By Rev Rachel Kronberger
Rev Alistair Macrae retired on Sunday after 38 years of faithful and transformative ministry in the Uniting Church.
The morning service concluded Alistair’s ministry placement at Wesley Church and a retirement celebration was held at Wesley Place, featuring a ‘this is your (ministry) life’ reflection from each ministry placement.
Memories were shared of Alistair’s youthful enthusiasm at Upper Kiewa (Mt Beauty), his inspiration at Portland and his nurture of personal and congregational renewal at Brunswick South-West (now Brunswick).
Alistair’s leadership roles, including Moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, inaugural Executive Director of the Centre for Theology and Ministry and the President of the Assembly were celebrated.
Current President, Rev Sharon Hollis spoke of the significance of Alistair’s leadership of the wider Uniting Church.
She spoke about him guiding the church through two major conversations about sexuality and made a formal apology to the Macrae family for the personal cost of Alistair’s leadership.
She also described his wise and passionate commitment to First Peoples through the Revised Preamble to the Constitution and his leadership in renewing Frontier Services. Sharon said that at every turn, Alistair had ‘broadened the table’ to welcome more people into the life of the church and into faith in Christ.
Alistair’s last placement prior to retirement was at Wesley Church, an almost-decade marked by the challenges of restoration and renewal of the physical site at Wesley, COVID-19 lockdowns and the richness of a covenant between Wesley Church and Uniting VicTas.
Rev Dr Kylie Crabbe spoke of the consistency of Alistair’s preaching of God’s transforming love and grace, to people of all ages, to people within and beyond the church, and to people in all circumstances of life.
She committed those present to continue in this legacy as they live out their own baptism and offered a blessing in Alistair’s own words.
Tribute was paid to Clare Boyd-Macrae, to the presence and gifts she has contributed to the congregations in which she has worshipped and to the wider church and community through her writing.
Paddy Macrae spoke on behalf of the four Macrae children and Clare reflected on the journey of Alistair’s whole ministry.
In response to many words of affection, respect, celebration and gratitude, Alistair described the joys and challenges of the life to which God called him, the faithfulness of his family, his love of the church and his continuing confidence in ‘the wide-open spaces of God’s love’.