Synod 2013

A FLASH mob, poetry readings and laughter about our cultural idiosyncrasies were among the highlights of a significant Synod meeting that decided by agreement to support special circumstances to ensure the financial sustainability of the Church.cs_thinking5

The flash mob sprang up at the conclusion of the Rev Dr Monica Melanchthon’s final bible study focusing on the story in 2 Samuel of the persistent, resistant and persuasive hope of Rizpah. Dr Melanchthon, Professor of Old Testament at CTM, spoke of Rizpah’s silent vigil over the bodies of her slain sons and nephews as a powerful example of public resistance rooted in a hope in the God of justice. Ending with a YouTube clip of the One Billion Rising campaign song highlighting violence against women (featured in March Crosslight), a single woman graphically demonstrated Rizpah’s protest, dancing the dance of freedom.

Others spontaneously joined her in solidarity and in community, creating a memorable moment for those gathered.


PÁDRAIG Ó Tuama, poet in residence with the CFM, was first introduced to the Synod meeting as part of Saturday night’s conversation about what the shape of future church can be.

One of the abilities of a story teller poet is to listen and reframe dialogue, to provide a different tool in which to reflect and consider.

The poem below, the title of which is taken from Philo of Alexandria, was written to remind the gathering, in the words of Pádraig, “that Jesus of Nazareth seemed to respond with curiosity, dignity and respect to people who spoke from a place of knowing their need who didn’t have the luxury of ignoring their hunger”.

Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle

This, now, is the season ofcs_chatting1


I don’t know how to

find the cycle of the


Privacies exposed to elements

that leave me bleeding.


This, now, is the season of

Pulse arhythmicunkindness.

for no reason.
anxious breathingShort and

leaves me

waking up and feeling

deadweight between my


This, now, is the season of


If there is a place called


I am hopelessly outside its borders.

There is a fundamental question

underneath all other questions.

I am aching to find the

place to ask

the fundamental question.

I need to find the

place to hear the echo of

the fundamental question.

Will I be okay?

Will I be okay?

Will I be okay?

ON Sunday evening the Synod was entertained by an engaging play which creatively drew attention to the challenges and joys of being a multi-cultural church.

Real life scenarios were interspersed with music and humour as the actors portrayed situations familiar to many cross-cultural congregations.

The body became a metaphor for the concerns of different cultures. Issues of personal space – how close is too close?, when can you hug?, differences between the ways genders relate – were explored. The actors demonstrated basic difficulties with language, such as asking people to speak slowly, raising your voice to be understood, asking people to repeat again and again.

“We didn’t come to take your building, we come to worship God.” The simplicity was apparent, and again the body was the metaphor – this time the body of Christ. Through all the differences with organising the kitchen, using church buildings and equipment, negotiating cultural mores, it is the similarities that hold them together. Similarities such as worshipping as the body of Christ.


Tributes Service

THE Synod paid tribute to those ministers who had passed away, retired, celebrated major ordination or commissioning milestones, been ordained or received from other denominations since the 2011 gathering.

Included in the Act of Thanksgiving was Mrs Ethel Mitchell OAM, the first female Moderator and first lay Moderator of the Synod of Victoria (in 1978), who died aged 94 on April 27.

Speaking at the beginning of the Service of Tributes the Moderator, Mr Dan Wootton said the blessing was the most significant affirmation the Church could offer.

“To give this blessing is to say ‘yes’ to the belovedness of each person concerned,’’ he said.cs_tribute1

Responding on behalf of those recognised, Rev Hamish Christie-Johnson said it had been a “glorious privilege to be called to be a minister of God’s love”.

Future Church

IN a futures focused presentation, hosted by Commission for Mission, CTM and presbytery ministers, Cheryl Lawrie – the CFM’s director of spirituality, culture and context – said conversations had been bubbling up in every part of the church for some time to determine what the church of the future would look like.

Those conversations reflected a belief that future church is not one full of ‘hip’ or new ideas, there is no trademark nor is there anything strange or radical.

It is simply deciding who we want to be in the future and  how we will present ourselves in a strange and unfamiliar world.


Behind the scenes

MANY people work feverishly behind the scenes to ensure a successful event. cs_back2Clare Boyd Macrae is the staff person charged with the task of coordinating the management of Synod. She is always gracious, calm and helpful. The AV guys, headed up by Rev Greg Fry, who provide their time and equipment voluntarily year after year. The sound desk. The IT crew. The stewards. The back room support. The Communications team. The facilitation team. The business committee. Thank you to all who give their passion, skills and talent to quietly assist.cs_round-the-table







Images and words by Penny Mulvey, Deb Bennett, Nigel Tapp, Michael Docherty, Ben Grundy and Brian Cooke.

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