The Uniting Church is a broad church, with divergent views on many different aspects of faith and life. However, one thing we can all agree on is the challenging nature of our missional context in Australia. It is in this context that the Synod has articulated in the Future Directions document the bold vision to be a contemporary, courageous and growing church.
Over the past five Synod meetings, the Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT has made several direction-setting resolutions, including resolutions relating to Saltbush (2016), Pulse (2017), Makaratta (2019), Climate Action (2019), and Growth (2019). The “Focus on Growth” report presented at the Uniting Church’s NSW and ACT Synod 2019 meeting, stated:
That the Synod commit, over the next three years, that we will organise ourselves, and request our Presbyteries to so organise themselves, to prioritise and enable growth in discipleship, in relationships, in number and in impact within and through our congregations.
The intended purpose of this proposal is to provide, should the Synod agree, a lens through which our Synod and Presbyteries may deliberately focus their life and witness over the next three years.
Building off the growth proposal from the 2019 Synod, which affirmed the Synod’s commitment to growth in discipleship, relationship, impact and number – the Future Directions for the People of God on the Way renews our commitment to share our hope in the Gospel with the communities of NSW and the ACT through worship, witness and service.
One of the key enablers of this vision is the Synod Growth Investment Fund, a fund supported through the Seeds of Growth contribution made by Congregations and Presbyteries. Each year through the Growth Investment Fund, the Synod Invests in a small number of strategic initiatives. The Synod Growth Investment Committee (GIC) oversees the funding of growth projects and reports to the Synod Board and Synod Standing Committee.
Some of the projects that have received funding include: Growing a Presbytery wide youth and young adults movement (Georges River Presbytery), University chaplaincy and young adult ministry (Port Macquarie), Intercultural and nextGen ministry (Auburn Parish and Tonga Parish), Establishing fresh expressions of church in a new residential area (Kippax), Growing the Rainbow Christian Alliance and ministry to families (Tuggeranong), investing in digital ministry (Adamstown).
While the Growth Investment Fund won’t magically change the difficult missional context we as a church currently face, for those congregations genuinely seeking to wrestle with the question of what it means to be church in 21st century Australia, it can be a catalyst for significant change.
The next round of growth fund proposals will be invited in early 2024. Congregations who would like to submit an Expression of Interest for Growth Investment funding are encouraged to talk to their Presbytery Growth Fund Representative.
The graphic accompanying this story was produced by Nioka Lowe-Brennan who is a proud queer Dunghutti, Birripi, and Gamiliroy woman who is currently undertaking a year-long work placement with the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT's Communications Team