August 23, 2023
Assembly Resourcing Unit welcomes new staff
The Uniting Church Assembly is pleased to announce three new staff members joining its Assembly Resourcing Unit (ARU).
Beginning this week, Raúl Sugunananthan has been appointed as a Policy and Advocacy Officer. From 1 November, the Assembly will be joined by two new National Consultants - Rev Kath Behan and Rev Dr Sunny Chen.
“The combination of skills, experience and insights that Raúl, Kath and Sunny bring with them will be a great asset to the ARU ."
“It is a delight to welcome such wonderful appointments to the Assembly team,” said Associate General Secretary Rev Lindsay Cullen who leads the ARU. “The combination of skills, experience and insights that Raúl, Kath and Sunny bring with them will be a great asset to the ARU and will greatly add to the Assembly’s ability to serve the Church and the world. I’m also pleased that with Kath being based in Queensland, Sunny in Victoria, and Raúl in Sydney, we will be able to continue strengthening the Assembly’s knowledge of and engagement with the Church across different parts of Australia.”
Raúl is a passionate community organiser and changemaker with experience working across diverse community, faith, and migrant environments.
As the son of Sri-Lankan Tamil and Chilean migrants, Raúl grew up hearing firsthand the struggles of his father who fled the Sri Lanka civil war, and his mother, who left Chile after Augusto Pinochet overthrew the government in a military coup. His personal story, combined with his faith, drives him to work for the liberation and reconciliation of all people. He has particularly focussed on pursuing justice for First Peoples, LGBTQIA+ people, and the environment.
Raúl served on the Assembly Standing Committee from 2021 until starting his role in 2023 and is a lay leader at Leichhardt Uniting Church where he plays percussion and saxophone in the band.
Raúl recently graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Arts/Laws. There, he served as President of Christian Students Uniting in 2021.
Kath grew up in Townsville, North Qld, and has had the privilege and opportunity to live and work across three states - Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
She brings broad experience to this National Consultant role, including participation in all councils of the church, a diverse range of lay and specified ministry contexts, together with her previous professional background in primary and secondary public and private education sectors.
Kath has been an ordained Minister of the Word since 2008, ministering in hospital chaplaincy, local congregation ministry, church planting and pioneering ministry and synod mission strategy, engagement and implementation roles.
For Kath, the National Consultant role offers the space for building on her deep passion for the Uniting Church’s unique story, which for her is fundamentally about walking together as we collectively discern where and how God is calling us to be present in the world as an inclusive, generous, and compassionate witness to the grace of Christ.
Sunny is currently serving as a Presbytery Minister, supporting and overseeing approximately 70 local worship communities in Melbourne. Part of his role includes working with the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s equipping Leadership for Mission (eLM) unit, working in a team to resource the Synod and the eight presbyteries within it. A passionate educator, Sunny has been chairing the Ministerial Education Board for the past six years and is a lecturer and honorary researcher at the University of Divinity.
Sunny was originally a secondary school teacher in Hong Kong before studying theology in the United States. He has served as a youth worker, pastor, and subsequently, minister in various Uniting Church congregations, including in both CALD and 'Anglo' communities.
The ARU is a multi-disciplinary team responsible for the oversight of the national work of the UCA including doctrine, worship, ministry education standards, social justice and advocacy and ecumenical and interfaith relationships.
“I look forward to working together as a team which has a national view of our identity as the Uniting Church, casting a vision of who we are and who we might be as an intergenerational, intercultural and innovative Church,” Lindsay added.
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