The 2017 Synod meeting begins on Friday 8 September with opening worship at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Collins Street Melbourne. Synod resumes for business the following day at the Box Hill Town Hall.
There will be 295 ordained and lay members representing the eight presbyteries attending for the five days and three nights. They will discern, worship, break bread and resolve together as they prayerfully focus on the present and future of the Church.
Members will appoint a new moderator- elect, who will take up the role of moderator at the 2019 Synod meeting. Elections will also be held
for Standing Committee, Assembly Standing Committee and Business Committee members.
The ‘big ticket’ items are likely to be proposals relating to possible changes to the presbyteries; changes to the by-laws as part of the implementation of the Major Strategic Review and the four working group sessions.
The Assembly Standing Committee has asked the Synod to provide feedback on two topics: marriage, and sovereignty and treaty. Members have been provided with material to help them prepare for working group discussions on these issues.
Last year’s Synod meeting resolved to form a Creative Design Team, tasked with considering how to bring more energy and engagement to the long meeting days. Headed by Aaron Blakemore, the Creative Design Team has come up with a number of new initiatives for this year’s Synod.
For example, reporting bodies have been asked to consider participating in a market place concept, designed to give members time to ask questions in a more intimate setting. There will be a presbytery panel on Saturday evening; the Sunday evening program focussing on inter- generational leadership is being hosted by the Creative Design Team.
Nine ‘Minutes of Appreciation’ will be given as a result of imminent governance changes, which will result in a number of boards being replaced, along with a few key retirements.
In the wake of the Victorian government’s Royal Commission into Family Violence and the recent media coverage about domestic violence within church families, the Commission for Mission is bringing a proposal calling for more action from the federal government.
The proposal calls on the Commonwealth to introduce a Medicare item number for counselling men to end violent behaviour; to amend the Family Law Act 1975 regarding breaches of an injunction as well as a number of other items aimed at providing greater protection for victims of domestic violence.
Each day of Synod begins with a devotion. Bible studies are also a key part of the daily program, along with a theological reflection at the conclusion of the day’s business. And those who attended the 2016 Synod at Box Hill and missed their daily caffeine fix will be happy to hear that coffee carts will be on location.