unprecedented time, David encouraged everyone to “think outside the box” to find creative ways to Jesus despite obstacles.

Each member then shared pastoral matters and their experiences of joy and challenges during this time of physical distancing.


General Secretary’s Report

The General Secretary’s Report by Rev Felicity Amery included appreciation to congregations, parish missions and other organisations in the church and community, which have made major changes and explored innovative ways of being the church. She thanked the Crisis Management Team which continues to work hard for the safety of the community, members and staff of SA Synod. She acknowledged the hard work of the Finance Team and Rev Tim Hodgson for the special work of UnitingCare SA in providing emergency relief during this challenging time.

The report also included brief information from Assembly Standing Committee (ASC), General Secretaries’ Meeting, Remote Area Ministry Committee as well as the Strategic Planning Working Group.


Associate General Secretary Report

Associate General Secretary’s Report by Rev Sue Page included Presbytery decisions requiring the Synod’s endorsement or approval and Synod By-Law discussion.

It was agreed that the Synod Standing Committee endorse the name of Wimala Presbytery for Presbytery A. The committee members also approved Wimala Presbytery’s request for a 0.4 FTE Chairperson role as a placement. The decision about the name of Presbytery B was deferred to the next Standing Committee meeting on 24 April 2020.


UnitingCare Report

Rev Tim Hodson, Executive Officer of UnitingCare SA, reported in writing further information about  UnitingCare Emergency Relief Centres, bushfire response, updated Redress and the Disability Royal Commission. All proposals were agreed upon, including the appointment of Dr Fiona Partridge as Chairperson of the MediaCom Education Inc. Board, commencing on 4 April 2020 and concluding on 3 April 2023. The appointments of Mrs Bronwyn Hopkins, Mrs Avril Noy and Mr Ben Williams to the Board of UnitingCare Glenelg for an initial term of less than three years commencing on 4 April 2020 and concluding 31 December 2022 were all approved.


Resources Board Report

Mr Peter Battersby, Executive Officer of Resources, provided further updates about the Property Review Project in his report. He also gave an update about the Mission & Service Fund Financial Report, Uniting Venues SA Report and WHS Incident Reports.

The Mission and Service Fund Financial Statements for the quarter ended 31 December 2019 were noted by the Synod Standing Committee.


Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Report

The UAICC SA State Development and Resources Officer’s report included update from local ministry centres, 2019 financial results, development of the Position Description for the Finance and Administration Officer, as well as the appeal for Reconciliation Week and Pilgrimage of Healing.


Mission and Leadership Development Board Report

Rev Prof Andrew Dutney gave an update in his report on activities within the Mission Resourcing Team and UCLT during the COVID-19 pandemic. The appointment of the Reverend Associate Professor Matthew Anstey to the position of Academic Dean and Lecturer in Biblical Studies (Old Testament) and the appointment of Ms Jan Trengove as the chairperson of the MLD Board were both approved by consensus.


Placements and Safe Church Report

The Synod Standing Committee members noted Rev Philip Gardner’s report about the National Child Safe Collaboration Framework 2019 and the Person of Concern Policy Framework. The Synod Standing Committee also endorsed the UCA National Child Safety Policy Framework and approved the Safe Church Committee By-Law. All frameworks are attached in the appendix and can be viewed on Synod website here.

The Synod Standing Committee affirmed the ministry of Rev Prof Andrew Dutney as Executive Officer of Ministry and Leadership Development and Principal of Uniting College for Leadership and Development. Rev Prof Andrew Dutney’s placement was recommended to continue for a further five years.


The minutes from the meeting will be posted here when available later this week.

It was decided that the Synod Standing Committee meetings will be held more frequently with less business for the immediate future. The next meeting will occur on Friday 24 April and future dates will be determined as situations and need arise.



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