Pam Grant, secretary of the UCAF National Committee (2015-2018), reports on the recent consultation held in Hobart.
IT was a time of thanksgiving but also of new directions as members of the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) gathered for the 13th National Committee Consultation held at the Hobart North UC early last month.
Embracing the theme, Living Water – Come Drink, participants at the consultation included members of the retiring National Committee from the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, the incoming National Committee from Synod of South Australia and other UCAF synod committee representatives as well as some observers.
We were also delighted that World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women South Pacific Area President Joy Jino and Assembly general secretary Colleen Geyer both attended and presented informative sessions.
At the Consultation opening we were warmly welcomed to country by Leprena Centre manager Alison Overeem, who shared her story and the ministry of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress at Leprena.
Hobart North UC minister, Rev Jeff Savage also greeted the gathering and we were richly served by members of the congregation who provided great support.
Chairperson Margaret Pedler, reflected on her term, including her visits to UCAF fellowship groups in the synods of Western Australia (where she addressed the Synod meeting) and Queensland, South Australia and NSW/ACT.
While some synod committees reported reduced membership and falling income, the outgoing National Committee said the three water-themed projects they had promoted in the past three years received great support from the UCAF groups across Australia.
The incoming National Committee was introduced and launched their theme for the next triennium – Your Word Lights the Way – and a devotional resource.
Proceeds from the sale of the resource by UCAF groups will raise funds for the two projects the new National Committee has chosen for its focus – UnitingWorld’s work in providing theological training for women in Pacific nations and Frontier Services Ministries, especially the work of bush chaplains.
A very special part of the Consultation was the tributes service led by chaplain Rev Ross Stanford.
This service recognises the contribution of past members of UCAF synod committees and/or National Presidents/Chairpersons who have died in the past three years. The obituaries provided wonderful testimony to these loyal and faithful servants.
The major item of business was the proposal to restructure the National Committee from a rotational synod-based committee to a representative one that contains office holders selected for their gifts and graces as well as representatives nominated by the different synods.
There was a lot of energetic and prayerful discussion of this proposal; one that had become necessary because of the difficulty many synod UCAF groups encountered in bringing a sufficient number of people together to form a national committee.
The Consultation also agreed to establish a working group, whose task over the next two-and-a-half years is to develop the documents required for the new committee to do its work.
The working group will complete its task at the 14th UCAF Consultation held in South Australia in January 2021, with the representative committee taking office from 1 July 2021.
While many may feel these changes are a time for sadness, those present at the Consultation saw this as an exciting time for the UCAF, as it will enable the National Committee and synod groups to look afresh at what they do, how they do it and how the profile of UCAF might be lifted across the country.
The incoming National Committee was commissioned during a worship service at Hobart North Uniting Church on Sunday 6 May, with the outgoing committee thanked for their work over the past three years.