Introduction to Governance in the Uniting Church
The Uniting Church is organised not by a hierarchy, but by groups of women and men, lay and ordained, consulting together, usually making decisions by consensus, in each area of the church’s life.
The church is committed to being a series of inter-related councils — local churches, regional presbyteries, state synods, and the national Assembly. Each council has its distinct tasks, and each council recognises the limits of its responsibilities in relation to other councils. Hierarchy occurs when a group decides it knows what is best and has the power to impress that decision on others. The Uniting Church is committed to a more shared process ... and realises the need to keep working at it.
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In the Uniting Church in Australia there are four main inter-related council governance structures: the congregations, the presbyteries (usually a regional designation), the synods (state) and the Assembly. How these councils are expressed varies from state-to-state.
There are several parts of a Presbytery & Synod meeting. They are called ‘sessions.’ Types of sessions are described below. Knowing what type of session is being presented can help members know their responsibilities at that time.
While voting isn’t the only focus of a Presbytery & Synod meeting, it is a very important one. Learning a bit more about voting can help members and the communities they represent to plan for how they will respond to proposals.
Voting can be indicated by members who are present by: voices, hands, cards, ballots.
Many committees have vacancies each year as members’ terms end. Committees such as Standing Committee, Mission and Leadership Development Board, and Placements Committee are governed by the Presbytery and Synod. This means that the Presbytery and Synod holds elections for many of the seats on these committees.
What: A proposal is...
Presbytery and Synod members may submit proposals for consideration by the Presbytery and Synod on any matter in the reports or the working papers, and on any matter that falls within the Presbytery and Synod’s responsibility. The earlier a proposal, is submitted the more likely it is to be included on the Presbytery and Synod agenda.