Two good and faithful servants of the Uniting Church have concluded their Synod leadership roles.
Synod of Qld Moderator Rev. David Baker and Synod of WA Moderator Rev Steve Francis both signed off in style this week after serving extended terms in their role.
Rev. Baker’s conclusion service took place in Brisbane on Wednesday 16 September under COVID-safe physical distancing rules.
Assembled ecumenical leaders and UCA Presbytery Ministers from around the state of Queensland joined Rev. Baker’s family and colleagues for the service.
David reflected on the Lectionary passages from the previous weekend: Exodus 14:19-31 The Israelites escape across the Red Sea, Romans 14:1-12 Paul’s advice not to judge others and The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant from Matthew’s Gospel 18:21-35.
In looking back at his time in the role, David thanked God, the life of the Church, and his family for his opportunity to serve.
“Over these past six years it’s been a wonderful experience for me,” he said.
“I do want to recognise the wonderful heart that is in the life of the Uniting Church, and people who exercise stewardship in roles to exceptional standards across the life of our Synod, our Presbyteries, our Agencies and our Congregations.”
Rev. Baker reflected on God’s call on Moses to lift up his arms to save God’s people, and the lessons he had drawn from his ministry.
“For those of us who wear these (worship leader) stoles in some specified ministry of the Uniting Church – we need to remember that we are being asked by our people, by our Church to lift up our arms – to provide a covering, a means by which others can express their life, their ministry, their hope.”
“Of course the beautiful thing about the scriptures is that the heroes – women and men – are remembered with their flaws and with their failures.
“The other beautiful thing for me about the life of our Church is that our people see our flaws and failures also. With the confidence that we love them, they’re still prepared to listen to us and to love us.
“Overall I’ve experienced the Church as a very gracious and forbearing mob and I’m deeply thankful for that.
“And I hope you do too. I hope you live in the confidence that we are known by our people and we are loved.”
Rev. Baker concluded his reflection with Jesus’ words from Luke 12:32. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
He will begin a new journey in January 2021, when he takes up the role of General Secretary at Queensland Churches Together.
Four days earlier across the Nullarbor, the Synod of Western Australia farewelled its Moderator, Rev Steve Francis at Wesley College Chapel in Perth.
Rev. Steve Francis’ final act after six years in the role was to declare incoming Moderator Susy Thomas installed and pass over the symbols of ministry – the preacher’s scarf, the UCA symbol pendant, and a wooden shepherd’s staff.
In his final reflection to WA Synod magazine Revive, Rev. Francis said that for the most part being Moderator had been an enormous privilege and a great joy.
“I have felt loved, prayed for and supported – a big heartfelt thank you,” he said.
Rev. Francis did convey some parting observations.
“Part of our reality is that we still find it hard to get on with each other.
“Being the Uniting Church on paper looks terrific: an emphasis on every member ministry, a rich heritage of faith and property, lots of talented and faithful people and a Basis of Union that calls out the best in us. How could we fail?
“Too often we see the speck in our brother’s eye and miss the plank in our own.“
In a final positive encouragement, Rev. Francis said: “May God lead us forward. The best is yet to be.”
Our love and prayers go to both of these wonderful men who have embodied the finest UCA tradition of servant leadership.