The system for the appointment of ministers is broken and needs an urgent overhaul.

The example I use of a broken system is my own church – Auburn. For more than 18 months we have been waiting for an appointment to be made. The wheels of administration within the presbytery seem to grind ever so slowly.

I have been encouraged to write this note following a letter in Crosslight where the writer from Balwyn said: “Now is the time for the UC to consider a totally new framework at all levels – one which clearly defines lines of accountability and has a minimum number of committees” – he goes on to say that “we could abolish the large and unwieldy presbytery system which we can no longer afford.”

The current system for the appointment of a minister is both time consuming and frustrating for the Joint Nominating Committee (JNC) and seems at times that nothing is happening.

The question is: “How does one address this broken system?” I would like to suggest two methods that would both streamline the process making it administratively efficient.

First: Once a church is aware that their current minister has gained another placement, a JNC is formed and a profile prepared in discussion with the presbytery officer. Once the presbytery officer and the JNC committee agree on the qualities the church is looking for in a minister, the presbytery officer then presents the profile to the presbytery PRC (committee on behalf of the JNC). Once approved, a shortlist of available ministers is prepared for the JNC to interview and to make a selection. The name is passed on to presbytery through the presbytery officer.

Second: The same would apply when the minister of the home church obtains another appointment. The JNC committee is formed and working with the presbytery officer prepares a profile.

The presbytery officer, working on behalf of the JNC, takes the prepared profile to the PRC (presbytery committee). Once approved by presbytery, the JNC places an ad in Crosslight in a section named ‘Ministerial Appointments’ stating that it is seeking the placement of a minister and interested personnel should obtain a copy of the profile from the church secretary. The JNC draws up a short list and interviews prospective applicants. Once the JNC has made its recommendation it then informs presbytery, through the presbytery officer, which in turn endorses the recommendation. This is finally passed to synod for the appointment of the minister.

Both methods have merits by simplifying the whole process, improving administration, speeding up the placement procedure, redefining the role of both the presbytery officer and presbytery and relieving the JNC of much frustration.

John Suriano
(UCA – Auburn)



In a letter from Africa it was interesting to read of public gatherings where matters of public concern (such as corruption; patriotism and nationalism; unemployment and ways of dealing with it; human sexuality; Christian values and integrity in regard to nation building) were being presented from a Christian perspective.

Some years ago a suburban church in Melbourne organised a series of similar meetings which attracted considerable local interest.

On a much bigger scale, in a large venue with a renowned expert (or experts), and in an area teeming with small children, Christian perspectives on dealing with parenting problems broke a lot of new ground.

Is there any Christian organisation in Melbourne today with the resources to undertake some such adventurous and valuable program?

Margaret Turnbull
Altona Meadows, VIC



The ABC Four Corners program (24 Nov) followed by The Age front page and pages 8-9 (25 Nov) certainly opens up the issue of the need for appropriate care and support services and accommodation.

The story of Stuart Wills brings things closer to home for the Southern Mornington Peninsula UC. Maureen, Stuart’s mother, is a highly respected member of SMPUC and I felt rather privileged to have been approached to conduct Stuart’s funeral service here in Rosebud just a few months ago. The commitment of SMPUC to the proposed accommodation development for older persons with a disability on the church property here in Rosebud is showing further, in the light of these media reports, that the ‘Cloverleaf’ concept has built into it cross-checks and family involvement plus church community support and connection that would hopefully negate the abuse that is exposed in these media reports.

The concept involving parental support by these ageing carers/parents is a vital element to offer the due care that is seen to be lacking in some other services. I would hope that the personnel who have been putting great effort into this Cloverleaf proposal will receive further and stronger support from presbytery, synod and of course wider community and government support. The nucleus of people working hard to develop wider government support for the proposal are growing weary.

In what ways can the wider Uniting Church/synod/presbytery be even more supportive? Where to from here? There will have to be something decisive within the foreseeable future, for the sake of those most vulnerable within our community, and their ageing parents/carers.
For more information on Cloverleaf contact Marie Hell on: 03 5983 8785

Rev Chris Meneilly
Southern Mornington Peninsula Congregation



I cannot understand why you published this effusive, even gushing, eulogy to the late Gough Whitlam. He as far as I know had nothing to do with the Uniting Church, and was an atheist to boot.

He is generally regarded as a flawed prime minister who led a dysfunctional chaotic government that was on its way to bankrupting the country, and left in its wake a morally wounded society. I doubt that he gave a proverbial fig for Christian values and traditions.

Ms Carey sees Whitlam’s social engineering as a huge benefit to Australian society.

Ms Carey would benefit from a reality check by reading the book False Promises written by Dr Lucy Sullivan, Windrush Press, 2012.

This text, by analysing the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures over the past century, comprehensively skewers the outrageous claims of the so called progressive left that the Whitlam government led to a better and fairer society.

John Bishop
Hawthorn, VIC



Several years ago I designed a Reconciliation banner featuring the apology to the Australian Indigenous people by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Part of this consisted of autographs of various people who I knew had played a major role in the reconciliation process. The majority of signatories returned the two pieces of calico I had sent them, both signed.

I donated this banner to Narana Creations, Geelong.

To keep faith with the signatories, to honour the second signatures and in keeping with the spirit of the original banner, I designed another. The theme was Paul Kelly/Kev Carmody’s song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’. This second banner features the Gough Whitlam/Vincent Lingiari photograph of Whitlam symbolically returning the land to Lingiari with Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody’s autographs on either side. The words of the song and the remainder of the autographs make up the rest of the banner.

The backing of the banner is made from material printed at Dunilli Arts at Nungalinya College in Darwin and also forms the front ‘framing’ for the banner.
Permission from Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody to use the words of the song was granted.  Mervyn Bishop also granted permission to use his photograph of Whitlam and Lingiari.

I am now looking for suggestions as to an appropriate permanent home for this banner.

Walter Sholl
P: 03 56331462
E: wesholls@bigpond.com

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