The Victorian and Tasmanian Synod has called Rev David Withers as strategic framework minister to join the team implementing the Church’s renewed vision of spiritual and strategic discernment.
Mr Withers started in the role last month and is looking forward to the diverse nature of his work as he helps the Church live out the Vision and Mission Principles. These Principles are the foundations for the new implementation strategy that supports a coordinated, intentional focus on mission.
“I am interested in new conversations in the life of the Church,” Mr Withers said. “The Vision and Mission Principles reflect a long journey of searching on the part of Synod in all its forms across church. They give beautiful expression to our core purpose into the future.”
Mr Withers’ calling as a minister in two Victorian Uniting Churches, as Mission Development Minister at Lentara UnitingCare, as well as earlier work as a civil engineer, means that he has a breadth of experience to understand the nature of the Church’s challenges.
“I actually believe the church today is the bearer of a message that remains vitally important,” he said. “I think engagement with the 21st century is an essential two-way dialogue for us as church and that we carry a message of new hope and new life.”
The experience of change is an area that Mr Withers knows can cause anxiety.
“I understand the fear. I think it’s instinctively human of us to fear – that sense of ‘flight or fight’. We interpret it as a danger,” he observed.
“But the gospel story is an invitation to new life and that does imply change. In our vision statement we talk of walking together and the hope that community, compassion and justice become the norm in our world. To achieve this we must be open to change.”
Part of Mr Wither’s role will be developing resources that assist everyone in the church to draw on the Vision and Mission Principles in both planning and spiritual discernment.
“As I read a lot of the work that frames what’s ahead of us, I’m struck by the statements around discernment,” Mr Withers said.
“There are some lovely phrases that invite us on a journey of deep reflection.
“I think that’s a really important element and connected to that is the significance of relationships – between synod and presbyteries, between the different elements of synod life, between congregations.
“We are a pilgrim people open to this future that God calls us to. We have to engage the 21st century community with hope as we move forward.”