Mission and Ministry Network meets in Cairns
An opportunity to learn from the diversity of Uniting Church community service agencies and parish missions.
May 17, 2023
By Warren Talbot, UnitingCare Australia
The Uniting Mission and Ministry network (UMMN) is a national network in the life of the Uniting Church which provides an opportunity to learn from the diversity of Uniting Church community service agencies and parish missions. UnitingCare Queensland recently hosting the network in Cairns, its first face-to-face meeting since before COVID restrictions.
“Meeting with mission colleagues from across Australia who share a vision of the Church engaged with their community, faithfully supporting people to live abundantly, was a great joy."
Participants included leaders within missions teams of the major Uniting Church community service agencies – Uniting NSW.ACT, Wesley Mission QLD, Uniting Vic.Tas, Wesley Mission (Sydney), Juniper aged care (WA) and Uniting Agewell (Vic.Tas).
They were joined by Assembly President Rev Sharon Hollis and the UnitingCare Australia National Director of Claerwen Little.
The gathering commenced with a visit to Mossman Gorge, a “Uniting on Country” walk, led by Kym Korbe, the Reconciliation Action Plan Manager with UnitingCare Queensland. A strong First Nations theme was continued in the evening session with presentations and conversations with Sharon Hollis and Claerwen Little. The President outlined the reasons why the Uniting Church Assembly is strongly supporting the Voice to Parliament, and what is at stake in the referendum. In addition, she spoke about the importance of the Act2 project for the entire Uniting Church, including community services.
Ms Little spoke about the three main priorities for UnitingCare Australia, and some of the possibilities for extending national projects, such as the Escaping Violence project.
On the second day of the gathering participants visited three services provided by UnitingCare Queensland in the Cairns region; UnitingCare Family and Disability Services (including Lifeline and Lifeline Retail), Pinangba Hollingsworth Elders Village, named in honour of a pioneering member of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, Pastor Bill Hollingsworth, and a UnitingCare local neighbourhood centre, called Birch Street.
“It was such a deep and rich time with leaders from across the Church”, said the Rev John Clarke, Director of Mission with Uniting Vic.Tas. “Meeting with mission colleagues from across Australia who share a vision of the Church engaged with their community, faithfully supporting people to live abundantly was a great joy. So many common challenges, so many opportunities to learn from each other and share resources.”
Mr Clarke said that he was extremely grateful for the directed and ad hoc conversations about chaplaincy, UCA induction, Act2 and the Voice.
“I was able to grow in my understanding, reflect theologically, and connect to some practical actions straightaway. (Apologies to Carol who sat beside me on the way home, who was the first person I asked “Are you across the Voice and the upcoming referendum?”)
“Sharing in the regular worship service at Pinangba Hollingsworth Elders Village with First Nations people was an amazing spiritual experience,” Mr Clarke added.
UnitingCare Queensland provide many regional services, and the Friday morning saw the network participants travel to the Tablelands surrounding Cairns, and a site visit to Blue Care Atherton. This was followed by a presence walk, based at lake Eacham.
In addition to site visits the participants engaged in a number of conversations around current issues in mission and ministry.
About the UMMN
Network gatherings are open to those who wish to learn from and contribute to the intersection between the Uniting Church and its missions and agencies.
Participating in the Network will expose you to the rich organisational and theological diversity of the Uniting Church in Australia. This is a unique learning, reflection, and leadership opportunity.
The Network seeks to:
- discuss the way our organisations seek to shape mission and culture;
- engage representatives from across the agencies and missions;
- reflect on contemporary issues facing agencies and missions; and
- provide peer support to those in similar roles.
Meetings are held via Zoom approximately every two months.
If you would like further information or would like to be part of the Network please contact one of the Co-Convenors: Rev Suzanne Stanton (Director of Mission, Uniting NSW.ACT) email@example.com or Rev Dr Peter Armstrong (Associate Director, Mission Team, UnitingCare Queensland) firstname.lastname@example.org
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