B13 Uniting Church Adult Fellowship

1. INTRODUCTION

This report has been prepared by the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) National Committee, based in the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania that was commissioned in May 2015 and concluded its term in May 2018. Each National Committee’s term runs in conjunction with the national Assembly’s triennium.

The current National Committee, based in the Synod of South Australia was commissioned at the 2018 Consultation held in Hobart in May. The current Committee’s term of office concludes in May 2021.

2. THEME

Prior to commissioning, each National Committee identifies a theme for its term of office.  Our theme was ‘Living Water – Come Drink’, chosen because of the image of coming together to share, be refreshed and grow. This theme is usually picked up by the Synod UCAF Committees/Councils for the same period.

3. PROJECTS

In line with the theme of the UCAF National Committee, projects are identified that can be promoted across the Synod UCAF groups. We chose three projects to promote and encourage the groups to support them financially; Frontier Services Outback Links; Medical Sailing Ministries (Vanuatu) - originally to support the provision of a water tank, this was changed to provision of a public toilet block in Paunangisu owing to wide support from businesses, and UnitingWorld – Clean Water, Papua New Guinea.

These three projects received significant support, especially Frontier Services Outback Links from the UCAF groups.   

4. CELEBRATION

An important part of the life of UCAF across Australia is coming together every three years for the ‘Celebration’. This event provides a wonderful opportunity for members to gather together sharing in fellowship, bible study, worship and singing, craft, various workshops and sightseeing in the area where the Celebration is held. The most recent Celebration was held at Geelong in April 2016. One member of the National Committee had not been to one of these events before and she mentioned that it was wonderful watching the people arrive and their delight in being there and seeing their friends, who they often only catch up with at these events - especially important as the membership ages.

At this Celebration we continued the discussion started at the 12th Consultation (Perth 2015) about the future of the UCAF. Two evening workshop sessions were held where all aspects of the ministry and mission of the UCAF were considered. The resulting discussion paper was sent out to all Synod UCAF groups for feedback and continuing discussion. 

5. VISITATION

During the period of each National Committee’s term of office, the Chairperson of the Committee visits UCAF groups within the various Synods. These visits are organised by each Synod Committee/Council and usually cover about 10 days. 

Chairperson Margaret Pedler (2015-2018) found these visits encouraging, especially when witnessing the ministry of the UCAF groups, many in remote areas or with small membership. Remembering the words of Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three gather together in my name, I am there among them.” It was clearly evident that God’s mission was being delivered in many places by good and faithful servants.

6. JOAN STOTT UCAF BURSARY

This bursary was set up to recognise the deep and long commitment to the UCAF by Joan Stott, who filled a number of leadership roles within the World Federation and the Uniting Church in Australia. 

Up to two bursaries ($1500 each) may be awarded each year, to people under 35 years of age, who are undertaking study to equip them for ministry. The call for applications is undertaken by the Synod UCAF Committees, who receive and review the applications.  Their list of names and endorsement is forwarded to the National Committee for decision and awarding of the bursary.

Since 2010 when the first bursaries were awarded a total of 12 bursaries have been awarded. It is encouraging to see where the recipients have moved in their faith journey, with many moving onto ordination and are currently in placement.

7. WORLD ASSEMBLY

Chairperson Margaret Pedler (2015-2018) attended the 13th World Assembly of the World Federation of Methodist & Uniting Church Women in Houston in September 2016. The theme chosen was “Chosen People – Called to Proclaim”. The UCAF is part of a worldwide organisation for women. Over 800 women from across the globe attended; we were treated to wonderful worship, bible study, as well as area and cultural presentations from the nine areas of the Federation. Four women from Australia attended the Assembly.  It was also a great experience to represent UCAF as a voting member at the business sessions. 

8. SOUTH PACIFIC AREA SEMINAR

Through the UCAF National Committee we are affiliated with the World Federation of Methodist & Uniting Church Women. This Federation meets every five years at the same time as the World Methodist Council, and provides opportunity for groups from across the world to gather. At a local level, Australia is a unit of the South Pacific Area within the Federation. This year approximately 40 members of UCAF groups from across Australia travelled to Fiji to attend the area seminar in July. These seminars, with over 500 participants provide opportunity for Bible Study, fellowship, sharing stories and learning about others engagement with God’s mission in their part of the South Pacific Area.  

9. CONSULTATION

The 13th UCAF National Committee Consultation was held in Hobart in early May 2018.  Thirty representatives and observers from UCAF Synod Committees gathered to deal with a number of administrative matters, hear from each Synod Committee what they have been involved with and what matters they are struggling with. Several of them have financial concerns, mainly due to reduction in their numbers. The groups were challenged to look at some new ways of generating income to enable them to respond to mission and ministry matters that arise.

It has been recognised that with an ageing membership it has become more difficult for Synod UCAF Committees to form a National Committee for a triennium. As a result of this, a proposal to restructure the National Committee was developed and presented. Two workshops provided opportunity for Consultation members to explore creatively the future of the UCAF and how the UCAF National Committee might be structured into a representative committee. After lengthy discussion this proposal was accepted by consensus. 

This restructure will provide for a Committee of up to 15 members; including a Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and Chaplain (identified for their gifts and talents for the role), two members nominated by each Synod UCAF Committee, one of whom will be appointed as the International & Ecumenical Officer. Nominations for the committee will be sought six months before the 14th UCAF National Consultation that will be held in January 2021. Membership will be confirmed at that meeting and the new UCAF National Committee will commence from 1 July 2021.

The Consultation agreed to establish a Working Group to assist the UCAF work towards this new model. This group will report to the UCAF National Committee 2018-2021 and develop any necessary documents to enable the new structure to be established and operate. Further, regular consultation will occur with Synod UCAF Committees as well as members of previous National Committees and other parts of the church, as appropriate to enable it to carry out its work, which will conclude at the time of the 14th Consultation in 2021. 

We were delighted to have Joy Jino, South Pacific Area President, World Federation Methodist and Uniting Church Women join us from the Solomon Islands, together with the Assembly General Secretary, Colleen Geyer.

The UCAF National Committee 2018-2021 (from South Australia) was commissioned during a worship service held at Hobart North Uniting Church, and the members of the retiring committee from Victoria/Tasmania were recognised for their service.


Margaret Pedler
National Chairperson, 2015 – 2018