16th Assembly members gather for the first time
Members of the 16th Assembly had the opportunity to come together online for the first time this weekend building connections that will extend across the triennium.
On Saturday 3 July, President-elect Rev Sharon Hollis and General Secretary Colleen Geyer hosted a meeting with the youthful delegates of the Assembly.
This pre-Assembly gathering provides an opportunity for the youthful members of the Assembly to get an insight into how the meeting works and to make connections with each other.
“I loved meeting with the youthful members of Assembly and hearing how they are already engaged in ministry in the church,” said Rev Hollis.
“I pray the Assembly will be open to their wisdom, insights, hopes and dreams,” said Rev Hollis.
Advocate for the Assembly’s Discipling the Next Generations Circle Steve Molkentin said it was a privilege to gather with the youthful members.
“The friendships between participants are growing already, with some being rekindled from the last Assembly,” he said.
One of the youthful delegates, Mark Brisbane from the Synod of WA, said the opportunity to hear from Assembly leaders and previous Assembly members had transformed his understanding.
“It reshaped Assembly in my mind from an intimidating crunch of consequential decisions into something with rhythm to it, which other young people had already experienced and would be more than willing to help me make sense of,” said Mark.
Mark said it was particularly helpful to hear the Assembly meeting described as turning “debates into dialogue”.
“I'd heard Uniting Church people say this before, but always figured they meant some version of ‘we try not to get too heated about things’. This time, I understood that this dialogue might inspire a wider union than the sum of our individual experiences - that we're here to take part in something creative, which precedes and exceeds this particular gathering. Kind of a weird thing to suddenly get chills about, but I'm really looking forward to being part of it!"
On Sunday 4 July, members of the 16th Assembly had the opportunity to meet in community working groups for the first time.
Ms Geyer said this was an opportunity for members to orient themselves with the Assembly process but also to begin forming the sense of community that is key to the life of the Assembly meeting.
“We are being very intentional about how we find ways to build community among 16th Assembly members, especially as we are meeting online for the first time.”
“That community is an essential part of how we discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit and listen to one another in openness and humility.”
“Those relationships will continue when we reconvene the Assembly in person in 2022, and for the remaining years of this triennium.”
Most of the Assembly meeting will be livestreamed for the wider Uniting Church members to watch. Stay tuned for details on the 16th Assembly website.
Images: 16th Assembly Community Working Groups meeting online (left) and the Zoom meeting with youthful delegates (right)