Working through change

Few issues cause more angst within the church community then the issue of property. Many people feel property can take over and even determine church life. Recognising this dilemma, the synod’s Property Services unit has developed a Property for Mission Workbook to assist congregations as they discern the best use of property.

John Emmett, mission officer with the Property Services unit, helped to develop the workbook. He hopes people will find it a useful and practical resource as they grapple with the inevitable decisions regarding church property.

“Although not always recognised, change has been a constant companion to our congregations’ experience,” Mr Emmett said.

“People have come, stayed, contributed, been ministered to, moved on. We’ve amalgamated with other congregations, made new friends, extended ministry, explored God’s mission in both lasting and new relationships. And we have received additional property responsibilities.

“Now we find property maintenance, indeed the whole future of the church property to be a drain on finance, human resources and time. We enjoy the comforting predictability of being in our church property, and the memories of Christian community it holds for us all. Yet, we are increasingly concerned, even confused about what to do with it.”

The workbook offers a practical series of questions, each accompanied by Reporting Pages to assist a congregation’s church council work through the concern to arrive at a clear vision for Church property.

Central to the process is a task group, established as a committee of the Church council. Advice from presbytery and the Property Services unit assists the task group to consider real estate and financial matters. The task group’s work ends with either an Asset Strategy Program plan or a Property Application Business Case recommended to the church council. Once the council has adopted proposals, the presbytery and synod’s Property Board become involved.

Mr Emmett said the workbook has been developed and trialled with congregations undergoing Property Application Business Cases, and the Asset Strategy Program. He said feedback received suggested church councils felt better informed about church property.

“Congregations can see the value of the process for their future participation in God’s mission,” Mr Emmett said.

“Changes advocated might not at first seem beneficial. In discernment we are encouraged to seek and be known by God, finding inspiration, courage and strength to let go of the familiar and embrace the Way of Jesus.

“The UCA is a nimble, responsive, adaptable movement. Which, in hindsight, is precisely why we see and value change as a constant companion.”

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