Rev John Clarke has been inducted as Uniting’s director of mission at a service held at the synod chapel on Wednesday.
Moderator Rev Sharon Hollis presided over the service and said Mr Clarke’s leadership skills will enhance Uniting’s spiritual and pastoral priorities.
“We welcome John as director of mission within Uniting,” Ms Hollis said.
“We will listen to his words, encourage him to reflect theologically with us and remind us of our missional imperatives.”
Mr Clarke’s first ministry placement was in Geelong in 1995 and he later served as director of mission at Uniting AgeWell.
In his new role, Mr Clarke will deepen the ethos and spiritual heritage of Uniting and strengthen connections between the Church and its agencies.
Representatives from Uniting presented Mr Clarke with symbols of his ministry – the sacramental elements (water, bread and wine), a Bible, the Basis of Union and the Uniting Foundation, Purpose and Values.
Mr Clarke thanked his family and the congregation at Healesville Uniting Church for their support throughout his ministry.
“It’s a blessing to be at Healesville Uniting Church and sit and worship on a Sunday morning and be fed and inspired afresh,” Mr Clarke said.
“I also really appreciate working with (Uniting CEO) Paul Linossier and I’ve been so appreciative of the synod support from right across the board – many of the colleagues in this building and throughout Victoria and Tasmania.”
During the homily, associate general secretary Isabel Thomas Dobson reflected on the parables of Jesus and how the work of Uniting can bring about the kingdom of God.
“The Uniting values of being compassionate, respectful, bold and imaginative have very significant alignment with bringing God’s way into being,” Ms Thomas Dobson said.
“Behind the amazing hard slog of drawing together so many good agencies committed to transforming lives in society for the better, what we’re aiming for in this new agency can be described as wanting to extend the kingdom of God.
“That’s what can happen as you work together to inspire people to enliven communities and confront injustice.”
Ms Thomas Dobson said Jesus’ parables are a challenge to bring about transformation both in our own lives and on a wider, societal level.
“As Uniting establishes itself and as John exercises his role as director of mission in this new agency, the challenge for all of us is how to live in the grand and the ordinary, the noticed and the unnoticed, to assist in the growth of God’s realm,” Ms Thomas Dobson said.
The service also included the commissioning of the Uniting executive team – Paul Linossier, Silvia Alberti, John Clarke, Angela Forbes, Tracey Gibson, Quinn Pawson, Jeff Pearse, Leanne McCormick, Clare McGinness, Aimee Suchard-Lowe and Deb Sullivan.