Rev John Clarke (pictured) has joined the Uniting team in Victoria and Tasmania as the director of mission. Mr Clarke is excited by the potential of the new agency and hopes to deepen the ethos and spiritual heritage of Uniting, as well as further develop links across the Church.
“When the Church listens to God and then speaks with one voice and acts with one purpose, it’s amazing,” he said.
“So much great work has been going on in the various agencies and parish missions. I see Uniting as an opportunity to be really effective behind-the-scenes, so that up front, our great volunteers and staff will be enabled to develop even more innovative responses to enliven our community and confront injustice.”
Uniting is the new community services organisation of the Uniting Church forming from the merger of 21 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria. The need for a director of mission role in the new organisation was identified early and Mr Clarke is one of the first appointments to the executive team at Uniting.
Mr Clarke acknowledges the move to the single organisation requires a healthy balance between continuity and change.
“The move to a single organisation represents a significant commitment by the synod to community service delivery as an expression of care and compassion in support of God’s mission in the world,” he said.
“We need to honour the heritage of each agency and parish mission and help everyone understand that the journey continues with all our diversity.”
People and relationships will be his initial focus in the new role.
“Team-building is important as the new Uniting forms its shared values, foundations and its strategic directions. I know others in the Church also have lots of questions, so consulting and communicating with all parts of the Uniting Church will be vital,” Mr Clarke said.
He is also aware of concerns within some areas of the synod about the ongoing connection between the Church and agencies.
“I need to ensure that Uniting continues to hear the still, small voice of God. As a member of the executive team, I hope to make a valuable theological and missional contribution to discussions and the strategy of the organisation.”
Mr Clarke was an engineer in the Northern Territory and Victoria before his first placement as a minister in Geelong in 1995. This was followed by ministry with Alpha Australia and most recently three years as director of mission for Uniting AgeWell. He and his wife Hilary attend Healesville Uniting Church in the Yarra Valley east of Melbourne.