January 25, 2022
(Cover image L-R: Sharon Hoogland OAM, Graham Doherty OAM, Dr Jill Tabart OAM, Hon Bronwyn Pike AM.)
Written by Bethany Broadstock
"The Uniting Church ... acknowledges with thanksgiving that the one Spirit has endowed the members of Christ's Church with a diversity of gifts, and that there is no gift without its corresponding service: all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ." Uniting Church Basis of Union, paragraph 13
The first woman President of the Uniting Church, a leader in community services, and a number of long-serving, dedicated lay people are among Uniting Church members acknowledged in the Australia Day 2022 Honours list.
Trailblazing Uniting Church lay person Dr Jill Tabart has been awarded an OAM for service to the Uniting Church in Australia. In 1991 Dr Tabart made history as the first woman to be elected President of the Uniting Church in Australia, a role in which she served from 1994 to 1997.
"I see this as an honour for the Uniting Church more than for me as an individual," said Dr Tabart in response to the announcement. "I’m glad to be part of a church which respects the contribution all members make to the Christian community. I just happen to have been involved at times of significant opportunities."
Dr Tabart offered national leadership during one of the most significant moments in the Uniting Church’s history: an apology to First Peoples and the signing of a Covenanting Statement with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress which marked the formal beginning of a journey of reconciliation which remains at the heart of UCA identity today.
Dr Tabart served on the Assembly Standing Committee for 18 years, from 1982-2000, during which time she was integral to the introduction of consensus decision-making as official Uniting Church meeting procedure. With a history of active ecumenical engagement in Australia and internationally, she has since guided other ecumenical bodies including the World Council of Churches and World Alliance of Reformed Churches to adopt consensus decision-making for use in international gatherings.
Dr Tabart’s long record of service also includes various roles in the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, where she served as Moderator (1983-1984), on the Standing Committee, the Advisory Committee on Ministerial Placements, as Chair of the Centre for Theology and Ministry Board, and Chair of the Tamar-Esk Presbytery in Tasmania.
She is currently Secretary of the Church of All Nations Parish Mission in Carlton, Melbourne.
"I’m honoured to be contributing in a church prepared to change to meet the demands of the gospel on its ongoing life."
The Honourable Bronwyn Pike has been appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for her significant service to welfare and not-for-profit organisations and the Parliament of Victoria. Ms Pike is currently CEO of Uniting Vic.Tas. Her distinguished career in community and social services includes ten years’ service to UnitingCare Australia and its agencies, including three years as Chair of the UnitingCare Australia Board (2017-2019), Chair of the Uniting Vic/Tas Board (2016-2019) and member of the Uniting NSW.ACT Board (2015-2019). Ms Pike is a former Victorian Labor state MP whose notable portfolios included Minister for Health and Minister for Education. She is a lifelong member of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Ms Pike said she was humbled to be one of the thousands of Australians recognised in this year’s Honours.
“It’s a surprise, but a huge honour to be recognised in this way,” she said. “There are many incredible people on this year’s list, people who have devoted their lives to others and to their communities, so it’s humbling be named alongside them."
Mrs Sharon Hoogland was awarded an OAM for service to the community, particularly through the church. Mrs Hoogland has a long history of service to the local church in Bowral, NSW, offering gifts of music, preaching and Bible study leadership, alongside a 17-year contribution to the Church Council. She has also offered her gifts to other councils of the Uniting Church, serving as administrator and volunteer Secretary with the Illawarra Presbytery in the Synod of NSW/ACT for six years, and as a member of National Assembly meetings in 2015 and 2018. Mrs Hoogland’s contribution to the wider community includes a range of mission-focussed roles with national Christian community service organisation Mission Australia since 1984.
“I found out very early on that God gives us a purpose," Mrs Hoogland said upon receiving the honour. "If we can find our purpose as we listen to God’s call, and use the gifts and skills God’s given us to work within the community or the church or wherever we are, then we’re very blessed."
Mr Graham Doherty has been awarded an OAM for service to the church. Mr Doherty has been an Organist since 1967 and the appointed Church Organist at New Lambton Uniting Church in NSW for 55 years. Mr Doherty has also made notable contributions to the wider community as a Justice of the Peace and through involvement in the Rotary Club of Hamilton. "It’s a real surprise but I’m honoured to be recognised," said Mr Doherty in response. "Everything I’ve done, I’ve done because it was a pleasure to do it.”
A number of other Uniting Church members have been recognised for their service to the wider community in a wide range of fields and disciplines.
Mr John Robertson Coppock OAM, for service to the pharmacy profession. John has been on the Church Council of St Michael's Uniting Church in Melbourne since 2006.
Mr Wellsley Thomas Darby OAM, for service to the community of Brisbane. Wellsley served Uniting Church congregations in Queensland 1993-2007.
Mrs Philippa Dion Graham OAM, for service to the creative arts, particularly as a sculptor. Philippa was Project Manager for the re-development of Pymble Uniting Church, 1993-2003.
The late Mrs Margaret Helen Hall OAM, for service to the community of Emerald, including through Emerald Uniting Church.
Mr Peter Graham Heard OAM, for service to the community of Numurkah, including through Numurkah Uniting Church.
Mrs Dorothy Jean Heard OAM, for service to the community of Numurkah, including through Numurkah Uniting Church.
Mrs Ruth Jean Hosking OAM, for service to the community of Bendigo, including through Bendigo Uniting Church and UnitingCare Bendigo.
Mrs Robyn Valerie Morris OAM, for service to music through a range of organisations.
Mr Adrian Robert Pobke OAM, for service to tennis, and to the community. Adrian has been a member and volunteer at Uraidla since 1990.
The late Mr David Hugh Stacey OAM, for service to veterans, and to the community of Strathalbyn. David was an active member of the Uniting Church in South Australia from the time of Union.
Mrs Heather Tredinnick OAM, for service to music through choirs. Heather was choir conductor and organist at Pymble Uniting Church for 14 years.
Mr Bastiaan John Van Dongen OAM, for service to the Dutch community of Sydney though Ultimo Uniting Church.
Mrs Pauline June Venning OAM, for service to the community of Burra. Pauline has been a member of Burra Uniting Church for 27 years.
Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now at www.gg.gov.au.