The moderator has written a letter of lament to the Church as part of an information pack that was sent out to congregations, presbyteries, agencies, schools and other UCA entities late last month. The letter (reproduced in its entirety below) refers to the need to take stock and acknowledge as whole of church the grief and pain associated with the closure of Acacia College. Congregations were invited to join the moderator in a special prayer.
The pack, titled ‘Whole of Church update on implementing financial sustainability resolutions of the May 2013 Synod’, was designed to fill in some of the communication gaps and new developments relating to the declaration of special circumstances and the major strategic review.
General Secretary Rev Dr Mark Lawrence updated the Church on decisions made by the newly elected Standing Committee at its meeting of 21/22 June, including the composition of the Project Control Group (PCG) and the formation of a special pastoral response group.
The PCG will have responsibility for the implementation of special circumstances, including the divestment principles and missional and commercial matrix being applied to the property selection process.
Consisting of nine members with a mix of legal, financial, business and missional expertise, the PCG is expected to meet every two to four weeks over the next four months, as the members seek to honour the Synod resolution of paying back part of the loan by December 2013.
Invitations have been issued by the new PCG chairperson, Mr Robert Costa, to presbytery ministers, chairpersons of presbyteries, chairpersons of other councils and commissions of the church and key leaders of UCA institutions to attend an information session on July 10.
This meeting is expected to address the evaluation process relating to the divestment of assets.
In the invitation, Mr Costa writes: “We understand we are all working under a very tight timeframe and this places pressure on everyone involved in this demanding process. Your presence and involvement in this session is important and we strongly encourage you to attend.”
Dr Lawrence spoke of the both the upheaval and the opportunity that comes from a significant time of change.
“Some will welcome the change and others will grieve the loss of property which represents special and very positive memories,” he wrote.
He pointed to the pastoral response group which has been established to assist in the provision of resources for presbyteries as congregations and individuals navigate this change process. The Uniting Church is a generous church and people have already responded to the financial need. Dr Lawrence encouraged people to contribute in whatever way they see fit.
“Donations will be gratefully received. Prayer is vital.
“This process is about uniting our future, and creating a more secure financial base to be able to respond to the strategic review and discern God’s calling to the Church as our world changes around us, and as we change.”
A special website is being established to inform people of the process, to answer questions and provide a space for story telling about much loved property. You can find it at http://www.listeningpost.victas.uca.org.au