Retiring synod liaison minister (Tasmania) Rev Carol Bennett was recognised for her ‘profound’ ministry of encouragement and support at her Service of Release in Launceston on Saturday.
Synod general secretary Rev Dr Mark Lawrence said Carol had supported individuals and communities to discover the confidence to live faithfully.
“You have loved and nurtured the Church, with all our frailties, to grow in expressing love, compassion, justice; reflecting God’s faithfulness,” Mr Lawrence said.
“You have upheld us when we have been fearful, even when we have wondered if we would ever know Jesus again.”
Ms Bennett spent eight years in the role after relocating from Queensland where she was assistant general secretary.
She has been an important conduit between the synod and presbytery, often helping both parties to understand the uniqueness of each other and find ways of working together with a shared vision.
Vic/Tas moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis, said Ms Bennett had left her mark on many people within the synod.
Ms Hollis said staff had already commented on how much they missed her presence, even though she had been only absent for a few days.
Approximately 100 people from congregations throughout the state as well as representatives from the synod attended the service held at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Launceston.
Ms Bennett was specifically thanked by the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in Tasmania for her work seeking to re-establish the relationship between First and Second Peoples in the state.
Leprena community development coordinator Alison Overeem said Ms Bennett had played a significant role in moving the relationship forward.
Young Tasmanian Aboriginal artist Grace Williams presented Ms Bennett with an original piece of art work to recognise her gratitude for the mentoring role she had played in her life.
Presbytery chair David Reeve praised the role Ms Bennett had played in the life of the presbytery.
“We will miss Carol and are deeply thankful to God for the many gifts and graces she has brought to the Church in Tasmania,” he said.
“She has a mind which quickly grasps the issues we face, balanced by her empathetic understanding of the people involved.
“Carol’s amazing capacity for work and attention to detail has been balanced by big picture thinking and her administrative ability has been balanced by team building and delegation to others.”
Ms Bennett and her husband, Rev Colin Gurteen, will settle in Launceston following their retirement.
As for the future – travel is on the couple’s mind, but not in the short-term.
“While I have never resented the travel involved with the role, it will be nice to spend some time with Colin and watch dust gather on my suitcase,” she laughed.
“We are looking forward to seeing more of Australia and spending more time with our hobbies and I am looking forward to being able to read theology just for pleasure.”