Rev Sharon Hollis was announced as the Uniting Church in Australia President-elect at the 15th Assembly on Thursday morning.
Ms Hollis, who is Moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, will be the third woman to be National Assembly President and first who has been ordained.
“I am humbled and I am grateful,” Rev. Hollis said after the announcement was met with a standing ovation in the Box Hill Town Hall.
“I love this Church.”
Ms Hollis said she rejoiced “in what God does in our church”.
She said the Uniting Church had been the place that comforted, welcomed and pressed her into exercising discipleship.
Ms Hollis thanked the two Congregations that she served for teaching her how to be “a pastor, a priest and a teacher”.
An emotional Ms Hollis, whose husband took his own life in 2014, teared up when she said “that for some days in the past five years the only thing that got her out of bed was the faithfulness of God.”
“The Spirit of God does indeed journey through death’s valley and renew hope,” Ms Hollis said.
She thanked the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania “who called me to be Moderator when my life was so broken”.
An emotional Ms Hollis gave special thanks to her two daughters who she said had encouraged her to put her name forward despite knowing that “they would bear the costs of this role the most”.
President Dr Deidre Palmer hugged Ms Hollis and gave a prayer of thanks for her.
Ms Hollis will begin her term as President at the 16th Assembly in Queensland in 2021.